off the grid

i'm heading off at the crack of dawn to commune with good old mother nature herself.  tom will be holding down the fort, or barn rather: the store goings-on, the cats and ducks included, for which we are much indebted.  we'll be making a long list of itemized duties chores and tasks, under the headings "store" "cats" and "ducks", and a flow chart in case of emergency or confusion...because we're those kind of people, the neurotic about our animals kind.  since i'll be off the grid for a couple, you'll have to be patient with my virtual absence and lack of blog entries.  when i return, my blog will come handwritten, painted by the light of an oil lamp perhaps.  oh how romantic.  i'll fill you in with all the details: how many fish james catches, wildlife sightings, and weather, plus whatever artwork i can muster, all this and more on wednesday.  until then, adieu! 


a fix

i quit smoking the day i found out mom was sick again.  it was the best thing i ever did.  i couldn't have done it, though, without a reason.  because i didn't really even consider myself a smoker to that point.  it wasn't a problem...that is, until i decided to quit.  and then i suddenly realized how many situations call for a cigarette.  .....and this thing they call a nicotine fit, well it's fucking real, as real as fingernails on a chalkboard. it still happens to me, happened all day today as a matter of fact, even years after i haven't touched the things.  and so i sympathize deeply with everyone out there trying to kick a bad habit. it takes a lot of guts.  it is painful.  through my own struggles, i realized the true superpower of addiction, and how closely tied it is to anxiety. every time i'm anxious, my body gets all pent up and needs some kind of release.  and now, i realize where the term getting a fix came from.  the fix is supposed to fix how you feel, if you're depressed or anxious or what have you.  but you and i both know, it typically doesn't fix anything.  typically, it does the opposite.  but you try and tell that to someone who is addicted.


resting place

i've been thinking about it a lot lately.  i guess there are just some things in life you never get over.
the night mom died, three years ago this sunday it was, i was sleeping in the van, parked on the street outside of my parents house.  she was in a deep coma in the hospital, miles away, had been for days.   we didn't know when it would happen, but then it did.  i couldn't have known she died; i was asleep, miles away.  but something happened to me.  i was laying there, sleeping.  then suddenly my body became filled with electricity.  i literally felt like i was being electrocuted.  i was shaking. trembling.  cold and hot all at once.  and i knew it was her, passing through me, unmistakable as the chill of a winter's draft blowing through a closing door.  
this sunday, i make a pilgrimage to her final resting place, a cabin way off the grid, nestled in the remote woods of mt. st. helens.  my parents built that cabin, from the ground up, so they could be with nature and disappear from the chaotic world of worries and woe.  there, my mother was truly at peace.  and there, it is the rhythm and pulse of the forest and lake that bring me close to her again.
this is an echo.  this is the glory.  this is the pounding of a midnight heart.  this is the mountains.  this is the lightning.  this is a man pulling on his iron chains.  -aa bondy


in check

funny how toy guns look real when you paint their portrait.  this one was found july 5th 2010 on the columbia river beach while picking up copious quantities of garbage and fireworks shells left after independence day. 
today is spacy, aimless.  blame it on the rain. days like today, i struggle to let it go, to find the resignation that says you don't have to conquer the world all at once. eventually it comes, and i feel satisfied blankly wandering between projects, pushing them each sluggishly forward, only centimeters at a time, put this thing in that box and that thing on this shelf, never enough tea to wake fully, working on a painting, waiting for paint to dry, taking long breaks to watch the ducks experience their first rainfall and notice the birds, lots of them, competing for feeder space over my cold cup of tea.  yes, an aimless daze, that's just what happens sometimes when you're self employed, nobody telling you where to be or what to do, not even yourself.  those days, you wish you'd written a list, but you know that if you wrote the list, it would be too long, insurmountable really, and you'd lose it anyways.  sometimes, self-employment is self-empowered bliss, and sometimes, it's like being lost in a foreign city: confusion, lack of direction, all roadsigns undecipherable.  
it's okay though.  i've always got my one-a-day to keep me in check. 



