Friday, July 31, 2009

Final day

Vacation is almost over. Sad, but I'm ready to work (I say this now!!). Ben didn't have to go in early today since he ships out to JRTC (don't ask what this stands for b/c I forget already) in a couple days, so it was nice to not wake up to a blaring alarm at 5-something in the morning. I put finishing touches on my apps and walked to the local library to print and then to the local post office to ship. Done! That was two; I have at least four more I'd like to do before my residency starts on Monday.

I rewarded myself by going to the ice cream stand for a cone of mint chip, but the clerk gave it to me for free b/c it took him a while to figure out which was mint: he's color blind. Velma and I had talked about the challenges for color blind artists, but I never thought about it being an impediment in other occupations! After packing and cleaning, I made curry tofu and had a generous glass of red wine. So maybe those apps won't get done...

Last night, I went to a dinner w/other officers and their wives, which was a trip and a half. It was like me hanging out w/math clubbers or cheerleaders in high school; I'm surprised they didn't boot me for being so anomalous. I was broken in over drinks and appetizers at another officer gathering for someone's bday right before the dinner, but there was something about sitting w/the wives in the living room (of course the men were in the kitchen w/beer) that gave me a feeling similar to one I had in Korea when sitting w/Korean men over drinks and food: how did I get here??

I also still feel really badly about not having my camera in shooting condition in Canton. Sigh. Again, how did I get here?! I used to be so anti-photographing. It's amazing how things constantly change.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Frozen grapes

Yesterday I had the most heavenly visit to Canton to visit Velma and Mark McMurray, the special collections curator and archivist at St. Lawrence University. He also runs Caliban Press and has the most exquisite printshop I have seen in forever. I finally got to see Velma's home and studio and papermill (!!) after doing the brutal 0515 rise so that I could drive Ben to base and then to North Country. She lives and works in this treasure trove of everything an artist could want and it was a total crime that I didn't have fresh batteries so I couldn't shoot anything yesterday. She did give me this piece of shifu she wove from lokta paper that she spun: we had fun at the printshop w/Mark doing proofs on her shifu w/wood type.

She also showed me some of Carol Blinn's books, which are insanely delicious. I finally saw the nest book that they made together in person, which is gorgeous. Carol is a total duck person, so I was particularly happy to see the books, even though it made me late picking up Ben (I have to learn to not have any expectations from the army: he's late when I expect him early, and early when I expect late). I think people could easily spend days in Velma's home and never need to emerge. She showed me her flax patch outside and I got to see her gorgeous red barn and her border collie Wendy was all over us, which was sweet.

Visiting Mark's shop and the library was also very nourishing. We were all nonstop talking about books and paper and printing and I went overboard babbling about my time and research in Korea. He pulled out some things from Paper Nao, a shop in Japan run by Naoaki Sakamoto, who makes amazing paper that he dyes in beautiful ways. There was one book besides the Paper Across Continents book that I had read in Korea at my hanji teacher's mill (they are friends). It was about hanji and I was too fried to do a decent translation job from the Korean, but it was great to see the photos and diagrams of the webal technique.

Mark treated us to a yummy lunch at Blackbird Cafe, where he found an old origami book and where I had to control myself from getting decadent desserts. If I had a car, Ben would be in trouble b/c I would spend all my time up in Canton. I'll definitely do a trip in the fall when I move with an operational camera so everyone can see the goodies.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Words from Ching-In in TX

Breathing in, become aware of your heart. Breathing out, allow your heart to rest. With your in breath, send your love to your heart. With your out breath, smile to your heart. As you breathe in and out, get in touch with how wonderful it is to have a heart still beating in your chest. Your heart allows your life to be possible and is always there for you, every minute, every day. It never takes a break. Your heart has been beating continuously since you were a four-week-old fetus in your mother's womb.

--Thich Nhat Hanh, Creating True Peace

Monday, July 27, 2009

Monday potion

What is it about Mondays that make everything better? I love Mondays - I can get back to work, everyone goes back to work, and I have all this energy pent up to get it done, so I get lots done quickly. Then again, maybe it's just this particular Monday b/c it's so gorgeous out and there is lots of yummy food to eat at home.

The water is so blue here. I love how dark a blue it is. I remember being in Korea and having people lecture me about how many different expressions for colors exist in the Korean language, but how inadequate English is to express color. I suppose this is true, but I don't even need the words - taking all of this water in w/my eyes is enough to fill me up.

People have lovely homes here; Ben and I took a short walk on Saturday and I showed him some of the houses he had missed b/c he's never taken the back road to town. He looks at practical things like roofs and garages, which do not exist in my realm. I saw a great pair of boots full of dirt and flowers today while walking to town in the sun.

