Sunday, July 14, 2024

Weaving in the Ends

[moving posts over from my newer blog,]

Longtime bloggers sometimes disappear without a trace, their blogs left hanging in the air like a torn spiderweb. Where did their creators go?

I am grateful that Pat, the blogger of Weaver of Grass, has written a farewell post, "Final".
Pat has been living with end-of-life care for cancer, and now as her "faculties begin to fail", she is bowing out with an exhortation to "be of good cheer" to readers in her position healthwise, and
a thank you, and good-bye.
Graceful and gracious, as ever.

As of this morning, 130 people have left comments on Pat's post, most saying thank-you, that she has been and remains an inspiration. Several people said they'd never commented before. I thought it was nice they came out to say good-bye. (I'd only found Weaver in the past year and had only commented a couple times myself.)

Pat has the strengths of her generation, like my Auntie Vi, that I'd just written about.
"Look for the silver lining; 
don't grumble;  always find something interesting, even if you are housebound". She didn't tolerate unkindness towards others but was patient with inane opinions.

She wrote about the view from her window--her garden, dogs and their walkers--her enjoyment of a "two-finger Kit Kat", and as she writes in her final post, she "
often got ideas for a post from reading my daily paper".
This reminds me of advice I got
when I started my first blog in 2003, inspired by a pal, Tim, of the long-gone Primate Brow Flash.
Tim said, "If you can't think of something to write, write about something in the New York Times."

Marz showed some of this grace yesterday, in response to the news:
She looked up from the Internet last night and told me someone had shot at Trump.
I admit my first thought was regret that they'd missed, but her reaction humbled and recalled me.

"I don't want us to live like this," Marz said. "I want to be part of the calm in the craziness."

Part of the calm in the craziness.

I am of the generation who grew up during the Vietnam War and Watergate and Civil Rights, spurred to cultivate the strengths of questioning authority, experimentation, righteous outrage, and rebellion.
Yay, us!
Let us rage on!

As I age, I also want to fold in some qualities that I had disdained in the older generation when I was young.
What I condemned as passivity may be grace under fire; what I'd considered repression, wisdom in choosing your words and
thoughtfulness toward others...

Learning goes both ways.
Auntie Vi could, in fact, be a little too passive for me--and, maybe for her too.
At the age of 92, 
for the first time in her life she made a public political statement. She asked me to order a "March for Our Lives" shirt for her (after the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting).
On the day when students across the United States demonstrated for gun control, she wore the shirt around her village center--at the coffee shop, in the library, stopping in all the places where everyone knew her.
"I had to say something for the kids."

Outrage, expressed with care.
Calm in the craziness.
Thank you, that generation.

Saturday, July 13, 2024

Water is wet.

A new branch of Sebastian Joe's Ice-Cream shop has opened not far from me. I stopped on my bike... Spendy, $8 a cup.


I sat outside my front door this morning, rather than on the secluded north side. So close to the sidewalk, I get to chat with dog walkers.
I soon came inside though--this rainy summer has been perfect for mosquito proliferation.

Aaaand--right on cue--it's raining again.
Or, in weather speak, "We are currently experiencing a rain weather event."
Parts of the state--and people's basements--are flooding, but neighborhood yard gardens are flourishing.

You can see the building's new color--I notice this color is popular for cars too. I like it.
What the color's name? 
ummmm... Mediterranean Sea Evening.  Salt Box Blue.
Okay, then: Salt Box Blue exists, (of course), and it's pretty much it. "Mediterranean Night" is close too.

But how predictable; I'm not thinking Starbucks enough.
Silk Scarves Under the Bed. Smooth Ride to Nowhere.
Childhood Gym Suit. Mundane Monday.

Let's see... *googles blue-gray paint names*
Blue Arrow, Samovar Silver, Good Jeans, Evening Dove.
Okay, but Borrowed Light, and Rising Tide? Don't those sound  ominous?
And, Concrete Pots? Is this attractive? ("Concrete Shoes/Chicago Overcoat")
At least you can guess what that color is.
How 'bout "Instinct"?

I went and heated up my coffee in the microwave, and when I came back, it had rained on yesterday's lino print under the window.
It's okay, it's just another thimble...  Boring, but instructive.
(Maye I could collage them into Daleks!)

