Friday, July 31, 2009

I downloaded a bunch of brain wave apps for my iPhone recently. A couple nights ago I used one to sleep by: Brain Baths, I think is the name of the app. You pick a background sound (I picked rainy porch) and a wave (deep sleep) and put your headphones on and zone out. I can do this AND charge my phone at the same time, so I'm mutifuckingtasking even while sleeping. What a concept. Or not.

It worked quite, quite well. Sure I still woke up in the night, with the heat issues (which would prob'ly go away if I would just turn the AC lower, but, by golly I won't), but I could go right back to sleep. The funny thing was how used to the sound I was each time I woke up. I thot the silly thing had turned off, because it was so much in the background of my brain.

About 5:21 am (more or less) I became aware of a strange chirbling noise outside the bedroom door. My door is always closed to keep the cats out because there's no way I can sleep with them all in the room, and most of them are too 'kneady' in the middle of the night for me to even let them in one per night... So, I hear 'chirble, chirble, chirble...' and while cats do occasionally make that noise, raccoons always make that noise. I jumped up, opened the door, flipped on the light and there were a mom and two kits trying very, very hard to look like tabby cats. One climbed atop the scratching post; one hid its big brushy tail and tried to sneak behind a cat and the other popped under the table.

I yelled "NO!" which was a silly thing to do. It's not good to have raccoons in your house, but scared raccoons are even worse, and while one scooted for the cat door, the other two ran and hid in one of my cubby holes for shoes. The cats ran over to show me where they were in case I, in my human-ness, just happened to miss it. The raccoons were not happy about the cats being so close, so I had to put on my happy voice, pluck the cats away from the cubby hole and coax the two raccoons (the mom and one kit) out of the cubby and out through the back door. (I'd already thot to open it all the way to make their exit easier...)

Now I had three raccoons on my back porch. I'm sure they got in back there somehow, but the door was latched and they couldn't get out easily. Again using my happy voice talking to them, and, ok, I admit it, chirbling at them, for fuck's sake, I managed to get by them enough to open the porch door and they all slipped out into the night.

Big excitement.

But that's not what I was going to write about... It was just background...

I had to write about it all in my journal, because, well, let's face it, some days are a tad less interesting than others. I couldn't get my stupid Rapidograph to work, even after changing the ink, twice! and it splooted ink, watery ink, on my page. The ink sploots became the eyes of the raccoon...


Thursday, July 30, 2009

Julie & Julia

Well, I tried to see Julie & Julia last night on my free pass to an early screening. Somehow the second reel was wound upside down and backwards (I guess if it was one, it was the other, but I thot everything was digital now...) and they never could get it rewound correctly...

So I've seen a part of Julie & Julia, which opens one week from tomorrow and the part I saw was really fabulous! It was so good that most of the audience stayed for over an hour waiting for them to fix the problem, but, alas, then we lost hope.

The Arbor - the theater where we saw this snippet - gave us all free passes to a movie, bless 'em.

I had thot that I would only really like the Julia (Child) parts, but, not so. It's all good and funny.

Go see.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Some recent pages...

This is my favorite recent page spread. I try to go to one of the local farmer's markets on Saturday mornings even if I don't need any food. (I always buy too much!) I always buy something: some kind of iced tea (I love zhi tea and Oaxacan tamales!) is necessary when it's as hot as it's been here. The right side of this page documents my purchase of Texas olive oil from olives grown in Carrizo Springs. I've been waiting for locally grown olive oil for awhile now. It's hard to eat local and consume certain foods like coffee, and, until I found Texas Olive Ranch, olive oil. Locally roasted coffee is no problem, of course, we've got lots of that in Austin.
Here's a detail of the image. It's done with Caran d'Ache NeoColor II, which are their water soluble crayons. Caran d'Ache has the best pigmented crayons I know of. I use a Niji waterbrush to work the colors. I also carry around a little set of Winsor Cotman watercolors to play with, and the usual suspects for my calligraphish: Zig Memory markers, Pentel brush pens of all types and Koh-I-Noor Rapidographs. You can see the little zippered carryall I use for my pens at the top of the top photo... Most of my purse IS art supplies and my journal!

