Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The piano foils me again

I miss her! But now back to my life, which looks like this: I am being pulled in so many strange directions that this morning, I dropped my phone into a piano. And I could not get it out. So if you call or text me and I don't respond for a while, it's because I can't access the thing from the top or the bottom of the grand piano and have no idea if I will be able to get it out. On the better news front, I have been able to get some significant donations of cash and equipment for the new Eastern Paper Studio at the Morgan! So, despite all my fumbling, the goal is clear. 2013 was huge. 2014, maybe even more so. Thanks for being part of the wild ride.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Not ready for the speed

I can't believe I'm in NY now and still have not in any way properly processed the Iowa City trip from last week. Was it even last week?? This was shot right before I left the pool hall where we left the kids to hang out (I was getting ill by this point and was dying to get into bed). I've been alarmed by how time has been slipping out of my fingers with alarming rapidity; I think of how life goes by faster and faster as you age, but I didn't expect it to feel THIS FAST in my fourth decade. TOO FAST.

I was fairly amazed by how helpful the forced bed rest was, as well as the forced time away from work. I'm fine in my body now but could use an entire month free just to catch up on work. Alas, there is no free month, and this morning was my last quiet morning to work. Maybe I need to craft more reasonable expectations for a given day with a given human body. The education staff sent me this video from my San Francisco gig just last month, which already feels a thousand years old. My ten seconds last from 2:21 to 2:35. Now, I give up on the electronic work and turn to a book made of paper, before a long day tomorrow in Manhattan. Capped by another visit with the most perfect baby niece I've ever met!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Back to the basics

[UICB Nepalese papermaking mould.] I have been terribly ill and it's 99% stress related, 1% from being part of a live petri dish experiment in a sealed car for 9 hours with a sick person. I'm not supposed to be on my computer right now but having spent two days laying down and quarantined and feverish ... I guess that means I should stay down until I'm not feverish.

Anyhow, so much for driving to NY yesterday. It won't happen until tomorrow, and that's only if I lay down immediately. The good thing with not being wireless yet is that I can't be in bed with the computer. The only good news from all of this (aside from my body getting some rest) is that I finished Susan's shifu book! It's true that she spent thousands of hours on this one; wow.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

There and back

We had a great trip to Iowa, though it was SO packed that I had no time to do anything but work and then get sick. I'm hoping for a decent night's sleep because I haven't had one in at least four nights, which compounds the illness' effects. We are super grateful to Tim and Julie and Mike and the whole book arts community in Iowa City for giving us such a warm, generous welcome. I get about 24 hours to recover, and then have to drive, this time solo, to New York.

SOMEDAY I will learn my limits and not book myself so heavy. But that won't happen until fall of 2014. Yikes.

Monday, December 16, 2013

And briefly, a recap of Toronto

Anne Marie, a student from my Toronto workshop, did a lovely blog post about the class! Lots of great pictures; enjoy!

First full Iowa day

We made good time yesterday despite snow and wind and bad car wipers and tired and/or sick drivers. It was wonderful to pull up to Julie's home and see her happy face before we stormed in for hugs.
I'm not sure how we all survived dinner, and I'm not including the picture of us so terribly tired looking, but sleep was wonderful and the flannel sheets just right. This morning, we had breakfast and then headed to The Chocolate Shop and lunch with Gae in Marion before heading to Dysart to see Julie's miraculous studio and the stores along their one main drag.
Then we visited Mike's dentistry practice before visiting their home, which looked like it was perched along the ocean because the farmland was covered in snow. We were amazed during the drives by how white everything was: white sky, white ground, no horizon lines at some points. And were excited by the bald eagle sightings!

Arm and legs, all paper, of course. Julie has an amazing collection of art and we also saw a lot of her own work everywhere we went. I'm not sure how I'm still upright but am hoping to get real sleep soon, before our University of Iowa visit tomorrow!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

A blur of days

This will be my first winter driving with front wheel drive and so far, I'm terrified. So much snow today! And so many places to go. If I could, I'd stay home and leave my car in the garage and catch up on all my work. But after the last few frantic days of getting as many things done as possible for various work things as well as moving the last load of furniture, I now am face to face with a long drive to Iowa City tomorrow. Thankfully, Mason and Kirstin will be on the road with me, so the driving load will be shared, as well as the blogging load. We'll do our best to keep you updated via blog, right here.
I picked up lots of lovely food items today at the farmers market (I LOVE being down the road from markets, and find it interesting that this is the third home that is so close), though it has taken all my willpower not to just eat everything all at once. After a home internet installation, cooking, half packing, and half doing work, I steeled myself to try the snow because I wanted to see Bill and his family for punch and cookies. YUM. His daughter gave me a holiday card, which is not shot very well but it is fantastic (one of her drawings is on my fridge, which makes it feel like a real home). He baked all the amazing goodies up above! Now, time to finish the pack before heading to my last lady artists' night out. Let's all hope the weather calms down in time for a smooth and safe drive to Iowa tomorrow!