TIL (today I learned) the water-based ink is not waterproof. Duh. That's the point.
Circles are hard!
As is thinking backward---the "39" should come from the left-- it's the tail end of "1939", but I wasn't thinking right (left).
It's a little bit frustrating, but THIS IS GOOD FOR ME.
A couple great sewing packets from the store, Crowley's Lion Brand Sharps, Snap!

I didn't go to the store yesterday after all. Shall I go today for a few hours?
I'd pictured myself helping, which is fun, not leading, which is work. But as I've said, the new BOOK's worker does not have it all under control, so I end up trying to fix things.
I don't have to, though! I can change my attitude:
just do a few things I like.

Yes! Okay. I will go in until noon and just pack up some toys.

Friday, July 12, 2024


Daniel Tiger & Black Panther ^ on the Toy Bridge

I am afraid of banking and making phone calls and administrative tasks like that.
Like, I'm not (very) afraid of the dentist, but I am afraid of MAKING THE APPOINTMENT to go to the dentist. Also, filling out forms about money. I just don't.

So––very boring, but exciting to me--I am Super Proud that tiny-frightened-tiger me did a Super Thing in the realm of Practical Life Skills yesterday.
With the hand-holding of brave bink––who also dreads these kinds of things but had stumbled on a nice banker she took me to see––
I went to the bank and bought a thing the banker called "an instrument", which I should have done almost THREE YEARS AGO with money I got from Auntie Vi when she died.

No, wait--I didn't get the money 3 years ago.
Vi died three years ago, but I waited almost ONE YEAR to fill in the forms with her insurance company--and even then, I got my SISTER to do it for me. It took 15 minutes.

And then I waited two more years to move it to an interest-bearing savings "instrument". Which also took 15 minutes--not including driving time and going out after for celebratory Iced Brown Sugar Oatmilk Lattes at Starbucks.
I also splurged twenty bucks for a 12 oz.-bag of premium, fair trade bean--with "nutty and cocoa-toned highlight notes of pistachio, salted caramel and baking chocolate".

I like Starbucks, atrocious ad copy notwithstanding.
I don't even care what evil means they employ to make this happen, everything works like clockwork there, and I find the contrast with the thrift store calming and reassuring. Clean aprons are possible!
At the thrift store, there aren't enough aprons for workers;
half the things I set up for human dignity (including the bench in the exit hallway) have been dismantled;
and the bullet-hole in the front window remains after 2+ years, its cracks more crazed than ever.

I've come to suspect that Big Boss is proud of the shot window--possibly considers it a badge of honor? This would make some psychological sense--he has become Executive Director this year, and that's far from his hood roots. The window affirms that, as Mr Furniture says, "We're the ghetto mall".
Not that there's any doubt about that.
There's no Starbucks for miles.

I'm volunteering today, Book's Girl's day off.
I totally didn't mean to diss the young people for being floaty, btw--look at the world they live in!--but I do like to power through work on my own.

The Once and Future King is hotting up, now Arthur is grown and married to Guenever. I totally missed this as a young adult, but it is a weird book, full of nasty cruelty--and a main character, Lancelot, whose own attraction to cruelty spurs him to wrench himself into alien kindness (thereby bringing down the edifice of Goodness that Arthur had constructed out of cards).

T. H. White spells this all out for us, quite clearly.
I'd said in an earlier post that the book was subtle, not preachy, but I was entirely wrong--it smacks you in the face with its thrashing moral anguish over how to be good.

I gather that was T. H. White's struggle himself--"a homosexual sadist" who refused to beat the boys he taught, but whose book The Goshawk recording his cruelty to his captive hawk disturbed Siegfried Sassoon so much that he couldn't finish reading it:
“I now flinch from anything frightful,” Sassoon wrote, “and what I read was agonizing."
(--"How to Train Your Raptor"--review of H Is for Hawk in the New Yorker)

O&F King is too blatant--thud! but it's also good about how hard it is to figure out how to construct anything good in this world.
Poor Arthur! He is not internally conflicted, he is simple and good--White literally says so--but he just can't figure out, no matter how hard he tries, and he tries very hard, how to create lasting social goodness.
Goodness is a wild, slippery and muscular fish.

Trying to force Goodness into domesticated tidiness is a mistake. Like the Project 2025, which Michael at OCA has been posting strictures from--(today's, on "Leftist broadcasters").
Attempts like the Project's to clean up human society are
pathetic, laughable, and very frightening.

