Who is Sue and what is Suelandia?

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Do they really have a lot of handbaskets in hell? Really?

Hey people.  I had pictured this summer going something like this-- I'd wake every morning to the sound of birdsong, and wander around on my deck in a crisp cotton robe gleefully sipping coffee while I contemplated how my day might unfold.  (Okay-- I don't actually have a robe like that, nor do I drink coffee.  This is similar to other fantasies about my life in which my entire kitchen is outfitted with wonderful IKEA cabinetry apparently.)  Sometimes in these visions I'd appear as Kermit The Frog, cheerfully strumming a banjo down by the river.

Basically-- carefree sunny days that stretch to the far horizon filled with nothing but idle time.  ~Slaps self~  What was I thinking??

Birds have been waking me every morning alright, mostly this insane cardinal who thinks it's arch nemesis lives in every reflective surface and continually attacks itself in all our windows, pecking and chirping loudly from about 5 a.m. on every day.

Also, my painting the shop cheery bright colors project?  Don't ask me why I thought it would take a couple of days, but I've been sanding old peeling paint off (apparently this is protocol) for about 5 days now and my friggin' arms are about ready to fall off!  I'm SO SORE.

I really can't complain.  My shop, after all, is one of those unexpected second life stories I love.  It was a garage in Minneapolis, built in 1934, before Dan dismantled it and resurrected it in our backyard.  He's worked TONS more than me on it, most recently putting a little retaining wall all around the outside where I can plant flowers.  The early bird may get the worm, but the late worm gets all their flowers for half off or better.  (Can't plant though, until it's painted-- ugh.)

I'm still going through my heavy literary phase.  In the car I've been listening to more Updike.  Holy crap is that guy dirty!  Good books, but wowza.  I was stopped at a red the other day and the main character was comparing his mistress's and wife's lady business.  Some woman in the crosswalk gave me this look and I realized probably everyone within 20 feet of my car could hear everything, all about these peoples pubes etc.  Gotta luv it though.  When he's not being super blunt about sex etc, he's trying to decide if people are more like big blood & oxygen circulating machines, or are "unique irreplaceable individuals, with souls breathed into them-- battle grounds for good and evil, apprentice angels."

At night I'm reading Joyce Carol Oates, and the wild girls of Foxfire "burn and burn" under the leadership of volatile, daring Legs Sadowski, played in my mind by Angelina Jolie in "Girl, Interrupted."  *Perfect mind casting* 

While working I've been getting back into John Sandford detective novels (listening), starring my book boyfriend-- the rugged, whip-smart Lucas Davenport.  Apparently, cops swear a lot when amongst themselves.  This has gotten me all sweary (okay- admittedly, I already am like this most of the time (when I'm by myself), but now I'm really on a tear.)  The other day I found myself gripping the pasta sauce in my fist and jamming my face right into the label, spittle flying, snarling, "Open muther fucker, or I'll smash you into the counter so hard they'll feel it all the way in Italy."

In real life me & Dan continue to, well, do our thing.  Here are some excerpts.

Me- ~Pant, struggle~
Him- "What are you doing?"
Me- ~Flinging my legs over top of his arms as he tries to fend me off~  "Dominating you completely with my mighty mighty legs.  You should rub them.  They're extra smooth tonight."
Him- "As they should be.  I expect them to be smooth at all times."
Me- "You ass."  ~More leg dominating~
Him- ~Tickles and pokes me into submission~  (Which really should be more difficult than it is, considering my crime fighting and all.)

Me- ~Crab, crab, small amount of almost yelling~
Him- "Don't make me come over there and pull down your pants and spank you."
Me- ~Dissolves in giggles, unable to keep being mad~

And one night, he pretended he was going to give me a nice hug and pants'd me, for reals (I was wearing boxers), so, sorry neighbors if you happened to be looking out your windows or were in your driveway or anything.

