Friday, April 22, 2022

Recovery goes slowly

I'm still not anywhere near settled at home but I am so glad that I get this month at home, the first time I've been able to stay here for more than a week or two since December. As Velma reminds me, after the travel and intense work, you need time for the spirit to rejoin the body. I'm getting there but still need more time. I knew yesterday that things were looking up when I attempted a repair I've put off for two years, and today when I cleared some leaves from the side border that I never see AND took a walk! But less than a couple of weeks ago, Teddy picked me up in San Francisco and drove me to Berkeley and fed me and took me on a walk where I marveled at what people can do with gardens in a mild climate. From one window of her beautiful art-filled home, I saw this tree.
After being delivered from there to my next housing for the night, I marveled again at the things that sit outside windows. In this case, Helena and Rob have one of these installed both indoors and out and I love it. Very smart and functional, someday I'll build one for the studio. Their home was another dream come true, so thoughtfully designed and constructed in the ways that I wish more people built these days, thinking of energy and how we access and use it, and how much you can do in a small footprint.
The show opening I went to that afternoon at the UC Berkeley environmental design library was lovely and I barely got to see the art because there were so many people to catch up with. It was disconcerting to see how many people were maskless but it was fun to see my new duck book near Islam Aly's and Luz Marina Ruiz's work, really nice to also catch up with them in person after years of last contact.
Then the big event the following day. A student was kind and generous enough to shuttle me over to Richmond for the first day of Codex. I was sharing a table with other members of the Book/Print Artist/Scholar of Color Collective, and was so happy to be able to meet not only them (here, Tia and Allison are pictured), but the others in our neighborhood (Tia had wisely requested Codex to place member tables together so we could help each other with breaks, sharing food, and so on). From the first day we had a lot of unexpected disruption but it all worked out in the end, and I am really glad to have participated.
Because I was totally wiped out after a week of teaching and not sleeping, a dear student drove me from Codex to share Korean dinner with Youngmin, who would be hosting me for a while (she had already come out to take me from the book show to my lodging, then to dinner with the good and wonderful folks from Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, and then back to my lodging). All I wanted to was hot soup and that's what I got.
It was great to see Ellie again, who was very curious about all of the goodies. Being with a non-human mammal who demanded a lot of petting was wonderful therapy.
There is SO MUCH to see at Youngmin's house and what I shot does it zero justice but that's because I didn't want to take pictures, I just wanted to be with her. These are lovely pincushions all with the special touch at top that is deceptively easy to make. Seeing hers (I had gotten her pattern when pandemic started or maybe slightly before?) made me realize I had stuffed mine too tightly, so I loosened it last night to be more functional.
This is much more luminous than what you see, since the light isn't coming through the back, but she is an incredible artist who can do anything with a needle!
Here is another beautiful jogakbo piece. I don't even remember how long it had been since I last stayed with her, but from the first night we were up late talking and sharing things that only certain friends can understand: to be in this Korean/American space, to have a certain type of expertise and what demands that entails, to know how to take care of ourselves. She's much better than me at the latter, so I learned a lot just from being around her and observing.
Aside from the delicious food she cooked at home, we also got to have dim sum, which, again, I haven't been able to have since pre-pandemic.
After going to the fabric store to get more laminated cotton to make more papermaking aprons (we had done this on our last trip, too!), we stopped at Berkeley Bowl and I was pretty dumbfounded. This was a really hard part of returning to Ohio after the bounty of delicious fresh food that I was able to enjoy.
She was also super game when I suggested Ethiopian for dinner (again, not since pre-pandemic!). All I did was gorge myself, and I had a great time doing it.
While I knew that the collective table could have used more help, I needed one more day "off," and was so delighted when Youngmin and I pulled up to Moya's beautiful home and saw the impeccable spread she had prepared for us for lunch. This is only a snippet, and I got to take the jam home, from her orchard! So many treats were from the garden and even though it was raining, she rigged heat lamps so we could sit in the garage and look outside and stay well ventilated—and so well fed. It was such an important reminder to take joy in the details, and to use the beautiful things we own, whether heirlooms or found or made, to make every day special.
Inside, I was shocked to see some type of tapa! It was passed down in her partner's family without info on provenance, and falling apart, so he turned it into a little installation. After finally meeting Lisa and being able to hear more about her kapa training in Hawai'i, it was like kismet.
I also deeply envied their fruit trees, like this giant fig. Which is also a great fiber tree (for amatl in present-day Mexico).
This was my final dinner with Youngmin. She truly took care of every detail and I could not have asked for a better host in between teaching gigs and during Codex.
My last full day I was able to teach a lovely group of women in Barbara Shapiro's gorgeous new studio. I definitely was in tears hugging goodbye to Youngmin, just as I had been crying when hugging hello to Tam and Velma in SF and Richmond, and this felt like a true reminder of how important these connections are, after having survived this ongoing pandemic.
Of course, I couldn't get off the wheel and booked a brunch date for the day that I left, right along the Embarcadero, with a dear friend's daughter who is finishing up her post-doc at Stanford and getting ready to start a tenure-track job downstate. THEN I could finally get to the airport for the flight home.
And because I'm a fool, I scheduled a lecture/demo at Kent State University for days after my arrival. But it was great to see the new paper studio within the printmaking department, and to meet Leigh, who is behind it all.
They were fortunate to have floor drains nearby and she showed me all of the things she had built or ordered to transform this crit space.
The students were really engaged and wonderful, and I was so glad that they prepped all the fiber ahead of time rather than making me do it (always the sign of a good teacher). This weekend, I'm hoping for some more full unwinding before I get back into the work saddle. For now, eating lots of chocolate and so grateful to feel nourished and expanded by a far-flung but loving community.


Wednesday, April 13, 2022

From California with love

This was my panic the day before I flew to San Francisco almost two weeks ago.
Quick pickling red onions is a great way to get more skins for dye to teach class.
Sue managed to make this many hanji cords on day 1. That is a LOT for someone who just learned how.
Lots of cooking all week for bark lace, yellow onion skins, red onion skins, brazilwood, and then scalding badly a dried pomegranate that Servane found at home. That's my fault, I always forgot pots on heat.
I got to see Tam for dinner my first night after class started and this was on the way. I wish I could say that I've been sleeping, since every place I'm staying is so comfortable, but I'm not.
I forgot my phone (aka camera) one day so I missed the really wonderful bark lace shots but the dyeing was a big hit and it was so great to have an outdoor space to work.
Jennie was a giant help (at left) with my lecture midweek, and Alisa was a fantastic intern who was able to slot into class and had incredible hand skills. She's prepping more paper thread spinning here.
Michelle got really into casting bark and making flowers all week.
And Lars and Lisa got back to the bark later in the week. I had a WONDERFUL group and wish I had better documentation but I was in my teaching madness. Then I went into Codex madness. Today is the last day! Come by table #53 where I'll be for the Book/Print Collective. Three members gave a great online talk that I recommend highly.

After that, one more teaching gig buried amidst seeing loved ones. I'm out of my mind, more later!