After all, even in the 1950s the "happiest of doll families" didn't need two parents, and Baby has no gender! From paper ephemera at the store:

Thursday, July 11, 2024


My favorite thing! Yesterday I sorted the box of paper odds-and-ends that I'd set aside before I left the thrift store 4+ months ago.


Sorting ephemera is one of many things Book's Girl (BG) hasn't gotten around to doing . . . and maybe never will.
She is a lovely person and I like her very much. Her pleasant demeanor is good for the store. But she's not a great worker in the category of Getting Things Done. (Which, technically, is 90 percent of thrift work.)
She sort of floats around.

I've noticed this floatiness in other young people too.
(BG is nineteen.)
Marz says some of her young coworkers act as if they expect a GPS to tell them where to go, what to do. They're smart, they're nice--they just can't read the map and follow it on their own.

Is floatiness a hallmark of this generation (or a segment of it)?
An effect of the Internet?
"This machine will tell me exactly what."
Or that they were teenagers when Covid shut their lives down
four-and-a-half years ago?
"No point trying because there's nothing."
Or, I don't know... Maybe it's an accident of the people I happen to meet.

But generations do have personalities, don't they?
Personalities follow the fashions and force-fields of the times-- maybe coping mechanisms, maybe flowering patterns.
"Oh, the sunlight shines over there, I'm going to grow all leggy and get in that."

Like the similarities --survival tactics?-- I saw in the three people all born within a year of one another (1925), even though born into very different social strata:
my Auntie Vi, President Jimmy Carter, and Queen Elizabeth II:
a "mustn't grumble" attitude, and a high value
placed on self-starting hard work....
"Nobody built a bridge over that creek so I'll drag over a log to place across it so I can walk 5 miles to school and avoid getting beat at home (no point telling anyone that)."

I'm not applauding this over that. My auntie's generation's strengths were strengths, but they could be rigid in harmful ways too.
"Don't talk about your war nightmares."
But some of those strengths are excellent for AGING.

How is my generation aging? Those of us now around retirement age... (The tail end of the Baby Boomers.)

That's harder for me to see.
Hmmmmm.... Let's see. Here're a couple I'm a little bit of myself:

Don't stop thinking about tomorrow! There's an Age-Is-Just-a-Number attitude I see in my class.
This is a lie in the face of reality and can be obnoxious--
"Let's go bungee jumping in New Zealand"-- but also encouraging in its own zippidyDooda way.

Where have all the flowers gone, and where are our-flying-cars? We're in a state of shock at the state of the Future. We have the Internet in our back pockets, but we still drive on the ground. Also, we shouldn't drive, because carbon.
"This is not the future we were promised."
Well, but it's one of the futures... "Jimmy Carter was right."

There are more! Ideas?

Etymology of ephemera; late 16th century: plural of ephemeron, from Greek, ‘lasting only a day’. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2024


The first-of-six printmaking ^ classes, last night. Ten students. It was SO MUCH NICER being in a live class than learning from youTube or a book.
It's interesting to be with people--like, one woman had potato-printed her shorts with bleach instead of ink; another works for a private collector of prints; a young man is an opera singer.

And a chatty group, which I like. The topic of how we visualize things came up--in pictures (like Temple Grandin, I said)? In words?
One woman said that when she'd heard Beverly Sills sing live, she saw colors--the only time that happened to her.

The teacher is a nice Minnesotan girl (very young), and helpful. Her own prints are highly detailed and controlled, but she was encouraging of all styles:
"Printmaking is democratic--it's cheap, you can do it at home, you can use anything--you don't need a press--you can print with a wooden spoon or run it over with your car!"

For starters, we carved & printed little lino blocks.
Mine, below, is a thimble--a give-away from radio station WCCO at the 1939 State Fair. I found it at a thrift store.
My thimble looks like a parmesan-cheese shaker . . . or a nuclear power stack?
I don't care--I loved making it. Will try, try again.
(1939...! And we think we've got problems. (We do, though.)

KG and I went out for a beer after, at 9 pm. I'm usually in bed by then, so I recorded it:
Look, I can go out in the world
at night with the others.
Those years around the murder of George Floyd, and Covid, were so thick and heavy... I slept a lot. I'm grateful to feel lighter and brighter. For however long that lasts, I'm going to relish it.

Next up for class, we carve a 9" x 12" woodblock, which the teacher sent home with us.
I was a little disappointed: the block--Japanese shina plywood--is "relatively featureless ", fine-grained, very smooth.
I was picturing a hunk of driftwood or something from the forest.

