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Archive for the ‘aging’ Category

is this actually December 32?

Saturday, January 1st, 2022

Wisdom Gatherers 3…under the needle

Well, aren’t I the tardy one? I try to blog monthly but seemingly missed December entirely. I know artists who blog daily, although I doubt anyone’s life is THAT interesting? Weekly is also a challenge I don’t need; monthly seems doable. And yet here it is January 1 and I missed out on December. Unless you go by the theory that December has 32 days…

It is not that I was that busy, nor indulged in holiday mania. No, it seemed to be more of swimming in medical appointments, mostly his, but a few for me. After three months of nearly daily headaches, some sinus issues and a bout of continual migraines, I finally cried ‘uncle’ and decided to look into it. I am, as my former employer, a doctor, used to say, “the world’s least compliant patient!”

A true believer in figuring stuff out on my own, making changes where I can & having acupuncture, I have found most anything can be cured by holistic means and if not, then I will go to the doctor. So I finally did, and thankfully a CT scan found nothing seriously wrong that could not be changed with yet more dietary changes, and limiting my screen time. So I am officially off chocolate, wine, aged cheese and limiting my green tea caffeine to one cup a day. I won’t miss the wine so much as I seldom drink it any more. But the chocolate is pure torture, as I used to enjoy one square of dark chocolate every day. And the aged cheese is more of a discipline matter as I am lactose intolerant and should not have it anyway. Isn’t that what lactaid is for?!! The green tea is more of a paying attention moment, as I drink tea all day long, often reusing a tea bag. Now I just need to be more aware and switch to decaffeinated earlier than 3 pm. So new year, new attitude and feeling better each day! Now if I can just steer clear of Omicron which seems to be rampaging through our city I will be in fine shape.

I did not do much sewing or designing in December although I did finally print some cloth for the next piece in the elder women wisdom series; which I am now stitching. I stitch the entire background before applying the photo and wisdom embellishments. This particular wise woman is my dear and treasured aunt, who will celebrate 94 in a couple weeks. I interviewed  her two years ago so it seemed important to me to simply get on with it!

Not one to make resolutions, I make a list of goals at the end of each year. Mostly they are art goals, but some are life goals. This recent spate of bad head days led me to consider once more how much stuff I could be leaving my daughter to go through; a task I wish on no one, after cleaning out two households myself. So one of my 2022 goals is to redistribute more of my stuff.

I have actually been good about downsizing for years, whereas hubs is not. Three domino sets anyone? We don’t even play dominoes! But there is always room for improvement, in the downsizing world. I decided to designate one day a week, or better, one day a month for downsizing. Otherwise the left brain kicks in, it becomes an obsession, no art is made, for weeks on end. So I am aiming for a monthly declutter.

That said I better get stitching…Happy New Year! May this be the year we kick Covid to the curb. Be well…

 

 

the weary life of a studio artist…

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2021

Endless, 5″ x 120″, photo credit by Joe MacDonald, Digital Grange

I’ve been actively limiting my screen time for two reasons, both related to over-use & my body complaining. After a three day migraine caused by a “small” volunteer project for a non-profit organization; a database update that required three documents to be open simultaneously and transferring data from those three to another file online while ignoring the screaming body, as we workaholics are prone to do; followed by eye problems which are ongoing and now nerves in my back and legs screaming from sitting too much. Aging is a privilege for sure, but definitely not one for sissies!

Before all this drama, I finished two pieces about plastic waste. Two years I became aware of all the plastic floating in the ocean, washing up on worldwide beaches. Apparently I had been living under a rock until that time; too bad, so sad, you know the drill.

Upon awareness, I immediately began to take note of my own plastic consumption. I was horrified as I began to notice all the little bits of plastic in my life, everywhere. I stopped buying bottled water in plastic right away and then added more measures such as bringing mesh bags for produce, refusing plastic bags entirely, no straws or anything I did not absolutely need for living.

At that time, I was also finishing a year’s course of braces to restraighten my lower teeth. So I had all these little plastic boxes of plastic toothpicks, and those containing wax for the metal ends of the braces, and plastic toothbrushes, and hotel room keys I had collected for years and expired credit cards, (thinking someday I would do something with them), plastic food netting, berry baskets, straws and so on and so forth. I decided to hand-stitch these to a cloth-covered substrate and thus I created Endless.The piece is 5” high by 120” long which when coiled sits in a 24” circle and was photographed by the fabulous Joe MacDonald of Digital Grange..

