Tuesday, October 27, 2009

cor blimey! gadzooks.

The wind blew in from the north and it is CHILLY HERE today. I rode home in the sideways rain with the wind funneling down the river and into my right ear canal (time to find the winter headband). yeah and thank god someone invented gore-tex!!!

I am wound up tighter than a psycho in a straight jacket hoh mah gawd. This morning I drank tea. Simple Earl Grey. And I was off like a flaming rocket - POW. Wh-wh-what in t-t-tarNATION. Bzzzzzwwwwirrrrrrroooowwwwwshitbang! Good thing I had places to go and people to see; the bike ride helped me burn all the spastic off.

Until I found out that I have been LIED TO as a consumer! No, look, okay? I have been back on the meds for a month - vitamins. Faithful, every day, multis and a magnesium calcium zinc combo. Today I find out that magnesium and calcium inhibit each other when taken simultaneously. Dammit! There are warnings on cigarettes, and alcohol, and even cheese nowadays ("no soy no wheat no gluten low sodium low carb high fiber free range RGBH/THC free). Why in all hells can there not be a regulation that stipulates what science - not New Age hummy gummy theory - has proven:

Calcium and magnesium are not to be taken together. Or you're wasting your money.

Oh right! It's about money! Pharmaceutical companies, I have heard, are less than forthright and more than happy to lighten your piggy bank.

Also, another well-placed caveat upon the vitamin label might prove useful to the uninitiated: magnesium (citrate) has a reputation for giving humans the shits. Actually that could be a boon for some, and could instead be placed on the front of the bottle with a big bright sticker and lots of exclamation points!! bonus!!

So the reasons are twofold, why I drew this self-portrait tonight, in light of the day's double-whammy:



Now what. I need to go buy fifteen different bottles of vitamin and set my alarm at specific intervals for a reminder to pop the pills individually, so as to ensure that my vitamins don't mix at cross-purposes. Ridicule-less.

The good news:

According to a well-respected local medicine man medical doctor, it doesn't matter if you buy your vitamins from a dollar bin at the Cash King, or if you shell out fifteen clams for one bottle at your locally owned and operated apothecary, run by staff well-versed in all their products and how you might correct your ailments with herbs de provence, cat'o'nine tails, or a scooperful of kombucha.

Loo loo loony!

I need to go take a lude. I shall Google 'lude - vitamin' and see if there is anything in my DIY apothecary that fits the bill.

All right, fellow simians....near and far....short and long (in India, they say 'long' instead of 'tall').....keep living the dream!

Monday, October 26, 2009

a nice soak

Hey kids. Shiver me timbers! A howling squall moved through here this morning, just as I was poised to launch myself into the city. I'm glad the Eye of Sauron didn't cast a baleful glare upon my pedaling self - that would have sucked rotten eggs. As it was, I waited ten minutes for the worst of the wind to blow itself out, and then I made my wet way over to T's where I made heaps of mashed potatoes for her husband's birthday dinner.

Birthday Dinner?! Oh the pressure! GAH.

I think they turned out pretty good, and I even improvised a little bit. Found some creamy butternut squash soup in their refrigerator to change it up a bit. I even cut the bad bits of the potatoes off. I was happy they wanted the skins left on though...vitamins! And I used a fancy mixer, and everything. I did have visions of the proverbial sailor's chore, down in the brig: peeling and cutting mountains of potatoes, day in an day out. Even for me, who can eat the same thing for a whole week, would cringe at the homogenaiety. I suppose if one has too many eyes, you could eat potatoes, and cure yourself homeopathically? What the hell am I nattering on about. Shut the hell up, you scurvy rain-sodden rat!

So, here are some flamboyant trees for your viewing edification. The first is outside T's house, looking down the lane (I say Lane, it is Utter Suburbia, with homogenous housing, but anyway):





and then on my bike ride homewards, I snapped this photo...the trees remind me of popsicles



I stopped at the Library and picked up another of my all-time favorite books, which I have also read thrice, but I will read it again to nurse myself through the crash after the high of the last book. Oh thank god for prolific writers.

