Friday, April 29, 2011

Beautiful day

Oysters at Point Reyes with roommate and dog for a birthday celebration. I was grateful for the last-minute invite even though I had to break plans w/a dear friend to do it. Full, sunned, a lovely Friday.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Quieter days

[a sample from a book art love dinner party on Monday night + a Velma-inspired enclosure for three of Asao's books.] Yesterday after class I had the luxury of hanging around and making books and cases. That made me feel much better, even though I got home later in the chill. I managed to mail an app out today and get fancy new stamps. I wish I had had more errands to run since it was so nice out, but I treated myself to a documentary about paper folding that had been recommended to me in Seattle. I had to write down what Paul Jackson said: "I think paper has a problem. I think it's very passive. I think a lot of origami looks trivial because a lot of paper looks trivial." That's something I have thought about for a long time and still have no good answers. Though it's telling that only one of the folders, Michael LaFosse, made his own paper.

Which only makes me more itchy to make some paper! Soon.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

A whoosh of there and back

I had a lovely quickie trip to Seattle and only wish I could have stayed longer to snoop around. My students were great, and understanding of my low-key-ness after not sleeping my first night b/c my room was right above the outdoor smoking area of a bar near the university. Yikes. But I was really glad to be able to teach a hanji workshop w/the full lecture preceding it, all built into the time. It was leisurely enough that I was even able to play with my own samples. It was so sunny the entire time, too! I was amazed by all the trees in the city. I've never flown into such a treeful city, ever.

I also got to meet up with two separate long-lost friends. I hadn't seen one for probably close to ten years, and now she has a husband and sweet, happy son. The other I hadn't seen since 2006. I hope I get to make another trip soon that lasts a little longer. Now...two weeks left in Cali! And then the summer season rears its daunting head.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Even smaller than baby steps

I cooked a batch of dak this morning for my Seattle workshop this Saturday. I hope that the dog behaves while I'm away b/c he's been so bad lately. I came home to a huge ring of paint chips around my door from him scratching up the doorway, trying to get in. That was after a dreamy haircut (in that I tried to sleep the whole time) in a faraway Asian neighborhood in the city and an entirely satisfying in-between-lunch-and-dinner at my favorite Vietnamese joint. Something about the whole journey wiped me out and I almost didn't make it home from a combo of fatigue and dehydration.

I'm working through an unexpectedly heavy workload, part of it being self induced, but not all. Cooking fiber made me want to make paper, of course. Too bad that won't be happening for a while. But I got more good news from another acquaintance about his Fulbright acceptance to Korea. I love thinking that some journeys are just about to begin.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The view is the same but the company is better

I left my camera at home for the past few days so Ben was in charge of photos. This is an old one from a few weeks back, but we crossed the bridge yesterday for a wine country tour and I was so happy to not have to be the one to try and take pictures in motion. I had a splendid few days off, finally got to visit the Asian Art Museum, ate entirely too much but well, and am back to the humdrum but comforting routine of dishwashing and laundry. One more social engagement tonight and then I can just be home for a day to work, which will be so welcome that I've already turned the page in my calendar so I can pretend that today is that day I get to stay home.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

"Terrible sharks"

[Elizabeth sent me that perfect phrase just now. Thank goodness for friends whose first languages are not English.] Yesterday was one of those nightmare days at work that made me SO GRATEFUL to all of my teachers, parents, guardians, and anyone else who put up with me (and still do!) while I went through difficult phases and threw tantrums. I had to call on many of them last night and today but haven't given up entirely: the sun is out after a bit of rain and grey, and I bound a tiny book with a matching case from the paper I made last week to practice for tomorrow's class. This is when I realized that I need to keep an emergency needle in my kit instead of having all of my needles in my sewing kit, which is in my office now: it sucks to sew a double-needle binding without needles. I managed with none, but only because of the particular thread and paper I had. We all make do.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Live fish

During a meeting of activists tonight, a woman I've only met twice who has been here for less than a month, from Japan, said something poetic and true. She mentioned the way that students wither in class when the teacher views them with cold eyes, and then they become dead fish. And also that people think that those that are incarcerated are monsters. She quoted a Japanese prison activist (perhaps he has already passed away; things were lost in translation), who said that when he visited prisons, he saw no monsters. So she said she wants look with warm eyes in a space where people can talk.

She was also VERY good with our naughty dog, a way of being kind but firm, which revealed so much.

Saturday, April 09, 2011


After a jam-packed week, I feel a little like this fellow. It's funny how each morning when I wash my face, I notice the darkness under my eyes and think, "Hm, I must be tired." It obviously hasn't occurred to me yet that this is how I look now.

This week, I did a strange scavenger hunt of sorts in SF with a new acquaintance, who has a paper mill. The next day, my students handed in some of the most delightful zines I've ever seen, and then I had a satisfying night out with my TA at a charcuterie in Oakland. Yesterday, I got to trek deep into SF to make paper in a spacious garage out of fiber I have had since 2007 (and Korea!).

