Thursday, July 31, 2014
Yesterday it got remade into a vest. I've wanted a non-fleece vest for years. Yesterday morning, thinking it would be nice to have a non-fleece vest to wear on my walk, and then thinking how neat it would be to just cut the sleeves off one of my men's shirts, and then finding this jacket in my closet, still not worn since I replaced parts of the lining three years ago...less than two hours later I had the vest of my dreams.
A few of you have expressed interest in hearing what I have to say about food. I'm planning that post for this Saturday. It's also been suggested by several readers that I write my autobiography. I'm not sure that I'm up for that ~ I'll need to think about it. But I really do appreciate all your support and encouragement of my more personal posts. And I'm loving your comments, as always.
Happy rest of the week. xo
Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time. Having that chapter come together the way it did, especially during the first two or three years, was really the only time in my life where what I said I wanted and what the Universe had on offer was in complete alignment.
At the end of my second Santa Cruz chapter, from late 1989 through 1990, I'd been studying horticulture at Cabrillo College in Aptos. And after quitting my nonprofit admin job with Planned Parenthood in Santa Cruz, I got myself into the Agroecology Apprenticeship Program at UC Santa Cruz (located on campus but not a university program) and interned in organic farming and gardening for six months. I really, really wanted to live in a rural area, way more rural than Santa Cruz had become since I first moved there in 1971.
But I couldn't pull off that big of a move in late 1990. Didn't know how I could have supported myself, for one, but I also wasn't ready for it emotionally. So the next chapter found me in San Francisco from early 1991 through late 1995, doing, what else, a nonprofit admin job, this one with a large international association where I was paid really well (for me, and at that time). That job took an enormous toll on my soul, though. I quit in the fall of 1994, and it took me almost another year to figure out where and how I could/would leave the city. I traveled north in early summer 1995 looking for a place to relocate and found Humboldt County, which was perfect because it was close enough to the Bay Area that I could get there in a few hours' time and I had just begun doing art shows in the Bay Area with my jewelry. During those last few months in San Francisco I was also self studying alternative power and rural living in general.
On my second exploratory trip to Humboldt, focusing on Garberville, I found not only a nonprofit admin job (which I subsequently quit after a few weeks), but that off-the-grid cabin in the mountains ten miles outside of Garberville. Exactly what I'd hoped for in my wildest dreams. So I made the most of it by cobbling together a living out of whatever I could do to earn a few bucks. And I enjoyed it immensely for a few years...
Anyhoo, back to now. Yesterday I woke up especially achy ~ I think reliving all that work I did in SoHum took its toll on me all over again ~ and then I had an intuition that my body might be reacting to all the sugar I've been eating lately (the white sugar, albeit cane sugar in my jams, for one). And sure enough, a bit of online research confirmed for me that sugar causes inflammation in the joints. I cut way back on my sugar intake and already feel a lot better today. I'll also be starting to do gentle yoga at home very shortly.
Probably the best idea I ever had, though, has been to practice self care to the greatest extent possible. My focus on self care was partly born out of the fact of my being poor my whole adult life and therefore always relying on community clinics for health care (I've always had as good care or better from clinics than regular doctors). But it's also been a product of my striving to do as much as I can in life, alternatively. I've never gone in for western medicine, unless I've absolutely needed it. Which has been virtually not at all. Yeah, I got good genes as far as chronic health conditions go. But I've always sought alternative methods of healing myself ~ herbs, homeopathics, vitamins and minerals (when necessary), educating myself (which often means following the money and thinking critically about everything we're told by the government, by corporations, by the media ~ that is to say, Big Brother, because it's all the same now). And more than anything, I've chosen to be very conscious of what I eat. Which today one has to be, I feel, in order to stay healthy.
This seems like a good place to end this post although I could go on. If you're interested in hearing what I have to say about food these days (which pretty much encompasses industrialized everything), let me know in the comments. Otherwise I'll keep my trap shut. xo
Monday, July 28, 2014
Yes, the shibori pieces probably would have been awesome. But I've already got pieces of shiboried silk that I haven't yet used and don't have plans to. I've let go of the imperative to finish something I began several years ago. And that feels great.
