Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Bend it like Beckham


As you know, especially if you read my last post, I am a minor deity in the pantheon of specious gods and goddesses.  That's right, I am the rutabaga goddess (I'm lobbying to represent all root vegetables, but am not sure that will work out) in the yearly Ithaca Farmers' Market Rutabaga Curling Championship.  Also every year, a gentleman named Jerry Feist takes a lot of great photos of the event.  I like this one, where I'm trying to nudge my 'baga by the force of will to be closer to the goal.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Sloth and Indolence

It's the day after Christmas, and I had all these visions of productivity and cleaning and organizing.  However,  I sat down in this chair (the Adirondack chair with the sheepskin) in front of the wood stove (the cute little warm efficient Jotul with the big glass front) for a late breakfast (delicious scrambled eggs from my happy hens, with greens and salsa and GF toast and a cuppa tea) with my book (not worth mentioning but readable enough)...and I find that I realllllly don't want to move.  I think I'll take the day off, and get back to the rest of life tomorrow.  It will still be there waiting.

The day after Christmas is one of my favorite days of the year.  December, also known as the month of Dismember, is rife with holiday craft fairs and getting orders in the mail, and running back and forth to the printer, and fielding emails about special orders, and dragging carloads of display structures back and forth, and working in the temporary cooperative store downtown.  Throw in some cold market days, being the Rutabaga Goddess at the Rutabaga Curl, several fun houseguests, gift shopping, and all of the festive family-ness that happens around the holidays, and you have a heady cocktail that tastes great, but will leave you dragging the next morning.  I'm working around to a metaphor here, something about having a holiday hangover....ANYWAY, it was a great and profitable season, but now I'm taking the day OFF. 

Meanwhile, my paintings are still hanging at the Bandwagon Brewpub, here in Ithaca.  A couple of them have sold (huzzah!)...including my favorite:
It's called "Migration," and painted with acrylics and gel medium on a lovely walnut board I've been looking at for about a year.  It's about 7 feet long.  This photo is a little rough what with the glare from the flash on the shiny gel medium.  You can also see a small watercolor, called "Solstice," which just happens to be available as a notecard.

I have decided not to travel to the tropics this winter.  In one way I'm pleased to be able to just hang out at home and work on my Wingtip business and get some skiing in, but on the other hand I know that around mid-January I will be sad to not be heading out.  I'll miss Thailand, but will make a point of getting back there sometime soon before I forgot how to speak Thai.

Time for more tea.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Objects of Art + Spirit

Just quick, before I head down to the basement and pack up even more cards and calendars.  For your shopping pleasure, all you Ithacats, here's a little show I'll be participating in today and tomorrow at the lovely Rasa Spa.  Art, clothing, jewelry, herbal care products...all local and handmade.  Plus a chance to browse Rasa's gift shop, which is also full of treats.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The first belt!

I finally have a belt to show you, loyal readers!  I've been learning how to make the belt blanks, and have just started the fun process of painting them.  This one is posted on my Etsy Wingtip site, and more will be coming along soon.
Although I have a big show to get through this weekend first, before I can enjoy painting.  I'll be in Syracuse this weekend at the Plowshares Craftsfair.  This is a great show, full of fantastic art and craft and other goodies, plus the Syracuse Cultural Workers great collection of opinionated tshirts, calendars, books, etc.  Please stop in.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Across the other pond

Hmmm...seems to have been a while since I last posted.  So I got back from Hawaii in mid-October, worked really really hard for two weeks to get ready for the upcoming holiday season (more on that later, because I have some important business announcements to make in re: the holidays and how to shop for them), and then flew off across the other ocean to England, where I met up with my brother and had a really fantabulous time for two weeks in a preemptive birthday celebration.

He was checking out pubs, and I was generally exploring and having fun.  For the bulk of the time we stayed with our friends Dave and Ann from Hardknott Brewery, who were very generous with their time and resources as we romped around Cumbria (aka the Lake District) and Newcastle and Kendal and Manchester and...and...  Rather than go into detail verbally, I'm going to give you another photo essay of the things that caught my eye.

Spent a few days in Oxford visiting Erin and Sydney and their adorable kids.
Also took a side trip to Scotland to visit Beth and her family,
and got to explore Bothwell Castle.
Had tea and crumpets, in a wild departure from
my usual gluten and dairy free existence.

