Monday, February 27, 2006

More on weird clouds and weirder babies

Well, here's the weird thing---there were several of them. If you just got here, scroll down for the first photo. I couldn't get far enough away to get all in one shot.

As far as the red baby creature goes....Well, of course it can get out. But....not by crawling. Because, ummm, it doesn't have legs, exactly.

I took this photo, though I can't say I truly enjoyed taking it. But yes, I did it anyway. The Ben and Aubrey project continues. Hmmm. Did I mention that this is to be a KINETIC piece? Yes, it DOES something. As I said, this one gets to me. And, not much does, so, be afraid, my lovelies. Be afraid.

Possibly this helps, or, depending on your point of view, makes things worse...

This one is for Ravyn, who has a tendency, when in the desert, to stop in her tracks to stare in amazement at the strange variety of clouds. One for your collection, m'dear.

Friday, February 24, 2006


This is a weekend for certain artists to quietly pound away at multiple projects, though I will try to post a photo or two, here and there.

Now is also a good time for RRNN to check in. Emails are going awry and verses beg to be written.

I got a glimpse of the Strange Birds chapbook last night. I like what I saw. Gene Wolfe can write sweetness and light. Gene Wolfe can travel to very dark places. He says I sent him, this time.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Daily Do

My senior year in high school was also my last year of piano study. For my final recital, I chose "Hungarian Rhapsody No 2", Franz Liszt. My instructor was Mrs. Burkette, a very large woman who wore rosewater and ate oranges while I played. She, settled in her chair and seemingly distracted, was capable of pouncing like a cougar on the least of errors. She thrilled at my recital choice, that I'd developed a love for Liszt who, in her mind, was a god whose name she nearly always only whispered. I never, even years later, had the courage to tell her it wasn't my love for Liszt that guided my decision but my love for Bugs Bunny.

It took months to learn the piece--- sixteen sadistic pages --- during which I called Mrs. Burkette's beloved Liszt names that would've melted her metronome. But, learn it I did and well. Still, on recital night even with congratulations and roses, I knew I'd not touched Mr. Bunny's performance. I likely never would. But then, neither would Tom or Jerry.

Last night I sat down at Aubrey's keyboard to pound something out. I quickly realized what eight years without touching a piano could do. I got a lesson in humility and a good reminder that we lose what we don't use. Thwack!!

I make art every day and I'm pretty good at it. I realize it's the same for dancing, doing algebra or crisp conversation. It's the same for writing stories, making love or juggling cats. It's the same for problem solving and typing and saying the alphabet backwards.

As much as it pains me still, I must quote the plaque over Mrs. Burkette's piano, the words that taunted me for so many years:

Practice makes Perfect

I think the coffee is done now. I will get some, and go to the studio and practice, practice, practice....

Sunday, February 19, 2006

The Windence Doe Experience

I write this in the somewhat dubious cookie-cutter comfort of a McDonald's playroom. My cup of coffee tempts me, but I'm experienced and wise to it. I'll wait a bit, therefore keeping the skin on my lips. I spot Orion in this translucent bubble or that, high overhead. Already he's made new friends. Just that easily. Pretty little ones of all colors, so sweet, with short little vocal cords capable of ripping the tympanic membranes right out of my ears.

I'm down to 17 splinters in my hand, but those are starting to hurt, so I must get more serious about removing them. But, owww, forget my hand. My ears. My brain...

Our friend Windy's name is actually Windence. Windence Doe. How cool is that? Last night we celebrated her birthday in Palm Desert. The The Whores Of Tijuana rocked the house, bringing people in from the street to join in. Pete made his comic debut. He came away from it with sort of a laundry list of what he thought went wrong which, I would imagine, anyone walking off stage does. But I was watching the audience and really, most were laughing for most of the time, including myself, and I've heard all this stuff before.

I finally met Arthur Seay, whom I've heard much about and who is working diligently to gather a community of alternative artists. He says that, to him, these are artists who care more about substance and quality and less about decorating. I found him smart and funny and sincere. I told him I'm a little ashamed I haven't attempted to gather artists and very grateful that he's doing it.

There were many interesting and strange people there with interesting and strange ideas. The Village Lounge (also known as "The Scrounge") was friendly and comfortable and served the coldest Corona I've ever had.

I got to know Windy's best friend Shelby better, who has levels of heart and cool I never imagined.