I had just re-read this quote in Stephen Batchelor's Buddhism without Beliefs, and have been turning it over: "Since death alone is certain and the time of death uncertain, what should I do?" I brought this up to a neighbor who gardens, after he came by while we were beating fiber to ask what was going on: we had gotten locked out/in. We had stopped for a late lunch, walked through the back door to the backyard, and heard the door slam behind us. It was locked and we had no keys or phones. I could peer out the window in the door to the beater on full weights, chugging away, on the path to unintentionally overbeaten hemp/cotton. Sigh. The way homes and yards work in that part of town was scary: no outlet. We were trapped in the yard, and only got out b/c my more courageous partner in crime scaled several fences and rapped on windows until she finally got someone to let her out into the street to run back and, FIRST, take the weights off the beater, and then let me back in. A true papermaker.

Anyhow, a housekeeper for one of the homes whose window was rapped upon nearly had a heart attack (and one person, after talking to us--I had been perched up to peek my head over the tall fence to vouch for my friend who had made it a few yards away--refused to help us even after we asked if she could call the fire dept or whomever). She told the landlord, and he stopped by the garage to see what was up and got the story. First he asked what we were doing, and when we said, "Making paper," he said in the most hilarious tone, "WHY??!" Then he talked about how he gardens and has all these beautiful fruit trees and just gives fruit away to his friends. He said people always ask why he takes the time, money, and labor to garden. He said he's gotten to the point in his life where he wants to make sure he does things that he wants to do. He was probably in his late 60s. And that's when I talked about the death quote, and we agreed, death is coming, for sure.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

What I want

A great dentist and fabulously sound teeth until I die.

A better sense of the natural world and whatever mysteries it is willing to reveal to me.

Regular access to papermaking. [My students had their field trip today to make paper! Always exciting to witness.]

Healthy, honest, mutually supportive and beneficial relationships and friendships.

An active life; true nourishment that enters my body (clean air, food, water).

A grounded home of my own.

Endlessly fulfilling and challenging life's and heart's work. Can you tell I spent a few moments of my long day in a garden?

Monday, April 04, 2011


[Scenes from yesterday's Legion of Honor visit.] I did my best to be diligent and went through three proposals today, all different types to different people and countries. My inbox is finally EMPTY. I know it's unreasonable to ever think that should be an end goal, but I enjoy these fleeting moments. My favorite moment yesterday was crossing the street and seeing the bottom of a book that was shoved into a book cart outside. Upside down, I could see "TEMPEST WILLIAMS." I grabbed it and there it was, the book I was led to buy, the very first one I laid eyes and hands on: Finding Beauty in a Broken World. So, today, I am trying to piece my own mess together. The sunny day helps.

I like trees as columns better

FINALLY!! I got to see the Pulp Fashion show at the Legion of Honor today. Good stuff, and great company. My TA picked me up and the day was gorgeous and clear. We walked a little afterwards, and then drove a bit to get banh mi, books (at Green Apple), and ice cream (I got ginger; yum!). By the time I got home, I was well past nap time but just in time to see my upstairs neighbor back from walking the dog.

She invited me to dinner, so after a couple of long phone calls and the nap, I had a lovely gluten-free dinner with wine, new faces (one from Oberlin!), and a 3-foot panoramic puzzle. Easy, local fun. A real weekend, right?

Saturday, April 02, 2011

The plant remedy

[Trying to figure out how things laying around will transform themselves.] Did I say plants? Maybe I meant chocolate. No, I meant plants. I had nightmares last night and woke determined to try and erase the bad vibes, so I started writing in the morning, got some verbal affirmation from the other coast, and when I finally finished a respectable task, I went out to the farmers market, which is always a sure bet when I'm feeling cranky. I was gravitating towards all of the vendors with plants, and had a nice conversation with Richard at Healing Spirit Plants. I was sad that I am never anywhere long enough to have plants but it's amazing how comforting they can be, even though we were under a giant highway in the middle of the city.

The sun and strolling were much needed, and I stopped at a natural foods store to get a brownie mix to get rid of sub-par walnuts. I mis-read the recipe and doubled the oil and water but they still turned out chocolate-y, which was the goal. I also noticed something funny when I was going thru reading notes to find a quote for a project I assigned to my students last week: I seem to only be interested in reading things about being alone. This project is a group one and I wanted to find something that referred to teamwork, but I was at a huge loss. So I'll just share a Dillard quote from Pilgrim at Tinker Creek that I just told to someone recently:
"Somewhere, and I can't find where, I read about an Eskimo hunter who asked the local missionary priest, "If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell?" "No," said the priest, "not if you did not know." "Then why," asked the Eskimo earnestly, "did you tell me?"

Friday, April 01, 2011


Now it's HOT. Just all of a sudden, HOT. I had a frustrating outing to the city b/c T-Mobile did everything it could to screw me, and then I waited for a while outside of an art space to see an exhibit b/c there was no way to get buzzed in (no buzzer number or way to scroll thru, and no one answered the phone when I called). Finally, someone happened to come upstairs and I was able to get in, only to get jumped by a heavy dog that clawed my thigh and would barely let me see the art. Not worth it at all. Luckily no skin is broken (though its marked) but it made for more crankiness. I'm going to try and erase that with some drawing to kick off the weekend.