Friday, December 27, 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!

Sunday, December 22, 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.

Thursday, December 19, 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.

Tuesday, December 17, 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!

Sunday, December 15, 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.

Wednesday, December 11, 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.

Tuesday, December 10, 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.

Wednesday, December 04, 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.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Not so cold at all

Velma did the best recap of our time together, and I was sad to run off afterwards, though happy to visit Open Studio and spend some time with Pamela after having met her in Cleveland for a beautiful exhibit of hers last month. Thank goodness for the chocolate goodies I got to tide me through the rest of the day, which involved seeing the paper studio for pre-class assessment, and then a quick visit to the hanji store in the Korean neighborhood.
This morning, I felt like I finally got a good grip of the public transportation system, which is super low key, on the way to work. The studio was lovely in the morning light.




A great group of very nice students! We whizzed through a ton of material and I was especially amazed that Greta brought everyone banana chocolate chip muffins. Emily posted a few pics via the Paperhouse site.

They are located in an old school, and I didn't notice it as much in the beginning, but it's a really lovely rehab of the building. Emily and I had a drink and munchies afterwards, which made me realize how much less stressful eating out is now that I am temporarily vegetarian. It's actually something of a joy. Just one more day and then the 2013 book tour is over! And given the fact that we only have about 30 books left in stock, I think I've done a good job. Get your first edition while you can!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Serious Canadian thanks on Velma's birthday

Where am I? OCAD, Toronto.
Drove in after ALL sorts of stormy threats from Cleveland to Buffalo, only to find gorgeous scenic roads, clear and clean and just fine. Tired upon arrival but amazed at how the sky opened right up after crossing the border to Canada. And then, finding out that our American treasure, Amos Kennedy, would be right there when I was!
I could not have been more delighted. It's not actually that cold, though I had a massive scare after reading the temperature mistakenly in centigrade.
The first time I heard of and met Amos was in Chicago, and he is just as joyful and wonderful as always, except that now he is in Detroit instead of Alabama.
TWO FAVORITE PEOPLE!! And it's her birthday!! We both printed one of these after a lovely group lunch hosted by Wendy Cain, who is one of the nicest and kindest ever. Not just papermaker, but all around person lovely. Yes, I'm aware I'm not making any sense at all.
Walking back to the school before my lecture after wandering the streets for a pharmacy. A good walk, a good city walk, a good winter walk.
The lecture went just fine, and it was so nice to just walk in with a flash drive and not worry about all about hauling my computer or dongles or anything. Sold the usual number of books (amazing to think I have figured out a number! It only took a year, and the first edition is nearly out of print. Maybe 30-40 left at the distributor? Don't worry, the second impression is being printed now).
Velma and I mostly just talked at the textile museum, while she tolerated me as I stripped off a top layer (to take me down to three) and two bottom layers (to take me down to two). People always psych me out about it being cold. Not just here, but every cold place I have ever lived. And I've always been fine, but succumb to the panic. I'm happy to be here but better get to bed; tomorrow is FULL and Saturday and Sunday are FULL and nothing is empty after that. Joy and love flying around everywhere and I kept forgetting it was Thanksgiving but am thankful I am missing it for this. Emily escorted me almost all the way home, and the night ended with the most beautiful poem on the bus by George Johnston.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Briefly, kudos

Still feeling behind on prep for Toronto, but just found out that my marvelously talented sister was nominated for the new category of Independent Spirit Awards for film editing! So proud; she has deserved something like this for years. Sad that I'll miss her in NYC when she goes to California for the awards ceremony in March, but I have my gig and she has hers.

Back to work and over the moon that I get to see Velma so very soon!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Crunch time again already

A quick blurry shot from the Cleveland Flea this past weekend, the holiday edition, which I pushed the Morgan to participate in. Sales were decent! I think with some more prep, it could be great next year. I picked up a great gift for my host and one for my new home (if all the paperwork ever gets sorted out). Meanwhile, this trip to Canada is already upon me. All I can say after a mad flurry of work and logistic maneuvering is that it better not ice storm/blizzard on me during the drive.

Come if you can! Lecture on Thursday at 7pm in Toronto at OCAD, play with Velma, wander the city, and teach all weekend for CBBAG.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

What awaits

SO MUCH KOZO (and a little mulberry on top, can barely see in the glare).
And on the other side, the tiny dent we made in scraping even after many, many hands put in many hours during the harvest. I'm now in the mode of mobilizing our staff and creating a real work plan for this new studio/center. The task seems gargantuan, but we had a good meeting of the core group and it feels doable as long as we all share the weight.
This Monday, I came out of the bath in San Francisco with a terrible case of the hives on my back. I kept hoping they would go away, but I can't deny anymore that it's another bout of the allergic reaction I had 14 years ago. Very uncomfortable, especially in hot showers, and requires oatmeal baths. The biggest question is the food trigger. I have a feeling I know what it is, and hope that if I am careful with diet, it will fade (of course, I arrived to an office kitchen full of donuts, which I'm sure doesn't help with the histamine reaction).
After meeting upon meeting, I finally got a chance to marble paper with Tom. It was a necessary break from the non-art madness swirling around me (I signed a sublease yesterday, but am disappointed to find that the new apt is a smoking building. At least I know for sure I will be moving again in five months, but prospects always seem daunting). If I get my act together enough, I'll make a tiny bit more paper before Toronto!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

At the end of the day

I arrived at the Asian Art Museum early, not knowing I was supposed to come through the side entrance. But it was fun anyhow watching the free day sign go up right before opening.
Sunday was a zoo! The museum hosted over 3,000 visitors, and I have never had such large crowds so eager to learn about hanji. I gave my slide lecture twice in four hours, did a demo that was then taught by volunteers over the entire afternoon to visitors, and entertained an insane amount of questions and conversations and so on. I was so busy that I didn't even get the chance to say hi to Alex and his girls, but was grateful for his attendance, as well as Tam and Brian, and a whole host of other people in the area that I know. In the end, this is what was left and then swept away.
Tam was kind enough to let us stay in the vicinity of my hotel for dinner (Indonesian!). I wanted to hang out longer but really needed to lay down after being on my feet and being ON for so many hours. The feedback I liked best was that apparently, visitors told the staff that I was very funny in my talk.
Monday morning, I had my last breakfast at my new/old favorite place, my last bath, and then packed so that Barbara could whisk me away to her amazing home. No words can adequately describe the view, the artwork inside, the care in creating a beautiful environment in which to live and share space. I was so grateful for her hospitality, and had a lovely time at the tea she hosted for kindred spirits: artists, weavers, spinners, musicians, people who work with their hands. Then, Richard came to whisk me away to Marin to see his collection of Korean paper baskets. !!! I was dumbfounded when he gifted me with one, along with an old Korean pot scrubber. I'm surprised I made it through dinner without screaming for joy.
Oh, and I also heard yesterday that the Morgan got its full ask of nearly $50K for the Cuyahoga Arts & Culture grant that I helped write. This Eastern paper center is really happening, and I will really have my dream job and get paid for it, doing exactly what I want to do. We had the highest score of any organization and were the only org to get its full ask. After a lovely breakfast with Barbara, I walked to the bus terminal to cross the bay to Mills College. I had a great lunch with Moya, and then set up to teach the paper workshop to Julie's book art class.
What a fabulous group! This one in particular did not want to stop making paper, even in the cold, wet rain. This is the first real rain of the season. I'll pretend that I'm the good luck charm, and hope for continued grace from the universe on my long, long journey back home tomorrow. So long for now, California!