I finally packed up a bag and hauled it to town so that I could sit somewhere, anywhere with enough light, so that I could read or draw or write or whatever I felt like. I parked myself on a bench on the harbor and watched boats take off and little boys splashing into the water to hang out with ducks. I had met an officer last week who asked me if I painted at all, and I said, NO. I might give this to Ben to give to her so that she can see how much I don't paint. Some guy came up to me and was like, "you're drawing something? Nice!" and I wanted to explain, but I guess that's what it was. Drawing something.

It's also cool b/c the breeze is strong today. I came back in b/c the sun was getting strong and I wanted to eat, but I may go out again since I've gotten some work done. Ideally, I'd finish the book I brought, inspired by Jami (since reading is indeed better than the internet for my frazzled little brain).

Sunday, July 26, 2009


I went to bed but couldn't fall asleep so I crept downstairs for the key so I could take a tiny walk since I had noticed the stars were visible when I took the trash out after dinner. It is so gorgeous and clear and breezy and cool and perfect out tonight. I still had my mouthguard in, but it was so good to hold my head in my hands and look up at twinkles. I realized that there is no use fighting all the human impulses I have since life will always be this way. I felt that way when I watched the water last week, and while getting groceries and doing laundry today w/Ben: people will keep doing errands on the weekends, wanting to touch the stars, venturing out into the water, being with the ones they love or doing whatever they can to be with them.

Velma reminded me that it's okay to feel scared, just not regretful. When Ben drove me closer to base to see the two apartment complexes he was considering for this fall, he could tell that I was freaking out, so he took me by the Asian market to assuage my slow awakening to the fact that I really am going to do this. I don't think I've ever been as aware of how I am affected by food in relation to my emotional state and homesickness (and "home" being similar to how JL had defined it once in an Indian restaurant in a department store in Seoul: a soft place to land). Eating out here makes me ill, but tonight I felt comforted by napa cabbage, both fresh and fermented.

I booked my ticket tonight for next Saturday. I'll be sad to leave Ben but it will feel good, I hope, to dive into the heart of the work that I've been preparing for since last year, maybe even earlier. I feel like I've been here forever already - the time warp is complete!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Resistance to whatever this is

Spending yesterday w/Velma was SO lovely - a perfect antidote to my current situation. She came to pick me up and brought the loveliest gift of a handmade paper box w/a stone inside before driving to Clayton to visit the Thousand Islands Arts Center, which houses the Handweaving Museum that she used to run years ago. She knows the current director, and we got to meet the registrar and get a peek at the process of digitizing of the collection. We stopped in at the beading class since Velma is friends w/the instructor, and got to meet the resident potter who showed us the old papermaking equipment that Velma had helped acquire but has sadly been sitting in an attic, neglected and unused. The plan is hopefully to get her to help w/setting up a papermaking outfit in the new space and getting classes started. No brainer!

She took me to Teaism, which is part of Winged Bull Studio run by Greg and Karen Lago, for the most delicious lunch. Fresh-squeezed lemonade, cilantro soup, salad, and quiche. It was so good to hang out with someone who is good at listening and sharing and understanding. She drove me back to the front of the public library where I was supposed to wait for Ben, and we ended up talking until he pulled into the parking lot. I was especially moved when she talked about how she thinks that making art is a serious and important activity in the world (different from artists taking themselves too seriously!).

After swapping custody, the next stop was the hail and farewell for incoming and outgoing officers at the base; my first military function. It involved a dinner that resembled a turkey day spread, a spoon the size of a medium-sized child, a great many officers (mostly not in uniform), and a drawing where I won a ginormous beer mug. I NEVER win things, and was hoping I could get away w/NOT fetching the prize, but I had to. After the event was over, Ben actually let me drive his new car home (I was the DD), which is the first time I've driven in well over a year.

Last night, I agreed to move up here in the fall. I then proceeded to not sleep well and couldn't get back to bed after Ben left for work, so I went for a walk in the dreary weather and felt insanely depressed. I went to the tiny "private beach" next to the marina and just watched the water lap at my feet for a while, wondering what I am doing with my life. I realized a few things:

1. I hate commitment to people (I like it to intangibles)
2. I am terrified by my schedule for the next 5 months
3. I have never been this far away from my family in a long time (esp since I lived so close to so many family members in Seoul), which never felt weird in the past, but now makes me feel unmoored and isolated
4. I need a LOT of love, which is why I befriend so many people, so I am wary of a decision that would take me away from all of those people. When I think about sacrificing community for a partner, I think about a conversation that I had with Ben about how, often, beliefs and practice don't line up. My problem is that I hate for those two things to NOT line up, so making sacrifices like this is super out of character for me
5. I wish I was a duck (I wanted to sail out onto the water today).

All of this just exhausted me. Time for a 9am nap!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Today was a big fat lazy day, which I started out with a movie (last night, too, I finished watching the movies that I couldn't watch on the plane from Tokyo to NYC when American Airlines' stupid video system teased us w/about 15 minutes of the beginnings of movies and then broke down) and a huge omelette. This flock was outside when I took my late afternoon stroll and I bet they're still out there.