Also I designed Recycling (Plastic) is a Myth. Inspired by Plastic Free July and the myth that if we all just recycle a bit more, we could solve the plastic problem. The key to solving the plastic problem is to stop making the plastic. But as fossil fuel companies have stepped back from gas-powered engines, they gotta do something with that fuel. Enter the “cracker” factories, which produce plastic. As we speak over 300 new factories are either permitted or under construction in the US. I digress.

We have been indoctrinated since the advent of recycling that if we toss all plastic into the blue can it will be recycled. Wrong! Actually less than 8% of plastic is recycled. 12% is incinerated, emitting cancer-causing toxins into the air; primarily in lower income communities. Over 80% of plastic goes into the landfill or is sold to brokers and shipped overseas. So the solution to plastic is to stop making it, to stop buying it, to refuse it and to use other reusables such as aluminum, wood, glass, etc. This piece is aptly titled Recycling (Plastic) is a Myth.

Right now I am sewing scraps in colorways, mainly because the scrap drawer was too full. I hope, in short order to being able to start new work.

time well spent…

Saturday, August 21st, 2021

dorothy’s dahlias

This week I was blessed to have a private visit with my 93 yo Aunt Dorothy, who is the light of my life. She, being an extrovert, often has a crowd around her, so for us to just enjoy private time together was so special to me, and seemingly her. She has always had my back, as I imagine she has many others. She is the most kind, giving and generous spirit I’ve ever known; although Marion was a close tie.

In conversation, I ran something by her that had really upset me, although it was by then, days past the incident and I was pretty much over it. I just wanted her wisdom on this. And she delivered!

Upon waking this morning I had an epiphany from that wisdom, that toppled my decades of resentment.  She knew so well this disturbing dynamic having been a witness, for all of my 7+ decades. Her comments were as if she handed me the missing piece to the jigsaw puzzle of my life. All of a sudden, everything fell into place! Old hurts and conversations now all made sense.  Relationships that had tormented me for years all suddenly made sense. I could have been SO angry and yet I wasn’t. I finally felt free of the burden. First, I felt absolute liberation, then I got angry, then I wondered if my time here was nearly over, since I had finally figured this huge juggernaut out?!!!

And then I went into another Zoom meeting. The speaker, Paula Kovarik is an accomplished renowned artist who seemingly is my kindred spirit. I identified with so much of what she said, not only her artistic inspiration (Klee, Calder, Kandinsky etc) who are also mine; but her philosophy about life and art-making. Wow, just wow!

She spoke of bringing what is inside, out; which is exactly what I am doing in my work presently. And in releasing old painful wounds. I am in awe of her work and her art practice, and her discipline (treating art-making like a job!) but mostly what I gleaned from this look inside in her world, today, of all days, is the reminder.

The reminder from Paula and from my  aunt, of paying attention, being present; not only smelling the roses, but observing… the textures, the colors, the patterns, the shapes, all that forms our personal universe. Paying attention, so that when another life lesson presents itself, we notice, and don’t spend decades harboring the hurt. Some folks NEVER get that, whether they are not paying attention or thinking it unimportant. I am blessed with awareness. And most of all, learning from those lessons and moving forward…

And in others news…I just noticed I have not blogged about two pieces of work that were juried into the prestigious Intl Fiber Arts X at Sebastopol Center for the Arts, in beautiful downtown Sebastopol! The show is on now till September 12, open Thurs-Sun 10 am-4 pm; masks required. It is an incredibly diverse exhibit of fiber work, much of it sculptural.

missing Marion…

Friday, April 23rd, 2021

Marion and I, 2018

Today I have been working on a powerpoint presentation I am making next month for the SAQA Board. Essentially it is about introducing diversity to the organization by relating how my friendship with Marion Coleman led me to self-educating about black history. I designed and tweaked most of the morning, and when hubs needed the computer to Zoom with his Parkinson’s group, I left to go pick up some groceries.

As I drove to the store, I suddenly burst into tears. Tomorrow is the 2nd anniversary of Marion’s death, and it hit me how serendipitous that I am working on this presentation about her impact on my life & art-making, on the very anniversary of her leaving.

