Monday, September 29, 2014

Coming Home

I began meditating not long ago...meditating as in establishing a daily practice that I am committed to.  Practice as in carrying out or performing a particular activity, method, or custom habitually or regularly, not as in practice makes perfect.  There's no perfection in meditation; there's only the practice of meditating.

I'd tried meditating many, many times previously.  But always, I thought there was somewhere I was supposed to get a rock solid inner quietness where my mind would never wander.  But I could never get there.  So I'd stop meditating.

Or I would meditate on certain thoughts, particular thoughts that I imagined would change things in my outer world...things like, money would flow easily to me if I just thought it into being, or could truly let go of thoughts of lack or need.

I'm older and wiser now.  I know the mind does its own thing largely, and that this is the human condition.  I know that even people who've meditated for years still struggle with quieting their minds.  I know that we each have our own path in life and that the key to happiness is learning to simply be with what is, not in trying to will things to be different than they are.

I used to approach meditation like I approached working out...something I had to do, something I forced upon myself, something I felt guilty about if I didn't do, or didn't do often enough.  And when I had less apparent time to do it, it was easy to find reasons not to meditate.

I have the time now.  In fact, all I have now is time to meditate ~ whether that's actually sitting in meditation, or practicing mindfulness as well as I can in the rest of my everyday life.

I like meditating...but it's really not about whether I like it or not.  It's about having a time (thrice daily) and place where I can come home to myself, where I can touch in with my body, with whatever aches and pains are present, with my breathing, with my aliveness.  A time and place where I can viscerally grasp that I am a spiritual being in a human body...that I am on the right path, and that there is no wrong path.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Early Autumn Friday

Not much going on.  Here's the latest art journal collage, done last weekend.  I'm still way into the neutrals thing.

I finished Jane Urquhart's A Map of Glass this week.  Loved it.  Just got The Stone Carvers, same author, from the library.  I'm midway through A Great Deliverance, the first of the Inspector Linley series proper...but I started in on Daniel Silva's latest, The Heist, yesterday because I've only got that one for a week.  Already one quarter way through it.

Have a good weekend.  I plan to read a lot.  xo

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Prove It!

It's raining today.  How lovely.  Wish I could say the rains have finally come to northern California.  But the seasonal forecast is not calling for a tremendous amount of rain...i.e., good chance of below normal precipitation this autumn.  I've been reading the California Weather Blog for the last year or so, and always enjoy Daniel Swain's analysis of what's happening above and around us.

I've had to laugh over the last couple days as the Medicare/MediCal issue brought home the stance that was thrust on me and that I subsequently took on throughout my life, of being guilty until proven innocent.

In other words, having to prove to someone, to damn near everyone in authority, that I deserved whatever.  It came in these guises ~

  • How bad is it, really, that you need to ask for help (of any kind)?
  • How badly do you really need new clothes...why don't you just lose weight so you'll fit into your old clothes?
  • What have you really done to earn a raise or a bonus (...besides all the amazing, cost-saving, good-number-raising things you have done or programs you already have implemented)?
  • How competent are you, really, to do the job we're considering hiring you for? (asked by numerous recruiters who didn't have the competence to do anything besides what they were already doing.)
  • How much are you really hurting that you need intervention of any it medical, dental, psychological...?

I'm sure this has probably happened to all of us, especially us women.  Constantly having to prove that we're better than men just to earn the fabled 79 cents ($.64? $.85? whatever) for every one of their dollars.  Nothing against you guys, it's just how it is these days, and how it's been since Day 1.

Anyway, I've been a good adopter of the underdog status throughout my life.  Coupled with the fact that I've always been a natural contrarian.  Not that I set out to be contrary to everything.  But never fitting in to anything anywhere, the common denominator never working for me, anything that works for everyone else in any domain of life simply not working for me, has pretty much put me in a class by myself.  The proverbial square peg never fitting into the round hole.  So I learned to approach everything from the position of being an outsider, one who fell through the cracks, one whose needs would have to go without being met.  Collateral damage of a whacked out system.

