beach time, girl time

how long since i've been on vacation? three years? ahhh, the sun, sand, and best of all, girl time. it was *lovely* in so many ways. but i am not a great traveler, just like the little fiddler crab, i'm glad to be back in my own salt marsh.



little junebug usually looks so demure.

but after her harecut, she is looking proud. (or maybe mad?)

looks like i missed a spot under her chin. it's so hard to get that area. not the prettiest backdrop, but my bunny grooming station is on top of the washing machine. i used to agonize over my angora bunny care. it took me a long time to learn how to manage their coats and it can be unhealthy (even dangerous) to the bunnies if they don't have nearly constant upkeep. i mean, it doesn't sound difficult, but it takes more than a little knowledge and effort! these days it seems like we are in a good routine, and i enjoy taking care of the little bugses.

june is the sweetest, chillest rabbit i've ever met. she was such a tiny thing when denise sent her to me. she has gotten so much bigger, but still just as sweet.

tomorrow, i'm going to the beach with my oldest bff. i think i'm going to try an experiment and not bring my laptop. i want to focus on her and her kids, and on vegging and dreaming and reading, rather than trying to find wifi. it will be strange to be mostly net-less for a few days. i'll probably be obsessively tweeting from my phone! but i think just a short break might clear some cobwebs. i'm taking my diana camera so hopefully i'll bring home some good pics. see you soon.


shearing day




i'm so glad shearing is over because it always stresses me out! but the most stressful part was getting everyone caught before the shearer arrived. they got out a few times, and the donkeys too. this new shearer was super gentle. the sheeps all look good under there and they are all hoppy and frisky now. and i was also thinking that the wool might be too full of burrs and hay, but it looks *awesome*. will take pics when i lay it out and skirt it, but when he was done it started to rain.


model's coat

my mom found this little pot and gave it to me. the inside has a wire basket for soaking brushes. there's even a tiny printed label with a palette. it's so cute that i thought maybe i would start painting again.

then, this thing happened. i know you won't even believe me. i used to have a vintage jacket-type thing that i would wear for painting. it must have got away from me over the years because when i went to look for it recently, i couldn't find it. i was bummed because i liked it and even wore it sometimes as a dress.

then, when i was looking in the little room at the recycling center the other day (yes, the very same one where i found the flag), i happened to notice some denim and gingham and ... i could not believe, but it was the jacket-thingy. i looked it over carefully and it was the same colors, same brand, same stitching, same flower applique.. i did a double-take and wondered if it was the very same exact one, if by chance i had donated it and it turned back up here. but it turns out that this one is nice and roomy, whereas the one i used to have was ever so slightly too small. i got the new one all washed and wore it today. i love to paint, i want to paint, and i don't even remember why i stopped painting other than i have too many interests. i can't help but see this as a sign.



i'm so happy with my new little girl. and i'm completely converted to wool felt, and kapok too.

marisa's fishbowl class is heating up... there is so much great information, and so much to think about. i have about 100 questions and tasks after today's class, which is exciting but a little overwhelming. i have to remember that it's all a creative process and it can't and shouldn't be forced. i think i identified - and eliminated - one of the biggest sources of my anxiety lately, so yay!


back to work

so, i went back to my little studio yesterday for the first time in a while. i've been traveling and junking and doing farmy chores, and got sick in the middle of it all with a lingering stomach flu. and i've also had to deal with that icky situation with my ex, and my own annoying lawyer who did absolutely nothing. he even sounded drunk that one time he actually took my call. ultimately i decided to bend over and take the easy way out. and i feel such relief. still some emotional fallout for sure, but more peace than i've felt in a while. no more worries about waking up to a process server. my dogs don't like strangers showing up at 6:40 a.m. and no worries about friends who are friends with him.

i don't like being a divorced person. it makes me feel like shit. i also don't like having such antipathy for my ex. why couldn't we be those people who treated each other fairly and held their heads high? even kept some semblence of friendship? because he's a motherfucker, that's why. lately i've been reminded of when he confessed that he had held my little dog, tallulah, up to an electric fence, supposedly to teach her not to run off. i had been very clear when we got married that he was not ever, ever, allowed to "discipline" my dogs in any way. they were my friends and i don't believe in physical punishment. of course, i realize that everyone does stupid shit. anyone can do things that are unforgivable, and in a better marriage, i might have gotten past it. but his priorities really had to do with money, not with family, not with me. and he had anger issues and insecurities that manifested in completely unacceptable ways. and since we got married so quickly, i found that out way too late.

