30 August 2007

My mother called again last night...

My father is dying right before her eyes, a little bit each day.

Yesterday he only had about a tablespoon of water - no food, no other liquids. He seemed to not know my sister.

I called my oldest daughter in Las Vegas and told her she needed to get to Indiana if she wanted to see him while there was any possibility that he would know her or her daughter.

We spent all day today trying to get airline tickets we could afford for her, my granddaughter, and my second daughter. We thought at first the hospice foundation that is associated with the hospice company that is taking care of my dad might be able to help. The people that come to the house to care for him and counsel my family said that there should be funding available.

However, with the increase in airline prices (partially due to the holiday weekend) and the less-than-stellar donation levels this year, we were told that they could only help us with one ticket. One ticket would not do, not at all.

So we kept hunting. Finally my daughter found tickets with US Airways, a red-eye flight that shortens their visit by a day, but is going to cost us considerably less than the $2000.00 we first thought we were going to have to spend. We bought the tickets directly from the airline, which usually costs more, but this time it did not.

So they will be flying out next Tuesday. I hope he is still alive by then. I hope he at least recognizes them at some point while they are there. I hope he does not die while they are there. I do not pray much, but I am praying hard for just those things, nothing more right now, nothing more.

We thought we would have more time with him. All the doctors said months, not weeks, not days, when he was diagnosed earlier this month with metastatic lung cancer. I think he is surprising everyone with his rapid decline.

Perhaps it is not a decline, or at least not a decline in his world. Since when is it a decline to be at rest, at peace, unafraid and calm. I think that is closer to an uplifting than a decline.

I would surely like to think about it in that way...

29 August 2007

Things were not going all that well...

I almost died one day. I remember some of it quite clearly, but not all of it.

I was giving birth to my third child. I had gone overdue by almost three weeks and probably should have been induced a week or so earlier. I probably had gestational diabetes (I did with a later pregnancy); I will never know because my doctor did not have me tested. His was the most basic of care since he would not be delivering the baby. I had planned for a home-birth.

The baby weighed ten pounds, even. The birth took from Friday night until Tuesday morning - I was having late second-stage labor by the middle of the afternoon on Sunday.

The RN/midwife told me later that during those three-plus days, no one wanted to be the one to say "Take this woman to the hospital..." The hospital was over an hour away. I lived in a commune that was big on "natural" births (a decision/policy/divine fiat that was established by the men of the commune, men who never had to lay in a birthing bed waiting for a child to come out of their bodies). Anyway, it was a social faux pas to go to the hospital to give birth. I had already done that once and no one wanted to shame me that way again...

But most of all, no one wanted to be the one to say that things were not going all that well.

After a while, when your body is working that hard, you either totally lose it, or you get into a state of mind that is boundless and free - maybe that is zen (but I still do not know what I think zen is...).

It seemed that once there, once in that free place, it was easy to disconnect from the physical world, disconnect from the massive hemorrhaging that suddenly happened once the baby was born, disconnect from the fact that I was bleeding to death, that I was freezing cold , cold enough that my body was having violent seizures and thrashing about uncontrollably.

The peace of mind was amazing. I know that sounds trite and cliché, but there is a reason many people who have near-death experiences say that. There really was no fear, no noticeable discomfort. I found myself in two places at once - laying on the bed with my birthing team seething about in a panicked rout around me, and at the same time in this strange nowhere-place where it was soft and warm and calm. I think I remember laughing with delight. I think I do... I can tell you that I clearly remember the joyful feeling of being loosed from my body, the intense effervescent giddy feeling that seemed to come from both within and without.

I do not remember what they did to bring me back to my body. I think I have this vague memory of ice packs to stop the bleeding, but those memories could very well be distorted by the fact that bleeding to death was making me feel so cold - or at least making my body feel so cold... I really do not know if they used ice on me. I do remember, at one point waking up, coming to, or perhaps coming back, to find myself laying in a pool of blood that nearly stretched to both sides of the queen-sized bead and fully reached the foot of the bed.

Even that grisly awakening did not stop the peace of mind that I felt. I was outside of consequences, free and empty of concerns.

I can still call that feeling to me, sometimes.

28 August 2007

The days are speeding by, too fast, too fast...

I should have been calling more often. I keep telling myself "I will call tonight..." then I get home and get started on a project or a book, and the next thing I know, it is too late to call them. They live in a different time zone from us.