Walked by some beautiful trees near Broughton-in-Furness, in Cumbria

Walked miles and miles to find Sunkenkirk stone circle, in a farmer's field in Cumbria. 
This was one of the coolest things I've ever seen.

Really, really old stone walls!  Plus, it wouldn't be right if I didn't include
a photo with some sheep in it since we're talking about northern England here.

The view from Netherwasdale up the Wasdale valley, in Cumbria. Possibly
one of the most beautiful places on earth, both in the big picture and the details.

Monday, October 17, 2011

South shore

The lovely sunset I saw tonight at Po'ipu Beach, south shore of Kauai.  This photo turned out almost better than some of the postcards on offer out here.  Oh wait, I just gave away my undisclosed location...!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Featuring sand and sun

Why the long silence?  Well, not surprisingly I've taken off for another one of these trips I take at regular intervals.  And this time I'm really vacating, not particularly checking in or doing much in the way of work.  First because one really can't worry about anything while one is here, and second because I know when I get home again next week the work is going to hit the fan so I'm resting up.  Can you guess where I am?  Here are a few hints:


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

In which I sing in the car a lot

I don't tend to go in for love songs in a big way, but once in a while something catches my ear and won't let go.  I recently got Over the Rhine's latest album, The Long Surrender, and have listened to little else all week (well, with the exception of a little side flirtation with some Arabic dance music).  Their impeccable musicianship and deep moody sweet poetry knock my socks off.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Time for a shameless self-promotional commercial plug!  My 2012 calendars are done, and will be available very, very soon at markets and on websites near you.  There will be two sizes: a small version for the desktop calendar that fits in a cd case stand...
...and a larger version that can hang on the wall and has space for writing.

I used pages from my travel sketchbooks, so there are pencil and pen and watercolor sketches from the Adirondacks, Thailand, Yosemite, Japan, Hawaii, the Pacific Northwest, etc, even a page with fall colors from right around here in upstate NY.  It was pretty fun to put them together, especially because each page is different, and am looking forward to seeing people's reactions.

Having the calendar done is a huge load off my plate.  As I always say, we're entering the season where I lose all touch with reality in the quest for commercial viability, also known as The Christmas Season.  Or, in pop culture parlance: "Time to make the donuts."

Friday, September 16, 2011

Get this in your head

Every now and then I indulge in some good British tv, a favorite being the Jeeves and Wooster series.  Brilliant adaptation of the P.G. Wodehouse novels, with Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie (yes, the guy who plays House, but in a COMPLETELY different role).  I love the opening titles for the 1920's style graphics and the theme song.  You'll be singing it all day.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The clear blue sky

Ten years ago, I was driving across town on an absolutely gorgeous clear September morning.  I had left pretty early to get to my graphic design job, I knew there was a lot of work to do on this catalog I was designing.  I had NPR on in the car, and news was really boring, to the point that I was literally thinking that they were really looking for material to fill out the hour of Morning Edition.  A little later, after all hell broke loose, the catalog didn't seem to matter so much.  I took a walk in the sunshine, thinking that you never know what's going to come out the clear blue sky.

Every generation has a few defining events, those things we can all say we remember where we were when we heard it.  My mom talks about vacuuming when she heard about JFK, I'm sure I won't forget where I was when I heard about the planes.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Something blue

My pals Todd and Kristina were married a few weeks ago, and the bride wore a fine pair of Wingtips! 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The weird wide web

You never know what you'll find in the weird wide web these days.  I was just trolling around in my Wingtip Etsy stats this morning, to see how people are finding my site and all that good stuff, and I found a link to my shop in someone else's blog.  This person was writing restaurant reviews, and apparently I waited on their table...heehee, this makes my day!  I will continue to build the spiderweb by linking back to their blog.  Plus you can read about the food and drink at my working-for-travel-funds job.

Speaking of my pub job, it's going well.  I've stopped having stressful waitressing nightmares, and am settling in to rather enjoying the change of pace a few nights per week.  I like being friendly to people and being a little anonymous and getting my tables to laugh.  I appreciate the exercise it gives my short-term memory and the zen-like focus of being 100% in the moment.  And I love going home and not having to think one little bit about the job until next time I go in...when I am once again 100% there.  Remember folks, tip your servers generously!

