Thursday, July 16, 2009

So, anyway......

.......I'm finding it rather difficult to get used to Life After Grad School.

As I had anticipated, the lack of imposed deadlines and assignments has left me feeling a bit unmotivated and I find that I am getting very little drawing or painting done.

And no writing.

What's happened, I believe, is that I've become so conditioned to using my academic breaks as down time that I've become conditioned to just aimlessly drifting about over Summer Holiday.

Of course, now that I have my degree, I can't treat every day like a holiday!

Still, it might be that I'm simply taking a well-deserved and much needed break and that I will find myself feeling considerably more motivated once the students begin returning to town.

That's the thing about living in a college town: Whether or not one is associated with the University, things still tend to happen according to the academic calendar.

And almost nothing ever gets done in July!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Rainy Day Picnic!

Now that I'm finished with grad school, I've been planning on having my Mom over for a nice Summer-y lunch on the screened-in porch.



Due to the heat and/or rain, we've had to reschedule a couple of times. Yesterday, it was raining buckets and we very nearly abandoned the idea.



Instead, I decided to move the picnic indoors!





In true picnic fashion, we enjoyed tofu-dogs on whole wheat buns with veggie chili and spicy mustard, fruit salad and a corn/bean salad (from Whole Foods).

















I had set the dining room table with some blue and white batik linens that I bought at Crate & Barrel, a few years ago (souvenir of my stay in Chicago), used some attractively crackled plates and popped some daisies (also from Whole Foods) into a tall vase. To brighten things up (because it was very grey and rainy) I'd added a vase of faux lemons.







I have this theory about entertaining: The most important thing to do is let the guest(s) know that they're expected and welcome. For me, that usually means setting the table first (sometimes, the night before) and making sure that there's fresh coffee and an alternative to offer.







As much as I have always enjoyed cooking, I have no trouble with picking things up at the deli counter or grabbing some take-out. If the aim is to spend time with my guest(s), there's no sense in my spending more time in the kitchen than at the table For this luncheon, all that I really had to do was pour some coffee for my Mom and then heat up a few things.







We had a lovely, relaxed visit and - despite the rainy day - enjoyed a sunny picnic!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

In the Good Ol' Days.....

.... a gal would come home from a wonderful vacation/holiday and have to wait weeks for her photographs to be developed.

Now, thanks to the convenience of the Digital Era, the same gal can take thousands of pictures, see the results immediately and then take weeks/months to edit them and make them presentable.
(I should make a habit of putting these up on the blog as I go - even if I don't actually publish those blog entries until i return home.)
I'm still getting used to the little Canon PowerShot that TonyP gave me for Christmas. It has an anti-shake feature which makes things much easier for me - especially in low-light situations.











First up: Our suite at the Intercontinental, in downtown Chicago.
We were a little concerned when we were informed by the front desk that the room TonyP had reserved would not be available but the hotel upgraded us to a nice corner suite with excellent views>
Next, a view from the parlour of the suite:
The wall in the foreground is the wall of the terrace. The terrace currently has no flooring so the french doors were locked. But the view was breathtaking, nonetheless!

That's the Trib tower on the far left and the Wrigley Bldg is the thing with the clock.





This is TonyP, taken in the pizza/wine bar at Fornetto Mei - the restaurant at the Whitehall Hotel. (It's the only restaurant that I can think of that serves calamari prepared by any method other than frying.) TonyP and I spent the Spring of 2006 flying back and forth between our home in North Carolina and a temporary apartment in Chicago - located a short walk from the Whitehall. One of my favourite ways of settling into my Chicago surroundings was dropping off our bags at the apartment and then walking over to Fornetto Mei!





Back to Work!



OK; I know it isn't much. But hear me out.

I am experimenting with a very restricted palette and decided to work on some quick sketches. I have a few 6" x 8" Fredrix canvas boards that I use over and over again for acrylic painting exercises.

This week, I decided to experiment with an extremely limited palette: crimson, ultramarine blue, cadmium yellow, raw sienna and white.

The point of this experimentation is to achieve greater control of the colours while also exploring their potential.

I also spent several days out on the back porch, doing monochrome value studies, in watercolour and in pencil.

