Wednesday, October 30, 2013

I'm At It Again

I can blog from the subway with this thing (phone)! While I'm commuting to work! So exciting - because I've got bees in my bonnet.

Do you ever feel like you're living in a ghost world? Everything around you has already changed irrevocably but it's still there. Nothing looks outwardly different but everything you live with, everything you're walking around is hollow or just a shadow. It's only a matter of time before all of it disappears.

If I had time to meditate today it would probably be one of those sessions where I'd just cry for half an hour. It's not that everything is so terrible - some things are great (like my meatloaf) Life is just so damned confusing.

Hearts kind of suck. They make you love stuff. People, creatures, situations, even objects. You have no control. You want things that are bad for you - AND good for you AT THE SAME TIME. How can you tell which? It doesn't matter which  because you can't have them anyway. Or you can and then it's a big mess. You love, then you lose! Then your stupid heart stops working altogether and you die! Who invented this crazy system? Absurd!

So many things going on all the time. Love, loss, joy, heartbreak, beauty, horror, ALL AT ONCE!

It's enough to make a gal just want to sit on the sofa, knit, and watch alternating episodes of "Miss Marple" and "The X-Files" while eating bon-bons and drinking single malt scotch for a month. 

Thank heaven I have this chocolate bar at my desk. 

That might calm me down. It's a known fact that chocolate causes a chemical reaction in the human brain that creates a direct connection to the stable "Astral Chocolate Plane" of The Universe. Known. Fact. 

Gotta go do stuff now. Chase papers around, find numbers 'n' stuff.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Fun! I Had Fun!

Halloween party preparations! I forgot how fun it is to make weird stuff!

Like these heart-shaped pickled beets I made to garnish spooky Bleeding Heart Martinis:
So fun to carve them into heart shapes. I don't remember ever making cooked pickles before so that was fun too. I hope they taste good! They're supposed to leach creepy red tendrils through the martini.

The BEST thing is the horrific mummy meatloaf I made. I can't even believe how well it came out. I have to show you the before and after shots so you can see that it really is a meatloaf and not a war atrocity.
See - bacon wraps. Onion eyes and teeth and tomato sauce glaze for an extra charred flesh effect.

The results:
True Terror! What a horrible nightmare! Complete, resounding success! Will anyone dare to eat this wretched thing? It's almost insensitive.

I put a ton of work into making these ridiculous, meaningless things. It was so much fun! Clearly I need to do even more stupid, meaningless things!

A Favorite Thing

One of my favorite things that anyone's ever said about me is, "Daddy! That lady's a witch!" Perceptive kid.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Making Sticks

A Stick

I don't think I've mentioned the collaborative installation project I'm doing with my gallery-mate, Denise. It's looming. We show December 6th. The only parameter we set was that we were going to make vertical elements. I'm at the point now where I just call them sticks.

Denise is really cranking on the sticks. We've met at her studio to touch base once each of the last two months. I've brought either nothing but photos (the sticks were drying and not transportable) or just a handful of stuff. She's got dozens. Dozens of really good sticks along with handfuls of truly amazing sticks.

I'm lagging in the numbers. My contribution has been more in the area of going off into left field. I was the first to make a stick with offshoots. Not like the one above, but one that has stars shooting off of it on long, bendy wires. I also started stringing things on wire to hang from the ceiling. I had beads I wanted to use.

Hell, I have a lot going on right now! Plus, my studio's a two-and-a-half hour drive away. There's no room to make a mess or dry anything in our apartment where I have to be five days a week so I had to think of ways to make sticks that didn't need to dry. These beaded things (which I'm still calling sticks even though they're more like giant necklaces or bracelets) just pile into a bag which I could stash under the sofa if I felt like it.

I also have some industrial twine in a bunch of different colors that I want to crochet sticks out of. How much time do I have? NOT ENOUGH. Between the travel, the death, the dumb things I thoughtlessly said I'd do, the party I want to have because I love my friends and I want to see them, and - let's just call it - the LIFE, I feel like I'm falling behind. I don't want to let Denise down.

Well crap. I just have to do the best I can, right? So that's what I'm doing. I really don't want to get into some anxiety-based, all-nighter pulling, no bathing, monastic existence of cranking out sticks like an underage Chinese factory worker. Now is not the time. Things are hard enough. I want to keep my eye on the big picture of where my life is going. I want to remain mentally healthy. I am so grateful that I naturally wake up at 4:30 - 5:00 AM these days. I get so much more done that way.

This project has been really good for me. While I do feel I'm not holding up my end as far as numbers go, I'm really enjoying making these things. I'm working happily away in my studio (or my living room) for hours. Working in my studio has often been torturous in the past so it's nice to be getting hours of practice of just honest work under my belt. You know, wearing down a passage in my brain where I enjoy working for hours in my studio. Hopefully erasing the passage in my brain where I force myself to go to my studio and relentlessly prod myself to just do something, anything, just do it and it hurts and it's horrible.

