Saturday, December 31, 2011

all the loose ends...

I’m just going to skip over the part where I apologize for not writing in over two months; we’re past that, right?

I went to bed last night with a plan for today—ride Caesar, go for a run, work on my three current (as of this week!) jewelry projects, then read and lounge before going out for a late dinner with Mike at our favorite restaurant. However, as often is the case, my plans went awry. This time because of a decidedly entertaining novel, Skippy Dies; oh it’s so fun—adolescence, education, string theory, zombies, Ritalin… (thanks for the tip, Abby!).

After spending almost 3 hours reading, I realized that I would either not be able to ride or not be able to run and make jewelry. I opted to run and work on my pieces seeing as how I have neglected both this week. [But why do I feel so much guilt when I don’t ride? Now that Caesar’s back in the land of the sound (thank you, thank you, God), I feel ridiculous for skipping any planned rides.] But I gave myself a break and went with plan B.

Mike had run just an hour or so before I left, and he came back chirping about how lovely the weather was. But somehow those sunny skies became gray and the wind picked up when I decided to run. Hmmph. Anyway, I ran through the very lovely neighborhood north of where we live. About halfway into my run, I experienced Déjà vu. I passed a woman out walking her dog and talking on her cell phone. I overheard her saying something like “we got to the gallery early but the artist did not show up until…”. It struck me as rather funny as just a few weeks ago while running in almost exactly the same spot I overheard a different woman saying to her walking companion “my daughter will have an opening at the (garbled word) gallery next week”. Apparently there’s a lot of art happening within a 3-mile radius of our apartment.

Now perhaps the woman I saw today is from an entirely different neighborhood. But her Barbour jacket and fancy non-athletic sneakers make me think otherwise. Plus there was something about her general demeanor, as if she felt one with the neighborhood, comfortable in this space. Whereas I surely looked like the outsider I am—pocked running pants, tattered gray t-shirt with ichthamol and thrush buster stains. And don’t forget my ‘uh, running is HARD! So hard I have to make this ugly face” face…

I had to wonder— is that all it would take to have a little more art in my life? If Mike and I could be suddenly transported into a stately manse in Guilford would I speak of gallery openings and museum parties while walking a fancy foreign pooch?

But now my run is over. It has been accomplished. And I feel like a new person. I always do after a good run or a good ride. Life really is simple that way. The guilt of slumming it up this morning and reading for a few hours instead of riding has passed (well, for the most part). And now that I am back to my senses I realize what it will take for me to have a little more art in my life—I must stop typing and trek down to the basement and continue working on my jewelry.

As disjointed as this post may be, it’s got something to say about my plans (hopes! May my hopes become plans that become actuality!) for the New Year: more riding, more running, more reading and more art (well art jewelry :) Here’s wishing a lovely New Year to you and yours!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Well, that was painless...

Ahem, ahem, ahem, I seem to have some cobwebs and dust to clean up. My blog's been hiding in the attic for 5 months. Yep, 5 whole months of 30-31 days each. That's a lot of days. Pretty much half a year. Looks like I'll be dusting it off for a bit before I really get back. You see, I just somehow lost May and then, catching up on May in June as well as covering June seemed daunting. Then July came with many adventures. But you get the point. I procrastinated, then got scared, then felt guilty, then felt liberated, then felt guilty again (before reminding myself I had been LIBERATED from my blog...wait, why do I do this?). And there you have it. Five months of nil. Nothing. And you know me, I like to chat and share. So, I am going to try to bring this jessie back. I have tons of updates, many of which are now irrelevant. After a few months of ups and downs and lots of worries, it seems that Caesar is in very good place to move forward with riding. Let's hope so. More on that front and many more to come. Also, after 2.5 years of bumming off Mike's laptop, I got my very own new computer. Tiny and cute and hopefully it will encourage me to write more soon. I hope soon does not mean March 2012 :)

Monday, May 9, 2011

a poem

I'm coming off two long weeks of intense studio time. Many might think that my time spent pouring over my jewelry projects is an an aesthetic pursuit at best . And I might have agreed with those folks a year ago. My dear friend Anna, a hobby artist by night, says that pursuing art makes us human, and I finally understand what's she's meant all these years. I have become immersed in this new task, and I have found a new side of my self in the work. I think my hands were always waiting for these new found metal smithing skills and my mind was brimming with design ideas without me knowing. Though the long nights and loss of sleep were hard, I am so proud of the work I completed. My studio pal, Beth, always says when someone completes a piece "how satisfying!" with this sort of honey in her voice, and she means it--crafting metal vessels you can hold in your hand, wear around your neck, display on a shelf is so, so very satisfying. It's bringing me back to roots I've wanted to get back to for so long. I am after all the daughter of a custom woodworker, and I wiled away many hours in the dusty garage watching my father turn cherry wood into tables, walnut into cabinets.

