Saturday, October 18, 2014

Yoga Class #1

Well that was amazing. After years, probably almost twenty years, of toying with yoga and doing it once in a while because it's "good for me" I think the bug finally sunk its teeth in. I think I'm going to become a yoga freak. 

Okay, just one class, who knows if a pattern will really develop but that felt life changing. 

I did a full-on backbend. I don't think I've done one of those since eighth grade! I wasn't at all sure I could do it then all of a sudden there I was, upside down, supporting my body weight on my arms stretched back over my shoulders and my legs doing what legs do (I guess). My mind was blown. It was almost like "where am I? What am I doing? Have I gone crazy?" Amazing. I live for amazement. 

One thing I hadn't thought about yesterday when I signed up was that I was going to have to get there wearing clothes and with a yoga mat. 

I don't want to make a huge, giant generalization here but SOME people have a pretty annoying air about them when they're coming and going from yoga class. Too smug and virtuous looking. I DON'T WANT TO BE THAT GUY! 

I'm a little too preoccupied with that. I want to look as awkward and schlumpy as possible on my yoga class commute. That right there is vanity. Just as bad as looking smug. Just don't think about what you look like. It's not important. Duh!

I was also uncomfortable walking to class in just the cropped leggings I feel totally fine about running in. I had to wear sweatpants. What a weirdo. 

I know I'll get over all that stupidness. Maybe I just did. I'm so lucky I got that two week pass. Extra incentive to actually go back and start to feel comfortable and maybe build a habit. The people in class were super nice and friendly. I do want to meet new people. 

So, go me! Yay yoga!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Random Day Stuff



It was a particularly beautiful day in Boston and vicinity today. This was the skyline view from around 7:30 this morning (I think it was 7:30. I don't really remember as I got about two-and-a-half hours of sleep last night. Some things are foggy today) I don't know if it comes through in the photo but I found the pink morning mist over the city a bit romantically sci-fi. I love that kind of thing. 

Pete and Nate have been touring as members of the band, Van Hayride, the countrified Van Halen cover band. They've been opening for the band, Puss N Boots. If either band comes to your town I highly recommend seeing them. 

Pete, Nate, and the incredible Daria Grace

Rod (far left, sorry, Rod, I don't know your last name) Pete, the obviously amazing Jack Grace, Daria (far right)

The women of Puss N Boots are forces of nature. They have a seriously entertaining, POWERFUL thing going. Plus they're really irreverent and funny. I cannot tell you how much I wish I could sing like any of them. In fact I was too stunned by their awesomeness to remember to take a picture of them. 

I got to hang around with everyone backstage last night after the show for a while. I ended up not going to bed until 3 AM. Rock 'n' roll. What are you going to do? 

The best thing was how really lovely all the people were. Everyone was so kind and inclusive. It was a family atmosphere, lots of love and fun in the room. Norah Jones is my new favorite famous person. (Did I have a designated old favorite famous person?) Sasha gave me a delicious cookie. Most importantly everyone was really nice to my boys, Pete and Nate, and I love it when people are good to the folks I love. I also picked up a great tip for dealing with a certain indelicate process (okay, farting - without naming names) that I'm definitely going to use later. Very worth the sleep deficit. 

In other news I signed up to take a yoga class tomorrow morning at the (new to me) local yoga studio in Union Square. I got a two-week unlimited trial pass too. I'm irrationally excited about this. I have never signed up for a yoga class on my own steam before. These days I'm all about trying new things. Billions of people go to yoga classes every day. It's not a big deal. I'm acting like it's some big adventure. Well you never know where something's going to lead...

Monday, October 6, 2014

How To React When Nothing Makes Sense





You know, in a way this piece made itself. There were a number of happy accidents that went along with all the hard work I put in. For example two flat tires prevented me from leaving town as I'd planned to do when it was better for me to stay and work on the piece. The stool, already in the gallery, was the perfect pedestal for the plate of treats. Also, I hadn't known that I'd want a backdrop for this until I got to the gallery and set up the stool and empty cake plate. Then I remembered that there's a fabric store in the building next door. 

I think people liked it. It's amazing how difficult it is to give away free home made pastry when it's part of a sculpture. People either think it's a facsimile of food and not edible or they're "afraid to touch the art." Or they're just afraid. Poor things.

One week after my post referring to people not Facebooking anymore I received my invitation to join Ello. Plus ça change...

