Who is Sue and what is Suelandia?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

I invented crack you guys (relax, they're cookies). :)

Hey people. I've spent some time lately going through old pictures trying to organize a portfolio submission.  It's been kind of fun reminiscing, and kind of weird when I run into pictures of me from about 15 years ago when I was really overweight and struggling quite a bit to figure my life out.  I don't even look like the same person, and in many ways I'm not.

I smiled finding this pic again though, one of my favs because Katie looks so happy.  There was one that really made me laugh, of us in bikinis where I am pretending to be a robot attacking her, but there was no way I was going to post that one.  You're welcome, America.

Trusty Pam and I got out the snowshoes this week-- overkill for sure.  There was probably a whole 2" of snow, but it was fun marking the trail with our tracks and just being out in the snowy woods.  One of the things that changed my life for the better more than anything else, was learning how important it is for me to MOVE almost every day, and be outside a little every day.  Pals, of course, make everything better and more fun too.

So you are probably wondering about the crack.  Yep, people may have thought they were onto something before as far as addictive substances go, but seriously--- these cookies...  I dare you to resist them.

Crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside.  Chocolaty, with hints of cinnamon, and a little bite of cayenne too.  The ones above have walnuts, they came out thicker and chewier.  The flat ones below have cinnamon chips.  Both were way way too good.  And they're gluten free.

 They are mostly egg whites, with some cocoa powder, and lots of powdered sugar, and few other other things.  No butter/oil, and no flour.  The key is beating the living HECK out of the batter.  If anyone wants I'll put the recipe in the comments.

This is something I invented a few years ago.  I used to call it pesto, but it isn't really.  I like it better, so am now calling it *besto*.  It's basil, olive oil, salt, lots of garlic, lemon juice, and Parmesan.  Whip it all together in the food processor.
It is super good spread on crusty grainy bread.

I'm working on things in my shop these days, just whatever right now-- side projects, and whatever I feel like making.  I opted out of the spring 50 on 50th show, so have nothing for sure scheduled until Nov.  I'm going to try to make more big things, and just be always making something.  I'm trying to be more consistent about delivering work to the galleries I work with; get into more of a *regular* pace of working rather than going into overdrive for a show and trashing what's left of my hands.

This pic is small and low-rez, but is a horse I have in mind after watching a dressage performance.  The horse was sort of dancing, doing a kind of bouncy trot with very little forward motion.  He was kind of hopping foot to foot, diagonal feet in perfect sync.  I'd like to capture that motion, but of a young, not perfectly polished horse, maybe one doing it, but fooling around just a little bit too.  We'll see.

I love that I can wake up in the morning, a little before I have to get up, and not be able to get back to sleep because some art idea has taken over my brain.  I've been thinking a lot about what I love about my life this week.  I feel pretty dang lucky in many many ways.  I've been fooling around with a bunch of old water heaters I have that have blue enamel baked onto one side of the steel too.  I'm getting some cool ideas of how to use them.  They've been sitting behind my shop for 3 years, and I finally am getting ideas for them.  Could turn out really really cool.  :)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Y'know what's good?

Fake mashed potatoes; that's what.  Hey people.  This one's going to be one of those *all over the place* posts, so hang on.  First up "Fake Mashed Potatoes."  These are so super good you may never see the need to make regular ones ever again.  So good you wouldn't even consider ruining them with gravy.  And they're made of beans, people.

These beans are packed with protein and fiber, and have no fat, so they're good for you too.  Just rinse them off, (they come packed in some weird liquid in the can that I'm suspicious of and kind of grossed-out by) dump them a food processor with a bunch of garlic (if you like a bunch-- it's *to taste*), a bit of olive oil, (maybe a tablespoon or so, I just pour a bit in), salt & pepper to taste.  Blend it to a mashed-potato-y consistency.

Spread that into a shallow baking dish (or two-- whatever), and top with a bit of cheese.  I like Parmesan.  Because the beans are so darn healthy, you can afford a little cheese here.

Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes (you're really just heating them up real good, they come cooked in the can), then turn the oven to broil for 5 to 10 minutes to melt the cheese.  This part is kind of personal taste, and depends on what kind of cheese you use etc, so just keep an eye on it.  When it looks good to you, it's done!


As you can see Ray is still being all cuddly and adorable.  I swear these cats, especially him, were sent to pull the love through me like a straw.  I know it's good for me on some deep level, physically and otherwise.  I love Ray so much, I sometimes worry about outliving him.  That's always part of the deal with pets.  But I just trust there will be another special pet when the time comes, and don't let it stop my intense feelings for him.

It's weird, consciously making that choice-- to love something *anyway.*  I guess that's what we do with our families, especially older people.  It's very typical of people to classify my love of my pets as misplaced maternal instincts because I never had kids.  Who knows.

I have never regretted or second-guessed that choice.  It has been a certainty I've known inside since being a kid myself, so have no idea about maternal instincts, only that they must be some overwhelming drive in most people to make it such a big deal to so many.

My ~metal death-ball/ leggo-baby situation~ has turned out to be kind of for real.  Apparently I have a few squatters that have taken up residence in what I'm sure to them looked like a perfectly decent place no one was even using.  I was calling them the world's ugliest puppies for a couple days before I began to gross- out even myself.  They are benign growths that are very common, especially in women about my age.  Mine have gotten big enough to be a major pain in the ass, make that in the gut, and need to go.  This means some superfluous (in my case) lady-parts also need to go.

This doesn't bother me in the least, but is one of those weird mileposts of *never* you find yourself passing as you age.  I was a bit bummed when I turned 35 to hear the FBI would no longer consider me too.  This wasn't something I actually wanted to do, but still, I have one of those personalities that doesn't like to be told "no", or what to do at all for that matter.

But this is all good.  I won't be knocked out of commission for days at a time anymore, and the recovery time will be perfect for finally doing those online classes I signed-up for.

Been doing a little time-travelling this week.  I'm preparing a bunch of material to apply for a publicly funded commission.  I normally don't have to pursue jobs, they come to me, but it's kind of a fun process.

Here's a shot of another commission I did about 6 years ago for Hennepin County Medical Center.  I had to learn how to do stained glass to do it, but it came out awesome.  That's my dad walking through the shot in the background.

It's been fun to look through shots of old work.  I forget to take pictures of a lot of things I make.  This is making me realize I should really pay more attention to that.  I get so caught up in the process of art just pouring straight from me out into the world, I just take it for granted there will always be more and more and more, like, "Why bother keeping a record of it?"

But it is cool to look back now, and even with a spotty habit of taking pix, to see the body of work I've built up over that last 15 or so years.

Some doors have closed to me as I've aged.  Some I've closed myself.  There are things I used to hold out as life goals I've let go of, or postponed.  Whether it's a sell-out or not it doesn't feel terrible.  I'm complacent about those.  I'm not a published author (yet).  I have never learned to ride big scary stuff mountain biking, like rock gardens, and big jumps etc.  I maybe still could, but have chosen self-preservation over the ego boost of being the rad-est old lady at the trail.  For now anyway.

The art though, whatever form it takes in the future, feels like the gift that keeps on giving.  I get to always feel, at this stage of my life, for now, that my best work could still be ahead of me.  I'm still excited about new projects, and about learning new things, new ways to express it.

Plus, now at this age, my confidence has become validated, bacause of experience.

I took a little field trip to the Walker this week to check out a graphics show.  The Walker is our city's modern art museum.  There are some cool things there, but a lot of what I consider total erudite, over-intellectualized bullshit.  There are tons of people (mostly with degrees) who will argue that opinion, but I've always felt your art should speak for itself, and doesn't have to have any big meaning or point to make to be relevant.