i got some cosmo seeds in the mail the other day.  my dad's special lady friend sarah sent them to me; she loves cosmos.  every year she grows them in the arid city soil, in the parking strip flower bed. she waters them diligently until the spindly green branches reach upward upward upward, finally bursting into bright pink blooms of celebration .  then every fall, sarah carefully harvests the seed from those flowers, saves them in a bag for next year's crop.  i've only known sarah for a little while, but she's easy to love, with her gentle spirit and dedication to the simple beauties of life.  she works hard, too hard, giving every inch of herself to animals in a hectic bustling low-income veterinary clinic, barely even stopping for lunch.  after work, she still seems to find time to make a home, to love and nurture her family of three cats, three dogs, and my dad.  and for that, i am endlessly grateful.

today, my dad told me the story of last year's cosmos.  sarah had worked hard to collect those seeds and plant them out.  they were all raked into the soil and watered in.  but the dogs, bad dogs they can be, and when one gets a crazy idea they all go in on it together.  and so in a wild frenzy they ate them, those dogs at those seeds, all of them. tons of them.  sarah was devastated.  so my dad, the good sport he is, waited until the dogs shat them out, solid logs consisting of mostly seed.  he collected the skat and let it dry.  and from that poop, he harvested those seeds for sarah, so she could grow her cosmos again.  now that, my friends, is love.


i watched the documentary on jean michel basquiat last night.  one of my near and dear clients, paige, who worked for andy warhol during the height of his career, knew jean michel well, and even dated him back in the day.  i feel lucky to have heard some stories first hand.  but seeing the footage of him was different: personal, candid, intimately close, like the camera wasn't even there.  through the footage, his sly boyish smile and relaxed discourse, you could see who this man really was, or could have been, to all the people who knew him and loved him: vulnerable and mistrusting, wildly passionate and brilliantly intellectual, hidden somewhere behind the caricature of his image...that which the art world and media created, idolized and elevated to god-like proportions.  in the documentary, he was portrayed as both the man-about-town and a lonely isolationist, a manic existence ranging from the darkness of drugs to the joy of celebration.  it must have been a wild ride, going from homelessness to uncomfortable quantities of wealth nearly overnight, alienated from his peers by his fame.  "they're all mercenaries" he said, about art dealers and collectors, and i agreed, even now, seeing how far a little hype can go, how easily the critics galleries and collectors can build up someone's career just to destroy them.  he turned to heroin for comfort in a frenzied world that grabbed at his art and heart like kids scramble for candy from a broken pinata.  he turned to heroin, just as so many young wounded souls do, like so many, even my friends, even today.  but jean michel worked, worked hard, creating thousands upon thousands of paintings and drawings in the duration of his brief and truncated career.  he was no doubt a prophet, pained by the state of the world, his work honestly enduring and giving birth to generations of copycats. yes, it's true, seeing his work again made me want to paint more, paint impulsively, paint raw, paint like him.  but there will never be another jean michel.



finally got the kiddos a four foot hard plastic kiddy pool for seven bucks at freddy's. it was an upgrade from the tiny rubbermaid clear plastic storage bin that they would squeeze into together, barely fitting the both of them, not deep enough to even float.   once i dropped them in, it took those duckers a minute to get acclimated to their new deluxe tub, complete with graphics of a cartoon duck in scuba gear holding a cupcake. some tasty chopped chard in the water distracted them enough, they nibbled away contentedly...and soon they were making whirlpools, splashing and dipping and carrying on like good ducks do.  i sat and laughed heartily, watching for what seemed like hours, tired but never tiring of their antics.  best. entertainment. ever.


didn't really get to finish this one.  oops!  some days were not intended for painting.

so....a few days later....the finished product!