Once the band started in on their version of "Low Rider", everyone was dancing without partners, hippie style. A woman I didn't meet, mid sixties or so, caught and held my attention. She had waist-length gray hair, and boots and skirt worn over faded jeans. She danced with both grace and joyful abandon. As I watched, forty years vanished around her and I saw golden hair woven with flowers, a smooth face glowing with love and anticipations. She is lovely in both worlds and I, spellbound, didn't give a thought to my camera. It seemed a sacred moment. Then she was gone and the Whores switched to original music and I was newly in possession of a permanent vision.

Happy Birthday, Windy. You are truly loved.

ps. The red baby did not attend the party and is actually a hint at the project Aubrey and Ben are hatching in the darkest corner of the studio. They're beginning to scare me and that, friends, should truly scare you.

Following are photos from the evening.


I like this one because you can see the lime and because it looks like I have a giant hand. Oh, and you can see the lime.

The birthday girl.

Windence Doe Experience T. On Windence herself.

Pete tells it.

Whores of Tijuana

Whores' guitarist, who is a true mix of raw talent and the unbridled joy of playing.

Lisa, who is mostly glasses and teeth in this one. yikes. And Arthur, who is mostly just Arthur.

Windy and her two cool moms.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Strange Fish

Okay. All this talk of sushi and fish and thinking about the talking about sushi and fish brings me to the conclusion that it's really just a cultural thing. (with a touch of not trusting Ben ) Really, what could be more horrible than ground up cow? And, lots of pigs are smarter than lots of dogs and all cats. Sorry---it is what it is.
So, when the time comes for sushi---I will be ready to enjoy it without trepidation. Mind changed.

All the ratties people were waiting for are on their journeys now. Thanks for understanding that the Lisa REALLY needed a few days off. And took them. And likely will again.

Yesterday I finished painting a dozen "Midnight" rats, decided I wasn't entirely happy with them, so made coffee and painted them all again. I don't consider this time lost. I consider it to be what must be done, once in a while.

I accidentally hit my hand against our fence while playing with Orion. We were crushing the recycling, making it a game of sliding around on large flattened boxes. Now I have a collection of 19 little splinters in the heel of my right hand, which is better than yesterday, when it was 32, and a mild discomfort instead of burning.

Tonight we will celebrate Wendy's birthday, just as we did a year ago, but this time at a club other than our favorite Irish pub. Oh well. We have to follow Wendy, who follows her boyfriend, who must go where the Whores of Tijuana are playing. They sort of like him to be there, as he is their singer and drummer.

The image above is a small detail from "Strange Fish" which is the companion for "Strange Birds" for which Gene Wolfe just finished two somewhat disturbing stories.

Friday, February 17, 2006


Ben is working on a sculpture that requires crab claws. They will be molded and cast in resin, of course, but in the meantime, he has the task of finding at least one each that is 'perfect' for the part he needs.
We decided, being the dedicated artists we are, that this will require eating crab once a week or so.
I made a salad with baby greens and bell peppers in bright yellow, red and orange, grape tomatoes and carrots in a balsamic vinegar dressing. Perfecto.
Ben made Poke. (Po - kee) which he says is a popular dish in Hawaii of crab, scallions, and raw tuna with sweet/spicy seasonings and tons of sesame seeds.
Though it was delicious, I couldn't eat the raw tuna. It's a mental thing. Ben allowed that, yes, this is a fairly advanced level of raw fish eating.
Of course, being me, I wanted to explore why I couldn't eat the raw tuna. Was it some personal psychology? Was it associated with my time in the morgue? Was it some anthropological hard-wiring? Was it that I just don't trust Ben, who is known for offering exotically 'difficult' foods to persons just to see if they have the nerve?
I recalled the large bowl of raw chick peas he once kept on his coffee table. He'd munch from them occasionally, looking greatly satisfied, waiting, like a sessile sea creature, for his guests to do the same. To his evil amusement, of course they struggled to maintain composure when what looked to be a sort or peanut-y experience became a horror of sawdust-tasting paste that just wouldn't go away.
So, I mused aloud the question. What was it that kept me from eating the raw, red, slightly transparent cubes of tuna? Before I could expound my theories, he offered that it was simply because I am a princess pussy pants without an ounce of epicurean courage.
I have an ounce. I do have plans for a non-Ben sushi experience.

The king crab legs were delicious though I fear I've created a Gurtie monster. Something in the look on her face as she crouched dog-like, awaiting the next nibble dropped her way made me think of nightmares I had once.

