Who is Sue and what is Suelandia?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sue-ga oo-rah-rah...

Hey people.  Surely you have seen this sign somewhere right?  Sorry to say, yesterday I violated it.

Yesterday was a very good day, very productive, and even fun with a couple different get-togethers with friends, but I was feeling a little fat, mostly because of the dumb *lady problems* I've been having (sorry guys,but it is what it is).  Naturally I decided it was a good idea to wear this cute sweater tunic I have, as a dress, with no pants, and boots.  Luckily I had a cute coat on that came just below my butt because it felt mighty breezy down there at times.  I had on thick tights at least.  By the end of the day I just figured as long as I walked around with completely confidence like, "Yeah, I have no pants on--- so?" no one would bat and eye, and that was pretty much the case.

Hey, Lady Gaga never wears pants and everyone loves her. 

I have been trying to stay aboard the healthy eating/living train this holiday season, despite occasional hormonal attacks where I burst into sobs going, "I feel fat- wah..."-- then ransack the kitchen foraging for chocolate swearing about "How is it possible we have no $@#%* Doves in this house-- WHAT?  You think I'm fat don't you?!  Wah...."

Dan has learned to weather these outbursts with silence and very little eye-contact and no sudden movements.

It has mostly been going really well though-- seriously.  I got this people.  I think of it this way--- I may not be turning into an instant twig, but everything I do to support my health now is another building block in that foundation.  I'll be that much more ahead in a month or three than I would be if I gave in (completely) and surrendered to my cravings and impulses.

Here is one major secret weapon--- spinach/egg/quinoa *muffins*.

They is good.  They is kind.  They is important.  I like them best smooshed inside a toasted whole grain english muffin.

Here's the recipe:  (Merry Christmas)
1- 12oz pkg frozen chopped spinach (cooked)
3/4-C quinoa cooked in 1 can chicken stock (boil for 10 min)
2- C reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese (shredded)
(I actually used a cup and a half and it came out great.  The less cheese you use, the less sinful these are.  Your choice.)
5 eggs
1 bunch chopped green onions
salt/pepper/garlic salt to taste
Fill 12 spot muffin tin (use cooking spray!) and bake at 350 for 15 minutes.

In other Sue-news:
It's that time of year when the cats get extra cuddly.  Ray is always my special buddy, but Mike, the Clint Eastwood of our clan (old, but still a major bad-ass) (AKA- "God's favorite cat" for surviving numerous brushes with death) wants in on the petting etc too.  They have it pretty rough as you can see.

I'm having Christmas brunch at my place this year so have decorated a bit this week.  I over-think the holidays sometimes and get all conflicted about various aspects.  There are things about this time of year that get under my skin.  I used to go really over the top decorating, but it began to feel sort of showy, like I was doing it for the attention or applause or something, and that's not what it should be about.  This year I made it a priority to make all the preparations be about giving to others, making it nice for them.

 That doesn't mean I don't enjoy it too.  It just means being honest with myself about my motives for things, and reminding myself this doesn't have to be about me and all the things that bug me about the holidays.  There are things that are cool about it I can focus on too.  Decorating can just give the room a different feel, like, there is something out of the ordinary going on, something special.

I love these quartz crystals.  This is how they naturally form-- pretty cool huh?  I have spent a lot of time in my life marveling over stuff like this.  For as long as I can remember I've examined things like leaves, fungus, minerals, snowflakes and been amazed at their intricacy and uniqueness, or even their symmetry-- the patterns.  I'm not religious in the traditional sense, but things I observe in nature have always made me certain there is something other people call God at work, and that like me, he/she/it is very into creating things.  I love feeling part of that, of this world/universe.  A moving, interactive, participating, part; that matters. 

My family and many people I know have religious beliefs about Christmas.  I used to resent getting this shoved down my throat at this time of year, but now I don't.  It is what it is.  It's very special to them and I can honor that, even help them celebrate their beliefs.

 I don't share the exact same dogma as them, but why split hairs-- I do believe we're all spiritual beings who've been given physical bodies to fool around in for a while here on Earth, and that when we're done, we're all going to be fine.  I believe in the love, the big love of creation-- that we're eternal.  I guess one difference between my own beliefs and those commonly held is that I believe we're ALL going to be okay, regardless of what we do, think, say, or even believe.  I don't think anyone will be left out of this deal.  I don't believe it's conditional.  I believe it's a closed system.

That, to me, is the biggest love there could be, the absolute most forgiving, and that aligns more with my understanding of who/whatever *God* is.  I'll celebrate that private belief, and let everyone else interpret the universe as they see fit.

