Sunday, December 30, 2018
Finally, I'm working on a knitted sweater. And also a pair of socks that will be donated, among other handmade items, to Sequoia Humane's fundraiser in February.
The socks in the photo below, the most recent pair I finished for myself, has an interesting story...
This is a 2-ply hand dyed, hand spun silk yarn, from 10 or 12 years ago. I had to dye the black like three times to get the silk noil really, really black. And I hand carded in the bits of color.
I originally thought I'd have enough yarn for a pair of socks, but because the gauge was so small, meaning I was using more yarn than anticipated, I realized I'd need more. Then remembered I had a woven piece from back then, 40x16 inches, with this same yarn as the weft. So I UNwove the piece, because it wasn't even in my top 10 faves anyway. Unweaving meant meticulously picking the fabric apart, about 5/8 inch at a time. Took me several hours over a couple days.
Now, of course, I've got enough yarn to knit another pair for myself out of this yarn. Which I just might do because it was so much fun to knit these.
Happy New Year, everyone! xx
Sunday, December 9, 2018
Still knitting socks, likely a couple more pair this year before I start on a sweater, the first of several. But this sock-knitting thing is addictive.
I've been making collages more slowly than previously...but every time I think maybe I'll take a break (it's been 2 years since I started collaging in its current form), I begin again. So, no break, just pace myself.
I spent the entire 5-day Thanksgiving weekend, including the Wednesday before, at home, alone, doing my own thing, and never left the house in all that time. And since then, I've also had blocks of time where I've done likewise. In fact, that's kind of how I'm organizing my life from here on out. Be away from home as little as possible. Spend every day only doing things that I enjoy (plus some housework now and then).
I guess it's nearly Christmas, but I'm so far removed from all of that, that I'm not really impacted in any way. I treated myself to a bunch of stuff earlier this fall, yarn mostly, so I'm going frugal this month. As much as I enjoy buying things on the few occasions in the year when I do, I also enjoy NOT spending money. I really have more than enough stuff already.
Hope you're all having a blessed month and that you have lovely holidays. xx
Friday, November 16, 2018
So I've been ad hoc collecting for a few years now, deciding on which stamps are most appealing to me and swapping, selling or giving away anything else. I've kept my stamps in a 3-ring binder, in those plastic sleeves that hold ATCs or trading cards, 9 slots on a page.
Only recently did I decide I wanted to "formalize" my stamps into a real collection, in albums. I found an old Minkus 1954 International Album at the flea a couple months ago, for $5. And that just whet my appetite.
On Tuesday, I acquired, from my vendor pal, a huge 3-part Scott International Album through the late 1950s, a Scott Minuteman U.S. Album through the late 1980s, 5 or 6 other smaller albums, and 5 or 6 stamp stock books...everything with collections started who knows where or when...for a song. And I'm over the moon.
Slowly, I will work my own collection into the bigger albums, and remove stamps from the smaller albums to do the same. For U.S. stamps, I'm good with the Minuteman Album only going up to the late 1980s. Because I do not like 99% of the "newer issues," meaning stamps that are microlithographed as opposed to engraved (the Bureau of Printing & Engraving stopped issuing engraved stamps in the early 1990s, although many stamps prior to then were not engraved. The Bureau stopped printing stamps altogether in 2005.), and I have no intention of collecting them. Except the very few that I like, which I'll probably keep in a stock book instead of an album.
Not sure what I'll do yet with international stamps beyond the late 1950s. It's unlikely I'll find an album for them, short of buying Scott's now-50 volume World Stamp Album, which wholly sells for close to $14,000! I definitely will not go there, so I 'll probably keep those stamps in the same binder I'm currently housing my collection.
There was a time when I wouldn't have been happy with old albums. But I'm completely satisfied with them now. In fact, it feels like an honor to have acquired collections that were started in the past by I don't know how many people, work on and with them, and pass them on at the end of my life.
I've now got more old stamps than I could ever imagine before, many from countries and regions that no longer exist, and I would bet quite a few of them are very valuable, monetarily. The history in these album pages...an education for sure. Especially in view of how much the world has changed in the past 100 years -- or even 20 years -- I'd much rather have my head in old, vintage stamp albums, continually amazed at the tiny works of art before me, than watch movies or television.