Otherwise, it's early September and the skies are already grey.  Yesterday (Labor Day) was a much-needed rest from my labors...I took the time to cook a lot (GF blueberry muffins, red pepper chipotle hummus, and potato-leek soup), finish a book, overdose on the mind candy of some Jeeves and Wooster episodes, slouch around in pj's, and listen to the big rain and be thankful I didn't have to go outside in it.  Today I am beginning to think about the approaching Christmas season, will be mucking about with some website content, and planning the paintings for my 2012 calendar.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The return of the CrossFit Chiang Mai garuda

Loyal blog followers might recall the project I was working on in Thailand this past winter, drawing a garuda (mythical Thai half-man-half-bird tough guy) to be used for the CrossFit gym t-shirts and other promotional materials.  Perhaps you remember my struggles with getting the biceps to be sufficiently X-Men-esque.  Anyhoo, it turned out really cool, and I just got a photo of the womens' style t-shirts!  I appreciate in general how pink has become an acceptable color for a strong woman to wear.

And for you local folks, tonight from 6:30-7:30 I'll be at Rasa Spa for the closing reception of my art show there.  It's been a great run.  Stop in if you can!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Made for walking

Just finished a bespoke Wingtips project, taking a pair of well-loved black cowgirl boots to the next level.  I approached this with much trepidation, since the person who owns the boots was very fond of them, but they turned out great and I'm hoping they wear well.  Her directions were to use bold colors and to include a butterfly.

In other gossipy news, we had an earthquake yesterday!  Not that I noticed, I was either in the car or the shower and completely missed it.  Bummer.  I have no desire to experience a big LA or Haiti style quake with collapsing bridges and parking garages, but I would really, really like to feel a minor quake to see what it's like.  Upstate NY is pretty darned stable, geologically speaking, so thankfully any earthquakes that come our way are pretty mellow.  I have been chuckling over this link of damage photos.  However, I DID get to experience a thunderstorm of Biblical proportions last week, and swear that lightning almost struck the house.

My show at Rasa Spa is coming down next week.  I've been happy to be their artist for almost a year, and love being part of such a lovely place.  If you wish to see the show, please be sure to go in the next few days.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Branching out, perhaps

Hmmmm, maybe just maybe I'll start doing belts.  More later.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Magic sungold and tomatillo salsa

It's peak tomato season here, and in celebration, here's my recipe for delicious salsa:

Step 1:
1 pint tomatillos, husk removed and washed with warm water to get rid of the stickiness, cut in half
4-5 cloves garlic
1 jalepeno, halved and seeds removed
1 sweet red pepper
Roast the above ingredients at 350 for an hour.  Yum, roasted garlic!

Step 2:
1 red onion, chopped
1 more sweet red pepper
juice of a lime
Add these ingredients to the roasted ingredients above, and chop up finely in a food processor.

Step 3:
1 pint sungold tomatoes (oh so sweet and good), quartered
1 large Brandywine tomato, chopped small
generous dash of salt
Mix everything together, and EAT.  Probably with a spoon, it's good.

Variation: last time I made it, I added some fresh sweet corn.  Cilantro would be good too.

Monday, August 15, 2011

A wedding certificate

It's raining and cloudy in Ithaca today, and for once I'm actually happy about it.  You may never hear me saying that again, so take note!  Taking the morning to putter around, and the gloomy skies make me glad to be inside with no pressure to go outside and run or mow the lawn or participate in some other energetic activity.  I will probably also spend some time with my book today (once again sucked into the GRR Martin series in preparation for reading the 5th book that just came out), before waiting tables tonight.

Busy week last week, buckling down to some freelance work while gorging on Radio Lab podcasts.  Remember the photo last week of my cat sitting on the desk while I was trying to work on a Quaker-style wedding certificate?  Here's the finished, cat-free, product. I'm pleased with the end results and so was the bride.  She's from a family who makes delicious hard cider, and the groom is the son of a winery family.  Pen and watercolor on 300 lb hot press paper.

Monday, August 8, 2011

yesterday's haikus

market is ghost town
selling paper in the rain
where are the tourists?

adorable cat
"half-and-half," he is thinking
I open the fridge

Friday, August 5, 2011

Trying to get some work done around here

Happy Friday y'all!  That means I'm heading into my work week.  I'm once again freshly back from a nice time at Forked Lake, the annual trip with great friends.  We've been doing that for ohhhh almost 20 years now!  We're starting to feel like old timers there.