What doesn't feel so great a lot of the time is my back ~ actually from my neck down to my hips, I have recurring aches and pains. Nothing major, at least not since I quit working and went on disability in 2011 from years of repetitive motion injuries to my upper right side. Pain comes and goes and moves around. The most difficult part for me is the fact that I'm only 65 and I feel as though I should be able to do a lot more than I really can. Walking too far is difficult ~ my regular walk is a mile but often I have to cut it short. I also can't stand on my feet for long periods of time.
A big part of my cutting way back on art making this year has to do with the fact that it simply hurts, physically, to do more than a little bit of anything.
The truth is, I totally burned myself out, physically, two life chapters ago. Between 1995 and 2002, I homesteaded, solo, on rented property in the mountains of southern Humboldt. From 1996 through 1998, I created and maintained, totally on my own, a large garden of primarily everlasting flowers on a steep, rocky hillside with no topsoil. When I say I created and maintained this garden, which I called Rocky Rose Farm, I mean I double dug twelve 15 - 30 foot beds by hand in clay soil, continually amended them, put in a complex drip irrigation system that was a bitch to maintain because my garden water came from a low-running creek so I was constantly fiddling with the T-tape and emitter gizmos, I planted, tended and harvested twice a day in the summer around 25 varieties of everlasting flowers, I made dried flower things to sell at the local farmers market as well as marketing to stores in Eureka, I composted garden waste to the extent I was able to, I schlepped heavy bags of amendments or bales of straw down to the garden on a steep rocky path because there was no other way to get down there, I sprayed continuously to deal with insects which came from far and wide on the mountain to my organic garden, I weed whacked extensively because the plot was so wild and that weed whacking consisted of a 10-hour session done 6 or 7 times each season and was so hard on my hands, wrists and arms that I could barely unclench my fists for a week after each session. Also, the creek inlet had to be cleaned out constantly, or the line would break, so every week I was in the creek somewhere, scrambling over roots and rocks to fix the line.
And while I was doing all that, I was also working 15 hours a week for one nonprofit or another, making beaded jewelry when my hands unclenched from the weed whacking, traveling to six or seven art shows a year to sell my jewelry, mostly in the Bay Area but also up to Bellevue, WA, Salem, OR, Salt Lake City and Los Angeles, doing all the setup, tear down and booth time entirely on my own while dealing with sometimes-horrible shoppers. And for a couple years I baked biscotti at home and sold them to all the local cafes in Garberville/Redway. Plus, I vacuumed my 1000 square foot, two-storey cabin weekly. And maintained my alternative power system including tuning up the generator, and changed the oil in my car. And stacked the four cords of wood I had delivered each year and then schlepped in up to 25 armloads at a time to keep by the stove. And gathered over 75 shopping bags full of kindling each year. And weed whacked all around the cabin every summer. And maintained the house water system which came from a spring and also needed to be tinkered with several times a year. And had friends over for dinner often, baked bread regularly, and canned a lot. And on top of all that, my landlord, who homesteaded the two parcels next to the one I rented from her, was a high-maintenance bitch.
Holy shit! You think I burned myself out? There's also the fact that the intervening life chapter, between the one above and now, was also extremely stressful although not quite as difficult physically. Still, I feel like I should be able to do more at this point in my life...although I might be out of my mind.
Friday, July 25, 2014
|Sketchbook Collage, July 2014|
I also got a new appreciation for the little city of Rio Dell, where my pal and I picked berries. A lot of Humboldt locals, including myself quite often, call the place "Real Dull." But seeing parts of town that I'd never been in before made me change my mind about it. There are beautiful rural neighborhoods and the price of real estate is really low ~ not that I plan to buy anything. I'm jus' sayin'.
This week I read Ruth Ozeki's A Tale For the Time Being, and liked it a lot. Recently I read Joyce Maynard's Labor Day, and then I saw the 2013 movie. Currently I'm reading J.G. Ballard's Kingdom Come, enjoying this prophetic writer's view of 21st century living.