Eh, art. It is what it is. Like everything else, some days you got it, some days you don't.

Alrighty, I'd better go make some more sticks now. Later!

Saturday, October 26, 2013


Find a bit of beauty in the world today. Share it. If you can't find it, create it. Some days this may be hard to do. Persevere.
I guess this is what I'm trying to do. I did "favorite" this tweet after I re-tweeted it. Guess I'll go Facebook it now.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Life Is Short And I Don't Know How To Do It

If the post below seems a bit lackluster it's because my heart wasn't really in it. It was the post I'd planned to write on Sunday but I ran out of time. I don't really have time to write this post now. I just got off of work, I'm still at my desk and I'm expected somewhere else in forty-five minutes. That said, I gotta do what I gotta do.

We have a dear friend who is unlikely to be with us for much longer. This is what's really on my mind today.

Did I write yet that I've realized that you don't like your friends, you love them? Probably. I've been thinking about it a lot lately. It's very difficult knowing that this vibrant person with such a unique mind, so much talent, so much love and appreciation for life will be leaving us. We won't have him around to inspire us, to chew the fat with, to enjoy a great meal with. We won't have the distinct pleasure of his company.

There have been times in my life where I've felt as if everything I love was going away. Of course for me it wasn't true. My friend is really being taken away from EVERYTHING he loves. He doesn't want to go. It's so hard to see him fight with this. I can't make him feel better. Pete can't make him feel better. His beloved wife can't make him feel better.

God, it hurts so much.

And it makes me want to LIVE. It makes me want to throw caution to the wind and just GO. Buy shoes I can't afford, throw a HELL of a Halloween party, tell all my friends how much I love them, smooch people I shouldn't (decorum be damned!) plan a trip to Hawaii, quit my job and drive across country, eat A LOT of chocolate, run outside in the wind, swim in the ocean. It makes me want to be extravagant.

I'm usually prudent by nature and very careful of the needs and wishes of others. These tendencies calm me down, cool me off. I would like to be extravagant but I'm not sure I'd dare in the long run. People can appreciate lavishness from time to time but full-on extravagance is overwhelming, bunch of Yankees that most of us are around here. The truth is, too, that as an introvert I'm not sure I could muster the energy for constant extravagance.

I wonder if there's a way to be extravagant in spurts? Then run away to my secret cave when the repercussions hit? Then, energy restored by solitude, jump out and scare the pants off of everyone with more effusiveness. Sounds psycho. Sounds counter-productive. 

All of those things seem pretty stupid and trivial too. (I don't think Pete would be on board with the smooching part either) What is trivial though? I don't know. What's important? Maybe those stupid little things, the things that are fun and that we enjoy are necessary components of a great life and not trivial in the least?

I want to live without reins. I bet I won't though. I want to celebrate life. I might buy the shoes and I'll certainly try to throw a HELL of a Halloween party.

Another thing I've been thinking about, and I'm pretty sure I've already mentioned it here (possibly around this time last year) is that you get to keep the love. When our friend is gone we'll still have his love for us and our love for him. That is comforting to me. I hope it's the same for him, wherever he ends up. Dear friend.

October Weekend In Vermont

Morning view from the patio

I had big plans this weekend. I always seem to have big plans. This time it went pretty well. As you may be aware, I can't shut up about my garlic. Garlic is so easy to grow that I kind of became hell-bent on getting some in this year. Below is yet another shot of the extremely neglected vegetable garden where I intended to plant the stuff.

Vegetable Garden, Before

I got a nice, early start by previewing the site and getting intimidated. Since it was a beautiful morning I thought I'd warm up by taking a look around. Some bright blue caught my eye and I was delighted to see that the equally neglected (possibly even more neglected) aconitum was still alive.

Heroic Aconitum (blue)

We still have honeysuckle. This variety smells like a trip to paradise. I have no idea what it is because I didn't plant it.

The hydrangea petiolaris looks very stately this year. I didn't get a good photo of its overall shape. Instead I tried to give you an idea of what it feels like to be standing inside it. A beautiful, golden, peaceful spot.

Hydrangea Petiolaris

We still have quite a number of raspberries. Still no frost by October 21! Unusual. I'm so glad for the fruit.

I spent the rest of the day working in my studio on a project which I will no doubt share with you later (unless I get hit by a bus or something) 

After a number of hours in the studio I was relaxed enough to attempt the vegetable garden.