Today is a good working day.  I was up early and threw all the camping laundry in to clean while eating breakfast.  This being a somewhat ideal day, the breakfast process involved at least a half hour with my tea and book and cat on the lap before actually starting with the real day.  Once the Earl Grey settled into my system, I was off to a running start.  Had the car packed up for tomorrow's market by 10:30, and dove into some paperwork and bills and other odds and ends of business administration and mucking about on the internet for the rest of the morning.  Working on being able to accept credit cards again.  After lunch it was up to the studio to finish the preliminary sketch of a wedding certificate (it involves apples).

Now that it's not as hot out, I'm enjoying being in my studio again (which is waaaay upstairs and gets afternoon sun).  Here's a photo of my working space today.  I know I've posted a million photos of my various cats in various invasive places, but I still think it's funny.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


I just have a couple of shoe photos for you today, in case you aren't also stalking my Wingtips Etsy site.  Been playing with patterns and different color palettes than usual.

Weather here has been HOT HOT HOT!  I confess I kinda love it, reminds me of Thailand, just without the fresh coconuts.  Everything slows down and crawls along, and we all go swimming and blueberry picking and eat fresh tomatoes from the garden.  Plus bike rides!  If I could live in a perpetual summer, life would be lovely.  My current fantasy dream plan is to retire to Hawaii someday.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

"the expectation that someday we would find a use for them"

I have a new research obsession, and a new inspiration of the negative kind.  Recently I picked up a copy of E.L. Doctorow's novel Homer and Langley, a fiction version of the story of the Collyer brothers, told from the point of view of Homer (the blind brother).  (It's this year's Community Read project with our town's library, by the way.)  I was horrified and riveted by the tale of hoarding, especially by how the author was able to show the justification to each step along the way to what can only be a form of madness.  I won't re-tell the Collyer brother's story in my blog, since you can read the Wikipedia article here (with photos of their stuff!!!!), but suffice to say that when they found Homer dead, it took the police something like 15 days to find the body of Langley, who had been killed in a booby trap of his own making, buried under piles of stuff just a few feet away.

Here's a quote from the book, from a part of the story where the firemen are called in due to a fire in the backyard (p.161):
"Why can't these people ever mind their own business, Langley muttered as the fire hose, connected now to the hydrant at the curb in the front of the house, pulsed through the labyrinth of baled newspapers and slapped this way and that into folded chairs and bridge tables, knocking down standing lamps, stacks of canvases, as the firemen aimed their nozzle through the back door down to the smoking racks of lumber, the used tires, and odd pieces of furniture, a legless bureau, a bedspring, two Adirondack chairs, and other items stored there in the expectation that someday we would find a use for them."

All this makes me think a lot about the blurry continuum that ranges from clutter to hoard.  Where is the line that denotes a problem?

Hmmmm.   Now, I am not particularly prone to keeping too much stuff around.  My weakness is clothing, but I DO clean out my closet regularly.  Otherwise, I have the usual bit of clutter in the basement, but I really like openness in my living space.  I also appreciate old-and-interesting things, and understand the pursuit of a collection and the reasons for keeping sentimental and historical items around.  However, there's a tendency towards "collecting" in my family, and sometimes that makes me nervous.

Reading up on the Collyer brothers has been a good kick in the pants to do some cleaning around here.  I recently helped someone near and dear to me (who said I could publish these photos as long as there is no name attached) clean out a particularly stubborn pocket of "things that might come in useful someday."  Wow, did that feel good to cart away the rusty bits and old rugs, and then recycle the cardboard and burn the bits of truly rotten wood and put a bunch of things down free by the road.

I'll leave you with a lesson a learned several years ago.  A friend had given me a big stack of Vegetarian Times magazines, no doubt chock-full of great recipes and articles and information that might come in useful (being vegetarian myself at the time, and learning to cook).  They sat in a pile on my floor, silently reproaching me for not getting around to reading them.  One day, I decided to just recycle the whole stack....and holycrow did I suddenly feel free.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Solo camping

Oh summer, how I love it.  Last week I had three days in a row completely free (which I managed by doing all of my work for the week on Tuesday), and so I tied my canoe on the car and took off for the Adirondacks.  Being a woman with a strong sense of self-preservation, I have never tried solo camping before, so this was my chance to break free from that self-imposed restriction.  I went to Forked Lake, my usual favorite camping place, and had a completely wonderful and relaxing time.  Me and my book and making good food over the fire.

Well, the one not-relaxing part was the thunderstorm that struck just as I was heading out with my fully-loaded little canoe across the lake to my site.  I was completely drenched and unhappy, muttering imprecations under my breath as I huddled under a tree in my "raincoat" (which stopped working last year under similar circumstances) and then had to empty and flip the canoe to get the water out.  But after that, I had time in the sunshine to even get a little bored....which is a luxury.