Sunday, November 11, 2018
I'm resting my hands this weekend, focusing on reading the latest Tana French novel, The Witch Elm. I only have it for a week.
I've been collaging frequently, and replying to penpal correspondence. It's so hard to believe this year is nearly over and done with. Went to a Thanksgiving Dinner last night, hosted by the mobile park where I live. I couldn't help but notice that a lot of people here now seem younger than folks did when I moved in...the older ones died or moved away, plus I'm 10 years older, so most of the newer residents ARE younger than me!
Our days recently have been mostly-clear and crisp. Parts of California are on fire again, with more new fires likely. It sure seems that every time new fires happen, they are more devastating than any previous fires. More total acres (1.7M+) have burned in California this year than in any previous year. There've been more fatalities in recent fires and much more destruction of homes, schools, etc. The entire town of Paradise, east of Chico, was wiped out by the Camp Fire last week. The Woolsey Fire in SoCal has burned from Simi Valley to Thousand Oaks to Malibu, right down to the coast highway. It's so sad.
I feel pretty safe in Humboldt County. No major fires here, no extreme weather (the long-standing drought in CA notwithstanding), as far as I know we haven't had any mass shootings here (although we do have a huge number of drug-related homicides and traffic fatalities).
Overall and in general, despite last Tuesday's election results, I feel things will continue to get a lot worse...and it might not begin to turn around in what's left of my lifetime. So I try my best to enjoy my life, here and now, and let go of the rest. Although it's a daily challenge, as I'm sure you all know, to live our lives without being impacted by what's going on around us.
Hope you have a good week. xx
Tuesday, October 30, 2018
First off, when I saw the skein that produced the socks below, I thought it was the most beautiful yarn I'd seen. It read turquoise, olive, magenta. It did not read brown, as the finished socks do. So to say I'm a little disappointed is an understatement.
But the yarn was pricey and I don't like having UFOs lying around...because they eat at my mind until I finish them. So I just knit up this pair of socks from the getgo, working as fast as I could, so that I could move on.
The yarn was also relatively difficult to work with, because it's a very tightly spun 3-ply that is very round -- which likely makes it good for socks, but cumbersome to work with. Plus, that tightly-spunness rendered all the stitches so uniform, that the finished socks look as though they were made on a sock knitting machine, not by hand.
However...they're warm and comfy, despite that they don't go with anything I own. And they're also 100% superwash wool, which is the only wool I'll use these days.
In my spinning days, just the name superwash would kind of make me recoil. I used to buy raw wool fleece and process and spin it myself. So a wool product messed-with in any way was out of my range of comprehension...
...until about 10 years ago when I realized that I could no longer wear wool, because it itched too much. So I used up what handspun wool I had left on items I donated to local animal rescue groups, and set about knitting up all the handspun silks I had in my collection.
Then I decided to knit again in earnest, and I discovered superwash wool. The primary reason it is called superwash, is that it can be soaped and agitated in a washing machine without turning into felt, as natural wool will do in a heartbeat. Natural wool fibers have microscopic barbs on them, and those barbs stick together when wool is agitated. (Those barbs also help the fibers stick together in the yarn-spinning process.) The process of making a wool superwash removes all those barbs, which is why you can wash it without fear of felting.
But...removing the barbs from the fiber also renders it Non-Itchy! And that's why I'm using superwash wool now. I can use and wear wool without an allergic reaction. Hallelujah!
I've gotten back into stamp collecting, something I did as a kid in the 50s. I think it was all those recently-acquired vintage envelopes with their old stamps that pushed me over the edge of deciding to do something more formal with the stamps I've been collecting for the last five years. I'll say more about it in my next post.
Early indicators predict that this will likely be a warm and dry winter in California. We had a smattering of rain a few days ago, but I don't think we'll see a lot of it this year. I hope I'm wrong.
Happy Hallowe'en! xx
Saturday, October 13, 2018
I was kind of busy there for a while, but things freed up again last week. I'm back to knitting mostly, and reading, and collaging every day when I can.
The weather has been beautiful. This is indeed the Indian Summer that I was hoping for.