I have a friend who says I am the most ‘woke’ person she knows. While I consider that a compliment I am well aware that I still have far to go. I continue to self-educate, by reading books, watching videos and every black film I can get my hands on. I even took an online course about the Civil Rights Movement, which I lived through, but had paid little attention to as it did not apply to me, in my white privileged world. I also catch myself and others, on their stuff all the time.

I owe all of this growth to my friend Marion. We were acquainted for 15 years and had talked about most everything. It was her question, near the end of her life, that prompted this growth in mine. How many black people do you know as well as you know me, she asked? I responded that maybe it was 5-6; to which she said, no I mean who you can talk to as comfortably as you speak to me?  Well that was the kick in the pants I needed to look out beyond the lily white meadow and learn something.

She might be surprised how far I have come from Pollyanna in just two years time. I am continually grateful to her for so much, not the least of which was pushing me out of my comfort zone. I miss her so much.

RIP girlfriend.

musings in the night, part 47…

Monday, April 12th, 2021
RHODIE BLOSSOM

Mendocino Botanical Gardens, rhododendron

The other night’s musings brought me some awesome titles for new work. Not the work itself, just the title! I particularly love ‘the writing on the wall was in invisible ink.” Or “how I became an activist on my way to becoming an old woman.” The funny thing about night musing which most often follows a potty break, is if I just focus on my breath I fall back asleep in seconds. Often I forget that and get a good 2-3 hours of musing, worry and planning in, before I drift back off. People often chide me for being a multitasker, and yet it is my happy place. If I did one task at a time I likely would be committed!

After returning from a 4 day getaway to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary (shocking, I know!), my plate quickly filled. Before the celebration for two, I had been scanning and resizing a myriad of photos from the past 50+ years for a Powerpoint for hubs on the big day. Well into it, I realized that he might not be as thrilled with it as I was, so I decided it really was a gift to myself. And good thing, because the stoic Swede came through with a lack of enthusiasm, as anticipated. Yet I loved every minute of putting it together! This is what 50 years teaches one…tamp those expectations!

air bib

rental on Mendocino Coast for our 50th anniversary celebration… comfortable and luxurious

the view from the house

When we returned home, I resumed researching the next piece, and designing the screens for fabric printing. I had to go with plan B when plan A failed to give me exactly what I wanted. And now I am waffling on plan B. So when someone asks me how long it took me to design something, I always include these days and hours of research and photoshop. The actual construction takes little time! It is really how folks justify in their mind, the price of something. If I am charging XYZ it must have taken me hundreds of hours. Well, that just might be true!

Post-trip, I also entered the overscheduled Zoom zone and yet I am loving it. I am learning so much in the Plastic Pollution class, a virtual multi-week course from Bennington College, taught by Judith Enck, former EPA administrator in the Obama-era.

The SAQA virtual conference from Australia-NZ piled on, but fortunately those sessions are mid to late afternoon in my time zone. Hubs has some OLLI Zooms, which require my setting him up, as he is mostly computer illiterate. And in May I am taking a weeklong immersion on Baja CA with Road Scholar, in lieu of actually going there.

All this has been made possible by my unloading an energy vampire which had been haunting me for months. Wow, what a huge difference! That and dropping 20 pounds, walking regularly and I feel like a new woman. A newly educated artivist woman!

Too Much Information…

Tuesday, February 9th, 2021

scanned papers that found their way to the recycle can

I spent the morning sorting through my Inbox. Not my email inbox but my IRL inbox. Yea, it’s a holdout from my office days that I still have a real life inbox. This one has no sense of urgency however, but rather a place to stash papers I want to remember, revisit or read later. Then once in a blue moon I sort through the inbox.

I find several papers that have essentially expired, in that whatever is printed on them has already passed or is no longer valid. Sometimes I find calls for entry that I have already entered , decided against, or with a deadline that has passed. I find papers I should have scanned in the first place, and then I do so, and file away on the hard drive, most likely never to be read again.

I find words of wisdom, which is possibly my largest category of saved papers. Quotes from the Dalai Lama, Sharon Salzberg, Albert Camus, a friend’s poetry, etc. Wisdom quotes have no expiration date! They are always wise words into perpetuity.

