Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Land of Heat, Storms and Humidity

A wonderful view from my guest porch in San Antonio where I taught the Famous Airey Fairy Scarf and Felted Jewelry Forms to a fabulous group from the Fiber Artists of San Antonio, July 9-12. The land is flat and flatter, even though it is described as West Texas hill country.  I thought it would be cooler there than in my native Asheville (27,000 days in the 90's with 200% humidity) as the temps seemed (on line at least) to be a few degrees lower.  Arrgghh! It is a totally different heat/humidity.  It could be in the 70's in the morning as I stepped out unto the porch with my coffee in hand but when that sun hit me and started boiling the coffee in my cup I knew I had met my match and retreated into the air conditioned cottage.
How on earth did those cowboys (and girls) ride their horses around and gather cattle and shoot bad guys and stuff?  Roy Rodgers never seemed to sweat!
This might be part of the answer.  A big West Texas breakfast! Chicken fried steak, gravy, biscuits, eggs and potatoes.  Here's the wonderful husband of one of my hosts, Sandy, and he ate the whole thing!  I was soooo impressed.

I had a day off and so went to the city center of San Antonio which is built around the river.  My idea was to wander about in cool river breezes and find spots for drinking a cool glass of Pinot Blanc and sketch.
I loved the umbrellas and riverside tables (the river is just four feet deep so children can be hauled out without leaving one's table).  I saw the river boats and just had to take the watery tour of the area (and there was a very good senior discount!)
 "Look up!" The guide called out. And we all looked up.  Despite the head aerobics it was dreadfully hot.  And here we all were, no hats, no shade, no sunglasses, no cold beer and staring hard at local tall hotels and places where movies were filmed.  It was a fun historical tour but I think it would have been better had they tied inflatable tubes behind the boat and dragged us all around the place. Or maybe a hike in the water.

 I really did my artistic best to sit in a riverside cafe and sketch, but I was sooo hot with rivelets of sweat running down my back.  I tried to draw but drops of perspiration from my fevered brow kept dripping on the paper making everything runny and fuzzy (not unlike my brain which needed more than lukewarm wine to navigate the canal walkway). To add insult to sunstroke, the cafe napkins were made from a substance that would not absorb any sort of watery liquid (sweat, wine, tears...).  I paid my bill and quickly moved on to the Hilton where I was assured of AC, free WIFI and Lone Star beer.  No sketches but I watched the soccer final as the Lone Holland Supporter.  Love that beer!

Due to the storms that covered all of Georgia, North and South Carolina (according to the airlines) it took me 12 hours to get home, a journey that should have taken two and a half. After stumbling into my slightly cooler than body temperature bed at 2 AM and being covered with grateful (hot and furry) cats, I was home again. And the weather had not changed,  Autumn was not here.

And despite the urge to just take naps and sip iced sweet tea for the rest of my life I had to get back to work on books and the next upcoming class in Pittsburgh.  Leon also did his best to claim my bed on the screen porch!  How well these cats know me.

 The books called me, and since this blog is supposed to be about art, I should maybe write about what I am doing instead of me, me, me... This is the start of Book 28, a felt and leather wrapped journal.  Here I am measuring and poking holes for the edge stitching. (Don't you love that great Mexican oilcloth tablecloth I got in San Antonio?  And the fabulous seque from San Antonio to books?)

Me and my fat legs stitching a wonderful coptic endband stitch around the book cover.  I like this stitch as it is thick enough, using waxed linen, to cover the join of leather and felt.  Note fan working overtime.

And here is the almost finished book cover.  It takes about 4-5 hours to stitch around the entire edge. I just LOVE the colors of the book cover and the oil cloth.  Totally unplanned but the universe is generous today! Now I must finish this book, then copy the handouts for the Pittsburgh workshop (see sidebar) for which cousin Marien and I will drive to Pittsburgh tomorrow (no more airports for a while) - finish packing the car - answer emails and check my facebook account - eat lunch - check fb again - buy enough gin and diet tonic for the Pittsburgh time - check emails - iron clothes.....

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

No Rest For the Wicked

Today, July 7th, I am packing to leave once again before the crack of dawn - off to another adventure in the life of the traveling, drive by workshop instructor. This time I am heading to San Antonio to teach the Airey Fairy Scarf (much needed in air conditioned Texas!) and a whole day of hand-felted jewelry forms - snakes and beads which can be embellished to one's contented heart's limit once dry.

But before any packing could be done, I had to repaint the floor of Studio B (B for Basement).  I do this every two years instead of washing the floor.  It just feels so good to have that pristine space. However then I have to run after students with a towel lest they drip some foul water on my new floor.  I sweep every day.  And then I start to pack.
Summer is my busiest teaching time and the busiest in the dye kitchen as just about anything that was white has to be turned into fabulous color.
I've also been busy up in Studio A (the office/tv room/bead storage/room with ceiling fan) beading and stitching all those half finished projects from the last workshops, and trying out some new ideas for upcoming classes.
Coptic small book started in Holland...
A yummy leather and felt wrapped journal...
and more of the quick wrapped felt journals.

I have finally started to sell my books, now that I am feeling like the little ole lady in a shoe with all these "children" about.  Next project is to set up a shop on Big Cartel and list the books and brooches and artworks and even pieces of resist dyed felt.  I just really want to be a shop keeper, truth be known, so I can endlessly arrange the 'product' on shelves and tables.  I dream of having an old fashioned - mostly seen on tv shows like the ancient Gunsmoke, which formed my childhood ideas of how the world worked - type of storefront.  That's my idea of a grand life.  Sitting in the back room drinking coffee around the pot bellied stove and listening for the tinkle of the front door when another friendly customer comes in, ready to fill her basket with beautiful things and bring juicy gossip from the outside. ahhh.
But no one buys my sweet kitty Leon! His job will be to sit on the polished wooden counter and be loved.

