Friday, 30 November 2007

Practicing a New Trick

Willowtree over at A Dingo Ate My Barbie taught us this trick to click on a picture and make it download another one. (His is much cleverer, but might be offensive to some readers.) Mine doesn't seem to work quite right as when I click, it downliads the second picture in a file onto my computer (which I think is completely weird and can not logically explain. Here is the picture

Here is a second try.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Chicks For Free

This is a reply to Jenny's post today on the Mama Drama blog "hosted" by the Houston Chronicle. Her issue is (in light of the recent writer's strike in Hollywood) why bloggers are generally also not compensated for their work.

This is an issue that is very near to my heart, so when I sat down to write a response, I found that I could not contain myself to a three or four sentence response. I certainly want to note that I have no desire to malign the many very talented men bloggersout there. (Men in fields traditionally dominated by women suffer the same financial disadvantages as women and also frequently have to deal with image issues that can make their lives uncomfortable. Think of the historic views of male nurses, and dancers).

When thinking about the problem of unpaid blogging, the first thing I wonder is, how many of these unpaid bloggers out in the blogosphere are women. Our society has a tendency to not value the work of women. Painters and sculptors (who have mostly been men throughout the history of our culture (never mind why for now)) are revered amongst artists, film editors, needleworkers, lace crocheters and quilters have a history of being ignored.

Women express their creativity in many ways and almost always there are many who pursue their interests without even thinking about getting paid, because they love doing so, and our society (be it due to market forces, supply and demand or whatever) tends to be reluctant to value women's work financially.

As a Middle Eastern dancer and teacher of dance, I see the same problem daily. There are so many dancers out there that restaurants, conferences and even friends are able to pay next to nothing for performances and anyone with a few lessons has started providing belly dance classes to others. (Me included). There are a lot of us out there, so the supply is large and it exceeds demand. The value sinks.

Part of what I find interesting is this whole (in my opinion masculine) idea that something is only valuable when it has a monetary value. I like to resist that belief. I like to think of art as having intrinsic value beyond financial defintions. I want to regard teaching crafts, being creative, dancing as a way of being part of a community and sharing and I like to work with other people who value those acitivities.

On the other hand it is inherently unfair for a big corporation to pay some people for work and ignore another group of workers (whom they could very easily pay) simply because they can. I wonder what it is about our society that values some "work" and not other and values these things in only one term - money. I wonder why we have become so dollar obsessed, that we can not allow for other things to have worth unless we are a hobbyist in the same field. I wonder if the Mama Drama blog at the Chronicle were a popular blog on business practices and skills (or on sports) run by men (and don't forget mothering is a job requiring skill, hard labor and intelligence), if the Chronicle would be more willing to pay its writers.

I suppose it really doesn't matter. As long as we are imprisoned by this particular part of capitalist philosophy which suggests that when supply exceeds demand the relative value of something is worthless. Unfortunately this means regardless of how talented or skilled the individual might be the value is still the same. We have lived in a hyper matierialist age for a long time now. Perhaps it is time to find some other values to compete with the almighty dollar. Its val;ue is going fown the tubes now anyway, maybe American Ingenuity, Creativity, Sincerity, Generosity and Self Reliance are values we can once again embrace.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Univinvited Guests

I heard my dog barking this afternoon and when I checked it out, I found we had company.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

's cold

Well, I need to look at this picture, because when I got up this morning it was 5 degrees. The world is an amazing place - it can go from barren ice field to green and lush in a matter of months! A truly marvelous feat!

C(elsius) Change

Thanksgiving was a pleasant day - mostly overcast with just a little bit of sun in the afternoon. I managed to get out for a walk to look for the wild turkeys (no, not the bottle I have hidden in the shed!) On my walk, I took this shot of the back of our house. Today is also sunny, but we got into the single digits last night and snow is on the way. I wince in a bit of unwilling belief, I guess winter is really here.

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Fresh Start

I thought this was a pretty sight in the Co-op the other day!

Doing the PC Thing

That's Polymer Clay for the uninformed. So here is what I spent my day doing (after I went to Micheal's and spent a bundle on spacer beads and tools for working with polymer).

I've discovered I'm much more interested in making beads than in making jewelry.(And I have to admit I could have bought some really nice jewelry for what I paid for beads today - but of course I have enough beads and clay for many, many more pieces, so I guess if I don't get bored, it will eventually have been a worthwhile investment.)