but, whatever i needed to go through to get here was worth it. i love being married to my sweet hub. i love his gentleness, his wisdom, his strength, the fact that he has no need to prove that he is manly. he won't even kill bugs. when i asked him to get a big spider out of the bathroom, he went and looked at him and told me, "Oh, that's Fred." when i told him i saw Fred crawl into his shoe, he said, "ok, I'll be careful not to hurt him." i think we had at least ten Freds guarding our perimeter last summer. i don't like bugs in the house, but it's nice to just take them outside. i don't bring this up to compare these men. there is no comparison.

how did i get off on this subject when i was planning to blog about studio time? i guess it's that i'm still processing my rage at my ex. and it wasn't really, truly finished until now, four years later. and i started reading Committed by Liz Gilbert the other night and (like EPL) it's totally working for me. i've never really formed my own story of my divorce. i didn't really share what all happened with anyone except my best friend, who is now my hub.

so anyhow, i spent most of the time yesterday organizing my new linen stash. and i started a new dog, who is mostly stitched and drying right now after being tea-dyed. he's made of 100% wool felt, and this is my first experience with wool felt vs. the other stuff. so far, i'm not sure what i think.

i am feeling so lazy though today, but also stressed out about how i spend my time and my lack of productivity. maybe i should do what marisa did and track my time for a week. it might help me feel better, because i think i might be expecting too much of myself, and not counting many things i do here at the farm that *are* work. or maybe it's that my studio time feels like play. it seems like there was something else i wanted to blog about, but now i can't remember..

(you can spot my encore petite squirrel pillow in his new environs, which makes the place so much friendlier!) and yes, that is an old air conditioner made into a coffee/laptop table. i got tired of waiting for it to be moved and put it to use.

hoops just waiting to be filled..

and another studio mascot..


bats and barbarella

from a 1968 Life magazine i had laying around. i think i bought it (ages ago) because that's the year i was born and it seemed auspicious. such a fun time capsule. plus i love bats! and barbarella too.


jumping in

i hope that my subconscious has been working on my homework from marisa's fishbowl e-course, because i just haven't tackled it yet. the questions are not easy, and i tend to overthink everything anyway. i second guess myself (and third and fourth guess). i'm still questioning decisions i made years ago.

i've been bummed because the hub is out of town, but it's turned out to be such a relaxed time. given me a chance to sit with myself. after listening to this week's podcast, and reading dana's awesome post on being more real online - i'm inspired to think through these questions right here, right now!

why do you love what you create?

i like creating something that fits my own particular aesthetics and interests. rather than trying to search out my perfect whatever, i can make it. i love working with my hands, and once my time and energy have gone into an object, it is part of me. creations are also little memory containers for what i was thinking, feeling, listening to at the time. so i *have* to love them on some level, because i'm trying to be nicer to myself.

what are you working on when you lose all sense of time?

embroidery and sewing. it's comforting to me and i never want to stop. i used to also lose myself in painting, but i haven't done that in a few years. sometimes i zone out when i'm spinning or knitting, but more often i am thinking about other things i need to do.

this answer isn't entirely satisfying, since i'm wanting to do more in the way of photography, and when i'm roaming around with my camera i often feel rushed or self-conscious. but i still do it a lot.

what does success mean to you?

this is the hardest one and what i always struggle with. what seems to be most important to me is freedom - specifically freedom to do what i want to with my time, and not be a slave to a job that i dislike (i've had many of those). success means having time to think, create, and spend with family.

it also means having a community, on and offline, with a dialogue around artsy issues. i have to say that i also want some sense of validation. for others to like what i make. i wish i didn't feel dependent on that, but there it is.

what does it look like?

i love our cosy home in the woods with our animal friends, but i dream of having a bigger house. i'm not sure why though - maybe i watch too much hgtv. i am interested in living more off the grid, and there's no need for more space to heat, cool and clean. i may need to let that dream go. i need more flowers though. peonies. and some sweet vacations. i also dream of living abroad some day, but i'm not sure how that will work out with our donkeys.

how are you honestly, genuinely feeling about yourself in relation to your work right now?

kinda stuck. i don't have a good routine, and working both at home and in my studio has me all disorganized. i am not treating it like a job. and i'm a little bored with what i've been doing.

i'd like to prioritize and set some goals. one friend told me that she works part of the time on her "production line" and part on her fine art, and each are marketed differently, but they support and inform each other. at this point, i am in the middle of all these thoughts and have no answers. i'd love to hear yours...

more homework

i was trying to come up with my list of words for the fishbowl's week II homework. words that represent me and my work. then i totally cheated. but that's what poems are for, right? conjuring.

