Sculptures by Deb Eide

I dropped by the home of fellow Tenderfoot Collective artist Deb Eide today. She lives way out in the country, surrounded by the physical manifestations of her amazing talent. I took some pictures.

Spring Showers.

Dead doll. 

Lots of circles within circles. These things only last about three winters, and she re-creates them. 

Weather vain. 

Detail of weather vain. 

More detail. 

It's difficult to give you the big picture. You could see the art better if I put a white sheet behind it, but part of what makes it appealing is that it blends so well with its environment, and makes the outdoor space magical.

She also takes care of the local wildlife so well that there were about a thousand tiny toads hopping about our feet. My daughter, age seven and eleven twelfths, found that if she turned the tiny toads upside down in her hand, they would not hop off.

That is a little tiny toad leg sticking up. 

Deb is so cool. She's also a fantastic painter. 

Surprise in Alex Bledsoe's latest book

You know what is cool? When you open a new book from one if your favorite authors, and there's a special thanks to your aunt inside!

Lou Buckingham is my aunt.  I've mentioned before that she is in the Southern rock band Wasted Wine, but she also has a long and prolific solo career. Alex Bledsoe used one if her songs, "Valiant and Fury Girls," in the book Long Black Curl.


 I haven't read Long Black Curl yet, but the last two books in the series were amazing. I recommend you start with The Hum and the Shiver. 

Bodkay is not Watching

We have been dog sitting this sweet, sweet doggie over the weekend. We could keep her forever, really, except that she is someone else's, and also our kitty Bodkay is terrified of her! And you all know how much I love my Bodkay. I hate to see him stressed out. We have discovered that Bodkay, when warranted, can be like the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland and just disappear at will.

But Fifi. Oh, my. Just look at her:

Fifi is short for "Frida." She's a Toy Poodle. I have just decided that Toy Poodle is the best dog breed. 

We all love Fifi. I even called and asked if we could keep her for an extra day (we're supposed to give her back today) but I have not gotten a response.

(No Music Monday today. I was looking for something, and I somehow dove into a Swedish pop music pit of doom, which is actually really entertaining with the sound off, but I can't really call it music.)

Goose: Leader and Protector of Ducks

We have a pet goose. His name is "Goose." He is the only goose, so there is no need for any distinctions in nomenclature. And the name suits him, I think.

Goose is not a pet in that we do not "pet" or ever touch him in any way. However, Goose is a pleasant companion. Goose is quite the conversationalist. He lends a sympathetic ear to my troubles, saying "honk" at the appropriate intervals in the story, and, at times, he has an endearing way of tilting his head sideways to listen.

Goose is our only goose, but Goose lives with the five ducks. Unlike the famous "ugly duckling," Goose knows he is not a duck, and it doesn't bother him at all. He considers himself the Leader and Protector of Ducks. In addition to showing outstanding leadership capabilities throughout the day, (heading the line, checking for predators in the bush, and so forth,) sometimes Goose refuses to go into the duck coop at night, and instead, he stands guard. And marches. He marches back and forth in front of the duck coop, like an overzealous security guard. To me, this seems not to be especially safe for Goose himself, as it puts him (a tasty morsel, I'm sure) outside all night, and vulnerable, but what can one do? Goose is his own man. He will do as he pleases.

Dump Master Turkey!

We don't have garbage pickup. We have a waste transfer site where we take our trash on Saturdays. The manager of the waste transfer site is a kindly, chain-smoking old man whom I call, "The Dump Master." The Dump Master grew up on a farm with fifteen siblings. His father built the kitchen table, benches on either side. The table was always full of homemade bread, jam, and peanut butter in between meals, so no one went hungry. Every spring, the Dump Master's family would purchase one hundred chickens, unsexed, and in the summertime, they would butcher all of the roosters, and keep all of the hens for eggs.

I'm not entirely sure, but I imagine that, in the Dump Master's mind, there are two types of people: the type of people who see the value in other people's trash (like me) and the type who see other people's trash as just plain old trash. The Dump Master himself clearly sees the value. All day long, he sorts things people throw out, and sets the good stuff aside. The mediocre, possibly usable things, he sets aside in front of the dumpsters- but the really good stuff? That goes in his shed. In his shed, he keeps things that he will either sell, or give to special people like me and Little Z.

I don't know why I am in the inner echelon, but I certainly appreciate it. Little Z (wait, I'm supposed to call her Big Z now) has gotten a good portion of her toy trucks from the Dump Master. He has also tried to give us several bicycles, which we have never taken, because they all looked terrible. But I have picked up statues there, and once, an industrial sized spool of chicken wire, which would have cost upwards of $100. And I used it!

