Sunday, June 23, 2024

Blessed rain and other good things

 Where we are 

One of these days I'll be back in circulation, but not quite yet

The second is for those knowledgeable European friends who exclaim oh but you Americans have a dry heat. In Arizona maybe. In NJ not so much.  

Blessed rain, yesterday evening, cleaning the air and the pollen off my car.  I can feel the difference in breathing and my eyes are less irritated. 

The indoor scallions are done, and now there's a colony of fungi. I expect David or Chris or someone will tell us what they are.

New credit card arrived. And they make it very easy to acknowledge receipt, put it in use. Why don't medical people use decent IT on their sites? Yes, I know, they're cheap. Credit card companies spend more and get better work. 

Meanwhile I can now update the various online people who use my credit card for regular donations. One worthy organization has been nagging me since April to update. Many emails. I finally said it's impossible until I get the new card, not even due for months. 

I also said I was thinking of discontinuing membership if they didn't stop harassing me. Whereupon they thanked me for my message and said that in accordance with my query, here was the date of my membership expiration!  Bring on the clowns.

The people actually doing the work of the org.  are wonderful, and the IT people are making them look aggressive and not very bright. 

Remember the missing check to the food pantry! It finally came back. Addressed to the same address as always, now with a big sticker applied by some bright spark in Trenton to say undeliverable, inadequate address. Oh well, at least it wasn't cashed.

Another concern, because of not driving for a few days, was whether my car would start. I tested it after the rain cooled the air a bit. It started, yay. With this car, not being driven much, it's been an issue.

And here's this morning, before the heat comes rushing back again 

Lovely Stella d'oro day lilies. Whoever developed this variety was no businessman. I bought one, thirty plus years ago, whose divisions have brightened two developments, numerous private gardens and a median strip in Trenton. Not much return to the horticulturist, huge ROI to the buyer.

I'm glad you enjoyed the animal tales, more some other  time. Yes, there were moments of excitement, usually from the humans, rarely the animals.  Client management is a big part of a petcare enterprise. Sometimes people would ask about how to start this kind of business because they got along better with animals than people. I had to explain that without people skills,  there's no business! Eighty per cent of the agita comes from the humans.

Happy day, everyone, here's hoping for minimal agita for you today.

Saturday, June 22, 2024

Summertime, and animal tales

 So this is where we are 

There's a map with a ! right over my house.

Moving along to more weekendish thoughts, I was asked this morning about my long ago pet and plant care service.

I thought you'd enjoy, as a change from the state of the world, a few animal anecdotes. I had a flourishing service, visiting pets and plants in their homes, sometimes both, working seven day weeks, animals don't take days off! 

My older sister, never owned a business in her life, employed in corporatelandia, advised me to refuse to work weekends!  I explained that would be a fast track out of business. When live animals are involved, you attend. 

The court system even allowed me excuse from jury duty on that account. And when people say well, hire a backup, without the faintest idea how, oh well. Anyone with the insurance liability and bonding coverage I carried wouldn't be an occasional backup, they'd be in business themselves. 

Moving on to the animals. There was dear old Wellington, 21 years old, whose older brother had died at 22, in my care for three weeks while the owners were in Europe. They were sure he wouldn't live, left careful instructions about his body, complete with little container in the fridge, yes, that's what you do, and departed.

They were lovely people, very high strung, noisy, perpetual motion study, and the first few days Wellie just slept. I woke him to feed and use his box, then he gratefully went back to sleep. He was recovering from his owners, loved them dearly, and they wore him out.

The second week he was playful, getting on and off the sofa unaided, coming to meet me at the door. By the time the owners returned, he'd completed his rest cure. They called me in great excitement "We came in, expecting  to check the fridge for Wellie, and suddenly he was running to the door. Running!"  He lived another couple of years.

I've often thought owners, including me, are something for their pets to grapple with. We're all a bit high strung, wanting the best, reluctant to accept that sometimes that entails doing nothing.

Then there were the koi I fed, in a house which had a cat who let herself in and out via a garage window. She never bothered the koi pond. The fish were eager to feed and more than once one leapt up and attached himself to my finger! Bitten by a fish.

I've been bitten by a nervous rabbit, a v-shaped dent in my finger, just a pinch, nothing between friends. And there was dear Suzy the ferret, in a household of many pets, with a permutation of who could and couldn't encounter whom. She liked to ride in my sleeve while I did the rounds of amphibians, birds, cats and pet spiders.  She tried to come home with me more than once.