Dorothy Allen
Thoughts from a Hammock

Citronella &
two pairs, &
moon’s wings
Sock for-
lorn, &
scorned, re-
Citronella &
(like hands’
Is it heaven?
Is it?
No question.


a new complicity?

Mum and I went to see Cavalia over the holidays. It was such fun to go to the theatre - we used to go often but not so much in recent years. I've loved Cirque du Soleil so I figured this would be a real treat - a similar show but with horses - especially because I splurged for the VIP package with cocktails and hors d'ouvres and a tour of the stables afterward..

And the show was magical. After the opening video, of a mare birthing a foal, two colts galloped across the stage. These colts were said to be rescued just days before the show.

From creator Normand Latourelle:

An ode to beauty
A freedom fantasy
A hymn to harmony
One step towards a new complicity

But aside from the filmed birth scene, all of the 58 horse performers in Cavalia are male, both geldings and stallions. No females. It is astonishing that they can perform complex choreography and rodeo work with stallions. The show's equestrian choreographer says,
"Our philosophy is about understanding the horse, as opposed to making him understand us," explains Frédéric Pignon. His approach to working with stallions at liberty has generated spectacular and unique in the world performances.
I wish I knew more about their reasons for choosing to work only with males - although it seems to be a big part of their press, I can't find anything about why. I imagine though that if they want to work with stallions, mares would cause problems. It seems odd though that this step toward a new complicity would be so starkly sexed.

This photo is from the programme - it was my favorite "act" of all - called Grand Liberte'. This woman walked about on stage with all these stallions, alternately allowing them to frolic and play and controlling their actions with soft talking and clicking sounds. It's strange - even disconcerting - to see such huge animals cantering across the stage and *fast* with no reins, leads, nothing. Naked horses.

The horses are of many different breeds - Lusitano, Quarter Horse, P.R.E., Arabian, Paint, and some breeds I've never even heard of like the Comtois and the Criollo. Each breed is suited to the types of "work" displayed in the performances, which ranged from crazy rodeo trick riding to perfect technical dressage.

As entranced as I was by the show, my cynical brain couldn't help but wonder if the respect for the horse was more of a marketing ploy than the reality of their lives. I mean, the show must go on. And even though every horse has an understudy, surely it isn't an easy life. There would be no place for poor performers. The horses are individualized and named and talked about similarly to the human artists in the show. In the programme, even the different breeds ("races" in French) are set forth as comparable to the different nationalities of the human actors, who hail from Canada, Europe, Russia, the U.S., etc. (just like the horses).

I'm sure they have come under fire from the animal rights groups (and specifically the folks who don't think that horses should be ridden or farmed), and their show materials are meant to respond to any objections before they are raised. I wondered if the show was really just a repackaged circus, with prettier music and more romantic sets. But the show actually did explore all these issues - of freedom and captivity, of gender and power, of inter-relationship, through the art which was the show itself.

I always remember how a friend of mine brilliantly said (on kind of a different subject, but not really), "there's no *free* any more, there's just captive and captor." I think Cavalia explores the meaning of freedom within that structure ... the freedom fantasy Latourelle references.

I also loved how the troupe sang to various horse objects, stuffed animals and riding toys, acknowledging the power of the horse imaginary.

These are a few of my pics from the stable tour afterwards, where the horses were busy munching:


my dream sofa

right now, we don't have a sofa. well, i have a sofa in my studio but that's not at home. it's a great thrifted sofa, but doesn't fit in our little tv room, which is *tiny* and full of bookshelves. plus, i have been verging on militant in our new house that we not clutter it up like we did in the last house. i am a huge packrat, but i'm happier in just slightly more minimalist surroundings. but stillllll, who doesn't want to snuggle up on their sofa with a book or movie?? and like certain other bloggers, i have had my dream sofa in mind for ages.

and i've been inspired by back garage that a sofa *can* work in front of bookshelves. not pushed up against them, but pretty close to them.