Last night I heard from my mother. My father is weakening more rapidly than we expected. He has not eaten - not more than a bite of cereal and a slice of canned peaches - in two or three days. He sleeps all but just a few hours. I do not think he will be with us much longer...

Early last week he went out to breakfast with a friend. The friend, a good friend, came and picked him up. He must have taken the wheelchair, loaded my father into and out of the vehicle and rolled him into McDonalds, and then reversed the process for the trip home.

Breakfast is the only meal that is even slightly worth eating at McDonalds.

When I was a kid, we never went to McDonalds when we went out to eat when my father was going along. He did not think it was real food. But sometime, sometime in the last 10 or 15 years, my father joined the McDonalds' breakfast clique. I find it interesting that no matter where you go, no matter what part of the country you are in, if you stop in a McDonalds early in the morning, it is full of retirees nibbling on egg mcmuffins and hot cakes, sausage biscuit sandwiches and egg burritos, drinking their coffee and juice and talking up a storm.

I think I like that. I wish I would have gone once or twice with my father.

22 August 2007


I have always thought of myself as someone who is a bit cold, a bit distant. Not that anyone would have really noticed since I have always tried really hard to not bring this attitude/feeling/tendency into my dealings with people. For the most part, I have found that I either really like someone (and those are few and far between) or I have no real feelings one way or another about them. Thank goodness I do not usually find people I truly dislike.

However, these days I find myself floundering in friendships. It is a good kind of floundering, sort of a letting go of all the restrictions I usually confined myself with in the past. I think the tendency to flounder is coming from my fairly fragile emotional state, not the actual friendships. The friendships are a blessing.

So if you are one of my friends, I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your friendship, your prayers and especially your kind words. They often seem to come at just the right times - times when I really should stop for a minute and just think about the world and all its wonders, times when I need to just let go of something that really is not all that important.

Often, it seems, we humans tend to take each other for granted - thinking that there will always be a time to say thanks, or to sit and have a cup of tea together, or to express love towards each other face-to-face. I realize that my father's plight is making me more sensitive to these matters - I find myself sometimes making others uncomfortable perhaps, with my declarations of friendship, appreciation and love. So be it. I just have to trust that they will eventually understand.

And I am okay with it if they do not. These things must be said.

20 August 2007


We have been dealing with excessive rain and flooding here in Winona. Our lovely bluffs and coulees (ravines) tend to cause flash floods if we get more than 2 inches of rain in a six hour period (according to the state hydrologist). I think they are saying that we got around 17 inches of rain in a 36 hour period.

Our house has not flooded, but many others have not been so fortunate. Entire houses have washed away - some with the owners sitting on the roof. There is a 40 foot hole across one highway. I heard somewhere that more than one car went over the edge of the abyss while the water was raging. One nearby town is totally surrounded by water, partially submerged by water. The Red Cross is boating supplies into the residents. Everywhere you look there are downed trees, flotsam and jetsam, and mud, mud, mud. And gawking onlookers - I have resisted the temptation to go look-see.

Tonight there have been a number of ambulances going down the street in front of our house.

The university where I work is being used by the American Red Cross as a shelter for evacuees from all over the county. Dignitaries have been to town, made speeches and promises and left - no mud on their shoes.

We keep walking down into the basement - just to check. It is still raining, on and off. I really should pick the important stuff off of the floor, but I dwell in denial.

17 August 2007

Growing up inspired

Perhaps I had the ideal childhood. I do not know. All I can tell you is that I was surrounded by a collection of caring adults that provided discipline, guidance and inspiration; adults that encouraged me to discover who and what I was. I could, and in fact, should do the unexpected and rare things that I was inspired to do. My childhood was one of empowerment – power and ability.

I was given the power of knowledge – the knowledge of how to fix things, make things, do things for myself, by myself. I was shown that I had a potential given by grace, and that I had a responsibility, perhaps even a duty, to develop it to its fullest, to fearlessly explore my self. I have not always lived up to that responsibility, but I try...

For as long as I can remember we had motorcycles. My father and mother rode together and sometimes took extended trips with my aunts and uncle. One of my aunts owned, rode and fixed her own motorcycle.

