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Wednesday, May 27

i've been enhanced

Well, I bit the bullet and stopped into the DMV. Quincy is being neutered this morning, so I figured he shouldn't be the only family member to suffer today.

In my mind, I would get there when it opened, be first in line and outta there in a half hour. Oh, Lordy, I do crack myself up sometimes. 

I got there 10 minutes after it opened, not bad, and immediately saw a woman who gave me a clipboard with forms to fill out, a number, and then slammed me against the wall and took my picture. There is a reason Driver's license pictures look like they were taken by Dick Cheney. 

My reason for submitting to this torture is that I live on a border and if I want to shop at the nearest Ikea, Homeland Security has determined I must have either a passport or what they call an "enhanced driver's license", which does not mean my picture looks botoxed. It means I have been declared non-terrorist and I am free to travel willy nilly across the bridge to shop or get Chinese or just ride my bike along the Niagara Parkway. (I have been planning to do that for about 5 years.) I have known about this for several years. The law goes into effect in 2 weeks. No hurry. 

There is a new DMV, spiffy and clean with CNN playing silently at 4 foot intervals, a digital board showing number served, a sound system over which the announcements are actually crisp and spoken by a woman who must have taken elocution lessons. Swiss watch, I'm thinking, until I figured out the system. We have been coded according to the reason for our visit and those of us seeking enhancement are screwed. Only a Supervisor can do these super nifty new "EDL"'s and there is usually only one available at a time. And they have to stop what they are doing whenever someone has a beef. Beefs are very common at the DMV. I settled into my navy blue bench and read what CNN was saying about Sonia Sotomayor. The fact that I can spell that tells you more about how long I waited than anything I can think of.

And, of course, there is the one guy who came to the DMV with a bulging manilla envelope filled with every document he accumulated in his , I'm guessing, 89 years, none of which are required for the EDL. He would step up to the Supervisor every time someone stepped away, waving a yellowed scrap of a document, the Supervisor would shake his head "no" and the man would go back to the bench to rifle through the papers again.  I wanted to yell "He's too old to drive!" but I didn't.  I wanted to yell "By the time I get out of here I will be too old to drive!" But I didn't.

They called my number, I smugly slapped down every required document, in order, face up and waited for my Supervisor to smile with approval..  Nope. That's OK, I was almost outta there. I was sent to another navy blue bench to wait for the opportunity to pay and get the interim license that would prevent the mounties taking me to "the hut" for interrogation when we drive over for a picnic next month.  Unless they look at that picture they took this morning. Then they may detain me just on principle.

I was done in about an hour. Sweet Quincy will not be free until 5. One of us will be wearing a lampshade around our neck. The other will have taken a picture that would be improved by said lampshade. But both will be free of the places that torture you for your own good. 

Monday, May 25

skipping the party

I'm cooking up some sweet and spicy black beans with rice and putting together my killer guacamole. But I'm not going to the party, I'm sending it off with Russell. 

This is show week and while I'm doing pretty well with stocking up, we are down to hours of productive time and I've saved the toughest for last. Never a good idea but I do all the time.

It's the mirrors. They are not as difficult to do anymore, I've got the technique down pretty well. But I think I put it off because it is the one thing I do that literally has a blank wall for me to look at and transform.

I'll work on it tomorrow, early, when my brain is rested. I'll work on it Sunday when I have a long lazy day to play. I'll work on it Monday when Russell is off to the picnic and I can have the place to myself, quiet, no distractions.

The thing is, once I have the design decided and the paper applied, I love doing the finish. I keep touching the surface to see if it's dry enough to start. It's not like the designs are terribly intricate. I've settled on a few that the people seem to like, staying true to my love for organic and symbolic motif, keeping it real, keeping it simple.