The main thing that is important to me, is spending time with people I care about, and trying to make it a joyful day/time of year for them.

Above is the ornament I have to double check every year to see how long Dan and I have been married.  We were living together for 10 years before we got married, and were really good friends for a couple years before we became a couple.  All these holidays all year 'round, most of which I snub, are undeniably mileposts, where I do pause, and consider how lucky I am, in innumerable ways.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

~Oh Holy Crap~ (I mean night)

Or do i?  Hey people.  So...  Remember the little tree houses?  ~Fail~.  I just ran out of time with the design process on these.  This is the last version of the house I came up with, and visually it's pretty cute, but the paper is still too thick to allow the *candle* light to penetrate.

They weren't a total waste, because it is a good design, but there are kinks.  I now know how I'll make the houses next go 'round-- thinner lightly colored paper.  I'll also make some kind of jig for pre-cutting all the tiny ladder pieces with my chop saw.  I really did a number on my hand cutting out all the trees for these too, and then had rusting problems.

I'll probably make these throughout the year, and stock pile them for either my home show next summer, or next holiday season (or both).

I still really like the old maps in the atlas I found, but maybe I'll try to print them on a more transparent paper.

There is an essential problem with this part of my art business--- I don't actually mind designing smaller *products* like this-- little inexpensive sculptures than are meant to be semi-mass-produced, because they are still my original design and done in small enough batches to still be *art*.  The problem is the production.  They are usually pretty labor intensive, and there's no way I can make a first world wage on these even when I sell them myself and get 100%.

Also, as I'm realizing more and more-- everything I make now takes a physical toll on my hands/eyes/etc.  This last batch-- holy cow.  I really thought I had done some permanent damage.  I am modifying how I cut, but that's a learning curve.  A friend suggested practicing using my right hand for when lefty finally bites the dust.  Sounds crazy, but I know stuff like that is excellent for brain development, and we've all heard of people who learn to do things with their feet after horrible accidents etc.  So....

Okay--- these suck but don't judge!  This was just an experiment.  I was standing above our table and decided to very quickly sketch a dog *without a net*-- no over-thinking, no erasing, and came up with the one on the left.  This was with my normal (left) hand.  Then I tried to do the same thing with my right hand and got the image on the right.

Sort of weird they are mirror images right?  Also-- it was really trippy feeling!!!  I know this sounds strange but it was kind of exciting.  I began at the tip of the nose and was just thinking of how a dog (this one in my head anyway) *looked*, and freakishly my hand was recreating it (roughly) down on the paper, almost seemingly without my control.  I know that sounds crazy, but there was some bizarre disconnect between the mechanics of moving my hand, and just focusing on the image in my mind.  By the time I did the tail this began freaking me out and I began thinking more about how odd the pencil felt in my hand etc etc and in the lower body I sort of lost it.

Now, I do know both of these are pretty bad, but they were quickies, and there are bits of *good* in both of them.  It's hard to explain the thrill this sent through me.  Like, there are still things out there to learn about that will amaze me, even about myself.  It was one of those "life is pretty dang cool" moments.

Lastly, on the art front anyway, I naturally came up with a really awesome *product*, a bit too late to take advantage of this year's holiday sales.  It sprung from the tree house idea-- little glowy buildings. 

I really like the idea of these.  They'd look awesome tucked amongst the little groupings of trees everyone is so nuts about.  I also like the idea of a variety of more modern looking structures.  I'll be able to play with this one and have a bunch for next year.

Other life goes on.  My grandma, now 96, has decided to go off the heart medication that her and her doctor felt wasn't doing much good anyway.  She's living on a tiny ledge, inches wide, with her back against a cliff she has no hope of scaling.  Some of us occasionally lower ourselves to her perch by ropes to visit for a while, but, for us, with our harnesses and sturdy lines and equipment, it's different.
It would be a real bitch to wander around your apartment worrying about things like being found on the toilet or in some other undignified position, or if it will hurt.  I asked her how she felt about all this.  She said, "Well, a little afraid."

A little afraid indeed.  She's not brave in the traditional sense of being someone who'd race into a burning building to save people etc, but in a very human accessible way, she is I guess.  In the way that we all face what we get dealt.  It's not like we choose it, but what else is there for us to do but play it all the way out?

Tomorrow I'm spending the day with her after my final art delivery of the season.  She wants to go to the store and out to run Christmas errands, and to have lunch.  She wanted to know how long I'd be able to be with her and I told her as long as she wants tomorrow.  I know she'll get tired before dinner time, and at this point, I'll give her whatever company I can on her little ledge.  

