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Showing posts from April, 2007

Where's Lisa?

Eurydice We may soon consider changing the title of this blog to "How's Lisa." Me? I'm getting along just fine. I can do my little shopping, carry my little groceries up the long, long stairs, a little at a time. I'm training the cats to dust and vacuum. (so far, no luck). Being able to drive has changed everything for me. There is one problem, though. Lisa's not here and I miss her. Before my accident, Lisa would go away to work every summer for seven or eight years running. Before that, she was on the road working in places like Indiana, Alabama, Virginia, New York... for weeks at a time. And then there were my tours and travels. We got used to these frequent separations –– in a way. Thinking back now, these past two years may be the longest we have been together under one roof since the early '90s. I guess that's what makes this time apart all the more difficult. But that's nothing compared to what Lisa must be going through right now. What

East Coast Work Ethic

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Eurydice Annalisa used this phrase in her recent comment, and it seemed like a good theme for tonight. I remember hearing that phrase a lot when I moved out to California, and I must admit that it really baffled me. Were Californians really a bunch of lazy dreamers who would rather be hiking than working? Were New Yorkers exceptional work-a-holics? I really can't comment on this. I do know that I'm going to be working eleven hour days, probably without a day off, except for Erica and Chris' wedding. I guess I'll try to combine an East and West Coast sensibility, and enjoy the nature that I can see from my hotel's parking lot.

Trying to Take Off

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... I'm trying to get the last things sorted out before I leave for New York. I'm trying to make this a positive experience, but I'm really stressed out. I hate packing, and always have since the days of parental joint custody. Asking a child to pack everything they might need for the next month of their life, every single month , is great way to ensure that making these types of decisions will be rife with stress and negative emotions. Even if I'm going on a lovely vacation, these demons are lurking inside my suitcases. I tend to procrastinate packing, as a way of deferring this entire experience. And that doesn't lessen stress. Not one little bit. Despite everything that's been said, I feel horribly nervous about leaving Robb at home. Clearly, he can't handle the air travel right now. And, clearly this project is important. But I still feel horribly conflicted about all of this. And then there's the project itself. This is going to be HUG

Looking Back

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... This last year has been, simultaneously, the longest and the fastest year of my life. In some ways, the months have flown by, and I can hardly believe that time has passed so quickly. But at the same time, it seems like it has been an eternity since Robb broke his spine. I'm really, really nervous about leaving Robb to go do this job in New York. Prior to the accident, I would often leave home for freelance painting jobs. I spent five months in Connecticut, doing an internship. I worked at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival for three months. I spent eight summers living in rural New York, painting opera scenery. But, I never had any doubts that Robb could manage without me. As a bit of a reality check, I took a look at what was going on twelve months ago. I needed to see how far we've progressed. One Year Ago Robb was home from the hospital. At this time, Robb was only able to stand for forty-five minutes at a time. He was exhausted most of the time, but we were st

A lot of Love Letters

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... I had another day of working on love letters between the world of the living and the world of the dead. The work of dyeing two thousand letters has made for an exhausting weekend, but this weekend was not without its pleasures. Robb and I had brunch at Kara's beautiful loft. And Robb brought dinner to us at the shop. I will be happy to have this project completed, and mailed off to New York. The first picture is the floor under our dyed paper drying rig during the first day of work. And the second is after our second day of dyeing.

Letters from the Underworld

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... I have to custom-dye two thousand love letters before I leave for New York on Wednesday. Sheri and I spent eight hours on this project today. (It takes us an hour to do one hundred and sixty eight letters, so we've got a ways to go yet.) Since it was a rather dreary day, we didn't feel too bad about working on the weekend. Robb came by the shop with a picnic, and we drove out to Middle Harbor Shoreline Park. Although it wasn't perfect picnic weather, it was still a nice diversion. Sheri found a letterbox of mine . And we all marveled at the life size photo-blowups of coyotes that the park managers had set out, presumably to scare away the Canada Geese. Totally, delightfully, unbelievably absurd! (And -- dag nabbit -- I didn't have my camera.

"Only the Toes Knows"

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... When I first met Robb, he and I stayed up way too late watching his recordings of an odd television series called Wiseguy. This show featured a young Kevin Spacey , playing an unhinged drug-addled crime lord named Mel Profitt. Kevin Spacey's character was utterly fascinating . Not only was he paranoid, and way, way, way too involved with his sister, he was convinced that he could pick up psychic (or perhaps psychotic) messages through his toes. In moments of great stress (or when he was injecting drugs between his toes), he would creepily intone, "Only the toes knows." We loved this. Yesterday, Robb had his swollen bruised little toe x-rayed, and it turns out that the toe is not, in fact, broken. If he could feel it, that angry looking purple and yellow toe would probably hurt terribly. But as it is, the toe is only sending visual cues. ("Look at me! I'm the wrong size and the wrong colors!") Clearly, Robb needs to be careful to not re-injure thi

Off to the East Coast!