Sometimes, the Dump Master tells us stories about his youth. He doesn't remember things that I say, though. Almost every time I go, he asks me how many chickens I have- which poses a conundrum. I don't keep track. How many have I butchered lately? Any eggs hatched recently? It's complicated. Once, he showed us all of the pictures from his daughter's wedding. I barely recognized him, in a suit, walking her down the aisle. Another time, the Dump Master was missing! Heart attack, the replacement said. I was worried. But they he came back, a few weeks later, and smoked a little bit less. He's not lighting one cigarette with the last anymore.

One day he told me,

"I don't recognize people by their faces. Just their trucks. I know you by your truck."

He does not know my name, either. He only calls me, "Young Lady." He himself is of an indeterminate, ancient age-- although he could be very young and he just smokes too much. Equally mysterious to me is his wealth. Is he living in abject poverty, surrounded by trash? Or is he a secret millionaire? Neither would surprise me.

Last weekend, when I went, he said,

"Hey, Young Lady. You know what the best way to cook a chicken is? It's real easy. I'll tell you. You just take some croutons, you know, for salad? You put them in a bag, and you seal it. Then you take a rolling pin, and you crush them, see? And then you dip the chicken pieces in that milk and egg mix- just whisk those together. Then dip it in the croutons, instead of breading. And you get all that seasoning, see? Real good. That's how I do it, anymore."

"Do you fry it or bake it or what?"

"Anyway you want. Doesn't matter."

"I'll be sure and try that!"

"Does your daughter like cars?" and he led Big Z over to the shed.

There's also a DIY incense burner by Big Z, to the upper right there. 

I ended up making it with turkey. (In related news, Tom Turkey is dead.) It was okay. Maybe it's better with chicken, fried.

Wanda Wednesday: Still true

Today, we have a quote from Wanda Gág:

"One of the big reasons why women have accomplished so little in the line of art, literature and so on is because they have wasted too much time looking pretty for the men so that they might continue to desire them- wasting time." 

Music Monday: Sommaren I City

This is a Swedish song- actually, kind of an awful Swedish song- popular in 1991. It was about being nostalgic for the summer before it. I like it for two reasons:

1. It was the first song in Swedish where I suddenly realized that I understood everything they were saying![Summer in the city 1990, do you remember me?]

2. Look at this video! It's just what it was like. That's me there, singing. I mean, not really. But I bet I had those earnings.

Wanda Wednesday: The End of World War One

My book (Wanda Gág by Augur H. Winnan) arrived, and it is everything I had hoped for. The book contains lots of art, and, best of all, many diary entries and letters of the time! This real and specific slice of history continues to fascinate me: American history as told, day to day, through the eyes of an amazing and unique person. I immediately dove right in and started reading. You may remember that Growing Pains ended with Wanda getting a scholarship to go study art in New York City. The following is a diary excerpt from November 10, 1918, New York,

"A few people found streamers. Others, lacking the regulation kind, used toilet paper instead. In fact, no one who was on the Avenue that day will ever blush at the sight of that article again. It dropped from windows and floated across the streets unfurling itself into graceful serpentine ribbons, it turned itself about people and grew from the trees. And all this time the snow went on, thicker and faster and gayer. You could see balconies dripping them, windows shedding them, trees bearing them. It lay on the window sills like snow in winter, one waded through it as one does through leaves after a sharp and sudden frost in autumn. The streamers hung like icicles from buildings, trees and vehicles.

"I passed a big silk store. They had snipped paper of blue and white, but needing also red, they had mingled red silk cuttings with the rest.

"By this time, of course, people had recovered from the first shock and were making noise in all the different ways they could devise. All bells, horns, tin pans, pie-plates, old kettles, pails and iron pipes were brought into service and pandemonium reigned supreme. People were positively silly with joy. One man had long hair and a beard made of orange crepe paper streamers, others had strips of toilet paper tied about their heads with a big foolish perking bow in front. Horses rejoiced in the same idiotic trimmings. All vehicles from auto trucks to Black and white taxis were crowded with a motley mass of people, who waved and yelled and held up the extras, which bore in big legend:


(Page 209, Wanda Gág, compiled by Audur H. Winnan)

Picture from (Wanda is in there, somewhere.)
Then comes the entry for January 6, 1919,

"It was a fake peace announcement. But real peace came several days later with much the same commotion and excitement." (Page 210)

Music Monday: Mike Watt

I just discovered Mike Watt last week, because I listened to this interview with him and I thought he had a really interesting perspective on life and on music. He said, among other things, that punk music is not a style of music, but rather a way of looking at things. And then the attitude comes through the music in different forms- I'm paraphrasing. (If punk is really an attitude, I hereby declare myself a punk writer.) I really like his sound. I gather from the interview that he's played with the Stooges and was formerly in the Minute Men, and now has recently written three rock operas. This clip is from one of the rock operas.

