Who is Sue and what is Suelandia?

Thursday, July 28, 2011


Hey people.  In the midst of my frantic art show preparations, I took a little trip out west.  Had to-- this was a family reunion planned for nearly two years, to Jackson Hole Wyoming.  This is the airport there-- tiny!  When you get there all you can see are mountains rimming a very large, flat-as-a-pancake prairie. 

It struck me how growing up in this type of terrain must frame how you see the world, your horizon always visible.  It felt like being inside a series of rooms, walled-off by mountains.  I would think your world view would be influenced somehow, by the idea that space/geography is sort of segmented.  Also by the danger factor.  This was the big time wilderness, where people get eaten by bears, and get lost and freeze to death.  It was very beautiful there.

The locals were friendly in a genuine way I've noticed people from the west tend to be.  It's not the same as "MN nice", which is basically a way of using manners to keep people at arm's length.  Here people struck up conversations with you and didn't exhibit that wariness that they'd get sucked into some big conversation.  It was like visiting with strangers was pretty routine, and whatever they were doing could wait a few minutes.  Also, most were very fit looking, and tan.

 One thing I really liked out there was the lack of humidity.  I could literally go to bed with wet hair, wake up and kind of shake my head around, and look basically okay.  That has never in my life been the case!

The reunion was for my dad's side.  It's always a bit weird, because we barely know any of them.  My dad's mom died when he was 8, and when he was about 15 he remarried and started another family.  He was basically in college when his two half-sisters came along, and we were raised very far from any of them, and never saw them growing up.  I like them all, but am not always good in groups, unsure of what to say.

I did get to see Kate and her kids though.  Here's Megan having a love attack on her mom.  Jaden and I continue to have an interesting relationship.  Everyone I think thinks I am very hard on him, but to me he needs it.  I want him to be capable and well liked, not a spoiled arrogant ass, and that takes some laying down of boundaries.  I am tough on him, but he gravitates to me none-the-less, knowing, I think, that I love him.

I tell him real stuff, like, "I know you want to go first, but unless you want everyone to think you're a brat they don't want to be around, you have to learn to be cool about it.  It will show you're learning this to ask, 'Would someone else like to go before me?' when it is your turn."  And, "I know it's hard to be good all the time, but that's what you have to learn to do before you can grow up.  If you can't control how you feel about things, you have to learn to control how you ACT about it at least."  And there's quite a bit of . "Get over it.  Things aren't always going to go your way."

Megan and I see eye to eye on a lot of things.  I tell her things like, "Sometimes men, even Dads, get so caught up in the fun they want to have doing something, they forget about their kids a little, so you have to always watch out for yourself and make sure you are being safe when you're with them." and, "Boys don't think of their games and stories as violent, they just like action-- they don't think about anything getting hurt, mostly."   I love those guys and wish I could see them more often.

When Dan & I were there we went on a "Back country mountain bike tour".  The guide, who was around 50 and looked sort of like beef jerky he was so weather-beaten, lean, and tanned, said most of the locals didn't know about the trail he was taking us to.  It turned-out that was because it was a horse trail worn-in by a local dude ranch.  This meant dusty as hell, with tons of big loose rocks, and no switchbacks-- horses just walk straight up the hills I guess.  Some of the ride was on fire and logging roads too.  It was still fun-- the scenery was gorgeous!!  (But the altitude-- whoa-- what a lung burner!)

Work continues.  I hesitate to show these because they aren't finished, but here are the horses I've been working on.   

I'd call this tableau "I think it just MOVED!" or, "A tiny Polly Pocket shirt-- the HORROR!"

I have 3 in the works.  I'm assuming the blotchy rust spots will fade as layers are added.

Besides that I've been doing trail work like crazy trying to help prepare for a major state-wide race at the trail this weekend.  I'm now on board enough that I feel like I'm letting down my buddies if I don't help all I physically can, in addition to wanting the trail to be successful.  (Successful trail ='s my favorite hang-out being protected from turning into something else, like houses.)

Well, that's the lunch whistle-- back to the welder!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The sweating like a pig days of summer

Hey people.  Do pigs even sweat?  I have no idea but this weather makes me feel like a potbellied, grimy, stained wifebeater wearing, trailer house dwelling southern guy, possibly chomping a cigar.  Not even sure why-- it just makes me feel dirty and gross, and this is the image that comes to mind.  And you have to admit, it kind of goes with the pig metaphor.