Here are a few arty photos.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Thinking about marketing

Today is perfect.  Truly perfect warm breezy weather, which makes up a little bit for what April did to us Ithacans.  And I just came off four nights in a row of waiting tables, which was fine and profitable, but exhausting.  Looking forward to some time with paint today, also time in the garden and running.

Speaking of painting shoes, I've been thinking about marketing a lot recently.  Bear with me while I think aloud.  I've been taking my shoes to the Farmers' Market for the last few months, and it has been very, very interesting.  I am getting loads of GREAT comments and enthusiasm, seeing some real joy (and avarice) in people's eyes when they see the shoes.  Lots of inquiries about bespoke work.  A few people are even trying them on, and I actually sold two pairs (to out-of-towners).  On the other hand, I'm learning that the weekly market is not necessarily my audience.  I am also often getting remarks about my high prices, and I don't like seeing the enthusiasm turn to embarrassment and shock when they see the price tags.  I'm also not sure if the splashy shoe display isn't detracting from my cards and art, which frankly is my bread-and-butter.  Even though I eat neither bread nor butter...hmm, I guess I should say they are my rice-and-greens.

So here are a few thoughts:

First, I'm going to try taking the shoes on Sundays only, to see if having a full booth of cards and art helps my Saturday sales.  I will still leave out a sample pair, and have everything in my car in case someone wants to check them out.  Sundays are generally quieter days there, and I maybe having two different-looking displays will be good for the different days.

Second, my prices reflect the work and originality that I put into each pair, as well as the cost of buying the shoes and the supplies.  They also are in keeping with similar work by other artists around the country.  I won't lower them, but might occasionally run a $25 off sale for market customers.

Third, I will be working towards taking my shoes to their audience.  As I've mentioned, I plan to apply for some shows in cities in the spring.

Meanwhile, here's a pretty photo from my trip to Oregon, the river at Green Waters Park in Oakridge on a sunny day.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Featuring zombies, for once

My eldest niece (the one with the boots in the post below) has a great group of clever and amusing friends, and they make their class assignments into movies under the name Table 008.  Occasionally these short films involve zombies or the odd anthropomorphized butternut squash.  She's the dark-haired zombie victim in this one.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

What's been keeping me busy lately

I had forgotten how much I love California poppies! 

I see from my little blog roll here that I haven't made an entry in about a month.  Aren't you all just dying of curiosity just what I've been up to that's more distracting than blogging?  Well, to work backwards, I'm currently in Oregon, specifically typing to you from the front room of my brother's pub, the Brewers' Union Local 180.  My eldest niece graduated from high school last weekend, and my mom and I decided to come out here and surprise everyone for that!  Long story short, the surprise worked beautifully, and we also had a chance to visit my sister, and wander around the Chinese Gardens in Portland, and to make a little expensive stop at the Fluevog store to buy the tall black boots of my dreams.  My amazing creative niece graduated with literally flying colors (a purple robe and bright green Doc Martens), and I'm enjoying a bit of time on the west coast.

And before that, I was busy working on my Wingtips business and my garden.  I'm also mixing things up by starting some kinda-cool waitressing work a few nights per week.  Not gonna tell you where right now, but you local Ithaca folks will find me sooner or later.  I find that working a job like that is fun and doesn't have homework, plus my taxes are taken care of.  All around a refreshing and profitable break from the less-attractive bits of freelance graphic design which have been burning me out.  I've found at various times in my life that working a non-art job actually frees up my creative energy for my own work, and I appreciate this.  (Side note: wait staff gets $5 an hour, so that 20% tip for good and cheerful service is very much appreciated.  We work hard.)

Wingtip is coming along well...I've sold a few pairs at the market and also one pair on Etsy, which is making me very happy.  I'm working out a few glitches in the materials (learning which leathers work best) and working out my policies, and also making some longer-term plans: I'd like to do a few big shows in NYC or Philadelphia next spring.