roll with it

i did my painting yesterday during the four and a half hour ferry wait for orcas island.  due to high traffic, caused by some father-daughter retreat at camp orkila not-to-mention the first sunny weekend of spring, we missed our boat, even though we arrived over an hour early.  we made the best of it, though, the boys joking all the while in that way best friends do, privately heckling the passerby, making a sport of people watching, and making me wish i was recording their ridiculous antics for some future radio broadcast.  we welcomed the chance to get out of town together, if only for a moment, trying to reacquaint ourselves with that long gone stranger called the open road.  so after hours of trying not to go idly insane, and by the skin of our teeth, we barely caught the next ferry, nervously arriving at doe bay an hour-and-a-half late for our scheduled gig with the band at the cafe.  we threw our gear up in a flash and played a subdued set to a small group of friends, them plus some tired i just worked all day restaurant staff and the dwindling clientele of the restaurant.  feeling silly and a little out of place, a scruffy and dirty rock band in a high end dining establishment, we were frazzled.  the whole thing was awkward at best, our dear friends making up for it with their sweet patience and generous compliments.  i think this is the most expensive show we've ever played, we said, ferry toll plus gas plus dinner adding up quickly to triple digits, thankful for our band fund consisting of forty dollars in a mason jar .  it's funny, how sometimes what you picture in your mind often doesn't turn out the way you imagined. tired, we quickly retreated to our complimentary cabin, a stark cold dingy and poorly decorated  little abode,with clean sheets though, and a real mattress. i tried in vain to post my blog on a tiny smartphone, no reception in the sweet smelling deer filled woods, fruit bats swirling in the glow of the porch light.  we passed around what dribble was left of allan's tequila and made impromptu art of the moment, joking, laughing, smiling.  because that's what friends are for.



painted at the old edison inn, photo courtesy of ryan's smartphone

i paint one painting a day.  i paint for a living.  i don't just do it for fun.  i do it because i have to.  and when i say living, i don't just mean just for money.  i paint because that's what i was born to do.  i paint because that's my purpose.  before i could talk, my mother stuck a crayon in my hand.  art was what my mother did for a living, too.  she trusted me with her supplies, tools for the craft, and set me off on an adventure of self-expression that was more open ended with possibility than anything i had ever tried, or anything i've since experienced.   art was comfort, art was safety, art was the power of creation.  my mother was talented, born that way, with art in her blood, making drawings over and over again, because as a young girl she discovered: she was good at it.  succeed, repeat.  as her daughter, i too discovered the artist inside. we each have one. i am lucky to have grown close with mine, to have nurtured mine.  i have learned to live and breathe with artful purpose behind everything i do.  now that my mother is gone, i know that without art, life would be empty.  so i paint for life.  i paint to keep going.


cruel world

this morning, i cracked my eyes to the unmistakeable busy and ecstatic chatter of a barn swallow outside my door.  the swallows are the best: always a welcoming of spring, dancing about the sky...i'm honored when they choose my house for a nesting ground.  the past few days, a couple had been swirling around in the recently re-roofed back shed.  i was eager for them to choose a spot, choose me i thought, as they circled and swooped, locked feet and fell to the grass in a mating ritual.  mi casa es su casa! i thought, my head towards the heavens, dreaming of the future swallow babies raised in my backyard..

to my chagrin, when i went outside to work on my mural today, i found one of those swallows dead in the mud.  maybe it was hit by a car, maybe run over while it was picking mud for it's nest, maybe it smashed into a window.  i don't know.  but it was dead, dead, dead, and it's partner was on the line, looking down, chirping away at me and her dead lover.  i'm so sorry i said.  i picked it up, brought it in, and painted it's portrait, swatting flies away all the while.  and later, i had a funeral.  i buried it between the two blueberry bushes, singing: one bright morning when this life is over, i'll fly away, while it's partner solemnly sat on the line, singing along, looking down. she kept coming back, that swallow did, as if in disbelief, thinking where's my mate, why won't he meet me here...all the while singing a lonely song.  ah, the cruelty of nature.