I think I was four or five when I first rode with my father, sitting in front of him on the motorcycle while he carefully rode along. It was not too long after that that I started riding a motorcycle on my own – a step-through Yamaha 50cc similar to the scooters that are popular today. I rode in our large backyard and on trails in the wooded areas of our rural neighborhood.

During much of my childhood my father worked out of town and was gone during the week. Because he was only home on weekends it meant that my siblings and I quickly learned to maintain our own motorcycles, and later our cars. He was usually too busy with other projects when he was home to fix our motorcycles as swiftly as we wanted. As children we acquired mechanical and technical skills that far exceeded those of our age-mates.

Initially, when my father worked on various projects around the house I was the one that helped. My brother, the next one in line, is 16 months younger than I am; when I was four or five and ready to help, he was only two or three and far too young to do much. I helped with all sorts of projects - carpentry and remodeling, plumbing and electrical, fencing and landscaping, auto repair and auto bodywork. I was using power-tools, levels, t-squares, hammers, wrenches, screwdrivers and pliers while in grade school. One of my earliest memories is tactile in nature. I remember the pleasant feeling of automotive grease on my fingers. It was both gritty and slippery and the contradiction fascinated me. I think that being able to legitimately get quite dirty was intriguing also. I can remember purposely getting dirtier than necessary as I ran back and forth between the tool rack and my father’s outstretched hand as he worked under whatever car needed fixing.

Working with my father taught me how to follow directions. He taught me how to bracket my choices with alternatives, to plan for exigency; if I was not sure if the nut, bolt or wrench was the correct one, I would also take him ones that were the next sizes smaller and larger. He taught me how to plan ahead, how to deduce the next step. From him I learned how to improvise and find creative solutions to problems.

From my mother I learned independence and strength. Since my father was not home most of the time, I learned how to handle emergencies, how to stay level-headed in a crisis and to be reliable and competent. She showed me how to cook and bake; we raised some of our own food, canning and preserving it ourselves. She taught me how to sew and embroider; she made most of our clothing.

My father is a patient man that never begrudged us an explanation of not only the how of what we were doing, but also the why behind it. He demonstrated daily that only reasonable behavior would be accepted, but what he determined reasonable was solely taught with kindness and honesty and responsibility. I did not have to wear skirts and lace and behave in a “feminine” manner, but I did have to do what I said I would do, not cheat or lie, and treat everyone as I wanted them to treat me.

My mother is a playful, artistic person who, by her very nature, teaches kindness, acceptance and gentleness. As children and young adults, she encouraged us to explore ourselves and the world around us with abandon, never placing unnecessary limits on us. We were encouraged to discipline ourselves and recognize that work, any work, could be tolerable, and even pleasant if we chose to make it so; the right attitude would be instrumental in finding and keeping the mental balance that makes life meaningful.

Although the work they do is gender segregated – my mother does not fix cars and my father does not cook and bake – they instilled in me a belief that I could do whatever I set out to do. We were not allowed to say “I cannot” until we had made a serious effort to do the task at hand. I grew up knowing that I did not have to accept the limits others wanted to place on me. I did not have to fit anyone’s expectations of being female. I could do whatever I chose to do in the manner I chose to do it and when confronted with the walls that others built up to confine me, it was within my rights to find ways around them, it was in fact, expected of me that I find ways to dismantle the walls. Although it is not a word that my parents would use to describe themselves, I suppose my family was revolutionary. This was in a time when women’s liberation and feminism were not yet part of mainstream vocabulary. They gave me the confidence to tackle many tasks and jobs that I might not have had the self-assurance to take on if I had not had the experiences that I had as a child.

My Father's Life

People keep asking how my father is doing.

I have no idea how to answer that. I sometimes just say "He is dying." That is the blunt truth, baring a miracle, he will die sometime soon.

Soon is relative though. Soon could be sometime in the next two months, or soon could be sometime in the next year. The uncertainty could get to be overwhelming.

But I do not want to hurt the kind people that ask. So, instead, I usually tell them about his strength... About his peace with all of this... He has said on more than one occasion, "I've had a good life..." and "I don't want people coming over and sitting there crying. I want to have good times with them now. They can cry later, when I'm gone..." I also tell people about wanting to be with him more often than I can be.

He wants all of us to have good memories - good memories from before he became so ill, and good memories of this time too. The first is easy - he has been a great father. The second, well, I am trying... but it is so hard.

