Archive for March, 2013

Wallets, Windows and Welcomes

The dogs and I headed north Good Friday Morning.

I woke at something like 5 am from my usual head spinning with too much stuff. At a quarter to six I bumped out of bed, at 7:30 I was sitting in the driver seat, dogs in their spruced “car beds” for a little more padding against the rough ride. Mason adored his, Olympia, hard to tell, she wound up sleeping on the edge of her bed kinda hunkered over with her head hanging down draped over the edge although at times she managed to fill the entire curve. Her bed is too small but its fits perfectly in the space she insists is the only place when the LT is in motion…. closest to me between the two captain chairs. She is fairly well wedged, Mason rides on the passenger seat which I’ve turned to face away from the windshield with back dropped against the dashboard…. not legal for humans to ride backwards. I should probably strap him in but he likes to get up from time to time to have a drink of water, on rough roads he prefers the floor next to Olympia or behind her in the walkway. I’ve considered crating them but they both rate riding in the rear where there’d be room for the crates or on the rear bed as undoable, the vibration must be horrific back there.

For amusement I’ve begun to snap shots of pet rest areas. We stop at about 1 to 3 out of 4. We’ve learned a neat trick, what I do as I pull in I try to discern the pet area so I can park as far from it as possible. This way we get a nice long walk on a clean path and over some soft grass to get to the pet area. Same on the way back. The pet areas are  filled with stickers, weeds, rough gravel which Mason will not walk on, and worse dog’s piles which their owners leave for other dog owners. The pet area tends to be stuck on the edges in dangerous corners with collections of snakes, spiders, bees, suspicious strangers; dry, hot, hard on the paws and barren. Thank you so much rest area guys, we know how you value us. To make it worse there are never any tie-outs to leave your pooch outside the human restrooms, so if it’s hot only the 4-legged ones get to relieve themselves. At times I’ve run to the restroom leaving the dogs with the overhead fan spinning and the windows open, only to find a line!!! Not much time to wait; in full sun I count the minutes until it gets too hot, I go quick and race back to the LT, much easier when it’s cool. Yes I have a micro-mini bathroom on board but sometimes I don’t want to deal with black water.

Okay, thanks for providing a sign but a bit limiting isn'tit?

Okay, thanks for providing a sign but a bit limiting isn’tit?

Rattlers and dogs, now that makes a good combo

Rattlers and dogs, now that makes a good combo

Ah, the fire hydrant!

Along with my new arrangement for the dogs, I’ve simplified the contents and layout of the LT. Less is more and all, so at one point or another I moved my wallet to a place where it cannot be seen. I’m sure I thought it out clearly, what a good idea it was. When I returned from my human potty visit, I sat for a bit, I was tired, I reached for my wallet thinking of several of the must do now things on my list and it was gone!  I mean gone! Nowhere! Frantically I re-opened the bits of windows the overhead fan racing back to the commode…..there was a long long line. I didn’t really believe I could have dropped it and not noticed yet I stood there in front of the line next the one I’d been in telling anyone who’d listen that I wasn’t cutting in but that I had to get in there and see if my wallet was in there. Vaguely there was a shadow in my head saying I was wasting time over a false panic but I couldn’t help it. Usually I carry enough cash for tank of gas in a secret location, I hadn’t done that this time. The flash went through my head, me sitting at a gas station or some lonely on ramp with the two dogs on my lap and my pathetic sign: Need cash for gas! Sure, right lady, my foot, you need money for your RV, get real!”

Nothing in the commode area, the poor lady in there, said, “don’t look at me, I didn’t touch anything, I don’t have your wallet!” ….  Okay I was talking kinda loud, half asleep as I was. As an excuse I can say there was no one to hold my hand and calm me down. I chased down the worker, who in broken English told me to knock on the door to the office down by the pet area. There was a guy in there having lunch, he got up and checked in a drawer, I could see a few things, sunglasses, a cap, maybe a man’s black billfold, a few keys. He was nice, I liked him, but I didn’t want to talk, he walked with me a bit but I rushed away back to the LT wondering if I had enough gas and enough strength to go back to the last rest area some several hours away. Since I had nothing else to do except think how my trip would be very short after I bummed $$$$ for gas, and how I’d have to abort my just started trip, I just sat there. Who was gonna give me $80? Maybe Mom could give the gas station her credit card number over the phone? I needed a banana chip, the dogs are used to my stressing out and were trying to ignore me, I’d torn through the LT looking for that wallet upsetting the happy calm of the day. Thank goodness I was hungry…..where I never ever put my wallet, because it’s nicely out of sight, not too far from the banana chips, you got it, my wallet. I stuffed the darn thing where it usually goes, so someone could see it if they tried, like me! Well, trip back on.

