Saturday, December 31, 2011

December 31

It's the last day of the year. This is good for us. Marking time. Humans need this. Every year a clean slate. Sometimes we need it every day. It's okay. So here I am, today, looking out at you and laughing at me. Silly human. Thank you for being here with me. It wouldn't have been the same journey at all without you.

I can't thank you enough, ever. But know at least that I sincerely do. Off we go into 2012. It's like time travel. I will always be your idiot artist, stumbling toward the light. xoxo

Friday, December 30, 2011

December 30

Just so you know. I'm taking a break. A breath. I'm thinking you very likely are too.

We're gonna need it.

See you soon. xoxo

Monday, December 26, 2011

December 26 editing tastes like peas

I push words around on the page like peas I don't want to eat.

Here, there and back again, I continue to move them around,
hoping a solution will eventually reveal itself or that my mother
will give up.

I was, and am, a tenacious little shit. This could go on for awhile.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

December 21 Light

Light is near.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

December 20 Stop Spinning

If you're stressed about the holidays, cut it out.

Before I type another letter, I should probably tell you that earlier today I failed to follow the suggestions I'm about to offer. I have a gift shop and it's gift season. I'm the head of a household. And there's the occasionally spectacular dynamic of the humans around me - those who are part of the solution and those who are part of the problem. And all that goes with. I have my list, you have yours.

Sometimes the clock is ticking, my brain is racing and a dozen things are competing for my attention. Sometimes I find myself slogging through the glue that is overload.

I did today, for sure. Thankfully, I stepped back before getting stuck. Still, if I were REALLY good at this, I'd have avoided that goo in the first place.

Wouldn't you think?

What I'm trying to say here is, beware. (see blog header) Don't follow me blindly. I might trip.

That said. It's the holidays. Prime season for stress. Very likely this is a good time to remind ourselves that at this time of year, we tend to try to live up to impossible standards. We have to remember that these standards are mostly created by marketers trying to make us feel we are lacking. Because, if we shop at Target, our holiday dinner will be perfect. If we shop at Zales, we can watch the game in peace. And so on.

Our memories do it too. Those fuzzy-edged, rose-colored pictures of perfect family dinners, softened by time. Who are we kidding? Our mothers were spinning. Grandmothers too. Possibly they popped a couple of Valium or sampled the cooking wine. Either way, you likely didn't see them spinning. Why not? Because your mind was elsewhere.

You're not as important to the people sitting at your table as you think you are. Or, at least, not in the way you think. They're not watching your every move. They're not going to judge you if you forgot to use the good salt shakers. They just don't care. They're not going to notice if the candles are vanilla instead of holiday spice or if the tree's a little dry. It's not that they don't appreciate you. It's just that they're living just as much in their heads as you are in yours.

That spotlight bearing down on you is yours. You put it there. Just turn it off. In a week, no one will care about the details or who gave them which present. If they do, it's their problem, not yours.

What they will remember is how they felt. What you will remember is how you felt.

I'm gonna suggest here that we think about cutting down our lists. Some of the details can go. Some of the deadlines are made-up. I'm going to suggest we simplify and spend a little more time being.

I'm just saying.

Monday, December 19, 2011

December 19 Lions in the Ruins

December 19

The Plant House of Doom, Orion calls the sad remains of our greenhouse.

We laugh, a little.

It was a project of high aspirations that failed for lack of attention.

It was a joint venture, and when the humans fell out of joint, the desert elements began the forgetting.

The Untouchable Torti roams the ruins. Her kittens play there. They are feral and nearly unapproachable. If I stop feeding them, they will go away and find someone else in the neighborhood that will.

In the mornings, they sit, the four of them in a row, watching through the glass as I wade through my own sea of cats to the coffee.

This is madness.

And the holidays. I can't get them into the clinic until after.
Neuter and release.

So here we are until then.

These cats are fierce and feral. Mine are toys. But that's environmental. Inside, they're the same.

Same, samey, same.

It's the hardwiring.

This structure looks like it was storm- torn and then abandoned.

It was actually more like a sandwich:abandoned, then storm-torn, then abandoned some more.

Just the sort of place for cats.

It lends something to them. They take that something and make it their own.

I've begun to view this mess as a ruin. Sure enough, I'd like to clean it up sooner than later.

It's on the list.

So here I am, until then.

I intended to write for 365 days. I don't know how many I wrote and how many I missed. I was living through all the days it took to turn a greenhouse into this.

Today is my birthday. December 19. It's a year since I decided to take a look at a year. Between you and me, I might've picked a different year.

But then, one can't really ever know when a shit storm is coming.

Pretty talk, for sure. There isn't a better word for it.

I thought I was broken. You might think you're broken too. But you're not. We're not.

