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???