The work on the LT was great, the engine has tons of power, no more overheating and no more limping up hills. It cruised along perfectly at 75 and when I wasn’t paying attention at 80 along I-5. I took the north route from Santa Barbara and cut across Hwy 41 to I-5. I drove on parts of Hwy 41 I didn’t remember thanks to my GPS, it was lovely and almost devoid of traffic, then I joined all the crazy holiday traffic.

I arrived in Placerville around 5 pm. A little over 8 hours maybe 8.5: 2 gas stations, 4 rest stops, plenty of road construction, heavy traffic, a few dead slow trucks.

Tired but happy I reached Craig and Lee’s house, I love their place. Zak and Olympia did their battle thing but Lee is so cool, she could handle it and the dogs… Zak and Toby are the residents; Olympia and Mason were soooo happy, my two think this is heaven on earth!

Lee showed me all the work done since last summer, lovely fireplace replacement, bookshelves, pool all spruced up, super cool garden art, paint coming. We tromped down to the new gazebo…..all gorgeous but I couldn’t concentrate on any of it….no, my trip was ruined for the second time that day. The passenger window on the LT had made a strange sound…. I’d attached a shade suction device on it for Mason. The sun was beating on him. The window was stuck a little way up but wouldn’t budge, I pressed it down thinking it would re catch and tried the switch again, what a stupid thing. I started berating myself, I might have been able to pull it up and just leave it up but now it was gone into depths of the door leaving a big hole in my plans. Lee’s friends, David and Louie installing the great projects like the beautiful gazebo and the bookcase were still there. I wanted the guys to fix the window. They didn’t want to, it would take a body shop, maybe a window shop, an RV shop, whatever… sure, I thought, 5 pm Fri of Easter weekend, sure I’m gonna find someone to fix this….  So it was back to aborting my trip. Somehow we’d get home, the wind and rain soaking us soon to be chilled to the bone travelers. I called Frans, he knows what to do, right? I stomped around the van and tried to get the window to do something, the motor was pumping but no window; the guys were looking at tree that needed trimming to unblock the view from the gazebo. I was pacing with my phone in my hand like I do. Lee was on the computer and her phone trying to get help for me. “Don’t worry, we’ll get it taken care of,” No, I wasn’t going to go to the glass fusing class tomorrow after all, how could I with my little house open to the world. The guys coming up the driveway hearing all this fuss did a turn around. I was surprised, it’s been an eons since I’ve come across these sweetheart types. Yes I was a damsel in distress and Yep, they fixed it!!!! I was sure they were gonna to pull the wrong thing, shred something in the door listening to their work it out banter, but they didn’t. The track bar holding the window had fallen off. That nifty kit of tools that Frans gave me got a nice workout. Wow. I put everything back and gave the guys some cookies, a hug and a kiss.

The next day I woke up too early, Olympia needed to go out, her stomach was a bit upset; I couldn’t get back to sleep. Lee, Mary Peters and I headed to the glass fusing workshop, me mostly brain-dead from lack of sleep and left-over stress. There’s been stuff going wrong for weeks, months, actually make that years. I was worried the workshop was gonna be stressful, turned out the three of us were the only attendees, it was great. We had fun, Lee said it was a birthday gift, lunch too, dinner with Craig too. Am very happy to be here, I love these friends, there’s so much space, trees, grassy areas, flowers, craft and art, music, delicious food, conversation, busy active people, the dogs are crazy happy. My old stomping ground on the rivers nearby.

Mary Peter's creation:  waiting for firing and slumping.

Mary Peter’s creation: waiting for firing and slumping.

My round one... will be a bowl, Lee's will be a sushi plate

My round one… will be a bowl, Lee’s will be a sushi plate

The craft studio in Placerville, CA

The craft studio in Placerville, CA

We cleaned up our work area and put all our tools in the bucket. LOL they said we didn't have to do that!

We cleaned up our work area and put all our tools in the bucket. LOL they said we didn’t have to do that!

My First Printmaking Workshop

Something different for this post. The LT has been getting spruced up meanwhile……

I’d written exactly how it all felt but unfortunately I did so on a piece of paper…. An ordinary piece of paper in the jungle of pieces of paper. The world didn’t used to have so many pieces of paper…  or maybe there was a place for these things but now they take over. I saw that paper last night…  it was on my bed but today it is gone.

The exhausted would be artist.

The exhausted would be artist.

What I wanted to tell you was how I fared in my first week-long printmaking workshop. I had a nice title not whatever I will title this with….  it expressed the conglomerate of exhaustion with the ray of anger…  yes anger to break out of the non-being of art into the beingness of the artist.  Can one become an artist?