I Wanna Move to Lopez Island

Ok, I admit it could be the 12,056 days of 90 degree heat in Asheville, but I am in love with Lopez Island in the San Juans, off Seattle.  It could be the temperature, the fabulous people, the Orcas which leap and frolic around the place or maybe I just need to be elsewhere for a while.  I'm thinking that I will start with two weeks a year, and then move to a month...

Jane and I traveled to Lopez in June as I was teaching a Resist Dyeing and Book Making Workshop that my good friend Jan set up.  Lovely, talented students.  And even a wonderful evening sitting in Jan's new studio, drinking wine and stitching.  How could life be any better!!
One of the best parts about heading off to Lopez is the ferry system.  I really like the idea that you can't really get off the island unless you want to swim in frozen water guaranteed to freeze your lungs as soon as they fill with icky sea water, or wait for the ferry - much more civilized.  And this what you see floating up and parking at the Lopez ferry dock.  (If one indeed does 'float' and 'park' a ferry.)
One night as a treat, Jan grilled fresh, wild, marinated sockeye salmon on the beach as I chopped the firewood - a skill from my hippie-living on the land and having a wood stove-month. Years ago.

I'm thinking that I look really cool in those sunglasses.  Jane just looks thrilled to be eating fabulous food that someone else has cooked! And since food, next to whale watching and rock collecting, was one of our obsessions, we took pictures of exceptional meals.
But alas, we had to leave when all was done.  Jane did get to see a pod of Orcas off Iceberg Point and called during class to breathlessly tell me.  And we did do a ferry walk-on to visit Friday Harbor and check out the Whale Museum.  But that day came when we loaded everything up from the Honey House where we were guests and headed back to the ferry dock. Here's Jane watching it all slip away.
But even once back on the mainland, the islands followed us.
We had opted for the red eye back to North Carolina, which meant a loooonnnnngggg wait at Seatac .  Luckily Jane had passes for the Delta Lounge where we ate tons of food and drank a free gin and tonic every half hour and played with free WiFi.
We have already planned our Lopez trip for 2011 to be combined with teaching at the Pacific Northwest Art School, formally known as Coupeville.  I hope I see my buddy - Orca - when we step onto that next ferry.

Flying Through Time

I keep thinking that I have written a new blog entry.  I write in my mind at airports, while trying to sleep on planes, waiting for the coffee to come out of the new miracle coffee machine.  Then I look at my real blog and wonder where all those great ideas and sparkling turns of phrase have gone.  I think my new motto is "If I can imagine it, it is already done."

Lots has been happening at ye olde homestead.  Above is my new drop leaf table from Old North State's moving sale.  Now I can have dinner parties.  Maybe.  If someone comes and cooks.  I just love how the morning light comes through the bamboo blinds and settles gentle...on the cat hair, as this is Scooter's favorite place to lay on her back and hope for a scratch from passing humans. I love to arrange the rooms in this cottage of mine to look welcoming, like Martha Stewart would have 'done' them.  Lovely book filled living rooms where no one sits.  Gracious and cosy dining nooks where no one eats.  A kitchen full of hand thrown ceramics that gather dust.  Meanwhile I spend all my time eating and making books in front of either the tv screen or this computer.  Where do others find the time to cook and entertain, and most importantly, dust?

Since the last blog we have gone to New York City, the Big Apple, Hell in a Handbag.
Jane, Susie, Marion and I had a road trip north that wandered through Hampton, VA for a day so I could teach at the Art & Soul Conference which was pretty dern wonderful.  The bright spot in my road trip.  I taught a one day Bark Scarf Workshop where the 20 !!! students fulled my hand dyed
merino needle felts into scarf lengths, stitched and pulled stitches and we dyed them all in beautiful deep colors. Ahh.

But the next day we drove relentlessly towards THE CITY.  I just am not a friend of NYC especially after I had been worn out by that day of intense teaching.  Things got darker in my head as we went through the tunnel.  We would be robbed, murdered, my car would be stolen, smashed, we would all end up on America's Most Wanted as victims of some henious crime, which I knew about as I faithfully watch CSI-NY several times a week.

We found the street on which our second choice hotel was located - in the East Village.  The hotel was called Sanctuary of something or the other, so I figured we'd be safe there. Their web site showed framed pictures of Blue Krishnas in all the rooms.  Of course I had not figured on our room would open right on the street right next door to the New York City Branch Headquarters of Hell's Angels!! In case you may think I exaggerate a bit...I had to take a picture, along with the rest of the tourists (who were allowed only two photos each by the thug who guarded the sitting bench in front)
 It was a bit reassuring to have them next door, like terrifying uncles who just got out of prison but are still on probation. You watch them.  They watch you.

There were a few other scary places - like the Natural History Museum which I have loved forever since I discovered Roy Chapman Andrews in my monthly selection of All About Books in the 1950's
Since the main purpose of our road trip was to see Little Susie, daughter of Big Susie graduate from Cooper Union, we attended the ceremony but then left the Susies so to find a decent bar and take pictures of each other.  Here is Marion taking pictures of the huge pints of some other beer other than Guinness. After several pints of this lovely brew and mountains of sweet potato fries, New York City seemed to look a bit better.
And that was the month of May!