Part I
In about an hour I managed to make a pretty good first pass. It went far better than I'd imagined it would. The chipmunks made it easier by tunneling under all the weeds and keeping their roots loose. Thanks, little dudes! I rewarded them by eradicating their cover. Maybe they'll forgive me when I get the mulch down, hopefully next week. 

After a surprisingly perfect day of accomplishing my goals, Pete and I had cocktails (well, Pete had beers) on the patio. The vegetables, except for the celery, are from Marc's garden. Pretty sweet.

The next day was, of course, Sunday. You don't get to stay in Vermont all of Sunday so you have to get a move on! I put a little bit more time in in my studio then headed back to the garden. The results:

About 100 peacefully tucked-in garlic cloves settling in for the winter. My ambition was to get them mulched on Sunday too but... No. Hey, you can't have everything. Most of the time. Sometimes you can. I think.

Monday, October 14, 2013

I Get To Run

One reason I love running is that it's a vote for me.  When I run it feels like a new start each time. It feels like anything in my life is possible.

I am looking so hard for a new path. There has been so much change in my life over the last few years. Most of it has felt like hard pruning. Only one or two things have felt like water or sunshine or fertilizer. I wonder if I've been moved to a different location in the garden and I just haven't noticed yet?

For you non-gardeners, before you move a plant you cut it back drastically. You have to do that because when you dig it up you will inevitably chop off a lot of the root system. If you don't cut a significant portion of the top off the remaining roots can't sustain the plant and it will fail. Once the root system re-establishes itself the green stuff grows back.

So maybe I've had my tops cut off and my roots disturbed and I can't tell where I am yet.

I've been trying a lot of new things. I've been looking for the next direction. I feel like I'm being blown all over the place and the next direction is, well, all over the place. Things start then stop. Things look good then they just die out. Something will work for a bit but I know it's temporary and I'll have to figure out something else soon. Some things are just obviously wrong. I get discouraged sometimes. I'll get it eventually - I think - but it seems to be taking so long and I seem to get so much wrong.

Then I get to go running. I start over. I run my head into a pulp and wake my body the hell up. My lungs pump, my blood flows, I sweat, my nose runs (TMI!) My bones, tissues, ligaments get a good pounding on my terms. Life flows through me again. I'm new.

I can let go of the mistakes and miss-steps. I've cleared out the debris and can see a way to keep trying to move forward. I can find a way past the things that fell and blocked my path - at least the next immediate step, even if it doesn't turn out to be a good, long stretch of road.

Roads, paths, prunings, wind. It's all very confusing. What is the analogy here? Life isn't coherent so why should I have to be? Here's the analogy: complete tumult. And then I get to run.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Outta Here!

Sometimes running away can feel SO good.

Like you're at a party or a show. You've been having a nice time. Your friends are there, the conversation's been fun, everything's fine. Then all of a sudden you just kind of fall out of step. You're done. Suddenly you spot the door out of the corner of your eye and you feel like it winked at you.

"Hey there door, looking good."

Do you say goodbye to everybody? Nope. Just a couple of people - maybe. Depends on how crowded it is. You grab your coat, three steps, out the door and into the night. The door swings shut behind you.

"Whoo." Big exhale. Look up at the moon. Feel relief. Breathe in, smile a little, maybe shake your head. Thank your lucky stars you're alone again.

That's how I do it at least.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Miss Brilliant Ruins Halloween For Everybody

Miss Brilliant (me) loves Halloween. Miss Brilliant thought it would be a great idea to have a Halloween party. Miss Brilliant ran this great idea past Mr. Brilliant (Pete, of course) so now we're having a Halloween party! All in the spirit (get it, spirit! HAW!) of trying to have some fun in the midst of difficult times.

Miss Brilliant neglected to take into account how exhausted and sad and frazzled and pressed for time she already felt and has heaped up some more big tasks onto her plate! Go Miss Brilliant! Mr. Brilliant agrees that he's in the same leaky ghost ship.

I don't want this party to be lame and suck. I want to have theme food and black vodka martinis and bloody poison punch and ghost cupcakes and whatever other horrific Halloween snacks a person can make for a good Halloween party. I want decorations! Spooky lanterns! 'N' stuff.

'N' stuff. Pretty good imagination there, huh? Must work on that.

Okay, my costume's almost all set. I'm pretty pleased with how that came out. No worries there.

I don't know how I'm going to prepare good, spooky Halloween food for a party on a Wednesday night. Planning, I guess. Lots of make ahead. Maybe I can get some people to show up a little early and help with the decorations? Maybe I won't count on that.

Mr. Brilliant and I will need to discuss some things...

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

'Tis the Season?

I don't know why I'm posting so much all of a sudden. Maybe it's the season? NaBloPoMo (which I don't think I'll be doing this year) is just around the corner. Maybe I'm in the mood? I don't know, usually I like to be in a better frame of mind than I've been in lately when I post. Guess I'm just feeling it. And Facebook has been boring the crap out of me.