So that's the scoop right now...and it's an exquisitely sunny day in Oakridge, OR, so I'm off to take a run on the trail by the river.  Stop in the pub sometime if you're out here, my bro makes a wicked British mild.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Shedding season

Anyone who is allergic should just stay away for a few weeks.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Spring photos

Here are a couple of nice spring-y photos to brighten your day.  I got the fiddleheads at market, and steamed them and ate them with Annie's goddess dressing.  The dogwood tree is in Valley Forge, I took a little trip down there a week or so ago for a dose of green leaves and sunshine.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Rhymes with fandango

More shoes!  These are my favorites so far (and for sale on Etsy right here), I'm kinda into the fish scale thing this week.  One of the other fun things about this shoe business is naming them and writing the descriptions.  I named this pair "Rhymes with Fandango" after a google search I was doing while trying to come up with a clever name...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Days in the life

Just in case anyone thinks that self-employed artists laze around all day eating bonbons and painting in the sunshine, as opposed to actually "working," here's what my last few days have entailed:

Errand day.  After a few hours in the morning dealing with emails, phone calls and other desky business stuff such as accounting, plus a gigantic pile of weekend dishes and laundry, I headed out for errands.  Went to the post office (mailing an order), the bank (deposit from weekend market), and finally put some gas in the tank after finally making a little money on the weekend.  Then proceeded to Rasa Spa, where I dropped off some notecards for their gift shop, and also shuffled around a few paintings at my show there.  Then off to Greenstar, to do notecard inventory because they are looking to increase my shelf space (hurrah!).  Then a stop at the newly re-opened Buffalo St. Books to drop off my latest card catalog (isn't it great they're open again!?), followed by walking to the Commons to drop off a notecard order at Home Green Home.  Then a quick stop at Trader K's to troll for shoes for painting, had a few specific sizes to look for, and then dropped off a huge pile of books at the library.  Several of those books were about Japanese kimono design, since I've been studying Japanese patterns and motifs as shoe inspiration.  Stopped by my favorite trail for a 3.5 mile run on the way home.  Then I spent a few hours painting shoes before heading out to my evening capoeira class.

Spent several hours in the morning painting shoes, then took a little trip over to Gary's for art gossip and to collect some notecard inventory he had picked up for me at a gallery I was in.  It was finally a gorgeous day, so then I spent the rest of the afternoon on my porch with my computer, making a wee promotional brochure for Wingtip.  I also worked on a new version of my notecard catalog, because I have some new designs and haven't updated it in a while.  A big thunderstorm came through, and I took some time to make dinner and enjoy the storm with a beverage on the porch.  Then a little more shoe painting before calling it an early night (tired).

Well, it's just beginning, but here's what's on tap.  First a little accounting and desky stuff, a wedding announcement preliminary samples, getting a card order together for Greenstar, an afternoon run, and I have three pairs of shoes in various stages of painting...I hope to finish one special order today, and also finish a pair for my Etsy site.

So I'm going to get back to it.  I like this level of busy-ness, full of purpose and all about art.

Friday, April 22, 2011


Friday morning in Ithaca, still waiting for spring to really wake up around here.  One day it's 65 and sunny and I am going for a run in my t-shirt, the next day it snows and I light up the woodstove for what I keep hoping is the last time.  It's almost Easter, I expect to be wearing a coat to church this year instead of sandals.  My friends (and blog readers) are probably getting tired of me whinging about the weather, but every year my SAD gets a little worse and the Ithaca darkness gets a little harder to bear.  If I had insurance I would try out some antidepressants for November-March, but as it is I'm just flirting with a little half-caff coffee some especially dark afternoons.  Happily, the chicken pox is mostly a memory now.

Meanwhile, I'm finding great joy in this whole shoe-painting business!  I haven't been inspired like this in ages, it's all I want to do.  My kitchen island and living room are often covered with work in progress.  I find it's best to work on several pairs at once, so I can think about the next steps, and also let the paint really dry between coats.  My Etsy site is getting lots of looks and some nice comments.  AND I have several bespoke orders, five this week alone.  I'm thinking this is going to go somewhere.  And if not, at least it's really really fun right now.  Although all this shoe research means I keep finding shoes I want too.

Bespoke is one of my favorite words, and I love being able to adopt it to describe part of my business.  It's a great old somewhat-British word meaning created specifically for a client.  Here are a few photos of bespoke shoes I've painted this week, and them the last pair is just for fun (they're for sale on Etsy).

 Above are a pair of Danskos for a friend, and below is my first pair for a guy.
 These are called Jitterbug Perfume, with a nod to Tom Robbins.  See them on Etsy!

Saturday, April 9, 2011


Let's just get one thing out of the way first: I have chicken pox.  You heard me right, apparently I'm not too old for this.  It's uncomfortable, and I'm cranky, and staying in quarantine is less fun when you're an adult because it doesn't just mean you can stay home from school for a week and eat ice cream.

