Sunday, March 12, 2023

Too much excitement -- parts 3 and 4

When I last posted, I was recovering from the double whammy of my husband's near-death cardiac event and the mysterious failure of the big mirror in our front hall.  I was hopeful that the worst was behind us. 

Of course, the worst was behind us -- it's hard to top a near-death event when it comes to comparing hardships.  But the hits just keep on coming.  Later that day we had a terrible storm come through, with wind gusts of almost 80 mph.  Our neighborhood was hard hit, with trees down all over the place, including on the power lines.  

We were without power for 76 hours, during which it was dark and cold much of the time, dark and somewhat warmer the rest of the time.  Outside of one afternoon when we camped out at a son's house, we stayed home and contemplated how boring it is to have no music, no internet, no sewing machine, no fridge, no TV.  We slept a lot, because it was nice and warm in bed even when the temperature in the house got pretty low.  Two afternoons I sat in the car in the driveway, which was nice and warm in the sun, and took naps.  

two blocks from our house

The power returned and to our delight, we didn't even lose the contents of the freezer, which were still covered in ice crystals and thus savable.  We had a couple of days of happiness just to be back in our home with everything working.

But little did we know.

Yesterday morning, prior to a grocery run, we went downstairs to see if we needed toilet paper in the seldom-used guest bathroom.  Well, needing toilet paper was an understatement, because it turns out that sewage was backing up into the toilet, the bathtub, the shower.  Apparently the entire sewer line leading out of our house has clogged up.  Every drop of water that goes down a drain will only raise the water table (or should we say the sewage table) so the house is effectively unlivable.

The plumber said he couldn't do anything without a helper, and that couldn't occur till Monday morning.  He also called the sewer district, just in case the clog is in the area of their responsibility.  They have been out twice and haven't been able to get their sewer-cam in position to inspect.  They're also coming back Monday morning.

So we're holed up in a nice cozy motel for at least another night, feeling sorry for ourselves.  My daily stitching has turned very dark.

Thursday, March 2, 2023

Too much excitement

Last week in my house was filled with excitement, the bad kind.  On Friday my husband felt faint, got up from his computer chair, went into the dining room, and passed out, with a monumental crash.  Fortunately I was in the studio, not at the grocery store, and thus was able to summon the ambulance and get him to the hospital.

By that time his heart was slowing down, then stopping for as long as six seconds, then restarting itself to do the same thing over again.  Clearly that was what had happened to cause the fall and the crash, and the remedy was an immediate temporary pacemaker, followed by a permanent pacemaker on Monday.  Now he just has to heal up and he will be considerably better than he was a week ago, no more worries about passing out from slow heartbeat.

I wish I could say the same for the house.  When he fell, he put two spectacular dents in the wall, but fortunately none of the dozen pictures on that wall came down, otherwise we would have had a near-death body covered in shards of glass.

Then two nights later as I was just home from a long day at the hospital, I turned the corner into our front hallway and realized something was wrong.  What was it?  I realized it was the beautiful wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling mirror at the far end.  Instead of being vertical, it was tilted, and my reflection looked like it was going downhill.  

Turns out the mirror had detached itself from the wall and fallen forward for six inches, until it encountered the molding around the front door.  

When my handy sons inspected the scene of the crime the next day, they realized that the mirror had been "secured" only by two little clips at the bottom edge, nothing at the top edge (where there is a half-inch clearance, not a lot but enough to have installed some other kind of fastener).  

Had it been glued to the wall and just this week decided to let loose?  Had my husband stumbled against it on his way to collapsing in the dining room?  Had the EMTs stumbled against it while humping his limp body out the front door?  There were no handprints or smudges anywhere on the mirror, so probably it did its thing without human intervention.   Had it been a disaster waiting to happen ever since the house was built in 1963?

One of the handy sons brought over an industrial-strength tension rod -- think spring-loaded curtain rod, but tightened with a lever handle.  Suitable for jacking up sagging roofs and punching holes in concrete.  He pushed the mirror back against the wall, padded the bulging places on the tension rod with a pool noodle and installed it in front of the mirror.  Now we are safe, I hope, till we can get a guy in to fix the holes in the wall and affix the mirror more securely this time.

