Testing to see if I can post videos in blog posts.
Oh, my! It appears I can send videos from my Amazon Kindle to the Cloud to my Computer to my YouTube and then post them in blog posts! YAYYY MY VIDEO CAPABILITY HAS ARRIVED!
In my ongoing quest to 'put away' all of my old photos and Journaling Project pieces and artwork as well as dealing with old emotional baggage, I feel the need to express how very important it has been learning to relax. I know that it sounds silly, even unimportant. When I began doing Martha Beck exercises from her book The Four Day Win, back in 2009, I couldn't even relax and have some quiet time for 10 minutes - I failed my first attempt! Martha explains in great detail why this is so hard - the way our brains are wired combined with our society that values hard work and being on the go constantly, as if exhaustion were a virtue.
Quieting the mind (the Left Brain) and relaxing the body seems to be 'doing nothing' and perhaps it is. Perhaps that's the point. I didn't realize the effect it was having on my life until I had been doing it for several months. Suddenly I realized there were things I was doing that no longer interested me. I gave up my 12 year Journaling Project because it had become obsessive and more about not missing a day than about drawing and recording everyday moments.
It's as if my insides were all tangled up, like a giant rope tied in knots upon knots. And the quieting and relaxing was slowly untangling all of those knots. I have been working on this for years (since the end of summer 2009 so it's been five years).
I have been writing blog posts about my 20s in Atlanta. Just after my recent birthday I purchased Stonehenge paper to make more big journals. I had the number of pages per journal wrong in my notes, so I thought I bought enough paper for only two, plus some extra, but I had enough to make five journals. Two are for Atlanta - the first is all photos and Journaling Project pieces written while we lived in Seattle, when I began going over all of my past letters, photos and mementos and writing about my life. Many of the stories were written in my blog posts, so I trashed the j. pieces (no need to keep writing on paper). I kept most about my artwork at the time and mainly trashed family stories. The second journal has a few pages of j. pieces and the rest will be current artwork.
I have done some sketching based on my BFA Portfolio paintings. I sketched some of the figures in a big sketchbook I bought last year. I have since decided that I hate working on that cheap thin sketchbook paper (when will I ever learn?!) and have torn out those figures and glued them into the big Atlanta journal. I will do some Art Journaling on those pages. I also did 12 faces on pieces of Stonehenge (the same size as one journal page), intending on putting some of the images from my BFA paintings on the bottom. I didn't get very far on this project. After gluing in the figures from the sketchbook (as well as one extra from a couple years ago - different sketchbook) I have precisely enough room to put in these 12 pages and then put in my two Atlanta paintings (I haven't posted pics yet) and fill up that journal. Like it was meant to be, huh?
All of the Atlanta blog posts were about what happened while I lived there, but I haven't yet written about the personal and emotional turmoil of my 20s. I will be working this out while I do the art journaling.
Part of this process will also include finishing up my Butterfly Journal, which I began back in 2012 when I took Suzi Blu's Fairies class. I filled up part of the middle section doing portraits for our roleplaying characters, but I would really like to fill up the Journal and call it done. So, I am going to be doing some Art Journaling and revisiting the Fairies from that class. I never did follow the instructions for Dark Fairy which entailed starting on a black surface with black gesso. I used dark blue on the canvas for my Dark Fairy. I glued a piece of canvas in the Butterfly Journal across two pages and gessoed it (white gesso). I don't remember what I was planning to do there, but it's now the new Dark Fairy. I don't have any black gesso, but it occurred to me that I could use my black Caran d'Ache Necolor II water soluble crayon and clear gesso. So, this morning I colored in the entire spread with black crayon and brushed clear gesso over it. The surface turned out quite black.
As I was scrubbing over the surface with the black crayon, getting my hands dirty, I tried to think of all the negative emotions and beliefs that I wish to expunge through these exercises:
I am stuck. I am trapped. I am unable to do the things I want to do. I am sick of living the same life, the financial difficulty, the inability to get things done. I am tired of doing the same things, working the same jobs. I have had no opportunities, no chances. I am unable to change.
