Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Master of the Chair

So when I moved to Arizona almost 10 years ago, I brought with me lots of hand-me-down furniture from my parents. Included in the mix was this rust corduroy-covered short chair, with wood legs. My dad had the chair when he first moved to Oberlin, 40-plus years ago, so this thing has some history... apparently several re-upholsterings, many houses, much use.  My dog, Wilson, quickly made it his, though people still sat in the chair from time to time. Somewhere along the way, the chair lost its legs, and it completely became a glorified dog bed. Over the years, I've had many roommates, and Wilson has had many canine and feline roommates. What's been interesting is the politics around this chair over the years. The dog who's on the top of the pecking order gets the chair. Apparently, poor Wilson has let himself get pecked right out of his chair, time and time again.

With roomie Brian and his dogs Iris and Odin, Iris was alpha. She is a 'mother hen' type of dog, and that chair was almost immediately hers once they all moved in. During the two years Brian lived here, it was rare to see Wilson or Odin curling up in the chair. Rather, Iris stayed planted in the chair, a fuzzy queen in her corduroy throne. After Brian, came JC with her dog Kayla, who slid right in to owning that chair. Again, Wilson rarely slept in the chair, but was always on a teeny round carpet or on the floor. I briefly considered getting rid of the chair when JC and Kayla moved out; that damn thing has certainly seen better days. Within 24 hours of their departure, however, Wilson was back in the chair, every day, enjoying his cushy dog sofa. While I know he misses his dog friends, I'm sure he's grateful to have that chair back again… at least for the moment. The politics over the chair aren't done just yet.
About a year ago, Minou, a terrible and quite lovable kitten, came into my life. She and Wilson became fast friends, but it's really only been in this era post-roommates that the power struggles between the two of them have really become clear. Wilson puts up with quite a bit from Minou, including allowing her to chase him away from his own food bowl, allowing her to use his tail as chasing toy, and putting up with this last bit. Here's how the game goes:
  1. Wilson sleeps peacefully in his chair. His nose gently rests on the edge of the chair.
  2. Minou, always the troublemaker, quietly sneaks into the room, and up to the edge of the chair, close to unsuspecting Wilson.
  3. Minou swats Wilson across the nose (no claws).
  4. Wilson stirs, grumbles, and goes back to sleep.
  5. Minou swats again, this time, with claws.
  6. Wilson sits up, barks at the cat, scaring her away. Wilson lays back down and goes to sleep.
  7. Minou makes her approach again. She swats, claws out, and stands her ground.
  8. Wilson wakes again, bothered, and chases the Minou around the room.
  9. By one lap around the room, Minou climbs in the chair, curls up, and goes to sleep.
  10. Wilson sheepishly moves to the couch, or his round little rug.

While it leaves poor Wilson at the bottom of the pecking order yet again, it's terribly entertaining. This happens at least once a day, often more. While neither Minou nor I have grown tired of the game, I have a feeling Wilson is…

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


This morning I went to yoga class. Laura, my teacher, has had a very positive influence on me, and especially in this past year. She inspires me every day to stretch, grow (myself and my garden), and love life. Part of what makes Laura so awesome is that each one of her classes- private or group- starts with a philosophical theme that always seems to be just what I need to hear. On a day when I was "in a bunch" and taking everything way too seriously, Laura's theme was about embracing our inner child. We spent the class finding the joy in those postures we detest, and we spent 90 minutes giggling like little kids, having such a blast. I snapped right out of my sour mood, of course.
Today's theme was fearlessness. And yet again, Laura's message hit close to home. To be fearless, we aren't without fear. Rather, the fearless acknowledge their fears, and continue moving forward. Sometimes those fears are reasonable and justified- when we haven't built the strength or flexibility to attempt a difficult posture, for example. In those cases, we need to pay attention to the fears, allow them to protect us. However, for most, and certainly for me, in my life and my yoga practice, fear creates limits beyond that which is reasonable and justified. Today's class was filled with postures and sequences which are ones I *should* practice every day (because I often dislike doing them, because they're hard to do). So the practice in fearlessness for me today was in staying put and breathing no matter how bad I wanted to come out of the posture, in taking that steadying foot off the wall in headstand, and in general, just staying with the discomfort, be it from a shaking hamstring or from a fearful mind.
And of course the message carries over to life off the mat, too. My practice of fearlessness in the studio today was in allowing a little bit of play on difficult projects. Rather than focusing on tangible additions to my inventory, I'm working on experiments. I'm tuning in to the technical issues and challenges with some of these ideas I have for new beads, and making myself work on them, even though the first attempts aren't what I imagined, even though its frustrating, even though part of me just wants to go back to making what I've been making for years. It's always harder than I thought, putting ideas into motion… It's also really fun.
So I'm going to pay Laura's wisdom forward: here's wishing you fearlessness!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

To inspiration and vegetables

It’s Wednesday, which means that I get together with a few friends for coffee and breakfast, and we chat and discuss our successes and challenges from the past week. It’s great. I’m very thankful for them. Our meeting excites, inspires, and motivates me to get in the studio and try new things, rather than focusing on making tangible contributions to my inventory. (I’ll get to these newish projects in an upcoming post. However, this blogging project seems to be focusing on what happens in my time off… so the work discussion will come when it comes.)

