May 2008 Archives

goodbye may, a month of choices

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May was a busy month with lots of changes. One of the biggest and hardest was the decision for Daniel to not just come home for the summer, but leave MICA altogether. I imagine that the adjustment of living in a dorm/apt situation to coming home to your old room is not the easiest thing in the world. And for Bryan and I it meant adjusting back to being a little more parental and acting less like teenagers and remaining fully clothed when in parts of the house other than our bedroom. Adjustments are being made but there are perks on both sides too. Daniel gets his laundry done and home cooked meals and we get an extra pair of hands on our projects as well as great dinner conversation. He has found work as a design contractor and for the time being it seems to be the right thing.

Another change is Bryan going back to UMD. After much luring they enticed him back with a better paycheck and vacation time that can't be beat (can you say four weeks?). They also have this very sweet program that he plans on taking advantage of... working 9 hour days and take every other friday off. Just the cost of gas we will save will be an added perk. His commute is shorter and frankly will make it possible for me to have the car some days which will be good. He officially starts back next week.

I continue to chisel away at the incremental things that move us toward turquoise waters. We ordered our first buildings for Exnihilo, initializing the design process. It was a small thing that represents big things. And I have another show coming up which will keep me painting... that's a good thing.

All these things represent the act of choosing which is sometimes really hard. Often times when faced with a choice that promises change(therefore discomfort) it is tempting to let things lie and not pull the trigger enabling the change. But for what discomfort there is, there also will be rewards.

Or at the very least, it keeps life interesting.

project skylight

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Finally removed what we affectionately called the "beam me up scotty" sky tube that was cracked the day we bought the house and further damaged by the tree trimmers last year who patched it with duct tape. This season brought some rain that found its way through the tape and onto my hand-tiled bathroom sink making the grout crumble. So it was time to fix the initial problem and replace the skylight. So another project tackled on memorial day weekend. Multiple levels of frustration especially when Anderson Window's tech support couldn't even back up their own instructions.

Hey, instructions are over-rated anyway.

So here is Bryan up on the roof cutting a new hole for the window. Notice our roof... a cedar tongue and grove(yes that is all there is to it). Our Element looking antlike in the driveway down below.

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Me measuring the felt.
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Bryan with the caulking gun filled with tar.

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exnihilo second phase: continued

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A major step today. Scary, exciting, and somewhat insane. Signed a contract to get the wheels rolling on our first and second structure for Exnihilo. Entering into a contract with anyone always makes me a little paranoid but the company we are working with are making the process so easy that I am actually looking forward to it instead of dreading all the potential roadblocks. Working with different companies the last few years in the remodeling of our home has made me a little road weary, but a little wiser. Hiring on anyone to do anything can be a nightmare if you and your contractor are not on the same page, or even if your expectations of quality are not in sinc. That is why after much research the company we chose seemed a perfect fit.

Maybe it is a little unrealistic to want the builders to really care about our project, but I really need the experience to be positive and I already have an overwhelming peace about our initial experience.

And you have to understand our initial experience has been a dialogue with them since January consisting of me pelting them with questions from siding choices to detailed info about their ability to build something for Long Island. I made myself a bit of a pest, but all the while I never detected a single hint of impatience even though we hadn't even entered into a contract. They even got me in touch with another client building on Long Island who shared valuable info regarding everything from getting your container through customs to cautionary tales.

Bryan and I have done a whole lot of the preliminary design work but I am excited to hand off some of that to these new folks who will be working with us and for us in engineering the details like solar power and rainwater cisterns. We will begin the first set of blueprints next week on one of the artist habitats, the first building that will be built on the property. The target is delivery in march 09...

What do I mean by delivery?

Our buildings will be designed and mostly assembled here. Then those components are put into a container along with whatever finishing materials we choose and shipped to Long Island. In the meantime the foundation will be poured. Delivery is when the building lands on our property where a small team of our Bahamian friends assemble the structure on the pad. We decided on building one of the habitats first (instead of the big building) for a couple of reasons. One is to get a sense of how these things go up and possibly experiencing any kinks with the smaller (easier) unit. Also, it will allow us a place to stay when we build the other larger building, along with acting as a shed for storage of tools and materials. And in order to build the big building we will be selling our house, which is another scary prospect, but will be the next necessary step towards this crazy dream.

Check out Exnihilo.


650 square foot artist habitat
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considering artomatic

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This weekend we took a much needed art break and jumped on the metro and headed for DC's Artomatic.

This unique event is inspiring on so many levels. It is a co-op type show that hosts a variety of artists every year in an unused, partially constructed, or warehouse type building that is different every year.

It was great to take in some of DC's best and worst art I had ever seen. Yea, that is the great thing about artomatic, the venue for emerging artists.

As we wandered the halls I was struck by a number of installations one of which was this ceramics installation of small symbolic books. Upon reading the artist statement I discovered that the collection was a result of the artist staying in a residency, and meeting a poet there was inspired to do this piece.

What a great reminder that our Exnihilo retreat could do some good.

Seeing these pieces made me so happy.


Bryan considering sculpture
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Bryan and Daniel at Artomatic
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republished

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The second of hopefully more to come. I am contributing some of my thoughts to this site:

http://blog.christianitytoday.com/giftedforleadership/2008/05/putting_relationship_in_its_pl.html

moving back can be moving forward

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Sunday we did the uhaul dance again ala last year. What I had for some reason imagined an easy move using our element was not going to be so easy.