I so resent the fact that circumstances have me 10 hours away from him. I would love to be able to check in with him more often. I would love to be able to stop by in the evening, bringing him a chocolate malt (his current food craving), or watch old BBC comedies with him.

I would like to be able to help my mother more too. I know she needs more breaks than she is getting. For so many years he was on the road most of the time - when they first married he worked as an over-the-road truck driver and was gone a great deal; then he worked at Imported Motors, in Indianapolis, driving up there on Monday morning and home on Friday evening; after that he worked for Fiat Roosevelt, with the same sort of schedule; then after a brief interlude working for one of the Fiat dealers, he returned to trucking; and finally, after retiring 10 years ago, he started working as a "drug-runner" for a pharmaceutical company, making deliveries to nursing homes and hospitals over a large area of the state.

During the time when he was away she was used to running things her way. When he was home, he could have it his way. This worked so well for both these strong individuals. Now things are so different for them. The changes have come so suddenly - until the cancer diagnosis last month, he was still working full-time.

Next time Abelisto and I drive down I want to send my mother off with one or two of my daughters, to spend the day in Bloomington or Terre Haute, shopping, eating out, relaxing and having fun together. Abelisto and I will stay with my father so that she can do this without worry or feeling guilty.


15 August 2007

Gallery Slide Show

Clicking on an image opens the slide show in a separate window (at www.slide.com), with larger images. Once there you will need to click the play button at the top of the image. If you click on an image in this slide show you will be able (after another click) to see a larger version of the image.

If you go to the slide show I want to apologize for the widgets on the right side of the slide show - Slide.com slide shows are not all that customizable. However, they are quick and easy and free...


13 August 2007


On the drive back and forth between Minnesota and Indiana we usually (read: always) take the same route. Boring, I know, but efficient, since I have made the trip enough times over the 12+ years I have lived up here to know the fastest, easiest route.

Our drive takes us through part of the corn-belt of this country. It truly is appalling to crest a rise in the Illinois' flatlands and realize that, for as far as the eye can see, all there is is row after row of corn.

Although I am not an expert on sustainable lifestyles, I know that growing all that corn, year after year, is not a sustainable model. Corn is not an efficient crop; it requires massive amounts of chemical intervention.

I worry about this push towards corn based ethanol gasoline additive. I do not think that we save much in the way of spent energy or carbon emissions with corn-based ethanol.

I need to do more research.


10 August 2007

Strangely intimate...

Today I performed a strangely intimate task for my father - I brushed and cleaned his dentures. At first it made me a bit queasy. I do not know why - it was not gross (although he thought it might seem so to me so that when he asked me he said it was a nasty job and that I did not have to if I did not want to...) but it felt way too personal. I did not even know that his upper teeth were dentures. Whoever made that plate for him made them look just like his original teeth, right down to the gold capped bicuspid he has always had (when I was young and would loose a tooth he would tell me if I could keep from putting my tongue in empty socket my new tooth would grow in gold like his) and the uneven bite that makes his smile so memorable.

I do not mind using my physical strength to help my father. It is not a big deal to help him move from a prone to a sitting position (although since they gave him a trapeze above his hospice bed he can do it for himself). I do not mind lifting him into his pickup truck. It makes me feel both helpful and powerful to do those things - like a good daughter. Those are things that do not intrude on my comfort level. They cost me nothing, in fact, if I am honest with myself, I think I feed off of them. They make me feel good when I do them.

Cleaning his dentures was different. He hated to ask, but he cannot stand without keeping both hands on his walker. So cleaning his dentures at the bathroom sink is not possible for him to do. Cleaning them in his bed would be a messy, daunting task. He does not want to use the wheel chair inside the house, not yet anyway. I suppose someday he might have to...

Anyway, while cleaning his dentures I felt uneasy, kind of fluttery and odd. It seemed so deeply personal. For years I brushed my kid's teeth every morning and evening. But this was so different, cleaning the disembodied teeth of my father.

I was not sure how to go about cleaning the dentures, so I just slathered them with toothpaste and scrubbed them with his toothbrush. I know I keep going on about how strange it was, but I cannot think of another word to describe it. Anyway, as I scrubbed the teeth and gums it became sort of a meditative exercise (maybe zen, although I do not know exactly what constitutes "zen") and it became supremely important to do this task perfectly for my father.