in an effort to reclaim my feeling of health, well being, and fitness, i decided to put myself through self-imposed bootcamp. i was feeling sluggish, out-of-shape, with back pain, aching kidneys, and an out of control sweets/bar food  addiction.  i needed a change, i needed to feel better, to feel in charge, so i enlisted in this self-imposed, choose-your-own-adventure style bootcamp.  this basically means i exercise every other day (at the minimum) for a full hour, plus i follow a strict meal plan.  the exercise, well that consists of a plethora of dance/aerobic videos i've found online, with a side of tracy anderson, the "trainer for the stars".  the meal plan is simple, and only strict in the sense that it abolishes a few things: sugar, salt, oil, and processed foods.  i'm allotted a single glass of wine, but no chocolate, no chips, no bar food, no whiskey, no greasy shit.  it's terribly hard to exert self-control, but i must say, it feels right. all the clean food is good on my system, i have more energy and feel less lethargic.  and i've begun to taste the flavor inside steamed vegetables and steel cut oats, without the butter and brown sugar, i've started to revel in the intrinsic energy found in fresh ground juices and grilled fish with whole grains.  it's real food, powerful food...  but i'm human.  so tonight, saddled up at the bar next to tom and james, it was so so terribly hard not to eat the fat pile of curly fries next to me...so i did.  i had one fry.  just one. 


a closer look

today, we took a flashlight to the tunnel in the compost pile where we left the litter of baby rats.  we struggled to see inside,  eventually peering down the tunnel to the straw bed... they were gone.  sure, they could have been a tasty buffet for some other creature, sure they could have, but in my mind i imagined the mother coming back for them, after she was positive we had left, relieved to find them all intact and not buried alive. in my mind, she grabbed them one by one, each by the scruff of their neck, carrying them to their new home.  i imagined the babies, contentedly nursing with their mother, relieved to be snuggled up warm in the shelter of our shed.  and when they were snoozing, she was off foraging for food, birdseed on the ground or vegetable scraps from the compost.  yes, i'm a bleeding heart for anything with a heartbeat, so it was a relief, finding the nest empty, no sign of carnage, only the indentation in the straw as proof they were ever there.


talkin about my generation

i was born in the wrong generation.  i really think i would have done well as a twenty-something during the sixties and seventies.  i would have fit right in, with my seafarers and moccasins, my long unwashed hair, my love for gram parsons and counterculture lifestyles.  yes, i would have fit right in. i would have been right in the mix, with the protesters, the rock-and-rollers, the tree huggers, the peace-lovers, the free thinkers, the artists, the revolutionaries, the activists.  nowadays, i feel afraid that most hipsters are too concerned with their technological gadgetry and their fashionability to really have anything important or meaningful to add to the equation.  and that, my friends, is a source of frustration.  please, someone, prove me wrong.

call me a hippie.  i don't mind.  because i'm different; i see examples of it everyday.  it's amazing, for instance,  how unsympathetic many people i meet are towards certain creatures, namely rodents and bugs.  in our modern era, are we so concerned with issues of cleanliness and sterility that a cute little fuzzy grey thing could pose a serious threat to our well being?  there is an entire aisle at every hardware store dedicated to various poisonous potions designed to decimate populations of slugs, termites, mice, rats, moles, ants, yellow jackets... you name it, we've designed some caustic way to rot it's insides.  to me, it's just a sign of ignorance.  you don't think that poison will catch up to you, but it will.  and really, what is grosser:  poison, or a bug.  it's hilariously ironic to me that people are fearful of  these creatures, when they are so essential to our life as humans, and to all life on this planet. In his book the Diversity of Life, Edward O. Wilson discusses the importance of insects and land-dwelling arthropods in the ecosystem, saying that "if [they] all were to disappear, humanity probably could not last more than a few months."   rodents and insects provide pollination for plants and food for too many creatures to list.  poison one creature, and essentially, you poison us all.


today, while james was working in the yard turning the compost he unearthed a rat's nest, tunneled deep inside the ag-fence cylinder, formerly full of food waste and yard debris, now fully composted into soil.  there, the little grey lady made her nest by lining the dugout cave with dry straw, a cavernous mansion protected by thick walls of earthen insulation.  all of this busywork went on quietly and unbeknownst to us, how long it could have sat there undisturbed until today, noone knows.  