Here's what Dan rigged-up for me on our deck.  He says I can just dunk myself in it, or better yet stand in it and hose myself off when I just can't take the heat anymore.  He explained all this with sort of a devilish, pervy look on his face, but look-- he went to the trouble of finding a tarp to cover it with so gross things wouldn't get in the water (besides me), so really despite images flashing through his male brain that reality has no hope of matching, this was really sweet of him.   

I think he got the idea after seeing how disgusting I was when I returned from trailwork last night.  I spent all day at the trail clearing a spectator viewing area.  This involved mostly yanking out stubborn buckthorn & sweating my ass off.  Me and the other guys helping were soaked and dirt-caked by the end of the day.  Two guys did double-takes checking out my coal miner face on the drive home.  I actually had to hose off, fully clothed, before going inside.

It's baby deer time in Suelandia again.  Check this out--- 4 baby spotties!!  Apparently the moms sort of team-up and let all the kids play together.  Cows do this-- actually assign "nursemaid cows" to be baby sitters for the entire herd's calves so the moms can graze and nap.  All herd animals have formed societies as part of their survival strategies, and that involves cooperating etc.  People don't like to think of this because then we eat them.  But it is what it is.  They have families and relationships etc too.  And all babies (esp furry ones to me) are cute right? 

Meanwhile, work-wise, my deadline looms.  I have a big show at Season's in Hudson that opens Sept. 2nd.  I have so much to get done!  But I'm really determined that every piece for this show be one step above past work.  I may not have tons and tons of pieces, but I want them all to represent the best work I can do.

Here's the first thing I finished-- it's a chandelier.  I can imagine the cool shadows all those leaves will throw.  Right now it's hanging outside so it can rust more, and the breeze can fool with the fish line a bit so I can make sure it's sturdy enough.  Makes a heck of a pretty wind chime too.

Then a few days ago I started another little horse sculpture.  I had a new idea this time around for how to cover the framework.  But here's the frame. (Sorry it's a little blurry.)

I'm using paper-- tiny torn pieces, set in place with liquid starch, that I'll lacquer once enough layers have been built up.  I may or may not cover that with a network of threads when I'm finished.  The position/attitude I wanted to capture is of a young horse that has spotted something on the ground it isn't sure of.  He's sort of in pre-spooked mode-- fully alert, and at that split second when they decide whether to shy away or not-- front legs braced, haunches dropped a bit, back legs ready to spring backwards/to the side (more accurately-- preparing to un-weight his front end to dance away).  He's not sure yet, if this is a threat or not.  Intensely curious. 

So far I really like this process-- the way the frame still shows through of the metalwork, the coverage, the texture, and especially the way I'm able to finesse the details like the nostrils and the area around the eyes. 

For the final layer I may use another kind of handmade, possibly japanese paper instead of the inexpensive stuff I've been using, but I do really like how it reacts to the starch so far.  We'll see in a couple days.

I think I'll make a couple more horses, maybe two more like this (different poses) and a slightly larger one in blue, dappled like the one from the last show.  For some reason I'm picturing it dozing on it's feet.  I have so many ideas for this show and it will be a race with the clock to get them all completed, as usual!

This is going to be a tough week.  I'm going to just keep working, moving forward, and maybe dunking in and out of our fancy new pool.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

There is no good reason for snakes to exist

And that is all.  Hey people.  I hesitate to call my aversion to snakes a phobia, because it makes perfect sense to me--- I mean, c'mon people!-- They're DISGUSTING!  But I guess technically, when I think of all the things I'd rather face than a room full of snakes, even *harmless* ones, there is basically nothing I can eliminate.  A crazed gunman?  Check.  (He's crazy-- how good could his aim really be?)  Fire?-- No problem.  (I'd run super fast and put my jacket over my head.)

Yeah, okay.  I guess when I'd rather face actual danger than non-poisonous snakes, okay, maybe it's a little irrational.  (But ~gah!~  they're so. gross.)

Why the sudden obsession?  Well, there's been a little incident.  You know the trail I run and ride at?  The one that is a beautiful wooded wonderland and 100% snake-free just like Maui?--- Last week when I was running I encountered something very like this---

That's right people--- it's a baby, freaking, snake.  I forced myself to pick it up with a stick and fling it into the woods, so I'd know ~where it was.~  (They pretty much stay where you put them right?)

Sure this one was just a tiny baby.  But babies mean just one thing when it comes to snakes people--- somewhere nearby, about a million effing snakes were totally getting it on in my woods!  No.  Way.  That's just not right.  They actually pile all over each other and writhe around having giant disgusting squiggley orgies called ~mating balls~.  (This is just one fact I learned from all my research this week.  When there is a threat-- collect as much info as possible-- keep track of the threat-- eliminate the threat.) 