08 August 2007

More on Boundaries

I previously posted my response to a question on the Goddard MFA-IA email discussion list about boundaries. This is my second response to the discussion on the list (I have not gotten permission to post anyone else's responses to the question, so I am not posting their thoughts/postings).

More thoughts...

I think the most important thing that I have done is make it possible for Abelisto to be around when I am making art (and me to be around when he is making his art also!). It is difficult to maintain a close and generous relationship when one has to give so much time and energy to people other than the partner. I, too, work full-time (or more than full-time), am a parent, and try to do art every day... Where would I fit time for a partner in this if we were not creative about it?

Our compromise is that we do not shut ourselves away in a studio to do our art. We have made the entire first floor of our house into our studio. Abelisto can be in the room, if he chooses while I work on a new sculpture or painting or weaving. I can be there if he is composing music.

If Abelisto is in the area while I am working he can bring me a fresh glass of iced tea when I need one (often he knows without me asking). I can return the courtesy when he is working on his music. We do not interrupt the person working, but we are there. If the phone rings and my hands are covered in paint or plaster, Abelisto can answer it and even hold it to my ear if needed. When he is recording I can serve as gatekeeper and keep interruptions from ruining the soundtrack.

I recognize that our method would not work for everyone. Family dynamics, house and studio space and other differences would make this model unfeasible. I just thought I would share how we have worked it out.


07 August 2007

Mount Trempealeau

One more river fog photo

This one is the Mississippi River with Mt. Trempealeau (the largest sandbar on the river) taken from the Minnesota side, a few miles downriver from Winona Minn.

We get a considerable amount of fog throughout the bluffs that border the river here. I believe this is Radiation fog (fog formed by the cooling of land after sunset by thermal radiation in calm conditions with clear sky. The cool ground produces condensation in the nearby air by heat conduction. Radiation fogs occur at night, and usually do not last long after sunrise).

In the early spring we get Advection fog (fog caused by moist air flowing over snowpack). It happens when it gets warm one day and the air fills with moisture from the melting snow. The next morning all the bluff tops will be covered in hoarfrost, every tree, every dried weed stalk, every blade of grass. It is amazingly beautiful and haunting. I have a photo of a spruce tree covered in hoarfrost, I will have to try to find it and post it here...


Another Photograph

Mississippi Bridge

You can sort of see the second rainbow just to the left of the main one.

The bridge is the one crossing the Mississippi River at Winona Minn. You cannot see the river from this view. We tried to get closer to the bridge/river before the rainbows vanished, but they were gone in a matter of minutes. They reappeared later, but we had parked the car (with the camera in it) and were on bicycle by that time. I love to ride just after a rain, or in a light drizzle rain (as long as it is not a cold rain).


Some Photographs

Lake Fog
A lone fisherman and bird, out on Lake Winona early one morning (5:30 a.m.)

River Fog
Fog on the Mississippi River, near Trempealeau Wis. Photo taken from the Minnesota side, just downriver from Winona.


An Examination of Transcendence

Okay, my Artist Statement says "I am an interdisciplinary artist examining the transcendent in the light of the connection between the ancient and the contemporary."

So, how does one examine the space between the ancient and the contemporary in the light of the transcendent?


Much of my work has its origins in the ancient or traditional. It is inspired by the everyday articles that were created to make survival easier, ritual meaningful and environs pleasurable. There is a continuity to be found in working with fiber, with sculpture and with story that springs from their antiquity as focal points for human activities. This continuity both informs my practice and is expressed in my work, sometimes becoming the message of a piece or the vehicle for the message. An examination of the historical context of the work of fiberists – my word for the individuals that create articles (decorative, household, personal, industrial) using weaving, felting, sewing, knitting, et cetera – has become a significant part of my praxis as well as one of the inspirations for my personal theory of art, helping me frame my position that art is giving ideas shape. I don’t believe that having a practical use prohibits an article from being art. I have seen exhilarating, breath-taking weavings that could have been used for a number of practical purposes, and probably were. Purpose is as much “in the eye of the beholder” as beauty.

Examining the practical, utilitarian aspects of fiber work allows me to bring this aspect of the craft into my practice, both as a study of methods and as inspiration for contemporary work. I am most interested in the artifacts and techniques used to create them, from earliest known examples through pre-industrial revolution fiber work.