I could go find such a thing for myself, if I want. Wilderness printmaking.
Got texture? Roll a brayer over it!
Funny I'd think I want that, when I chose such a finicky thing as a thimble to carve.  But I am wanting to try printing all sort of things.

I'm going to volunteer at the thrift store today, after taking the week
after the Fourth of July off. I'd thought I'd want to work at the store every day this summer, but in fact I find I want to putz around at home, doing my projects. I'm really glad the schools didn't need me to work summer school.

It makes a huge, good difference that Marz is staying here---she's out and about a lot, but I'm not alone for 48-hour stretches, and anyway, she is a delight to me.

(It also makes more difference than I thought that I'm not paid at the thrift store. How much time do I want to give away for free? Less than I expected.)

Marz has registered for classes, so it looks like she will be moving to Duluth toward the end of August for college. (She'd been unsure.)
I sure hope she gets good teachers... She's chosen some super interesting classes, including Intro to Journalism, and The Bible in History & Art.
(I told her she could show-and-tell the girlettes' Judith & Holofernes, but she said NO DOLLS IN COLLEGE.)

At any rate, it's brilliant that this State has made our colleges' tuition free (for people whose family income is under $80k). Sharpen your tools!

Tuesday, July 9, 2024

everything is potential collage material

"You learn nothing from success", says George Clooney, most successful guy on Earth.

Nothing? You learn what success is, which looks quite nice... 
But point taken. "Try lots of things and make mistakes," as my librarian friend said.

Look: I failed to carve recognizable sew-on snaps on lino.
I pulled one print, just to see.
Yep, FAIL.
Then I drew eyes with a marker, and now it's "Planets Share Secrets" or something.

What I learned:
Carving a block is reductive, you can't add to the block... but you can add to individual prints--by hand, later.
Everything is potential collage material.

Clooney showed up on my IG feed after I'd been texting a friend about daring to FAIL in printmaking... To keep trying to print sewing notions, which are hard, rather than going back to bears, which are easy (relatively).

I'd also seen Clooney when I rewatched Gravity (2013) the night before, but that was on DVD, so the Socials wouldn't know. Would they?


How come some systems work so well it's scary, and others can barely manage the minimum?
Like, how come Amazon delivers our every whim to our door  within 24 hours, driving by people living in tents to get me my doohickeys,
and meanwhile the US presidential race is a malfunctioning Clown Car?

I don't follow politics but some of it is unmissable, and I do think Biden should step down from the race.
You got a print image that doesn't work?
Mix it up. Tear it up. Try something else!

Concerns about Biden's age aside, some young people especially hate him for his handling of Israel enough to not-vote for him. 

UPDATE, to clarify: I worry that Biden might lose to Trump because he’s lost people’s confidence with his frighteningly poor performance in the debate and he’s alienated otherwise sympathetic voters over Israel. 

I'll vote against Trump no matter what, even if Biden were completely gaga—but plenty won’t

I hear a lot of people saying they won’t vote at all. 
(Trump's hardline pro-Israel anyway, no improvement there, though he rightly says they are "losing the PR war".
No kidding.
What if they'd let the horrific Hamas terror attacks of October sink into the world's consciousness for a good while longer?)

Maybe the Democrats should learn from strategies in the UK's and France's recent victories:
"The winning parties in both the UK and France won by realizing that the nature of their systems required that they
sacrifice some specific candidates in order to defeat the right."

--via Vox, "The real lesson for America in the French and British elections", July 8, 2024.

I guess I do follow politics, a little:
my primary sources are mostly bink (in person) and Orange Crate Art--then I do look up specific things.

bink made a print on Sunday too--a terrier (of course) in a beret, holding a coffee mug--based on graffiti she saw in Spain:

Sunday, July 7, 2024

A snap as if it were a cat

I set up a workspace--moved and cleared a table, and this morning I'm sketching snaps to print (from a photo, so they stay still). Printmaking class starts on Tuesday--I'll try a proof first...

Snaps are deceptively simple machines. I'd never looked closely at how they work--so clever!

Unexpectedly, this process reminds me of photography. I guess it's similar: transferring light & dark to a 2D plane.

Machine-made objects are hard to draw . . . because they are hard-edged.
Nature's edges are variable, so if you draw them different from the original, often it doesn't matter so much.