Getting back to work (after several years of writing and concentrating on theory) has been a bit of a struggle and there have quite a few of those "I'm crap at this!" days. However, I am finding it very useful to go back to the basics and to work through some of those basic exercises from college. If nothing else, it's therapeutic! I start out the day's work very self-conscious and frustrated and - after a few exercises - I suddenly forget that these are exercises and I become thoroughly engaged by the process.

It's like when a musician stops thinking about the notes and just plays the music or a dancer stops thinking about the steps and just dances.

It's intoxicating and liberating.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Commencement 2009: JennySlash Gets Her MA!!


Here are a few snapshots from UNCG's Commencement, 2009.
This billboard is across from the Greensboro Coliseum - which is where Commencement
was actually held. It's only a few blocks away from the University.
This is the Tate Street entrance to the University.
Fortunately, the rain held off until after the ceremony!

And this is another shot of the UNCG campus.

Back at the Coliseum.
Here, we're starting to file into the stadium.

These are a few of my colleagues.

Waiting for things to start.

We were fortunate to have the Governor speak. Bev Purdue is the first female governor of North Carolina.

Friday, May 01, 2009

UNCG


Last weekend, I attended the Spring Conference of the North Carolina Writers' Network, which was held on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG).


It was a very (unseasonably!) warm day and the sky was entirely too blue for me to remain indoors! Instead, I strolled around campus, taking pics of the fine institution which will be granting me my Master's Degree - in a couple of weeks!


The building in this picture is Jackson Library. The statue is of Dr. Charles McIver, who founded what was then Women's College (or "WC").


I had the great good fortune of growing up in Greensboro and used to enjoy visiting the UNCG campus. My first ballet recital was on the stage of Aycock Auditorium - I think that I was about nine years old!


The only undergraduate class that I ever took on the UNCG campus was a life drawing class - probably the best life class that I have ever taken with the best instructor that I have ever had.


Oddly enough, when I was in high school, I never considered applying to UNCG. That was because my father had made it clear that I would have to live at home if I attended any of the colleges or universities in Greensboro. And, since one of the primary reasons for attending college/university is to leave home, I had no interest in going anyplace in Guilford County!


As it happened, I wound up in Chapel Hill.


But that's another story.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Almost Finished!



I'll be spending the next couple of weeks trying to finish up my work for grad school and preparing to celebrate my Master's degree.

At present, I am trying (rather unsuccessfully) to compose my "reflective essay". That means that I am trying to distill the last few years of study down to six pages that pull it all together. Thematically.

That's awfully difficult to do, without sounding like a complete flake.
I also have to finish some work on contemporary Latin American issues and write a paper on 20th Century World issues. >whew<
So, I'll be rather busy for a couple more weeks and my postings will be few. If you wish to be informed when this blog is updated, please add this blog to your feed.
Have a wonderful Whatever-Holiday-You-Observe and lovely early Spring/Autumn!


Creation Window, Washington National Cathedral, Washington, DC

Thursday, March 05, 2009

The Cape Project (Finally!)


One of the reasons that I have been trying so-very-hard to stick to my new schedule has been this particular project, which I finally got around to starting because I signed up at Sew Retro.
When I was 14, I had a cape and skirt sewn from this pattern. I was so nuts about the cape that I continued to wear it after I went off to University.

The fabric for this interpretation was purchased a year ago at G Street Fabrics. I found a very nice designer remnant with just the right hand and drape for the project and the charcoal grey/black promised to work with a range of clothes that I already own.

The pattern was a breeze to sew and it reminded me of all of the reasons that I love to sew from vintage patterns: notches lined up with other notches, the under collar and the collar pieces were not identical (which meant that thecollar folds nicely!), etc..

I had a few problems with the construction but they were largely of my own making! I had forgotten to purchase non-fusible interfacing, prior to beginning the project, and had to scrounge around the corners of my studio to find a piece that was large enough. That cost me a couple of days. The problem today was sewing on the welts. When I went to cut and turn them, I thought that I'd made some horrible miscalculation and that I would have to pick out all of that stitching. I had a cup of coffee and then sat in the sunlight to look the problem over. Fortunately, I can trust my fingers more than I can trust my eyes! It turned out that I had only sewn just a few stiches beyond where I was supposed to and I really only had to clip a couple to make everything lay quite nicely.








