21 Oct

Reuse, recycle, recover

couch1If a piece of furniture has “good bones,” you should recover it, my mother told me. Turns out to be one of the things I actually listened to.

So in the 42 years I’ve had this couch, I’ve covered it in everything from red ultra suede to fat denim stripes, a southwestern  design, and a yellowish pattern. (And those are just the ones I remember.)

This time, I searched for a navy and white fabric, something crisp to match the new quilt I love. But navy—the real navy, so dark it’s almost black—is  not in style at the moment.ticking

Then I remembered that every time I recovered this furniture, my mother said, “I like mattress ticking.”

She was right, as usual. Not only is this the least expensive covering ever, it’s also our favorite.

Thanks, Mom.

couchweb1

12 Oct

I’m FINE, thank you.

finefinalWhat does “fine” mean?

Usually, it’s as close as you can get to speaking without saying anything. Someone asks how you are, you assume it’s a formality, so you give the generic answer: “fine.”

But context and tone can dramatically change the meaning. Like when my son asks me how I’m doing and I say, “Fine. Thanks for asking,” because I’m delighted that he cares. Or when I’m recovering from a crisis and tell a friend, “I’m fine”—and we both know that’s way better than yesterday.

Then there’s the “fine!” I say to my husband when we’re fighting. That one word expresses a world of meaning: “You are so obstinate, impossible, wrong! There’s no point in trying to talk to you! Forget I ever said anything! I give up!”

I am definitely not fine today. The roofers are at our house, pounding on my head, Samantha’s ceiling is leaking, and I’ve got to have surgery on my hand—again.

You could say I’m FINE, though, if you use Ruth Zardo’s definition. Ruth is a seriously crabby old woman and famous poet in Louise Penny’s mystery series. In her world, FINE means “Fucked-up, Insecure, Neurotic, and Egotistical.”

How poetic. Or in this case, honest.

05 Oct

The most fun since finger painting

alcinkwebActually, “painting” with alcohol inks is a lot like finger painting. You don’t need to know anything to do it, you can get spectacular results with little effort, and it’s totally fun.

That’s what I learned in just  a few hours with Cathy Taylor, the alcohol ink maven and author of Pigments of Your Imagination: Create with Alcohol Inks, due out soon. Cathy showed us how to apply alcohol inks using high powered tools—such as straws, Q-tips, and paper towels.

The example above was made by dropping blobs of ink onto the paper. That’s it. The ink and the paper do the rest, producing delicious colors and unexpected forms.

inkblobs

The second example is made from just one color of Ranger ink (slate), dropped, blown across the paper, and held up to create drips. I love these patterns and colors in themselves, but you can create more representational art too, like the landscape below.

landscp

Anyone can do this. I promise. Your kids, grandchildren, neighbors—even you.

Note:  If you’re interested, you can get the Ranger inks at  local craft stores like Michael’s; Jaquard Piñata inks and Yupo paper at Jerry’s Artarama or Joann’s. 

26 Sep

What makes you think you know better?

unsolicited-advice-for-invisible-illnessUnsolicited advice isn’t about helping someone: it’s about bolstering one’s own ego. No wonder it’s almost always useless— if not actually harmful.

Ben, my grown son, is getting a lot of that right now, and it’s driving him crazy.

People he barely knows are calling to let him know why he shouldn’t have had his gall bladder removed in the first place; how his diet caused the problem; or what he should eat now.

Did anyone stop to think they might not know anything about it?

I doubt it. They certainly didn’t when I was struggling to raise Ben. Everyone had advice for me: eliminate sugar, dairy, or eggs; add vitamin X, Y or Z; get him acupuncture, reiki, or craniosacral therapy; and of course, discipline him this way or that.unsolicitedadvice

No one suggested back then that he might be autistic.

Just like none of Ben’s self-appointed advisors consider that he might have an abnormality in his gall bladder. No one except his doctor, that is.

So, here’s my unsolicited advice. When someone you care about is facing a tough time, don’t judge, don’t pontificate, and don’t give advice unless asked.

Instead, try listening—deep listening, the kind that’s about the person speaking, not you. The kind that could actually be a help.

23 Sep

J is for Juliana

Jweb2jinsideweb2

I love books, words, letters, and using up stuff I’ve collected. That’s what makes this tiny book necklace a perfect project for me.

What I don’t love is repeating myself. Once I’ve made something, I’m done. Like the craftsman who charged $400 for the first dining room chair – and $1,000 apiece for the others.

So I’m happily surprised that I can stand to make more than one of these books. In fact, I like producing them.

Why? While the form is the same, each necklace is different.  Each is a puzzle put together from pieces of alphabet books, old magazines, scrapbook paper, flash cards, dictionaries, and whatever else I come across.

The alphabet necklace is the result of creative collaboration – one of the best highs on earth. It started with a project in Making Mini Books (a useful guide for anyone who’s interested). Then I put my own spin on it, Lynda loved it, and now she’s going to sell some in her booth at Inspirations.

But you can easily make your own, and if you’re interested, let me know. I’d be glad to share the instructions and photos of the process. Or better yet, come make one in my studio.

Enjoy yours Juliana – you totally deserve it.

abcbooksweb

 

12 Sep

Real life, real messy, real me

newjrnlweb_edited-1

People tell you to “be yourself” like that’s the easiest thing in the world. But at age 64, I’m just beginning to get the hang of it.