Sometimes I work out the details of a page before I start writing, like this Fourth of July spread. It's fun to try and write at weird angles. A lot of people ask me about my writing: how I get the lines straight (or in this case curved). I don't normally draw guide lines on the page, and my lines aren't really all that straight if you really look closely; they just appear to be straight. I do it by eye, and lots of practice, but I'm not above ruling in some guidelines if I'm worried about it or want it really really 'perfect.'
This 'R' was drawn using a Zig Memory marker, with the filled in parts being the Caran d'Ache crayons in the lines of the letters and the top counter of the 'R,' and photos taken on my iPhone in the bottom counter. I peel most of the paper backing away from the back of the photos so they will be more flexible and 'work' with the page, instead of stiffening it and trying to pop off when I turn them. I never really thot about it, but a person who saw my journals recently said "They look like illuminated manuscript pages," and I had one of those stunningly obvious realizations: They ARE illuminated manuscript pages!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Creating the perfect journal... part ii, stuff

Fruition's pocket...

There are a lot of things that contribute to a perfect journal for me... I like to be able to fold a book backwards on itself. I need a pocket to hold stuff. I have to have pages I can cut out, to 'hold room' at the spine for all the stuff I stick into the book.

The pocket is critical, though. I usually make a pocket into the book itself, but you can just stick an envelope in with double stick tape or glue into the back of your journal. Use it to hold the 'ephemera,' aka 'crap' that you collect and might want to use later or reference... Stamps, business cards, menus, photos, doilies... Hell, I don't know; whatever appeals to you. That way it stays with its journal instead of getting lost everytime you open the book.

A page spread from Sirena...

Which leads to another important thing: having your own stickers to stick stuff in with. I put a lot of stuff into a book. Photos. Stamps. Stickers, especially those ones you get when you travel.

I usually have some form of Avery labels floating around: mailing labels or sometimes those little round one. You can paint 'em, print on 'em, whatever. With the round ones you can use both the round part and the negative label for cool stuff. The important thing is that you have something in your pocket to use when you get something you want to keep.

I don't always use stickers to put photos in a journal. Every now and then I print a passel of photos out on a piece of glossy photo paper and glue them in, usually with a glue stick. I peel as much of the paper backing from the glossy photo as I can, so that they're really thin and flexible and can bend with the page, otherwise their stiffness makes them tend to pop out of the book after the page gets turned a few times. Of course I could use a real, archival glue, but I probably couldn't carry it in my purse...

And I always carry my journal, pens, a small set of Caran d'Ache NeoColor IIs, and glue stick in my purse... Because you have to be able to journal anytime, anywhere...

Again, thanks to Wendy Ogle for the photos...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Creating the perfect journal... part i, paper and ink

Fruition, my latest journal...

When I was making my current journal, I had a long think about what makes the perfect journal... Of course, that's the perfect journal for me, but there are several things I've noticed from teaching over the years, and they're consistent.

Number one is paper. My favorite paper is Hahnemühle Schiller, a hard, white-white, which I get from Atlantic Paper. It's 140 gsm, so, thickish, but not cover stock weight. I have used lots of other papers, mostly from Hahnemühle: Gutenberg and Biblio are my second choices for journals. (My last journal, Hope, was on Gutenberg, 'cos that was what I had enough of when it was time to make the journal...) But I love Schiller. I love writing on it.

Page spread from Fruition...

Which brings me to an important point. Writing... The physical act of writing. It's really crucial that your pen or pencil or crayon or paint flow smoothly across the paper. I use mostly Rapidographs for writing the body of my posts, and a variety of brush and felt-tip calligraphy pens (Pentel brush pens and Zig Memory markers) for capitals and such. The big deal for me, especially with the Rapidographs, is having the ink flow out of the pen so I don't have to stop writing and shake the pen or mess with it in any way. This means you need to have the perfect ink for it. I go back and forth and up and down on my ink. I have made my own from sumi ink sticks, but that tends to get granular enough to impede the flow pretty quickly. Currently I am enamored of Dr. Ph. Martin's Black Star Matte India Ink, which is truly black, truly waterproof and flows well. Now, mind you, I'm not using those teenitesy Rapidographs. I never use below a Size 1, and mostly use Size 2, 2 1/2 and 3, so we're talking BIG, here. I don't use the smaller ones because I use Schiller paper and it's just too rough for those little points.