When I visited this place early in my career, I felt the same way, but also felt like an outsider who would never be considered a "real artist" probably, because of this.  But now all these years later, what do you know.  People, lucky for me, pay me for my art.  Guess it turned out okay after all.  :)

Most things do huh?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Back to, erm... well...

Hey people.  Life is getting back to the normal I know anyway, and it feels great.  Yesterday I got back into the woods.  It's been unseasonably warm here, and without much snow at all, but the trail has managed to keep a thin layer packed on on shady slopes.

It felt wonderful to roam the woods again, but man am I out of shape now!  Okay-- scratch that.  I've been talking with some friends lately about the power our words and thinking have; those messages we send to ourselves and the universe.  Change that to-- "I'm getting stronger every day."

I went for a ride too, the first in a loonnnggg time, with Trusty Pam.  This is how bad my eyes have gotten:  I took this pic and said, "Well, I can't even tell if it's blurry or not, so hopefully it's okay."

But then Pam goes, "Let me see it.  Yep.  It's fine."  LOL!  At Target yesterday I was buying some new hair magic potion and wanted to make sure it didn't have sulphates in it, and had to go to the reader glasses section and borrow a pair to read the ingredients.  Time to break down and go to the eye doctor I guess.  Damned aging. 

The ride was fun, but now that Pam is a roadie, or *cyclist* as she insists on calling it (jk), she kicked my butt!  She even bought a trainer now, so she can ride for two hours inside her house, going nowhere very fast.  They are a breed apart.  ;)

Got back in the shop after New Years too.  I love my little shop.

I needed a fun project to get me back in the welding saddle, so began with this trophy for the mountain bike races.  Pretty sweet huh?

What you don't know is the first time I made it, I made the #1 backwards.  Yep.  Still a numbers whiz.  The final came out cool though.  After that I decided I really needed to clean the place up to give myself some elbow room to get any more good work done.  This meant delving into my scrap pile and culling.  It is just me, or does this look like it would make a cool hanging thing?

Ah.  And this-- my ultimate revenge for the backwards #1 (it has now become number's fault this happened) -- would be making something cool out of the guts of this old adding machine.

This is just a pile, but of scrap from the same project.  I love the colors, and it what?  says?  feels?  There is something chaotic I can't name about it that relates to birds, like when they all take off in a flurry of confusion.

And look at these ancient goodies.  Primo, pitted, nice thick rusty pieces.  These can become something cool for sure.

This scrap is left over from that big sun face I made a few years ago.  I still like the outlines of rays.  The pile is abstractly sunny, and has potential.

More thick pitted rusty scrap, and cool colorful swatches.  It was so fun to look through this stuff.  It pulsates with energy of things waiting to become something else, kind of like me!  I've been very excited lately, about creating in general. 

This one has been on the back burner for over a year now.  Any time I have the opportunity to make something out of thin air, it's the most exciting feeling in the world for me.  This has numerous applications.  The other night Dan brought up a business idea.  I am always encouraging him to think this way-- about what he would do if nothing stood in his way.

He came back from one of his river excursions (He likes to stroll around down there and have a beer or two and listen to this one radio show on Sat nights that features a lot of old music- "American Roots".  Great show on NPR.) with an idea of having a nightclub on some kind of boat on a river featuring that kind of music.

(Here's a pile of what's left from the Tina build.)

I could hardly sleep that night.  My brain began churning the moment he brought it up.  There was a race I helped with the next day at the trail too, but the whole time in the background my brain was chewing away on this-- where to begin the research, who to interview, what regulations to look into, places to visit, a flashcard deck of images flipping non-stop the whole time too.  My brain can whir along on a lot of levels simultaneously when I am *on* an idea.  Ideas pour in too fast to fully process, but I try to sort them into piles I can make sense of later.