Maybe I hesitate because finishing the mirror means I have to finish the mirror. The brown paper dust cover, the hooks. Hate it. Luckily, Russell does a lot of that for me. He has to, because listening to me cuss out the paper that keeps rolling up and the exacto blade that is never quite sharp enough sends him in to calm the waters.
And I get to go do something fun. :)

So, I will clear the work bench and get started. I have the designs done on some of them, that will help. The house will be quiet, I will not be tempted to take just "a small break" to see a movie. (But if you haven't seen "Sunshine Cleaners" check it out).

If I get too antsy, I'll take Quincy for a short stroll about the neighborhood. We can sniff at other people's barbecues and talk to friends who may be finally outside, finally warm, finally in the sun. The flower pots along the sidewalks will be filled with tender new blossoms, the soil black and rich. The sun will be warm but still not close enough to be hot. The leaves on the trees are out in full now, deeper green than just a week ago, they fill the sky with color and hide the sad, broken branches from that October. I'll come back clear-headed, or as close to clear-headed as I get, fresh, ready for more.

I'll be skipping the party, but I've sent food and Russell. He will have stories when he gets home and maybe a leftover goodie or two.

And I will show him the mirrors I made.

Friday, May 22

what you can't plan for redux

So, the back starts feeling good and I'm back to scooting up to the studio like a gazelle. An old gazelle. An old gazelle with bad knees. An old gazelle with bad knees and enough extra weight to slow an Amtrak express. But scoot I do. Stuff is getting made.

That lasted 2 days.

Open letter to the swamp dweller who smashed our car window: Dear SD, when we saw that our van window had been smashed, we assumed you were after the GPS gizmo and congratulated ourselves on bringing it in at night instead of stowing it under the seat like the cell phone you ripped off a few years ago. But, no, apparently your "prize" was not electronic at all. It was our inspection sticker. We just noticed that it was gone. I have a show next week and I need to drive around a lot. Do you know what it takes to get a replacement? Oh, silly me, of course not. You just smash into people's cars and take what you need. Well, let me tell you that we had to go to the DMV and wait a half hour to be told they couldn't do anything, it had to be mailed. But first we needed a police report. And we had to get paperwork from our mechanic. Did I mention I have a show in a week? So, we are gathering up all these things and then we will have to wait until it gets mailed back. Oh, yeah, that should be speedy. Or we could have the car inspected again. That would have to happen sometime between trips to the paper supplier and the display rental place and the craft store and the art store - risking being stopped by the police at any given moment for not having an inspection sticker because you stole it. Did I mention I have a show in 7 days? Why is that important? Because it is my job. Oh, there I go again, referencing something you have no experience with. There must be a x-rated blog site somewhere in which I could explain to you in simple terms just what you should do with our inspection sticker. But I have a show in a week, so I don't have time.

So, we are driving about with all the paperwork on the dashboard and praying for mercy.

Then, yesterday, I scoot gazelle-like down the stairs to do laundry and stepped in ankle deep water. Surely this was not good. And what was that sound of rushing water? Oh, the hot water tank acting like Vesuvius. Lovely.

I have a show in a week and it better be profitable.

Open letter to the angel across the street: When we were house shopping, we came really close to some other places that were in better shape and had more to offer, but something put us here. A few months later, you moved next door. There are no coincidences in nature. Letting me shower at your house in the morning was just the beginning of all your kindnesses yesterday. You were on the phone to someone who knew about this stuff before my hair was dry. And it continued all day. This was not a one day random act of kindness. You and Marie have been there for us every day. Sometimes with food or a beer, most often with broad shoulders and a listening heart. But not once have I said to you guys "I need a favor" and worried that it wouldn't be granted. Love you guys.

Well, back to the attic. Got a water tank to pay for. And probably a new inspection.

Nothing else could possibly go wrong. Right?

Friday, May 15

what you can't plan for

"Stuff happens". That's the clean version.

I had a lot of plans for getting my inventory ready by the end of the month, enough for my first 3 shows. Ha. If you want to make God laugh...

But May got away from me. My son came home which was the happiest reason I can imagine for staying out of the attic. Then I had to work extra hours at the theater during the run of "Chorus Line" because they just didn't have enough people. And then the pain hit.

