June 30, 2005
I'm just mad about Saffron
And she's just mad about me.
[Reuters photo, Alessandro Bianchi]
I'll bet you that right now Benedict is angrily stroking his invisible demon familiar and seething under his breath:
"I'll get you, Spain. I'll get you."
You can't stop progress, Bennie, and you and your obsolete religion can't squash human rights anymore. Why don't you do something useful with your life, like maybe going to Africa and handing out condoms?
June 29, 2005
I wish you were there to see it when I scored a hat trick on the team that called you a fucking queer
It's a very good day to live in Canada. We knew that the same-sex legislation would pass and that there was nothing the Conservatives could do to stop it, but still I am very, very relieved and happy. Need another reason to be relieved and happy? That homophobic asswipe Stephen Harper will never be Prime Minister of Canada now, not after his latest asinine outburst, claiming that because Bloc Quebecois MPs are separatists, their vote on the gay marriage bill is "not legitmate", as if members of federal parliament who happen to be separatists cannot represent their voters on a federal level. Keep digging your own hole, baby, because I can't wait to see you fall into it.
Because I feel that by writing about my hairstyle the other day I pretty much tripped over a boring blogger stereotype and fell on my face, revealing myself as nothing but a self-absorbed wanker,
[the crowd, who of course knew this already, titters meanly into their hands]
I'm going to keep this post all about other people, and fill it with gratuitous links. So I'd like to say thanks, Sarah Rene, for letting me know that Rick Mercer has started a weblog. This is highly exciting for someone who doesn't have a television set; now I can get my Rick Mercer straight up, rather than simply having everything funny he said repeated to me by Pete or his kids. It's just one more tin can phone I can cling to whose string leads home.
qpaukl and tamara have started a website to showcase their work; because this isn't supposed to be about me I won't send you to the tattoo gallery today. Go check out tamara's fashion designs instead.
**Update: qpaukl has also started a blog! The sickness spreads. Good thing cyberspace is infinite, unlike the universe.
Here's my new roommate Jenny's blog: Knittin' Sticks. Lucky girl's bouncing around all by herself for the summer in New York City.
And while we're at it, today's episode title was brought to you by the Quintessential Canadian Band, the Rheostatics. This is a band I'll be listening to more than ever in my feeble attempt to retain my Canadian accent while living in Georgia. Go check out the Rheostatics. They play hockey, and you can still see them live in small venues for ten bucks. Bam, bam, digga digga dam.
Okay. Got to go wash some chemicals off my head, so that in the morning it can be all about me again when I show you a big surprise. I think I may have totally cocked up with the hair alterations, and I wish I had someone who knows what they're doing, like Mandy or Jacey, to help me. Ah well. It grows back.
June 23, 2005
I probably think this song is about me (don't I?)
When I'm a dried-up old woman, I am NOT going to be the lonely lady down the block with the 200 cats and dogs, sobbing pathetically while trying to protect my giant silver dildo from the glare of the news cameras. Rather, I expect I'll be more like the crass old skank that Flea described today, brandishing my silver dildo with pride and regaling everyone with detailed descriptions of all the deeply dirty things I used to do back in the day, when I was in my thirties and leaving that stuff out of the weblog because I considered this a family website (what? you don't think this a family website? just because your kids came here and had to read about my beaver? well, fuck you!).
Boys and girls, it's time to discuss my hair. Because we all know that there is nothing in the world more self-absorbed than writing about your hairstyle on the internet and expecting people to care (and I'm nothing if not self-absorbed). As you may recall, I'm growing my hair out from short right now, and it's just starting to get into the really, really ugly stage (which, if I remember correctly from the last time I grew my hair out, lasts at least a year. That's my best excuse for how I looked in 1987). Here's what it looks like today.
Now, before you go saying it's not all that bad yet, you should know that it takes a huge handful of gloppy product to keep it this tame and normal-looking. I've also taken to hiding it under kerchiefs, which looks pretty cute until bedtime when I take the kerchief off and all the hair is flattened. I think this is hilarious beyond belief, but Peter seems to have become tired of my hair's comedic value already--the other night when I was eyeing him meaningfully while preparing to whip the kerchief off with a flourish, he kind of got mad and said it wasn't funny. He was equally unimpressed a few nights earlier when I stood in front of the bathroom mirror for about ten minutes laughing at myself and saying, "you poor thing! you have to have SEX with me with this hair! better keep your eyes shut!" (have I mentioned I'm 33 going on twelve? act immature and you'll stay young forever, it's working for me so far).