(Here's what's left of 007's chrome bumper.  I really love how it looks and would love to pick up another actual chrome metal bumper some day.  I'm kind of hoarding this until a worthy idea crops up.)
 In just 24 hours the idea had gone from what Dan mentioned, to more of a food truck idea based out of a refitted airstream trailer.  I'd look into how places like Se Salt are permitted to operate inside a park, then scout locations that were by water, preferably a river, wooded, with high traffic, and lots of bike traffic.  Maybe on a trail system.  The bar idea morphed into a lean one, two, or three item menu, with just beer, water, and soda for beverages.  Svelt, super simple menu.  It would be all about location and atmosphere, and being the only option, or the best option, in that location.  It would be about being in a place people already frequented, and creating an atmosphere that made them want to take a break and hang out a while and spend a little $ on some refreshments/food.

(I found some of the templates from my tee shirt bleaching idea too.  This little tree is one of the best I've ever cut.)

And then Dan pulled the plug-- which was fine by me.  This type of business would be extremely risky, but I wasn't *there* yet, to that part, I was still in germination mode.  He decided that was just a burst of enthusiasm for that kind of music, and that show, and for his personal experiences of hanging out by our cool river.  It was a good experience though, for him to just think that way-- of the possible, and for me, because all that is good for me-- that brain-churning, creative process stuff.  It keeps me creatively limber.

(I still really love this little jackalope, and this bike.  I've been really excited about getting back into the illustration vibe again too-- looking forward to it.  I still have one commission to finish before I can really concentrate on that.)
I'm excited about planning a new art business to add to my activities, alongside my metal art biz.  With the metal (i know, I know, I've said this before, but this time I REALLY will!) I'm going to work more regularly at it, but fewer hours per day to save what's left of my hands.  I'm kind of excited about this as I clean up my shop, because I'm getting all sorts of ideas, and I also really like the idea of having another large project like Tina that is ongoing for a while, in between other smaller works.

It all feels really good right now.  Everything.  How about you guys?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Holidaze part deux-- the bonus post

Hey people.  I have this thing about going on trips with my family, or anyone really.  It's definitely me, not them.  I can't stand feeling confined, and get very edgy when cooped-up for long periods of time, and very very edgy when I can't escape and get some alone time or at least MOVE, like, outside.

So when sis suggested a family road trip up north I immediately thought back to the trip I took with them several years ago--- all of us stuffed into dad's suburban, me sharing a bedroom with her and the two kiddos, and how I was about ready to stab myself in the head by the time we got back.  Was she kidding?

No.  No she was not.  But this time it would be different!  The kids are a little older now, and Dan was going too, and we'd definitely take our OWN car, and may not stay the entire time.

Upon hearing this sis said, "Great!  Her and the kids would ride up with us!  Mom said, "If you leave early, can I get a ride home with you?"  So began family road trip ~new years oh-twelve~.

Sis lined-up the most amazing place for us to stay.  It was seriously, mind-blowingly awesome.  (She traded her time share condo on S. Padre for it.)  6 bedrooms, 3 baths, this HUGE living room/dining room combo called "the great hall", two screened in porches, on a 30' cliff overlooking lake superior with stairs going down to the shore, with a huge stone fireplace.  It was built in 1938 by this (apparently) rich woman for her and her fiance, who then jilted her.  She lived there alone for the next 15 years, until she died.  Wow huh?  (Here's Dan checking out the view in the great hall.)

The walls were hand plastered, and painted pale blue, then the high ridges were sanded off.  It was craftsman style, and decorated to that style/period with tons of antiques and collectibles.

There were some contemporary art pieces mixed in too.  There were interesting things to look at in every room.

I suppose this is as good a time as any to add that I was feeling the most miserable that I ever have in front of other humans on this trip. Remember the metal death ball?  The leggo baby?  Worse.  Than. Evaaarrrrr.  I seriously thought it was possible I was actually dying or something.  I'd be like, "Might as well eat this piece of fudge since I'll probably be dead by morning."