Hope you're enjoying October. Happy Hallowe'en! xx
Wednesday, September 19, 2018
I'm also using this first pair to try a few different ways to do the customary things on handknitted socks, like cuff, heel flap, and toe. I want to get myself setup with a template that works for me, and always do that.
Boring to do the same thing, you say? I like routine. There's a lot of freedom in routine, in not having to make decisions all the time because things are changing up, often unnecessarily. Anecdote from life: I make pancakes for myself every weekend, and I use the same basic recipe every time. I love them. I have no interest in experimenting in the kitchen with fancy recipes to make something so basic. That's just me.
In other news...the summer was so wacky here, i.e. there was hardly one at all and most days were overcast, that all my Christmas cacti are blooming now!!
That's it for now...short and sweet. Hope you're enjoying early autumn! xx
Monday, August 27, 2018
This body that I spent 60 years trying to reshape via dieting, fasting, diet pills (years ago), working out, and god only knows what else. Fortunately for me I never had an eating disorder, although I've had a "fat/thin" perception disorder since I was a teenager. (A fat/thin disorder is when you're thin and you look in the mirror and still see yourself as fat.)
Like many women my age, just shy of 70, I was brainwashed to believe I had to be thin or else... Or else what? I wouldn't find a man, would always be rejected, could never really get on with my life as long as I was heavy.
If I could recapture even 10 percent of the time I wasted in my life being obsessed with my weight, whether I was thin enough, whether I could squeeze into a smaller size, whether or not I was the heaviest girl/woman in any group, feeling not as worthy as my thin friends, feeling outcast and sidelined because of my plumpness, holding myself back from so many things because "heavy girls need not apply," ad nauseum.
And it's taken me this long to reprogram myself to stop thinking there's something defective about me because I could never stay a size 8 or 10, or even a 6 at one point. Every time I lost weight, eventually I gained it back, and then some ~ like everyone else who's been on this merry-go-round for their lifetimes.
So not long ago, I just stopped with all that bullshit. I am now the size I would have been anyway all those years if I hadn't been trying in vain to be smaller than I naturally was. And now I'm celebrating the body I do have. I'm zaftig and I really always have been. I have my father's body; he was a big man although not fat or obese. I wear an average woman's size now. I'm not obese and never have been (although I was told that I was when I was just a teenager). Many heavier women would give their eye teeth to have the body I have now.
The only way I was ever really able to control my weight and become thinner, was to practically starve myself. I actually decalcified my bones back in the day when my modus operandi was to do three- to six-week juice fasts periodically. Today I'm healthy, I have no chronic illnesses, and I'm pretty much eating whatever I want these days, albeit mindfully. Because after all these years, I trust myself.
Thank god the social climate has changed to some degree from when I was younger. A lot of younger women these days are wearing their flesh like badges of honor. There's still a long way to go to create any sense of equity for women in our culture who aren't model-thin. But it's better now than it used to be.
This just came to mind: I was following a page on Instagram for a while, something about style or wisdom in over-50 women. But I stopped because every single one of the women in their photos were thin. What about us less-than-skinny women? We have style too, we have wisdom to share, why are we still being left out of the conversation, in 2018?
A very good old book that I recently reread is The Obsession, On The Tyranny of Slenderness, by Kim Chernin. It's from the 80s but is still highly relevant today. We women have been brainwashed by years of our culture telling us we needed to be other than how we naturally are. If you're caught in this trap, as so many women still are, I recommend this book for an overview of what our culture has done/continues doing to women. We don't need to buy into it anymore. We need to reclaim the bodies that we were given, take excellent care of ourselves, and just be who we are.
Monday, August 13, 2018
So I started selling them, primarily the First Flight Airmail envelopes I got on my original score in July. I'm selling them through Instagram only at this point, have only listed airmail envelopes there thus far.
Most of what I have left at this point are business reply-type envelopes, from the 1900s through the 1960s, the earlier ones with handwritten addresses. Someone saved every envelope they got with a payment of some sort in it. MANY envelopes to several banks, a dairy, a chocolate factory, a manufacturing outfit, an outdoor-type magazine from back then.
I am doing "deals" for pals who want a bunch of envelopes. So if you're one of those folks, email me and let's talk.