This post is kind of all over the place, because so am I right now.  All of a sudden I have a million commitments, many, if not fun, are at least enjoyable (work related), but man, I feel SO SWAMPED!
I'm having to back pedal on all kinds of tentative plans I made for this summer.
One thing that's happening real quick and moving my clock up fast is Sis and the kids coming to visit.  I have lined up a couple kid bikes for them-- this one for Jaden-- We're hoping he just goes with it.  Hell, half the time he's wearing his sister's tutu and singing Avril Levine songs and playing Barbie's anyway.  I have offered to paint the frame any color he wants.  (Hey-- it was a free bike.)
And this one for Meg-- The Super Awesome Rad Power Bike.  I actually love this thing and ride it around the driveway.  Hopefully it's Awesome Radness won't be wasted on her.

Sorry this post was so spaztastic.  My brain is just going a million directions right now.  I have so much stuff to do it's not even funny-- like-- clean my whole house for one.  Those of you who know me know what a monumental undertaking this is for me.  ~Akk!~  ~Gah!~  ~Spazing!~

Hopefully next time I check in the land will be a little more under control.  I have, like, a hundred other things to tell you about like the amazing book my pal Linda made me for my birthday, and I have a whole cool "old pics of my mom" post w/ stories etc, and the further adventures of Penny, but, it's all just a big jumble right now.

Monday, June 28, 2010

My prozac

Hey people.  Me, Hula, and Dan went biking around Minneapolis yesterday.  Sometimes I can't believe how lucky I am.  My bike (either one) plus outside (where I live is AMAZING you guys) plus Dan makes me one happy gal.

First stop-- Italian ice!  There is this cool place called Midtown Global Market in the old Sears building on Lake St where it is one of many treats available.  I was trying to decide between a single and a double (I likes mah ice) and the girl at the counter just gave me an extra big single for no extra $.  (People here can be really nice, if you give them good vibes.)  Of course after all that I couldn't eat it all, but watermelon/lemon = YUM.  (Isn't Dan cute?)  We ate it out on the patio overlooking the greenway (a sunken bike highway) at the Sheraton.  They serve lunch there and give bikers 10% off all the time.  Nice!

We went on just one of many possible routes around the Twin Cities.  This particular ride was about 20 miles.  This town supposedly has more bike trails that any other U.S. city.  Big trees, lakes, rivers & streams are integrated within the city.  The planners did a good job of preserving some cool natural areas anyone can enjoy totally for free.

This is just one of the lakes we rode by. 

One place we stopped for a scenery break (that is one thing nice and different about doing things with Dan-- When on my own or with Pam I have a tendency to just zoom along, trying to go as fast as I can.  Dan makes me slow down, look around, and enjoy stuff) this lady's dog was flirting with Dan.  People out enjoying all these parks and the trails that link them are usually kind of in their happy place and pretty friendly.

This is one of my favorite parts of this ride-- a lot of it skirts along Minnehaha Creek.  You can get in and wade around in spots if you want, but the water was kind of high from recent storms.  Beautiful though.

There are tons of little bridges along the way too, pedestrian and roadway.  This is inner city people-- this little oasis that runs for miles. 

It all ends spectacularly at Minnehaha Falls, where there is a huge park including stairs leading down to the bottom of the falls and walking trails following the creek to where it spills into the Mississippi.  When it's less turbo-flowy people climb around under the falls and cool off, wade around in the pool etc.  (See the people at the top?  Gives you an idea of the scale.)

At the falls we got kind of hungry, so checked out the restaurant in the Refectory, built in 1905.  They have all kinds of seafood, and ice cream.

Talapia tacos were yum!

This cool old bike was waiting for it's owner inside.  You see every kind of bike along these urban trails, and every kind of rider-- spandex-y racer types, no helmet jeans types, girls in little skirts, old, young-- just everyone with a set of wheels out there enjoying the feeling of wind on their face.

I'll be doing this the rest of my life.  That's one thing I know for sure.  It just makes me really happy.  If any of you haven't ridden since you were a kid, you really need to get a bike and check it out.  If any of you are already into riding and live somewhere else in the country-- think about checking out the Twin Cities, you could easily plan a trip around biking and ride your butt off and never cover the same section of trail twice.   

