Category Archives: Some Fun

A Cloudy Morning


One of my chief pleasures in the summer is listening to (and watching) the endless hummingbird war over the feeder. This morning it is cloudy and raining, so the windows are open and I can hear all the little Jetsons sounds they make as they chase each other away from a feeder that contains enough food to support the entire backyard colony. Yet, it’s not good if there’s enough—I guess hummingbirds are capitalists at heart.

Lately I get up and check my blood pressure, my husband brings me coffee (we have a running joke/dialogue around that:he says, “I brought you something” and I say “AND some coffee?” and he says “Careful, it’s hot.” and I say, “So’s the coffee.” this is the secret to marriage—regular, prescribed dialogue. Or someone to bring you coffee, idk which) and I start soaking two tablespoons of chia seeds in either water or, this week, dark chocolate cashew milk. I am struggling with the Propanolol; even though the dose is very low, I think it is causing some shortness of breath (it’s known to aggravate asthma) and, I suspect, greater heart irregularities. Also, they aren’t kidding about it making dreams weird. I’ve had nightmares and long, strange dreams that are very intense.

On the flip side, it seems to prime my sleep switch without making me drowsy; it’s like I just go to sleep like a normal person might. I faintly remember the days of simply lying down to go to sleep, and it’s like a fairy tale. More often than not, I wake in the morning to a still full glass of wine (which I then return through a funnel to the bottle, yes I am cheap), which is a congratulatory event instead of my usual initial thoughts of guilt and self-loathing. It’s different….

I’m trying to be good about taking vitamins, so once I eat the slightly jelly, faintly gritty chia seed/cashew milk potion, I take eye vitamins, vitamin D, two Glucosamin Chondrotin and a probiotic. This chia seed business has resulted in the closest thing to normal gut function I’ve had in, oh, years. Gritty or not, slimy or not, I’m committed. The cashew milk will not have a second shot at breakfast, though, because it’s fairly gross–when this carton is gone, we will say goodbye. Too thin to be milk, too thick to be juice….no me gusta.

Last 4th of July weekend I was crashing off of Xanax, plunging into serotonin syndrome with Cymbalta, and texting my PCP as I clenched my teeth, cried, and couldn’t sit still. This year I’m just a little short of breath and floaty feeling, along with odd heart rhythms. This, then, is an improvement. Clearly my orthostatic/autonomic disorders are affected by hot weather. Hence my happiness about the rain, even though it may kill the whole fireworks option. The red and white fireworks tent in the field behind our house charms me with its circus implications during the day and annoys us with its intrusive lighting at night.

Yesterday’s drawing:

07 02 2015

It’s whimsical. The child criticized it, “What’s with her feet? Is she an amputee? Wait, why are you mad?” I pointed out, testily, that the whole point of this daily drawing exercise is to suspend judgement–mine or other people’s. Or, maybe it’s about at least being tough enough to resist the needling of a 13 year old. There’s the challenge.

Skirting the Edge


More drawings.

6 30 2015


07 01 2015


07 01 2015 a

Here’s where I went awry, because I started thinking about audience. I got a lot of positive feedback on the first one with these two women, so then they wanted to say more so I drew this one. But then I loved it even though it felt unfinished….so I colored it:

07 02 2015 color

Meh. It lost depth in photography/editing, which is always true. I also don’t like the tooth of the paper I am using–and it’s not what I normally use when I color and complete a drawing. This stuff is a cheap drawing paper, and most of my work is finished on a vellum-finish bristol board–so it’s a lot smoother. I wanted a sort of sensual, private moment versus the more public, circus/audience sense I get from the first drawing with the striped costumes. It’s not pleasing to me at the moment.

See? Too much thinking–that’s not the point of the exercise.


Drawing Board


I learned to sew as an adult and as a result I carry no hang-ups about it. I don’t worry that I’m not good enough or that I’m doing it “wrong” or wasting my time. My father started trying to teach me drawing when I was six. He started with vanishing point perspective.

It was all downhill from there.

I internalized all kinds of criticism and hang ups and insecurities about drawing. I’ve talked about a lot of that already here, so it’s not necessary to rehash it. As aware as I am, though, of how wrong most of those notions are, I am still constrained by it. So, this summer, in between major medical bullshit and the like, I’m doing some drawing. Just drawing, just whatever I want, no rules.

Here’s the first three:

6 22 2015 6 24 2015 6 25 2015

I like them–and that’s the only thing that matters.

What Time Off?


I was asked to make a Day of the Dead-themed Victorian walking suit for a show that will spend two years traveling to various museums. For the first time in my artistic life, I have not only failed to submit my piece early, I have missed the initial deadlines. Inspiration showed up late in this case, but I think it was worth it. Initially I made a Victorian-esque skirt from some of my extensive collection of Our Lady of Guadalupe fabrics. Then it all ground to halt. Digging around in a cedar chest filled with -Ray’s things for a class I was teaching on the topic of DIY-clothing (upcycling, transforming, etc) I found a jacket that I had made for her from two vintage blouses that featured an appliqued skull on the back.