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Why?


I am so tired I can barely move. I got four hours of sleep last night. I've worn out my arms and hands making things. I have to show again in two weeks. Nobody's even looking. Why do I go to all this trouble?  It's a compulsion. See? Nothing makes sense. 

The picture above is of an object. That's not an image I made with a graphics application. It would be difficult to make something so uneven in a graphics application.


See?

Time to eat something and get cracking on éclairs and haul them and my butt down to the gallery and set up and then stand there on the concrete floor for seven hours because if I sit my whole body will seize up from the physical wringer I've been putting it through. 

It'll be fine. It'll all be fine. This is my life. Better than working in a diamond mine. So unspeakably much better than working in a diamond mine.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Super-bakey

South End Open Studios is this weekend. I will be participating. I had planned to go down to our space on Monday and hang some kind of sculpture thing that I was going to make then and there. Instead I decided that the only honest thing to do would be to make meringues and chocolate éclairs and give them to people who come to our gallery.

I was partially inspired to do this by the random stuff being discussed on Facebook right now. I won't spell those things out as no doubt equally random things are being discussed on Facebook as you read this (unless no one Facebooks anymore and everyone's moved on to the next thing by the time you read this.) I was partially inspired by this guy, Tee Major. How did I get from a guy displaying his EXTREME fitness skills to making meringues and chocolate éclairs? Hmmm...


Long story short, nothing makes sense. The wonders of the world. All the bizarre and random things that happen every day, all the time. When nothing makes sense you can only do what makes the most sense to you. For Tee Major it makes TONS of sense to work out for thousands of hours so he can support his body weight on the tips of his fingers and do pushups during which he spins around in midair. I would say the vast majority of humans on this planet would have no need to use those skills but Tee Major WENT FOR IT. Dedication, determination, drive, practice, focus for hours and hours and hours. He can do Superman Push Ups. It's amazing. That makes sense to him and I respect and admire that.

On Monday I saw no difference between his drive to learn to master his body in that way and my desire to master making éclairs and meringues. You have to do what makes sense to YOU. That made sense to me. 

SO...
I couldn't believe it was actually working! The batter was rising!

Would you look at that - they're browning and look like real éclairs!

Naked without their chocolate ganache.
Éclair pastry turns out to be pretty easy to make. You use a saucepan, a mixing bowl, and a wooden spoon. The batter is made of butter, water, sugar, salt, a little flour, and four beaten eggs.  you heat the first four ingredients in the pan until the butter melts. You dump the flour in all at once and stir over the heat until the batter clumps into a dough and begins to leave a film on the bottom of the pan. Then you dump the dough into the mixing bowl and stir it to cool it for a minute or two. Then you add the beaten eggs in four parts, stirring well with your wooden spoon after each part. Bang - you got éclair dough. So simple no wonder I was surprised it worked. You can also make cream puffs and cheese poufs called "gougères" with this same dough. And believe me I will. Easy and like magic therefore fun.

Now the meringues. I used to make meringues all the time when I was a kid. Once our housekeeper, Sarah (who saved my life so many times in so many ways) showed me how to do it I never had a problem. Until this Monday (of course the last time I tried was possibly 38 years ago) Four disastrous batches before I got a passable one. Then these happened:

I might be able to use these failures for something.
These look horrible but they taste good. I used a recipe that suggested heating the sugar in the oven before you mix it into the egg whites to help it dissolve more quickly. I might try that again sometime.

Making my own superfine sugar.

The best way to have the sugar dissolve nicely is to use superfine sugar. I couldn't find any at the three markets I looked in so I tried making my own. It seemed to work. I never used superfine sugar when I was a kit though. Just normal eggs, normal sugar, and a normal handheld mixer.

One problem may have been that I tried using a carton of egg whites. You can buy a carton of just the whites. Don't do that for meringues. It's unreliable. The last batch I made with those whipped up beautifully. Nice and stiff until about two-thirds of the way through adding the sugar when the whole thing suddenly turned into soup. My worst batch yet. Down the sink.

Finally I did everything as super-right as I could. I separated my own whites (which I don't like to do because then you have yolks you have to do something with) let them come to room temperature, wiped down everything that was going to come in contact with the whites with white vinegar to eliminate any possible trace of grease (grease prevents the whites from whipping up) added cream of tartar, used brand new sugar out of a fresh box rather than the sugar I store my vanilla beans in (just in case there's vanilla bean oil?) and it worked perfectly. I don't remember having to be so fussy when I was a kid.