I wasn't given a lot of guidance growing up, to build my self esteem, to choose a career, to manage finances. The only tools available to me were self-help books or women's magazines. The people who were able to figure things out on their own seemed to be lucky. Self-help books in the late 70s or early 80s were pretty pathetic. After reading many of them I realized they were all similar - there was some sort of 'hook' or overall concept. The books were mostly telling the reader everything that was wrong with their lives, but never how to fix anything. There were laughably short wrap-ups at the end - just do 'THIS' and all will be well! Shortly after I moved to Atlanta I got so sick of this that I put all of my self-help books into a paper bag and wrote a note on the outside - something like: I have gotten all I can from these, please help yourself. I walked across the street to the strip mall and placed the bag on top of a newspaper box. I went into the drug store where my best friend was working, and by the time I came back out, the bag of books was gone. I never read another one until Martha Beck's Four Day Win.
To be fair, there has been a lot of recent research about brain activity, so many of Martha's concepts are quite new. During my entire 20s, and even my 30s, I had no idea how to deal with my anxiety and had no idea that quieting my mind and relaxing my body could have such a profound effect on neutralizing both the anxiety and the obsessive negative thoughts swirling through my head.
I am now ready to move on. More blog posts to come as I work my way through to the end of the Atlanta journal.
I also still need to write about my 50th birthday and the trip to Vancouver, BC.
We often make little pies in our Pampered Chef muffin stone. We both get up so early that we don't have time to eat breakfast at home, so we always take it with us. Sometimes it's hot cereal made beforehand (oatmeal or Malto Meal). Occasionally scrambled eggs. Biscuits and sausage. Sometimes we're lazy and do yogurt and snack bars (Clif bars or granola bars). For a special treat, I make fruit pies for us. I took these pictures back in April and never got around to making a blog post, so here they are now, with recipe. I say 'tin' because muffin tins are common, but ours is made of stone.
Slightly altered New Way to Cook recipe. Cream Cheese rather than Sour Cream, like our Biscuit recipe. Although these days we use full-fat dairy rather than low fat or fat-free. Also, like the biscuits, I make this in my Kitchenaid mixer.
Amounts below are enough for a muffin tin’s worth of little pahs.
2 Cups flour
1 or 2 tsp Sugar
1 tsp Salt
½ tsp Baking Powder
1 stick Butter (8 Tablespoons)
½ Brick Cream Cheese
Few Tbsp Ice Water or Buttermilk if you have it on hand
Mix dry ingredients. Cut in butter and cream cheese; mix till coarse and crumbly. Add liquid a little at a time until it holds together. DO NOT knead it smooth.
Form into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap – place on plate in fridge and chill. Actually now I line my 8x8 glass pan with plastic wrap, press the pie crust into the bottom, cover it and chill. That way when I take it out I can easily cut into 12 even pieces - a disc is difficult to divide evenly.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
For muffin tin pahs, cut the piecrust into 12 even chunks, then roll into balls with rolling pin. Gather the circle of dough and press into the muffin tin well, then press out to the sides. This is not an exact science - just press the piecrust into place until it fits reasonbly well. It's just pie!
Prepare Fruit Filling:
About 4 apples is the right amount for apple pie. Or a bag of frozen berries thawed.
Mix fruit with: ¼ cup flour, ½ Cup regular or brown sugar.
After you fill the pies, cut a slice of 1 Tbsp of butter, and cut that slice into quarters – place a quarter square of butter on top of each muffin pah.
Bake 400 degrees for about 20-30 minutes
Fruit will be bubbly and crust will be browned.
Remove pahs from muffin tin to cool.
And don't be leaning over it wearing a jeweled hair net. ; ) "Oh look! The pie!"
While up in Vancouver I discovered some old family photos I didn't know about. My sister L. and brother-in-law had them - pages from old photo albums. They said that I could take some, so I sorted through and picked out a few pages. Sister M. took the rest of them for scanning. Some are pictures I already have, but a better quality or maybe the original. Copies were really bad quality back in the 60s and 70s.
Here are a few more from that vacation in the Rockies.
This is a photo I remembered but never knew what happened to it:
I have no idea where these were taken or what was going on:
This is a better quality photo of me, Mom and the kitten:
I will be uploading all of my scanned photos to my Shutterfly soon. Part of my Life Organization.
I hurt my back. I am laid up at home this week recovering. When I went to Vancouver for my birthday, I took a duffel bag and messenger bag with me, so I wouldn't have to check any luggage. I don't even own luggage. Plus, I didn't want to have to pay to check my bags.