In fact, that was an occupational hazard, pets trying to stow away in my pockets when I left. Or jumping into the fridge, a specialty of tuxedo cats. I learned to check before I left. And to unplug small appliances owners had forgotten, after one tuxedo set the electric can opener going, luckily not getting a paw in its path. I wasn't moving fast enough for his requirements.

Then there were the cats whose owners assured me I'd never see them, too shy, here's a photo, oh wait, he's jumped on your head, how about that? And the cat whose owner said Kitty loved to drink from a  dripping faucet in the kitchen sink but was too old to jump up, would I mind lifting her? Of course not. Except that in the owner's absence she leapt up like a two year old. She'd got them well trained in serfdom.

I drew a lot of portraits on those visits. The pet business enabled me to support myself while making art, some free daylight hours and and endless changes of scene, with no humans talking at me. In fact a couple of petcare clients when they found out about my art life, took an interest,  attending openings, buying pieces, one arranging a corporate solo show for me. Unexpected bonuses.

I never mentioned art when I met clients, largely because a lot of people think artist=flake,  unreliable. They admitted this much later when I was established with them, and they discovered artist=focused, dependable. 

It's wannabes who run about with black berets and intense expressions. Real artists just want to get on with the work, and wear black when they're working with black blockprint ink.

That was an energetic period, twelve years of successful pet care and art. I couldn't do it now, good thing I don't have to.

Happy day everyone, and to all older sibs, this is dedicated to you

Friday, June 21, 2024

Weaving, drawn threads and hot air

Today is a good day for not doing much, other than starting to assemble the pinloom squares for an upcoming lacy vest. 

It's one of those projects that looks easier before you get into it and start losing your sense of direction around the squares. The idea is two simple rectangles, joined at sides and part of the back. 

I think I have enough, and putting them together will show me if I'm right. It seems to drape nicely up to now. This is strictly a decorative garment. At least that's the plan.

I'm a bit hampered by being headachy and slow, because

the air is so poor that neighborhood pools are closed and parents encouraged to keep kids indoors. I did go out briefly this morning to water my flowers. 

I'm glad I don't have any appointments for the moment, so no cancellation issues.

About drawn threads. It's a simple and very satisfying technique where you literally take a woven piece of fabric and pull out threads to create a new design. You start with a small cut, often, then you can use a needle to ease threads out. You often see this work on tablecloths and napkins as decorative hems.  

There's also white work, such as Hardanger which involves drawing out threads and replacing them with stitching.

Here's a hardanger piece I stitched some years ago.

What I'm doing is much less conformist (!)  I'm pulling threads and using the pulled threads in the design as I go. 

It both complicates and simplifies the piece, and it's a kind of examination of the grid system and the meanings around it.  I might do some stitching, using the thread I saved when I pulled.

The painter Agnes Martin did grid paintings following the same kind of exploration, very subtle and powerful.

My work is just a trying of ways to make this piece interesting.

I didn't work on it today, not feeling so great. I did simple things like starting to join squares, and I made a little batch of very good mayo, for egg salad on whole grain for supper, with lemon sun tea.

Happy day, everyone, I hope your hot air is metaphorical!

Thursday, June 20, 2024

Misfits box, drawn threads and immigrants

The Misfits box arrived, in time for me to have a tuna melt with spinach for lunch. To be exact, cheese arrived. I'd finished the curried lentils already, so there was a lunch vacancy.

The eggs were also the cavalry coming over the hill, since I forgot to order last week and was down to the last egg. Panic, couldn't make mayo! Or egg salad, no mayo, no eggs.

The nutritious crushed almonds in dark chocolate also saved the dessert day, no yogurt made yet. 

I got an unexpected helping hand, from Gary's little granddaughter, who ran over to give me a hug and tell me they were off to find a pool to swim in. Then she held the door for me while I heaved the box indoors.

The artworks were picked up promptly by a very excited taker, so I think they're off to a good home.

And I did some drawn threads on the latest piece.

All the threads I drew out completely will be useful to invisibly stitch down this page to the muslin base.  I've set it aside till tomorrow, and I'll see what fifty things need to happen next.