SUCCESS! This batch was a monster! It tried to escape from the bowl! Look at that glorious texture though!
I cannot tell you how exhilarating it was when the super-stiff egg and sugar batter started fighting me back! A delightful, white, fluffy monster! Trying to wrest the beater from my hands and to fling itself out of the bowl and all over the kitchen! So exciting! Maybe one day I'll figure out a way to just bake it all whipped in the bowl. Look how gorgeous that is!

Successful batch number two (out of maybe eight batches total) is pictured below.
Freeform

Piped
I wanted to make odd shapes and sizes. I made some big ones, maybe the size of a croissant, but I think I can do better with those so no photos. I want to make huge ones and ones in different colors. Pristine white was what I went for this time.

Now I'm absolutely exhausted and I'm going to bed late and I have to get up early so I can do more set-up stuff for this show. I still don't know how I'm going to display all this stuff or how I'm going to assemble the éclairs and get them down to the gallery on Saturday. 

I'm not even sure this was a good idea or that I fully understand now what I was thinking when I chose this course of action. Gonna have to cross that bridge when I get to it. That is how I like to make art. It usually works out okay.

I have to say that I have never had this much trouble in the kitchen in my life. Never! 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Neighborhood Adventure

I had an adventure today with a housecoat-wearing little old Portuguese lady. Well, she wasn't that old. Sixty-something, maybe.

I left the apartment on my morning pre-run, warm-up walk. As I neared the park on the corner of our street I saw a little lady in a housecoat coming in my direction. She was looking into the park with concern. The park, or maybe I should call it a "park," is one of those horrible parks they made in the seventies that is 95% paved and the only ones who go there to "relax and enjoy" it are pigeons and winos.

I followed the woman's glance and saw that there was another woman sitting slumped over on one of the benches. She was sitting, bent over at the waist so her face was below her knees. She was either sleeping off something incredibly powerful or she was recently deceased. Her face wasn't purple though - a good sign.

Housecoat lady and I conferred. If the woman was sleeping we didn't want to bother her but if she needed medical attention then she should get it. We remembered that the hospital was just around the corner and we could go there and tell someone rather than calling 911. So we set off together for the hospital. I could have done it myself but she came along too.

It's a short walk but there was time to make conversation. I found out that the lady was on her way to the pharmacy. I asked her if she was enjoying her summer. She said "I don't like summer very much. It's too hot. I don't like to be hot." Her answer delighted me. I said, "me too! I HATE being hot! This has been a very nice summer but still too hot for me." A kindred spirit! We agreed we preferred fall.

We got to the hospital and told the officers at the Public Safety window about the slumped-over woman in the park. They looked at us as if to say "why did you have to go and tell us this?" but they said they'd take care of it. The lady and I left, not knowing if we'd actually helped anyone or not.

I never know what to do in those situations. I feel cowardly for not just going and asking the person if they need help. I don't know - I don't want to go hover over some sleeping person. That's creepy. I don't want to be a condescending jerk either. "Oh you poor drug addict. You must need professional medical attention." Not that I'd ever say that. But, you know, sometimes people just want to be left alone with their good friend heroin (or whatever.)

The lady and I parted ways, she went off to Walgreens, I continued on for my run. We wished each other a good day and good rest of the summer. I hope I bump into her again. I had just been complaining to myself that I rarely meet anyone I feel an immediate connection with and along comes this lady and we go on a mission together.

When I got back from my run I looked into the park to see if the passed-out woman was still there. She was but she had shifted into a much more reasonable position, on her back with her head resting face-up on the bench. She was definitely on something but she wasn't going to die imminently - I don't think. I don't know if anyone had come to check on her.

Whether or not I did anyone any good, I'm glad I got to meet housecoat lady.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Good Cookie

This post was from the end of May. I just found it!

That John Gregg knows how to BAKE.

That Exciting Thing I Mentioned

That thing I mentioned back on February 3? Pete and I are moving into a larger apartment in Inman Square. 

It's a very nice apartment with a roof deck and a little yard and a guest room. We can have friends over again and we can enjoy the outdoors without having to bring our keys. The space is far more comfortable for two people to live and move around in. 