I was on so many drugs I lost track and didn't even care if I was O.D.-ing anymore.  There were weird pulsating throbbings in unlikely places, and I got a giant headache and other disgusting symptoms I, (count your lucky stars) will not go into detail about.  Also-- forget sleeping.  There was no sleeping.

So you can imagine what a treat I was to be around.  I'm a bit like a wild animal.  Much to my mom's dismay, I abhor cuddling (unless you are Dan)  (extremely perplexing I know) even when I'm well.  When I feel bad, you risk losing a hand or at least some fingers if you try to nursemaid me in any way.  My deepest desire is to become invisible, or astral project myself to another dimension.

So yeah, good times.  But the place was cool.

I only felt uber uber horrible for the first day and a half or so.  After that I only felt regular horrible, so we went out and about to have some fun in between me making groaning noises.  One time when I was with Dan, Kate, my dad, and Jaden, we turned off this back road we were on onto this sort of *non-road*.  It was some kind of construction or logging road, and it was snowing like crazy.  I thought, "This is how those *what were they thinking?* Dateline survivor stories start out, but it was too fun not to do it.  We were looking for a hiking trail.  Here's where Katie's new smart phone said we were:

 Helpful huh?  We eventually found the superior hiking trail and got on that for a bit.  It was beautiful; frozen and snowy.  I was a little worried Dad would wipe-out on the ice, but everyone did fine.

The next day the entire family hiked the Caribou River trail with us.  It was climbing climbing for the first part.  Pretty, and not super steep, but a lot of climbing for people who aren't used to hiking.

This is the same trail Dan and I hiked in the fall, where we went off trail and had to climb up a giant cliff to get back to the trail when it was that or actually get IN the river.  The trail leads to a super giant staircase going down down down the entire elevation you just climbed, to the base of a huge waterfall, that is now frozen.

So cool!  So worth it!  We knew from being there in the fall the large pool at the base of the falls is only about a foot deep, and has to travel through a very shallow section of river before it becomes bigger again, so we knew it was safe to walk around on.

We even found a hole in the frozen waterfall where you could check out the rushing water underneath.

This is the most gorgeous setting, and both times we've been there we've had the whole enchanted place to ourselves.  I think the hike and stairs scare people off, and the river you see along the way looks pretty mellow, like there won't be anything very impressive to check out.   Very deceptive.

Everyone was sliding around on the ice pretending to ice skate.

Katie used to take figure skating lessons and got pretty good when she was a kid.  She still has a little game.

This shot is a little blurry, and has dorky me in the foreground, but if you look close you can see my sister making a face I only see on her when she get's back up here to the homeland.  Her "MN smile."

We did manage to have some fun sister time despite the holiday hassle, (occasionally) whining kids, & my affliction.

If you like the north shore, I'd say it's still way worth the trip to go up in winter even if you don't ski (IF you like outdoors activities).  Everywhere that is cool in summer is also awesome to check out in winter.  It's just different-- frozen, which can be even cooler because you can sometimes hike ON the rivers if you know where you are and don't fall through and die.    

It's stunning, actually, and there are no bugs and no crowds.

That's about it.  It's now oh-twelve, and I've got nearly a year before I have to think about the holidays again.  Also I'm now fat, like, seriously, muffin top.  Those who know me may be in disbelief, but it is sad but true.  The lesson here?-- I guess when you feel so terrible you eat a bunch of delicious fudge and caramel rolls because you're probably dying anyway, and then you don't-- when you are no longer in misery, you're fat.  Yay.  Oh well.  Back at it with everyone else in the world it seems.

Monday, January 2, 2012

I survived *The Holidays* '11

Hey people.   Behold, the fruits of my labor.  Literally.  This was the main ingredient in the ~broiled grapefruit~ I made for Christmas brunch.  It was insanely good.