In any case, as I am emerging from the cocoon of (what seemed like) constant hand crafting I am feeling a rather rare bout of sentimentality. And when this happens, I tend to go to my poetry anthologies and have a few good teary eyed reads (ahem, tease me not, I embrace these times). I found this poem and had to share:

Riding Out At Evening

At dusk, every thing blurs and softens..
from here out over the long valley,
the fields and hills roll up
the first slight sheets of evening,
as, over the next hour,
heavier, darker ones will follow.

Quieted roads, predictable deer
browsing in a neighbor’s field, another’s
herd of heifers, the kitchen lights
starting in many windows. On horseback
I take it in, neither visitor
nor intruder, but kin passing , closer
and closer to night, its cold streams
rising in the sugarbush and hollow.

Half-aloud, I say to the horse,
or myself, or whoever, let fire not come
to this house, nor that barn,
nor lightning strike that cattle.
Let dogs not gain the gravid doe, let the lights
of the rooms convey what they seem to.

And who is to say it is useless
or foolish to ride out in the falling light
alone, wishing, or praying,
for particular good to particular beings
on one small road in a huge world?
The horse bears me along, like grace,

making me better than what I am,
and what I think or say or see
is whole in these moments, is neither
small nor broken. For up, out of
the inscrutable earth, have come my body
and the separate body of the mare:
flawed and aching and wronged. Who then
is better made to say be well, be glad,

or who to long that we, as one,
might course over the entire valley.
over all valleys, as a bird in a great embrace
of flight, who presses against her breast,
in grief and tenderness,
the whole weeping body of the world?

-Linda McCarriston

There's much heft to this poem to be worked through, but for now I will just say that I love the line "The horse bears me along, like grace,/making me better than what I am", and I feel it's so true for me. More on that another day. Good night ;)

Friday, April 22, 2011

The post in which I try to catch up on the past four weeks...

Where to begin? While I can not fully agree with Mr. Eliot that April is the cruelest month, I can say it's been quite a bear--fierce with some cuddly overtones. Project Embroidery!!! as I will hereby call it consumed the final few weeks of March and the first 8 days of April. My lovely friend, Pam, who is an exceptional fiber artist and generous teacher (remember those quilting lessons back in the summer? Well, I do, and that was all Pam.) agreed to collaborate with me on a weekly embroidery project way back in February. The original goal was to teach kids simple embroidery skills and to make an item (or items) that could be auctioned off at our school's annual silent auction in April. By April 7, we had made 6 large wall hangings encompassing the work of 110 kids and about 10 adults. There were several very long days and nights toward the end, but it was worth it! The experience was awesome for both us and the kids, and the pieces are/were/always will be AMAZING! And they were the biggest hit at the gala raking in almost $900 total. Here are some photos of the project and the wall piece I nabbed.

Just to illustrate how enthralled I became with the embroidery project, here's me jump judging at Morven Park...yep, while stitching on the binding of one of the pieces :)

I can't thank Pam enough for leading this project with me, and I am so excited to continue working together (hint- embroidery might be making an appearance in my final jewelry project).

As for jewelry (duh-dum), my class will be ending in less than two weeks, and I have no idea how I am going to finish everything. My second project, a pollinator locket for lack of a better name, was seconds away from being completed when the tubing for the swivel hinge snapped as I was setting the rivet. I know that sounds like gibberish to you, but it basically means I have to remake part of the piece with the looming threat that it could fall apart in a worse way. Oh goody. EEK! And it was so close to being finished! I only have photos of the component parts as they were a few weeks ago, but here you go:

I'll begin my final piece, a reliquary, this weekend; here's to better jewelry luck this time!

I put my class work on hold for a few days to make the following pieces for the aforementioned auction held by my school; they were very well received and I was sad to part with them. That's success in my book :)

Pollinators take the stage again, this time as rivets.

My second attempt at a cut-out piece: GSB are the initials of our school, and the leaf is our mascot of sorts :)

Terrible photo but all I have! These earrings are domed circles made of a marriage of metals.

On the horse front, Caesar has been going very well (very soundly!) for almost three weeks now. We have had several good flat sessions and a much better than expected jump lesson in the past two weeks, and I am feeling pretty hopeful about where we are. Unlike the past few times when he was lame, I feel like we came back strong and refreshed, and I did not loose a ton of knowledge or feel for the ride. Yea! Today we had a lovely little bareback hack followed by some nice flatwork in the ring (despite the sleet. Sleet in late April! Maybe it is the cruelest...).

