Wednesday, March 30, 2011

rem·i·nisce/ˌreməˈnis/Verb: Indulge in enjoyable recollection of past events.

Our home-based dig into the past continues, as we attempt to condense, purge, rid ourselves of, and generally re-organize our random files-of-whatever and our boxes-of-this & that in our combined office.  It's a huge job and it takes years, as it turns out.  We need to ponder, we need to share, we need to reminisce out-loud through every detail.  We lived 29 years without each other, there's still some things to cover.

With piles of stuff, comes a gem or two.
Ten years ago, a simple graphic could stop me in my tracks.  It's all I needed to start a little card line eventually called 8mm ideas.  Little vintage gum wrappers, saved by the bundle, were the front runners in simple graphic design.  On the back of each card was the yellowed wrapper that held the gum, totally intact, and my little handstamp ~8mm~ in black ink.  And I'm sure the sayings didn't hurt one bit:   It's Pink!  A Very Delicious Confection!  ...peculiar and lasting flavor... the 'glass of lemonade' theory.
These, I found myself sharing, were my very first cards sold in the old French General shop.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

What's Your Handle?

When we were kids, my parents, siblings and I seemed somewhat obsessed with cb radios.    It wasn't that I understood the technology any more than I would today.  To me, it was the next magic step up from two cans and a string, or a walkie-talkie that let you walk to the end of the street.  Our big thrill back in the day, in the back of the VW bus, was the flip sign.  And though I can't seem to find an iota of proof that these existed (perhaps my brethren or parents will back me up), a flip sign* was an oval shaped paddle with a handle and pad of paper that had very clear statements or questions:   Wave!  Where are you going?  Haven't I seen you before? (a really funny one on long road trips).   We were into the idea of being out there on the open road, everybody going somewhere, getting to the next story.  We also watched quite a bit of BJ and The Bear when we could.  Trucking seemed as romantic as any world-wide travel.

I'm often incredibly nostalgic for the tiniest thing.  So, when I came across these CB calling cards, which I'd never been exposed to before, I nearly shed a tear.  Of course truckers, husbands and wifes, had their own calling cards!  I knew it!  That open road IS as romantic as I'd fantasized!  It's so something of the past.
Remember when?  Oh, those were the days.  Wouldn't it be nice...

*fun fact update:  the flip sign did exist! but it's all sold out now.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Monday, March 21, 2011

Ancient Art of Bleu

I would say 'you have to try it to know it'.  Woad is one of those things.  It's not something I would have thought could move an entire group of women to unload their luggage of white blouses, jeans, skirts, and even undies all in attempt to dye them blue.  Mind you, not just dye them blue.  With each item dunked in, you never quite know what will come out of it.

Turns out, dyeing with woad is not really about dyeing at all.  You don't have to be a textile fiend, you don't have to love dyeing, and it's not about tie-dye flashbacks.  It's about the magic that happens when you get a group of women together in a wide open field or forest, put a big bucket of churning liquid in the middle and not only learn about the ancient art of bleu, you witness it first hand.  You watch how each item you delicately lower into "the beast" turns an acid green, an insane yellow and then when you pull it back out into the air, it settles into it's "eponymous French Blue – a rich, soft shade with a touch of grey". 

Woad is not just any blue:  It's not denim, it's not grover blue, it's not a Rit blue.  It's not a chemical, it's not something you can buy in your local Duane Reed or Walgreens.  It once was a special combination of a seemingly common weed and men's urine that turned this into one of the most popular dyes in the world, and then it found it's medicinal and healing properties, and now it is an experience that can be had by the lucky few.

Last year, on our annual group trip to France, my sister asked our teacher, Denise if she would come to the states and lead a woad workshop in LA.  Denise, the master woad dyer, agreed!  In two weeks, we'll be in historical Elysian Park putting our whites into the woad zone.

I suppose I could keep on writing about it, but what's left to tell, the rest of the group adventure, cannot be put into words.  One has to experience it.  And this year, you don't have to go all the way to France to have a most trans-formative happening, you can sign up for the workshop right here and now.  Or, sign up via The Art Of Craft, where all workshops at French General are posted, including the Concertina Workshop I teach on the following Monday.  It's gonna be a big weekend!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

kiss me, i'm irish

the chini project:  absolutely click here to see all of it!

St Patty's Day was always a huge celebration in our household growing up.  Dad would wear a huge green wig and mom would color our milk, pancakes and banana bread green.  The infamous shamrock shaped cut-out cookies with perfect butter-cream green frosting would greet me well into my college years.  There was ALWAYS a party:   I remember the green beer, the plaid suits all the dad's wore, the Malones, the Kennedys, everyone singing irish tunes at the top of their tipsy lungs, the green outfits head-to-toe that none of us would be caught dead without!