Friday, June 25, 2010

Sue's care and feeding

Hey people.  Been eating some good chow around here in Suelandia lately.  I've known I wanted to get back on the healthy wagon for a while, but went into red alert mode last week when my upper thighs began to get reacquainted.  (There may have been another incident involving that damned delicious "*light*" chocolate peanut butter ice cream from Target.  Shhh.)

This is one of my inventions-- deviled egg salad (like normal egg salad, but way less mayo, and lots of spicy mustard) with raw asparagus on it.  Also there's been lots of fresh fruit and raw veggies, and chicken breasts, and fat free re fried beans, and fake hamburgers.  So, yeah.  Like that.

Happy to report the thighs are no longer encroaching on one another.  But there is always plenty of work to do in that department if you have "anchorwoman butt" tendencies like I do.

I spent a couple of days (not straight) on this sweet birdfeeder, a gift ordered by my aunt for my cousin's birthday.  It came out really nice I think.  Funny story about the basin-- it's an old wok. 

We went camping one year in the BWCA with some friends, and they were washing their wok out in the river (a no-no) and lost hold of it and it tumbled all the way down the little rapids into the lake.  The next year, we all went again and camped in the same spot.  I love finding lost stuff.  I go by the theory that it exists still, it's there, you just have to find it.

I scoped around at the spot where the river fed into the lake, and eventually found the wok.  We set up this elaborate prank where we hooked it on the guy who lost its fishing line (he'd left a pole set up on the bank and gone to take a nap).  He was this really negative guy who always complained about the deck being stacked against him etc.

We got it set up and someone ran to get him.  "Fish on! Fish on!"  He groggily stumbled over and reeled in the wok.  We were laughing our butts off anticipating his reaction, but he was unfazed.  "I'm sure-- it's totally ruined!  Look.  It's all rusty.  Grumble grumble."

That was the last time we did anything with those people.  There were lots of reasons, but it was just all in all kind of a toxic group.

Glad the wok, who never did anything wrong, got some good karma by getting turned into something beautiful that someone will appreciate.  I love unexpected second chances.

There have been some cool bug sightings in the land this week.  Did you know butterflies have knobs on the ends of their antennae, but moths have sort of feathery ones?

This was just a fly, but on my artwork in the sun looked kind of cool, metallic.  Good close-up of the rust & paint too.  I really like working with the steel because of this effect.

Here's another one in progress.  It's the one I was putting grass on as an experiment.  I like how you can see the little slash marks from the individual blades.  The rust is really coming out cool on this one.

I've been working harder at biking lately.  I don't know what's going on.  I suddenly feel like I have less power, even though I'm working at it more-- doubling up on rides etc.  I've gotten slower, and it seems like I'm expending more effort & getting less results.

With mountain biking I'm getting better at balancing etc, but have lost ground on speed, and even gearing.  I'd gotten so I could ride certain things in harder gears, and now have had to scale back.  Road riding I feel like I'm pushing as hard as ever, but the speedometer just doesn't creep up like it had been.  This is frustrating, but I keep telling myself it's not like I'm an actual athlete-- I'm still being active, and it is supposed to be for fun.  I do enjoy myself when I'm out, and appreciate being able to do it, but still...

The other morning before I was fully awake I kind of stretched and felt my muscles, sore from riding twice pretty hard the day before .  I had this weird moment of feeling all tender and affectionate and sympathetic towards my body, like how I often feel about our cats.  It was so strange, like, "you poor old thing" ~pat pat~.

It was like I had this complete awareness, for a few seconds, that my body wasn't really me, just something I kind of have custody of for a while, and it seemed like the most natural thing in the world, until the rest of my brain woke up.  ~weird~

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Daddy's Girl

Hey people.  I have to say, I know a couple people who have really horrible growing-up stories where one or both parents were a total nightmare, but of the women I know who had fairly normal childhoods, I don't know too many that don't consider themselves to be, on some level-- Daddy girls.

(Yes- I know.  I was adorable.  It's harder than you would expect to peak at age five.)

Here dad is, trying to convince me water is fun.  What is ironic about this is my dad is, and always has been, terrified of water.  To this day he won't get in even up to his knees, but there he is, as submerged as I'd ever in my life see him, just this one time, wanting me to not be afraid-- to see the water as a fun place to be.