It’s Wednesday, which means that it’s the day when my vegetable delivery arrives. Matt’s Organics is a wonderful local company that delivers a big bin of mostly locally grown organic fruit and veggies to my door every other Wednesday. Its like Christmas comes every other week… My friends can vouch for my giddy joy upon the bin’s arrival each time. The best part is that I never know what I’m going to get. I can make a few requests- they know I love green beans, beets, melon, grapes, brussels sprouts, and kale but know I detest mushrooms and lima beans. Almost always I get bananas, and almost always I eat one while I’m unpacking the box. I know there will be plenty of fruit, greens, salad veggies, and cooking veggies. Past that, who knows. I get a lot for that $36…. Two week’s worth of veggies, in fact.

Since I never know which foods will be stocking my pantry, the dishes I cook with what I get are pretty varied. The beets, sweet potato, and onions from the last delivery turned into a roasted vegetable mix that went on top of creamy polenta. More sweet potatoes were cooked with black beans in a stew. Spinach was sautéed with garlic and olive oil, and eaten with a friend’s risotto. The constantly changing supply of veggies inspires exploration in cuisine, and that makes me really happy. It’s fun. Tomorrow I know I need to make something with red cabbage, to finish off the huge head of the stuff that came two weeks ago. Not sure why, but getting my veg delivery has made me much more conscientious about not letting one thing go unused. For that, I’m thankful. Hmmm. I have a few sweet potatoes left, too. Good thing they’re tasty. We’ll see what they become. I’ll figure it out.

Anything that inspires, whether the muse be a gathering with friends, a torch, vegetables, a few rods of glass, or a sautee pan and butter, is OK in my book.

(straining neck looking out to my front porch) Is it here yet?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Balance and compost

First grad school, then starting a business, then keeping up a business, along with the trials and tribulations of work, relationships, and travel, I’ve created an awesome, but rather unbalanced life for myself. That’s been the choice- to allow a tipping of the scales. But that kind of thing can’t persist continuously. Burnout ensues. So over the last year, I’ve put energy into other spheres of my life- returning to a regular yoga practice, doing volunteer work, and nourishing my life here in Tucson, at home. While I haven’t achieved quite what I’d call a balanced life, I’m well on the way, and really stoked about that. The journey is really beautiful. Financially, that journey is challenging, but that’s ok. Bumpy roads are more interesting and enjoyable anyways.
This weekend brought big steps along that path, probably ones more significant to me than it would seem to others.

I watered my plants.
While in the last 6 months of grad school and all of the anxiety that came with it, my large collection of desert succulents went dormant, or died, entirely due to the fact that I stopped watering them. It’s funny how that works… I guess plants need water in the desert. And it took this long to decide to bring those plants back… So with the generous help of friend Audra and her plethora of well-loved (translation: watered) potted plants, we refilled a few empty pots with clippings. Surprisingly, quite a few of the old succulents survived the MZ-induced 5 year drought, and in the last 24 hours, these have already perked up a bit. We hung blinds to shade the porch, which is awesome for me and the plants, preventing a little bit of future water loss, and providing some shade from this intense Arizona sun.

It gets better… Monday morning, inspired by Sunday’s successes and a visit to my yoga teacher’s lovely garden, I took the first step toward a *real* garden at home... I built my very own compost bin. Made with cinder blocks found behind the shed, and a few random pieces of wood, I’ve started making scrumptious nourishment for all the delicious vegetables I’ll eventually grow. It’s very exciting. At least for me. The compost bin is far from glamorous, but it works.
It’ll be quite a while before my compost bin is generating usable compost, but I’m jazzed regardless. On a break from the torch today, I ducked outside and peeked in the bin, half-hoping magical composting garden fairies had snuck in and transformed the few grass clippings and veggie scraps into beautiful humus. Alas, no fairies (at least that I could see... microbes are working their fairy magic already), just a few ants and a grasshopper, which is almost as good.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Feeling Technologically Inept

I used to blog. Years ago. That was before I was doing glass full-time and when maintaining my website was just a hobby, not part of my official job. Nowadays, between shows, classes, travel, and other life adventures, my website has cobwebs on it, I haven't blogged in ages, and the only way to keep up with me and the biz is on FaceBook. This fall, being blessed with months of relatively few planned work-related trips, I've made returning to blogging/ web maintenance/ catching up a priority. That, and working with boro, but that's for another blog post.

Over the last couple days, I've set up this new blog, and started researching the ways to integrate FaceBook, MySpace, Twitter, and all those other social networking pages with my website. In a dream land, the social networking pages, my website, and blog will all work together like a well-oiled machine.

We're not quite there yet. Wow, I feel dumb. When it comes to this web stuff, I am officially as out-of-date as acid wash denim. There was a time when I thought I knew what I was doing…. I wrote the code to my first website, after all. But now I'm in a whole new world, of widgets and badges and Tweetdeck and web developer language that may as well be Cantonese.

I'll get there, eventually. I'm one persistent cookie, if I choose to be. Keep an eye out- my successes will be celebrated, trust me.

Wish me luck.

Back to the 'help' sections I go…