BUT, the good news is that my blog silence can be completely contributed to launching a new branch of my art business!  Introducing Wingtip, super cool shoes hand-painted by me.  So far I have several pairs on my new Etsy site, and getting lots of good comments and looks and some inquiries and a couple of orders from friends.  Here's a photo of my first pair for a client.  She mailed the boots to me, and specified colors and that she liked the Thai-style spirals from a different pair.  You might hear a lot about shoes on my blog in the next few months.

Having a new canvas to work on, and a new business to plan and promote, has been a true pleasure, and has saved me from complete Seasonal Affect Disorder despair.  It is also giving me justification to go shoe shopping.  I'm going to use some of my quarantine time constructively to see if I can figure out how to build one of those free flash websites for this.

Otherwise, spring is making it's painfully slow way to Ithaca.  The little wee bulbs are finally up and cheerfully blooming, it hasn't snowed for a week, and the chickens are starting to range farther in the woods.  The missing hen melted out of the snowbank a few weeks ago (probably hawks).  The Farmers' Market started up again last weekend!  I've started running.  Every year we all wonder if spring will really actually come, it always seems like a miracle.

Friday, March 25, 2011

My friends say I'm very koi

I'm turning another vintage pair of Docs into wearable art.

This is super fun, and I'm hatching a business plan for sure.  Name suggestions, anyone?  "Art and Sole" is already taken, not surprisingly.  I'm toying with some other puns (Sole Proprietor, for example, is my current top choice), and also making a list of just cool words (Citrine, Peradventure).

Monday, March 21, 2011

with a shiver in my bones just thinking about the weather

This is the anthem for all Seasonal Affect Disorder sufferers in the world (including yours truly).  Why is Natalie Merchant so perky while she sings this? 

I see the signs of spring starting, and the snow is gone except for in the shadows, and we've had a few warmish sunny days so I know it's going somewhere...but these last few weeks have been very, very challenging for my mental and emotional energy.  The sky in Ithaca is often a coal grey that sits about 3 feet over your head in a dark smooth blanket.  I am literally working from my bed today, with computer and sketchbook and pot of tea and two cats. 

Monday, March 14, 2011

You want a pair too, don't you?

Always on the lookout for different canvases.  Leather paints (not pants) on thrift store Doc Martens, painted last night after years of wanting to do this.  Thai-style spirals and cherry blossoms.  It was very very fun, and I want to do more...think there's a business opportunity in this?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Sulpher and onions

I have a lasting curiosity and love of tropical fruits, the weirder the better.  Some of this comes from all the time I've spent at ECHO in Florida, where I learned that the apple of Adam-and-Eve fame was more likely to have been a rose apple. And even though I draw the line at larvae (see this post), I love trying new foods and am fairly adventurous that way.  And tropical fruit, WELL, what more delightful way to explore new flavors?

Imagine a giant spiny fruit that stinks, like sulpher and onions gone wrong.  Stinks so badly that it's banned from some hotels and buses in Indonesia.  This same fruit tastes like a custardy piece of sweet heaven.  A fruit that polarizes the population into two camps, those who passionately love and whose who completely abhor.  I had heard about durians for years, and had wanted to get my greedy little hands on one so I could see for myself this dichotomy.  My friend Becky (super healthy lovely raw-foods-only) confessed once that she loves durians, and also told me that you can find them in the freezer section at the local Asian grocery store.  The first durian I bought became the centerpiece of a potluck soon thereafter.  Yes, half of us loved it, half hated it. 

Being recently back from the tropics and yearning for any sign of spring and any break from the blandness of Ithaca in early March, I took a durian over the Becky's house a few days ago.  Her small daughter also loves them.  We cracked it open and gleefully devoured the ice-cream-like deliciousness inside.  There are five pods inside, each with a few large seeds.  It was frozen, so the smell was minimized.  I can imagine it's a whole different thing on a hot day in the sunshine.

Look at this thing.  Who was the first person to say "hmmm, this big spiny thing that fell out of the tree and smells weird...let's EAT it!"

Monday, March 7, 2011


I woke up this morning to an unexpected 2 feet of snow.  Yesterday started off at about 45 degrees and raining, and it all went slowly downhill from there.  But I had to laugh when I went outside this morning and really just couldn't see my car under the drifting.  Just in case I was mourning the absence of snow and winter while in Thailand, I've had a good dose in the last week.