I also had the chance to ride Megan's horse, Wyatt; while we often ride together we rarely ride each other's horses, and it had been over a year since I had sat on Wyatt. I have watched his progress quite closely so it was awesome to sit on him and see how far he has come. For reference, Wyatt is Perch/TB cross just coming 6. He was bred to be a field hunter, and he definitely shines on the xc course, but he has the build of a large fancy warmblood and the movement to match. Megan has worked tremendously hard to bring the big guy around, and it shows! Today, he reminded me of a Baroque horse in the making. His walk is so big that he literally swings your hips inches forward with every step. It was a treat to ride him, but it was work. I commend anyone who rides large sport horses especially young, green and large sport horses; it takes a lot of strength and correct timing of the aides to say the least! Hopefully Megan and I will be out schooling xc soon, and I will get some photos!

Here's hoping the rain ends soon, and we can get out on the trails. Caesar seems so pleased to be back in work, and I know we would both enjoy some trotting on the trails. In other news, Mike and I are enjoying our spring break with a little traveling (Ithaca and the Fingerlakes) and lots of reading. It looks like the reading will continue to be the pastime of choice as the rain continues, but that's not such a bad thing! Enjoy your weekend wherever you are!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Alright already

I have developed a seriously bad habit of making lists of things to blog about every two weeks or so then letting the lists get so long that I find myself too exhausted or too intimidated to write an all encomposing blog post when the time arises (which is usually around 11:30 at night on a weekday when I should be in bed:). Added to that is my desire to included photos of my current jewelry projects, and seeing as how I rarely upload photos from my camera to our laptop, this task is not so easy to achieve. So it's time for the roadblocks to be torn down. I have time for a very brief update, and that's whay I'll write!

I am ecstatic to report that Caesar is sound AND doing marvelously well. We have been back in the saddle for 10 days and each of our rides has been very good, much better than I could have expected. We took the first few rides very easy and light with only a bit of trot and lots of walking, but still he felt very stretchy and super happy to be going again. He has already put on a some weight since being back under saddle confirming that when he is out of work, he drops the pounds (wish that were the case for me!) As Margot put it, he is a bit of a worrier when he is unsound, and indeed, he does seem to be in very good spirits these days! Our trot work is going very well, and Margot has been really helping me adjust my position and be more effective, especially in the weak leg (ahem, especially, especially that left leg) department. I love seeing the progress I can make when I correct my body. Canter transitions are still an issue, but we had some very good ones Monday. Yesterday was a challenge because we had to ride in the indoor (which I am somewhat afraid of, apparently) and with an audience. ouch. But such is the life of sporting with horses. I've been doing lots of thinking as well as some journaling about sports psychology, specifically my tendancy to be chicken s*** about doing things that make me anxious (like transitioning to the canter; the canter I love, it's getting from trot to canter that I fail at). More on that later.

The embroidery project my friend Pam and I had been working on with the kids finished up last week with a bang. We completed six small quilts that became wall hangings that were auctioned off at our school's annual silent auction. The pieces brought in almost $900 and were a huge hit! Success! I even nabbed (okay, fought for) one that I just adore. I will post pictures...eventually!

That's all for now! See, I can write a short(er) post afterall!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Poetry in injury

The title is a not so indirect reference to the fact that little Caesar is still lame. Three weeks as of Thursday. It's hard work having a lame, shoeless horse--soaking, medicating (he has a bruise on his sole), wrapping, and, well, pampering are a far cry away from actually riding said horse; it's my favorite thing to do--ride Caesar, and without it, I feel a little aimless. And, apparently, a little stressed; I do a good job during the day of not ruminating over the issue, but at night, it gets the best of me. Almost every day over the past three weeks, I have woken up with significant jaw pain clearly from clenching my teeth (an old, awful habit). Yikes. Yes, I have a mouth guard. Yes, I know I should use it. Okay, okay.

But I'm aware enough to know that my horse soundness woes are nothing compared to the tragedies unfolding across the globe, and I don't want to sound ungrateful. I want, rather, to see the poetry in injury. A parent of one of my student's asked me the other day "Are you getting to ride more now that the weather is better?" "Well, I would, but my horse has a bruised sole." She chuckled and apologized and said "that's so poetic." Indeed a horse with a bruised soul would be quite poetic, but perhaps a bruised sole has some poetry as well. While I haven't been able to ride, I have been able to spend lots of time just hanging out with Caesar. And for as cranky and ear-pinning crabby as he can be, he actually relishes in the attention. He quickly became a pro with the whole medicating/soaking/wrapping routine and seemed to rather like the extra attention. He's come to enjoy being groomed and scratched and massaged without having to do any work (understandably so!). Maybe his soul was a bit bruised and what he really wanted was some more time with me just hanging out. Maybe, just maybe (it could happen!) :) I taught him a little trick whereby he gives me a hug by stretching his neck around my mid section. It's pretty darn cute. When I turned him out on Monday, he hugged me expecting a treat. When I offered nothing, he hugged me for a second time, and when I again offered nothing (I was treatless!) he resorted to bowing and tapping his hoof as if to say, "How about this? How do you like this?" Ha! I am a big fan of this horse's personality.