So. The plan is to grow it out past my shoulders and then dye the front part blue again, like it used to be a couple of years ago:
I need some advice. Now that my hair's getting almost long enough that I will be able to stick objects in it and have them stay, but too long to force it to look decent, should I dye it, just to keep myself from getting bored with the ugliness and buzzing it off? I was thinking of using a permanent dye, not like the blue. Maybe a deep red, or copper? Or is this going to make me look like I should be putting on a yellow clown suit and shilling for some hamburger chain? I was thinking of something like one of these
What do you guys think? Will it just look worse later when the hair is still in the ugly-growing-out stage but now has four inch red ends? Will I be sorry when I try to bleach out the front later to add blue? These are burning questions, and I need answers.
Bonus! Here's a story:
See how in the first photo my lips are parted on one side and closed on the other? See how they're kind of. . . uneven? I don't know if I was born with wobbly lips but I have a theory about why they are like that. I think it has something to do with the time, oh, around 1973, when I was watching my dad work under the hood of his Volkswagen Beetle and I thought the foamy stuff built up on the outside of the car battery was yummy frosting, so I tasted it. I don't really remember this happening, but my cousin Chris told me that I scooped up a big fingerful of the stuff and raised it to my lips and started whining, and that the acid was on my lip for a little while because my dad just said "be quiet" without looking up. Because I was kind of a loudmouth kid (shocking, I know), and so he was used to it. I'm not sure if this is a real memory or something I made up later but in my mind I can see the battery with a perfectly piped-on baby blue frosting all around the top edge, like a lovely birthday cake. Mmm.
June 18, 2005
a little collection of unrelated things
Look: China is the new America. I'll get back to you on this later; for now I'll just file it away in the anti-buffet arsenal.
Here is the Barbage photo I wanted to show you before. Sorry if it's a bit of a letdown after the big buildup.
Although I found the picture in our attic, it was not taken in our house. I do have that exact same phone though; my Gramma had her old black rotary phone forever and when it finally stopped working she refused to get a touch-tone, instead badgering the phone company until they found her a brand-new, white rotary wall phone down in the basement somewhere. Right after that they changed the service to her town so that only touch-tone would work, and Gramma had to embrace the new technology. So now I have this great old phone that is brand-new. I need the wall bracket for it, if anybody's got one lying around.
Some search terms that brought people here yesterday:
and I can't get enough nylon weblog: listen, I do NOT have a nylon problem. I can quit nylon anytime I want. I can quit tomorrow. Right after I've finished this pack, I'll quit.
pictures of little turquoise school house: sorry, I have no idea. I've never seen a little turquoise school house. But there is this tiny little shed-sized turquoise house on Highway 4, with a matching tiny little barn, that I always imagined must have an incredibly big basement that takes up the whole property. I was convinced that it was a fabulous underground palace, and the little turquoise house was just a disguise to keep people away. I think it's still there, maybe next time I go up to my Mom's I'll take a picture. Don't all pee yourselves in anticipation, now. I know it's hard.
back yard bully bowling balls: ow. That's mean.
And to the person who came here several times last week searching for we will rock you we are the champions same song, yes. They are the same song.
Look! More presents in the mail!
This is the Morehouse Merino Bijoux scarf kit that I won in a contest on jillz's blog. This yarn is so gorgeous I've just been holding the skein in the crook of my arm and petting it. And how did she know I've been hankering for a funny little dog I can dress up in pink sweaters and punk t-shirts? Oh, must be because I'm over 30 and childless. Can we say midlife crisis?
One last thing: does anybody know what kind of bird this is?
It lives in the Carolinean forest. Yeah, I could go look it up myself, but that's work.
June 17, 2005
The knit parade
I bet you're wondering what happened to all of those slutty summer knits? They're all coming along, but I've never been too good at the finishing things. Some of them are getting close though, so here's the rundown:
CamoCleo has been stalled with just the boob triangles to go for a while now, because I ran out of the black cotton and only the one yarn store has it, and they have been closed a lot this summer. But they were open today and I got another ball, so she'll be finished soon. I'm still working on Pete's sweater too, but I'm not going to show any more progress on that because I'm still thinking about maybe submitting it somewhere.
The Sexie halter is in the home stretch. Just need to make those boob parts and I can wear this bad girl out. This has been really slow going, because I'm knitting the ribbon yarn on smaller needles than I should in order to get gauge, so it's painful on the hands to work on it for too long. The resulting fabric is very dense and very stretchy, so I've made it a size that will be a little too small. I want it to really fit like a corset. If this top performs as advertised then I will definitely be making another, maybe in olive green.