Oh, and Velma was so kind to point out that my book made it onto a holiday book list! We're down to something like 30 books, so get your first edition before the second impression hits the warehouse early next year.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Perspective from start to finish

Because she's not mine, and a baby, I can't post my niece's photos. Partly also because the world would explode from cuteness. But she has these amazing faces that make her look like the wisest old soul that has ever lived. And that helps remind me to calm down. Today at Oberlin, I had the chance to see the late Paul Arnold's on-campus studio, and was utterly amazed. It was like walking into a time capsule of the most amazing sort. I never knew him when I was a student, and by then, his wonderful print facility at the college had been taken apart. But it was incredible to see it as if he had just stepped away for a moment (and a layer of dust settled), and to see prints worked up in different colors, and all the wood shavings on the floor, and and and . . . his spirit is still so present, and that spirit of a working artist is exactly what I need to stay connected to right now.

Monday, December 09, 2013

The messy

The Morgan holiday dinner was this past weekend, and we got punchy as usual and tried to prank Mason at the dessert phase. There was a big cake that came out for December babies (that includes Tom and Susan) and we tried to disguise some leftover rice while he was in the washroom. He believed it for a while, but realized it was rice before he ate it.

That was a nice break from the over-hectic life I'm leading right now. I finally slept in the new place, after figuring out where the cigarette smoke was leaking in from (baseboard/floor gap!). The very basics are now covered, though I still have no work surfaces. All I can say is thank goodness for friends! Pam came over on Saturday with lunch and company and good sense, Tom came last night to assess the space for furniture (and also gave me the green light to snag towels and china from his stash), Susie provided a runner for the entrance, and so on. I feel very lucky and loved, albeit scattered. I did manage to visit the ArtCraft Studio Show, have a decadent Sunday brunch out, visit the farmer's market down the street, and run errands.

This is my last week before the next two big road trips: Iowa and NYC, back to back. Agh! Today I'm at Notre Dame to prep for my class next semester, tomorrow in Oberlin to prep for January's class, and two nights this week I get artist-friends-gathering dinners. The workload seems sky high but now that I have silverware and a bottle of wine at home, things seem okay. Tea this morning in my one little cup made by Lauren was just right.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Progress daily

Mason was busy in the new beater room, beating fiber, getting more furniture ready, using the new shelving he and Tom installed. They are both very proud of the shelving, and it's great to have stainless instead of wood in a space that contains lots of moisture. That vat needs to be refinished, too.
It's so nice and quiet outside even when the beaters are on. Insulation success!
Mason was over the moon about moving the pigments from the paper studio inside. They got lots of other goodies for us, and we may have a potential wonderful new way to dry sheets. I'm amazed at how much has been happening since I've been away. Plus, that huge pickup of wood type and plates that Mason fetched for us from Columbus. There is ALWAYS something happening at the Morgan and I don't know how Tom stays on top of it. I am overwhelmed completely by my current workload, which is nothing compared to what will happen in a month: concurrent academic teaching loads + directing the Morgan's new eastern studio + a solo show that requires brand-new bodies of work. In 24 hours, I will be moving (today was the preliminary furniture and loading of half of my belongings), yet I maintain this schedule of constant meetings and running around town and admin.

I tried to stay sane today by taking advantage of the warm snap to rinse and work outdoors while Mason was on the roof cleaning the gutters, and then pulling sheets of elephant ear paper. I like to think the labor, albeit for a fraction of the day, helps me keep it together.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Zero time off

Stairwell on the way to Paperhouse,
Hallway on the way to the classroom (this whole place, Artspace, is formerly a school and renovated for the arts).
Susan doing the drop spindle demo. She is terribly elegant and wonderful, full of energy and resources, and such a lovely person to be around in general.
The old classroom blackboards came in handy, very helpful for board drying!
Joan's (out of focus) knitted hanji sample. I really enjoyed this group of students and from what I heard from them, they really enjoyed the workshop. Mutual feelings are great.
Aside from Greta's amazing baked gifts on each day, I was touched by other gifts: Anne Marie's paper vessel, and Howard's dogbane harvested near where he lives. He showed me how it was traditionally harvested for cordage and how it helps to let it dry out over a season or more before scraping the dry bark, breaking the inner core into four pieces, and getting the rich fiber. I really enjoyed all of the sharing we did, of various techniques, so that it was a true workshop.

The drive back went well, with the fastest border crossing ever and a super stop in Buffalo to lunch with Joe and Cheryl. Very different climate from our first meeting in Santa Fe, but it was great to talk about book tour burnout, learning to say no, and keeping our eyes on the prize: sustaining our creative (writing/art) lives. Now I'm buried in the work that piled up while I was away, and am frantically digging myself out, though it's hard because I am also moving in a couple of days, wrangling with a foreign tax agency, planning two more long-distance driving trips, prepping for two major academic teaching commitments in the coming year, and, of course, getting an entire new studio launch off the ground. I feel overwhelmed, but think that as long as I can make it to Sunday (a day off!), I will be okay. Plus, today I cooked elephant ears (the plants, not the fried dough), so a bit of papermaking may be around the corner. Just to maintain a shred of sanity.