Panbanisha and the Ghost Bike

It’s not often that something I create is controversial. Or perhaps I should say, misunderstood.

Earlier this month, in memory for Panbanisha the famous bonobo who knew language through years of growing up in a conversation and story-rich environment created by her human caretakers, Russ and I created

Continue reading Panbanisha and the Ghost Bike

Tornadoes, Oh My


This is a construction of found objects that I made. I find it relaxing and at the same time, energizing, to play with objects like building blocks.

As we approach the anniversary of the terrible ice storm that paralyzed our city last January, we continue to have freaky weather.

Last night was a scary night filled with sirens and a deathly-sounding wind. 35 tornadoes touched down in the Ozarks, one only a few blocks from our studio. Here’s the news story. We had some damage, but nothing compared to others. It tore down some buildings and smashed trucks and a huge Krispy Kreme sign that I always wanted to feature in a quilt about a donut factory. And sadly the mother of one of our clients was killed when a tornado leveled her house.

Debris Deadline is Now

tree-sign.jpgYou wouldn’t think it, but this newspaper headline is enough to strike fear in the hearts of homeowners, because it mean the end of free city-pickups.

In a terrible ice storm last January, branches cracked and trees fell everywhere in my neighborhood. And this is a neighborhood that loves its trees, so we’ve got an especially lot of them.

For the last two months everyone has been piling the debris in their front yards, waiting for the FEMA-assisted city pickups. I think it’s going to cost the city 24 million dollars to pick it all up.


For a month you couldn’t see the houses because of the huge beaver-like piles of debris. Unfortunately, we’re on a private street, so we don’t get the free pickups.


We’re at the mercy of all the storm-chasing tree companies from all over the country that flock to the lastest disaster site. I was tempted to use The Lawn Ranger because I like his name, but instead we’ve been hauling stuff to the burn site on a trailer for weeks.

Having a new pair of red galoshes makes working in the yard more fun. And stylish. And now that the grass is greening and spring is springing, it’s even better. Even the baby trees are starting to sprout eggs.


But we’re all still sad about the fallen giants that lay around everywhere. I was riding my bike, and spotted this unusual one in a neighor’s lawn.


A couple of days later, I got home and, “Hey honey — Look what the cat dragged home!”


I guess this artist who lives at my house saw the giant and decided to save a slice or two, probably for some mysterious sculptoral project.

A Strange Email Tale

A funny thing happened to me on the way to the e-mail box….


I was working on a list of all our fine art books that were damaged in the flood — looking up the cost of replacement on Amazon, when I got a message from Ebay. “You have not paid for this item…”

Something silly I had bid on late at night for no good reason other than it reminded me of this sculpture by Claus Oldenburg. The Ebay seller was very nice, but would like to be paid. So I quickly sent an apology, explaining that it was my mistake. Although I’m not always the quickest to answer email, I try to always be friendly, to put some human personality inside those little black and white text boxes.

Holy cow, the person on the other end of the text box turned out to be an art-quilter, and she sent me to her website. Holy cow! Does the work look familiar? It’s Joyce Carey, the cover artist for Robert Shaw’s famous book The Art Quilt! What a weird coicindence that I had just been looking up that very book and Joyce’s imagery was fresh in mind.

The world is a weird and wonderful place, with all kinds of magical connections waiting to happen. Now I have another new friend!

But now to get back to spring cleaning, because I need to get this flood stuff out of here and back to making art. I had read on the internet that to dry books you should fan them out upright on a towel. Too late I read that you’re also supposed to alternate that daily with pressing the books flat so they’re not so wrinkley. Lesson learned, but now all those books are real fat, and we’re going to have to get wider book shelves.


Goodbye Old Roof

It was a beautiful weekend here. There’s nothing like few sunny warm days to get your spirits up. Over the weekend, we had the old roof completely torn off of the front part of the studio, since it had been damaged by the ice and extreme cold during the January 07 ice storm.


It was quite an ordeal — noisey, and a real mess, but I was totally happy with thoughts of getting the front offices sealed and dry, so we could start the interior repairs. Happy to say, “goodbye old roof,” as it left in truck for the dump.



But now I’m in a total funk because it rained about two inches this morning, and water came in everywhere, even places that hadn’t leaked before. Apparently they weren’t done sealing all the seams and trim on the new roof before the rain hit. It looks like it’s going to be long, wet spring.

The Squirrel Tree

Humans weren’t the only people who suffered in the January 2007 ice storm. I think a lot of wild animals struggled too. Yesterday I saw a disoriented racoon sitting in the middle of the road in the bright daylight, so I imagine he was sick or hurt. And in our own yard, there has been lots of ruckus in the old squirrel tree.

Sometime during the storm, the big north branch crashed to the ground. Then third-story squirrel apartment broke and fell over. Next there was lots of activity in the second-story apartment, and Russ said he thought the squirrels were adding a extra bedroom for their third-story relatives.