Where is a fricking asteroid when you need one??!

Sure, those are garter snakes, and most people apparently aren't very freaked out by those (seriously?  -- What is wrong with people?  Gah!)  Look at the one below--- God, just seeing how whippy and...  words just flipped through my mind-- demented, fast, psychotic...  I know, you probably think a couple of these words don't apply to garter snakes.

Seriously, if one ever managed to slither up my leg you may as well write my obit.  The story would end, "And then Sue just went completely insane and had to spend the rest of her life institutionalized, being fed through a tube, not unlike the very snakes which drove her MAD."

Here's the thing though-- that baby one I saw?  Not a garter.  It was brown.  It was one of these guys.  A bull snake. 

I saw one of these about 6 feet long and 4 inches thick once-- while running with Trusty Pam (miles away, in the town I used to live in-- where they allow snakes).  Pam of course was non-plussed and said, "Oh big deal, just jog past it."  Seriously?--- she practically had to give me a piggy back ride back to the car.

THEN (as if this sighting wasn't alarming enough!)  During trail work last weekend, someone unearthed a pile of eggs in the dirt pile we were digging in.  The guy thought they were turtle eggs at first, so nicely and carefully moved them aside, sort of making a relocation nest for them.  But then we got to talking.  Turtles, live by water.  These eggs were sort of rubbery.  What else lays eggs in the dirt?


I went into full-blown freaking out mode.  I was trying to play it cool (Yes, those of you who were there.  That was me trying to play it cool.)  I was like, "They have to be destroyed.  Right now."  Everyone just looked at me, like, "Yeah right."  They were all hot and tired from working.  But this was a ~crisis!~

They all just ignored me, eating watermelon and drinking beers and talking about this and that while I sat there and began obsessing about the snake eggs.  They were over there--- right then--- developing.  I kept bringing it up.  I couldn't seem to say one sentence without the eff-bomb in it.  In the end they all ignored me and I left, trying to figure out how I was going to eliminate this threat.  Because there was NO QUESTION.  It was going to be eliminated.

All week I stewed about it.  I researched snakes and snake eggs online.  I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about them.  Dan found me staring into space more than once with a horrified expression.  "You're thinking about them again aren't you?"  "Yes!"  ~googly eyes of fright~

I brought them up to Pam enough times that she offered to go over and smash them all for me.  Have I mentioned Pam is also super strong and I'm sure would carry me to safety if I ever needed her to?

I even asked Cool Trail Boss Rich's wife, Mrs. Zilla to intervene on my behalf and bug the crap out of her husband to get rid of these stupid eggs for me.  As the week went on and my obsession grew,  I found myself even getting mad my trail work pals hadn't just gone over there and stomped them all into oblivion when we were all there. It was like yelling, "Help-- I'm on fire!" and having everyone just glance over and resume drinking (to me).

After a whole week of spazzing-out about them, the boss was finally pestered enough that he got rid of them.  Sort of.  When I asked to see-- expecting to be shown a pile of smashed eggs, I was instead shown the empty nest.  He'd tossed the eggs into the woods.  (Shades of Snow White and the woodsman no?) 

This was of course not good enough.  So now, there are eggs all over the woods, instead of in a neat pile?  Smashed?  ~destruction fail~  To appease me he went and collected the few he could find, claiming they were all accounted for, and proceeded to nail them to the tops of the fence posts, as a warning to any future, wandering snakes. 

One actually spewed snake egg juice on him.  ~Gag~

I guess this is all that can be done about this situation for now.  Those of you who want to pipe-up and tell me how beneficial snakes are etc etc, save it.  I don't care that they eat mice etc etc.  They are GROSS.  And possibly cause insanity.

So what are you guys afraid of for very good, perfectly sound and understandable reasons?

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Bum-cha-boom, bum-cha-boom

"In the summah time when the weather is hot..."  Hey people.

First things first-- Here's a bruise update.  Once again, the discolored area (now sort of greenish black) is not self-tanner gone awry, it is a bruise covering my entire ankle and foot.  (If something is going to hurt and be inconvenient, the least it can do is look really gross, and I like to get *credit* for this for some pathological reason.)  Still haven't ridden, but can now run.  Tah-dahhhh.

Now, on to all the fun I've been having.  This weekend is sort of my ~last blast~ of free time before I go into show-prep overdrive, so I decided it should begin on Thurs.  What?  It's close to the actual weekend.  Kind of.

I started it off by meeting my pal Lynn and having lunch and ice cream, or as we call it now, thanks to one of my famous typo's-- ice ream.  Fun, and yummy.  She brought with this gorgeous necklace she made lately.  It was fun catching up.