And it worked.  I have no memory of ever not loving to be in the water.  If there was a lake, pool, or creek around-- I wanted to be in it!

My parents were into it.  They really wanted kids bad.  They waited a few years to do fun couple-y stuff, but they wanted kids, and took me a lot of places.  I'm pretty sure outdoorsy stuff was pushed by dad.  He was from out west, a country kid who grew up in North Dakota & Montana.  Outside has always been my favorite place.

He played with me, and of course I LOVED this.  Sure mom did the heavy lifting, as usual-- there all day with me, and dad got to sweep in and be the novelty whenever he wasn't at work etc.  Someone is taking all these pic too, but dad was into it.  He told me he never wished I had been a boy.  He wanted girls.  He figured it got him out of a lot of T-ball etc that he wasn't into anyway.

I pretty much came out of the womb laughing, but humor was greatly encouraged by dad.  That programmed me for life.  If a guy wasn't funny he didn't have a shot in hell with me.

I know my mom is probably looking at all this going-- "I'm sure!  I played with her ALL THE TIME!" and she did, but this is the Father's day post.  The cool old pics of how hot my mom was will have to wait for another post. 

(Incidentally-- see those geisha sculptures in the background?  Mom used to sleep with one next to her bed when he was out of town, to clobber burglars with.)

So here's my dad today.  He's 78.  On his last birthday he skied like, 20 laps at Afton with Dan.  Today our relationship is kind of like old friends, but more familiar.  We give each other crap whenever possible, and have had lots of arguments about his very wrong and bad republican-ness.  (Although, he did actually vote in a surprising manner in the last election, but he'd want his vote kept private I'm sure.)

Today he wanted to go to Como Zoo (same place we went for my birthday) to check out the new polar bear habitat.  He's very into animals, especially polar bears.

He was also into taking pictures of everything.  In the first shot by the flowers he focused on the "Enchanted Garden" sign.  I had said, "Look enchanted."  Him-- ~funny face~.

At one point he looked over his shoulder and goes, "I'm documenting everything today."  I grinned and said, "Yeah, me too."  He had no idea I was taking pictures of him all day.

We had lunch at a favorite spot of his.  He insisted I taste his shake, made with chocolate ice cream-- POSITIVE I'd agree it was far superior to my "regular" chocolate one.  I now am amused by how important it is at times, for him to be right.  It's one of those "cautionary tale" deals that if you watch your parents carefully enough you clue-in on.

(Luckily there are no young snots observing and critiquing all my behavior.)

We both enjoyed lunch.  His burger looked good.  Sometimes I wish I had a time machine and could go back to eating disgusting things like Taco John's taco-burritos and DQ chili dogs and not care.

Later we went and looked at old cars cruising the area.  There is a national car show in town.  We parked in the shade on this frontage road-- (see the no parking anytime sign in the background?  Yeah, that's how badass we were.  Outlaw dad & daughter.)

He took pics of a bunch of the cars, then we sat in the car and he instructed me to take pics with his camera.  He likes showing me stuff, even giving me driving directions to well known local spots.  We had fun trying to get pics framed up just right as the cars drove by in traffic.

Lots of my friend's dads aren't around this year.  Actually, more are not around than are.  I felt it was important to tell him how I felt.  The cards were all lame, and typical of me-- I'd forgotten the dumb one I finally did pick out at home, so I just told him.

I told him he was one of the very few people in the world I always feel completely relaxed around, and like I can totally be myself, and how much I love that.  I also told him I love spending time with him, and always look forward to seeing him and talking to him.

I felt kind of sappy, but was glad I was lucky enough to have the chance to tell him this when we are both still walking around and having a good time together.

When I think of how I've always felt about myself, and men etc, I have to give my dad credit.  Sure I've suffered from the same "I'm fat and ugly" warped self-image stuff most women do at one time or another.  Heck, the world, full of airbrushed models etc will do that to you-- but how I felt about the me inside has always been pretty good.