In addition I have the bookmark folders on browsers with articles and websites saved to remember and/or to read. There are videos and TED talks to watch and listen to. Then there are the tangible books to read, the stack now measures 7, not counting the minimally 75 on my Kindle. All this is just Too Much Information!

I had one of those mothers who cut out things in the newspaper and mailed them to me. I promised to never do that to my kid and pretty much have stuck to it. I have sent her maybe 3 things in 20 years, so they must have been really important! I knew my mother was doing what every good mother should do, but then when I started receiving clippings about people spinning goat hair in Montana, from my father’s bestie, I knew a line had been crossed. If one cannot retrain their own parent, how can they possibly retrain someone else’s?

I now believe this obsessive saving of stuff to read or remember is the 21st century version of the newspaper clipping mailed by a ‘well-intentioned’ person! The other day it occurred to me, as I was marking yet another article to read in case I ever want to design work on ‘that subject’, that I may NEVER ever read this article. If I don’t have time to read it now, will I read it later? Will I be sitting in my rocker 20 years from now, with nothing to do but read all this stuff? Will any of it be relevant other than the wisdom? Really it is all information overload…TMI.

We are deluged with facts, figures, quotes, commentary, opinions etc. I never was a good reader to start, being a visual learner. So maybe scanning and filing words away on the hard drive is my adaptation to visual learning?  I think not.

Perhaps the moral to this little ditty is to stop saving stuff I am never going to read. Read it now, or don’t, but please stop saving it! Besides anything I ever desperately need I can likely Google.

And don’t even get me started on the photographs I’ve scanned…

 

 

 

loose ends…

Wednesday, January 20th, 2021

I’ve been fraught with anxiety for much of the past four years. I made a lot of art about subjects that got me fired up and am now exhibiting it as much as I can, in a pandemic. After the election I calmed down a bit until the domestic terrorism two weeks ago. Today on the eve of the inauguration I am beginning to feel as if I can breathe again, knowing full well that we as a country still have a long, long way to go, before we can feel complacent again. In fact I don’t believe we will ever see “normal” again. You know the kind of normal where you don’t think every day about your government, or the pandemic.

In the meantime, I have been preparing for a SAQA Textile Talk next week. If you want to watch, comment below and I will send you the link to register. I am one of 5 artists whose work is being featured from an exhibit titled ‘Upcycle’ on recycled materials. I have spoken about my work on many occasions, so that is the easy part. I was able to put my vintage PowerPoint knowledge to use and prepare 10 slides of art and studio shots for my portion of the talk. Where I got hung up was on the lighting for my ‘person’ on Zoom.

I decided I wanted to do a custom background, featuring some of my work, as one would do. Yet the problem was still with the lighting. A colleague suggested I bring a lamp with a shade to my computer. Uh, I no longer own a lamp with a shade! Our entire house has been upgraded with overhead LED lighting. I tried my Ott-lite and that sort of helped.

Another suggested a green screen. I researched green screens, and decided against it as I did not need more stuff to clutter my office. My sister gave me a new green screen which she bought but decided not to use. I also decided not to use it and passed it along to Goodwill.

Finally I decided to swap out the wall quilt behind me, forgetting that a 6 ft table bearing a heavy midarm sewing machine was between me and the wall as a deterrent to hanging another quilt. Thank goodness for these long arms, as I was able to reach over the extended arm of the table, up the wall and with a little -uh hang a different quilt!

Then I remembered a recent purchase of a clamp-on light can, down in the basement. I brought that up, put a 5 watt bulb in it, clamped it on the shelf above my computer and voila! Let there be light. Essentially I spent two weeks fretting over the lighting.

Some time ago, before the pandemic, as I recall, I volunteered to design a memory quilt for the family of a slain person of color, for the Social Justice Sewing Academy. I  heard back a week ago, asking if I were still interested? I replied yes.