Trusty Pam decided to play hooky and take off a few hours early (~approve!~) so we could hit the river for the first time this summer and go kayaking.  As horrifying as this surely is to young people everywhere, and probably some my age too-- I wear a bikini for such outings, because-- I can, and... screw it!  Look away if you're grossed-out America, but really: Attention chicks of all ages--- no one likes how they look in a swim suit, so just rock what you feel okay in and ~who cares~ what everyone else thinks!

Man did it feel great to get on the water again.  Me and Trusty Pam have had so many fun adventures.  We both agree we can feel the tension drain out of us once we get on the river though.  This activity is different.  We can go at it hard, or take it easy, but it's still sort of calming no matter how much effort we put in.

The water is unusually high now, so all the little side waterways we call ~secret passageways~ are open now.  When water levels get lower (usually by now) you can't get through a lot of these.  This one is a favorite.  It's like going through a tunnel of trees.

There was one we tried that was blocked so we had to paddle back upstream to get out, but it wasn't flowing super strong.  This is where what Pam calls *the spider incident* took place.  Right as I was going under a branch, I saw it was covered with pretty big spiders.  I had no time to adjust, so within seconds had spiders scampering all over me as I screamed and swore like a sailor and shot to the foot well of my kayak and formed a ball.  (This, really, should be avoided if possible.)  Don't ask me how I hung on to my paddle.

Pam came over, knocked me into another web covered branch (more swearing), and grimly flicked the one remaining spider she could locate, into the river.  She surmised the others has probably fled in terror and flung themselves overboard.

For those of you who are ooged out by crawly things-- you know how when they are nearby part of your fear is "omg, what if they scurry up my arm or leg"?  There wasn't even time for that-- they were running all over me.  After I kept saying, "But Pam-- they were RIGHT ON ME."  She was like, "Yes, I know."  ~pat pat~  ICK!!!

We felt so lucky to get to be outside having fun on such a gorgeous day.  It was 100 degrees out, but it felt a lot cooler on the water.  We had a great time.  The best things in life, aren't things people. 

The next day was super hot too, and I got to have lunch and spend a couple hours with my friend Kathleen.  Her husband commissioned me to make her this ~tree of life~ for Christmas, but they were going into a serious remodel (think gutting their entire house down to the frame and redesigning it) so they preferred to wait a bit, and that fit better with my schedule too, so I just finally got it to her.  It came out awesome, and I'm so happy they both love it.

The next day (Sat now, the actual weekend) me, Pam, her daughter Brenda, & Dan all hit the river for a mega paddle from west of Monticello all the way to Elk River.

For this paddle I glammed it up a bit more-- another bikini, and fashionista accessories.  I have a theory that it's a good idea to attempt to stay somewhat hot (you know, try at least) for Dan.  Since he was along too this was borderline date territory.  I think no matter what they say, guys probably like it a tiny bit when ~their woman~ still looks like she's at least trying.  My grandma is 95 and still colors her hair and tries different mascara etc, so I'm going to be one of those who never really throws in the towel.

We all had fun-- floating along eating apple wedges, playing half-hearted, lazy versions of *bumper kayaks*, trying to take group pics, and paddling paddling paddling.  Near the end our backs were dying so we pulled up on an island to stretch our legs.

I found a cool piece of driftwood.  (No, i didn't give birth to it as this photo suggests.)  This was a feat and adventure in and of itself.  It was lodged in some branches of a fallen tree and looked pretty light, but it wasn't, and the current smashed me right into the tree as I was trying to maneuver into position.  Once I got it free, it was really heavy, and on top of one arm, both legs, and my paddle, and I had one hand to keep trying to push off from the tree, and reposition the log and get my paddle out.

As I was struggling to do all this without tipping over, I saw this piece of wood was actually covered with spiders too!!!  But I had to just suck it up and not panic.  Funny how at certain times you simply can't afford to be a big prissy baby.  I got the wood, didn't capsize, or lose my mind, or get actually covered in spiders.  ~Whew!~  The things I do for art.

Speaking of art-- my camera takes underwater pics, so this is me taking one from under water, through the surface, up at me.  It kind of looks weirdly like I'm in Hawaii in the 70's doesn't it?  Anyway, kind of cool.

After our paddle we all went to McD's for cones.  Happy to report there were no incidents of ~cone rage~.   (Do not get between me and my treats people.)

All in all it's been a fantastic 3 days!

Today (Sun) I basically vegged (aside from a run), and tomorrow I hope to at least go townie biking.  Summer is sa-wEEt!