I have a back that "goes out" more than I do. It all started back in the Paleolithic era when I was in college. I was scooting to my part time job, he ran a stop sign. Except for a ridge on my scalp where the stitches were, the only lasting souvenir of that encounter is a weak back that flattens me on a whim.

Oh, I tried many things at first. Doctors, Chiropractors, ultra sound treatments, therapy, injections right into the bad spot, heat, cold, yaddayadda. Nothing. The accident caused a flaw. Period. I deal with it, such a small thing in the bigger scheme of possibilities. All that really helps is time and rest, neither of which I had last week.

So, I schlepp up to the attic one step at a time, sit at my workbench in half hour shifts. Try not to whine.

But today I'm better. I may actually climb the steps to the third floor without screaming and/or swearing. That would be a good thing.

Because my first show of the season is 2 weeks from today. How did that happen?

Thursday, May 14

wise friends

Positive article in Buffalo Spree about art/craft as a business, featuring the Kenan show and 2 of my friends in the business: Cynthia Hand and Bryan Hopkins

Artists in "lean times"

Bryan's attitude about retail mirror mine. :)

Friday, May 8

artist statement-again

Sigh. Another app, another wrinkle. This time, the dreaded "artist statement". At least this one isn't asking about inspiration and my philosophy of artistic expression. It's pretty straight forward:

Artists must submit a brief statement describing the technique,
material used and any other creative expression of the artist’s work.
Accepted artists are required to display their Artist’s Statement in
their exhibit area.

Now, here's the thing. I can wax poetic about my work as well as anyone, but this will have to be posted where people can actually see it and chuckle at me. It's a dilemma. Especially when those people are some of my snarky art show pals.

Were I to write a true artist statement per their instructions, it would read thusly:

My technique is to do the least amount of work possible to achieve an appearance of hours spent hunched over a workbench. My materials are whatever I can snap up at close outs and the clearance aisle at Joanns. If it's cheap, I can find a way to make it work. My creative expression is "please buy this, I have a mortgage"

OK, got that out of my system. The truth of the matter is I learned to love paper when I was learning to make it. It lets me do whatever I want with it. It is forgiving and elegant. And since it is an organic material, I am inspired to use other things from nature in my designs. Twigs and shells and leaves and such. I can make paper look like metal or marble. I can leave it alone and let its fibers be the art. I can wet it down and mold it to a design. It is even beautiful just piled up in a rainbow on my supply shelves.

But I can't write that, can I? Too schmoopy.

Better get to it.

Monday, May 4


That's me this week. Sometimes there are no words. There is my son. Sprawled on the couch, watching TV, with the puppy stretched out along his side. The puppy is on his back, his paws dancing in dreams of play. Just an ordinary night. But it's not. Because my son lives 3000 miles away and this is just one week. One week for us to breathe the same air and do ordinary things together. Where are the words for a Mother to explain how that coming together again feels? I have none. I just brush my fingers over his forehead when I pass by. Memorize the sight of him there with the puppy and his laptop and his iPhone, a comforter over his legs. Still a kid, despite it all. No words.

Saturday we went to the theater to see Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin in concert. I don't have words for that, either. I can't explain how a note sung clean and pure and deep and full can pierce your heart and bring tears to your eyes. How a woman in a pin spot with her arms raised to the sky, her fingers splayed, head thrown back, can make you hold your breath. No words.

Tomorrow, we are going to see Chorus Line. One of my favorites. I know that when they all come out at the end, singing "One", their golden costumes bouncing light, the mirrors reflecting them to infinity, the dancers lifting their top hats in the iconic counterpoint to the joy of the finale, I am going to get all floopy and misty and I won't have words for why that is, either. I mean, I know it's about dreams realized and victory against the odds and overcoming whatever it is that stands in your way and it all culminates in the cheesiest, most uplifting dance number ever staged. But I'll blog now that I won't have words for it.

The next morning, my son goes back to Friday Harbor. No words for that either.