I was involved in a discussion elsewhere about being an immigrant, and some of the issues there. One of them is the definite message from quite a lot of people that you must justify being here. Unlike native born Americans, you're expected to give value.

I don't mind giving value, like many immigrants,  and I certainly have, in many ways blogistas don't know about because I haven't written about it.  There's a privilege in making it through all the bureaucracy and challenges, that you feel you need to more than justify. Immigrants get it done is not an idle phrase.

And then there's  the expectation also that you also have no business having opinions, particularly political ones, however long you've lived here. 

I've been challenged about that by people younger than I, who haven't lived here as long as I! Even told that "real" -- native born -- are entitled, but not people from "away". Naturalized citizenship simply doesn't count in some eyes.  

When people get really offensive about it, a rare occurrence, I play the eighth generation New York State card. That's my family who arrived in the 1850s  in New York harbor, just like me in the 1960s, and settled in northern New York State. 

This baffles people who know I'm first generation, and  can't grasp that entire extended families don't all emigrate together! There are always branches that stay. I don't know why this is hard to grasp, but it is. 

And don't get me started on people who flame out if I disagree with them. That's getting out of my assigned place as a permanent guest.

Sometimes I get annoyed, and sometimes I find it very funny. A lot of annoying things are eventually funny, when you reframe them as people worried that they're being outdone. I think it's not about me, it's about them, really, so I handle with care.

Happy day everyone, let's make interesting stuff and handle each other with care, if you follow me!


Back to the fabric book

It's the summer solstice, midsummer's day 

The freecycled art leaves tomorrow, and it's created a rush of energy for my next artwork. It never fails. Move out works you've moved on from, and ideas come crowding in. When you hang onto things, it's like a cork in a bottle. Pop the cork, champagne, bubbles!

And freeing up space does the same. Here's my treefree living room 

 I've been thinking about the next page in the fabric book, mainly about deconstructing a piece of fabric I was given, in various ways. I've had I dunamany ideas about it, including this kind of approach, a MOMA tutorial.

As you see, there's a history, Anni Albers being a leading light of the Bauhaus, then at Black Mountain College in its glory days. Anyway, this feel, but I want it less gridded.

pulling threads is something I've loved ever since I got hold of fabric to do it with, and when I learned drawn thread work at about eleven. It's playtime, but now with more meaning.

So here's the starting point

And we'll see!

Happy day, everyone! Art is hard, hugely important and the best fun. Maybe you'll do some. Or some more -- several blogistas are talented artists.  I particularly like it when blogistas with their own blogs share their work and process. Thank you,  everyone who does that. And thank you, the faithful readers who are happy to encourage.

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Juneteenth, Neighborhood natter, and Textiles and Tea

First, today's a federal holiday

It's all still very much a work in progress, but meanwhile, we can do our bit -- buy black writers' books, seek out black owned businesses where we can, tip servers and delivery workers fairly, not the grudging minimum.  And enjoy the day.

 Yesterday's Textiles and Tea was a great tapestry artist, definitely worth checking out. Tapestry makers are such happy people, from Archie Brennan, to Sarah Swett, to 

I've requested the library buy her book, newly published. She specializes in a technique called pulled warp, which results in a three dimensional effect, as you see. She dyes her own threads, too.  

This is the kind of work that makes you want to try it, even when you're just making little squares on your pinloom. Her design sense is spectacular.  Those green pieces above the book have glass globes resting in the fold, like raindrops. Another idea to try..rabbit hole ahead!

An interesting little bit of follow-up about hearing aids and curtains and trees leaving. Email from concerned local friend, with serious health issues,  a hit or miss blog reader, worried about what aids I'm needing, was my health getting frail, was the implication. I clarified it's only hearing aids, not a squadron of home carers!

Another neighbor came across last evening, concerned that then house seemed dark but the front door was open, was I okay? I realized that the curtain I put up in the passthrough works both ways -- from her house across the street it blocks my living room lights. So yes,  good of her to check! 

Later it  occurred to me she's also wondering about the tree leaving, which she was home for and probably observed, and was hoping to learn more. At my age when you do noticeable changes, the usual assumption among friends and neighbors unless they know otherwise,  is that you've had a big medical diagnosis!  If the other friend and I were still writing our imaginary H-- Happenings newsletter, this would have made it in. Maybe we'd have even headed it Breaking News, Such As It Is.

Happy day, everyone, wishing you innocent merriment!