The good news is that he appears to be on the mend. He got his shoe back on on Monday and with it a heavy duty leather pad to protect his sole. He was much sounder after that but still a little off. He was a bit better today so I thought going for a little walk would not hurt. We only walked for about 20 minutes, but it was so great! And while Caesar's first few strides were a little iffy, he seemed almost 100% sound at the walk! I'll take that for now and hope tomorrow he is even better!

I completed my first project for class last week, and I was pleased with the results. The beaks were well received in the critique and I got some good feedback on some finishing touches that will really tidy up the pieces. Here they are:

In the above photos, the beaks look a bit out of context; eventually I will display them in such a way that will help complete the design (possibly mounting them on "legs" or framing them in a box...); here's a quick mock-up Mike did. Pretty funny!

Do you think I should name them?

My current project is a locket of sorts that will hold a diorama; I was very pleased with the design concept I developed, and I can only hope I can at least partially realize it! Stay tuned to find out more!

I also made a little get well gift for my dear friend, Abby, who is recuperating from a pretty severe fall off of her horse; in true Abby form she is doing so with style and grace so I thought a little piece of jewelry might help. I'll post it next week after she sees it, but I am hoping to make several other pieces like it. Simple and sweet and something many I hope folks, especially horse lovers, will like.

I am turning 29 this weekend; how did that happen? 29? Really? I discovered an odd food stain on my shirt today and asked myself " How do I have a food stain that does not match any of the food I ate today?" Ewww. Yet, somehow I think I always knew I would be grappling with questions like this even as I approached my 30th year. Some things never change! Mike and I will be going to Middleburg and Leesburg Saturday (my favorites!) and jump judging at the first steeplechase race of the season on Sunday with a family dinner in between. I am sure I've garner a few more food stains :)

Enjoy yourself wherever you are and thanks for reading!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

I misplaced February

Over a month has passed seemingly unbeknownst to the blogger in me. I got busy with class and reading a slew of books and never had anything too intriguing to share. Hmmph. Such is life. Especially life in February, which for the past seven years that I’ve lived in Maryland has been one of my least favorite months. Sure, we are always guaranteed at least a snow day or two (or 8!) but the schedule gets complicated, the weather is bitter, and I’m generally just tired of winter by this point. This year is no different. We got some early hints of spring this year which was fantastic. Then the snow returned last week for one last blanket of white. But I believe it’s all over now. Temps are creeping toward 60 and there’s lots of rain in the forecast, a sure sign of spring I’d say.

Over the past five weeks, Caesar and I have had some really nice jumping sessions as well as some good rides on the flat. However, he’s lame at the moment; hopefully it’s just an abscess or bruise. Only time will tell. I sure hate when he’s off, but I am doing a good job of occupying my mind so as not to worry about him. I have my fingers crossed that he’ll be significantly better tomorrow morning.

My spiculum project for jewelry class is well under way. I submitted 7 samples of both spiculums and anticlastic forming last week; here’s a shot of three of them.

These are the prototypes for my beaks, which will be my final project (due in nine days!). Each beak will be made of a patterned sheet. Here’s the first (and hopefully most difficult) sheet.

I used a technique called marriage of metals whereby you “marry” metals by soldering them together. I have done a bit of this before, but this time around, I had many more challenges. The difficulties I encountered were largely due to the size of the piece and the fact that after I soldered a seam, I would have to paint it with a chemical to prevent that seam from flowing when I soldered a different seem. YIKES! The end result is quite nice; after 10 hours, it should be!

I also am teaching myself to do some simple (emphasis on simple) felting that will become part of the final project. Stay tuned!

Mike and I attended the American Craft Council winter show yesterday at the convention center. I have heard of the ACCs for a few years, but this was my first experience. It was, in a word, overwhelming; hundreds of vendors with wildly unique and often loud art for sale. I was astounded by the amount of bling—gold, diamonds, sapphires and other precious stones abounded. This made for some lovely window shopping, but the prices were jaw dropping at times. I was so impressed by the work of most of the artists, but I can’t fathom working with such expensive and delicate (other than the diamonds) materials. I wasn’t sure if I would walk out with any wares, but in typical craft show fashion, I splurged ;) I bought a ring made a Philadelphia artist Janine DeCresenzo. Her mechanical designs were beautiful and refreshingly creative. She sets stones and artifacts in small bezels to which she solders on small screws. The bezels can then be screwed into ring bands or pendants—neat! Here are some photos of the ring.

That’s all for now. Have a great first week of March (did I say that I love March!).