Life is otherwise lovely and I'm happy as a clam. Our weather has been overcast/foggy a lot, with mostly sunny afternoons. More like spring weather than our typical summer. But it's early days yet, and we could get an Indian Summer. Although there's a touch of autumn in the air already.
Hope you're enjoying your summer. xx
Sunday, July 29, 2018
And then I went to a flea market in Fortuna yesterday, and found 15 vintage postcards and four books. No photo. I guess I'm on a bit of a roll...and there's the monthly flea next Sunday, which I'll attend.
We've really been blessed with good, as in "normal," weather here on the North Coast. While the rest of the country suffers with extreme heat, flooding, and wildfires. As per usual, fires are burning north, east and south of us and we're getting smoke. But no fires in Humboldt County at the moment.
For at least twenty years I've been threatening to cut my hair VERY short...and I finally had it done, ten days ago. So, this is what I actually look like now. In my mind I still look like I did when I was 30 years younger...but this is reality.
I started a knitting project this week. I'm actually knitting a garment, a shawl-collared, kimono-style, sweater-jacket, from commercial (superwash) wool. I hadn't bought any commercial yarn in at least twenty years, seeing as I spun so much yarn for over a decade. And in the recent past I've been knitting scarves out of the remaining handspun silk yarns I have. But I recently rediscovered my love of knitting, so I'm making a garment, the pattern to which I've had for probably 15 years, although it's still relevant (not dated) today.
So this is life in Rose Cottage this summer -- knitting, reading, resting, hanging with BeeGee, a flea market or yard sale now and then. Priceless.
Saturday, July 7, 2018
And that's just fine. I've let so many things go in the past few years anyway, and there's no going back.
This is about expectations of myself as well. Newly, I have none. It's much better to live this way than it ever was, pushing myself, challenging myself, goading myself, even creatively. Because I've learned that just about everything I do has the potential to create anxiety for me. And I cannot handle anxiety.
What just came to mind is many of the times in my past where I had absolutely impossible expectations of myself without any idea that I had them, because I had no sense...no sense of what I really needed and wanted, no clue about personal boundaries...and because I was hellbent to prove that I could/would do what I said I would do. A lot of failures followed, and of course, I blamed myself but for the wrong reasons.
Anyway, I'm just fine now, living my contented simple life while my emotions are in equilibrium. The truth is, I have days when I don't feel so great, physically. That's what being nearly 70 will do to you. I still feel so young in my heart...but I spend a lot of time resting my body these days, often still thinking I should be able to do more. Another expectation to let go of.
There are no new mountains to climb now. (I will move eventually, to a different place in Fortuna, but likely not for 2 or 3 years yet. That'll be a stressor, but I'll handle that when I get there.) I don't need any mountains anymore. I just need peace and quiet, lots of time to read, playing in my studio when I feel like it, staring out the window at the clouds or laying in the sun and doing the same. And that's just what I've got. So I feel very blessed indeed.
Monday, July 2, 2018
Yesterday, though, did not disappoint. I recently got a copy of Nick Bantock's Urgent 2nd Class, read it through, and then found, among other goodies, the two boxes of vintage mail below at the flea market.
I'm not really sure yet what I'll do with all this goodness, other than sort and organize at this point. But finding these does make me want to go through all the various vintage things I've got here and there and group everything together somehow. I've got pamphlets of various sorts, postcards (picture and otherwise), a few of those small vertical religious cards from funerals, etc. (which, despite being Jewish, I adore), some foreign currency, magazines, advertisements, various vintage office supplies, a calendar or two, old books of course. And most of it previously collected a piece at a time from used bookshops, garage, estate and rummage sales, library book sales, and the like.
I bought myself a chaise longue recently, and have spent time nearly every day out on it. I went to the beach yesterday when I was in Eureka, and will again tomorrow, to a different beach, when I go back for my monthly trip. I'll also make a stop at SCRAP Humboldt (creative re-use shop) in Arcata to find whatever goodies I can.
It's finally July, the real start of summer here on the North Coast. I'm planning to enjoy the heck out of it.