This weekend is Fortuna's annual AutoExpo, a BIG deal for old car lovers from all over northern California and Oregon. Generally I stay away from these things, although I admit the cars are gorgeous. The Fortuna Library also has its second book sale of the year tomorrow and there's a small antique fair at the Vet's Hall, so I'll be joining the throngs of people for part of the day.
Have a great weekend! xo
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Dyeing Alchemy. Some of my dyed fabric and shibori quilts are featured in the book. But mostly the book displays Diane's magnificent shibori quilts in this great dyeing primer and workbook. Check it out!
Monday, July 21, 2014
The process was so simple this time, after working out all the bugs in my procedure with the plum jam I made the weekend before. The cut-up nectarines gave me 11 cups, I added 2 cups sugar and stirred it all together, then let it sit in my pot for an hour before the first boil. I brought it to a boil for 10 minutes and cooled it three times (twice late Friday, once Saturday morning), then canned up the jam from the fourth boil. I don't even use a canner...I just put the filled jars in an enamel pot with boiling water, then do a 12 minute boiling water bath. Easy peasy. I did the last two boils plus the hot water bath in the morning on Saturday. I was finished before noon. And oddly, no hard-water spots on the jars this time despite same water and same pot. Go figure.
I've also been jamming on a nature journal artist book that I'll finish in the next day or two. An old idea that I'm finally bringing to fruition.
Have a sweet week. xo
Friday, July 18, 2014
|Journal Collage, July 2014|
I'll be making a small batch of white nectarine jam this weekend. White nectarines are my favorite summer fruit, and the ones I got yesterday are the best I've ever tasted. As I mentioned in my last post about jam, it isn't necessary to add pectin to stone-fruit jams. Yesterday I learned that the pectin is in the peel. So not having to peel the fruit makes the process that much simpler.
Have a good weekend. It's Rodeo weekend in Fortuna, which doesn't mean anything to me although it might to you cowboys and cowgirls. Yeehaw!
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Remains of the Day. For regular writing I've been using Cachet's 7x10 inch wirebound journals with 1/4-inch quadrille paper. This has been my writing journal of choice for years. The paper is heavy enough to carry fountain pen ink on both sides without bleeding.
The pages alternate between blank pages (plain graph paper) and pages that have been embellished with stitched-on stuff, pockets, etc. And of course I can add more stuff along the way with dry adhesive. The outside covers have images from Burpee's 1997 seed catalog done in vintage style and pages from Johnny Gruelle's Little Sunny Stories kids' book from 1940. The inside front cover and many of the embellished pages have snippets from Burpee's reproduction 1888 seed catalog.
Vintage Literature ~ that has a ton of cool vintage stuff on CD. I ordered a CD of Burpee's seed catalogs from 1888 through 1927.
|Inside front cover and first page|
Vintage Literature ~ that has a ton of cool vintage stuff on CD. I ordered a CD of Burpee's seed catalogs from 1888 through 1927.
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
|Sketchbook Collage, July 2014|
Some frequent dream images or situations ~ big houses with lots of rooms, climbing hills or mountains, locations in San Francisco, homes I've lived in in the past, places I worked at in the past, actors I like (it's never sexual), streets in places I've lived in (Santa Cruz, San Francisco, LA) albeit never like they are in waking reality. I've had so many dreams about a particular organization I worked for over 20 years ago that I can hardly remember the reality of my working there. Bizarre.
I always hoped I'd dream of great spiritual things like spirit animals, symbols, nature, etc. But no ~ the messages come to me in rather mundane stories. Earlier in my life these strange dream tales spoke loudly to me of things I was dealing with in waking life. Now, I'm not exactly sure how the dreams fit into my everyday reality. Except, perhaps, to confirm for me that I am on the right path in slowing down and removing as much stress from my life as possible. My cockamamie dreams are stressful enough.
Finished my hybrid (regular writing & shabby style) journal yesterday. Will post tomorrow. I'm almost ready to start using it.
We're having typical early-June weather in Fortuna now. Overcast and cold, often lots of wind, if we're lucky the sun will come out mid- to late afternoon. And then it'll get hot for a couple hours before it cools off again.
