Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Chiliquin (Chili Cat) 1989-2008

Dear furry friend and familiar, Chili Mama, slipped free of her body this morning and went to frolic in kitty heaven, where I hope the mice abound in tall grasses and the air smells like tuna. It's been a long time coming but we knew this day was close at hand. She'd been getting more and more physically frail and was obviously extremely uncomfortable in her body but we kept putting off the hard thing. It's a deep knife to the heart deciding to put down a loved one. Chili's been with us a long time. Nineteen years ago I picked her from a batch of cardboard-box kitties outside a Safeway in a moment of weakness. She sat up on my pregnant belly all the way home, looking out through the steering wheel. I snuck her into the house under my shirt because Rob and I hadn't talked about any plans for another cat but she charmed him right off by standing up on her hind legs for a full minute looking about with intense curiosity. So she slipped into our life and hearts. She became my snuggle baby during the final weeks of my pregnancy and she curled quietly on the bed for the whole labor and birth of India. Things got a bit touchy then, when she realized her prima status had been ursurped by this new kid in town . She broke alot of nice stuff and made herself a nuisance for some months as she worked out her jealous feelings but she never scratched India and was surprisingly tolerant of being tugged and bopped by a baby. She's been through alot with us. Interstate moves, illnesses, other kitties, another baby. She's had a long life full of nuzzles and coos, wild romps and explorations. I like to think she had it good and was happy. Finally, the decision was made and we called our long time vet Sandy Nelson who has served us so well all these years. She makes house calls and came out this morning after the kids said their goodbye and were dropped off at Grandma and Grandpa's. We spent the last hour holding and comforting her. Sandy arrived. A sedative, a delicate needle and she was gone. Goodbye, sweet Chiliquin. You are loved.

Top Photo: Chili's grave with marigolds. Buried under the tree we were married beneath in Crane Creek Park.

Photo: Me and Chili, Summer 1989

Monday, October 27, 2008

Altared Space

After an insanely ambitious push this past week to finish my list of just-not-humanly-possible projects for Open Studio, I had to admit I am not a super being and must cut my losses. I am always dismayed by the discrepancy between my creative ideas and my energy to realize them. My physical focus and stamina never seem to be enough to bear the fruit I want. I was unusually tenacious this time and got tantalizingly close to making it all happen but dangerously close to illness, too. Luckily, I came to my senses in time but spent most of Saturday really wrung out. Nonetheless, the studio looked great and people showed up which made it all worth while. I built my artistic ancestor altar upon the teak Indian temple window gifted to us. (Thank you, Thalia! You must come pick out a piece of art). I felted and formed my Mictecasihuatl (Queen of the Dead) doll out of wool and paperclay for the altar, though her bony forearms weren't finished and attached until Sunday. (She's pictured here sans hands). I did get a small batch of elxirs done, labeled on Saturday and the little elixir bar assembled on Sunday. My dad, true to form, was culinarily inspired and made two beautiful loaves of Pan de Muertos (bread of the dead) and traditional pumpkin candy for the table. We had sweets and nibbles set out on the altar for the beloved departed and also for general consumption. The kids plundered the ofrendas early on and had to be reined in. Various friends and fans dropped by from far and wide and some twinkly folks wandered in from the nooks of our wonderfully ecletic neighborhood including some fellow artists, Sunday meanderers and a particular elderly gentleman who shared a story about the mythic Catfish and gave me a very fine compliment. Various bold and curious children lead their adults in for a closer look, including a Bible-toting family who admired the work and sampled the fare. (Kids are some of my fave critics. My own 5 year-old nephew, Zephyr, pronounced me a "big" artist. It doen't get any better than that!) So, there was atmosphere, people enjoyed it, strange paths of conversation were followed through some diverse territory and I sold a tidy bit, too. Always important. So, I didn't finish all the new small paintings I'd started and the several dolls in the works lay unfinished. I want to offer more large prints than I currently have, as well, but I am excited about paperclay sculpture, painted forms and abstract colorplays. Now I just have to decide if I can rejuice my battery enough to make it real. Will I have another open studio in December? Hmmm...that's a wait and see.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Seeds and Shadows