This past weekend I received the information, photos, likes and dislikes for my first memory quilt assignment. After reading the information about this woman, I felt such a tremendous responsibility to create this quilt, which I need to do in 6-8 weeks. What a huge honor to be asked to design something memorable for a family who has already lost so much. Especially in this era of Black Lives Matter, and white supremacy, it is so important to me to step outside of my life as a person of privilege and really look at the life of a woman who didn’t have a chance. The easy path would be to turn away, as so many of us have done for centuries. My hope is I have it in me to do more than one. Stay tuned…

Lastly, I have been mulling over the role of social media in my life. Several people whom I know have left Facebook, and thrived! I have considered it many times. What keeps me there is the contact I have with so many of my art colleagues, all over the world; friends and neighbors. It’s a place to read about others art and blab about my own. I also enjoy reading about local restaurants, taking a class or two through groups, reading local gossip, as the paper comes out just once a week; just catching up.

The lack of security is what bothers me most. And yet I wonder if I do walk, where will I have human contact? Where will we meet up? It looks like it will be another 2-3 months minimally before I get the vaccine, before I can meet friends for lunch, go to exhibits, resume some sort of a normal life.

I guess if I do sign off, I will just have to pick up the phone, which is not exactly a bad thing. I’ve noticed that my ability to actually speak language rather than type it, is occasionally challenged. As in, if you don’t use it... all good food for thought!

 

 

 

musings in the night…

Tuesday, November 10th, 2020

manipulated photo of Lake Powell

I don’t know why but I seem to do my best thinking, and especially designing, in the night. Last night was a stellar example. I don’t remember what started the parade of thoughts but it just went from one subject to another to another to another and on for over 2.5 hours. Usually when this starts I try to focus on my breath; in for 3 seconds, out for 6 seconds. About 3/4 of the time this works and off to lala land I go. But last night, oy!

One of the things I thought about a lot was the list of presidents in my lifetime. I could not for the life of me remember where Kennedy fit on the list! I knew he was elected in 1960 but hmmm…where did he fit in? I was pretty sure he was after Eisenhower because I think Nixon was his competition and Nixon was Eisenhower’s VP. But then Nixon was impeached and Ford took over and I knew Kennedy was before Ford, and so on and so forth. I even resorted to counting on my fingers, like knowing the number of Presidents in my lifetime, would solve this question!

What I should have done was wake hubs and just ask him. For he is the walking Wikipedia of all things history. Of course I did ask him this morning and he said Kennedy was after Eisenhower. Whew! He laughed and laughed that I had spent so much sleep time pondering this. So glad we resolved that!

Another thing that captured my attention was how hubs and I, computer matched over 50 years ago as polar opposites with the same values, are still polar opposites, with the same values…only we have switched places! I was thinking our fable would be the Angry Young Man and the Angry Old Woman! As a young man, he was angry about most everything, and I was an everyday-is-a-new-day Pollyanna.

Now, when I spout off about anything… current events, politics, the pandemic, rude people, sheeple, etc etc etc (fill in the blank), he tells me everything is going to work out! Who is this guy, who quit worrying years ago?!

That set me off to wondering when did we change places? I envisioned a design of shifting mindsets! Two mindsets cruising past each other. When were they on the same page? And for how long? I sure don’t remember, but it is probably something hormonal, in both of us. It really is something to ponder, and why not at 3 am? What else do I have to do?

It is somewhat humorous to me that we two polar opposites are still polar opposites after 50 years. We are just the polar opposite of the original polar opposite! It seems to work though which really is the most important point.

Now that I have resolved those two important thoughts, perhaps tonight I may sleep.

on inspiration for MY new work…

Thursday, August 13th, 2020

detail… Somebody’s Child 1

Ever since I switched from designing ‘pretty’ quilts to narrative work, I have attracted people who want to advise me on subject matter! One of the reasons I now make narrative work is it allows me to express my voice, and opinion without physically marching in the streets. For as my body has aged, my desire to actively protest has subsided.  Instead I let my work speak for me. And it seems I have a lot to say. I have a file of ideas, longing to come to fruition.

So when I recently shared on social media that my new Black Lives Matter work titled Somebody’s Child was juried into an important exhibit, someone told me I should make work about the thousands of lives lost to opioid addiction.  My immediate reaction was this person, also an artist, had lost someone dear to her to addiction.

I encouraged her to make such a piece. She responded that she couldn’t, it would be too large.  When I showed another work on gun violence, an acquaintance suggested I make work about abortion. She, being a devout Catholic, obviously is very passionate about the subject. It really struck me then just how badly people want their voice heard, but seemingly do not want to ‘risk’ putting it out there themselves.