California is already burning, though, and it's not "fire season" for a few months. It's a year-round thing these days. There's thankfully nothing burning right in this area, but north, east and south, there are massive wildfires that continue growing before they're contained. And the federal government has cut back on wildfire prevention...
Hope you're having a glorious summer. If I don't post often here again, know this time that all is well and will continue to be. I'll write when I have something to share.
Wednesday, May 30, 2018
But then I lost confidence, as depression engulfed me again. And I've stopped painting now...until I feel stronger.
Art, for me, has always been "something to do," a way to utilize my creative skills...but I've never felt compelled to make art, like "Make Art or Die." For many people, art is what "saves" them, especially when they're going through difficult times in other domains of their lives. It's not that way for me -- I need to be feeling good inside in order to push forward with art.
And when I say "push forward," what I mean is going outside my comfort zone. In looking back over my life as a whole, I can see that I pushed through comfort zones, virtually endlessly, in every area of my life, because I had to. The only option would have been to vegetate, to stay totally stuck wherever I was. And being a survivor, that wasn't an alternative I could have chosen.
I can't push myself right now to venture beyond my comfort zone, creatively. What I'm really comfortable with is collage, so that's where my creative energy is focused these days. Albeit I'm currently doing less here than previously, because my back and neck have been bothering me lately. Still, collage is what I continue to gravitate towards when the mood strikes.
Too, I have a couple of small knitting projects in the works, very simple scarves made with my own handspun silk yarns from 10 or more years ago. Rather mindless, but keeps my hands busy. I also sometimes have "cutting jags," where I'll spend whole days cutting out ephemera for collage, which I find meditative.
I've had to let go of my expectations for myself, regarding painting, or the making of art in general. It might even be that those hidden expectations, even though I kept trying to convince myself I didn't have any, contributed to my becoming depressed again. Other than my interactions with people, which in nearly all cases have soured with time, all of the stress that I continually experience is internally generated. I see that; I know that.
The healing is about learning, mentally and viscerally, how to do everything differently. And that is my own personal Mt. Everest.
Thursday, May 24, 2018
The meeting with the doctor, who's now my new practitioner at the clinic, went well. He's young yet seemed quite knowledgeable about depression.
The decision about medication is that since we know my body tolerates Prozac, I'll take 60mg/day for six weeks and then see him again. If I've stabilized, I'll stay on that dosage until such time as I might need to change again. Then I'll go to 80mg/day, if necessary, same scenario. We'll find a new drug if Prozac subsequently doesn't work for the long haul.
I'm fine with that, and so relieved that I've got a medical partner now in this journey.
Those of you who are depressed or have friends or loved ones who are, know that there's no cure for depression. It's a matter of finding the right drug/chemical that will alleviate enough of the symptoms that you can function in life, and feel your best.
So here's to better living through chemistry. x
Monday, May 21, 2018
I've suffered with depression for my entire adult life. I've been on prozac/fluoxetine for the past 25 years, on a very low dose. I had about three really good years, after the drug took six months to kick in, back in the mid-1990s.
The truth is, my life has always been an emotional roller coaster (if you've followed this blog for the last several years, you'll know why), exacerbated in the last 20 years, I now see, by the fact that that antidepressant wasn't really working for me, or stopped being totally effective, years ago.
I started taking it when I lived in San Francisco and had Kaiser insurance. Since then, I've self-managed the medication, because I didn't have insurance (until Medicare) and couldn't afford psychiatric care (for medication management). Also, being the self-reliant, "I can do it myself" type, it honestly never occurred to me, since I've been on Medicare, that I could seek a doctor's help with the depression.
There's also this thing when you're chronically depressed, that even if/when you have periods of emotional equilibrium, when those times end, you don't realize you're depressed again. You think it's just who you are, to feel so bad inside.
Back in December of last year, I had the inkling to increase my dosage of prozac to 40mg/day from 20mg. So January through March of this year, I felt really great, better than I'd ever felt. Then I had a depressive crash in late March/early April, that I still haven't recovered from. It was only last week, when my closest friend suggested maybe my medication wasn't working, that I had the big AHA moment. It had just never crossed my mind previously.