One interesting little experiment involved layering and then cutting and then rolling to get stripes. That was kind of fun.

Another experiment involved canes - doing beads with little color spots inside. The green necklace with the series of round beads surprisingly actually looks better on a neck than on a table! (And I got the clasp twisted and had a really hard time getting it off. I was afraid I was going to have to sleep in it, because I did not want to wake up my husband for help getting it untangled.)

Another experiment involved printing a design with the inkjet printer and then transferring it to a bead. Blue ink did not work at all, and black seemed to work to some degree. The yellow bead has a printer pattern on it.

The blue necklace unfortunately turned out to be a bit too busy, so I will have to try again with thse beads and see if I can make a better setting for the marble blue beads.

All in all, I feel like I have accomplished something today even if I don't know exactly what.

Friday, 23 November 2007

Favorite Restroom

Do you all have a favorite lavatory? You know the one at that restaurant you go to where it isn't really the food that keeps you coming back? Or at that hotel that you've never stayed at, but had to make an emergency stop in that one time? Here's mine.

This is the restroom at Fujiya (and I do come back for the food! It's really good, but I like the lavatory too.) The lighting around the mirrors is fiber optics, so the colors change slowly and run down the length of the mirrors. If I'm really good maybe my spousal unit will let me go there for dinner tomorrow. There's a Georgia O'Keefe show at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and wouldn't that go great with Sushi?

Look What I Bought!

Look what I bought at the hardware store yesterday!

Do you know what it is? Here's a better look:


Well, okay, I only bought the bottom part - I made the top part. Hooray for Sculpey!! I don't know if it will withstand our horrible colds - but I thought I would give it a try!! Now I need to varnish it!

Why was I doing that? Well, I kind of told Michael's I would offer a class in making jewelry from Sculpey when I've never done it before - so I thought I had better try to figure it out!! Here is what I did:

I stole shamelessly from the real jewelry artist Nikki. (Her link doesn't seem to be working at the moment). She sold me some beautiful pieces (necklace and earrings featured at the bottom left of my picture above. Also see my August 7th post for more images of her work.) Hers are the pretty ones in the picture!! She is obviously much better at this than I - she has round beads and beautiful shapes in her work - mine are lopsided and weird - but at least I've got the general idea. My lace beads did not turn out - so I will have to work on them again.

I said I wasn't going to do anything much for Thanksgiving - well - here is the meal.

I forgot to make the soup, so maybe that is okay! It wasn't beautiful, but it tasted pretty good.

And I cooked for a crowd - so we'll be in gravy for a few days!!

Thursday, 22 November 2007


Are you kidding!? Post a blog every day for the month of November?! Well, okay, since I just found out about it and it is the 22nd, I might be able to do that!! Allright - here goes

My car - The Insurance company is threatening to "Total" it even though there is no major damage and right now the estimate is 3600$. (I have a 1000$ deductible so that seems way unlikely to me and I do not want to lose my darling forrester!) I'm sure it will all work out in the end, but in the mean time... I'm off to go start the cooking - This year it is only my husband and myself (and I'm not someone who really enjoys tradition - although tomorrow I want to post about what I am thankful for.)

Today we will have a fairly simple meal - but home cooked - maybe some squash soup, some turnip greens, relish and some pie - no turkey - but some other main dish. Whoops I forgot to get potatoes I guess it will be sweet potatoes instead.

Have a nice day all those with or without Thanksgiving and I'm thinking of ChrisB and her celebration with her daughter Sam (the fantastic cook) and hoping she enjoys our American customs! Of course she will with a daughter that knows food that well, how can she not?!

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Living the Wildlife and Killing it

Well, here are the pictures of my car. Of course I did not sleep all night thinking about the deer. (I saw it yesterday in the ditch, but did not go up and look at it close).

You can see some of the deer hair in the headlight housing.

I was down stairs watering the plants this morning when I heard the dog bark and I looked out into his kennel to see about 25 (or more) turkeys within a few feet of the wire. Of course my camera was upstairs and by the time i had gotten to it, the turkeys were running away, but I did get this one shot of a few of them.

Monday, 19 November 2007

Are We having Fun Yet?

The answer is no. Unfortunately I hit a deer in my car today. (What he was doing in my car I'll never know.) I don't find this very funny, but wanted to explain why I did not manage to get my fun Monday post up today. I am fine (btw). Tomorrow I have to talk to my Insurance company and the body shop etc. about the car, which isn't so fine and of course with Thanksgiving coming up, it is unlikely I'll have my carback any time soon. Anyway - take care - think about what we have to be thankful for and have a good holiday if you are in the States and a good week, anyway, if you are not.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007


Why conveor belt soles are not good for people living in rural Minnesota with gravel drive ways:

Yes there is a pebble in each one of those little spaces.