Thursday, December 8, 2011

In your FACE, thumb trigger.

Hey people.  You know I've been having hand problems.  Most of the trouble is with my thumb, right where it attaches to my hand.  As you may know, I'm known for my amazing ~kung-fu-grip~.  My hands are super small, but super strong too.  Seriously, my grip is like a pitbull's bite-- except for now when even grabbing the steering wheel of my car makes it feel like my thumb is going to snap off.

The prime suspects?-- My side-cutters and pliers, which I use constantly to hand-bend stuff and snip stubborn bits of slag off edges with, and my cutting torch.  It has a button on top you have to press down on with your thumb the entire time you're cutting.  Today I tried a modification I came up with-- tah-dah...

They sell ergonomic torches with a button underneath you grab with your fingers, but it's almost $500.  Yes-- my version uses a rubber band.  Yes-- it will probably wear out, but I'd have to go through a hell of a lot of rubber bands to add up to $500.

The problem is, it's hard to let go of the switch now, because it's also how I hold onto the entire torch.  It's basically *firing* the whole time I'm holding onto it now.  That causes incidents like this.  Yikes.

This was frustrating today a bit, but I got a heck of a lot of cutting done, that I physically wouldn't have been able to otherwise.  Really, I just need to relearn how to cut because it's a whole new ball-game with this modified torch.

I usually *pull* my cuts.  With the thing going off the entire time I had to adapt and be more fluid with my movements, both pulling and pushing, similar to doing contour drawings.  Yes it felt awkward, and no I wasn't automatically good at it.  I pride myself on being really good at cutting and I felt like a 2nd grader trying it.  But I kept telling myself it was easier than becoming right-handed.

Really it is mechanics.  That can be learned.  Cutting the "normal" way felt awkward when I was learning that too.  You've got 3 joints to control, shoulder, elbow, and wrist.  These all affect your torch angle various ways.  Once you've finally got that under control, there's your speed, plus, you're moving the entire time, so it isn't static.  You are adjusting the entire time you're cutting.  Even how you breathe affects the cut.

By the end of the day I was getting pretty good, not great yet for sure, but probably still better than some.  I ran into some duty cycle issues.  My machine isn't used to running like this, and would occasionally *spit* and wreck my nice smooth cut.  I'd patch it with a tiny weld.  Luckily I'm making trees, so, they don't have to be super perfect.

I like to think I'm creating a bunch of new neural pathways in my brain by forcing myself to learn a new way.

Also it was ~new welding jacket day~.  I got this at a second had shop for $15!  I felt a little bad about how dirty and ruined it's going to get, but my old one is literally falling apart.  I am actually glad it already has a war wound or two on it.

Now it is officially my ~shop jacket~.

Just looking at my torch I got an idea of how to modify it even more so the lever on the top has a lower profile that may help me have more control.  Experiments continue...

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Existentially yours, -Me

Hey people.  Dan and I enjoyed our one Christmas ritual last night-- watching "It's a wonderful life" on regular broadcast t.v.  I don't know how many times I've seen this movie-- tons, but I always notice something different each time.  This time the passion sort of resonated. 

 There's this one scene where his life as he had planned it is kind of going to crap, he learns he's probably doomed to stay in his little home town and run the building and loan instead of traveling the world and going to college.  He's always been drawn to Mary, even though he doesn't want to be, because he doesn't want to be ~that guy~, he wants to be un-tied-down world traveler guy.  When he finally cracks and caves in to his attraction, he's equal parts frustrated, pissed, and attracted.  It's pretty complex, and very passionate.

Every time he kisses her in the movie, he kisses the crap out of her.  It's pretty awesome.

Had a fail this week.  I've been working on a new design-- little tree houses that light up from inside with flameless candles.  First the steel is being really stubborn about rusting.  This sometimes happens.  Dan tried to help by sanding and applying muratic acid, but all that did was make the steel under the thin layer of surface rust that flakes off when I cut it SUPER silver and shiny.  This continues to be a pain.

Next is the scale of the house-- don't like.  It got a little big.  Also I thought I'd like them covered with pages from an old atlas I found, but-- semi-fail.  

I like the roof with a map on it, but I decided I'd like the walls better in a solid color.  The floor could still look cool with text as a contrast.  The door is totally off scale-- yuck.