I love welts! I don't know why I don't use them more often.













It can be hard to see the corner that I'm cutting into, so I feel the thread to find the corner, mark it with a pin and use my stork scissors.







So, here is the cape - ready for a final steaming and some top stitching!






I'm still not sure about the closure. I have this tab/button option or a rather pretty frog and I haven't been able to decide. The frog is a bit fancier and the tab is a bit more casual.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

We Interrupt An Early Spring For A Last-Minute Visit From Winter


We received about 2" of snow, yesterday. It was bitterly cold, overnight and will not really warm up for a few days.

I took this on Monday, when there was a brief break in the clouds and a touch of blue sky made it through.

Today, even though it is quite cold, the sky is a clear blue and the sun is shining like crazy!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

So, anyway........

...........I'm gettin' up at 8:00am, Folks. Which - if you know me, at all - means I'm thoroughly useless for the next few hours because my eyes don't really work until 11:00. My brain doesn't kick in for another hour or so, after that.

I've arranged my new schedule to take advantage of what I like to call My Stupid Part of the Day.

That means that I start off with a workout, follow up with a nice, hot bath and then do some housework. I'm trying to restrict the housework to 1/2 hr, in the mornings, so that I have a short burst of focused activity and I avoid spending an entire day cleaning out a single drawer. I'm allowing myself 5 minutes per task. That's it. No dawdling. That means that I only hit six things a day but that's better than only-sort-of-doing one and have it sort of creep into my entire day.

Once the housework is done, I have about an hour and a half to do something creative - like sew. This week, I'm working on a wool cape, from a vintage pattern. I bought the fabric a year ago. In two days, I have managed to get the fabric cut out and the pieces marked. Maybe that doesn't sound like a lot but it certainly is more than I managed to get done on the project in the past year. So, I'm content.

Afternoons are spend working. Right now, that means finishing up grad school all compiling my writing. After I get my degree, I will have that time available to get back into the Studio. There's even time for my writing and I still have my evenings to watch TV, cook dinner with TonyP and make it to the gym, a few times a week.

It's Wednesday of the first week on the new schedule and I'm already tired. But, I have a lot of work to show for it.

The most important aspect of this plan is that it takes advantage of my daily peaks and valleys in such a way that I am free to concentrate on the task at hand - rather than being distracted, unfocused and frustrated with lack of progress.

The best thing about the new schedule is that it starts each day by putting myself first and nurturing myself -

- kinda like a "spiritual breakfast"!

Monday, February 23, 2009

(yet another) New Schedule!

I have a problem with schedules.

I really enjoy coming up with them but I'm not particularly good at sticking to them.

Fact is, a lot of the things that I have to do require creativity and that can be sort of difficult to schedule. The Creativity Well tends to be either full to overflowing or dry and dusty.

There's also the stuff that I need to do for grad school and that requires a degree of concentration that I simply can't attain before around 2:00 pm.

Of course, there's the housework. Don't need any brain cells for that. Can be done while thinking about something else. Quite. Easily. But it does tend to take rather a lot of my time. And I really do hate housework o-so-very-much.

That doesn't leave a whole lot of time for fun or spending time with TonyP. Or getting out, during the day.

And it certainly doesn't leave much time for nurturing myself - a situation that can have all sorts of negative repercussions.

So, I'm embarking on (yet another) revision of my daily schedule.

I'm not sure just how this one will work out but the interesting thing about this schedule is that I'm starting out the day by taking care of myself.

First.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Crochetin'

As you may know, I've only been knitting for a little more than a year.
I am not particularly good at it. I am, also, not particularly fast.
Furthermore, I do not find knitting relaxing or restful.
Crocheting is another matter.
I love to crochet and thread crochet has always been a particular joy, for me.
Usually, I like to work from vintage patterns or my own designs. This particular necklace/choker pattern, however, is from a book that I received for Christmas, entitled Positively Crochet!, by Mary Jane Hall.
I picked up my hook to keep my hands busy while I was watching The Revenge of Dr X (....aka The Double Garden, aka several other titles....) and had it done in no time. I blocked it the next day and was able to coax my assistant into modeling the finished necklace.