james was turning that soil, unearthed the nest by accident, scaring off that little mama. jessie come quick, he said, an urgency in his voice. i ran over quickly to find one little baby, vulnerable and pink-skinned, squirmy with eyes still sealed closed, disheveled and reaching out in the dirt.  there's more buried underneath, i said, remembering the pet rats my roommate gianna had in college, two girls the pet store said, dis-proven to our dismay by the big litter of babies they produced. 

james worked deftly, urgently, gloves on, gently sweeping soil aside, uncovering one, two, three...six more, count them, seven altogether.  our hearts raced as we arranged them so not one was smothered by another, careful not to mark them with the scent of oil from our hands, arranged them so the entry hole for mama was clear.  we covered the nest with a wooden planter box, padded the outside with soil, went inside and crossed our fingers for life.  because even a baby rat has a place in my heart and on this planet.


backyard wilderness adventure

for some reason, i needed to blow off a little steam today.  i wasn't digging the feeling of being cooped up inside , it was bluebird sunny out, a rare chance to get some D, so i decided to go outside and weed the tangled mess of a strawberry patch with the ducks.  for hours, i diligently plucked invaders from the tough and root-laden soil around the elusive strawberries, the ducks chugging along in my wake, cleaning up bugs scattered in the freshly turned dirt.  it was blissfully warm, me in my barefeet and tanktop, knees of my jeans wet and brown from the soil, hands brown with earth, wind blowing just enough to keep the hair out of my face.  i lost track of time completely, lost myself somewhere in the strawberries. lost deep in thought, until i saw the shadow and heard the familiar call of an eagle.  it swooped overhead, hot on the tail of a raven carrying some kind of prize, too close for comfort.  the ducks seemed to know what to do: they tucked in close by me in the deep grass under the shade of the apple tree, while three more eagles, talking chatter, two of them juvenile, flew in circles above... close, too close, so close i could see the individual feathers on their wings, see the whites of their eyes.  the raven with the booty, the prize everyone wanted, outnumbered and defeated, dropped what it was carrying, and one eagle flew down to retrieve it.  i slowly stood up, to find that eagle only about twelve feet away.  tall as my waist, he was. chills down my back, i crouched down with the ducks, you guys sit still i whispered. they looked up knowingly. i was sure that if i hadn't have been there, my dear little pato and gonzo would have made a perfect afternoon snack for a bald eagle.  
soon the the eagles all scattered, and i resumed weeding. just me, and the ducks, the hummingbirds, the redwings, the juncos, the goldfinches, the house finches, the sparrows, the wrens, and even a visiting ringneck pheasant just six feet away, grazing off the spilled birdseed... all of us busy, wild animals minding our own business.


less is more

i've always been a frugal girl. i was raised that way.  and so i rarely, if ever, buy myself new clothes.  most often, my clothes come from the thrift store.  there, i shop for brand names and vintage, quality materials like wool, or anything that catches my eye.  thrift shopping is therapeutic, like a good treasure hunt.   looking through the discards of other people, i can lose myself for hours upon hours. everything tells a story.  and with a little good luck and picking skills on your side, you never know what kind of goodie you'll score! not to brag, but i once found this amazing wool D&G dress for $50 at value village, the same dress that originally retailed for $380!!  you just never know when you'll find the score of a lifetime.  my friend bonnar once found a $1 fountain pen that he turned over for quite the pretty penny.

as a kid, i never had the most expensive new designer clothes like some of my rich girlfriends.  sometimes it was hard.  sometimes i was jealous of other girls.  but ultimately, i think it was good for me.  i had to get creative and make the best with what was available.  these days, when i'm feeling rich, i'll splurge and go thrifting, or to ross dress for less.  because, like i said,  i'm frugal.  i rarely pay full price for anything, rarely buy anything new off the rack.  because that's how i was raised.  mom taught me how to pinch pennies and make the most with a budget.  this skill served me well when i was in college and had to pay...and pave...my own way.  i learned that if you have the right mindset, a little money can go a long way...for home furnishings, for decorating, for clothes, for art supplies...for almost everything.   

nowadays, being the environmentalist i am, knowing what i do about the waste stream and the amount of garbage humans produce on a daily basis, i don't need anymore reasons why it's extremely important to buy used goods.   it just is. there's enough stuff out there, already made, sitting new in the factory waiting to be bought, or rotting away in a landfill for that matter, to keep us all in clothing and home furnishings for a long long time.