Now I can see just how much time in the past 25 years (not to mention the preceding 20+ years) I spent in depressive periods, regardless of taking medication. And I can see how many of my physical symptoms of the last few years are likely related either to the medication no longer working, or the depression itself, or both. Shit.
I have an appointment with the MD at my clinic this Wednesday. I can't do it alone anymore. I need help managing the depression. I also have no illusions that I'll ever stop needing ADs.
Thursday, March 8, 2018
I'm not really back...but since I've had several requests to see my collages, I decided to do this post to let you know your options.
I'm really happy not blogging anymore. Really, it's a load off my mind. It's a real hassle uploading photos from my phone to the blog, because it takes forever for them to upload. Alternatively, I can download photos from my phone/GooglePhoto to Photoshop, resize them and then upload them to the blog, but that, too, is a hassle that I don't miss.
For a while I sent collage images to a friend via Messenger, but that felt much like blogging. So, your option, if you want to see my collages, is to join Instagram. I am uploading collages there several times a week. It's just so easy -- I take the image on my phone, and I upload it to IG. Period. No need to setup my computer as I need to do if I'm going to upload images to the blog.
I've setup an IG widget on the top of the right side bar here on the blog. Or, if you're already there, find me here, @connieandbeegee.
If you want to get in touch with me by other means, email me or get in touch via Messenger. Or we could be snailmates if you want, but you have to go first. I always reply. But I can't tell you how many people have asked to be my penpal, then I wrote first, and never heard back from them.
I love you all. And I'm really enjoying life post-blogging. xx
Saturday, February 3, 2018
I find myself winding down now, retreating again into virtual obscurity. I'm hardly online these days for all intents and purposes. There are a few artists I'm following on Instagram, but I'm hardly posting there.
I'm happier than I've ever been before. My life, just the way it is, is enough for me. I have what I need to live exactly the way I want to. I no longer need anyone else's approval, acceptance, accolades, applause or acknowledgement. I'm totally free to be me. I have no complaints, and a lot of gratitude.
Life is peaceful, and full of grace.
With age, I'm becoming more old-school, especially in this topsy-turvy world of ours where the truth has become a political lightning rod. I can only live by my own truth now.
Peace and blessings to you all. xx
Saturday, January 27, 2018
The 50 Percent OFF Everything Sale continues in my Etsy Shop for another week. If you haven't checked it out, please do.
Otherwise, all is well.
Saturday, January 20, 2018
I have my table easel set up on a height-adjustable rolling laptop table...and I also intend to use the easel on the big table on the right for larger pieces. The drawer unit, also rolling, holds paper and all my supplies and a few tools; in fact, I still have a couple empty drawers. The 3-tier cart, also rolling, slips under the big table on the right when not in use.
I moved all my old childrens' books to the top shelf above the big table where they're still easy to reach but out of the way.
I've got empty spaces on my shelves now, room to store a lot more work.
Thought I'd mention what I'm up to now re: painting. I've really wanted to get back to acrylic painting, pretty much since I abandoned it two (or has it been three?) years ago. Altho I'm still set up to do watercolors when the mood strikes.
I've already taken all the acrylic classes I wanted to take, have the books, etc., and now I will paint in virtual isolation. No outside challenges, no classes with student blogs, no input or feedback from anyone else (hence no posting anywhere of my work). I am trusting my muse, my inner guidance from here on out. I know what to do, and I'll be doing it.
I'll continue to post collages here, because I continue to make them. It's something I really enjoy and I don't intend to stop.
As I do every year, I'll be closing my Etsy Shop soon, until I reopen later this year with new work. So I'm having a 50 Percent OFF Everything Sale from now through Saturday February 3.
The items currently in the shop will not be available after February 3. I won't relist them again. So please, if there's anything there now that strikes your fancy, NOW is the time to purchase. Go to the shop HERE.
Saturday, January 13, 2018
I actually love doing this kind of thing. It's inspiring to go through all your stuff and weed through it. Also exceptionally inspiring ~ finding work of your own that you love that you haven't seen in a while. Work you want to go back to, in terms of genre, and pick up again and move forward with.
There's a 30% OFF Sale going on right now in my Etsy Shop, on Art Quilts and Paintings. Through Wednesday, January 17.
Anyhoo, I'll leave you with my collages for the week. xx