In looking at that, and some other things I had made for her, I realized I was ready to let these things out of the silent tomb of the cedar chest. I wanted to transform them, then release the back into the world. I took the tshirt she sent me with the logo of their band, which I designed, and cut the logo out, hand colored it, and hand appliqued it onto the skull jacket:

Victorian Altar Process 1Victorian Altar Process 2Victorian Altar Process 3

Then I appliqued elements from a gorgeous quilter cotton that was full of Mexican folk symbols (and some skull fabric leftover from my purse-making days) as well as drawing root elements by hand with alcohol-based markers and a Tee Juice marker.

Victorian Altar Process 5Victorian Altar Process 4

Next, I drew in a cat skull with bony wing elements and painted them gold.

Victorian Altar Process 7

Then I decided that everything needed embroidery. Everything.

Victorian Altar Process 8Victorian Altar Process 9Victorian Altar Process 10Victorian Altar Process 11

Next  came the bustle. I used as the bottom layer a capelet I had made for -Ray from a vintage apron, that included hand made flowers and a portrait I drew of her sewn into the pocket. Over that are layers of a vintage linen with crocheted corners, and the top layer is a rotten Victorian collar. For height I made two sort of bum rolls out of related fabrics. Then I drew, appliqued, embroidered and painted everything.

Victorian Altar Process 13Victorian Altar Process 14

I will save the rest of the photos for a second post.


Since that’s not enough to do, I am also volunteering as the Costume Designer for a production of Chicago that a good friend and co-worker is co-directing. The concept is that the show is being put on by a group of convicts in a modern-day women’s prison (shades of OITNB). Thus, they are all dressed in gray prison clothing which the actors have to try to make look sexy without a lot of options to remake things. If you doubt this possibility, think back to being in high school and shortening your skirt by rolling the waistband after you went to school, or tying your shirt so that some midriff showed. It’s working quite well. Also, though, a lot of their costume elements need to look like they made them from a limited amount of available materials, so I have now gotten very good at making fedoras and boaters that look like they are made from food wrappers and boxes:


There’s also a derby hat covered in Dum-Dum wrappers for Amos as well as a bow tie and lapel flower of the same. The third boater, not pictured, is a Cheese-Its theme.

We go into Tech this week, and then, possibly, I will reclaim my summer break and actually get to relax and enjoy some of it.

Famous last words, that.

Start the Countdown


The spouse and I are going out of town tomorrow until Monday. To Santa Fe, my favorite place in the world so far. About halfway there I will be so excited about where we’re going to eat I won’t be able to stand it. Then I’ll also want to stop in Albuquerque on the way so I can hit Buffalo Exchange and see if there are any thrifting scores waiting there for me. Once I walked in, spotted a pair of Italian-made, distressed leather ankle boots that are so pointy they are practically poulaine. But Western. They were in my size, and I galloped towards them and snatched them up like two lovers rushing toward one another on the beach. My spidey sense is certain there are good things waiting for me.

This is the second year that I have had the audacity to announce that I will be taking leave and cancelling my classes entirely because that’s what I feel like doing. There’s a lot of “we don’t ever take time off” and “we never take lunch breaks” and “have NEVER cancelled a class” attitude in my workplace and I realized last year that I don’t really care about winning the martyrdom contest. There is no reason I can’t go to Santa Fe and take two days off to do it. That’s why they give us leave. So, I am. And this time, even though the timing means I am missing two major departmental events, it wasn’t even that hard to do it. I can get used to this taking care of myself business.

Which is not to say that my anticipatory anxiety hasn’t spoken up (or nattered unceasingly) while planning the get away. I have worried that I will get my period this weekend (which I undoubtedly will) even though if my husband were to be the sort who would say that would “ruin” the weekend, he wouldn’t be my husband. But I guess, all things being equal, I’d really prefer not to have my period in a hotel room with a fireplace. I’ve worried that since snow is predicted, we won’t get to do anything except sob quietly into our hankies about my period. I’ve worried that the house sitter won’t be up to the task of my house, my dogs and, oh, my child. I’ve worried about money, about the child and child-minder picking the house up adequately for the maid, about the child eating enough, about falling down on a snowy sidewalk in Santa Fe, about whether or not it was a good idea not to take my car since I don’t drive the truck (and wouldn’t want to drive anything in the snow, anyway), about spending too much money, about my MIL dying before we get there or while we are there, etc, etc, etc.

Because let’s face it, worrying is what I do. But, each worry is punctuated by squealing because we really need a getaway and even if it does snow, that just means I get to wear a fabulous coat that gets worn about once every two years here. I will look good, and that comforts me.