Feels Like Springtime!

A new cut, fresh colour, pretty pink lip gloss and new reading glasses!

All of this lovely, warm weather has gone to my head.



Sunday, February 08, 2009

You Know.....

....Two m*lw*re attacks in four months is starting to really p*ss me off!



Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Do Not Cough Into The Same Hand That You Extend At The Peace!

Right-o, Folks....I've been down with a case of the sniffles.
Nothing much. Just annoying.
But it has prompted me to offer a few suggestions:

*I know that times are tough and everyone is petrified at the thought of missing a few days of work. But....showing up for work SICK doesn't make you look like a hero. It just spreads the viruses around. Thanks for sharing!

*This is especially true if one's job brings them into contact with the general public. I know (from years of personal experience) that retail sales associates and waits are on the front lines of exposure to whatever nastiness is currently burning through the local population. As a member of the local population, I would appreciate it if sick waits and salespeople were allowed by their managers to go home, without penalty.

*Wash your hands. Use soap. Use hot water. Wash your hands for as long as it takes to sing "The Alphabet Song" through twice (I learned this bit of advice from a former co-worker, who was also a teacher).

*To people who are responsible for the water temperature in workplace restrooms: Can't you possibly figure out how to get hot water to the bathroom faucets? Seriously, I've been waaaaaayyyy to many places where the hot water tap is non-functional. I understand the desire to reduce operating expenses but this is a matter of basic hygiene.

*Lastly, if you regularly attend a worship service, please be respectful of the rest of the congregation. Consider staying home. Or, if you are convinced that your professed Deity is really so petty that you'll be in eternal deep doo-doo for missing a service, at least take steps to minimize your impact on the health of the nice, fragile-looking elderly couple sitting next to you and their tiny, adorable great-grandchildren. OK? Consider not drinking from the common cup, for example.
And, for cryin' out loud, if you wipe your nose or cough into your hand, at least have the common decency to not use the same hand that you extend to share "The Lord's Peace" with your brethren and sisteren!!

Monday, January 26, 2009

A Gala Saturday Night


TonyP snapped this pic of me with his Blackberry. (The poor cropping is my fault. Oops.) I'm sorry that I didn't get a photo of him in his tux but I don't know how to work the B'berry. Trust me....he looks scrumptious in a tux!
Last Tuesday's snowfall had forced postponement of a local Inaugural Gala until Saturday. We already had tix to see the Rosebuds, at Cat's Cradle, on the same night. That happens to me a lot: nothing interesting on my calendar for months on end and then a dozen things scheduled for the same day and I want to do all of them! We knew that it would make for a long evening but we decided to attend both events and I'm very glad that we did!
The Gala was a whole lot of fun and we got in at least five dances before we moved along. The band -" Fantasy-rock-hill-south-carolina", as the band's front man said it - was a fine R&B show band and the front man was an excellent mc, who managed to keep people on the dance floor better than most I've seen. It was a very good party!
Our next stop was Cat's Cradle, for the Rosebuds. A truly great show! Prior to that evening, I had only heard a couple of their songs. They have an interesting, eclectic sound and intriguing arrangements. Live, they were tremendous.
Although my feet were kinda' tired, at the end of the evening, I returned home feeling invigorated and not the least bit over-booked. So, I think that I'm now a little more inclined to take advantage of those days when there are a dozen fun and interesting things that I want to do. Rather than being frustrated and feeling like I have to pick just one, I can choose to do two or three, bring along a second pair of shoes and plan accordingly.
Besides...when you're wearing black, you can go pretty-much anywhere.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Snow Day!


The view from our great room.
Only an inch and a half but it's pretty!!

So, anyway......


......That's how we do that!



(Photo taken of my television. Thanks to CSPAN for the image.)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

New Elph!