Indeed, it was a idyllic looking tableau, eating delicacies under the canopy by the pool in gentle seventy-degree breezes. From a distance, we seemed to be basking in paradise. like gods.

From a distance.

Ben is three claws the richer for his creation.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Back to it

The day began with the discovery of our flooded front yard. Apparently the fake rain system we had installed went a bit nutty and well...too much of a good thing is just too much.

I'm back in the studio full swing, Ben included. I'm behind schedule from taking days off I couldn't afford to take off. I'm sane from taking days off I couldn't afford not to take off.

It's possibly time to post a new DON'T PANIC sign on the wall. Because panic would be the gut reaction to the Looming List of Doom, but not the reaction that will get things checked off it.

I'm having a lovely email exchange with Gene Wolfe. We are discussing weirdness. I told him about the weirdest thing I'd encountered in the morgue. Overall, it appears at this point I have it covered with multiple morgue goings-on, but I haven't quite topped his encounter with a guy walking along, kicking a human head down the road. I'm not really thinking of trying.

If you missed yesterday's Daily Show (yes, about the 'hunting' accident) I highly recommend it. It's.....just adorable.

It's after ten and I'm considering having some coffee and working a bit more. I took time this afternoon to help Orion fly a kite. What a look on his face when the thing took off!

Maybe instead of the DON'T PANIC sign I should instead put up IT WAS WORTH IT.

And then be glad to work a bit harder for time spent playing, or watching silly tv , or just being for a bit. It was worth it.
It was worth it.
It was worth it.

Do I hear splashing? Sigh. Note to self: Call the gardener.


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

There is no spoon.

I know, but it's been a weird sort of day. Very likely tomorrow will be different. Of course it will be. Tomorrow is the Lorraine's birthday. That calls for no less than fabulous.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Life is my laboratory

There is another plane across the asphalt, waiting like this one. It's full of people. I can see their heads, and movement. I put my hand, fingers splayed, on my own window. I know that I'd be delighted as a child if a hand in one of those tiny windows across the way returned the gesture.
None does.

It seems I've always moved through a series of little experiments.

I wanted to see how hot glue would behave on snow, what sorts of effects I would get. So one evening, when it was about 18 degrees F, I took a glue gun outside with me. I learned how the stuff behaves on snow. I learned a more powerful gun wouldn't require waiting. I deduced that colder temperatures would yield better results. Still...

Life is my laboratory

...some nice effects were achieved.

I also learned that after about an hour toes can get painfully cold and finally, that it's very easy, in such cold, to glue the fingers of ones gloves together.

None of that will deter me from trying again.

I like the "what if" that seems to attach itself to things. It's why I like using things in unconventional ways. It's why I love the music of John Cage and the art of Rube Goldberg.
It's why I want to sculpt something underwater, a thing that's best viewed underwater.
It's why I'd like to sculpt something in a sort of 'think tank' as an exhibit. Some people say this isn't art. Some people think it's just silly. Still...

Life is my laboratory's apparently my way to see things through this particular kaleidoscope.
People are no exception. Sometimes I say things hoping to get particular responses. For instance, I find great satisfaction when a well chosen phrase elicits the specific facial expression I was going for.

Then, I suppose, once I start doing that, research has become, well... play.
So be it.
I mean, maybe it's just me, but I'm thinking that, to make good art, we need both.


Saturday, February 11, 2006

Snow Day, Times Two

Lisa called me today, from the frozen Midwest. You know how some people to go the beach in summer, to "store it up" for the winter? i guess when you live in the desert, you need to store up some winter, so you can take it out when the temperature climbs into the 20s. i told her that it always makes me smile, to think that she and i mean different things when we talk about temps in the 20s.

So she is enjoying the sound of the snow falling on her hat, out there. Today, in Maryland, we are having a snow day too. So, since she can't post her photos til she returns, i took a photo of a mourning dove hanging out on our bird feeder.

Enjoy the stillness. It's good for us all.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Static in, static out

Static. It becomes like static, sometimes, when there are so many things to be done and all of them must be done very, very soon, and each is as important as the other. In my head, if I'm not careful, all the things I'm not working on in a given moment can create quite a brain buzz, distracting me from the thing I'm actually doing.

Left on its own, such a brain buzz gets loud enough to interfere. I'm learning to recognize more quickly when this is happening and that the only thing to do is take a break.