It’s raining. It’s been gray for oh, I don’t know, the last five days or seven hundred years or anyway, I’ve had enough. Yeah, sure, like all my friends growing up in the desert Southwest I said, in high school, “WHEN I CAN I’M MOVING TO SEATTLE WHERE IT RAINS EVERY GODDAMNED DAY BECAUSE.”  Then, I got to move to upstate New York and one day my mother in law called me and said, “You might have Seasonal Affective Disorder, get some plant lights.” I had NO IDEA how much I needed the sun and how depressing a dark house is or how wrong it was to plant those plant-light nurtured gardenias in the front bed as we left military housing. I bet they were dead before we even got off post. I’m sorry, gardenias, please let the sun come back.

But this grayness, it is too much. As I sat through a three and a half hour meeting today in an entirely glass room (the curtains were mostly closed) where I could see all that gorgeous weather, I could appreciate it, yet still I wanted to crawl under the table with my blankie and take a nap. Instead my coworker and I texted each other about how awful the meeting was, how awesome my new purse is, and I doodled a billion odd women and a few men on the agenda. I mostly stuck to my resolution to observe and find humor, so when my other coworker The Director made his stand on an issue and began speaking in slogans I giggled quietly to myself, and when Mr. Wonderful who is, like, 14 (I am that age now where everyone seems too young to drive or even tie their shoes yet they seem to have jobs and can prescribe medication) misunderstood the question and gifted us with wise ideas for fundraising that were right up there with “bake sale” I tittered softly. When Ms Amazing (this is not a sarcastic title, unlike Mr. Wonderful, which is TOTALLY sarcastic) filled a plastic coffee mug with leftover sweet potato salad I pointed out that it looked like she’d just puked in her mug at a frat party and she was not particularly happy with my imagery but I found myself pretty damn funny.

The meeting is over, which is awesome, although it is still raining, which is decidedly not awesome. My body does not like the cold at all; my internal thermometer and thermostat are unregulated like the 1929 stock market and I am frequently suddenly FREEZING and my hands go numb and I can’t warm up and then suddenly I am ROASTING my god it’s so hot, etc. This is not optimal for a person who is almost always dressed to the point of wearing a costume and wants to look cool and otherworldly instead of old and vaguely weird. Vaguely; ha ha, VAGUELY is not part of my presentation. WEIRD, on the other hand, plays a strong role.

Tomorrow is the first day of classes and I need to be ready to sling some amazeballs at those hungry college students so that they fear, respect and admire me all at once. This is generally doable, but I swear ta gawd I’m going to need some SUNLIGHT.

Actually, I’ve Not Been Doing Nothing


Our final show of the semester is up, and while one wouldn’t want it to get out that we managed to build an entire show in two weeks, we did manage to build an entire show in two weeks. Our production is of Moliere’s The Misanthrope, and our director made some fabulous and creative decisions best described by this review. I personally built five men’s vests, two pairs of knee pants, and one astounding skirt and bodice–here are some process photos of that:

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The skirt is basically three circle skirts cut with high-low hemlines to create the layering. Each circle has 3″ of horsehair braid inserted at the hemline to create that sculpted swooping that makes it so great–it moves beautifully onstage. The reveiw I linked to above has a good picture of the actor in full costume, makeup and wig. The show is glamorous and masterful and very, very funny. I built the bodice as well, as a modified-Georgian bodice, as this show married the Georgian and 1980s fashion eras in a wonderful way.

It also served as my debut as a makeup designer. All of the women wore pure color eyeshadow from Sugarpill and dramatic false eyelashes, while the men wore strong lipstick. As the show is about truth and lies, I wanted to emphasize the facial keys of expression, the eyes and the mouth. It was simple but extremely effective, and married well the costumes and wigs. The best part is that it was something the actors could easily be taught to apply themselves and has a very high impact. Simple but effective–that’s always my goal.

Meanwhile, at home, I made this:


It’s higher contrast than shown (let’s talk about why the hell Apple can’t put a flash in an iPad? What the hell, Apple? I have a flash in my phone, for heaven’s sake–get it together!), an upholstery weight fabric brocade in aubergine and dusty gold, with hot lime bias tape edging that I cut and made myself. I used a continuous loop method for cutting the bias tape and it required serious spatial skills and as such there are some bits of brain in the carpet because: hard. I tried a no-hand-sewing approach to attaching the binding and as such, the jacket is cheaper than it would normally be because there are a few kinks to work out. Nothing that the average consumer would notice, mind you, but it’s not as clean (read: invisible) as I’d like it to be. It is, however, in a larger size, since there’s a dearth of great clothes for big girls out there. I’ve done a lot of my design work for larger women–believe it or not, real women want to look nice, too, and they are willing to pay for great clothes. I know, right? Shocking.

So, that’s the extent of what I have photographed. Now it’s on to the next project, plus some costume design for local theater. Summer fast approaches.