I felt liked, genuinely liked, and loved, just for being the me I was.  I was always made to feel smart, and funny, and like I was someone worthwhile.  It made me super picky about guys, but that worked out okay.  I'd say judging by what we typically expect of fathers, he did a pretty good job.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Summertime settles on the land

Hey people.  I've been looking at pictures online of brightly colored houses.  If you ever feel you need visual stimulation, just google "colorful" once and look at the images it brings up.  Pretty cool!

This is the year I'm going to paint my shop, because, Dan assures me, this is the year it will finally be DONE.  And I've decided it's going to be very colorful, and vibrant, and cool, and BOLD.

 So I've been checking out what some other people have done around the world to this effect.

I'm really liking shades of blue & green, and marigold, and deep berry, like sangria.   Can't wait!  I want to make sure it's all done and coolified, and I have flowers planted around it and everything in time for the open studio show in Aug.  I'm sure there will be updates about this.

I'm sure you've been wondering-- YES-- Mike and Tootie are still an item.  Mike's life has become eating, wandering outside to spray on whatever shrub he deems necessary, asserting his authority over Ray (who good- naturedly allows him to cling to the belief that he is "dah man"), roaming around the house meowing loudly in a semi-befuddled state (he's deaf, and probably senile), and cuddling with Tootie.  In other words, he's become Mew Heffner.

In Suelandia it's officially summer, and things down here in the land are carpeted with moss, and the green curtain has descended.   Suelandia is draped in foliage and hidden completely from Main St above on the bluff.  Occasionally I can hear kids riding their bikes down the sidewalk chatting, totally unaware of the land below.  ~very cool~

Remember my early spring weirdness of being sort of afraid of mountain biking after missing it all winter long?  Yes, well, fortunately that's over.  Penny has been feeling really good under me again.  It's hard to explain if you don't ride, but I love when the bike just feels very natural, and balancing etc is second nature.  To get to that point you just have to spend a lot of time on it.

Last season, besides learning how to ride in the first place, I was all about speeding up.  By the end of the season I was obsessed with my lap time, and wanting to whittle away at it.  This year I'm focusing more on technique, and feeling comfortable.  I figure once I get better at skills, I can work on speeding up.  

I got a weird injury though, I think caused by a strange habit I got into.  See how far down my heel is in this shot?  (Sorry these pics are blurry, they're lifted from video)  You want your weight in your heels, especially if you don't clip in (like me)  (feet not attached to pedals), but this is pretty exaggerated.  Now one of my heels/ankles is kind of messed-up.  It actually feels really good to wear heels, believe it or not-- better than wearing flat shoes.  I could probably run great in my daisy duke sandals right now.  I'm trying to rest/strengthen it.

Work-wise, I've been working on that commish, something for a family member, and Tina-- remember her?  All I have left are her boots, which are going to be "chrome", and her hands.  She is the coolest thing I've ever made I think.  I really love her and am glad I'll be able to see her whenever I go to the trail.

Today it was really hot out there (87 & super humid), but I kind of like it-- just having different seasons.  In winter I miss being able to work with all the doors open and the fan blowing.

Another fun thing that happened lately is that me and Pam took a skip day and went biking all over Minneapolis.  It was awesome!  If anyone hasn't been down there and checked out the extensive trail system you are really missing out.  It's one of the best biking cities in the entire country!

Hula, my dork bike, really is an awesome comfortable bike to ride.  She may not look like much, but is super tall (29" wheels) and can easily (okay, some effort required) cruise at 18mph.  Late in our ride, when we were on our way down the green way to get some Italian ice at the midtown global market (*recommended*), a guy passed me. (!)  He had no helmet, and not only that, once he passed me he proceeded to sit up and pedal along with his hands on his hips!

I could not abide it-- and neither could Hula.  We were already in horse to the barn mode what with the promise of Italian ice so close etc.  Me and Hula sprang into chase mode and rode his tail all the way to the Sheraton access stairs.  Let that be a lesson to you, 20-something, no-helmet, hipster-dude!

Hey-- Italian ice colors!  Hmm...

Monday, June 14, 2010

Working My Fingers To The Bone

Okay, not really, but kind of.