Well, I should have borrowed a suitcase - a coworker offered hers, and my brother also has one. Coming home, carrying those bags was too much for my back. When I arrived in Minneapolis I was walking so slowly that a guy driving a tram insisted I accept a ride to my gate. So, my back was overstressed.
Then, at work on Thursday, I was putting photos in frames for one of our summer programs, and leaned to my side to drop the protective paper into the recycling. AND I KNOW I SHOULD NOT DO THIS! I have hurt my back doing that sideways motion before! I did it about a dozen times until my vertebrae were cracking as I straightened up and I remembered: Oh, right, don't do that.
Well, by Thursday evening my back was sore on the right side, near my hip. I took 2 ibuprofen before bed. And more the next day. By mid-afternoon the pain was worse. I left work early. I showered as soon as I got home, anticipating that my back would get worse, which it did. Steve got some back pain pills, which I took right away. But the pain got worse. It was so bad I was sobbing. Steve wondered if he should take me to the ER, but - besides the cost of an ER visit - I didn't think I could manage to sit in the car or a waiting room.
I thought I just needed to give the pills time to work. Steve put a quilt and pillows on the living room floor and I slept out there. Well, I didn't actually sleep because the pain kept me awake. No position gave me any relief. Neither did heating pad or ice pak. I have never been in this much pain from anything. The floor was also not a good idea because it hurt so much to get up.
Saturday morning Steve moved me to the computer room floor and went out to do grocery shopping. When he got home, the pain was still unchanged. I called my Dr's office, and an On-Call nurse called me back wtihin 10 minutes. After asking several questions, she said, "You need to be seen," and urged me to go to Urgent Care. I told her it hurt so much to stand up. She said, "If you do nothing you will wind up in the ER in the middle of the night. The body can only take so much of that level pain. Please. Try." So I said I would.
It probably took me 10 minutes to get up off the floor. I was leaning on the computer chair on my knees afraid of the harsh stabbing pain I knew would come when I put weight on either leg. But Steve helped me up to sit in the computer chair, and that wasn't as painful as I thought. He brought me some clean clothes - a t-shirt and my sleeping shorts. No bra. And my slippers. I didn't care!
Steve put a pillow on the car seat and drove me to Urgent Care. Sitting in the waiting room was painful, but I was called back in about 20 minutes. They kept asking me certain questions, about pain shooting down my leg, any numbness, or trouble urinating - those indicate spinal cord injury, which I didn't have. Steve thought it was funny the Dr. who saw me seemed kind of bored, he was just nodding his head, like: Yes, you pulled a muscle. He prescribed three drugs: pain med, anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxer. At home, I sat in the comfy chair waiting for the drugs to kick in while Steve made dinner. The AC made me shiver and shake - I think my body was overstimulated from the pain.
The drugs lessened the pain right away, but I was unable to sleep for a couple of nights. I was in a waking dream state, where I was dreaming but not asleep. Very strange. The drugs made me so woozy I emailed work Sunday and said I'd need to be out all week. I am still in some pain when the drugs wear off, but nothing like the level before. I did have regular sleep last night. I can't sit in a chair for more than about 10 minutes or it starts to hurt again.
My brother reminded me that I'm not as young as I used to be and I should be exercising more and trying to get some extra weight off my body. Steve suggested a stationary bike, so I will be looking for one soon.
PSA: DO NOT LEAN SIDEWAYS WHILE SITTING. EVER. EVUH!
I drew the picture above to post at my desk as a reminder.
In Other News: I now have a Kindle Fire device! My best friend J. gave me a very big Amazon gift card for my birthday, and I knew I wanted a device. It just arrived yesterday, so I am still learning how to use it and what Apps are. Per her suggestion, I got a cover with a keyboard - I am typing this blog post on it.
I need to get used to the camera on the Kindle Fire. Not a great Selfie - I am seriously out of it this week.
I have also been thinking about uncluttering my digital life. Uploading all my photos to Shutterfly is a good start. I also need to upload all of my scans of artwork and The Journaling Project pieces. I have other documents that I probably don't need. Sometimes I start blog posts in a Word document, but once they are posted to Typepad, I don't need to save that Word doc. I can trust Typepad not to lose my blogposts!
I didn't realize desktop PCs were becoming obsolete. I read that somewhere awhile back and didn't see how that could be possible. But one of my Twitter friends said she hardly ever uses their computer anymore and I will love my device. If everything can be done via devices or phones, I can see how a big bulky PC would not be a great option. Steve wants to get a laptop.