Does anybody else do this? In order to sustain momentum on a project that is taking forever, I sometimes imagine the garment as an important part of my fantasy future life, and I kid myself that this will keep me motivated to finish it fast. I imagine myself performing in a stellar manner in a job interview, wearing this sweater. Oh, my conference paper will be so well received when I'm wearing this cardigan. That pop star wants to shag me, and all because I'm such hot stuff in my Sexie halter. Am I just a big loser or do you guys do that too?
[Okay, I'm not really the kind of girl who fantasizes about shagging pop stars; I prefer to concentrate my fantasy energy on people I might actually have a remote chance of shagging. However, thanks to Cara and her letter to Bono, the subject of sleeping with Bono, and whether he farts in the bed, comes up fairly often in my household. Because we are twelve years old and fart jokes are still funny. I can't tell you how many times I've cried "why can't you be more like Bono?" in bed. Or worst of all, "why can't you be less like Jimmy Page and more like Bono?" when Pete made awful flappy aging-guitar-wanker faces at me. Did I mention we are twelve years old? Sometimes we laugh so hard in bed that it gets in the way of having sex. Most of the time we're not laughing about Bono. Only, um, certain times.]
Right. This was supposed to be about my fantasy life where my garments perform magic for me. Well, I've also made good progress on Evening Diamonds redux:
This would be the same top I already completed only to find it was too big. Out of the same yarn with which I once knit a different top 3 times before realizing that it was always going to be too big. I think it's going to fit this time; all I did was switch to a smaller needle, it's like magic! Or like math. Equally baffling and mysterious.
I am ready to cast off for the back and make the halter part on this as well. I got a lot done on it in the car on the way to Athens and back, but do you think I've picked it up since? No way! Here's further proof that I'm nothing but a big ol' slut:
Tivoli. This top is exactly what I had in mind when I stupidly made that top down raglan out of a heavy stiff cotton yarn (which has since found a better life as CamoCleo). I needed to add some shaping to get rid of the frump factor, and Grumperina has kindly done the work for me. I'm going to make another one with three-quarter sleeves later on. This is working up pretty quickly, but it wasn't long before it was tossed aside for this.
Soleil. I'm going to continue the lace up to just under the bodice instead of doing just the three rounds at the hem, and just live with the fact that the side shaping will cock up the lace pattern a bit. Because Soleil is a little too elegant (read: not slutty) for me as is. I'm also going to considerably narrow the shoulder straps because I don't have very broad shoulders.
I also spent a few minutes the other night banging out a half-assed translation of this free Phildar pattern. I'm making some changes here too, knitting it in the round instead of flat. And I'm going to do the increases and decreases that I like, not some fancy French increases and decreases (fancy French increases and decreases, of course, are any whose descriptions contain words that don't appear in my handy-dandy knitting terms language converter thingy). Of course after translating the pattern I had to start the shirt right away.
You know, to check that my French is okay. You can see that I only get about an inch into any one project before starting a new one these days. I just can't commit. I need to get something done to submit to fall Knitty as well, but all I can think right now is that I have to cast on for Orangina! Now! It's a sickness. But I'll be the best dressed slut in the looney bin, that's for damned sure.
June 16, 2005
Dig, if you will, a picture. It's midafternoon, you're travelling along the interstate highway through The Middle of Nowhere, Ohio. Dull, boring, endlessly flat Ohio (it's flatter than a pancake here, flatter than Kansas even). You have to pee, and you're not sure how far the next rest stop is. It's hot and muggy, your car doesn't have air conditioning, the water in your water bottle is hot enough to brew tea. You didn't sleep all that well in the hotel last night, the gin and tonic and country-western karaoke gave you a headache, and you're tired. Maybe you're just beginning to doze off a bit, maybe the heat and boredom are causing you to hallucinate. . .
Is that something? There, in the distance? It looks like something. . . not flat. We're not in Ohio anymore, Toto.
What the fuck is that?
It looks like a man. A really big man-statue. No, a really big half-a-man-statue, sticking out of the ground. Paul Bunyan? John Henry? Andre the Giant?
Christ on a cracker.
It's a really big Jesus. A really big half-Jesus. Jesus rising from the waves. With a really tiny cross, sort of like those teenage boys you see riding down the street on those little tiny trick bicycles. How do they get anywhere on those little bikes, with those little tiny wheels? Is that little cross big enough to hold that really big Jesus?