"Every year, the United States generates approximately 230 million tons of "trash"--about 4.6 pounds per person per day. Less than one-quarter of it is recycled; the rest is incinerated or buried in landfills. With a little forethought, we could reuse or recycle more than 70 percent of the landfilled waste, which includes valuable materials such as glass, metal, and paper. This would reduce the demand on virgin sources of these materials and eliminate potentially severe environmental, economic, and public health problems."  -from learner.org


wild at heart

i came to the skagit valley wound up like an old tin toy: tense, afraid, damn near ready to explode, either that or fall apart at any moment.  i was afraid to answer the phone, afraid of my own deadlines, afraid of money and failure and bills and people.  i didn't sleep well.  i cried a lot, subject to unpredictable mood swings.   maybe it was the city life that did this to me. maybe it was the high-pressure and impersonality of the corporate art world that i wasn't equipped to handle. maybe it was the unpredictability of my own circumstances, the loss of loved ones , physically or emotionally, to drugs and disease and accidents.  but for whatever reason, i came here to this valley like an injured wild animal, afraid, in need of rehabilitation, snapping at everything and everyone that reached out to me.

i'm better now.  i can tell the land healed me.  the slower pace of life quieted my heart rate.  the community enveloped me.  and i'm almost completely better now.  i nearly found it, like the imaginary open field with the old oak tree that mom used to paint over and again, that proverbial "happy place" that is the magnitude and quietude of nature.  feeling good is addicting. now i realize: i've created a dependency.  there are the things about living here, next to nature, that i don't think i can live without anymore. when i get to "civilization", i can feel my patience running thin like a the dwindling sand in an hourglass, my nerves screaming get me the fuck outta here. because i need nature now, my umbilical cord. because there's nothing like a good long walk in the sun speckled woods, up a mountain with the spring flowers blooming, heart pounding with the trees, nothing like it to reset your internal biorhythm.  nothing like laying around by a fertile river, in an estuary that stretches far as you can see, laying splayed out invisible inside the tall grass, in the company of a million buzzing creatures, the life that sustains, eyes closed while the wind brushes your skin , listening the the grass rustle and the water dance and the trout splash under the shady trees, nothing like it to wash away all your worries, cares and hangups, wash away all the nasty thoughts and distractions and unpleasantries of daily life, wash it all away and out to sea, that black sea full churning with mysterious life that goes on for infinity.  no, there's nothing like it at all. no prescription, no pill, nothing a doctor will give you can fix your anxieties like the great outdoors.  

my advice to you: if you feel like crap, if you're down in the dumps, if you need to press reset:  spend some time outside.  get to know nature.  learn to love it.  it will love you back.



found photo, gold paint, ash
i'll tell you all about it.  some other time.



found photo and glitter

found photo and ash

found photo, pepper and salt

i'm one of those artists who will never tire of making art.  i have, however, grown knuckle-dragging tired of painting watercolors every day.  it was bound to happen, some time or another. so after about 270 days straight of painting painting painting these very technical and tedious paintings of what i see,  i deemed it okay and very necessary to take a momentary hiatus.  that way, i could give my old left brain a rest, dive further into the right brain and give that old muscle of mine some balanced exercise.  it's truly amazing how relaxed i feel with a bottle of glue and some glitter in my midst.
these disappearing people are an exploration of death, afterlife, grief, body language, and the symbolic connotations inherent in the different mediums i choose to cover the faces with.  it's also just another wacky experiment...we'll see where this can go.