I'm sitting on the bedroom floor of our old apartment, typing this on my phone. As big an improvement as the new place is going to be, Pete and I are still having mixed feelings about the move. 

This little apartment was a comforting shelter during some of the hardest years of my life. My dad died during the first few months that we lived here. Friends were seriously ill or taking care of their seriously ill spouses, dealing with other difficult family situations, some friends died, Fay died, there were other losses that I won't go into. It has not been easy lately. This little apartment and this neighborhood were a haven while I tried to comprehend all that was happening, while I tried to figure out how to navigate and how to move forward. 

Now I'm clearing it out to leave it. I might have thought I'd come to associate the place with feeling terrible. Maybe on some level I do. I could feel eager to get the recent past even farther behind me.  For now I feel grateful to this place that was my refuge. 

The idea of moving to a space where we could entertain friends and enjoy the outdoors was a rare pleasure in the stream of hard things that happened. It gave Pete and me something happy to talk about after a long stretch of mostly talking about logistics and details to manage. Moving to this new place has given us some fun things to think about, new places to explore, a fun project rather than a sad one. Mostly I'm very happy and excited about it. 

I'm dragging my feet a bit today though. It's also partly because I'm having a little trouble deciding which stuff to put in which box or bag. I addition I'm quite annoyed with myself for still having a bunch of junk I should have disposed of a long time ago. 

Well it's a fresh start now. No time like the present to get rid of that stuff. If there's one thing the last few years have taught me it's that you can't hold on to anything. You've got to let go and move forward. You're moving forward anyway, nothing you can do to stop it, so you might as well stop carrying a bunch of old, heavy stuff you're not using along with you. Ghosts can drag you back too so let them go. Let everything go. It feels so much better. 

So now, pep talk accomplished, I'll resolve to put less stuff in those bags and boxes I'm packing up. That ought to help. I don't know how we fit all this stuff into such a small space. 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Necessary

Sunblock. It feels gross and it stains your clothes. Sometimes it smells bad. It needs to be reapplied. It's expensive but most likely it's cheaper than cancer. Definitely cheaper in a lot of ways than cancer. 

People with adequate amounts of melanin don't understand. Sigh. 

Friday, May 9, 2014

Thursday, May 8, 2014

This Was All Before 8:45 This Morning

Uhm, I am wearing flip flops and I have coral color painted toenails and I LOVE everything because I went running this morning.

Here are some things I saw today:
A sea of jasmine

A beautiful view

Fuzzy, red, banana-looking flowers

A spacious view that came with a delightful-feeling headwind.

An almond croissant that my mom brought me.

Mom also put lilies in my room and they smell great! Thanks, Mom!

Yesterday I got in the hot tub. No doubt I will again soon. Not only that but I had an entire row to myself on the plane over! How often does that happen?

Today we will be celebrating Mom's birthday. It's a bit early but today we're celebrating. This means there will be cake. Dang good.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

SOWA Art Walk, Spring 2014



Blogging today from our empty gallery at the SOWA Art Walk and opening day of the SOWA Sunday Art Market. If you're ever in Boston on a Sunday in the spring through autumn I recommend it as a fun activity. The open air market in the parking lot has fun vendors and good food trucks. The galleries are right there (easy access) and there are lots of interesting artists showing. Go with a curious mind, open to what you find, and you'll have a great time. It's dead in our gallery so far though.

Pete's wall:

My wall:

Note the lack of bodies blocking the view.

I admit I didn't shoot for the stars on this show. I was plumb out of rocket fuel. My aim was a bit lower. 




Twenty-four very small drawings of hearts. Yeah, schmaltzy old unoriginal hearts. Trite. Seen 'em a million times. Never want to see another one. I like this one with bats:


How about this guy? What in the world is he up to?


I guess to me it's like a comic strip without a linear narrative. Kind of like instrumental music. 

Notice that they're not perfect? The "frames" are stupid and there are odd  marks where there shouldn't be? Well I ain't a machine and that's the way I like it!

This piece is austere yet still girly. Weird girly. I am what I am, I make what I make. I didn't have the energy for bright and glittery this time.

It seems impossible that I could sit here for six hours and not one person will come in. Maybe I should stop blogging and look more welcoming.

Two awesome guys just came in. One said he'd recently curated a show about love and if he'd met me before he would have included me. How nice! Well that's encouraging. 

Okay, off to be more welcoming...