My hands have been giving me big problems.  I've been trying to figure out why they are so numb.  I know it is a nerve thing not a circulation issue.  I know my watch was beating my wrist to death when I'd ride this summer but I'd never remember until it was happening, and I wore a ton of bracelets on that arm too and sometimes they'd hike up and get tight.  But last night I was working with some pliers and this little explosion went off in my thumb joint that sent little zingy pulses up my arm and down my fingers---- it's the work.

I know there is a surgery for carpal tunnel, but I don't have pain (so far), and I know nerves, like bones, can repair themselves if they don't become severely damaged.  I guess I'm looking at this like I do a lot of things in my life-- existentially.  It's a redirection.  I've known for a long time I don't work in a sustainable way, and have been making plans to change things up.  This just confirms that I need to do that.

I'm shooting for finishing up commissions and clearing my calendar for Feb & March to rest my hands and finish my graphics classes and get new idea underway.  Stay tuned.

In other SueNews-- If you are a guy do us both a favor and quit reading now.  The rest is ~lady stuff~ you do not want to know about.  Go away anyone who doesn't want to hear about this.  See you next time.  :)

Okay-- If you are still reading, it's about to get pretty real.
Omg you guys!  I have been in total agony!  The following are pics of things that  might possibly be lodged in my uterus, according to how it feels:

Metal death ball...
Leggo baby, (sort of borg-like)...

Glass, metal, fiberglass & stale Dorito superstructure of doom...

I'm told things get pretty interesting when the old baby factory begins to shut down, but holy effing crap!  It is RIDICULOUS around here.  Seriously-- if this was pioneer days I would have for sure been sent into the wilderness to be eaten by bears by now.  Actually, I would have probably flung myself at the bears hoping to be devoured, only to have them flee in terror from the crazy woman making guttural pain noises, gushing buckets of gore from her nether-regions.  I'm semi-functional about half my life at this point.  I seriously get about a week or week and a half of *normal* before the crap begins again and goes for 2 or 3 weeks. 

Yes, I am finally breaking down and going to the doctor, and have always gone for my usual yearly exams and I'm 99% sure this is nothing serious-- but DAMN!  This being a woman shit is seriously not for wimps.  WTH? Uterus???  I am not even using you!!!

Rant over.  For now.  Anyone else similarly afflicted?  Does it ever mellow-out???

Monday, November 28, 2011

It's Mon, where is my mania?

Hey people.  Ray is still completely controlling me with his emanating waves of cuteness.  I had to actually stop typing between the words "still" and "completely" to pet him some more and tell him how adorable he is. 

I switched my computer to the in-screen camera to show you all how irresistible he is all cuddled-up on my lap between me and the keyboard, but was so horrified by my saggy unmade-up face and frightening hair (went to bed with it wet-- the Russian roulette of hairdo's) that I became sidetracked by giving myself pretend face-lifts for several minutes.

I suppose it is best really, from a "being a good for-real person" stand-point, that I totally missed my window of ever being *hot girl*.  It's pretty funny to go along your whole life (not really thinking about it very much) but sort of in the back of your mind thinking ~one day~ you may suddenly peak and look mysteriously amazing and become imbued with that particular confidence the beautiful women possess.  Then one day you realize, "Mmm-- probably not going to happen."

Oh well, it really is best to worry only about what's showing from inside of you anyway right?  Radiance/happiness/coolness trumps high cheekbones & tight skin?  That's what I'm telling myself anyway.  Shhhhh.

Last post I talked about wanting to lose weight.  So naturally I spent all day Sat cooking a turkey dinner for two and making cookies.  Sound plan right?

But these cookies are different.  They have a bunch of healthy stuff in them.  Some naughty (translate delicious) things in them too, but really, if you're going to ~have a moment of weakness~, you might as well have it with these.  I call them "Sierra's".  They're inspired by a recipe I found years ago, but I tweaked and tweaked and now it's really my own healthy version.

The secret ingredient:  Nuked bananas.

You use these in place of butter and shortening.  Nuking them softens them to a very blendable paste, and almost caramelizes them a little, brings out the sugars somehow.

This makes the *dough* very wet, sticky, and batter-like.  You have to drop it by spoonfuls.

But they bake-up really nice, and are super yum.  Oatmeal, cornflakes, bananas. egg whites, whole wheat flour, a blend of amazing spices (another key component), and some sugars and chocolate and butterscotch chips.  What's not to like?

I love experimenting like this.  I've been figuring out there are a number of things I enjoy that are all rooted in the same part of my brain as the art/creative stuff.  It has to do with building-- fitting together invisible things, like snippets of arguments, evidence, ideas, ingredients-- and stacking and re-stacking them until they turn into an actual thing.

Remember the power lines devastation? 