Look at the cars. Look at how big Jesus is compared to the cars. It's a bit of overkill, if you ask me.
Is this the biggest half-Jesus in the world, do you think?
June 12, 2005
Every handful is a whole new snack
Here's a little cuff I whipped up this morning for today's 30th birthday boy. Party's this afternoon.
Most of the people I hung out with yesterday morning will be there this afternoon but this time none of us have to wear stuffy polyester robes. I pity the fools who have to graduate today, because they're wearing those exact same gowns we wore yesterday and they haven't been washed. We pay twenty-five dollars to rent the things and the bastards don't even clean them between uses.
Check out all the blooms on my valerian.
Last week I was going to dig up those roses in the background and get rid of them, but now that they're in flower they look so good I kind of want to keep them. Those seven or eight trees that are mixed in with them have to go, though, and I'm afraid that in order to get all the tree roots out we might end up losing the roses anyway. I'll wait until they're finished blooming, at least. In the middle ground you can see my very important grass-killing project in progress (looks like trash on the ground but it's not!).
I went up into the attic and started sweeping up the 90-year-old cedar debris the other day. It's brutally hot up there, and by the time I had one garbage can filled with crap I had to quit. There's huge amounts of Barbage (the junk left behind by the house's former owner, Barb, and her kids) to throw out.
In this picture, taken from the stairs at floor level, you may or may not be able to see the following:
-the filthy insulation that is spread around the outer edges of the entire attic, right where it's not supposed to be, blocking the soffit vents. I have to throw it all away.
-plastic bags. and lots of 'em.
-pieces of styrofoam packaging from electronics
-at least one formerly white sports sock is visible in the picture, but there are many, many more than just one in this attic. Teenagers really make me puke sometimes.
-used Christmas paper and bows
-birthday cards, mostly the dirty joke kind
-a secret, dirt-covered lair that contains one Sweet Valley High book, one Archie comic book, Balderdash cards, photos, homework, a hockey puck, and a Canada 125 McPassport.
I was going to post one of the photographs I found up there but the technology got the better of me. The new computer won't recognize the scanner, so I have to scan everything with my pieceofshit old computer. But the old computer no longer has a floppy drive because we put it in the new computer, which didn't come with one. So the only way to get an image off the old computer and onto the new one is to unravel the long phone cord across the hall to the jack in the other room, use the dialup and either a) have Peter log into his chat with Trillian while I do the same downstairs on our real computer and send it, or b) use Yahoo to e-mail the image to myself. Since Peter isn't here and I don't know his password I had to use option b. Except that the old computer has old browsers that have to use an old version of Yahoo and for some reason today it won't let me send attachments. And the old computer has a habit of emitting a high pitched squeal when it gets too hot, which happens pretty much any time you use it for more than 20 minutes in the summer. By the time it started squealing I'd pretty much had it and just gave up. The picture wasn't really worth it.
June 11, 2005
Are you here for an affair, sir?
Purely by accident, the sock I brought to work on matched the BFA hood.
So I went to my convocation this morning. It wasn't so bad. I mean it was stiflingly hot and long and boring and my hood kept slipping off and because I was a medalist I had to sit with the other medalists in the front instead of at the back with the rest of my class, but still it wasn't as dreadful as I'd feared; I absolutely hate pomp, which is why I didn't want to go in the first place. I was right in front of the lectern, best seat in the house. When I went up and shook hands with the chancellor of the university he said "so you're the knitter eh". I said, yeah, today I'm observing World Wide Knit in Public Day.
Here's four weirdos who can't keep their hoods on straight for more than two minutes. Joe, me, qpaukl and Jesse. Where's the rest of our class? Probably outside getting their pictures taken somewhere nicer. That dumbass rope around my neck is what I got to wear for graduating with distinction, and they were generous enough to let us keep the ropes. Scholarships would have been nicer, I'm thinking. But I guess I can think of a few things to do with some nice soft rope.
I didn't get too much done on the sock, what with all the stand-up-sit-down-applaud.
On beauty (from the comments): Mandy, I also never never set out making a piece of art with any sort of conceptual plan. There are things that I'm always thinking about at some level, and I just go to the press or the sewing machine or whatever and work intuitively and those things come across. Sometimes I will make decisions that I think are arbitrary and then realize later what they mean and why they are important. I'm not trying to say "the art makes itself" or "it comes from somewhere outside of me" or any such bullshit; those are lame-ass excuses used by people who aren't smart enough to think and talk critically about their own work. But when you are totally immersed in what you're doing and why you're doing it the conceptual part doesn't always happen on the top level of your consciousness. I know that statement would have a lot of artists I know spitting and snarling, but when you've thought out and planned a piece to death before you lift your hand to begin it, well, that's worse than bad, that's boring. Who can stand to actually make the work if there are no surprises?