Yes, I've been back about a week and a half, no blogging though because I was basically sick and grumpy and jetlagged, which doesn't make for interesting and worthwhile blog topics.  Re-entry is always a little rough, coming back from adventures and sunshine makes my life in Ithaca very pale and insipid.  I'm doing my best to brighten life up here with the colorful tropical things that came out of my suitcases.  Here are my Thai banners on the snowy porch this morning.

I have some interesting work right now for the Montezuma Wetlands Complex and Sunbeam Candles.  Good clients, good people.  I'm also getting ready to get excited about the start of the farmers' market again.  I have a few ideas for new paintings too, based on the colors and shapes of Thailand.

So I have a snow day on my hands.  Going to organize my studio, get my tax paperwork together, work on some sketches for a client, hang out with the cats, and figure out how to make sticky rice and mango for dinner.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Cartoon biceps and bargaining in Thai

Today is my last day in the ISDSI office, and so I thought it might be appropriate to show you the main project I have completed for actual work in my time here.  Oh right, I was working....not just running around the city shopping and eating and looking at beautiful temples!

Raise your hand if you've ever heard of a garuda.

I hadn't either until a few weeks ago.  A garuda is a mythical creature, half-man-half-bird, very strong and fierce and fights and eats dragons and serpents.  It appears on the seal of Thailand.  The director here wanted a tough-looking garuda design for their new CrossFit gym.  Here's the end result.  I spent a long time getting the biceps just right.  Apparently all men spend part of their teenage years drawing cartoon biceps and superheros, but ya know I skipped that stage of development and so it took me a long time.  He's swinging a kettlebell.  Looking forward to wearing this t-shirt!  I also worked on some other t-shirt designs for ISDSI, and did a few illustrations for my language teacher.

(By the way, if you follow that last link and scroll way down you might see me teaching a capoeira class.)

I fly out of Chiang Mai tomorrow evening, and begin the long trip home.  Of course it will be sad to leave, I really love it here and have enjoyed learning the language and exploring and feeling like I really live here for a few weeks.  But on the other hand, I look forward to getting back home and working on what's next.

I had a great moment last night, empowered by language and a wee bit of cultural understanding.  I had met up with some girlfriends for a Thai massage, and then had to get way back across town to go to the evening Walking Street market one last time.  Armed with my newly-learned Thai and some bargaining skills, I asked a couple of tuk-tuk (motorcycle taxi) drivers how much it would cost to get a ride to the Tha Phae Gate.  They conferred and said 100 baht.
"Paeng maag!" I replied (too expensive!)
"Mai paeng!" they came back (not expensive!)
"Hahaha!  Mai bpai!" (I'm not going)..and I smiled and walked away and crossed the street to flag down a rot daeng (red bus taxi).  I asked the driver...and got a ride for 40 baht.  That's more like it.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


 Walking by the wat with the mirror walls near the north gate of Chiang Mai.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A brief pseudo-ethnography of farmers' markets

This is an entry for my market friends at home.  As most of you know, I'm part of the Ithaca Farmers' Market and therefore have a certain fondness for this genre of food shopping.  Thailand is full of markets of various kinds, from the tourist-ridden weirdo Night Bazaar to the local farmers sitting by the side of the road with their basket of papayas.  Here in Chiang Mai we tend to get our food for the house primarily at the market down the road (pummelos, cashews, eggs, spices, greens, kilos of passionfruit, fresh orange juice, snacks wrapped in banana leaves, etc etc)....I often walk there in the afternoons after leaving the ISDSI office.  I also love strolling the Sunday evening Walking Street market downtown, about a kilometer of road closed to traffic and completely packed with art and craft and food vendors. It's so fun.  Even though I come from the other side of the world, I feel a certain solidarity with the vendors at these places, setting up their displays and being nice to customers and answering questions and hoping to make a living...I know what that's like.

There's a mix of people at all of these markets...some seem to be peddling items that were made or grown elsewhere, but some people are definitely there with their own produce or art/craft.

Here's a couple of photos of farmers' markets.  The first is the Je-je Market, a small organic market which is open two days per week...we go on Saturday morning and stock up in an attempt to limit exposure to the otherwise ubiquitous chemicals.  The second is just a nice shot of a bountiful display of tropical vegetables available at the market that's open every day down on the east side of the old city near the moat (there's also a noodle vendor there, which has been my source for fresh wide rice noodles as I continue the quest to make my own pad see eu).