I've been dealing with that again a bit lately, (and a whole host of other trail related stuff).   We're at the point where people are conceding that some things need to be fixed.  (This is slightly different than admitting "Hey-- we really screwed up and are terribly sorry" in that no one really admits anything.)

When I went over to take measurements etc I got pissed-off all over again.  See the huge stump in the pic above right next to the trail?  It's almost 20 feet OUTSIDE the easement.

See the stump in the foreground here?  See the pink flag on the left?  That flag is the easement.  165 trees were taken from outside the easement.  Not all were big, true.  Only 56 of them were of significant size.  56 big trees, right next to a trail intended to wind THROUGH a woods.

So that's the being pissed-off part.  The other part-- the "How do we fix it?" part, taps into that creating part of my brain.  Even the arguing about all this does too really, like moving things around on those huge fancy glass computer screens on CSI-- but the fixing it really does, because it starts with the nothing you see in these pics.

Then you begin thinking about it.  There is a tape playing, one of many, constantly in the back of your brain.  These tapes, unrelated, are all playing.  They are about every problem you have, every project you're working on, what you should make next, how to be able to still eat delicious cookies when you're trying to lose 10 lbs, whether you should put another teal streak in your hair, and Christmas preparations.  It's like having a bunch of lines in the water.

Then you feel a tug on one of them, and grab that pole.  You jerk it up, set the hook, and begin reeling.  As you reel you imagine what is on the other end, and as you do, whatever is on the other end begins to actually morph and change.  You keep reeling, and the thing keeps changing to match your unfolding ideas, and by the time it breaks the surface it has become an actual thing that you thought up.

THAT, is the coolest feeling in the world.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Seeking the level

Hey people.  Our log splitting session last weekend was a success.  The boss (cooltrailbossRich) wasn't around, but the core guys plus 2 showed up and we stacked double the amount we thought we would in record time. 

You either get the appeal of trailwork or you don't.  It's work, but I like it.  Because it's happening at the park it doesn't seem as much like work as doing stuff around your own place for some reason.  And there's the camaraderie.  It's just a good vibe.

In other Suenews, I'm on a mission to lose weight again.  I've reluctantly concluded that much like my energy surges and mood swings, apparently the cycle of getting in shape and to a weight I'm happy about, then getting complacent and letting things slide, and getting all disgusted with myself and feeling like a fat cow again---- is *normal* for me.  So the pattern continues.

 So here's some of the healthy stuff I'm eating.  Healthy can also be yummy.  (The gum is sort of a new habit.  Trying it out.  It seems to do the trick when I want a snack but am not truly hungry.)

Here's what i made for dinner last night-- spicy black bean burgers.  The bun got a little over-toasted, but it was still good.

And thankfully, it's clementine and pomegranate season again, and I really like those, so they are good treats instead of grabbing a cookie or whatever.

A friend was drinking a can of Slimfast recently and asked if I wanted any.  ~Blech~  I said, "I've never liked those," and they said, "I don't like them either!"-- like "who would??"  I guess that's always been my problem as far as eating goes.  I'm a hedonist at heart.  I have to like my food, and even while eating healthy food that is good, in the back of my head I'm still scheming about what delicious horrible things I'll have *once I'm skinny again.*

So, I've figured this out about myself, and will keep the bitching to a minimum.  I have a choice-- break this pattern or just accept it and shut up.  For now I'm walking the line of acceptance, trying to be nice to myself about it all, but get back on the healthy horse.  If it's always going to be a bit cyclical, I guess I'm okay with that, as long as the margins are sort of narrow.

As far as exercise goes, I'm kind of in the same place.  I've always liked it, ever since I discovered how good it makes me feel mentally as well as physically, but I've learned totally killing myself over it doesn't pay off.  I just get burned-out, and it doesn't produce results really.  I'm best off keeping it fun.  Yesterday I hiked with Trusty Pam.  Were my lungs exploding?  No.  But we got out in the beautiful woods and moved and caught up.  It was awesome. 

A little every day, or a couple times a day, is the key for me.  Sometimes I feel like hitting it hard, and then that is fun too.  I just go by how I feel that day.  

Today I'm going to my Mom's for Thanksgiving, and kicking off the holiday season, which isn't always that easy for many of us.  This year I'm going to really make a point of trying to enjoy the good parts of it, and not let the things that bug me about it get too me too much.

I hope all of you have a wonderful relaxing weekend doing whatever it is you choose.  Remember-- lots of the hype and craziness is your option.  :)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

How much wood can a woodsue chuck?