Then I called Velma, which was sheer delight: we've only had email communication, so I had been curious as to what her voice sounded like. It's beautiful! We hashed out details on our date tomorrow, when I get a chance to do something other than laze around. This hoop is on the far end of a looping drive that is part of this barracks complex.

After staring at the things I had to do on my computer but not actually doing them, I went upstairs to continue reading Helena's Dangerous Peace-Making (I'm in the North of Ireland chapter), and then take a monster nap. Luckily, no bad dreams. Lately, I've been having incredibly vivid and sometimes horribly violent nightmares - I remember now that they tend to flare up when I get to quiet, peaceful places to sleep. But I really, really wonder how my mind comes up w/some of these scenarios to torture me in my sleep.

I could have easily continued to sleep, but managed to get myself up and out the door - we have summer weather today! Which some people love. I personally prefer something cooler, but braved the sun and marveled again at how this place looks like a postcard.

After stopping at home to grab half of an apple, I walked to town and sat at the harbor before giving into my intense desire for handmade ice cream at the tiny stand behind the saluting soldier. The sun umbrellas were all rainbow colored and the woman who gave me my "small" cone was super nice. I should have gotten the "baby" size but who wants to order a baby cone?? The good news is that Ben is caught up at the office as usual, so I will have no problem waiting for dinner since I am full of chocolate and peanut butter. Vacation would be great if I could just shake the guilt!


There are lots of buildings here.

I think this one is a state restoration project - a hospital?

From a distance, everything looks so fancy, but there's a lot of decrepit action going on.

There is a piece of wood wedged into some of the rebar.

I know this is a dreadful shot but I used to draw things like those Pac-Man circles up there.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I found rubber gloves!

I might end up with more duck pictures than I ever expected.

I love sparkly water. I had gone out right after Ben left for work at about 6:15am for a long walk to find town on my own in daylight. I left my camera at home but regretted it b/c the morning light was soooo nice.

So, after coming back and having breakfast and tea, I went back out with my camera b/c I realized that it may start raining today, which means I won't get to take any pictures.

I shot a lot, but by then it was all overcast and the light wasn't pretty at all.

On my first walk, I saw very few people, and these planters were dry. On the second go around, I noticed they were all dripping.

And sure enough, this dude was a few paces ahead of me.

I love this doorway. Also, I saw three magnificent dogs - one black, one brown, and one very furry one.

Yet another sign of abundance: the local cantina.

Battlefield sites are so weird to me. I think generally that warfare is totally weird to me. Duking it out in a field? Makes no sense.

A wooden walkway along the battlefield. The rest of the winding walkway is fine gravel, with spots of gnat swarms.

On my way home the second time, I noticed eerie orderliness in the landscaping here. It made me think about a recent convo w/Ben about systems and how we are both systems people. But maybe everyone just uses the same landscaper.

The real reason I had taken the walk was to look for local places to find rubber gloves (the stay-at-home gf w/a penchant for cleanliness always ends up doing the dishes).

The local market, about 100 paces away from the front door, was open when I got home, and of COURSE they had everything I needed (except for quinoa. Sharing space with a guy who doesn't cook carbs is a serious challenge). I finally got the dishes done and the kitchen area is clean. Now I have to tackle both bathrooms w/the second pair of gloves I got. This would explain why I am posting a million pictures right now: who wants to clean bathrooms on vacation? I have plenty of time since Ben has to go to the shooting range tonight for practice, and I can easily procrastinate by updating my website. Or taking a shower. Or napping. Ah, time off.


[Yes, it's very clear that I took a lot of pictures today and that I have a lot of time to blog.] This house is for sale! It's right on the water.

It's just a few steps away from this battlefield site. The workers are chipping away the old paint on this building, which used to be the home or headquarters to some navy honcho. I think. I didn't actually read the signs.

Our 7th grade history teacher traveled all over the US taking pictures of these signs and would constantly show us slides of them in class.

Now it's my turn! [I never thought this would happen to me...terrorizing the innocent with slides of signs.]

I don't have a plane ticket back home yet, and wish I could fly into LGA but fear it will be JFK. This is part of the complex of barracks around here. There are historical war figures that hung out here, too, but I thought I'd throw in a NYC reference for fun.

Sentinels and drapery

There are tons of cats around here. This is why Ben won't let me keep the front door open to ventilate.

The tower from yesterday's view.

The other tower from yesterday.

There are guard posts at all the entrances to this residential area b/c they used to be barracks. Most of them have graffiti and empty beer bottles inside instead of guards.

I like this bridge.

These ribbons are all over the main street in town.

I told Ben that if there is ice cream in the freezer, I will eat all of it. I hadn't opened the freezer until last night to get him some ice, and that's when I saw the ice cream. Let's see how long I go w/o touching it.

I think a flag business would do really well in this town. I see them everywhere.

This double set reminds me of the mail art piece I sent to Jacklyn.

White picket fence businesses would also do very well here.