I think that one aspect of the exploration of the transcendent relates to Time – chromos time versus kairos-time – or time as moment-to-moment and time as eternal. Madeline L’Engle has the best explanation that I’ve run across:
Kairos. Real time…That time which breaks through chronos with a shock of joy, that time which we do not recognize while we are experiencing it, but only afterwards, because kairos has nothing to do with chronological time. In kairos we are completely unselfconscious, and yet paradoxically far more real than we can ever be when we’re constantly checking our watches for chronological time… The saint in contemplation, lost to self in the mind of God is in kairos. The artist at work is in kairos. The child at play, totally thrown outside herself in the game, be it building a sand castle or making a daisy chain, is in kairos. In kairos we become what we are called to be as human beings... (Walking on Water 109)
A friend of mine explained how she sees kairos time – God’s Time she calls it. Her explanation revolved around one of the spiralcut magnets from my practicum. She picked up the spiral from the centermost point. The spiral spread out vertically, resembling a curving, sloped walkway up a very pointed mountain. “Here,” she said, pointing to a given spot on the climb. “Here is where your great-great-grandmother was born, and here is where she died. And here,” as she pointed to a spot farther down the spiral, “is where you were born. This place on the spiral represents your allotted time. This is chronological time, time as we know it. But this, this is God’s time.” And she promptly dropped the spiral flat, flat onto the table top, reducing it to a two-dimensional plane. “In God’s time it’s all one. You always were, your great-great-grandmother always was, from the beginning to the end in God’s mind.”

I’m not a religious person. I don’t go to any church, haven’t been to one since racing motorcycles became more interesting than Sunday school, back in seventh grade, but her explanation struck some sort of chord in me, something that has resonated, deep inside, coming to the surface at odd times... I’ve wondered, ever since that simple but profound illustration, if we sometimes skip across the void, skimming into times outside of our own allotted time like a flat stone thrown skipping across the river. Could that be the source of our strangest dreams, the sudden inspiration, the feeling of déjà vu and those unexplained moments of utter calm or utter terror?


06 August 2007

Artist Statement

I thought I would put my artist statement here:

I am an interdisciplinary artist examining the transcendent in the light of the connection between the ancient and the contemporary.

I work with materials of all kinds – fabrics, metals, found objects, photographs, dyes, inks, wood, clay, glass and paper – to create sculptures, tapestries, garment- and jewelry-inspired artwork. I paint with encaustic paints, on wood, on paper, on fabric or plaster sculptures. I constantly look to blur the line between art and craft; a line that I see as a historically arbitrary social construction. I believe in questioning the status quo.


My projects are sometimes intricate without seeming so, often containing thousands of knots or stitches or hundreds of small incremental steps. I am intrigued by process – the steady stitching or knotting of the cords, the careful laying in of yarns in a tapestry, the gradual buildup of molten metal in welded sculptures, or layers of pigmented wax in an encaustic painting, the position of my hands and the repetitive movements they make – all of which tends to provide/create a contemplative and reflective practice that centers me as an artist and a person.

As an interdisciplinary artist I examine possibilities. I study the connections between art and life, context and concept, inspiration and artifact. I have come to understand that art is giving ideas shape; art is the conscious use of creative imagination, and is in no way limited to the traditional forms historically imposed, but encompasses and includes a great many things.

My exploration and research includes examining garment and identity (garment as metaphor for power/powerlessness, individuality/conformity, and secularity/spirituality/ religiosity), historical fiber and textile techniques with an emphasis on women’s traditional art forms. I use story as a method for communicating the ideas I explore, implementing both the written/spoken word in the integration of story and visual art.

As an interdisciplinary artist I weave together the various parts of my understandings, experiences and involvements as a fabric for my artwork. I spin the threads of my ever-changing awareness of history, sociology, archeology, anthropology, earth science, feminism, queer theory, transcendence, music, science fiction, politics, mass media, workplace milieu and domestic life into rich material for art.


05 August 2007

A productive day, I think...

It seems like today was a fairly productive day. I have been stressing over this upcoming art show and the fact that my summer schedule has not been what I thought it would be. I do not know why that surprises me, since when has my schedule been what I thought it would be...