Hey people.  I planned to post a really cool video of my whole process of making the little groupings of trees, but all I have to show for my days of shooting is this one-eyed Lincoln.

This is what happens when you keep $ in your welding shirt pocket.

That video would have been really cool.  I got some great close-ups of some sweet sweet welds too, but you'll have to take my word for it, because my computer ate the entire upload.  It hiccuped and actually froze my whole external hard drive, with ALL my pictures and videos on it.  For some reason I didn't totally freak out.  I didn't really allow myself to *go there*.  I just figured somehow it would be able to be recovered, and lucky for me it was, all except the last upload.

Oh well.  Maybe next time.  Maybe I'll show you my next brainstorm-- little lit-up tree houses.  We'll see...

In other Suenews-- I'm fat again you guys.  I know, I know.  I'm not really.  But everyone knows how it feels when you put on a few unwanted pounds.  No one likes that.  And I have a super small frame, so on me, seriously, 3 to 5 lbs is the difference between, *normal*, and *kind of porky*.  I can't understand how this could have happened!  (~Ahem~ Halloween candy on sale much???)

Oh well.  Life goes on.  Back in the saddle, so to speak.

Really, what I'm most anxious to do, is just get back to a regular schedule of getting out in the woods an MOVING.  I've been working so much, and with it getting colder it had gotten pretty easy to blow off my nightly ride or run and just *keep working*.  Tomorrow I'm going to spend all day at the trail tidying up for winter, and am really looking forward to it.

Sunday I'm actually leading my second ever trailwork session-- restocking our firewood pile.  So far no one has answered the call for volunteers.  Hopefully they're just playing it cool and a few will show up.  If not--- gauntlet =  thrown down!  I will personally stock the biggest frigging woodpile those guys have ever seen just so I can bug them all winter long about being out-worked by a girl.

Prepare for impressive pictures of our team of lumberjacks in front of our massive wood supply-- even if I am the only one in the picture.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Art Life

Hello people.  If you are looking for the artist who makes these trees, you've found her.

If you want to contact me my email is right at the top of the column on the right of this page under "Talk to me".

Right now I'm working on some commissions, and restocking the galleries I work with for the Holiday season.  If there's something you'd like before Christmas, you'll need to get on my list within the next week or two or I won't have any openings left.

The things I have left from the 60 on 50th show will be going to galleries in the next couple of weeks, so if you were on the fence about anything, there is only a short amount of time left to purchase them from me personally, at the reduced prices you saw at that show.

Okay, now that I've gotten professional stuff out of the way, I can talk about how it's been for me being in the past two shows.

I had two pretty close together this fall.  I worked like crazy getting ready for them, and was left feeling like I wish I had produced more for both of them, but also like I had worked as hard and fast as I could.  Being an artist is a really different profession.  I've done other work, and have always been sort of an obsessive person.  When I was in management, I was all about that--- thought about it almost every waking moment, read tons of books about it, made constant notes on where improvements could be made in our system, etc etc.  I've similarly immersed myself in advertising, landscape design, horsemanship, mountain biking... so it's no surprise I'm this way with art too.

I don't like to talk about it very much.  I've never been a super academic person, and theory doesn't interest me much.  I think the image part of my brain works differently than the verbal part maybe.  When I say I'm sort of always working on art, it's because if I'm not actually making something, I'm filling my brain with images.  Any down time I have, while watching t.v. or whatever, I'm always cruising image banks on the Internet, just sucking it all in.  The mix tumbles around without me over-thinking it too much.  That seems important-- letting it roll around unimpeded.

Wow- I said I didn't like to talk about it and I'm going on forever!

I guess I'm trying to get across most of the art thing happens in my own head.  When I'm talking to people or goofing around online, it's not about art, but that part of my brain is always on and filtering and sorting and building faint ideas of ideas, like white noise.

At these shows so many people attended who've bought my art over the years, or who've just always wanted to.  Art isn't affordable for most people.  Wealthy people buy it, and people who really love it and aren't wealthy make a lot of sacrifices to own it.  You can't imagine what that means to me.  The fact that there are people out there who bother to follow my art, who stop by to tell me about a piece they bought perhaps years ago, and where it is now and how it makes them feel to look at it.  It's like they've taken a little of me into their life.

What an amazing compliment and honor.

I don't know how or why I can do what I do exactly.  Mostly what I've learned over the years is to try to stay out of my own way.  I wish everyone out there could have a job where it felt like they were doing something they were built specifically for, and they could receive the kind of accolades I do for their efforts.  All I know is I feel pretty darned lucky.