Strange days. Unusual life. Enjoy yours. xo
Monday, July 14, 2014
What you see here, 10+ half pints, is the second batch. I ruined the first batch, way overcooking it and scorching it in the process. The first batch became inedible prune glue.
Because I no longer have any of the canning and preserving materials I used to own, I resorted to Google to search out recipes for small batch, no pectin jam. Pectin is not necessary with stone fruits.
So of course, I found lots of conflicting information. Didn't I just complain about this last week re: cheesecakes?! One jam recipe says to boil the fruit/sugar mix for a few minutes, turn off, and repeat those steps numerous times. Another recipe says to boil the mix hard and bring up to 220 degrees. Others say to simmer for an hour, or for many hours, or whatever.
I tried my darndest to get the first batch up to 220 degrees, but that never happened, even though the goop was thick enough to stand a spoon up in. The freezer test, where you put a dollop of jam on a cold plate and stick it in the freezer for two minutes and then test for gelling, worked on the first batch, but I was going for those higher degrees ala whatever recipe I was trying then. The spoon-sheeting test, where two drops of jam turn into one, didn't work on the first batch, but I didn't learn until later that this test only works with a metal spoon. I'd used a wooden spoon on the first batch. Bottom line: high learning curve (again) to recoup my canning chops.
For the second batch, I brought the fruit/sugar mix to a low boil, cooked for 10 minutes, turned the stove off and let the mix sit to room temperature. And repeated that four more times. Then I put it in sterilized jars and hot-water bathed for 10 minutes. The jam looks a little loose in the jar, but after refrigeration, thickened up nicely. But not so thick as to tear bread, which turns out to be perfect, in my estimation. I did have to cook it up five times, instead of the recommended four, but that's because there was a lot of liquid in the fruit mix to begin with. And that's because I froze batches of cut-up plums as they became ripe. The water in the frozen plums contributed extra moisture to the fruit/sugar mix, necessitating an extra low boil.
Then, after the water bath, my jars came out with a powdery residue on them, which has never happened to me before when I canned in the past. Back to Google to find out that spots and residue on jars, bands and lids happens when you can with hard water. The solution is to add a tablespoon of vinegar to the water bath, or merely clean off the jars, etc. with a dab of vinegar after the fact. Which is what I did.
So, I've got hard water. Which was a good thing for me to have confirmed. Because when I was ecodyeing three years ago, I came to suspect my water was hard, as I was unable to get much more than the same often-muddy colors regardless of plant material used, or mordants, or whether or not I pre-mordanted the fabric. Back then I'd contacted the water department in Fortuna to get information about our water here, and nothing in the materials they sent indicated our water is hard. Well, the proof is in the pudding, as they say. And now that I know the water's hard, at least it is here in Rose Cottage, I see evidence of it several places around the kitchen/studio sink.
The ecodyeing ship sailed a long time ago for me, but I'm planning to make white peach jam sometime this summer.
Have a sweet week! xo
Friday, July 11, 2014
I did plant a bunch of poppy seeds early in the year that I got from a neighbor late last summer. Most of those didn't come up or were disturbed when I put in other plants. But five or six small plants did make it, and I'm hoping for blooms on those next year. This year they're just getting their plant thing on.
Below is my succulent area, a nook between my Rubbermaid shed on the right and the brick wall. Over the years I've covered the area with shade cloth and clear plastic. Several of the plants here used to be in the house but they got too big. They're doing just fine outside. The ferns are volunteers that came up just this year.
I still have a huge pile of rusted stuff from my rusting and ecodyeing days. Originally I thought I'd take the big stuff back to the salvage yard from whence it came...but that place went out of business not long ago. Meanwhile, the big stuff makes nice garden art.
Wednesday, July 9, 2014
|Journal Collage, July 2014|
On the reading front, there's been so much hoopla lately about The Goldfinch, that I wanted to post a link to this balanced review in July's Vanity Fair, and throw my own two cents into the mix.