Monday, 12 November 2007

Mein Funday - Either Moth May

Hooton' Anni is sponsoring Fun Monday this week and although I haven't joined up yet, I thought I would participate.

Then I realized I had a problem. The first problem was that I listedned to my sister rather than actually reading the post. She told me to take 15 giant steps away from my computer and take a picture. So I did that. (Boring.)

and then take 15 teeny tiny steps back.

Kitchen sink! Yeah, real exciting!

Then I read the post - It was 30 steps - so now I'm outside the house and looking at a tree:

I turn around and I take my tiny steps and I get to see this.

yellow wall

Or this:

It was reeally closer than that:

I kind of like this.

Friday, 9 November 2007

Frida at the Walker

When I was a child we had a peg-board wall in the dining room and I still look back on it fondly in my memories. My artist mother had a place of honor on that wall just in front of the table where she would hang famous works of art from those old marvelous folio collections that had free sheets of art works in collections that were tied up wityh a ribbon. Each week we would be delighted by a new image of immense beauty or creativity hung in front of the table and we always looked forward to Sundays when the newest image would be chosen and revealed. I loved the visions of hell of Hieronymous Bosch and Pieter Breughel, the graceful lines of Boticelli, the spotlit allacrity of the Degas dancers. I also remember the primitive, bushy green of Diego Rivera with his solid workers and bright enticing colors. I do not remember Frida Kahlo. She never hung in the place of honor.

I learned of Kaho later in my life. Her images are not easy for the novice aesthete: Her images of pain and suffering, of severe facial expressions amidst a tropical palette do not immediately appeal to the artistic beginner and yet as I grew up, I realized that all the coolest of the cool people, my feminist and Lesbian firends, the intellectuals, the sensitive men in the library where I worked - all of them adored Frida.

My feelings for her were much more ambivalent. I knew my Mom was not very fond of her work (hence her absence on the wall) and so I recently asked her about her opinion of Frida and was told that, she always seemd too full of herself. I pointed out that she liked Diego Rivera and that he was really quite full of himself and a horrible person to boot and my Mom replied that they were actually both horrible people. I can only assume that the couple's open marriage (which Kahlo, by the way, was not so thrilled with) offended my mother, but this conversation caused me to think about the problems of the woman painter in our society in the age of modernism.

When Diego and Frida painted, we as a society were still enthralled with the idea of the genius painter imbuing his work with his special style and essence. I say his because part of the mystique of the painter was the idea that he was male: He was arrogant, but unquestionably talented and thus forgiven. He was Picasso, he was Dali, he was Gaugin. Each of these painters were self-promoting bastards and yet we adore them and consider them some of the greatest artists of all times.

As I was looking for images for this post I happened upon Ms Kahlo's horoscope chart.

The reading by Astrolabe mentioned (along with being charming and overly ambitious) elements such as...

You prefer to be in charge of your own destiny, rather than following someone else's dreams...You tend to identify who you are with what you have accomplished in the world. This may make you highly competitive in establishing yourself within a definable lifestyle or career.

The analysis went into minute detail:
Sun opposite Mars -The extreme tension that you feel within you often propels you into situations that are full of antagonism. Needing to vent the steam built up inside you, you are often either bruising for a fight or argument yourself, ... It may be difficult to control your hot temper and impulsiveness,
Sun conjunct Jupiter- The grand gesture is your trademark, because you hate to do things in a small way.

Mars conjunct Uranus - You are known for being unconventional, restless and independent. Your demand for freedom to be yourself at all costs can lead to a pattern of constant difficulties with authority figures...
Chiron conjunct Descendant- Preoccupied with the way you look and behave, you are much too concerned with the opinions of others. You often paint yourself as a victim of circumstance and feel that the world owes you a living.

Moon sesquare Mars- You are both aggressive and emotional, which can make it very difficult for others to deal with you at times.

Not that I am such a believer in horoscopes, but this uncanny description does seem to support my mother's opinion. I ask myself from this - why is that okay for men painters and not for women - especially since women have been consistently denied a place in the painter's pantheon?