I watch. There's movement now- sliding through sunlight.

As I watch the cats prowl, lounge and caper through these spaces, I began to notice the lines and textures.

If I remove the layers and see what is in front of me today, I see only form and weight, life.

365 days. We all lived through the same days. I wrote about some of it here. I didn't write a lot of it. Some things need time and perspective.

Some things persisted throughout my year. The relentless stream of repetitive crap required to survive.

Love didn't go away.

And making stuff. I did that.

I'm different than I was 365 days ago. It's a pretty good guess you are too.

It will be interesting to see where 2012 takes us.

happy birthday to me.

g'night to you

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Day 357

This photo was taken in yesterday's late afternoon sun. Two of Torti's kittens. We're still 2 weeks away from time for trap/fix/release.

This one was taken in this morning's early light. I closed the curtains after. I don't know how Orion and Ethan would react, but certainly it would've put a damper on their breakfast appetites. It didn't do mine much good.

It's been a long time since I worked in the morgue.

Still, I'm glad for the experience and Harlequin Valentine came out of it. There's a real mix of grim and sweet. Hmm. My birthday is almost here. I think I shall call the Neil and ask for a spoken word version. I'll bet it's really, really good.

Of course I'll have to clean this up in a bit.

Reality often bites the head right off of cuteness. I'm good with that. We can't have one without the other. We'd rot our teeth out.

But now it's time to wrap up poppets so they can be on their ways tomorrow. Holiday time means artists with shops like mine are working on their days off (whatever that is.)

I've made prints available on Etsy of several of the sketchbook drawings from the year. You can find them here. I'll be making greeting cards and framed versions available too. It's taken a while and I'm happy to finally be able to bring some of this work to light. So much is still tucked away in the studio, waiting patiently.

So I'm putting on my shoes (the floor back there is sooo cold) and will enjoy some music. Don't think the zone is available today with two boys in the house, but then, the zone has levels.

Hope your day is a good mix of real and fantasy, grim and cute, dark and light.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Day 354

My days usually start pretty early. My alarm goes off before the sun comes up and this morning I beat it by about thirty seconds, having awoken from a rather scary alien invasion dream. It started like most, with unusual weather, then grew into something highly detailed and colored with that awful feeling that there's nothing to do but hide, helplessly hoping.

I woke with that, and then the alarm to assure me they weren't here yet, but it was cold in the house. It was a three-cat sort of night. Bilbo Cat was in his usual spot, curled up against Orion's back. After extricating Orion from his bed, we jumped through the usual morning hurdles and I dropped him off at school, picked up Helen and headed to the post office before it was overtaken by seniors. On the way back here, we passed a field of ravens. I stopped to take a few shots with my phone, regretting not having a better camera with me. (A second camera is definitely on my wish list---have a Power Shot sitting around?) Will trade for poppets.

It's not far, so we drove home and I snagged my camera and we headed back. I told Helen on the way that this wouldn't be our last side trip. I explained that there was a good chance the birds would be gone when we returned, but that if I didn't try there was no chance.

I've learned that I have to be willing to take these opportunities when they arise. I have to be willing to stop, or change course, or inconvenience myself a little. Art doesn't happen in a vacuum. It's more like water from the ground. The pump has to be primed.

By the time we returned, many of them were gone, but Budd was there. He approached me and we talked. I learned that he's eighty-seven years old and he likes ravens infinitely more than crows. I also learned that he feeds this flock every morning at sunrise and that they are particularly fond of dry cat food.

I'll be meeting him there sooner than later, with a bag of Friskies and my camera.

This was my morning. Now I'm off to work.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Day 346

The evening flew by. They all have, lately. I seem to be moving forward, fast, while growing ever more aware that I'm approaching the end of this 365- day observation. I'm looking back too. I talked with Aubrey on the phone today. I miss her terribly, but I could hear the momentum and motivation in her voice, her fresh approach to the day. Change is good for us human types.

I'm spending more time on projects and less making poppets. In addition to a new something with the Neil, it looks like we'll be releasing a new "Strange" chapbook next year. I'm also chipping away at my own projects.

I hired a housekeeper.

The Untouchable Torti has taken residence in my back yard. With three kittens. Four cats inside, four cats outside. This will not do. Too many cats. The kittens are nearly old enough for spay and neuter. I don't know which are male or female. I can't get close enough. The cute little buggers become balls of teeth, claws and hisses if I get close.

Just what I needed.

This isn't much more than a laundry list. If I wait for eloquence, it may be another week before I write something. Spellcheck seems not to be functioning. Forgive me in advance then, for whatever I missed.