Chantal: I also have met a lot of BFA students who plan to complete a Bachelor of Ed. afterwards, and while some of them genuinely want to be teachers, I think a lot just don't have a clue what else they can do with the BFA, and will go to teachers college just in order to be qualified for SOME job. Hm, a lack of creative thinking perhaps?
When I say craftsmanship I don't necessarily mean that it's bad to sometimes not wipe the edges of your plate or to use ink straight out of the can. I do those things on occasion. But there is a great difference between intentional messiness and carelessness, and it's the carelessness I'd like to eradicate (I think that carelessness is what you're talking about too). My work can be very, very messy, but when you look at the work it doesn't look like the work of a bad or careless printer. I know how to print well, and so I have the freedom to roll up my litho stone too full or not full enough, or force the ink to smear, or shift a print so it's mis-registered, or not fully erase dark pencil lines; these are things which are always very tightly controlled. As long as people are taught to do things "right", they should have the freedom not to. When it's time for me to put these opinions into practice, I'll want students to show me that they can do things the "right" way before they are free to do it the "wrong" way. And I'll try not to let them use ink straight out of the can, at least at first.
You also mentioned drawing skill, and that's something I'll talk about another day; you may have noticed I can be long-winded at times, and that's a topic on which I have a lot to say. Later.
On elevators, especially those filled with creepy woodcut people: Thanks to everyone who expressed interest in the t-shirts. I am planning to put up a shop on the website soon (tentative launch date July 1) and will be making some shirts. They'll be printed a little better than the ones you guys saw, of course.
June 10, 2005
He believes in beauty
Professor D. is a poet and art lover. I went to see him yesterday, and we talked a little bit about beauty. He is not a big fan of conceptual art (he said he has a friend who is a conceptual artist and "produces almost no work", indicating that to Prof. D. "product" should be of primary importance in art-making). Prof. D. also said that any time he mentions the word "beauty" to anyone in the visual arts, which I took to mean faculty members in the School of Visual Arts, they recoil in horror.
Here are my thoughts on beauty. I think beauty in art is important, more important now than it has been in quite a while. Because ugly is sometimes a kind of beauty too, I prefer to use the word craft instead, but by this I don't necessarily mean domestic craft (although that's becoming more important as well) but rather craftsmanship. I see a pendulum swing back towards craft(smanship) happening in the visual arts, and I think that pretty soon it will no longer be good enough to hang a brick from the ceiling and stand back and pat yourself on the back for being so profound.
This is not to say that ideas are not equally important. We don't make art for decoration; we make it to communicate ideas. If I was any good at communicating in words I would be a poet but I communicate better visually, so I am an artist.
The first time I went to art school, in the late 1980s, it was at Bealart, where we were given a very strong foundation in tradition and technique, which I found invaluable, but on the conceptual side our education was a little light. Several years later when I began my undergrad studies at Western, I experienced the exact opposite: first year students were not being taught basic skills like, for instance, how to paint, and instruction was instead heavily weighted towards theory. I remember sitting in a lecture hall while MFA students and graduating BFA students talked to the first year studio classes about their own work, and having one of them show us slides of very sloppily put together soft sculpture and telling us that craftsmanship didn't matter, only the concept was important (of course I wouldn't be as scornful of this if she hadn't then proceeded to discuss her thesis work in a way that made it clear that while she was concentrating on creating a certain sensory experience in the gallery with her piece, there were things going on conceptually in the work about which she was totally unaware, thus completely negating her previous claim that concept is the only thing that matters).
Of course, art that is lovely and devoid of meaning is, as my advisor Daniel would say, worse than bad: it's boring (I'm so thankful that I was never on the receiving end of that phrase being bellowed across the table in a group critique). That's why craft and concept need to work together in an equal partnership, although when I said this to Prof. D. he disagreed and said that beauty is more important and that the partnership should not be equal. I think perhaps I need to delve into his poetry a bit, because thus far I've only been exposed to it in public readings, and I suspect that I could use his work to further my argument. After all, the rules should be the same in my field as in his, I think. I don't mean to imply that Prof. D. and I argued, because it was really just a discussion, but we had differing views and I'm the competitive sort who likes to turn every discussion into an argument. . .