Oh yea... all those big paintings.

So, early Sunday morning we headed down to the uhaul place and rented a truck to move Daniel home.

Much has changed in the last year, one of which was our satisfaction with the place that Daniel goes to school.

Yea, that amazing institute that just two years ago I gushed about totally in love with their program and their reputation, and the fact that Daniel had been accepted into its illustrious halls.

Some things change.

Planning on doing whatever it took to scrape and scramble to pay for this amazing education started to lose some of its romance the first year when tuition was raised second semester and once more this year. Daniel doing his darndest to help out applied for another scholarship and won it but the celebration was short lived when we receivied the tuition increase letter the next day that completely wiped out the new scholarship and more. The date on the increase letter and the scholarship letter was the same...

which kind of ticked me off.

Another dubious thing that made Bryan and I itch was meeting one of Daniel's painting profs, a newly graduated MICA grad student...

hmmm...

Honestly, I still hold the place in high esteem, but for us normal folk trying to pay for college, the stress factor vs. the hard-to-measure value was starting to make us a little crazy. Spending the last six months in a low grade state of anxiety started to wear, and when Daniel admitted that he wasn't sure it was worth it we took a hard look...

and pulled the plug.

This is a hard thing for a parent to do. For me, personally it felt as if we had somehow failed. But when push comes to shove...

well sometimes it is the most basic things that steer your path.

So, even though Daniel has moved back it still feels as if he has moved forward. It is a relief to put into action a looming and nagging conviction, but it can also leave you wondering what the next right thing is. This is the next part of a hard process.

Now, as a family, we have to navigate what the culture might pressure us to do, or what finances would allow us to do, but ultimately land on some creative solution for future days. In the mean time I am trying to treasure the moments together, tense and otherwise.

to its new home

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Although it is not the first original painting that I have ever sold, it is the first in this collection and one that I deeply care about.

It is hard to see it go.

And I swore that if the individual who was purchasing it (who I hadn't met) turned out to be an ass, I was going to refuse to sell it.

ha. can't you just picture that.

But, upon meeting at the agreed location, after shaking hands and polite introductions the new patron turned out to be a lovely man who really "got" the work, and was giving it as a special gift to his lady-love.

So perfectly appropriate.

So I part with it with mixed emotions. Sad to see it go, but so excited that someone appreciates the work.

And something is gained in the letting go. Although no new concepts for work have ambushed me since the show, I feel a new sense of momentum in approaching the canvas. As much as I want to deny that having someone buy the work is validating, I can't. It is like some sort of weird unspoken encouragement to do more.

And let's face it... having it sit against a wall in my studio does no one any good.


Love, dressed for travel.
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folding fitted sheets

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If there is one thing that I could master in my life before I die it is the ability to fold a fitted sheet.

You heard me...

and you know exactly what I am talking about.

This morning I had to keep from descending into a fit of rage due to a stupid sheet. At one point having one corner draped over my head like a hood in order to stretch it out to create the perfect fold I caught my reflection in the full length mirror and had to laugh, thankfully removing the mounting tension between myself and the unfortunate bedding. Any further and I might have torn it to shreds with my teeth.

So many things in life are like folding a fitted sheet.

1. It is always a challenge
2. It never works the same way twice
3. It can drive you a little crazy.
4. It can give you a huge sense of relief when it actually works.

And I have to admit that this particular monday morning the sheet probably represented more of life than just simple bedding. In every attempt to folding I was probably directing other frustrations and responsibilities at the task, at one point actually wadding it up into a ball thinking that I should just stuff it in a bag.

But I wouldn't be satisfied with that and...

life can not be stuffed into a bag.

I do think that the mundane tasks when piled upon pile can give one the impression that there is no end in sight, or like folding a fitted sheet, is just too damn hard. And sometimes I really struggle at just moving forward with the little things.

I like the big things.

And I am a great starter and a not-so-great finisher and right now the things that have been started far outweigh the things finished which makes me a little crazy...

because I also need closure...

which is why wadding up a fitted sheet just won't do.

And, for as much as the bravado of accomplishing the "bigger" things brings satisfaction, it is the culmination of all the little things that turn into the big things. It all adds up.

But I have a hard time celebrating the little things, and when they add up to bigger things I usually just chalk that up as par for the course not giving myself the due credit for the sum total. Instead I look toward all that is left to do, or what hasn't been done.

Do you do this? Do you forget to celebrate the things that you do, no matter how small? Do you forget that the culmination of the hour-by-hour, day-by-day, adds up to a life?

tearing down the show

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No pictures with this post. When we got to the gallery, my work was already on the floor being replaced by the next artist's work. So the tearing down consisted of mostly loading the car. This, I have to admit, was the not-so-fun part of the process. But the gallery director seemed pleased and mentioned something about next year.

And for me it prompts the question...

what's next?

After dropping off the paintings at home the rest of the day Bryan and I spent playing hooky from chores and responsibilities, choosing instead to brunch in Bethesda, and take in a late movie. By the end of the day I was feeling much better...

and able to consider the question.

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This page is an archive of entries from May 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

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