Monday, October 31, 2011

The walking dead

Hey people.  Yesterday was the big Halloween race at the trail.  I didn't race this year-- just helped-out and rode around for fun.  The day before we took leaf blowers out on the trail and completely cleared it, all except this one patch of crimson leaves that fell from one maple tree.  They were just too pretty to remove.

It was awfully good of that tree to lay a red carpet for Fabulosa.  Even the trees know she deserves special treatment.

I had a lot of fun riding around being obnoxious calling people "commoners" and telling them how my bike was made out of Diamonds etc.  I love Halloween.  I'll be making a video of all the pumpkin smashing mayhem too.  It is always a fun party and this year was no exception.

Dan was a zombie.  Zombies are all the rage now.  What is sort of funny about that to me, is that although none of us look like we're decaying, we all do have an expiration date, and the clock is ticking.  We're all marching closer and closer to our mortality, it's just a matter of if you look at it as being busy dying, or busy living.

About a week ago I noticed my hands are getting numb quite often.  I have problems with them when I work a lot.  They'll cramp up when I ride, for example, and there is a tremor condition that runs in my family so sometimes they shake.  The numb thing is sort of new though.  Of course the idea popped into my head-- "What if I have some horrible disease like ALS?!" and I went through this whole scenario of what I would do if that were the case before actually googling the symptoms and finding them to be nothing like what I am experiencing.  (Whew on that.)

Still it was a good little scare-- a good exercise.  We should all step back and look at how we're really spending our time once in a while.  If you got a devastating diagnosis--- "You have a disease that will begin inexorably wearing away your physical self in a year, and you WILL BE DEAD in 3 to 5 years"-- What would you do?

Here's what I came up with:

I would for sure spend a lot of time with my friends.  This is something I already do, but I'd make more of a point of it, instead of trying to *fit it in* around work etc.  I'd want them to have a good time with me though, not be all bummed I was dying.  At first I thought I'd not tell them, but then there would be this vibe of disingenuousness in the air, and that would taint those relationships.   

Instead I decided I would tell  people, but tell them I was undergoing some very hopefull  experimental treatment (and if there was one out there I would actually try to get in on that of course).  This way people would have some time to process it-- my time might be more limited than theirs, but they could go to the hopeful place that the miracle treatment might work.

I'd want to have adventures, but I enjoy that kind of thing now, so I guess I'd just be more appreciative of them, and purposeful about arranging them.

I'd do a lot of outsidey stuff, like what I enjoy now, but I guess just being more aware of the ticking clock would make me not put off anything I felt like doing.  Permission to skip.

There were a number of things I'd continue doing that sort of surprised me--- for sure artwork, but I'd concentrate  more on making some significant pieces, not bother with anything that didn't really resonate.  Also-- I'd forge ahead with new idea.  That kind of surprised me, but I would finish up my classes and delve into that new art form and still try to get that business up and running.

I'd keep working at the trail.  It might seem dumb to spend what limited time I'd have left blowing leaves off a mountain bike trail and shoveling dirt, especially since nothing we do over there is a permanent fix, but I would.  I enjoy it, and feel helping that park is important to me.

I for some reason thought of getting a dog, because then Dan would have a pal around after I checked-out (which I'd arrange btw-- I wouldn't let things get to the nursing home/ventilator stage), but then I thought better of it.  The best thing I could leave him would be the opportunity for a fresh start.  He wouldn't need any reminders of what we'd had.  It would be part of his DNA.

I'd work on the most frustrating relationship of my life, and try to get that sorted out so that person could get some closure if nothing else.

So now I have some guideposts-- or more accurately have been reminded of them.  I feel lucky to be able to just do something like this as a little refocusing excersize, without having do actually deal with such a horrible disease.

So what about you guys?  What would you change or keep the same?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The importance of being earnest

And Sue.  Gotta be Sue.  Hey people.  First things first-- it's me and Dan's 18th Anniversary of being married today (28 of being together-- We lived together for 10 years first, just to, you know, make sure.)  Here's my gift.  We don't usually *do* gifts, but when I was lusting after a necklace recently he suggested I just go get a bunch of goodies and make an even better one for myself.  I sort of made it my gift to justify the extravagance. 

What we have isn't about special occasions though, or gifts, it's about how when I feel like nothing, he hugs me and tells me to him I am something, and how we laugh together almost every day, and I never feel completely alone.  We know how lucky we are, and that makes us enjoy it all even more.

earnest 1 |ˈərnist|
resulting from or showing sincere and intense conviction

This is what it says in the dictionary.  This week I wrestled with the ~intense~ part a bit.  I've been trying to not talk much about this stuff, but screw it-- it's been a big part of my recent life and I guess sharing some of my inner workings with you guys is part of my ~earnestness~. 