Anyhoo, that's history and I'm not dwelling on it.  All that living on the fringes in one way or another has made me the strong, loving, compassionate, conspiracy theorist I am today.  I wouldn't have it any other way.


Monday, September 22, 2014

The First of Autumn

This is the opening page of the latest art/collage journal I've been using.  You've already seen several collages from inside, but I hadn't done the first page until recently.

Sometimes, like right now, life feels like a freakin' seesaw.  Life gives and then it takes away and then gives  again with a fair amount of regularity. I got a letter recently from food stamps (actually CalFresh now) letting me know my $44 monthly allotment was being cut down to $16 beginning in October.  It had nothing to do with me, but for the past year I'd had the benefit of a state program that artificially kept the monthly benefit higher for most, if not all, recipients in California.  So I called right away, just to pitch my case that despite the state's cockamamie formula that says my "net" income is quite a bit higher than it is, the fact that my true after-rent "net" is actually $300 lower than the state says means I barely have enough money to feed myself each month.  Hold that thought.

My back's been bothering me a lot lately.  I need more chiropractic than I've been able to afford. Medicare pays for it, but MediCal, my Part B insurer, does not.  So essentially I have no insurance for chiropractic, or anyway, this is what I'd been led to believe.  The place I've been going to in Fortuna does not have a low-income/no insurance rate, so I try not to go in for an adjustment unless I can barely move.

There was another chiropractor in Fortuna that I planned to see, who does have a low-income rate for folks like me who fall through the cracks.  I call them this morning to make an appointment...but they've moved to Eureka!

Well, I already have a chiropractor in Eureka...and she just told me she thinks Medicare WILL pay for 80% of the visit, says she has other patients in a similar situation as me. Thankfully I'll get in to see her tomorrow. And I think I'll try going back to my Fortuna chiropractor somewhere down the road and just give 'em my Medicare card.

Back to I called them again this morning to see if out-of-pocket medical expenses (i.e. chiropractic) counted as an allowance against the state's unreal "net" income of mine.  No, medical expenses don't count.  But I now qualify for a different utility-allowance program and my monthly allotment has gone back up to $53 a month beginning in October, with an additional $20 already applied to my benefit card this month.  Like I said, it's a seesaw.

This gizmo you're looking at is my new Bookseat, which I bought at Amazon.  I know several of you also have problems with your hands and neck, holding books.  I rest this thing on a throw pillow and rest that in my lap for completely hands-free reading at a level that works for my neck.  The Bookseat was developed and is made in Australia, available from a number of resellers via Amazon.  Price ranges from $30 to $35.  I can't speak highly enough of it.  Plus, it weighs nothing by itself; it's filled with poly pellets.

My day's already gotten a lot better since beginning this post.  Have a good week.  xo

P.S.  I realized after writing this that I totally misunderstood the Medicare/MediCal thing.  When MediCal says they don't pay for chiropractic, what they mean is, they won't pay the 20 percent coinsurance.  How I interpreted it, is that they won't allow payment for any part of chiropractic.  Big error on my part.  Medicare pays for 80 percent, period.  I'll pay the $8 copayment.  That I can easily do.  I'm just glad I've only had a couple of adjustments, at $50 each, since getting on Medicare early this year.  The real issue is that most chiropractors charge $65 ($50 if you pay in cash) to an uninsured patient for a service they're only getting $32 for from Medicare.  And this doesn't apply to just chiropractors, of course.  The uninsured people of the world are underwriting the medical/insurance industry.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Various and Sundry

BeeGee and I celebrated our fourth anniversary living together in Rose Cottage, yesterday.  We'll have our tenth anniversary of being mates in late November.

We had a bit of rain and it was lovely...also extremely humid.  Changeable weather always brings awesome clouds and I've been taking lots of photos.