but now, i'm pretty sure i have found my dream sofa. it's suitably small so i think it would fit in the room. it's crewel for chrissakes. it's a design by natalie lete, who purely by coincidence i blogged about the other day. but it has one small drawback: it's $3498 plus $250 in shipping. and i never buy new furniture (well, except for ikea). i've never remotely considered spending that kind of cash on a piece of furniture. hopefully, it will go on sale like other amelie sofas have in the past. it's not to everyone's taste. it came out last fall, so maybe soon? but even still, it won't be cheap. i don't know people who spend that kind of money on furniture. is it normal? is it crazy?

the other small drawback is that my sweet hub - while he's terribly indulgent of my design choices - he would really rather have a la-z-boy or those huge squadgy things people buy for their mcmansion media rooms. maybe it's good we don't have that kind of space! but is this a sofa for lounging, or just for admiring?? some of the reviews i've read said it was surprisingly comfortable.. and if i found an antique sofa that was anything like this (sans octopus of course), it would probably have bad springs and sawdust falling out..

this is to try to get an idea of what the sofa might look like in front of my bookshelves. although it might mean rethinking the vintage modern lighting and the striped velvet curtains. and the cowhide rug. and the dogs. (sigh) and we do live in a landlocked farmhouse - would this be absurd in a farmhouse? it is still my dream sofa, and i think it might be kind of awesome.

gratuitous bright star blogging

i know that so many others have blogged beautifully about bright star, and really this is just co-opting some of the movie's gorgeousness for my own little space. but i watched it again last night and am still in that galaxy. i even bought a long wool gabardine coat with velvet trim at the good will that has no other use than for walking in the heath. but is there heath here in the south? what is a heath exactly?

one thing that interests me about this sublime intro to the film is that the needle almost seems to move of its own accord - it is the prime mover (and not to reduce everything to psychomumble, but how phallic!) but we know it is in fanny's deft hands, and we see a flash, here and there, of a finger. and then she appears quietly, quietly, all in white and shadow, stitching.. for the entire film to start with this needle and fabric and thread, it must signify. the stitching together of lives and hearts, and the needle that pierces every time it joins. it is a fully heartbreaking story after all.

in the film, fanny's stitching seems related somehow to her own sense of self-actualization. she has a self-contained sort of presence, and especially so when she is stitching. but when she is desperate for a letter from keats, she won't stitch. and it is her art, and something she takes great pride in. it is directly related to her beauty since she designs and sews her wardrobe. it's something she uses to care for those she loves - creating pillow-slips, mending holes. and it's also something that is used (by charles) to denigrate her, and associated with fun, frivolity, humor, "french ribbon" - as opposed to the oh-so-serious intellectual (and manly) work of making art with words. if she is stitching in the first scene, she is reciting poetry at the last. i'd love to hear what anyone else thinks about all this..

and i just have to add this, another favorite scene, since a thing of beauty is a joy forever and all..


i've been spending a lot of time the last few days staring at the walls and the ceiling. i think it was bad seafood. right now, i don't want to ever eat it again, ever.


so much for so little

i've been putting off doing my Happy 101 Blogger Award post even though i was thrilled to be tagged by mathyld! it's hard to think happy when down with the flu, and i have been fluish for days, and then yesterday when it hit me *hard*. but i'm up a little today and was looking over this wonderful granny basket i got at an estate sale last week.

do you ever find granny baskets? you know, the box or tray with some assortment of threads, tools, notes to self, and other odds and ends? probably just like one of your many little sewing tableaux but from another woman from a different era and her remnants and pieces of bygone projects. a good estate seller will not try and piece out each little item for pricing, but will price the whole kaboodle and cheap! luckily this one looked at this box and said "fifty cents."

so my no. 1 happy thought is granny baskets.

2. and good luck, perhaps helped along with some other tools...

3. i've been learning to size things up rather than taking them at face value.

4. randomness, like a marble hidden (stuck!) inside this tatting thread.

5. in the tradition of strong women, being able to take matters into one's own hands when necessary.

6. crafts, oh yes.

7. old things full of history and memory, and a healthy dose of humor.

8. friends, old and new, who take us with all our flaws. (poor ricky's hand was sewn back on rather strangely.. he was not a resident of the granny basket - he was a find of my mom's.)

9. having guides along the path, especially my sweet hub and my beautiful mother. (and i just signed up for an e-course! In the fish bowl.)

10. grace, something i don't credit nearly often enough.

and if you have gotten this far, you are officially tagged!! really, it feels good. write ten things that make you happy - and knowing that some of my sweet friends don't blog, you can leave them in the comments here..