Once home, the rain had stopped and the clouds had even cleared off a bit. My brakes have been a bit loose, so I tightened them up (I didn't have to replace the rear ones after all, hooray!) and then patched up the seat. What a badass I am.

Here is my bicycle. The sticker is from a trade I did a dog's life ago with a guy who lives in China (or, Chain, if you are into the anagrams).



Painted a picture and smoked a bong....ha ha, just kidding. Yeah right, you know that's bullshit. I am just feeling a little bit saucy after feeling so puny yesterday, so I pretend I can handle the drugs...oh do stop nattering on and freaking on. Going to read a nice safe book now, do a little armchair traveling, to the land of Infidels and Dragons. la la la

Sunday, October 25, 2009

pearly gates

My morning:

up at 9:30, after a lengthy awake-time during the middle of the night, sandwiched between a lot of active disturbing dreaming.

3pm - still in jammies, listening to Radiohead and Thom Yorke, doing this:

It's been a long while since I've done any printmaking. I love the process, and the first page I peel back from the fresh ink on the newly carved block is always really cool. I'm happy with my efforts. I'd like lots to be different, but this is exactly what I wanted for today.

I'm patching in to the internet via a little G4 laptop that has been so generously loaned to me by a guy who fixes computers (my landlady knows him and gave me his contact information). Mike was more than willing to come over and assess my G5 after first the Bluetooth disappeared, and the next day, the Airport. So, no connecting to the internet with the Big Girl...the modem (at the landlady's) is too far away and convoluted to string an ethernet cable between us. So for now, and as long as I need it, I'll use this hardy little lappie while my vintage computer (newer than this lil' dude) handles stuff like Photoshop and anything media and graphic related. Ugh. Don't want to buy another computer, or spend a shitload of money fixing it up (not worth it).

Yes, it's really Vintage. It is an official term, and five years old for a computer nowadays is vintage. Incredible. Technology is amazing and wonderful, when you can afford to pay the wizard of Oz.

I just looked out the window and there are these sweet little birds hopping around in the garden beds. I mean. They are the sweetest dearest. Are they a kind of chickadee? I don't think sparrows. They blend in really well with the dirt and rocks, but if you search enough, you'll be able to see their fluffy beaked little bodies:



hmmmm....maybe not. Maybe if you click on the picture to enlarge it. Trust me, they are charming.

I am on this big bean kick. I'm making smashed pinto beans all the time now. I just learned that pinto in portuguese is another word for dick. ha ha ha!! So I'm going to smash little dicks, and throw them in a bowl with some squash and rice. What a delicious meal.

*******

9pm

Finally, it's raining, after nothing but uninterrupted grey dry skies. Like the sun had turned away its face and instead showed a vast, rippling, chilly buttcheek. Well, it wasn't too chilly today, and it was very still....no breeze to speak of, silent and still. I'm glad it's raining, feels like a release cause I've been totally hormonal and weepy all day (without the actual weeping). I finished one of my favorite books, I've read it three times over the last few years, and I feel bereft. And no other good books to turn to right now. I must survive this winter. 

Saturday, October 24, 2009

fa so la ti do

Hey don't be shocked by I am gainfully employed again, though under the table about it. Looks like I might be able to keep my promise to myself after all: not filing taxes for one entire year! Ssssshhhh. A friend of a friend needs help in her home with cooking and cleaning, and so I am helping her.

(disclaimer! notice to the IRS! I haven't earned enough cash to file taxes, under the table or not!)

Yesterday at the workplace I wondered, Does anyone really live here? I wrote a friend: maybe it's a movie set, and someone is fanatical, has a weird fetish, keep this for fun. There were barely any hairs in the sink, the tub was strangely devoid of scummy stuff. The fake white-painted wood blinds (there were so many, there could have been so many more, I count my blessings): barely any dust. But I didn't cheat: I cleaned every damned one of those slats in the blinds. I have a weird conscience (once when I was in high school and just learning to drive I accidentally sideswiped the car in the next parking slot over, as I was backing out - hey. I was driving my mom's big-ass station wagon. But I didn't leave a number, I just looked around to make sure no one saw what I did, and left....my conscience is fickle). So, the blinds, and maybe being a bit older now....couldn't be sneaky about not cleaning what seemed clean to me already.

