25 July 2011

An Art Journaling Epiphany

I've been a writing journaler for many years. As a child I had a 'secret diary' with a tiny key (those are lost now). My need to journal daily began in the late 70's when every year my uncle would send me calendars from Switzerland - where he lived at the time. There was always enough space to write a bit about the day. From there I progressed to larger, Moleskine sized journals - but they remained primarily written journals describing the days happenings, ponderings, and daily life - the good, bad, maudlin and silly.

Some years ago I discovered art jounaling and realized with delight that I could add art to the words I was already writing. My only problem with that is that I felt compelled to make the pages 'right'. I wanted each page to be able to stand on it's own. Complete and well done. I was asking too much of myself and taking hours to make each page - not a bad thing necessarily but it did cut down on what I could turn out. I still maintained a separate written journal as well. Now, I ask you, how often does a page of art journaling ever come out complete and well done? I suppose almost by definition journaling has to include strike throughs, white outs and changes in tense or sentiment.

This year, being one of note for me ( the frightening 60), I decided to use my favorite journal. A Quo Vadis Habana journal in Anise Green. I love the clean white super luxurious Clairefontaine paper - it's fountain pen and art supply friendly - not great for heavy color washes but not bad for light ones. It's a bit larger than the Moleskine's I've been using for my journals but I really think I prefer this paper. My pages are blank but the notebook is offered in ruled or blank.
I love this anise green color !
So what's the epiphany you ask? Writing and art journaling can exist in the same book! I suspect to most people that would be a "duh!" kind of moot point. Something that any sane person would know from the get go. By  simply allowing my journal to be an everything journal I feel so much more free to add silly things like receipts and color splashes, envelopes that hold a challenge instruction of feathers I found along a walk. Brilliant. So much more fun and colorful to leaf through as well! 

I will still have one or more more 'serious' art journals that will hold only art work that I hope to use for something other than a casual page or memory - but my journal hybrid is really floating my boat at the moment. It makes me take things more lightly and I don't strive for any sort of perfection. Very liberating for me.
Here I splashed some water on a few new watercolors I had just received and made a note that my long over due memory quilt was finally on it's way for a machine quilting appointment with my favorite long arm miracle worker, Keri Stone
A Polaroid image- the first I've played with in many, many years and the instructions from a stadium seat my friend Janet and I got for our upcoming journaling jaunts. A page filled with cottonwood, 'cotton' that Janet picked from a tree in Wyoming and sent my way.
One of my latest pages about my job elimination. It's so much more fun to just get it out onto paper and not worry about how it looks to anyone else but me. Freedom!

What are your favorite ways to journal? Do you maintain separate books for written and art? Have you always been a hybrid journaler? What sorts of things do you put in your journal?

23 July 2011

My Life As An Eliminated Position : The Journey Continues

In a similar position we all must surely think "why me" when something like having your position eliminated happens to you.  I also think "why not me?" It can, and does,  happen to any one of us in a flash a heat beat can bring chaos and change. Maybe we should think "who better than me?". Easy to say and hard to do for certain!

Now that the initial despair of the aftermath (and the attendant swelling of eyes and face) of learning that my position is being eliminated has passed the next  phase - (perhaps a bit of mourning?)  has begun.  I met with the Union President yesterday, I may have a case. Heck, I should have a case! The process has began. I think I am returning to more rational thought and the lethargy of depression has lifted just a bit. In all honesty, I'm worried about the potential of returning to full time work in a highly stressed environment - knowing that it will take a heavy toll on my body has made me take a step back and think, hopefully, a bit more clearly.

I go through the the steps that must be what everyone in this position takes.  What monthly expenses (audible, netflix) can I eliminate?  How will I pay off an outstanding bill  - makes me glad I paid off the others already! What will this all mean to me in the long run? Can I survive? I'm not a fashion plate at least - maybe my hair will have to grow out and I will allow the gray to settle in. How will I possible manage without the thrill of new art tools and supplies?! That's my biggest concern?! How ludicrous is that !!  The sun will rise and set in the sky my cameras will still click, the flowers will bloom and the weather will change. The world hasn't changed a whit - so I should just follow suit and stand strong in the wind and carry on - knowing that it will somehow all work out for the best.

At my  (not quite venerable but tottering on it)  age I can't start all over again. Thank God they haven't - thus far- clipped unemployment insurance. Maybe I should just relax some more and let the process wash over me and and settle where it will. I've never been much of a 'swimming against the stream' kind of person and I really dislike tangling and strife - so maybe the shore I land on will bring unexpected blessings my way. I have always believed  - though at times more easily than others - that things happen for a reason - and the edges of my perception are telling me to accept this as something that will bring good to me rather than discord and mayhem.

I hate to bring more financial burden to DH. Returning to full time work worries me on a strictly physical level and that's something that no one can understand if they haven't had similar physical issues. Then again if that's what happens my bottom line for Social Security- presuming it still exists - will look better in the few years it will be until I do take my final 'separation' song at the County.

One thing this has taught me is that being at work is not about being fair, friendly, considerate or agreeable. It's about being rigorous about protecting yourself.