And that's what I'm talking about: the necessity of matching your paper to your medium. If you do like to work with those tiny Rapidograph points, you're going to need a smoother paper, just like if you do a lot of true water color (as opposed to just using water colors as color spots like I do), you'll want a heavier paper than Schiller.

In the page spread above, you can see me using many different things. The capital 'a' in the left column is a Zig marker, 'the daily fruit' and 'Sunday' are Pentel brush marker with my own mix of waterproof ultramarine and walnut ink to create a blackish color, the text body is #3 and #2 Rapidographs, 'June 7th' is Pentel ColorBrush, as is 'Wednesday' and the illustrations are done with Caran d'Ache NeoColor II crayons and a Niji waterbrush. Just FYI, this is a full-leather, split board construction journal. The leather is dyed with various metallic inks and powders and has two gouache insets in the front and back covers.

Both photos were taken by my fabulous photographer friend, Wendy Ogle.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Midge factor...

I have been dating, and it hasn't gotten any less weird than it was in high school. Of course, I didn't really DATE in high school; I would go out with someone once and then either we were going steady or we didn't go out again. I don't think that was the most successful strategy for finding a good partner, so now I am trying to actually date, as in go out with several people at the same time. Not on the same date, of course, but you know what I mean. 'Seeing' several people...

Of course finding several people that I want to 'see' is still a problem. Over the last few years I had met one man that I was interested in (one!), and he wasn't interested in me, even though we're perfect for each other. He LIKES me, we go out and eat dinner together, but that's it. Reading dating books has led me to the realization that we don't have that important 'emotional connection.' I have evidence that he likes women significantly younger than me. And there's just nothing I can do about being younger.

The other night, I was out for my walk. It's been hellaciously hot here in Texas - over 100 - for a really long damn time. I actually missed 3 weeks of it, 'cause I was at my cabin in the Catskills, where it was freezing (for me) and raining, but I'm back for a bit and going for my walks at night, when it has dropped below 100. I walked down South Congress and, since it was still hot at 8+ pm, I stopped at Jo's for an hibiscus mint tea. They were showing Vertigo. Apparently they're showing Hitchcock's movies on Thursdays (8pm-ish, if anyone cares to join me... this Thursday is The 39 Steps!)

So, if you haven't watched Vertigo, it has Jimmy Stewart as Scottie, a retired detective with acrophobia, Barbara Bel Geddes as Midge, his girl friend (who is perfect for him, and whom he thinks of as 'just a friend,' although it's obvious she's nuts about him), and Kim Novak as Madeleine, the woman he's hired to follow, who's a fantasy and whom he falls for hard. I don't want to say more, in case you somehow missed the movie and want to see it. My point is just what a revelation it was to watch the interplay between Scottie and Midge and Scottie and Madeleine... Because I always seem to end up as the Midge with guys I like and Madeleine with the guys I don't 'spark' with.

Interesting, very interesting...

So, I was talking about this yesterday morning at Walton's with some of my poor friends who have all at this point probably heard way too much about my trials and tribulations dating. I was telling them the interesting thing that I've noticed about profiles at my internet dating site. Many men seem to echo this sentiment: "Classy, looks good in jeans/thongs (as in flip flops), a tight skirt/heels or a ball gown fit for a duchess"... That seems to be a sort of theme with the guys who write this type of profile... Looks good in a ball gown and without makeup barefoot and wearing jeans. Another odd thing is the number of men who seem to want to have kids, but who are still interested in women in their 40s, 50s, and 60s.

I have looked at several women's profiles, too, and I haven't yet found one that says she's looking for a guy who "Looks good in a Speedo or a tuxedo," as my friend Elaine put it yesterday.

I'm not really drawing any conclusions here; I'm just noticing things. About myself, about men, about life.

Which is what I'm all about, anyway.