Anyway, today both kids and the husband were home. The kitchen was a total wreck, in less than 24 hours! No surprise. T (name shortened to protect the innocent) had already warned me that her kids are 'enabled' and I asked to clarify: "You mean, you enable them by doing things for them?" and she said yes, and that her mother has a lot of ideas how she should raise her kids (they should do their own dishes, laundry, etc....well, it doesn't seem like such a bad idea really...the kids are 17 and 12...). Come to think of it though..I don't remember having to do many chores as a kid and I turned out all right, and I prefer my environment to be neat and tidy. Last night after seeing how clean their bathtub was I felt inspired to scrub down my own shower stall.

I made a good vegan meal for their dinner, with lots of veggies, coconut milk, and.....pant pant pant...cilantro.

Cilantro is one of those six-senses orgasmic experiences for me. Oh my god. I want to roll around in it. I promised myself as the summer wound down, with all the accompanying yummy fresh food smells, that I would buy myself a bunch of cilantro every week or so. Maybe just keep it as a bouquet, aromatherapy. (yes I said six senses by the way, my...aura....if you will, my 23 gram soul, responds to it in a very spiritually visceral way)

I asked how to run the dishwasher, explaining to T that I don't have one at home (even when I did, I used it for a big fancy drying rack instead of washing dishes). She then asked if I had a garbage disposal after I looked for the switch to turn the thing on (no I don't have one, it all goes into the compost bin out back). "I remember living like that." She said it without rancor or judgement, but I wanted to laugh. I forget that people become used to certain 'luxuries'.

"Do you have a TV?" This was as she hauled out a Swifter for me to use, to dust the floor and gather dirt.

I hesitated..."Yeah, but it's not hooked up. I watch movies on it." My television, purchased for ten dollars used, is small enough to fit neatly into the small wardrobe. A very small upright dresser. So I can close the doors and not see it when it's not in use. She continued, "well if you watch TV then you might have seen one of these Swifters." I said, "I have seen them, on the internet, as an aid to guerilla art." Unfazed, she said, "Well we don't make guerilla art with this."

But you can. I saw a pictorial demonstration! You can use it as a way to lengthen you reach, by altering the Swifter just a little bit, it will hold a sticker, so you can slap 'em up really high. People are so ingenious.

So I Swifted, and I felt very bourgeois.

Later in the garden, we put the beds to sleep. Pulled some weeds, composted the old tomatoes, and I raked and hauled leaves to mulch with (the best black gold ever - if people realized how great leaves are for compost and soil-making, I don't think there would be any fear of food scarcity...and people who sold mulch for a living might be out of business).

How did we come round to talking about how expensive it is, living? Oh, she would like to go off-grid, since utilities and living expenses are astronomical, and "it's impossible to live on not much money." I wanted to laugh again - ok I know that's not a laughing matter but I think she meant, "without certain luxuries" (they have two cars, two kids, big flat screen tv, hot tub, big yard, etc etc). She corrected herself and said, "well it's possible, if you live simply".

It's always easier to want more. Bigger. Better. You know. Before my brother died, I talked of trying to save money, and I'm pretty good at saving money. He asked me what I could live without, what did I spend all my money on? After I was laid off from work the following year and decided to go on unemployment, I learned how to live pretty comfortably on several hundred dollars less. The two combining events helped shape how I live today: without a car, and a lot of other extras...although I do have a kick-ass computer (when it doesn't go belly up, as it is trying to do again), and an internet connection. Completely unnecessary, but as my friend Clark would say, I don't have cable, I choose Internet :) After learning how to conserve and downsize, and not even feel lacking, I could conceive of working part-time...that lead to the job at the library, where I lived quite comfortably working only 24 hours a week. And, saving enough money to take a year off (what I am doing now).

(shit! I hope I don't sound preachy! ooh ick)

Even though I lived without a computer for awhile...for example...if I didn't have mine now, I would feel really deprived :)

So. It is all relative. And personal.