Culture of Fear, detail

I simply cannot make work that does not speak to me! What is the point? Am I just an art factory? I think not. Instead I encourage people with a cause to find their own constructive way to express it. You only live once!

I follow a funny account on Instagram called CanYouSewThisForMe?  My daughter turned me on to it. She has two degrees in fashion design and while she does not work in the field, she sews and knits most of her own personal wardrobe. She is always being asked if she will sew something for somebody? Or worse yet being told, she could sell that for everything she makes. The woman knows that. She knows she could sell it. She does not want to. Not everything in life has a price!

So back to CanYouSewThisForMe?...the postings are mostly hilarious. A lot of people want a knockoff designer wedding gown, in 3 days for less than $50, because they don’t have much money. Uh, why are you having a fancy wedding if you have no money?  I definitely need to add my ‘new work’ idea suggestions!

My mother’s voice just came to me… These folks mean well, or this is a compliment. Yeah I know that. As do I. I mean well when I suggest they find their own voice, speak up, demonstrate, protest, write letters, campaign, make art, whatever.

You do you, and I’ll do me.

on the mind-body connection…

Wednesday, June 24th, 2020

now this would make a pretty quilt!

I have been a firm believer in the mind-body connection for over 40 years. I only go to the doctor when I have exhausted all other options, which is infrequent. And yet, occasionally, I forget…

I have been actively self-educating on black history for a while now. I am not a great reader, which is the main reason I dropped out of college, as a junior. My reading comprehension is largely MIA. I am a visual learner, so I have taken a visual approach to learning these stories which I either missed in school, were not taught in school or certainly were not discussed in the white privilege world in which I grew up and continue to live.

In the past month we have watched Harriet, Selma, and Just Mercy for starters; with many more in the queue. I also watched a PBS special on Toni Morrison, and have read three anti-racist books so far. I was seriously enlightened by Debby Irving’s Waking up White. She grew up like I did in a middle-class white neighborhood in the ‘burbs. In reading her story it felt as if she wrote it from my childhood home. I had NO idea that the advantages in my life were at the cost of the disadvantages to black people. It wasn’t that I didn’t care; I just did not think about it. White privilege in action!

Suddenly it all made sense, that in order for people to succeed, others must fail. My entire childhood was built on success, my father’s success and the anticipated success of my sisters and I. Because I chose to leave college, my anticipated success was squelched, never to be resurrected, in his eyes.

For me art-making has led to my own version of success. I don’t really care if I am considered successful by others. I know who I am. I find my success in producing art that says something, which is also my personal form of protest. My aged body does not take lightly to protesting in the streets, surrounded by hundreds of others. I protested the Vietnam war as a newlywed. That was our time, and now my protest comes in the form of visual art.

As I have been self-educating, I forgot one really important detail for this sensitive spirit. I forgot that unreleased emotions fester. All of the black history movies I have seen so far have felt like an emotional gut punch; and actually were. I have been heartbroken, devastated and sorrowful for how black people have been and continue to be treated throughout US history. I have felt that sorrow and I held onto it. It will release eventually in artwork, but for now while I am learning and researching, it is taking a physical toll on me.

I only put this together in the night, when I do my best thinking! I have had acute belly pain for a week now. The belly is my go-to spot for stress reactions. Because I have done over 40 years of acupuncture and holistic medicine, I know that I hold anger & stress in my belly. How did I not put this together before? Funny, I asked a practitioner that once…why did this not occur to me before? Her response always was, yes, but you remembered now!

So I am back to the basics, eating belly-friendly food (rice and bananas), having acupuncture and listening to calming music, practicing meditations, doing yoga stretches, etc, while I continue my research.

This morning hubs suggested I no longer do this work that “upsets” me so, saying I should return to making pretty quilts. I told him I NEED to do this work. This is my purpose at this stage in my life. I am finally using my voice and I have something to say! This is my personal protest.

I just need to be more aware of my own reactions, my own emotions about these tragically sad stories and history. I need not internalize my reaction, but instead save that emotion for my art.

I’ve always been a sensitive soul with a sensitive physiology to match. I’ve learned this is what makes me a good creative. I consider it a huge blessing to feel; and to make art from those feelings. So I am re-framing, one more time and moving forward.

I have memorized this owner’s manual. Occasionally I simply forget where I left it…