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... After a lot of shilly-shallying around, I finally got confirmation that I'm going to New York to for three weeks. And -- YIKES -- I leave in a week. I'll be working in a scene shop near Nyack, painting a show that Robb and I did at Berkeley Rep in 2004. I expect a very heavy work load. But the project is so interesting, that I won't mind. Our little experimental trip to Oregon proved that Robb isn't ready for plane travel, yet. So he'll be staying at home. Now that he is driving again, this won't be such a gigantic hardship. I still need to hire a pet service and a maid to take care of all the chores that Robb can't do. I hope that our Bay Area friends will find time to spend time with Robb while I'm gone.

forgetting and remembering

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Last night, we went out to dinner with Ashley and our friend Sten, who is in town for a seminar. Robb drove. As we were driving home, I had one of those moments where I realized that I was thinking several conflicting thoughts at the same time. I was thinking about how well Robb drives, considering that he's not using his feet. I was thinking about how much more freedom Robb has now that he can go where he wants without having to depend on other people. And I was actually just enjoying the ride, and not thinking about how odd all of this was, when I caught myself. I realized that, just for a split-second, everything seemed like it did a year and a half ago. For just a moment, I was able to imagine that we were leading the life we had prior to Robb's injury. For an instant, I was able to experience a different sense of "normal." And then a weird, bittersweet, emotion came rushing over me, and I literally had to "shake it off." Although this is the first

whaleboating ... and toes

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... So, in case you were confused, we did not go whale-watching this morning. Robb, Sheri and I went out rowing on a historic whaleboat as the guest of our letterboxing friend Denise. Have you seen us sporting such huge grins, anytime recently? Considering how much we are not morning people, I wasn't a complete menace as a rower. Near the end of the trip, my coordination disappeared, but I'm still pretty pleased with how I did. I'm sure I'll be plenty sore after this workout. But who cares? A chance to get out on that beautiful water is worth the cost in muscular exertion. Now that we know we can handle boating, Robb and I are going to take those kayak lessons I promised him for his birthday. On the other hand (or foot, as the case may be), Robb recently noticed that his little toe was really swollen and black and blue. Thinking back, he realized that he had gotten it tangled in his sandal when he was getting dressed. He may have broken a toe, and not even rea

Why We Love Living in California, reason nine-hundred and eighty-seven

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... Robb and I went out cycling today at Briones Regional Park with Ken-ichi, who is someone that I "know" through the photo-sharing site Flickr . I had long admired his photos , and it was fun to finally meet in person. Along the trail, we met a family who had found a snake. Once the mom ascertained that the snake wasn't poisonous, the kids carefully picked it up, and when we happened on them, they were enjoying snake-snuggling. I was really impressed by this, because the family responded with confidence and curiosity, instead of freaking out. I also was delighted that this little girl and I own the same shirt. And that the kids let me hold the snake for a moment. The park, like many around here, has a mixed agricultural and recreational mission. However, cows and cycling do not go very well together. Apart from the obvious obstacles, the cows' hoof-prints make the paths very bumpy. And if that weren't challenging enough for Robb, the paths w

ahoy!

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If everything goes right, we're going out on a whaleboat on Monday morning!!! This is thanks to a letterboxing friend, Denise, who is a member of one of the whaleboat groups in Oakland. And to clarify, this is the kind of whaleboat that Nineteenth Century whalers pursued whales in, not the kind that nature-obsessed geeks (like us) go whale watching in. What an adventure to have, before even going to work! (Boy am I glad to be finally feeling better...) The pictures are of historic scrimshaw, which was made of whales' teeth and bones. On the left is a "bodkin" which is a fancy way of saying a device for poking holes in things. On the right is a busk, which would be a stiffener for the center of a corset, if I'm not mistaken. "Boning" in corsets was actually made of baleen, which is the filtering "teeth" of certain species of whales. The image below is a detail of a scrimshaw pie crimper. My sister Martha owns one of these.

Hack

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"Hack" is a word whose meaning has shifted in recent years. I think that many people would define it in terms of "chopping or whacking" or when referring to a writer (or other artist) who turns out shoddy easy-to-sell material, or even as an inelegant and temporary solution to a problem. (To say nothing of taxicabs, or wracking coughs....) But nowadays (at least on the blogs we read), "hack" seems to mean an ingenious and unauthorized modification. Recently, the wires started to come loose on the power supply to our computer. And Robb crafted this nifty new plug out of a ball-point pen cap. Nice hack, boy-oh! (Oh, and that background? That's the desk that Robb made to fit our polygonal office, which started life as a Murphy Bed Room in 1927.)

Undignified Nature

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... I was laying in bed, trying to get over my flu, and Robb shouted "Lisa, get in here, immediately!" There must have been sixty Cedar Waxwings outside our kitchen window.

still sick...