Autumn is upon us, and it is gorgeous. The flaming maple tree outside of T's house, where I raked, is flipping erotic. The colors here aren't as hectic or dramatic on the whole as New England, but the trees are definitely showing off. Smells good too. And there has been rain, with days of sun and warmth. I like these autumns, when we are easing into winter gently. My home is warm and dry...very cosy, and I am thrilled about this. The sunshine this evening was brilliant through the windows, all golden. I missed the golden opportunity, but I did manage some pretty nice photos of the inside of my little apartment to share, since that's been a habit of mine...documenting and all.

After the photography session, I received some emails from my new friend in Sao Paulo, who complied with my shameless request for Portuguese swear words. Much as I love saying the F word, it's nice to round out the vocabulary a bit. Thanks Caio, I am still laughing really a lot.

On with the show!

Standing by the art tables, on the south side, looking north at the wall of kitchen



Standing at the front door, west side, looking into the kitchen/studio and down the short hallway into the bedroom/salon 



The salon by day, bedroom by night



Now we've returned to the front door, looking south (right) this time, towards the studio with the kitchen wall on my left (same room, it's a two-room wonder I live in, and I mean that sincerely...just enough space for me, easy to keep warm, and easy to clean!)


Yes now we are looking back at the front door, with autumn's splendid glory outside, along with the clothesline (on the very left through the window, just visible)



Here is the cow I promised Caio. S/he sees you wherever you go, very kindly and full of the mirth





And now, I must memorize one more foul word in Portuguese, and call this a very wonderful, complete...kick ass day!!




Tuesday, October 20, 2009

back in the saddle

What the? Who the? Where the....??

The What: my back was messed up for weeks and weeks
The Who: all the kids in the zoo
The Where: the zoo

That is the nutshell version but doesn't make for a very satisfying self-indulgent writing session, nor does it make for too much of an exciting read. I am going to tell you more! Since I have decided to abandon my late-afternoon food-making-mess that needs cleaning up for the nonce.

Yeah, so.....fell into another nice hole there for awhile, I hurt my back making a living, doing yardwork over the summer. With a couple of relapses. I couldn't sit in a chair for very long if at all for weeks and weeks, or ride my bike (WOE!) but I could stand and walk, and lie down and sleep, and I did a fair amount of all of that, and not much art or else. My patience was sorely tried, and I felt grateful for the very real and eventual probability that my body would heal and my life would be back to normal. People with chronic illnesses or strictures....I salute you. Adaptability is a surefire way towards evolution, and I am hard-pressed to evolve when I sink into that depression which accompanies illness or injury.

I'm feeling SoooOOooo much better the last couple of weeks and have been helping Jacque paint the outside of her house. She labored over which colors to paint for a long time, and even longer for the money and time to fund the project. So far two sides of the house (the ones facing the public) are a warm, rich gold trimmed out with 'sommelier' (deep burgundy....the word is french for 'wine waiter' or someone who provides expert opinion on wines) and 'eminent bronze' which is a very noble title don't you think? It renders a nice patois of olive-leaf green. The color combinations are quite stunning, and it's the brightest house on the block (and most visually interesting).

Why do folks paint their houses gunmetal grey or slate blue....in Oregon.....where it rains so much? Besides that, the colors anywhere evoke a sort of prison or military atmosphere. Gah.

It's been great to hang out with Jacque and beautify her home. Not much in the painting season left though, as the skies will slowly turn gunmetal grey and douse us with rain. Okay that's dreary! The skies will turn dove grey and weep. Oh how poetic.

I've been faking myself out thinking I am a generally unproductive leech on society who is happy just humming along being entertained and not giving much back in the way of all that is good and holy. Then I disabuse myself of this notion by sitting down and reading tons of my blogposts (how narcissistic!) and browsing through a library-sized (for me) body of work in the way of art. And I think about all the food I've planted. And the time spent with friends, being in relationship, which for me (for all of us) demands energy, and courage (and is of course rewarding, frustrating, painful, delightful). I go to it willingly, most of the time :)

Waxing poetic again!