Now that we’re cleaning up the yard and trimming the trees, I know a professional arborist would say this old tree has to go — it’s in too bad of shape to save. But can’t you just see it in Mochi’s eyes, she’s saying,” Please Dad, save the squirrel tree. I won’t have anything to watch all day long if you cut it down.” Honestly, it is better than dog TV.

On the Move

Greetings from the Tiki Bar! We’re moving our offices back into the warehouse, because of mass destruction and chaos in the front of the studio. I’ll send more photos as we get settled in and the place becomes more photo-friendly…In the meantime here’s a quick February One update.

The green machines have multiplied, and now we’re blocking up or moving out furniture because there is still moisture in the floor and carpet. This used to be my office, now everything is spread all over the place, and I can hardly find anything, much comprehend what it is when I do see it.

Meanwhile, the heating ducts under the floor have to be cleaned because they were filled with water which also went into the furnace. This is a vaccum attached to a truck-mount system that was so loud that I couldn’t hear the fire alarm when it was being tested today.

Yesterday the Perils of PaMdora show was over, so we had to find somewhere to store all that stuff. It was freezing cold and then snowing. Rebecca may be right, I must have really pissed off Mother Nature. Maybe she’s mad that she wasn’t in my quilted cast of characters. So definitely I’m going to put Mother Nature in my next quilt. Actually I’ve thinking about putting her in a professional wrestling costume. I thought of that last December when she snowed out my show opening, and apparently she’s not going to let me forget this idea.

Taking down the show was real pain — in the foot! because yesterday I dropped a heavy saucepan on my foot and think I broke something. Maybe I shouldn’t be climbing on ladders until it heals, but a girl’s gotta do, what a girl’s gotta do.

On the bright side, those wonderful Christmas Elves that helped me before my show showed up to organize and clean, in fact Merrilee, Lettie, and Lucy helped organize photos, files, move furniture, wash towels, and cheer me up!

And for the last two days, I’ve been trying to find time and sanity in all this chaos to finish fourth quarter tax reports that have to be filed. At least my typewriter is still working- ha ha!

Water Damaged Photos

This is my photo-washing station. Luckily since I have LOTS of photos to wash and dry, I have great scenery for my work — one of Russ’s aluminum and plexiglass paintings that hangs in our group room as a partition to hide to all the snacks in the kitchen behind.

Every day I do another batch and lay them out on tables to dry. Last week, someone on the QA list suggested I look up how to save wet photos on the internet (thanks very much!) and I found this website. At the time, I was laying on the sofa, but this site reinforced the urgency of the situation, so I jumped back to work. I wish I had read these ideas earlier, but everything still seems to be working although it’s been over a week. As suggested I did freeze one box of lower-priority photos because there’s just so darn many of them, and my back is killing me!

There are too many to take to a photo shop, especially because all the shops here have been without power for a week and are behind on their other jobs. I also read another site that says that now preservatives have been washed off the photos, so they will probably fade more quickly. We have been planning to scan them when dry. Since all of these projects happened in the ancient pre-digital-camera days, it would be nice to have them on computer. But there’s too many, so I’m definitely using my editing trash can.

This photo was taken before the green machines arrived. Now that they’re here, the photos are drying faster but it’s also a lot messier. There are cords and tubes on the floor everywhere, a lot more dust in the air, and the green machines keep blowing circuits. Yesterday the DSL was down most of the day. I was feeling a bit lonely with no email again, but it was nice to get home and read so many of your nice posts. It really cheered me up — thanks!

Green Machines

Because there was so much water released in the offices by the broken sprinkler system (first it rained, then it flooded), the whole place has to be dried out to prevent mildew. So now there are about forty noisey green machines –high-powered fans and dehumidifiers — running night and day. It’s a little like trying to work inside a windstorm, so it seems ironic that we have a whirlwind painted on the wall of what used to be our conference room.

This is ground zero, where it all started, but now the custom desk and carpet are removed. Nice of the de-humidification company to bring decor-matching equipment.

Not only all carpet has to be removed, also all the ceilings and (wah) our beautiful tile floors. I think the hand-glazed walls may be the only thing safe from total replacement.

This was my office, peacefully drying out slides and papers. That was before they torn out the ceiling and the green machines blew papers all over the place.

My studio in the back of the warehouse fared pretty well, except water from the flood crept under the doors and into the carpet. It wicked across the room, spoiling lots of things I hide under the table and into the flannel on all my pin boards. So we’ve moved those down to dry.

What about all my fabrics, you may ask? All okay, except that I had them packed so tightly on the shelves, that just to be safe and prevent any potential mildew problems, I’ve moved them off the shelves so the de-humidifiers can circulate air around them. Tomorrow we’ll move more green machines back here. Some really nice art books are drying on the table, and Madalaine waits patiently for all this to be over.