Time has been very tight for the last month or so. Yesterday on the plane I had some time to look at my calendar. I was trying to figure out how my schedule had gotten so out of whack. Why had the last few weeks seemed so unmanageable and exhausting? What did I need to change to feel less stressed and overwhelmed?

It turns out that my schedule is fine, I just need people to stop dying.

I know that's never going to happen. Death is not done yet. At the moment Death is just hanging around having a cigarette or two before it finishes one pending job that I'm aware of. Who knows what else it has up its tattered sleeve?

I really hope it gives us a breather after that. I mean, I'm not going to go into other peoples' health/death issues but it's been pretty grim and deathy around here lately. 

I know it doesn't always have to be like that because we had quite a long period there when no one we knew had a life threatening illness and everyone stayed above ground or out of the crematory. 

I don't know, maybe it's better to be constantly acutely aware that the people you love won't be around forever. I know I see my friends with new eyes and interact with them differently now. They probably all wonder what my problem is and why I'm being so damned sociable all of a sudden. Can't I leave them alone? They've got shit to do! Okay, it's not really that bad. I am an introvert after all. I can only really take so much socializing.

But my friends are definitely getting a more intense Mel experience these days. Most of them have no idea where it's coming from. I'm just really aware of how much I value my loved ones now. I'm also more aware of who my loved ones are. It's pretty intense for me too. I'm glad they're not in the same headspace as me. It's uncomfortable. I don't wish that on others.

That said, I am really enjoying the massive boost of gratitude I have for the beauty in my life and for all the people I love. So it's not all bad. Uncomfortable but beautiful. 

It's not like Life and Death take requests. Ultimately my schedule is out of my hands and I just have to do the best I can with the cards I'm dealt. Make lemonade and all that crap. 

All of this love and concern are worth the confusion and running around. How effective in life does someone like me really need to be? I'm not solving world hunger or curing cancer. I'm just this thing. I can have a screwy schedule.

Monday, October 7, 2013


I'm at the airport.
They have the "news" on an inescapably large and loud monitor. I'm listening to my iPod and trying to ignore the hullabaloo by telling you about my garden. 

So here's where I intend to plant my garlic:
Looks promising, right? "Sure Mel, you can plant garlic there. Next year."

I'm going to do it. I will find a way.

Sunday, October 6, 2013


Look who's hiding under the garage door right in the path of my car:

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Garlic Festival Liveblog, Final

Adieu, picklebacks! Bonsoir, tout le monde!

Garlic Festival Liveblog II

It's still live blogging if I haven't had the pickleback yet, right?

Here's Michaela getting her things together after a garlic purchase.

A photo of a stand where we both acquired garlic for planting.

Believe it or not this is the least terrifying photo of us being festive. We were a little disappointed that there were only three vendors selling garlic to plant.

A nice, autumnal shot of my spoils once I got them home: about two-dozen heads of garlic for me to plant, six or so heads for Marc (he doesn't know it yet) a bag of Chai Wallah chai spice, a bag of cider donuts and a ridiculous gallon jug of apple cider. I shouldn't have bought that much cider.

Yeah, and where am I going to plant about 200 cloves of garlic? Oh, that's a riot. Maybe I'll show you tomorrow.

I was delighted to find this rose waiting for me when I got back today. I'm glad to see that not all the rose bushes hate my guts. 

And lookee there - we still have some raspberries!

Picklebacks in Led Zeppelin shot glasses ready to roll!

Garlic Festival Liveblog I

I was an hour early to meet Michaela so I stopped at The Wagon Wheel for coffee etc.

You can see by the photo that not only am I scratching the bacon itch from Tuesday, I'm also wearing red lipstick.

The glazed donut is frikkin' amazing.

Red Lipstick! And Garlic!

I'm gonna wear red lipstick every day for the rest of this month!

Okay, I probably won't but sometimes red is good for what ails you.

I'm going to the North Quabbin Garlic and Arts Festival today with Michaela. Last time we went it was cold and rainy and muddy and kind of slim on the vendors. There was still plenty of garlic to buy for planting and there were plenty of cider doughnuts. As I recall there was even a guy on those really tall stilts. In the mud. Go that guy! I wasn't disappointed. The garlic I grew from there made me really happy. So, yeah, I'm looking forward to doing it again.

In red lipstick! Charging up the iPhone to take pictures and live blog it! Watch me forget an you never hear about this again.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

I Don't Have Bacon

I wanted to write this so I'm writing it here.

I don't want to do my chores.

What can I do to put off doing my chores? I can have toast with chocolate peanut butter on it. I can have more coffee. I wish I had bacon but I don't.