I applied for a position at Ye Olde Library, contriving a stand-up typing situation for the day-long ordeal of filling out the application and supplemental questionnaire online (sitting at a computer wasn't a viable option at that point, what with my ruined backside)...and wasn't even granted an interview. Y'all know I worked there for six freaking years, right?! When I learned that the interviews were scheduled and I hadn't received a call, I was puzzled. I held it together, I didn't even blow up. I marched myself to the Human Resource office and talked with Kate Rowles, who has ever been gracious and helpful to me. As our conversation lengthened, I started feeling really wretched and pitiful. I expressed that I felt hard-pressed to not take it personal. After all, there are failsafes against this: The city of Eugene is an Equal Opportunity Employer. They score the applications and the questionnaires. It's not a personality contest - even in the interviews.

This presents advantages and egregious disadvantages. If personality doesn't count for anything, you are apt to hire really shitty people to do Great Customer Service. But if you have credentials, can answer the questions correctly, then you have a good Librarian Mind and are well-suited to said work. Faugh!!

So inside of five minutes with Kate I traversed self-pity, outrage (giving them all the big fat middle finger when I exited the HR building), other-pity (Your guys' loss! I am a kick-ass worker and an awesome person!), and finally......relief.

What the -? Well, because: the Library is a nest of vipers. Mostly from management. Sad really. The political climate isn't very democratic, though they give you lip service aplenty. I could go on and ON about it, I should know, I was part of the dysfunctional family for a long time. And by part of, I don't mean 'complicit'. Working as a shelver in the Circulation department is soul-death. But I would do it, as a means to an end: working upstairs again, this time as an Adult Services Library Assistant.

Enough of that. I haven't boycotted the Libary; I'm quite happy being a mere patron, thank you! In fact, today I stopped in to pick up one of my favorite author's latest books (goody goody), a few DVDS, and a children's book. The children's book is by an artist I was just introduced to by way of a friend (who still works at the libary)(and who told me a wretched story about management just today). I've always wanted to write and illustrate a children's book. So, some research and art appreciation. Among the DVDs is a documentary about twin brothers, one of whom underwent transgender surgery. I don't anticipate an insipid, offhand, histrionic film....and I recently read an article about how most people fall along a spectrum of sort-of blended genders. Genders aren't really black and white, folks (oh!.....duh).

On my way out after checking my materials I said to the folks behind the desk (we have shared many working hours together), "Keep living the dream!" I wasn't being nasty.

Outside at my trusty steed, as I hoisted my pannier from ground-level on to the bike rack, the loop on one of my shoelaces slipped and was caught and trapped inside one of the pannier buckles - which isn't a closed buckle, but open a teeny weeny bit on an end. My upward momentum was brought up short and ended abruptly. What are the chances? I mean, I couldn't do that again if I tried....I was laughing, I guess you had to be there, but I thought, It's like one of those carnival games: You either need great skill to actually throw the hoop over the narrow-necked bottle and make it stick since all the bottles are packed like sardines and the plastic hoops are repelled by them as like disparate magnet ends....or you just need blind dumb luck to win the game.

Sooo still chuckling to myself I rode back to The Copy Shop to pick up prints of some watercolors I've done recently, hand the lady my credit card (for a measly $1.50 charge) and she's sorry but there is a two-dollar minimum and would I like to buy a notebook? I sputter - this is my third failed attempt to print out the darn things at this shop for reasons I won't blather on about - and leave without the prints, my good humor evaporated in a flash of self-important frustration.

Dumb. I'm like a snail, poking my mealy head out waving my tentacles tasting the good air and earth and finding it lovely and then at the slightest impediment, withdraw into my shell. But not after striking out like a surly cat or something. I mean I didn't rip her a new one, but geeez.....I so often fail to think of options when I'm feeling thwarted. Dumb!

So I'll make more watercolors, make more jpeg files, and take my thumbdrive back for more prints to total above two dollars.

Which I'll go do soon, after I adjourn to clean up the kitchen half of the studio.