So. Beauty. I think maybe part of the reason that those art professors recoil from the word is that they conflate it with pretty, and when I said this to Prof. D. he reacted as if a cartoon lightbulb had appeared over his head. When Peter and I discussed this over supper last night he said that perhaps they feel that to apply the word beauty diminishes what they do. And even I get nervous when someone talks to me about my work in terms of aesthetics alone, even though it is very important to me that my work be beautiful. About two years ago, during a time when I was experiencing a profound shift in the way I thought about what I was doing as an artist, I slumped onto the couch in Daniel's office and confessed a fear that had been plaguing me: that the things I was thinking about and trying to communicate through my work were not coming across, and that I was wasting my time just making pretty pictures. Daniel, bless him, said "Jodi, your work's not all that pretty", a critique that has made me more happy than any other.
Consider this: two artists produce work that addresses the same concerns, but one of them cares deeply about craft while the other does not. Which piece is going to hold a viewer's attention long enough for that viewer to engage meaningfully with the work, the one that is well crafted and has beauty, or the poorly executed one made by someone who considers the concept to be the only important element?
Too cool for school
Convocation is tomorrow, and I've decided (at the very last minute) that I'm going to go. I had intended to skip it, because it's not all that important to me to sit around for hours sweating in this heat in a rented polyester gown just to go up and have someone stick a hot polyester hood on my head. But when we got home from Athens there was a letter waiting here telling me that I'm receiving a medal (I think it's for high marks), and that made me feel guilty for not attending.
And besides, this will be the first time I've graduated from anything since oh, about 1985. It's a little known fact that I didn't graduate from high school. I spent three years in my local small town dickwater school before making a break for it and transferring to Beal, where I was able to pretty much do art all day every day. I finished the three year fine art programme and stayed for three more years as a part-time adult student, just wanking around in the intaglio shop and making prints. I wasn't too concerned with finishing up my academics at the time, so I left Beal with about twenty more credits than I needed (most of them in art) but one English course short of a diploma. Or so I thought until six years later when I requested my transcript in order to apply to university as a mature student, and discovered that in fact I was only a measly half an English credit away. The irony is that during my time out from school I was living with Peter, who was at that time an adult ed. teacher, and although he never got to teach it, his specialty was English. Sheesh.
So anyway I broke down and rented the gown, but not before making sure that qpaukl was going too. How much knitting will it take to get through one convocation ceremony? I think this Pom Squad sock, made with the Magic Stripes yarn that Hockey Mom gave me, should suffice.
June 09, 2005
Better than meatloaf surprise. And much better than chocolate spring surprise.
I had an interesting chat with a poet today about beauty, but I think I'll wait and tell you about it tomorrow. Instead it's show and tell time; I came home to a package in the mail today, and my five year old neighbour K. leaping and shouting "a present! a present! is it from your Gramma?". Nope, it was from Claudia, and look at what was inside:
It's a Swan drop spindle from Grafton Fibres, wrapped in a gorgeously coloured pile of Cormo. Wow! I'm convinced that having a perfect tool will make all the difference to my technique (hah! I kid myself that I have some kind of "technique", other than spin like crazy and yank and yank and hope I don't drop it). The spindle I've been using is homemade and quite heavy, and I've had to spin with it supported to avoid it breaking the fibre and crashing to the floor. Last week the whorl fell right off and I had to reglue it. Now I can be like the pros and spin like a banshee (with gusto). What an incredibly thoughtful gift this is. Thank you, Claudia.
Look, she even started it off for me.
Am I supposed to be able to make the yarn this thin? Yikes!
June 08, 2005
I wanted good conversation and a spiffy title but all I got was this stupid t-shirt
I was thinking I might write about buffet today, but I'm still chewing on that one for the time being. Then, because Flea was asking for service industry stories, I thought I might instead write about a shoe store job I once had and the crazy sexual predator-types we had to put up with there. Then I thought perhaps I'd treat everyone to my rather strong and bitchy opinions about this, since it's so closely related to one of my favourite hobbies (although I'm trying to lay off the smut-talk because my whole family knows I have this journal). Oh, hi Dad!
But it's too damned hot, and I can't be bothered to put my thoughts into coherent phrases. We've finally arrived at those summer days that are so hot I have to force myself to eat lunch because I have no motivation to get up and get food. This morning the sky was overcast and the air was still relatively cool, so I ran outside and did as much work in the garden as I could before it got too hot. I had to come inside again before ten o'clock. Up until yesterday the fats had been clamouring to go outside, but now they're spending the whole day plopped on the floor with their bellies spread out like cowpies, because it's the only cool place to be. I just might join them there soon.