I'll say this---as I look back over the last 300 days or so I see a lot of stuff happening. A lot of things have changed, a lot of things haven't. The thing that's the most different is me. I didn't realize how different until I looked back. All in all, I'm going to say the days showed me what I was looking for, and a few things I didn't expect.

It will be good to finish this up and change gears a bit. In the meantime, we carry on, don't we?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Day 334

Again and I'm gone from here for days. I've been working and the work has been good. I'm still struggling to balance the long-term projects with the daily 'have-to' list. It's a process.

It seems it's time for the Neil Gaiman and me to make something. We talked over some possibilities the other day. I'm thinking you'd probably enjoy a new collaboration. I've got some ideas that have been pestering me to no end. I'll keep you posted.

I burned my finger on a poppet. Ask me how many times I've done that. I've decided that multi-tasking was invented by someone who hates women. Men can't do it. They're just not hard-wired that way. Man must focus on one thing at a time: Kill food. Mate. Shit.
Woman must not let the fire go out, the Neanderthal-ings toddle out of sight, the skins go unscraped, etc.
Multitasking is bad for the brain and causes burned fingers and cussing.

I'm obviously still thinking of early humans. I look at these bones on my shelf, waiting for paint and other thoughts to turn them into something else. Indeed bones must've been toys for early Earth children. Early humans were constantly in contact with Death. Death was everywhere. Present at all the events of everyday life. Welcomed and accepted as part of life.
Until, of course, religions were invented. But that's another post. It's eleven thirty and I don't even mean to be up. I'm waiting for laundry to pack for leaving tomorrow.

Currently, we play video games and watch cartoons and movies and Death is no longer welcome. In fact, its very existence is often denied. When we run out of lives, we earn more. We die over and over again. We have fewer reminders, generally speaking, as health care is better and people live longer. And are less often killed by bears. On the one hand, the information age brings us instant news of far away disasters. But that news is on screens just like the games and shows. It's not real. Does tragedy have to hit us in our own back yards for us to acknowledge Death? Have we un-friended Death?

If this is so, is there an underlying sociological movement behind this shunning of our once-beloved Grim?

It's what I'm thinking of tonight, waiting for laundry, which has just buzzed. I'm outta here for now. Hope you have a great weekend.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Day 329

It's 12:33 on a Sunday morning. Finally, I've ribboned the Royal.

And all that goes with...


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Day 326

A little slow to get moving this morning. I woke with a familiar devil in my gut. Fortunately for me, I have tools at hand to banish it, at least to a corner. It will likely squat there for awhile, glaring at me and growling to get back in. It will stay in that corner until it evaporates from lack of attention. I'm a wizard. My tools are internal, summoned silently and instantaneously.

Except when they're not. Occasionally I dig into that other bag. Its tools are a little more cumbersome but just as effective and only a little slower. Music and work.

Technology is beautiful. Pandora and "Wish You Were Here" by Pink Floyd. If you haven't read these lyrics, or haven't in awhile, you might want to. No one loves this song more than me, and in the back of my mind I hear a soft protest against ripping the words away from the music. But doing so adds another layer. Reading is different from listening. Not better or worse, just different. Your brain knows this. So I read the lyrics, again. These words center me. They're in my bag of tools and might not fit yours.

So, so you think you can tell

Heaven from Hell,blue skies from pain.

Can you tell a green field from a cold steel rail?

A smile from a veil?

Do you think you can tell?

And did they get you to trade your heroes for ghosts?

Hot ashes for trees?

Hot air for a cool breeze?

Cold comfort for change?

And did you exchange a walk on part in the war for a lead role in a cage?

How I wish, how I wish you were here.

We're just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl,

year after year,

Running over the same old ground.

What have you found?

The same old fears.

But there they are. Powerful words for me. Find yours and keep them close. I pour a cup of coffee. I tie my apron. I'm going to work, happy to be wherever this is. Yup. I'm a wizard. And so are you.

I've tied my morning apron on about 7,480 times, so far.

Hope your day is good. Thanks for being here with me.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Day 322

Again off to the high desert, this time with Orion and his friend Ethan in tow. I can't convey the scents, the arresting height and breadth of the view or the feel of the crisp, cold air. But I can tell you at least, that the light was like silk. It touched every stone, every living thing with a gentle fluidity. I don't know that I captured any of that, but I brought some of it back with me. I can already feel this influence on my work and I'm look forward to watching it integrate itself into what I make in the next months. We'd hoped to catch the snow, but not this trip. Still, it was beautiful and supports the notion that to make good art, an artist must move things into her mind. It's a good notion and it rings true at every turn. I hope you enjoy these views. It will be interesting, likely, to recall them later on. I know if you've been following me here, you already have a sense of where this place is taking me. Thank you to Paul, for opening your home to us and guiding us through this amazing bit of Earth you know so well.