TonyP gave me this delightful Canon Elph for Christmas!
I have been wanting something that I could pop into my purse or carry around in my pocket, just for taking snaps and posting pics.
I've been trying to keep a camera with me, at all times, but the one that I've been using starts to feel quite heavy, after a few hours. The Elph weighs next to nothing - and that includes its case!
I'm still learning what it can do but I am pleased at its low-light capability and it actually has a pretty decent zoom.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

2008: Year in Review






I have been looking through notes in my journal and paging through digi-pics from the past year and have decided that 2008 can best be characterized as a year devoted to Creativity: art, writing, music, dance, flowers, attending live performances and wrestling with computer-related problems. (All set against a backdrop of inflation, high gas prices and drought and the general election.)



Artwise: neither of us participated in any shows, in 2008, but we have done a considerable amount of photography. We have also taken the time to visit museums and galleries. The photo above was taken at the National Gallery in DC, when we were up there for Memorial Day Weekend. We also spent an August weekend in Alexandria, popping in at every art gallery we could in a single day. (Whew!)

Travelwise: TonyP finally got to Ireland. OK; it was for work and it was a short trip and it was only to Dublin. But...Hey! He got to Ireland!! (....I've never been to Ireland....>sulk<)


















Aside from TonyP's trip to Dublin, most of our recent travel has been to Virginia and the DC area. We took a couple of trips up to Alexandria and DC. I also decided that I wanted to celebrate my birthday by spending a few days in Colonial Williamsburg, photographing flowers, etc. (Horses count as "etc".)




I've been doing rather a lot of writing and managed to attend two regional writing conferences. I'm not sure that attending those workshops actually make me a better writer but I do feel inspired and encouraged by attending them. (I could certainly use the same sort of thing to get me fired-up about my visual art!)


I'll soon be finishing up with Grad School and I've been spending a lot of time thinking about what I'll do with all of that free time that will suddenly confront me!


(For anyone that cares....my degree will be in Liberal Studies - because the University did not actually offer a program in Global Studies until this semester. Ah, well.)


We did get to the OBX for TonyP's birthday. He lost his shades while surf-kayaking while I sat on the deck of our rented condo and worked on a Human Rights paper.




(Note: Above photo does not accurately reflect the considerable amount of effort that I was putting into that Human Rights paper. Honest. I really was working!)



This is TonyP on his new-to-him motorcycle. This was the fortunate confluence of 1) the rise in the price of gasoline and 2) a friend of his having a bike to sell! (Yes, he does wear a helmet when he rides! We are very pro-helmet!! I snapped this while he was just scooting the scooter into the garage.) He had been between motorcycles quite long enough.


The oddly-formatted picture below is (of course) Yours Truly. (Sans makeup. So, don't enlarge the picture...m'kay?)















Live Performance-wise ( a partial list):a performance during the American Dance Festival, NC Jazz Rep Holiday Concert, NC Symphony Holiday Pops, Pressure Boys (reunion show on my birthday), Hege V, Southern Culture on the Skids, Squirrel Nut Zippers, She & Him, X, Playmakers Rep performance of Shakespeare's Pericles.


We also took dance lessons!!! TonyP decided that 2008 would be the year that we learned to Shag. (For my non-US readers, that does not mean what you think it means! Shagging is a regional popular dance form, associated with Carolina beaches, alcohol and really corny music. Consider it an indigenous art form.) We both love to dance but have always had to leave the dance floor when anyone started playing "beach music". TonyP does not like to leave the dance floor. So, we actually took lessons and - even if I do say so, myself - we got to be quite good at it!


Last on the Creativity list....Computer problems! If you haven't noticed, I've had plenty o' problems. My workstation crashed and burned; Vista gave me no end of laptop problems; the laptop fell victim to a malware attack and had to have its memory wiped; the workstation picked up some sort of virus, shortly thereafter. TonyP's IT talents have been pushed to the limit and - thanks to his hard work and creativity - all of the problems have resulted in comparatively little actual downtime. Big YAY!

I suppose that the greatest single change of the past year has been that TonyP got a CPAP machine - and I have been able to sleep for the first time in mumblety years! It's f****n' incredible!!!



So, anyway.....



....That's a brief recap of 2008.


We had Mom (below Left) and her fiance over for Christmas and then went to T's Mom's (below Right) to celebrate with his family-of-origin.















Happy New Year to All and a Fabulous 2009!