I like the idea of a wobbly image of a machine-made object-- looking as if it were a plant, or a cat.
So long as it's still recognizable.

How forgivable are machine-made edges???

Not sure, but that's what I'll try with the sewing notions series...

Friday, July 5, 2024

Stolen Cookies

Here's a funny thing about a not-funny thing:
bink & Maura's kitchen is being renovated, and the other night someone broke in through the not-very-secure temporary door and stole Maura's wallet and laptop.

Nothing else seemed to be missing, but this morning bink texted me:

"I discovered the one thing of mine that was stolen:
the bag of gingersnaps you gave me!🤣"
Noooo! I'd bought the cookies for her at the Swedish bakery in the small town of Lindstrom--where I mentioned I'd bought orange limpa rye.
Cruel, cruel world.
But, lesson? Eat your cookies now!

It rained all day yesterday, and the girlettes (and I) were sluggish.
They requested to gather ALL in a basket (with some honorary girlettes) so they could have a Constitutional Convention instead of a parade.
As often with conventions, there was a lot of off-topic crosstalk....

"We are historic", they determined however, and requested to be interviewed by Oriana Fallaci.
I informed them she is dead, but they said that was no impediment.

How many girlettes?
This may be an all-time high. If anyone is in need of a girlette or three, some would be happy to go to a new home. Though when I look at them there appear to be none to spare, most of them are up for adventure:
"We love to go away!"

I started reading Fallacci's Interviews with History (1976) last night--it dovetails with The Once and Future King and its discussions of Power.
She says [emphases mine]:
"Whether it comes from a despotic sovereign or an elected president, from a murderous general or a beloved leader,
I see power as an inhuman and hateful phenomenon 
I have always looked on disobedience toward the oppressive as the only way to use the miracle of having been born."

(I'm not sure I agree with O.F. on everything. Power might be, often is hateful, but is it inhuman? That seems a flawed analysis. And disobedience is the only way?
Well, but her interviews are fascinating.)

I did go out yesterday though:
I joined bink in her outing to Archon Glassworks to buy stained glass for a mosaic she'll make for the new kitchen.
At the studio I saw a sign for a class on how to wrap small things!
I signed up:

Somewhere (where?) I have bits of safety glass I'd saved from the thrift-store windows broken in the uprisings after the murder of George Floyd. I've always wanted to wrap them in wire. To wear? To hang in the window?

For the first class, you make glass gobbets-- cabochons = a dome shape with a flat back. I asked Janelle, the store owner, could I set my bits of glass in the cabochon?
No, she said, the glass is fired, and all the pieces have to have the same melting point.

That's not important--it's the wire-wrapping I'm interested in. Even if I can't find the glass I saved, I want to wrap little found objects and toys.
I could learn how to by myself, but I haven't in the FOUR years I've had the broken glass.
That's why I love classes in person: they get me to DO it.

Printmaking starts this Tuesday evening. My friend KG will be taking the class too. I'm looking forward to that. She and I used to make art together in the 1990s.

The syllabus says that in the six weeks of 3-hour classes, we'll carve and print editions of two prints. Only two?
Looks like a lot of information will be offered... I suppose that's okay--I don't know anything about printmaking.

I can work on my own at home, when I clear my work table. There's a chore... I'm not going to volunteer at the store till Monday, so I have time to get things like that done at home.
I'd like to make art with or alongside other people. Needs workspace.

Thursday, July 4, 2024

No parade

It’s raining off and on all day – – I’m not complaining because it’s better than the drought of last year – – but the girls are disappointed they can’t go to the Rosegarden and have a big outdoor parade. They are having a parade indoors – – much reduced: “a minor event”, they say. (Pure coincidence—they care nought for human politics.) 

Spike is practicing her baton with undimmed enthusiasm though, to be drum major.

I’m staying home doing organizing and cleaning – – I’ve hardly done any since school ended and I immediately started working three or four days a week at the store. I’m going to cut back there.

bink’s coming over for a little lunch—I made salad with lettuce Abby grew.

A book from the store—the UK wasn’t the only country with this sort of thing…

What I’ve been reading (currently  The Once and Future King):

Wednesday, July 3, 2024


Accomplished weaver Joanne (cuponthebus.blogspot.comis weaving towels in new pattern—Rosepath. Beautiful in name and in person. I have a couple of Joanne’s towels in an earlier pattern; this one, which arrived yesterday, is now my top favorite towel.