This weekend, October 25 and 26, I'm opening my studio from 10-5 both days. I'm calling it Seeds and Shadows, partly to celebrate the Day of the Dead, which has grown into a deeply meaningful holiday for me but also to honor the confluence of opposites that naturally emerges at this time of year...bright/dark, growing/waning, living/dying. There is a reflection as well on the palpable transformational spirit of these times....change, the turning wheel, the swinging pendulum, the fleeting shadows, seeds of hope for the future. I will have new paintings hung, both large and small, as well as prints, cards, altars and, of course, there will be magical atmosphere, sweets, savories and sippables of various kinds. I hope I see some of you there.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Jolie Evening

Went down to San Francisco last night to see one of my favorite artists, the deliciously inscrutable Jolie Holland, perform at Bimbo's 365 in North Beach. The club's posh vintage atmosphere was the perfect setting with it's moody interior of red plush and deep shadows flecked with flickering candles and glittery edges. The humorously dark but energetic French duo, Herman Dune, opened the show. Jolie finally emerged, backed by a new band in her latest venture into rock territory, a departure from her earlier work which varies widely from traditional folk tunes to haunting improvisations and soulful jazz laments. All her work is distinguished by her seductively malleable vocals, the flame at the center that keeps even the most loosely-stitched of her pieces together. I found that got lost a bit in the tumult of her newest songs. The bass and guitar were overbearing, submerging her eloquent voice and overwhelming the nuance of her vintage-amped guitar but I really enjoyed the energy when it did come together. She sang some of her older songs, too, beloved by the audience. Seeing her looking so happy, crow feather and spoon silver in her hair, singing her heart was worth the trip. She ended the show with her unique rendition of the old ballad Mad Tom o' Bedlam. Just her, her box fiddle and that golden throat.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Refreshing Perspective

Some clear good sense via CNN's Campbell Brown.

Monday, October 13, 2008

NOLA Bound

After a few weeks consideration, the way is paved. Today, plane tickets were purchased for two poetic souls on a venture to the Big Easy. My collaborator and creative cohort, Amy Trussell, recently was the first runner up for the 2008 National William Faulkner- William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition for her poem Foreleg Eardrums.
Because of this precipitous event, parts of our book, The Painted Tongue Flowers, will be set before the discerning eyes of an editor of significance. She's one of the honored guests to attend the Faulkner Literary Gala in late November and she's persuaded me to tag along. She loves New Orleans and is convinced I will too. I am game to explore the French Quarter and visit Queen of Voudoo Marie Laveau's grave, among other inevitable inspirations.We will also be steeling ourselves for signs of the devastation wrought by Katrina. Amy, having been before, will be strongly touched no doubt.

Oil painting "Marie Laveau" by New Orleans artist Dimitri Fouquet.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Art Afternoon at Ace

Come spend an afternoon of art this Sunday at Ace in the Hole Cider Pub from 3-6pm in Graton. I will be showing a couple of new large works and various smaller ones. Alongside me will be the work of three other artists: Mariela de la Paz, Suzanne deVeuve and Kat Kraus. With a pinot poured and nibbles at hand, it should be an enjoyable afternoon. The Thugz are playing at 6pm so there may even be dancing. Hope I see some of you there.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Great Unwind

In his article The Great Unwind in The Washington Independent, Satyajit Das has a take on the current global financial turmoil that actually makes some sense out of this impenetrable tangle. Seeing this turbulence as a kind of detox rather than a terminal disease adds a new perspective. Like a body bloated on junk food to the point of death now being forced to eat brown rice and vegetables, the economy may eventually get well but the cure is no picnic. When a system is so out of balance, the healing looks like sickness. That I can get my head around and it actually feels hopeful.

Photo: From the online article. By flickr (TW Collins)

Friday, October 03, 2008

Palin Word Cloud

Here a word cloud of Palin's debate verbage last night, the result of a run through Wordle, the most used words being largest. Some interesting speculation here. Like what's with the word "also" and where the heck is "maverick"? Or "heck" for that matter?

Doggone Freakish Adorable

Watched the debate last night and almost couldn't take it. What is with that woman's face? It's like a mechanical mask bolted on with a jaw that never quits. Flap, flap, smile, wink, click tongue, snap head. It's freakish. I almost feel sorry for her. Almost. The pressure must have been unedurable. I kept waiting for her program to jam. Malfunction. Malfunction. Mal...Here's a hilarious assessment of Sarah Palin by Erica Jong called You Betcha She's Doggone Cute!