My workshop was in Ojai an hour drive over a curvy road. The first day I stayed up too late and could not sleep… due to a late conversation about dogs. ….  how dogs are telepathic. . . I don’t know if they are so much as they communicate in a more basic process….  brain stem, intuitive, picking up subtle clues and electrical signals we humans don’t notice. In any case I spent the night mostly awake and lost another hour due to the spring forward dilemma.

I’d been frustrated in my once a week 4-hour printmaking class, feeling stymied for almost the entire year. My art was getting worse. Anxiety was taking over…  anxiety of the clock, anxiety of being unprepared, of having nowhere outside of the classroom where I could spread out and work, anxiety of loss obliterating the present. Anxiety was winning. I couldn’t make emotions of loss and grief transform into two dimensions but I kept trying. Even bad art is art, I was learning something, right? One should just keep going. One line after another.

The highlight of my weeks was teaching Nose Work. Even on those days that began with headaches, teaching melted it away. All those smiling dog faces. The dogs were so happy! I looked forward to them and their happy owners. I did not look forward to printmaking class but I longed for it. I longed to find myself and settle into a rhythm—to break out into the realm of an artist. So one very expensive workshop should fix that right?

This is what I learned:

  1. Next time one signs up for a workshop, do a little research into the techniques that will be covered. Printmaking is a huge field. Come with some questions about the media.
  2. Prepare some images / designs / templates  / ideas for practice with the new techniques which will be presented. Don’t do what I did and sit there dumbly in front of an empty plate rolling on the ink, knifing on the ink, smooching it around and then in disgust wiping it off over and over until fed up and the hostess has to take you outside to the chicken shed because you think you’re just gonna scream.
  3. Get some sleep —  no I’m not sure how to do this.
  4. Bring some good food with you and actually eat it. Drink lots of water, don’t just carry it around.
  5. Hire a dog walker to take the dogs out.
  6. Hire someone else to clean the house for just this one week.
  7. When you do come home don’t try to do everything…  clean house, scrub floors, water yard, walk dogs, laundry, take care of bills, answer e-mails and then stay up really really late trying to prepare some images for tomorrow on the computer even though you don’t know how to do it.
  8. Actually pretend that you are a student and just try things without any expectations.
  9. Other artist in the workshop are really really really nice!
  10. Forget about the idea that time has any logical meaning….  10 or 11 hours at the workshop equate to something like 30 min except for those hours when the instructor is giving his lectures and you want to listen and pay rapt attention but you’re sooooo tired.

So I wound up printing dog stuff…. I was more anxious during this workshop than any other educational experience I can remember. The pressure was self-induced.  I had to produce something good! I had to perform under the watchful eye of the instructor and get those… oohs and aahs from the others as I pulled my piece from the press, as opposed to the “oh, it’s good really,” comments, which meant…  nice try, but really, you did that? ….  oh okay well I don’t feel so bad then.  (The women were all around my age and kept telling me how great I was doing for my first workshop and how hard it’d been for them…. bless their hearts!) It was close quarters and I was in the back where people gathered to work on some of the equipment. I couldn’t stand having people (i.e the cheerful instructor) in my space. I sort of shrank and spent time sulking when I couldn’t get a question answered.  The woman who owns the house / studio was incredible.  She took care of me. Took me out to the yard more than once to help me relax; it wasn’t her fault it didn’t work. She brought me things like an exacto knife, scissors and template material so I could make some stencils, she brought me ear buds so I could tune out the others, she brought me a stabilo pencil, she showed me how to organize my material and offered advice on the media and the art. Whenever anyone needed anything she had it. Her yard has chickens, ducks, dogs, koi, a thriving vege garden and art, she provided a young art student to wash our rollers and bushes, amazingly she made lunches everyday for her husband and live-in visiting international guest yet spent the entire workshop time in her (amazingly organized) studio helping us….  scolding only once in a while when someone really made a mess.

Ron, the instructor was great too…  I learned some new concepts and skills that will take me to another reality, but she really amazed me. So I was very stressed, anxious, exhausted and yet soaking it all in. After five grueling days I wanted more. I could do this for a living, I could give up sleep and sanity. I could slave away over a blank plate.  I could stay up all night trying to process.

I can’t explain this reaction. There were days I swore I’d give up art forever. I hated my work. I misjudged the ink. I was very tired. Our instructor had a talk about love, he said that if we loved something we did we should destroy it. He told stories about the harsh lessons of art school….  We should never get into a rut of repeating something we loved and then grow stale.  Art is not about rendering, it’s not about a pretty arrangement or a safe path it’s a risk, it should say something. I have no idea what that is…..     so I have work to come….


All images and text belong to me, Jamie Rosenthal and may not be copied or  reproduced. 2013