Almost 2 weeks ago me and ~cooltrailbossRich~ had a meeting with a bunch of guys over the recent devastation at the trail.  Bottom line-- the power company contracted a tree company, partially owned (at least partially) by another power company (it seems to me the whole network of various power companies and the tree contractors they all use is kind of incestuously entangled) to ~clear~ brush and trees from their easement which runs through the park where my trail is.  It was over-cut, exceeding the easement in many spots.   That is a fact-- anyone can check and see that this is so.

 *In my opinion*, some of the over-cutting looks as if it was profit motivated.  I drew this conclusion by examining which trees were removed, where they were taken from, and the fact that in places attempts were made to conceal that they had been removed--- trees from quite far in the woods, WAY outside the easement, were removed, and the stumps and traces of activity were then covered with brush.  Call me crazy, but who takes pains to conceal what they have done usually?--- People doing something wrong, right?

All of this-- the damage, and the fact that it just seemed wrong to me--- like someone was trying to get away with something--- pissed me off.  Not just me-- tons of people are upset, but I, being earnest (described by some involved who'd just as soon this all just *go away* as ~eyeroll~ "passionate")
have been a bit like a dog with a bone about this and pushed it pretty far, with the approval and help of cooltrailbossRich of course.

Apparently though, at our meeting, the one where I felt like a dog on a leash because I so wanted to more aggressively question the tree company men, (who I guess I can't PROVE were lying, but did come up with about 3 or 4 implausible conflicting stories before lapsing into total silence) I guess my emotional level was a bit high for the men's comfort.  I was super frustrated, and thought for sure those guys were lying right to our faces, and I guess I displayed that.  That makes men think you are less credible.  Even the men who should have been on our side-- from Parks & Rec.

Here's me after a recent day of trailwork.  This is by far not the worst I've looked after working at the trail.  Me and the others on the crew have done incredible amounts of work for this place.  I've been at sessions where we actually became delirious from our personal tanks running so low, and being so overheated.  We've worked past the point of exhaustion many many times. 
I've never been involved with a group of volunteers before, so maybe this is just normal, but to see so many people pouring their sweat and energy into this place purely because they love it and want to support it has really opened my eyes.  

This ~passionate~ thing really threw me for a loop last week, because I've always known guys don't respond well to high emotion, or volumes of words.  I myself have always been uncomfortable by people, usually women, who display a lot of emotion.  I have looked down my nose at that, and always thought of myself as pretty contained.  It was hard for me to accept how the others perceived me, but fuck it.  Yes-- I was and am really pissed about this on a number of levels.

Awareness is a good thing.  I'll know more about myself now.  I guess as long as my intentions are good, and I'm fighting for what I really believe is right, and am listening to what other people I respect think, I'll have to just accept that emotion is part of the package for me, part of my intensity, which can be used for good.  I'm trying to not judge that as a negative trait, just see it as a fact.

I rode with Dan yesterday.  My rides and this trail always become metaphorical for me.  I did much better than I have in a long time yesterday, making tons of climbs for the first time in months.

My lessons have been not to accept that anything is impossible, but recognize which things are not worth it to me to attempt right now--- a few descents have been taken off my list.  They freak me out too much in their present state, scare me, and that erodes the fun for me. 

One of the things that has proven most useful for me, is learning how to stand still-- balancing on the bike without any forward progress for a few seconds, so I can regroup and power up some nasty climbs without having to bail-out and put a foot down.

Also-- recognizing which scary things it is better for me to force myself to overcome.  Sometimes I DO have to push myself outside my comfort zone, for my own personal growth:

Riding the trail is all about that balance between climbing and descending, strategizing it all-- learning all the different skills, mental and physical.  Challenges, joy, acceptance, fear, failure, determination, and success.  It's all there to learn from and about.

The end of the story hasn't been written yet about the trees and the trail and the over-cutting.  We are waiting for the power company & the city to come up with some kind of restitution agreement which we're told will take about 2 weeks more.  Meanwhile I'm trying to get over my anger at the whole situation-- the damage, the unfairness of being dismissed as ~eyeroll~ "passionate", and the idea that there will always be people around who will try to get away with whatever they can.

If nothing else, a lot of people have been put on notice that this little patch of woods has a lot of eyes on it, and a lot of people who are pretty damned ~earnest~ about protecting it.