In my estimation, the book gets a 3 to 3.5 on my scale of 5 (1 being I Hated It, 5 being I Loved It). I thought it was a good book ~ but I didn't "like it very much" and I didn't "love it." I thought it was way too long, and excessively drawn out in a couple parts. I almost stopped reading the book entirely after the first of those parts. I thought it could have had a lot more impact had it ended differently than it did. I don't think it deserved a Pulitzer Prize. But the fact that it won one just indicates to me that our culture's sense of what makes good literature has dropped quite a few notches in recent years. I think the whole affair is way overrated. I don't like things like this that sweep the culture and wrap everyone up in a bubble of sensationalism. Give me books that are underrated, any day. I've read numerous other books recently that I liked way better than The Goldfinch. So...reader beware.
Currently I'm reading The Constant Heart by Craig Nova, enjoying the story and the writing. Read my third Don Lee book last weekend, Wrack and Ruin, and enjoyed that as well.
Have a good mid-week. xo
Monday, July 7, 2014
This is my first non-neutral collage in a while, in a new sketchbook (albeit not the square sketchbook I made recently for neutral collages). I'm big on couches, sofas, chairs ~ comfy places to get off my feet. Quite possibly that's because I don't have a lot of options in my digs. Although, how many couches and chairs does one need, really, as long as there's one you can call home...like my pea green sofa.
I've been cooking up a storm recently. I've been making one cheesecake after another in my quest to bake one to perfection. I've tried several different recipes and they've all been good. But each time something hasn't worked out quite right. I'm going for the texture of a cheesecake I used to bake back in the 1970s, and even though I'm using the same recipe as back then as well as others, I'm still on a learning curve. Today I learned that the finer points of the baking part of cheesecake making are where I need to focus now. Once I have it all together, I'll post my recipe along with the necessary tips to ensure success. If only other recipes gave you the whole story...but now that I understand the science behind it, I think the next cheesecake just might be that perfect one I've been trying for. Meanwhile, I've enjoyed eating and sharing my "failures."
Recipes and knitting patterns have a lot in common. Over the years I knitted up a couple of ranch houses instead of sweaters because I followed the pattern exactly without visually walking through it beforehand. Sewing patterns, too. So many patterns are abysmally written, kind of like the instructions you get for assembling things made in other parts of the world, where the manual was translated by some non-English speaking outfit like Bing.
Although with recipes it's more like, if you don't inherently understand why things work together or how things work, i.e., the science, then a lot of success is just beginner's luck. And I've certainly had my share of beginner's luck with creative endeavors. Who could've imagined that when I talked a couple months ago about wanting to go deeper into something that it would turn out to be cheesecake.
Saturday, July 5, 2014
I'm really a nester despite the fact that I moved around a lot for many, many years. Looking for my place all those decades, a home, that's mine. Not in terms of owning it (we really never own anything anyway, we can't take anything with us when we leave this place, only how we've grown on the inside). But in terms of having every last thing just the way I want it, not having to cater to or deal with anyone else's life (or shit).
I'm quite sure a major reason why I don't travel, and there are numerous good reasons, is that I hate to be away from home. Hate giving up my rhythm. Hate being away from BeeGee ~ my partner, my familiar, my soulmate. Hate having to try to make myself comfortable elsewhere. Because I'm finally home, in this tiny studio that I've lived in for four years.
Early on in my adult life I had a vision of living and working in what I called my Life Studio. That's exactly what my home is. I'm doing my life in this place. It's all good.
Hope you're having a good weekend. xo
Wednesday, July 2, 2014
|Early spring afternoon overlooking the Eel River and Eel River Valley, Humboldt County|
(Ferndale is where the hills meet level ground, five miles away)
Thought I'd spend a little time talking about adhesives, what I use and when.
PVA -- When I'm gluing paper to book boards to create book covers, I always use PVA (polyvinyl acrylic). I brush it onto the paper or the board, place the paper down, burnish all over with my hands, turn the glued side down and then weight it with heavy books. I'll stack the two covers like this with wax paper between. Let it dry well. PVA creates a really tight bond all over the glued area, with little chance of air spaces except possibly at the very edges...which is easy to fix if need be. I've also used Mod Podge for this but prefer PVA.
Both PVA and Mod Podge are glues, and not mediums (I realize the proper word here is media, but since there are so many different acrylic mediums on the market these days, I'll stick with the word mediums). The essential difference between glue and medium is that the latter forms a sealing bond on whatever it's used on whereas the former does not...meaning it is inherently water soluble. Never use glue in place of medium if your intention is to seal a substrate.