I hadn 't been online, or even turned on my computer since Wednesday evening.  I didn't miss much.  I'm back on my schedule of having more computer-free days a week than not.  I'm happier without the distractions and interruptions, even if I'm not doing anything to speak of.

Wanted to show you this stamphead postcard.  It's the one I'm keeping out of my latest batch.

Have a good weekend, enjoy the equinox.  I'm SO glad it's autumn!  xo 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

From the Archives

Here are a couple of lace shawls I knit back in the day, from yarns that I spun.  This first one was a natural colored Romney fleece, the first fleece (hogget) from this particular sheep.  First fleeces from gray sheep are often tan or brown in color.  This was the first full fleece I spun and I did a lot of wonderful things with the yarn.

For this shawl and the one below, I added glass beads to the knit edges instead of fringe. 

This shawl was knit with hand dyed, hand spun silk.  I used my favorite lace "leaves" pattern.  This shawl is quite large and has lovely drape.  It's 18 x 72 inches.  What you see is actually the second time I knit this shawl ~ the first time it was way too narrow and way too long.  I don't know what I was thinking, maybe that I would wrap it around my neck again and again and again...but silk is so warm that I couldn't stand it!  I dutifully ripped out the entire thing and started over again.  Not the only time I've done that, by the way.
Recently I read Herman Koch's Summer House With Swimming Pool and enjoyed it.  Have to admit it was kind of strange, but I like Koch's writing, his incisive take on life.

I also recently read for the first time Nick Bantock's Griffin & Sabine and Morningstar trilogies.  Both quick reads, great fun, with wonderful mail art to boot.

Currently I'm reading Night Film by Marisha Pessl, an intriguing mystery.

I'm also reading two non-fiction Buddhist books ~ Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change by Pema Chodron, and The Authentic Life by Ezra Bayda.

I'm liking Pema's book better than anything else I've read from her since When Things Fall Apart (Heart Advice for Difficult Times), which is a terrific book.  I've read most of Ezra's books as well.  Pema Chodron is a Tibetan Buddhist; Ezra Bayda is a Zen Buddhist.

We're actually supposed to get some rain today and tomorrow, 40 to 50 percent chance.  I'll believe it when I see it.  But god knows we need rain in California ~ virtually the entire state is a tinderbox right now.  Really scary stuff.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Samurai Carpenter

For many years I've applied the moniker Samurai Carpenter (ala John Belushi) to myself, to describe my exploits in DIY home improvement and the like.  You have no idea what I've been able to do with a hacksaw, a corded drill, some primitive hand tools and sand paper.  But more on this later...

I took a fabulous book binding workshop on Saturday, sponsored by NorBAG in Eureka.  Each person in the class got to select which old book they wanted to use well beforehand, so the signatures had been cut to spec for each of us prior to the class.  This is the book I'd selected.

Everybody got the book block from their books to take home and use later, either in the journals we made or in something else.  I had no idea A Hermit's Wild Friends was going to be a natural history tome, complete with tons of drawings and plates.  So in addition to making this great journal, I've got the innards to do other stuff with later.

This is the Bow Tie stitch that we learned.  A very cool thing about this construction is that all the knots are hidden. 
There are four pockets in the journal, and I've used the original title page on the inside front cover.

We used sewing frames to make these books with sewn-on tapes.  I love this construction but I'd never used a sewing frame before.  The frame definitely made construction a lot easier (and might actually foil BeeGee, who drives me nuts going for the thread whenever I'm trying to bind books).

Later Saturday evening I decided I needed to have a sewing frame.  But even the least expensive is too dear for me.  Saturday night as I lay in bed I figured out how to make my own.  And that's exactly what I did yesterday. 

Voila!  My sewing frame, with recycled wood.  The beautiful oak bed of the frame was one of several oak panels I used when I did shows, to stand my jewelry stands on.  I haven't done anything with them since 2000, except hold on to them because the wood is so beautiful.  I finally put one to use.