We didn't realize with our Amazon Prime membership we have digital storage in the Amazon Cloud. It's free with limited storage, but more storage is only $10/year. We need to upload our documents from the desktop PC.
I no longer wish to live in fear of our computer dying, especially if it's an obsolete piece of tech.
I would also like to have a place to store online articles that I want to keep. I have been printing them out or copying and pasting into a Word doc. I am figuring out how to do this digitally.
I also sometimes keep notes on things such as how to make my big art journals, the measurements, how many pages of Stonehenge. I am going to create blog posts so that I will always have access to this information via my blog, not random notes stashed or typed up someplace.
So, my Life Uncluttering is also involving my digital practices. I feel like I am finally joining the Modern World.
I reblogged this on Tumblr but things tend to get washed out to sea in the ton of posts and reblogs so I wanted to post this here. The text below is from a study referenced in a story on bbc.com:
“In a study of children aged 2-5, parents interrupted their daughters more than their sons, and fathers were more likely to talk simultaneously with their children than mothers were. Jennifer Coates says: “It seems that fathers try to control conversation more than mothers… and both parents try to control conversation more with daughters than with sons. The implicit message to girls is that they are more interruptible and that their right to speak is less than that of boys."
Girls and boys’ differing understanding of when to talk, when to be quiet, what is polite and so on, has a visible impact on the dynamics of the classroom. Just as men dominate the floor in business meetings, academic conferences and so on, so little boys dominate in the classroom - and little girls let them.”
This is how I learned to be quiet as a child. I could not speak. If my Dad was home and awake, nothing I had to say was of any value.
When Dad got home from work, he would start talking to Mom and just wouldn't stop until he went to bed. He would sit in his chair and she would sit on the couch and he would talk and talk and talk and Mom would sit quietly and listen, working on her needlepoint or whatever. I could never interrupt. Nothing I had to say was of any importance.
We need to teach girls to speak - and scream! and yell! And sing from the rooftops!
I am about to turn 50 years old and I am still finding my Voice.
Channeling Amanda Palmer.
I don't carry a purse every day. I carry a backpack to work, with a big square insulated lunch pack, a spiral notebook for making (personal, art-related) notes, a snack bag, a coffee travel cup. I have no room for a big purse in my backpack. So, shortly after I started working at IU, I put my 'essentials' into a cloth drawstring bag (the pink bag below). I just need my wallet, pill bottle, lip balm, nail clippers and spare hair ties. On weekends my mini-purse goes into a larger backpack-style purse.
Long ago, after I was done quilting, I had a lot of fabric left over and began making cloth drawstring bags. I am not a great seamstress - I just folded over the edges and sewed them down, making a sleeve for the drawstring, then folded the bag in half and sewed together. I thought I was clever for figuring out how to make the bottom square (I had a cloth lunchbag I bought and I analyzed it to figure out how that was done). I sent some to my sister who uses them for shoe bags when she and her husband travel. (I thought I had an old blog post about the fabric bags but I must have deleted it during my Blog Purge - let me know if you want to know how to fold the bottom for a flat square bottom in a bag.)
Also, while we were in Misery (2003-2006) I found a very handy use for a cloth bag. I was on my way to the bathroom with a feminine napkin in my hand, wearing a suit with no pockets when a male coworker called to me from his office to ask me a question. WHAT TO DO WITH THE NAPKIN? Luckily I was wearing a long sleeve suit jacket and pulled my hand up my sleeve, but was still caught off-guard. (Like: Seriously? I can't even go to the bathroom without answering a dumb question? Anyway-) So. I put my feminine products into a little cloth drawstring bag and from then on that is what I used - carrying the little bag with me down the hall.
Recently, I found some Zippered Pouch tutorials online (links below) and decided I would like one for my purse, rather than a drawstring bag, which is kind of difficult and messy, with everything a jumble. For Admin Professionals Day this year someone in the office gave me a $10.00 JoAnn Fabric gift card, so I went shopping for fabric and zippers. I will say that I wasn't happy with the fabric I bought - thin and cheap, very thready. But I don't know of a quilt shop here where I can get good-quality cotton quilting fabric.
I set up the sewing machine on Saturday and look what happened:
Symon, you can't sleep here! I need to sew!