ACRYLIC MEDIUM -- I've used acrylic matte or gloss medium to adhere a wide variety of things. What I've found is that it works best for me when I'm covering a small surface area. For instance, when I create ATCs, I adhere the pieces with matte medium. However, when I'm creating larger work like a journal page or a stand-alone collage, I'll use Acrylic Gel Medium instead of the non-gel medium. Gel is thicker than regular medium and I've found that it adheres bigger collage pieces better than medium does. Matte medium has a lot of liquid in it and will cause larger pieces of paper to wrinkle, sometimes horribly. It also doesn't do a very good job of adhering bigger pieces of paper to a substrate like watercolor paper. The texture of the substrate leaves air holes and pockets under the collage pieces. Gel medium, though, prevents this problem in my experience. So I prefer it for adherence on larger-than-ATC artwork.
However, for a general matte finish on anything, acrylic matte medium works like a charm.
GEL MEDIUM -- I love Golden's Soft Gel Gloss Medium, but their Soft Gel Matte Medium is a lot thicker and I won't replace the latter after I use up what I have. For matte gel medium, I prefer Liquitex, which doesn't seem to get thicker in the jar.
GLUE STICK -- Glue sticks work best for me when I use them for small glue jobs ~ adhering old postage stamps to mixed media pieces, sealing envelopes, touch-up glue jobs like at the corners or edges of things. When I first began art journaling, I used glue stick a lot to adhere collage pieces to my journal pages, but it never worked well. The trick with glue stick is that you must cover the entire surface of the thing to be adhered with the glue...and then it still probably won't bond well to the substrate. Your collage piece also runs a good chance of tearing while you're burnishing. I've tried most brands of glue stick available, and the one that works best for me is Dick Blick's white.
DRY ADHESIVES -- More and more I've been using dry adhesive on collage journal pages, of the tape runner or dot runner variety. I like Elmer's CraftBond Dot Runner; I've tried the tape runner variety of this stuff and I don't like it because it's too tacky, too hard to rub off, too easily gets on things you don't want it on. Elmer's is the cheapest and it works just fine. It really holds things down, too. Teesha Moore is a big proponent of dry adhesives, she doesn't use anything but on her fabulous journal pages. The only thing you need to be aware of is that if you plan to seal your piece after adhering things with the dot runner, there's a good chance the papers will wrinkle because of the air spaces in the areas where there's no sticky dots. My advice: don't put wet sealant over dry journal pages.
SEALANTS -- If you want a matte finish on something, use matte medium to seal it. Or matte varnish, or matte glazing medium. (With few exceptions I use Golden acrylic products.) The matte glazing medium takes longer to dry than regular matte medium. It is somewhere between matte medium and OPEN matte medium. The "open" refers to the fact that there's more time to work with the acrylic paint or medium before it dries (the Open Acrylics act like oil paint whereas regular acrylics dry rather quickly).
Same goes for gloss finishes. Use gloss medium, gloss varnish, or gloss glazing medium. Same properties apply as above.
RUBBER CEMENT -- I'd be remiss if I didn't mention rubber cement, because I used it exclusively up to a couple years ago, for the years I did regular daily collages in sketchbooks. I still love rubber cement because it is extremely easy to clean up, collaged papers lay completely flat and are repositionable for a brief period of time. I know it's not archival (seriously, I don't give a hoot about that), and I know sometimes the adherence breaks down. Although, I've got greeting cards I made 25 years ago with rubber cement where the bonds are still solid. On my old collages, sometimes the collaged pieces have come up on the edges. I just tack 'em down again with glue stick.
I'm thinking of using rubber cement in my new collage journal, for all the reasons listed just above. For my previous Neutrals Journal, I started the book by adhering elements to the pages with gel and regular medium and I found the pages got way too stiff and thick. By the end of the journal I was using my dot runner exclusively. The dot runner refills, though, are a lot more expensive than buying rubber cement by the quart can. Which is why I'll stick with my trusty rubber cement this time.