I wonder, is everyone else born with a  clear identity and the guts to live it? Or do most people go around lying a lot? I kind of hope it’s the latter, because otherwise I’m even odder than I thought.

My life is not like the Facebook posts I see. It’s messy, confusing, challenging (and pretty great, actually). I’m full of hope and despair, joy and anger, gratitude and pity, clarity and fog…and a few threads that hold the whole thing together.

To be honest, I seem to learn the same lessons over and over. And over. I know, because I’ve been keeping a journal on and off since I was 18 (that’s a lot of years, not to mention journals). While I don’t look back at them often, I do it enough to see the recurring doubts and fears – as well as dreams and accomplishments.

One of the recent conflicts is this blog. I wonder why I’m doing it or if anyone cares, and I struggle with the technical side of things. Until now, that is. Now I’ve got Teresa Williams on my side, helping me recreate debzweb, reconsider its value, and return with new energy and enthusiasm.

So here we go again. Real life, real messy, real me.

26 Jun

The Law of Unintended Consequences

 

The Law of Unintended Consequences | DebzWeb.com

Our landing has had a lot of lives.

The latest incarnation was designed to be a place for me–to write, practice, and make things. But as soon as we put the new table, chairs and rug in, it turned into a gathering place for the family (and, of course, the cats’ new favorite post.)

You never know what will happen when you make one small change. It’s called the Law of Unintended Consequences, which is usually a bad thing. Like when my father forbid me to date non-Jewish boys, it made them much more attractive.

Sometimes, though, unintended consequences are an unexpected delight. I’m thinking of the bridge built in Austin Texas, which turned out to be an ideal place for bats threatened with extinction. The city now requires bridges to be built in the same manner, and crowds watch clouds of bats fly away in the late afternoon.

We actually have a family of bats living in our chimney, but that’s not the point. The point is, some of us like to shake things up and see what happens. You could call it perverseness–or maybe creativity.

20 Jun

Thanks, Kid. I Needed That

Thanks, Kid. I Needed That | DebzWeb.com

It’s astonishing, shocking, thrilling. Samantha was the bright light in our family yesterday, when everyone else was wallowing around in the dark.

Why is that amazing? My daughter has fought severe depression, anxiety and addiction for the last decade. And when I say “severe,” I mean the kind where getting out of bed is a major achievement and social interaction is impossible.

But suddenly, she’s getting better, and it seems to be related to her new medication, Brintellix. (I say that guardedly, since there have been so many meds and so much hope–and so little change–over the years.)

My brother, the chemist, tells me that there’s a huge placebo effect for all psycho-pharmaceuticals and little evidence, other than anecdotal, that they work. My experience, backed by no science whatsoever, is that they do.

I remember when I first took Prozak. For the first time, I experienced what is apparently common for other people: a moment to think before responding to a stimulus. It changed my life.

I hope that something similar is happening to Samantha. Since she started taking the new medicine, she’s gained energy and clarity, and is losing the weight gained from previous medications.

Hope is everything, and I can see that she has it, for the first time in a long while. Me, too.

16 Jun

This Wall Needed Something

This Wall Needed Something | DebzWeb.com

It’s taken years to actually do something about the big, blank wall that frames our fireplace.

We’ve had plenty of ideas and suggestions, but none really took until now. And now that it’s mostly done, the solution seems so obvious: writing a few quotes to remind us of what’s important:

  • It is never too late to be who you might have been. – George Eliot
  • Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. - Plato
  • Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.  – Goethe
  • Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real.  - Thomas Merton
  • Comparison is the thief of joy.  – Theodore Roosevelt
  • Remember that not getting what you want is often a wonderful stroke of luck. – Dalai Lama
  • I came to live out loud.  – Emile Zola
  • With our thoughts, we create our world.  – Buddha

But the wall says more than the words. It’s a statement about me: that I’m more confident about my skills, more willing to put myself out there, and more able to accept the results.

By the way, I’ve already had one request: Sam’s favorite quote from Dune. “Fear is the mind-killer…I will face my fear, and when it moves through me and around me, there will be nothing left. Only I will remain.” – George Herbert

Do you have a favorite I’ve missed? There’s still room for more…

This Wall Needed Something | DebzWeb.com

11 Jun

Making Books: Show and Tell

Making Books: Show and Tell | DebzWeb.com

 

This has been my week for making books–and I’ve made so many, I don’t know where to start. (Actually, it’s the fact that I like them all so much that makes it hard to choose.)

 

So I’ll take them in order, starting with the color wheel “flag” book above.

 

Making Books: Show and Tell | DebzWeb.com

Illustration 1: I didn’t finish this book in class, so when I came home I embellished the “flags” with images.

 

 

Penny Arrowood taught us how to make all the colors in the flags from just three paints, as well as how to put this structure together.

 

 

 

 

Is that cool or what?


 

Next, I took a class from Kathy Steinsberger where we made four “long stitch” books–in a weekend! That’s a lot, even with all the preparation Kathy did for us (like pre-cutting the paper and fabric).

 

Making Books: Show and Tell | DebzWeb.com

I  learned something about myself in this class, too: it’s hard for me to follow oral instructions without something visual to reinforce them. For the third book, that meant I ripped out two stitches for every one I sewed in the right place, holding up the rest of the class. (Next time I’ll pay more attention to the very detailed instructions in Kathy’s handouts.)

 

 

 

Anyway, I love the results–maybe even more because of my struggles.