Ms Kahlo intended to become a doctor before a horrible bus accident immobilized her. Not bowing to the apparent vagaries of fate, she decided to become a painter because she could do it in a stationary condition. As a woman, as a person from Mexico (a country considered to be primitive and dominated by superstition and mysticism by intellectual snobs), as a painter, she was constantly regarded as a second class person and it is her very persistence and insitence of being full of things she should be proud of that allowed her to survive and continue. How could she be any other way and still succeed?

I realized from the exhibit that my ambivalence with the work of Ms Kahlo is echoed in my ambivalence about Mexico itself. Kahlo has taken a culture that was looked down upon and by intentionally embracing it, by wearing her native Teotihuacan dress, by embracing the Catholic mystical imagery, by embracing the tropical ripeness replete with its violence and decay she has produced a mirror of her self and her culture.

I have spent many wonderful, amazed times in Mexico appreciating the warmness of the people, the historic greatness of the early cultures, and the ingenuity of the impoverished who get along with almost nothing. On the other hand, I have been horrified by the violence, the corruption of the police, the squalor, the superstitious behavior and I feel all these things when I view Ms. Kahlo's work.

One can be equally ambivalent about our own culture in the US. It is very hard for me not to agree completely with this political statement about living in new York. My Dress Hangs Here. Because you live somewhere, that does not make it home and Frida certainly felt no sympathy for a country preoccupied with plumbing and money.

A few weeks ago, a dear friend featured this image from the exhibit on her blog - Just a few Nips - and I had the nerve to suggest compassion not only for the abused (and in this case murdered) woman, but also for the misery and guilt feelings of the person who took just a few nips from the bottle before taking a few nips into the flesh of his partner. I could feel no compassion for the perpetrator after seeing the actual painting.

It is a matter-of -fact little painting (and almost all of Kahlo's paintings are really quite small) and yet its subject literally spills over onto the frame in the representation of the blood jabbed in red into the wood.

The Kahlo exhibit is also small - but still offers quite a lot to consider. Images relating to her miscarriage are equally disturbing, both for their connection to religious imagery as well as their direct assault visually on the viewer.

The intentional use of so-called primitive folk style with such unsentimental subjects somehow enhances the feeling of frontal assault and so while it is an intellectually fascinating journey, the walk around the museum gallery can feel unpleasant and unfriendly.

This is perhaps appropriate. In The Two Fridas, one of the two larger paintings that kahlo painted, she speaks to the need to reformulate herself after yet another trauma (I believe) resulting from the separation from Diego Rivera. Alone with herself, the old more approachable Frida is to be replaced by a stronger, harder less accessible one (even though she will always be both) The two are connected by one circulatory system and yet the transformation still results in the loss of blood as the clamp is unable to still the painful overflow. The image is at once clinical and mystical - but also distant and unsentimental.

One of the more cheerful pieces is the image of herself and Rivera which she modelled on their wedding photo. Critics note that her hand hovers above his rather than being enfolded as if to indicate her desire to remain her own person despite the matrimonial union.

Of course the pieces that i liked the best are not reproduced on the internet. One rather abstract small piece done in a circle with muted reds and greens really appealed to me. I must have been too tired to think at this point and perhaps it appealed to me because I simply felt it - no interpretations, no idea of what it was about - it wasjust an image and animage that contrasted to the garish, direct ones I had been taking in up to that point.

It is a very worthwhile exhibit and I recommend you see it if you are fortunate enough to have it come to a gallery near you. Most of the better known images are there although I missed a few of the bed pictures and the self-portraits - particulalry with the white lace headdress. I want to close this commentary with a political image about culture, which I will not explicate, but simply leave for the viewer to ponder and enjoy.

At the end I am still highly ambivalent about Kahlo and her works and I think that is the thing I most appreciate about them. While I prefer the works of Georg Grosz, Kathe Kollwitz and Egon Schiele (with all his narcissism) to those of Kahlo, because of their commentary and style, they are in the end not so different from each other. My tastes reflect precisely my tastes and reflect the fact that it is German culture that I chose to study in school and not Mexican culture. Thus it is the critique and analyses of the German culture that draw me more strongly. The message of our inhumanity to each other is strong in all of these works, of our culture's unfairness to the down-trodden, of its treatment of women and Western focus on the material. Such themes are evident in the works of the German Expressionists as well as in those of Frida Kahlo, but above and beyond that one can not deny that the bravery, persistence and endurance of Kahlo as Mexican, woman, painter is deserving of special recognition, respect and awe.