Insanely because no one in their right mind would spend over an hour meticulously peeling this amount of grapefruit, ridding it of every molecule of fibrous membrane.  Perhaps if you were a Kardashian you'd be rich enough to pay someone to do this, or sadly there are probably places in the world where slaves could be forced to perform this task, but it is so tedious there would be a high risk of saliva winding up in your food.  But it was good, and the entire time I was preparing it I just thought about how much the people I was making it for would probably enjoy it.

Another sort of fancy thing I made was ~clementine granita~, which is basically shaved ice, made from clementine juice.  It was super nom.  Took a while to juice a whole crate of clementines by hand, but it was really good.

I made deviled eggs, which I thought was sort of funny considering the holiday-- but sinful or not everyone loves them.  I tried to fancy them up a bit too by crackling the shells and soaking the eggs in food coloring for a while before peeling.  Kind of a cool effect.

Basically I tried pretty hard this year folks.  I swore I would avoid the negativity that usually permeates this time of year for me, and try to keep a good attitude and make things nice for everyone else who is actually into it.  I decorated the place up-- even my self up.

Dan put some cool trees he made out of upside-down tomato cages outside and they looked awesome.

We cleaned our butts off and I got out a bunch (although not all believe it or not) (I could decorate a Macy's if I ever wanted to) of our Christmas decorations.

I planned ahead and got all my shopping done on time, and cooked a bunch of stuff the day before.

By the time the actual two-day event rolled around I was pretty wiped-out, but still keeping my good attitude.  I only had about another week to get through until normal life could resume.  I could do this!  And everything looked really nice (if you are into this kind of thing)!

I took all thes pics right before my family showed up because seriously-- our house never looks like this.  Yes people who know me in RL-- this is what my cocktail and dining table look like when not entirely covered with papers, and computers, and art stuff, and jewelry making supplies, random shipping boxes, and cat beds, etc etc.

Then Dan, who-- to be fair had been also working his butt off preparing for the holidays, and is only slightly more into it than me-- goes, "Yep, take all your little pictures because that's what we're all about; putting on a show."

That one sort of hit me in the gut.  I was trying like mad to make everything nice for my guests, but I guess it was all a little fake.  I never know where that line is and I get really conflicted and down on myself about it.  Like (admittedly this will sound a bit nuts to many of you)-- I know for a fact that if I smile real big and act super nice to someone, odds are that will create a good feeling in them towards me and they will react favorably.  They'll smile back, be nice to me, be more likely to help me out, etc etc.  So if I use that knowledge, does that make me an asshole sort of?

The answer is if you're just doing that to be manipulative-- yeah, pretty much.  But it's almost never that cut and dried.  I could analyze stuff like this to death.  Was I being a big phony?  I still am not sure.  I didn't hate it but I certainly didn't think it was *fun* either.  I was happy to do it for them, but then again...  (~loop of endless tormenting rumination~)

So anyway, Christmas brunch went great.  My family had a nice time.  We had fun playing cards and opening gifts after we ate and I really did like that part of it all.

But after it was still gnawing at me-- that comment about "putting on a big show", because preparing for guests or events at my house when I was a kid was seriously a nightmare, and I swore I'd never duplicate that in my adult life.  Once, when the doorbell rang announcing the arrival of our first guest, my sister ceremoniously shouted, "Smiles everyone!  Smiles!" like Mr. Roark on Fantasy Island.  She got away with it because people were literally on our doorstep.  It was hilarious, and extremely telling.

Later that night, too late to actually act on it, I had a great idea-- riding our bikes around on the quiet darkened streets of town looking at lights and just taking a beat, doing something *just us*.

Next year I'm going to still try to have a good attitude and all that, but also try to not lose myself and Dan so much in the process.  It shouldn't feel like putting on a big show.  It shouldn't be something I *manage to get through*.

Maybe by the time I'm 50 I'll figure all this crap out.  Oh well.  I had very little time to reflect on it because the very next day my sister and her kids hit town and it was Christmas Part Deux-- the sequel.

This also involved a trip to the north shore which will be the topic of my next post.  How did you guys all fare?