Thanks to a friend's comment I realized that I should specify  that I am not generalizing when I speak about management in the following paragraph. I know that not all management groups are like this - I've been on that side of the fence as well, but  I am speaking specifically of the group of people in charge at this time who have not taken  pay cuts, given up raises or taken any personnel cuts in their offices). I know that there are wonderful managers who care about their departments and their employees and who would fight tooth and nail to keep their employees together. I also understand the hard realities of income and running a business or government - I am not upset about that. I am upset about seniority issues - and a thorough lack of representation about that specific issue. Heck - I may not be upset any more as I look toward some time without that stress of Court life.
Our management, by and large, is composed of numbers crunchers who would sell their mother's to the devil for another hundred thousand dollar survey and who will continue to accept raises and spend money wantonly while they cheerfully eliminate a worker bees pittance salaries.  I took on additional work that my administrator told me to and did not go to the union for "out of class pay". I thought I was being a responsible, "do what I can for the team" worker. I did not go to the union to ask what ramifications agreeing to go to part time work would have on my seniority. I was never advised that there would be any detrimental ramifications to my seniority - I am the most senior person in the department and presumed (bad thing to do) that this fact would give me leverage if it was ever needed. That's the issue that the Union (AFSCME) will have to decide with the County. Seniority should give you bumping rights over anyone in any position that you have perfomed in your 'bargaining unit' . Lord! I hate this union lingo!

I am not a church goer but I do have a heck of lot of faith and I do believe in a power greater than myself - faith is what will carry me over this burble. Still, I wish I could make just a little money from the work of my hands - maybe that will be the magic that happens.  All is well. All will be well.

If anyone has any ideas for me about how to make some extra bits of money for art supplies let me know !

21 July 2011

Buddy Which Way Do I Turn? I've Become Another Unemployment Statistic.

Which way do I turn?
As the person with the highest seniority in our office I thought it unlikely that I would be having one of those tender tete'a'tetes that inform you that you position was being eliminated. This afternoon, however, I was advised that, in fact, my position is being eliminated as of July 11. I was not to take it personally. Huh?!! I am a union member and HR is telling me  that I cannot bump people who have been employees for several months simply because they were hired at a higher level because they were a friend of someone. Also, because I wasn't a golden child I did not get reclassified when everyone else did which is what made the difference.

Yes, I am filing a grievance. Yes, I am angry - and yes, at the moment I am feeling a bit whiney too.  I afraid to lose health insurance. I'm angry that I did more that was in my job description  because I "had the knowledge" and I'm angry at myself for playing nice and not making waves. I was told anyone else who took my job after me would most likely not be asked to to do these duties. I played nice, did what asked without complaining and I'm the one with a lay-off. I wish someone would explain why this make me happy.

Okay - that's my rant. Thanks for stopping by. If you hear of a part time job I could do from my comfy home chair - let me know where to apply!

20 July 2011

Crocosmia Dreams

   Dream as if you'll live forever. Live as if you'll die today.   james dean
These beautiful Crocosmia flowers bloom on the walkway as I enter work and every year their beauty and intensity of color take my breath away. I was drawn to the contrast of the brilliant red flowers against the dull greys of the walkway and just had to take a photograph - which I seem to do every year. I'm especially pleased with this year's variation on the Crocosmia theme though!

19 July 2011

Lazy Girl

I think Tillie is mirroring the way I've been feeling lately. She likes to sit in this sunny window and watch the goldfinches feeding above her head. Today she just wanted to laze. She displays complete relaxation doesn't she?

I think Tillie felt the loss of our oldest gal Cleo on Saturday. It was over time for Cleo. She got lost for awhile on a rainy Friday evening and we had wondered if she had gone off to pass away alone. We got to see her again though and it must have taken every ounce of strength she had to find her way her back home. She must had slid into some water and we dried her off and put her on a heating pad but on Saturday she had no interest in food and it was clear that the time had come. Thankfully, our wonderful vet agreed to meet us and Cleo passed with our hands caressing her. I think she was ready and glad to be free of the pain of kitty old age - 19 years.

It's odd to be the 'parents' of a single feline now after our height of nine in the house at one time. That almost drove me to drink but we loved each and every one.

Tillie is happy to be an only I think - she seems calm and relaxed now - the most I've ever seen her. I guess she's like us - just happy to be home alone. Life goes on - I'm so blessed that I found Tillie when I did. She was the best thing to come out of the many trips to the mainland that I took before and after last year's surgeries. Tillie just shines.

06 July 2011

Memory Quilt Top Finished -At Last! Completion Is Close At Hand !

See the stark white areas that look like maps in some of the blocks? Well, in reality, this fabric is black. It was a Michael Jordan commemorative shirt and the black jersey fabric must have a reflective coating. Fun!
A long overdue promise is near to completion. About a year and half ago I was commissioned to make a quilt from a lovely lady's deceased husband's shirts - incorporating family photographs. In the interim I had two significant spine surgeries and nearly gave up ever getting this quilt done for her. I offered to give her the names of some other people who could make the quilt for her but she declined. She wanted me to make it.
This photo is close to reality - the photo above is a bit off.
Many of the shirts were made from slippery polyesters and acrylic materials as well as velvets and cotton jersey. Each shirt had to be picked apart and stabilized with fusible interfacing before I could use it in the quilt. I had originally planned to make a quilt pattern and intersperse the photos throughout the pattern. That was the plan, at least, until I saw the variation of fabric weights and materials and that there were 30 photos to be used. I decided to go ahead with simple square blocks and a wide border for the photographs. 