Instead I'm just going to cop out and show you some pictures of the t-shirts I printed last Tuesday night before we left for Athens (because what better time to break out a new craft project than the night before a trip when you're supposed to be packing?).
I printed these from old lino blocks with silk screen ink. The printing is kind of crappy but I don't care, it makes them look like those trendy fake-old prefaded shirts you see all over the place. This first one is from a print I made in a first year studio class, and it's me (I had braids back then, and some supercool cat eye glasses that were my gramma's when I was a baby) getting off an elevator with a bunch of creepy characters all stolen from German Expressionist woodcuts and paintings.
This image of Miss Polly Styrene with angel wings was done for a (insert chosen mid-winter holiday here) card that I intended to give to my friends at a holiday feast for orphans that I threw back at my old place in London. But while I may be the Queen of Grand Plans I am not their master, and grand plans usually end up trumping me. I served up a marvelous meal, everyone had a great time and the Polly Angel prints never made it onto cards; instead when my guests arrived the prints were still hanging to dry in the fireplace. People still took them, though.
I messed up the first time I printed the elevator block, so at Peter's suggestion I rolled over the whole thing with the inky brayer and made a black rectangle instead. I think it looks pretty good, and Pete wants a black rectangle shirt too.
Bad citing of sources
Recently I posted a few things that I neglected to give proper credit for, and may have caused some of you to believe I'm more talented than I really am.
-The cover for Pandora Living was made for me by Rob and posted here with his permission.
-The photograph from the top of Clingman's Dome, of a sunny mountain valley below the mist, was taken by Peter. I am a crappy photographer and would have wound up with nothing but gray had I tried taking those shots myself.
June 07, 2005
Not a lot to say, but plenty of pictures to make up for it
First things first: when we got back from Athens, my materials for the back-tack swap were in the mailbox.
My back-tack pal sent some great stuff: a very cool vintage fabric that I love, some black duppioni silk and another cute printed fabric to go with; some super-soft white and pink felt; cool old buttons and a pink zipper; and also some gorgeous beaded stitch markers that she said were a gift for me, but since there are ten of them I think I'll keep five and send five along to the next person, because I'm sure she'll love them too. Way to go, back-tack pal! This stuff is going to be fun to work with, and I have some things in my stash that are going to look great with it too.
So. You want to know more about our trip, don't you? The highlight, besides finding a cool roommate and meeting more people at the school and picking my courses and which class to do my teaching practicum in, was Cherokee, North Carolina. We drove there on Friday night after we were finished on campus and had plenty of time to bum around and check things out.
Cherokee is the tourist trap that time forgot. It's just as tacky as Pigeon Forge on the other side of the park, but everything here seems like it hasn't changed since the 1960s. It's full of gift shops where you can get the tackiest fake Indian stuff imaginable, plus anything else people would buy. I kept thinking how much my school chum Jessica would love this place; she was in my graduating class and all of her BFA thesis work dealt with being half native and half white, placing cheap made-in-China fake "Indian" artifacts next to traditional native Canadian artifacts that she had made from modern materials like pens, bullets, plastic bleach bottles and rubber. In fact I'll be interested to hear what Jessica has to say about Cherokee when I show her the pictures. In Pigeon Forge everything is shiny and mall-like; in Cherokee it's all log buildings, the kind of fake trading post places I remember visiting in Northern Ontario as a kid in the 70s.
The town does seem to be suffering somewhat economically, no doubt due to the huge boom that Pigeon Forge has experienced in the last 20 years, since Dollywood opened. We saw lots of places that were closed, boarded up or torn down.
Look, we found a weight-and-fortune machine that still took pennies:
My fortune: change quickly if you find you are headed up the wrong alley.
Where the goth kids stay:
Since we prefer to keep our lives drama-free, we stayed at the Pink instead.
The Pink was not all it was cracked up to be, but we've decided that we think it's being subtly marketed to gays, what with the pink exterior and pink sheets and pink bathrooms, and that fairy. And the fact that the old guy in the office had an earring. If it's all a coincidence don't tell me because it makes me happy to believe that there are gay-friendly places in the American South and that we've found one already.
We went for a walk in the Oconaluftee Islands Park, and found a huge bamboo forest there.
Rob? Is this a native Carolinean bamboo? We just assumed all bamboo was Chinese. But the guy in the next room at the Pink (Rick) told us that a friend of his used to own a bamboo nursery in Florida and that one of the varieties he grew was native to that part of Florida. If this is true then we might need some in our front yard; who cares if it grows taller than our 2.5 storey house?