found photo and sugar

when larry was moving out of the barn and going through his stuff, he pulled out a stack of photos from a professional photo studio he used to work at.  he thumbed through them one by one, show and tell, laughing at each, telling me the story of how his buddies used to save the only the weird ones, just for him.  by weird, i mean, or dare say, that larry and i shared a cynical and twisted sense of humor, and found many of the same ironies of life sickeningly humorous.  these photos were a perfect muse.

for a long time after that those photos sat, in a golden yellow peachee folder on a desk. he left them lying around just long enough for me to covet them, hide them, and for those photos to make their way into a secret spot where i put my collection of found photos.  in that collection, there lie the families i never had, the trophies i never won, the deep sea diving suits and beach cabanas of lives i've never lived.  

for quite some time now, i've had an ongoing love affair with photos of people i don't know.   looking at these old photos and into the eyes of people i've never met is a type of voyeurism for the imagination, the beginning of a story that hasn't been written.  

covering their faces, well that's another story altogether.

something else


mashed potatoes

i got some strappy platform shoes at the thrift store yesterday.  because i have platform nostalgia.  yes, i used to be undaunted when it came to tall shoes.  but after a few lifestyle changes, which involved spending a lot more time on my feet, a few bouts with super sore heels, and wavering bravery when i came to bold fashion choices, i'm not so much the platform-wearing material anymore.  today, i tried on those new shoes on with trouser socks, jeans, a bulky sweater and a wide brimmed hat, waltzing awkwardly around the room for practice.  not exactly the picture of fashion, but fun nonetheless.  i felt just like a little girl all over again, reminded of all those times spent trying on mom's off-white strappy wedding heels in the walk-in closet, playing dress up in the tiny turquoise satin gown that once was my immigrant grandmother's.  that love for everything fancy, especially shoes, extended into to high school.  back then, i was a girly girl lots of the time.  mud puddles, mole holes and rocky roads weren't an issue.  back in those days, i had no problem sporting some gawd-awful 4inch wooden platform sandals and a short dress.  with youth and a little mascara on my side, i'm sure it was quite a sight.  these days, i don't find many excuses to wear a fancy heel, or fancy anything for that matter; mostly, round these parts, it's all about practicality: cowboy boots, wellies, sneakers clogs or moccasins. which the tomboy in me don't mind at all. hell, i've even been known to heckle some too-high heel wearers out the car window on a wild night. but these new platforms of mine, stable as an old wooden dory, might just make a guest appearance this weekend. and if i trip and fall on my face, don't laugh.  i'm just a big girl posing as a little girl, trying on some fancy grownup lady's shoes, all over again.


to go

ugh, i'm tired.  first of all, i was up and making tea and breakfast by 7.  anyone who knows me knows: that's not normal. second of all, i went on a mission impossible, fruitlessly driving around bellingham like a madwoman in search of a hard plastic kiddie pool for the now-teenage ducks.  no, it was not relaxing.  because: you see one traffic jam, yellow light, or strip mall, you've seen them all.  but ahhhh...getting home, letting them ducks out in the yard full of glowing yellow dandelions, feeding them ducks carrots and red worms and watching them gleefully root around in the grass, well that was relaxing.  next time, here's to prioritizing quality time to sit and watch the birds, rather than chase my tail.



i'm a painter.  but i make lots of other things too.  these things, strange conglomerations of ideas and collections, often stay in my personal collection, and never get see the bright tungsten lights or the gallery walls.  because let's face it: in my personal opinion, people are more likely to buy a painting of something they literally recognize than spend money on some abstract notion of art.  as a self-employed artist interested in paying my bills at the very least, sometimes it's a tossup: how do i make work with soul and still scratch that proverbial itch of concept and self-expression?  for my one-a-day project, by painting repetitively in a classical still life format, i have taken the mundane objects of daily use, recognizable objects of western culture, and elevated them.  that's it folks: there's my concept.  but sometimes, even that's not enough for me to feel satiated.  because i know, deep inside, art can be therapeutic if done the right way.   so today, i did it, i refused to paint, and in a last-minute frenzied preparation for a group show that hangs tomorrow, i spent the entire day doing everything but painting.  yes, i drew, i folded paper, i stitched, i typed, i appliqued, i glittered, mixing tears with the steam from my hot iron.  and as a result, i made an entire new small body of work in five short hours.