He finally decided to claim the Computer chair:
I didn't take any progress pics while I was sewing, but both of the tutorials have excellent photos and instructions. I used the pattern in this tutorial for my purse (squares are cut out of the corners so it has a wide bottom and sits up). I used the pattern in this tutorial for the white and pink pouch. These pouches were surprisingly easy to make. I had never sewn a zipper before, and it was quite easy. The difficult part was sewing it all together and getting the zipper tabs to lay neat - my corners are a little wonky. I am sure neatness will come with practice.
One thing I didn't do was buy fusible cotton batting. I just bought regular. While sewing I realized why they recommended fusible - the batting and fabric shifted a bit during pinning and sewing.
Here is my former Purse, on the left. It was so filthy I washed it, and it came apart in the laundry so I just threw it away. The bag on the right is my current feminine product bag.
And here is the little white and pink bag. I made two of these, but they are so small I wasn't sure how to use them (if I wore makeup it would make a good makeup bag). I am using one for my cell phone charger in my backpack (better than a Ziploc bag). I didn't realize I cut out enough fabric to make two of each bag - I thought I only had two sets for the small one, so I bought an extra white zipper but not an extra for the other. I don't want to make another zippered pouch so I'm going to see if I can make a simple cloth bag for Steve to carry his cell phone charger.
Symon napping in the chair on Saturday.
I wrote about my time in Atlanta, but it was mainly facts about what happened when. I have been doing some journaling about the broader issues of how I was back then and how I have changed. As a result, I have come up with some ideas for how to deal with the Atlanta artwork. This is proving to be a difficult few Planks on the Bridge to cross. Maybe because it is churning up a lot of old feelings. Maybe it is my way of working them out of my system, so that I can continue on the bridge back.
I have 12 pieces in progress - one for each year I was in Atlanta. (I taped them up to our closet doors to assign drawings to each one - couldn't get a good pic of all of them.) I am going to fill in the neck and chest area with images from the Atlanta artwork. Stay tuned.
Fall of 1994 I worked on the portfolio of work that gained me entrance into graduate school. I took my figures and had them reacting to a less-chaotic background than my BFA Final Portfolio work. I have none of these paintings left, nothing but slides. I went home every night, had dinner, and went right to work painting. My coworkers would ask how late I was up and I’d answer based on which t.v. show I last watched: News, Star Trek (Next Gen reruns), Letterman.
I had nine of the painting slides scanned (by GoPhoto) but only one of the drawings, as an example. Most of the drawings were just drawn versions of the paintings and/or really bad. Note that Diving Woman was repeated.
Christmas of 1994 I went up to Vancouver. The famous Crab Story occurred during this visit. Sister L. kept asking everyone what they wanted for Christmas dinner. I finally said, “Crab legs.” So L. and BIL I-. get home from the grocery store and L. hands me a bag and says, “This is for you.” In it is a brown paper package. I open it. It is two crabs. They moved! I threw them into the sink and leaped across the kitchen screaming, “They’re alive!” L. says, “Well, of course they’re alive.” And they were the best tasting crabs ever.
March of 1995 I got into Memphis College of Art for a Master of Fine Arts degree program. I applied to 10 schools and MCA is the only one that accepted me, so that’s where I went. One of the professors called me for a phone interview. He went on and on about my well-written statement, saying it was better than it needed to be.
Since I was leaving, J. moved in with a friend from law school.
Sometime that Spring J. and I drove to Memphis on a weekend to look at apartments. We drove up Friday and on Saturday I made some calls. Lucky for me my landlady was in her office. We drove over and looked at an apartment she had available. She kept saying it was $350 a month. We did all the paperwork, and then she said she was mistaken, it was $450. J. said later that she thought I was going to cry. But the landlady said as soon as a $350 apartment became available, it was mine (and one did in just a few months).
So, in July of 1995 I packed up the smallest Penske truck with all of my belongings and the cats and drove to Memphis, by myself. The cats would not ride in carriers so I had them up in the cab with me. I got some pills to knock them out for the trip, but they didn’t work very well. But they stayed out of my way so I could drive us to our new home. I called movers to come over that day and unload the truck. The next day I returned the truck to the closest place I could find and then I walked back in the searing July Memphis heat. I stopped in at Memphis Pizza Café for their Pizza Salad, and sat there wilted from the heat and cooling off, but giddy that I was in a new place, the first place I chose to move all by myself.
Next: Memphis and Grad School (and Steve!)