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... Robb has been pursuing his hugely busy schedule of therapy. He's cycled twelve miles, had another session of aquatic therapy, and has been working out at the gym. I, on the other hand, have been flat in bed, with some miserable cold. In a weird way, I'm glad that I'm sick, because the days leading up to getting sick were really hard for me, emotionally. I was upset, and feeling trapped and overwhelmed. Thankfully, all of this was just the lead-up to this nasty cold. I'm hoping that once I'm feeling better again, I'll regain my sense of equilibrium, and be ready for anything the world chooses to throw at me. Just don't throw, too hard, okay world? For those of you not in the habit of reading this blog with a Peterson's Field Guide at your elbow, the birds pictured above are a Red-Winged Blackbird, a totally undignified, itchy Oystercatcher, and a Whimbrel. The birds pictured last time were a Steller's Jay (the punk of the corvid family --

drat!

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... Just when we're celebrating new-found independence, I catch a cold. I was in bed all day, while Robb struggled with household chores. I have to go into work tomorrow, and then because there's an event scheduled onstage on our biggest work day before opening, my intern and I get to come back and finish our work late at night. When I took my current job, I was thrilled to be finally working at at theater that didn't expect us to work these kinds of hours. Oh well, I accept that all things change. And we have to adapt ourselves to the change, and find the joyful moments in the unpleasant challenges.

How to Create Ukrainian Easter Eggs

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... Robb and I have been hosting a somewhat annual Ukrainian Easter Egg decorating party for a number of years. Last year, this just wasn't possible. Robb was newly home from the hospital, and his stamina was terribly limited. Plus, I just wasn't up for the challenge of organizing this party, single-handedly. But this year, we decided that we were ready to throw a low-key version of this party. And this year, I had made a friend who also threw an annual pysanky party, and who kindly brought supplies, and co-taught the process. This was fun, because while Jen and I both have a lot of experience with this technique, our approaches are very different. Thanks so much, Jen and Paul! While this is an excuse to learn a new art technique, I'm glad that nobody took themselves very seriously! Jen provided the dyes, and actually made "sample" eggs to demonstrate the colors the eggs turn in each of the dyes. That Jen! She's way, way more organized than am I! We

Happy Easter, Everyone!

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Onward

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... This week has been a truly significant period in my recovery. I am completely amazed by the life-changing difference it makes to have my driver's license back. The freedom to, potentially, "go anywhere – do anything" is a seductive idea. In practice, though, it's another opportunity for my physical limitations to assert themselves. Not that my big solo outing with the trike yesterday was anything but glorious (I didn't even mind the cold and the fog) but it was tempered by my absolute need to go to bed the instant I was done. I started aquatic therapy this past week and after an hour in the pool enjoying near weightlessness (I've always been unusually buoyant) I climbed the steps to dry land and was temporarily unable to take even a single step. A similar thing happened yesterday. After ten miles on the trike, I could barely stand up when I reached the car. Last night Lisa and I discussed a recent realization of hers. With this new-found freedom of mi

scenic painting....

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... Remember this? That thing on the floor, with the kitty litter and the cheesecloth and the string? Well, it now looks like this: And sometimes like this: And because I painted it in a translucently, it also looks like this when lit from behind: These are rather poor photos, and if you click on the images, you can see larger versions of these crummy photos.

P R N D L !

... Today was my maiden voyage with my newly restored driver's license. I took myself to the therapy gym (about twenty miles away). It's been over a year since I got behind the wheel to take myself anywhere. Getting used to a new way of controlling the car is strange enough but add to that the novelty of a car I'm not yet accustomed to, and the result: I was a little bit nervous. But giddy, too. I keep catching myself giggling over the realization that I don't need to rely on cabs and buses anymore, I don't need to plan my day around what I can do in the immediate vicinity. I can go to a store and buy more than three things and bring them home. I just hope that I'm not aiming too high here. I remember when I first got the go-ahead from my physical therapist to start venturing out on walks on my own, about a year ago. My head was filled with all the things I suddenly could do outside the apartment during the day. I imagined myself walking down to the

A Low Key Egg - Stravaganza

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... Robb and I are hosting a low-key get together this Saturday, where we'll teach people to decorate Ukrainian-style Easter Eggs, otherwise known as pysanky . Drop me a note if you're in the Bay Area, and are interested in attending (I need an accurate head count, so I can be sure that we'll have enough supplies). The party is strictly BYOB (bring your own blown egg). Most people manage to make between one and four eggs. Here are some of the eggs that our friends in Hartford Connecticut did, back in 2002.

So, what's new?

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... I've been really busy, and am feeling a bit overwhelmed by catching up on the blog, so I'm just going to list a few things that are going on in our lives. Robb's driver's license has been reinstated. We just need to go down to the Department of Motor Vehicles to pick it up. Rob starts aquatic therapy on Wednesday. We're really excited about this. Robb is not able to support his weight, standing on his toes under normal circumstances. His muscles aren't getting strong enough messages through his nervous system to work properly. When you walk, you probably roll your weight, from your heel to your toe. It is only in the buoyancy of water that Robb is able to do this. And if he can do this in water, perhaps he can retrain his nervous system and regain the ability to do this on land. I have been working odd hours, getting ready to open a new show at Berkeley Repertory Theatre. Eleven hours of painting on Monday, after a weekend where for whatever reason,