Hey people.  Friday my buddy Linda came over for a little jewelry making workshop.  (She didn't oog-out on my house due to my grudging domesticity the day before.)  As you can see, I have a few supplies.  (I have even more.  After cleaning out my art closet this weekend I found tons more I'd forgotten about over the years.)

Check out the awesome necklace she made of her own design.  She wanted to be shown how to attach things like clasps, and make connections.  It's super easy once you know the tricks.  After a while she concluded-- "You just basically improvise solutions don't you?"  Yep, that's my mode.  If it works you did it right.

This was so much fun I now want to have some bigger workshops and invite more friends to hang out and make cool stuff.  I'm thinking there could be a kitty system where people can either toss a little cash in the jar to help cover costs, or donate some supplies to the pot to share, or a combination.  That way someone who's never done it and has no supplies/beads/etc at all can show up and not feel dumb.  I think it would be really fun.

Speaking of improvising-- Worked a bunch more on the commish Sat.  I got this splattery effect just right and nearly dry before it started raining.  At first I was bummed, but see how there are rings of paint where the inside of the blob washed away?  I kind of like that, and wouldn't have come up with it on my own.  Thanks for the new technique nature.  (Also note the teeny lines scratched into the blue paint with an exacto knife.  Can you say tedious, hand-cramping work?)

After I got done splattering I looked over at the all whites piece I'm working on and I'd inadvertently covered it with splooches of red too.  Nooooo!  I tried to rinse it off, but that had dried by the time I saw it.  I attacked it with my thumbnails, frantically scratching off every bit of red before it could totally harden.

I got it all off, but only when I was done did I notice that I'd actually worn the corners of my nails completely off!  Ow!  Dan took this picture.  He goes, "It doesn't even look like anything.  People will just think you bit your nails, so what?"  Me- ~pouty look~.  Him, "Oh fine.  Tell your big story about it."  Look, just take my word for it.  It hurts okay?

Sunday we went out for brunch with my parents and grandma.  I decided to wear this cool wrap skirt/dress thing my sister bought me a couple years ago.  We call them "skirts-du-soleil" because they're kind of a magic act the way they transform to different looks (if you can figure them out.)  I came up with a one shoulder deal that I thought looked pretty good.  (Nice bruise on my leg huh?  Typical.  Mountain biking = bonged-up legs.)

It came out pretty cool, but necessitated me also coming up with an IBCD (Improvised boob containment device) because the whole National Geographic bra-less look just isn't my comfort zone.  Dan helped with a safety pin I couldn't reach.  He goes, "Won't this itch you?"  Guys just have no idea.  Once you have goo all over your face, have wasted half an hour trying to get your hair to look like something other than brown cotton candy, and stuffed your feet into high-heels, something like a tiny safety pin is not going to get in your way.

Mom and grandma were duly impressed with my wardrobe bravado.

Sometime over the weekend Dan flipped over a board by my shop and found this cool mold.  Yes-- It's mold, and he could have been bummed it was somehow damaging his lumber, but instead he saved it to show to me.  "It would be cool if you could figure out how to replicate that in your artwork huh?"  Cool.

In my big cleaning purge currently underway I uncovered a few old sketchbooks.  (I like keeping them to look through.)  Inside one I found a poem I'd copied down when I was younger.  Come to think of it, they're probably lyrics.  Should be at any rate.

"Some people say you shouldn't tempt fate, and with them I would not disagree.
But I never learned nothing from playing it safe.  I say fate should not tempt me."

It's a little cornbread, but I remember this being my total mantra for years.  It went with that "Two Roads" one by Robert Frost-- my other words to live by.  Words are so important.  Most people don't realize the power they carry.

Recently a friend and I discussed this a little-- how you can frame an experience very differently by either saying, "I'm a victim of ___." or "I'm a survivor of ___."  Actually, by making ___ part of your story at all you are tethering it to you, making it an appendage.

Over and over in my head the last few days I've been saying "I have way too much stuff!" as I sort and purge.  Yesterday in the mail was an assessment from the city for $2500.  This won't sink us or anything, but I'm going back to my old mantra immediately.

"I have more than enough of everything I need."

What words are you putting out there for the universe to reflect back to you?