1206 cornwall ave:::bellingham, wa
opens this friday:::6-9


white bread

today we went to lunch at our favorite thai restaurant, rachawadee, which in thai means lilac. it used to be a breakfast diner.  tucked away on an inconspicuous side street in mount vernon, it's a long skinny brick room with a heavy old wood door and checkered floors. a long stainless steel bar running the room's entire length is dotted with the quintessential diner pendant lights, nestled by eight red vinyl bar stools, almost always full.  on the other side of the bar, an immaculate, efficient, bright sparkling clean kitchen is kept by several of the sweetest, hardest working thai ladies i have ever had the pleasure to meet.  they make good, healthy, fresh food, busily chatting in lyrical words i can't understand.  they tend daily to shrines for their ancestors and deceased loved ones, methodically refreshing tiny cups of fresh tea, food, water, and other little gifts.  they always greet james with a sweet smile and a "same thing?".  yes, he says, tom yum noodles, thankful for a familiar place, a comfortable place, where people put loving care into our food, not to mention every other aspect of their lives.  in awe of the way things are done in this restaurant, perhaps a microcosmic version of thai culture and work ethic, i become a reverse racist, resenting the plainness and sterility of my own culture.  it's easy to do in a sea of american mediocrity.
the blonde american man working behind the counter is obviously the husband of one of the thai ladies.  he awkwardly takes orders and jokes about how his wife teases him for using chopsticks at all the wrong times.  we don't use chopsticks for curry, she says to him.  he tells of learning to use chopsticks as a college bachelor because he was too lazy to wash the silverware.  just then an elderly woman next to me pipes in: "so you went to vietnam, found one that could cook,and brought her home?" she inquired with a gruff and unapologetic ignorance.  "actually, i didn't have to go to thailand to meet my wife," he retorted, gracefully ignoring her racism with the sly smile of a man in love.. "but i did keep her here longer than she originally intended."


may day

today i awoke with the remnants of a grievous dream about my mom.  the dream was so real that i could feel the smooth skin of her artist hands pressed against mine, remember clearly the softness of her hairless head, the frailty of her body, her big brown eyes full of unknowns.  it rattled me completely, made me cry, put a cloud over my day. then i remembered: may first.  my dad and mom's wedding anniversary.  "mayday! mayday!" they would say.  it used to be a funny joke. we'd laugh.  not so much laughing about it anymore.  yeah, some days are harder than others i guess.

springtime is a time of mourning for me.  may 29th is the day my mother died.  the last may of her life was spent on the slippery slope leading up to her passing.  so while the plants and trees of the world were waking up, spreading their leaves joyously to face the sun, i was watching the sun set during the coldest winter of my life, wishing to god that the darkness would leave me be. 

"we're gonna miss the springtime forever," james wrote in words to a song, a premonition, years before we ever knew how much of this world we would truly grow to miss.  the glorious blooming of the flowers, of poppies in particular, is met now with a bittersweet sadness, memories of cutting those radiant blood red blooms to bring to her hospital room.  and how she loved them.  every day i brought a fresh bunch, flowers that i planted with my own hands in the barren earth of the city, that hard fruitless rocky earth that i mulched and turned and transformed to a healthful medium, those plants i watched grow and bloom like a proud parent. tiny celebrations of life they were, every one. i brought them, arranged carefully in mason jars, to that sterile smelling, beeping room, that room of sickness and scheduled maintenance and confusion, where the television is always on...i kept those flowers fresh always, refusing to allow them to wilt before her, to die and lose their petals, to wilt just as my mother's body had done to her. the cruelty of nature. it was the least i could do, it was the most i could do.  i will always think of you when i see the blooming poppies, i remember saying to her, the thought of which was met by a satiated smile.  yes, maybe there was some satisfaction in knowing she would be remembered by a fleeting burst of fiery red.