Wanda Wednesday: Wanda Ga'g: A Catalogue Raisonne of the Prints

I ordered another book about Wanda Gág (there aren't that many, though). Looking forward to deciphering the clues... there's no description (oddly), but the one review (from "Teoslola ") says,

"This book is a bit disjointed as it is more or less in parts that are not connected well but her art and her diary entries make up for this. Highly recommended."

I can't wait to see more of her art! And I'm hoping there are diaries from later periods in her life. 

Music Monday: The King of Carrot Flowers Part 1

This is just one of my favorite songs of all time, by Neutral Milk Hotel:

It makes me nostalgic for the 1980's.

Nostalgia just isn't what it used to be, is it? I used to have to find the CD to play it to feel nostalgic for the eighties. Now I just look up the youtube video! I don't even get to feel the frustration of finally finding the CD after a ten minute search, only to discover that the CD isn't inside- it's Johnny Cash's greatest hits, instead- and then I find Johnny Cash's greatest hits, and it's not Neutral Milk Hotel, either, it's the Dead Milkmen, so then I would find the Dead Milkmen... well, you get the idea. I used to have this problem with misreplacing CD's into the wrong cases while driving, because I refused to look away from the road. And that used to be such a problem! But now, everything is downloaded, and... actually, you know what? It's better now. 

Wanda Wednesday: Sex

One of the first things that really interested me about Wanda Gág was that she seemed really sexually liberated for her time. Actually, she was really sexually liberated for anyone's time. Professor Batty published a photograph on his blog of Wanda wedged between two laughing men, both of whom were her lovers, at the same time, and both were quite totally okay with that. Laughing. (The third guy was not a lover, just happy.)

Rockwell Kent... Carl Zigrosser (lover)... Wanda Gág... Adolph  Dehn (lover, often referred to as "Mr. Dehn")

There's only one other woman I know of who has pulled that off, even in modern times, and her two boys have never, as far as I know, posed for a picture together with her.

So, I approached the diary frankly fascinated with her sex life. And then, spoiler alert, Growing Pains has no sex at all. In her teen years, Wanda Gág was an absolute celibate in every way. She goes on at length in several diary entries about why it is important to her not to let any boy touch her. At all. Not to let them hold her hand. Nothing. The boys (her "cavaliers"), perhaps seeking a challenge, find her all the more desirable for this.

She slowly warms up to different sorts of bodily contact, but very slowly.

"While we were talking, Donnie's arm stole round my shoulder. Now I have always had about half a dozen remarks in readiness for the boy who would ever put his arm around me- and I never said a single one, I don't know why I didn't, but I didn't, that's all. In the first place, I was so surprised that I was mute for a while; in the second place, it was done in such a nice comradely way that I didn't have the heart to say anything; and in the their place, I liked it. I repeat it- I liked it. I'm shocked at myself but- well I hope no one will criticize anything until they've gone thru the same thing themselves. And Donald had never acted soft anyway." (page 155, Growing Pains)

At the end of Growing Pains, Mr. Adolph Dehn and Wanda have become very good friends, and fallen a little bit in love- not head over heals in love, but that sort of I know you so well and I just noticed how great you are kind of love. They've worked together on several artistic projects, and they eat lunch together every day. One day, they go fishing in a rowboat together. After a somewhat romantic walk, she describes how Adolph makes a small advance,

'"May I kiss your hand, Wanda? Just once' he asked. I said, 'No,' at first but then I let him take it." (p. 449)

Eventually, after a few romantic nights, she lets him kiss her- twice, if I remember correctly. On the face, even. The kiss is a really big deal for Wanda. And then they both, somehow, get scholarships to go to New York City! And then it's over. No more diary. But you have to know, from pictures like the one above, that things really turn out all right for them. And it makes you happy.

I still have a feeling of unfinished business. I need to read more about Wanda. What really interests me, as much as her art and her philosophy, is her sex life. I don't want to know the details of sexual acts or anything. That doesn't interest me. What I really want to know is, How do you go from not letting a man touch you in any way, to having sex with whomever you please and enjoying it? How is that the same person? How is it that you, Wanda, how are you always this contradiction, this amazing enigma? How do you embody two polar moral opposites, in the same body, the same soul? And how are you so happy in doing so? How do you rebel against the social constrictions of your time, and still be a successful children's book author?

I'm glad that Professor Batty is currently writing a book (based on his recent research) which will answer all of our questions. It is much needed. He doesn't have a title or a release date yet... actually, he doesn't know he's doing it yet. But he will. Right?