Never a dull moment.  By the way, the patient is doing well, although it's going to take a while.

Sunday, February 12, 2023

This year's daily art

In November I usually start thinking about daily art, and what I'm going to choose for my project in the coming year.  I had pretty much narrowed it down to some kind of collage, whether paper or fabric, but didn't have any details in mind.  Then when I went to the December retreat from my fiber art group, I was delighted to find that Santa Claus also came.

Santa aka Joanne Weis, who has been one of my closest art pals for more than two decades.  She has experimented with every conceivable method of surface design (dyeing, screenprinting, laminating,  painting, etc.) and every conceivable fiber (silk, hemp, linen, cotton, nylon, etc.).  She always does considerable testing to develop a palette before embarking on a new project, and often prepares a lot more fabric than she actually uses.  And for years, she stashed her unused fabrics in drawers.

Then last year she decided she needed the drawers, stuffed all the fabrics into big bags, and brought them to the retreat. 

I let others in the group go through the bags for more than an hour, cherry-picking pieces that called out to them, and when everybody else had enough, I packed up everything that was left.

Two huge bags worth.  And realized that clearly Santa wanted me to do fabric collage as my 2023 daily art.

I have defined the project as follows:  All fabric must come from Joanne's leftovers.  I can add hand- or machine-stitching of any kind, plus notions like beads, buttons or found objects.  Most days I will finish a collage, but occasionally I can hold it over to another day (or two) as long as it's documented at the end of each day.

This one took several days to finish (Day 1 here)

I haven't felt this exhilarated in a long time.  I find myself getting up in the morning and thinking about what I will do in the studio, and the daily stitching is usually the first thing I tackle when I get there.  (By contrast, toward the end of the year, my daily painting got to be a chore, done after dinner with the same enthusiasm as kids have for the last bit of homework before bed.)  Often I spend some time preparing fabrics for future days, cutting them into small pieces, maybe putting the pieces through the wash to fray the edges, maybe auditioning possible combinations. 

I haven't posted any of the collages on my daily art blog yet, but that's on my to-do list.  Meanwhile, here are a few of my favorites.  Obviously I'll be telling you a lot more about this project as the year goes on.

Sunday, February 5, 2023

A long-overdue update -- part 1

At least one of my faithful blog readers has noticed that it's been a long time since I posted anything, and wrote to ask me whether something dire was going on.  Thanks for asking, Karen, and no, nothing awful has happened on my end, except that for some reason I have gotten out of the blog habit and will have to perform some brain surgery on myself to get back in.  So I will do a couple of posts to bring you up to date on what's been going on since last fall.

First, an update on my daily art.  After 365 paintings in 2022, I came to the conclusion that I love to paint, but I have no ideas that I want to express in that medium.  I love the paint on the palette, the paint on the brush, the feel of the brush on the paper.  I love mixing colors and watching the accidental effects of wet-into-wet.  But throughout the year I struggled with what to paint.  I would get an idea, usually by copying from somebody else, and paint it more than once to see if it might strike a chord and stay with me.

In the past, when a student in my workshop or a blog reader would ask me whether they had my permission to use a technique I have used or taught, I would say of course you may (nobody owns an idea).  And if you like the technique, make it three times and by then it will change enough that it will belong to you, not to me.  I tried to apply this rule of thumb to my painting.

I've posted about the faces I painted based on black-and-white photos in the paper.  I did that 52 times, and maybe10 of them were pretty good.  But they were getting repetitive, and I didn't think that they in any way belonged to me.  

I thought maybe if I put some stitching into the paintings it would resonate, since stitching is so integral to the rest of my artistic life.  I made several with hand stitching, and a few with machine stitching, and again, I liked them, but there was no surge of desire to keep on making them and after ten tries I stopped trying.

I had a nice long run at the end of the year with 15 paintings following the tutorials of Vanidas Mangathil on Instagram (he's also on YouTube).  I loved painting the little people and I highly recommend his instruction if you're into painting little people.  But after two weeks I didn't see any signs of them moving into my art space.

By the end of the year, I had decided that I was done with painting.  In fact, I even cut up a bunch of pages from my painting sketchbooks to make my Christmas ornaments.