The three short pieces of 1x1 on the bottom were cut from one side of a silk-painting frame I've had since 1992.  The other parts of the frame are under one of my studio tables, increasing the height of the table top (among other things I've got under there for the same purpose).  I scavanged the crossbar wood yesterday from a neighbor's shed.  I already had the wing nuts.

Total outlay yesterday:  $2.50 for the long bolts.  Pride in having built this beautiful sewing frame myself:  priceless.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Another Dozen

I made another dozen of these stamphead, kids'-book-page postcards over the last couple days.

The pages that I used both in this batch and the previous one are from a children's reader called Once Upon a Storytime.  I read the same book when I was a child and some of the stories and illustrations have brought back memories as I've been going through the book recently.

It is strange, indeed, to be standing squarely in your present life, riffling through an old book, and suddenly you're on the playground of your grammar school, from 55-60 years ago.  Life was good enough back then, but I'm sure glad to be at this end of mine now...instead of having to face 60 years of all that comes between childhood and being a senior.  I certainly wouldn't want to have to do it over again...

...until my next lifetime, of course.  Where I sincerely hope to come back as my cat, cared for and loved as much as BeeGee is.


Monday, September 8, 2014

Where The Action Is

Everybody loves a good sale, right?

Here, then, is where you can find all those goodies that I'm currently selling...

Hand Dyed, Hand Spun Silk Yarns ~~ I've already sold 40 percent of what I listed yesterday.  Hurry over...

Books and Obscure CDs at Amazon ~~ This is all my current listings at Amazon, in one place.

Cabochons, mostly Chinese Turquoise...

Sterling Silver Beads...

Vintage Linens...

Quilting Arts Back Issues...

Glass Seed and Accent Beads...

I hope you'll shop 'til the cows come home...but please don't drop on my account.

Have a great week.  And thanks, as always, for your ongoing support and encouragement.  xo

Friday, September 5, 2014

First Friday

This morning feels like the first Friday of autumn, even though it isn't officially yet.  There are major forest fires in far-northern California and southern Oregon, so we've had a lot of smoke in the air this week, down here in Humboldt County.  Gives the air and the light that brown-tinged appearance.

Since my current art making activities have slowed down to a snail's pace, I thought I'd take new images of the best of my previous work, and post them here.  Most of you readers weren't following me when I created these works so they'll be new to you.

This is my best ~ and my favorite ~ piece of art cloth.  It's a length of handwoven silk that was originally a woven shibori scarf.  For those who might not be familiar with the term, woven shibori is a process of weaving supplementary weft (crosswise) threads into a piece of handwoven fabric, and after weaving, those threads are drawn up on both sides to compress the fabric.  Then the piece is dyed.  The process is basically the same as would be hand stitching drawing-up threads into a piece of commercial fabric, gathering up those threads and then dyeing the fabric.  With woven shibori, the draw-up threads are woven into the fabric right on the loom.  The hand process is called mokume, and in either case, those threads are later removed entirely after the fabric has been dyed.

This piece is called Undersea; finished size is 11 x 47 inches.  I created it in 2006.

It looked vastly different from this when it was originally finished as a scarf.  The colors didn't work for me.  So I began discharging the color out and overdyeing it multiple times, using different shibori techniques each time to create the final fabric.  Lastly I added gold pen squiggles and foil squares.

I decided after all to read the entire Inspector Lynley series by Elizabeth George.  I just finished the prequel, A Suitable Vengence.  It took me longer than usual to read, not because it was exceptionally long, but because I got bogged down in the family history stuff for the initial 100 pages before the first murder occurred.  It was clear sailing after that point.  I'll probably never get over the fact that in the books, Thomas Lynley is a blond, while protrayed in the TV series by Nathaniel Parker, Lynley has dark brown hair.  In my mind's eye, Lynley will always be dark haired.  So be it.

And guess who baked another cheesecake yesterday?!  (I.H. ~ I'll bring you a taste this afternoon.)