So, I took off my apron and Orion and I ate fish sticks and mac and cheese outside, then played some basketball and chase around the trees. Next it was to swing on the garden swing, watch the sunset, see the bats come out and get a couple of shots of Orion's magic hair.

This static is okay. An invisible force we can play with, as with magnets.

And as usual, a little play cleared away the other, less friendly sort.


Sunday, February 05, 2006

Black Fries, Tiny Stories and an actual conversation

Today the kids and I applied a bit of the scientific method and discovered the following:

French fries, forgotten and burnt to dry crisps, make a fair drawing medium.

French fries, forgotten and burnt to dry crisps, float in the pool for quite a long time and, eventually, turn into something even the long net won't pick up.

French fries, forgotten and burnt to dry crisps, taste at least as bad as pennies.

Gurtie doesn't like French fries, regardless of how they are cooked, and says she could make a better drawing with her eyes closed.


I finished reading all the Tiny Stories submissions. Now I have a list of the ones I like best. I'll add my list to Bob's list and someone else will have the difficult job of combining those into one. I don't envy that person, as this was much more difficult a job than I expected. Still, as tasks go, reading and rereading stories craftily created from one hundred unique words by so many unique individuals from so many places is better (I think) than most.

Actual conversation:

Lisa: "Hey sweetie, look in that drawer, third down, third over, and hand me a brain please?

Aubrey: "A hollow brain or a solid brain?"

Lisa: "Hmmm. Solid."

Aubrey: "Here ya go."

Lisa : "Thanks!"

Aubrey (in parting) "Mom, please no dancing with the abby normal."


We'll be taking orders for "Midnight" and "Grim" through February.


Temps got up to 91F yesterday. This doesn't portent well for summer. We hardly got any rain this winter. It's been several years since we had one of those weeks-0f-125F summers. One may be coming soon.


Friday, February 03, 2006

Ponytail Palm

This is the ponytail palm that lives outside our front door. It's grown a lot over the past two years. I always liked it, but didn't realize it was unusually large until postmen and delivery people and visitors began to marvel at it. It was starting to take over the patio, so I trimmed a couple of branches. I attempted to root them, and failed utterly.


I didn't really like sawing off the limbs. But, I like using the patio without getting sawed myself. (The leaves are very sharp.) The thought of Orion getting cuts decided it.
I win. Tree loses.
Tonight, sort of on impulse, I thought I may as well add insult to injury. So...out with the paint and brushes.

I am the Queen of my Front Yard

I don't think I'd like being a tree.
I like being a mammal, especially one with opposable thumbs.
Probably it's a good thing trees can't use saws.

Tomorrow is back to angels and other flying things. Orion and Pete are exploring the Lego Star Wars game. Orion has Yoda underwear. Yoda underwear are cool.

Aubrey's ipod neck cord gets tangled. I tell her about my friend who has a thing that allows him to wear his ipod on his arm.
She says that old people shouldn't have ipods.

All the mammals in this house need to go to sleep now. g'night

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


"Midnight" sort of named herself.
Since I'd thought of making her, months ago, I'd thought she'd be in reds.

But she, having her say in the matter, decided to go with an understated midnight blue, to coordinate with the ensembe of her love, Grim.

It seemed...just right. I'm pleased. After all, she's a goddess. And she knows it.

Midnight will be on sale here at RAT BAG along with Grim through February. I can only guarantee Valentines Day delivery for the first twenty orders. I must go away to colder places for a little while.
But, when I return, I can send as many as you like.

prelude to midnight

Sometimes you feel like a nut. Sometimes you are. All that rubbish. Somtimes it rains and sometimes the sun makes you want to cry. All that rubbish too.

We work it out in the work, don't we? Even the tinest job, given our full attention, fixes us.
Well, sometimes it happens that way.

Here's a sharing of recent email to Ravyn:

Hey you,

Didn't get much sleep, but I did get our corseted ratty nearly sculpted. I was feeling pretty discouraged and decided to concentrate on this 'little thing'.
Before long, as happens, I forgot about things I was worried about and started to fall in love with the little lass.
I'll send you some pics when I get back from taking Orion. Could you help me name her? I was thinking "Lillith", but you can look at her and tell me what you see.

Thanks for letting me vent.


Ravyn and I will be unveiling "Midnight" (who is Grim's true love) tonight---see you later.