Today it's all different, it almost passed without notice, an email here and a phone call there, but the memory still lives on.

And the best part of the day, the jokes from my irish mother, Kick:

Paddy was driving down the street in a sweat because he had an important meeting and couldn't find a parking place.  Looking up to heaven he said, 'Lord take pity on me.
If you find me a parking place I will go to Mass every Sunday for the
rest of me life and give up me Irish Whiskey!'

                          Miraculously, a parking place appeared. 

Paddy looked up again and said,
'Never mind, I found one.'

Father Murphy walks into a pub in Donegal, and asks the first man he meets, 'Do you want to go to heaven?'
The man said, 'I do, Father.'
The priest said, 'Then stand over there against the wall.'

Then the priest asked the second man, 'Do you want to go to heaven?'

  'Certainly, Father,' the man replied. 

'Then stand over there against the wall,' said the priest.

Then Father Murphy walked up to O'Toole and asked, 'Do you want to go to heaven?'

O'Toole said, 'No, I don't Father.' 
The priest said, 'I don't believe this, you mean to tell me that when you die you don't want to go to heaven?'
O'Toole said, 'Oh, when I die , yes.  I thought you were getting a group together to go right now.'

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Story Behind The Story

These days, it seems every other week I get lost in the fantasy of selling everything we own, putting the heirlooms in storage, buying one of these


and saying goodbye to the life of day to day.  Thus, making day to day a totally unknown kind of day to day.  Meeting all new people, having all new adventures, seeing new bands, climbing new mountains, making beautiful, short documentaries, finding more birds, watching Stella run through new fields. 

Nothing's making us stay in one place,
there are no limits here but mine.
It's the thought of not having an everyday life,
a daily community to commune with,
the neighbors that are looking out for us like family,
this is what keeps me here. 
Why, then, do I constantly wish to run off? 

Someday I think, nay, I hope that RK will wake up in the morning, turn to me (and stella, i must admit, who's sleeping there between us) and say

that's it.  we're going.  it's settled.  pack a bag!

but, I know me (and RK knows me waaay too well)  and I know I will go through the list of all the reasons it might not work, I will question if we aren't working towards something by staying in one place, I'll wonder if that something isn't the very thing we're not doing, and we'll talk about all the places we'd like to travel to one day and how we'll deck out the inside of an airstream.

As a love letter to RK, my roundabout way of telling him I feel for him, I'm on his side and we most likely will continue this fornever ending discussion/fantasy/bigtalk of becoming true roadsters, I give you:  Concertina,

It's a gamble, but there's a place out there, it'll give us an entirely new index to the story of our life, where it is, I'm not sure how we'll decide, but let's get out there, out beyond ideas of right and wrong.

At least that's my story.
I'll be interested in hearing the others at the Accordion Book Workshop I'm teaching in April.  It's one of the great things about teaching these workshops,  at least a glimpse of everyone's story eventually comes out on the page.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Uncle Jack:  Sendai, Japan
 So often we are overwhelmed with our own lives, our own personal crises and damage, that we can't see the forest for the trees. 
We've watched so much devastating footage of Japan's disaster quake and tsunami, it's hard to know where to begin. 

Find ways. 
Whether they be creative, small or big, yesterday or today, reach out and do something that you can do.  The above poster can be purchased here for one way to help (thanks d) though I'm sure you can find so many other ways, as well.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

stella marie: et alors il se fit un grand calme~

Happy Birthday Stella,

From your humble beginnings as part of the stockton 7, 
First Time Beaching

First Time City-ing

One year ago on March 13th, I brought you home and we fell in love with you.
You continue to change our world for the better.

My birthday wish for you would be that everyone could have a Stella in their life.
I think it would help.





I wanted to write the world's greatest paen to Stella on her birthday,
about how she makes me feel like swooning when she sleeps right up next to me, when she stretches out across my lap, when she comes running towards me with her hair flying & ears flattened, when she makes a little throaty grumble telling me she wants up on my lap, when she ever so slightly runs her tongue over the tip of your nose, when she sits in the sun and lets out her deepest, sweetest sigh.  I wanted to write about how, on any given day, you can find myself or RK whispering an explanation of something (the sound of the vacuum cleaner, why she has to get in the bath) in Stella's soft ear and she seems to nod with knowing.  I was wishing I had the words to describe her expressions, her lifted ears, her wagging tail, her eyebrows wiggling and the utter joy that these small things bring me.

Turns out, Joy and Wonder wrote it before I did, about her dog -- and thank goodness she did:  Dog love at it's finest.  It's a wonderful thing.