Today, though, went well. I managed to (not in this order):
1. Begin work on the triptych piece I have been wanting to do for the show, which involved:
a. going to Menards to get some boards and a new vice (picked up a sweet Dremel vice that is perfect for the small work I do)
b. digging through bins of fabric in my studio to find the pseudo-leather fabric
c. customizing the small brass hinges that I got yesterday (again at Menards) with the vice and a 6 oz. tack hammer
d. cutting and sanding the boards
e. gluing the boards to the fabric (in very precise places)
f. attaching the hinges to the boards (over the top of the pseudo-leather fabric)
2. Do some organizing in the studio, although it is still a huge mess, and will be until we get back from Indiana.
3. Lay down for a short nap (which is why I am still going, full of energy, at 9:45).
4. Make lunch (Abelisto made dinner)
5. Spend some time trying to convince my 18 year old son the importance of taking care of someone else's tools better than you would care for your own.
6. Read the last 5 or 6 short stories in Charles de Lint's Moonlight & Vines.
Brush Sheldon (Abelisto's cat) to remove some of the mats in his fur.
8. Pack the encaustic painting supplies and tools for the trip to Indiana.

There was more, but this was enough to list.

Looking back on it, listing all this here, it feels like a really productive day. Now if I only had a whole other month of days like this, I might feel like I was ready for the art show.


04 August 2007

Goddard College

My alma mater just redesigned their website. This is interesting to me for a number of reasons. Perhaps first and foremost because I am facing a redesign of the website at work. I am pretty certain that Goddard's was done for far less money and far less anxiety and pain than ours will be.

I love the simplicity and directness of the Goddard site. The site authors have provided just enough information for someone to decide if they are intrigued or put off by the Goddard pedagogy and its progressive educational model.

Our website contains far, far too much information (around 3,500 pages of it). It is a mishmash of information for students, employees, and others. I am pushing for creating two distinct sites - an internal, or portal site, which contains information for internal constituencies, and an external, marketing site containing information for the rest of the world. I think I am gaining converts...


03 August 2007

More on the I-35W bridge collapse

I have been listening to the NPR and MNPR news broadcasts about the bridge collapse. So far, no one from SMU has been involved, although one of my co-worker's sons crossed the bridge just minutes before the collapse.

The NY Times has posted some articles and images of the collapse that convey the sadness without being intrusive. I so despise television news coverage with their reporters sticking microphones and cameras in the face of traumatized, grieving and lost people. Even more distasteful is providing a public venue for reality-show wannabees who show up at tragic events in order to get involved in other people's grief.

Not the most eloquent way to say this, I know...

NY Times articles
At Bridge Site, Search of River Moves Slowly
Last Words of Missing Echo as Relatives Wait for News
Survivor Recounts Terrifying Plunge
Stunned Victim Turns Hero



A fellow graduate from Goddard asked us (on our alumni email list) how we deal with boundaries with our partners - especially if we live together. How we provide the space and time we need in order to be creative.

My thoughts on this:

Being clear on things helps. Clear with myself in regards to what I actually need, and clear with my partner about it once I figure it all out.

It takes a bit of courage to do that kind of self monitoring and to be able to separate the wants from the needs. Not that we should not include a few wants in the mix, but I have found that my needs rarely intrude on the rights of others, whereas my wants often do...

And then, once I have it figured out it takes a bit more courage to communicate it to others in a thoughtful and discussion-provoking manner. However, it is well worth doing.

I will say that this is not a do-it-once-and-be-done-with-it task. It is something to be periodically reviewed on a life-long basis.


02 August 2007

Minneapolis bridge collapse

Some amazing photographs of a devastating event...

New York Times Photos

These photos are of the collapse of the highway 35 bridge that took place last night just after 6pm.


We drive over this bridge almost every time we go to the twin cities.


Ah, a new blog... oh, the possibilities!

Okay, here I go again, starting a blog once more.

There are a whole lot of things going on in my world right now. So why I want to start another blog at this time baffles me. It just feels like the right thing to do right now.

I am working on art for an upcoming show. We are gearing up for a major overhaul of the university's websites (oh, yeah, I am a web designer at a small, private, liberal arts university). I am teaching an arts appreciation course in three weeks (egads) - the first full-semester course I have ever taught. I am bidding for a prepress course in the spring (a topic that I am not the most well-versed in).

It is blazing hot for Minnesota, and particularly humid (and our old house does not have air conditioning).

And my father is dying. Or at least that is what all the doctors are saying.

So I have a lot of very intense thoughts right now.