The craziest thing about this bamboo is that the new shoots were coming up just as fat as the mature parts. That's what caught my attention because it looked like a bunch of small cut-off trees but they all came to a point on top, and then I noticed all the bamboo behind them.
Sadly, they were a little too big to dig up and smuggle home in the car for our garden.
What I just realized now while resizing these photos is that everyone's name on this trip was Sandy: Hockey Mom, the pony ride pictured yesterday, and this old dog, who seemed infinitely worn out from all of the bright and jangly arcade action.
I knew his name was Sandy because it was written in white-out on his collar, along with his phone number. I tried to get him to look at me, wheedling and cajoling and calling him by name, but he was too weary to even lift his head or meet my eye. So I snapped this picture, and he immediately got up and huffed off. Guess I should have asked first.
*Okay, I lied. I always have a lot to say, even when it's about nothing.
June 06, 2005
Love, baby, that's where it's at
We're back from Athens, and I have a place to live! I'm going to move in with Jenny [insert link to Jenny's blog here, just as soon as I can find it], who's a friend of Carrieoke's (thanks, Carrie, for hooking me up). It's a little farther from campus than I'd like, but the place is very cute and the rent is cheap, and I won't need to buy a lot of furniture, and I'll have a knitting roommate, which I'm quite excited about.
We had an amazingly fun time with Sandy and Bob, who were kind enough to give us a place to crash on Thursday even though they were leaving for their vacation in the wee hours the next night. They are very cool people, and we found out we have some interests in common besides knitting. We ate at a great Mexican place and drank god knows how many pitchers of sangria while our very talkative young waiter told us his five year plan, and why he's okay with not having a girlfriend, and plenty of redneck jokes. The best part was when he said that he had eaten at another Mexican restaurant and felt like he was cheating (Peter told him to have a talk with his manager about an open relationship, that maybe they should both try seeing other restaurants for a while).
Here's me and Sandy the next morning, both looking a little sleep-deprived and giddy, although not nearly as giddy as in all the pictures from the night before, which I'm far too vain to show. This one is proof enough that these internet people really exist, and don't just want to chop you up and put you in the freezer. Sandy's way too nice for that.
Some observations from the trip:
-people in the South are friendlier and more open than people in Canada, at least the part of Canada I've lived in all my life, and also more than people in other parts of the States I've been to. Right away we felt like we'd known Sandy and Bob for a while, and I know it was the same way when I met my Atlanta friends too; I only see Kerri and PJ once a year but when I do see them I feel so close to them. Maybe because they call me "baby".
-Georgia is the place where old gas stations go to die.
-it's just not worth it to order tea in a restaurant in the South. I already knew that I had to ask for "hot tea", or wind up with sweet tea, which is a truly awful substance (I've made that mistake before). What I learned on this trip is that when they bring your tea to the table in a teapot, you needn't bother to let it steep.
Because they don't actually put any tea in it. I wonder if they just take their unsweetened iced tea mix and heat it up?
-The American buffet restaurant is a powerful illustration of the terrible imbalance of wealth on this planet. So many people seem driven to take more and more, even though they don't need it, even though it's killing them. Over there, people are starving to death, and over here they have a strange compulsion to eat themselves to death. Of course it's not just food that people are driven to consume, but it's a problem with American society that just seems easier to see when you're standing at the buffet counter. This is something I'll probably talk about a lot more later; for now just thinking about buffet makes me queasy.
Some pictures from Great Smoky Mountains National Park:
When we went through on Thursday it was cold and rainy. At Newfound Gap, halfway through the park and right on the state line, there's this sign
which usually shows visitors an example of the perfect photo to take from this vantage point so that they can all go home with the exact same memories, since we all know that it's not about the experience, it's about the photo op (I'm surprised they don't mark out on the ground the ideal place to stand while taking the photo). That day the perfect view picture was missing. And here is what the view looked like:
Our van, peering into the void.
All around us was perfectly white. Standing way up on a mountain and staring into this nothingness made me want so badly to leap (just like Carlos Castaneda, except that since that was all a hoax and he never really jumped, probably I would not have survived the fall so well as he did. And that's pretty much why I didn't do it).
Coming home on Saturday the sky was a lot clearer so we took the side road up to Clingman's Dome, which I think is as high as you can get in the Smokies unless you live there. By the time we got to the top we were in the clouds again.
Way down there, the sun is shining.