That's all the news for the moment from my corner of paradise.  Have a great Friday.  xo

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Odds and Ends

Sketchbook Collage, 2012
I was in Eureka yesterday doing food shopping.  Geez, can you believe the price of food these days???

Organic mangoes were $3.69 each.  A bag of tiny organic lemons was $7.50.  A tiny container of Arnica 30x, a homeopathic remedy for inflammation and muscle aches that I use when I can ~ when I can afford to, that is ~ was $9.50.  Un-believable.  Of course I don't buy this stuff because I simply can't afford to.  Those three items alone, had I bought them, would have cost half my monthly food stamp allotment.

We're entering apple season but I doubt I'll bake apple pie this year.  Organic apples have been approaching $3.00 a pound since last year, except when they're on sale.  Last apple pie I baked, the apples alone cost me over $10 (and they were on sale).  Hard to believe.  Pretty much the only fruit I'll eat these days is bananas, which are always cost effective, or fruit that I've been given.

And speaking of apples...just a note here.  I've never, ever had apples as good as the apples that were available in Santa Cruz when I lived there.  Back then the prevailing varieties were Mountain Delicious and Pippin.  They were plentiful, with Watsonville and Corralitos, prime apple-growing areas, just south of Santa Cruz, they were very inexpensive, and they were always good.  But that was 30-40 years ago.  And everything has changed.  Can't find a sweet Pippin apple to save your life anymore, at least where I live now.

Anyway, I'll likely just keep on making cheesecakes for myself for a while, and then switch over to sweet potato pie, which I make with yams.  Not only more cost effective, but both these items take way less physical energy to make than does apple pie.

I've listed most of my glass beads at my Etsy Shop; will post the rest this morning.  I'm also posting 50+ back issues of Quilting Arts at Etsy.  Interweave Press sells back issues for $7.99; I'm selling mine for $3.00 each, all in excellent condition, and I've grouped them together by year to save on shipping.   Priority Mail shipping rates are increasing, effective this coming Sunday, September 7, FYI.

Have a good week, y'all.  xo

Monday, September 1, 2014


Art Journal Collage, August 2014
“Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” ~ William Morris

It has become a near-obsession for me, getting rid of things I no longer need or want, or will never use, or never liked to begin with, or feel bad about having spent money on.

The quote from William Morris above has been a guiding principle for me since I established my first household in the early 1970s.  Being a lifelong devotee of the Arts & Crafts Movement, that idea has always been operating in the background for me, in terms of how I arrange/organize my spaces and everything I lay my eyes on.  I hate having junk around that is useless and ugly.  Uselessness and ugliness are highly offensive to my senses of artfulness and design.

I've had my aquisitive periods like the rest of us. many bread books does one single person really need, especially if she always baked superb loaves with guidance from the very first book?  Or, how many pair of Teva river sandals does one person need when a) she never river walks; b) only one pair can be worn at a time; and c) they almost never wear out?

Even these days I find myself buying more than I need ~~ but at least now my purchases are dollar store items, or thrift shop t-shirts to sleep in, or momentarily-gotta-have old books.  Sometimes it feels like I've just got to spend a couple bucks on something, whether I need it or not.  I suspect this feeling is the residue of modern acculturation.

Anyway...something inside me keeps driving me to get rid of more stuff.  Maybe this goes back to a fantasy I had in the 1970s about being able to put everything I owned in a VW bug and drive off into the sunset.  I just don't like the idea of having too much stuff.  It feels pretentious.

There's also this idea of my personal footprint on the planet.  I seem to want mine to be shrinking.  Deleting all those other blogs I had, and my website, and my Facebook page (but not my profile) over the last couple years, as well as having no real interest in marketing any finished art I make, all go to this concept.  I don't like the idea of being all over the place on the internet or elsewhere.

I don't want to leave a swath of unnecessary detritus when I go.  Not that I have any plans to for many years.  But still, I don't want to possess a lot of nonessential stuff ~~ right now, and going forward.