As I was working on the quilt I realized that I really needed a black inner border for balance. Thankfully I had some black fabric on hand - because ordering it would have wasted up even more time. As I added the photographs I realized that I needed to add some black in the outer border as well because I felt that using more of the colorful sashing material would have been just too much. Adding the black to the border however, left those areas looking too blank so I added appliqued hearts. They pleased me more and balanced the blank space well.

It's finally nearly there. I still have to piece the backing and then it will be quilted by Island Quilting friend Keri Stone. Soon ! The finish line is finally in sight! I will feel sooooo good when I can present this quilt to it's owner!

05 July 2011

Lacey Prairie Shawl by Cheryl Oberle - Finished!

In my continuing obsession with shawls this is the latest one I've completed from Cheryl Oberle's Folk Shawls book. I love this book and am working my through it as one of the shawls screams at me to be the next on the needles. This one is called Lacey Prairie Shawl.  It's about 76"across the top of the triangle and 46" deep.

I used Universal Classic Shades yarn. It's 70 % acrylic and 30% wool. I generally shy away from all acrylic yarn. It is generally less expensive but I find it pills and sometime shreds - but I thought this looked like a more substantial blend and decided to try it. For a mostly acrylic yarn this is very nice to work with. The colors are very nicely blended - though, IMHO, nothing beats Noro Kuryeon for beauty in blending colors. The yarn is somewhat loosely spun but does not fray or break on the needles.
The shawl laid out on my blocking board - white paper underneath a portion to show pattern.
I hardly ever use blues and purples but decided that I need to make something that used these colors. I still have a bit of orange so I'm very happy with the result. This is an easy, very easy, lace pattern and the resultant shawl is open but hefty enough that I believe it will be warm in the winter months.
The shawl laid out on the deck - again with a sheet of white paper underneath a portion of it.

Next on the needles is  Charlotte's Web shawl by Maie Landra knitted with Koigu KPPPM yarn. I feel confident enough to finally make a go of it ! Then back to Folk Shawls for me.

Quilt National 2011

I always look forward to the release of Quilt National.This volume marks the collection in the 17th biennial exhibit that highlights the best of the best on contemporary textile art.

This edition doesn’t disappoint! The art work is truly the best of the best and each page is worthy of time for appreciation. I had to add some photos of the pages – of course! Each one is "clickable" for a better view. The photography is brilliant. No one does photography better than Lark and this book is no exception to that rule. If you love textile art this is one of those "must have" books for your collection. Any stitcher, quilter, art quilter, or mixed media artist will find something to say "wow!" about. This book is a bargain and really is a keeper.
Apologies for the slight blue cast in these photos. I wait for sunny days and then still have issues ! What can I say?!
Two beautiful flowers interpreted in cloth and stitch. The dandelion on the right is incredible. I love dandelions and think they are highly underrated!

A seasonal interpretation that I find to be breath taking
This entry is from my personal favorite textile artists - Steen and Hough

note: this book was provided to me by the publisher for the purpose of an honest review. No other remuneration was provided.

04 July 2011

Happy Independence Day !

1727 - 1820

The Fourth Of July always makes my think about history. Our history. The history of a strong, independent nation. I am, I think, privileged that my personal history includes being a descendant of of one of the signers of the Declaration Of Independence. His name was William Ellery and he was the governor of Rhode Island at the time . The Ellery house still stands in Newport. Even though I have spent a good deal of my life away from New England it will always be home to me - as it was to my ancestors.
I have a decent grasp on the politics of time which necessitated to wording of the Declaration itself. I wonder, however, what these proud, independent thinking men might think about the way their words and and their intentions have been debated and morphed in the ensuing centuries.

Many of the men who were signatories on the Declaration had legal training and knew how to craft their words. In 1787 the Constitution of The United States followed up on the ideals that began with the Declaration. Rhode Island did not send a delegate to that convention - and I have to wonder why not! I cringe when I consider how these participants at this historic event might be utterly thunderstruck at how modern attorneys  have taken their words and their intentions and transformed them into the modern day legislative interpretations. I can't help but think that they might be embarrassed at how politicians and lawyers have taken their courageous intentions and morphed them into legalese that becomes nothing more than semantic drivel.

Generally I consider myself to be apolitical.  I have too much to do other than follow the political diatribes and special interest mongering that goes on. Today though I am filled with pride for the foresight and courage than my ancestor showed in placing his signature on the Declaration. I believe that these men really did have the best interests of all the people on their minds and in their hearts when they signed one of these two documents that are the foundations of our history. I can't say that I feel the same way about modern politicians - and that saddens me.
It's odd I think that my ancestors risked everything to break from Britain while I, a humble ancestor, have become a hopeless student of British history. Now back to our regular programming schedule!