Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Week of Tylenol

I had a full and delightful week. This was spring break week in Indiana, so the crew and I packed up and we drove north to see Grandma in Michigan. The first highlight was the rhubarb pie my loving husband made, using the two pounds of rhubarb I packed. Of course nothing ever turns out quite as planned. We didn’t have quite enough rhubarb, so in went an apple and some frozen strawberries. The baker made a slight error and used self-rising flour for the crust and over-filled it with filling. Everything got bigger; the crust rose up and the filling bubbled out. It turned out to be a tasty creation, but I wouldn’t exactly call it a pie. I also never miss a chance to scout out new supply stores, so I visited the Northwoods Outlet store in Pinconning and Larson’s Salvage in Bay City. I found lots of useful stuff but no brass flashing, a key secret ingredient in fern leaves. It also turned out that during our trip the last of the snow melted in Kawkawlin, so on our last day we got into picking up sticks with Grandma. That event signals the exit of winter. One cleans up the worst that Michigan’s snow, ice and wind deal out between Halloween and St. Patrick’s day. I was pretty sore on the drive home, but that’s part of the adventure.

Our return to Indiana was marked by trees beginning to bud and the first daffodils coming out. We left the forests in winter mode, but on the drive back we could see the subtle pinks of budding trees on the horizons and the yellows of willow in the low areas. During the drive I put the last touches on my black salamander with yellow spots and fleshed out my mud salamander. Now he has arms and is ready to crawl around my art studio. The background for the piece is already finished, so he has a home when he’s ready for it. When we pulled up to the big yellow house we were greeted by the iris reticulata, which have a beautiful deep, rich purple and elegant yellow markings. They burst through the carpet of leaves that my loving and well-intentioned husband meant to remove last fall but didn’t. The leaves probably gave that little extra bit of protection that carried them through the last cold spell. That’s one secret to a good marriage: a wise spouse learns to rationalize their partner’s failings as strengths that probably turn out for the best. If you’re smiling too you appreciate what that means.

I did have one job to do when we got home. We’ve had a raccoon that defeated the last home security system we installed. He found a way to burrow between two layers of wire mesh that weren’t well connected over the soffit on the east end of the attic. There’s nothing more upsetting to a good night’s sleep than hearing a raccoon creak his way into your house, slide down the trusses over your bed, rearrange your insulation and plunk down for a good day’s sleep right above you. Did I mention that this happens at 5 a.m.? If you’re lucky you get to hear him go out around 11, too, although his egress is slightly less offensive. I’m sure they have food and sex on their minds so they’re eager to get out. Anyway, after more serious but failed attempts to capture him in a live trap outside (thanks for the extra trap, Cappi!) we decided to be a little more devious. We waited until he was outside, then before he could settle back in for his morning snooze I climbed into the attic. I was armed with hammer, nails, wire mesh, wire snippers, flashlight and a mask. It’s always a bit of a stretch and shimmy to get through the small hole into the attic, then an uncomfortable crawl on hands and knees using the trusses spaced every foot or so. I cut up my mesh to fit the opening then started nailing it up with every nail I had. The work was especially challenging because I couldn’t make full swings with the hammer, so each try included a hit on the nail and a hit on the preceding truss on the backswing. After an hour of that I was ready to get back to the light and clean air, desperately hoping that we hadn’t trapped the critter inside. So far so good—no scratching last night, and no thumping around this morning. The bad news is that I’m paying for it now—all my hammering muscles are screaming out to me, so it’s back for more Tylenol.

Yesterday was a beautiful day, sunny and seventy, which means a perfect day for collecting. I went along on a family fishing trip to lake Monroe. The crew was looking for crappies, which they found along with a small bass, but I was looking for a stone fish head and tail for a weaving. Well, not actually stone fossils, but good enough replicas to capture my imagination. Stone elements make a nice contrast with the fibers in the weaving, and I like including collected fossils and rocks in pieces. I found what I was looking for and I found the beautiful bones of a small mammal. They were bleached white from the freeze/thaw cycles of winter and the water and sunshine of spring. The cleaning process was probably enhanced a bit by a few little critters along the way. Despite their appearance, I need to find just the right compositional idea for a piece to include them because my loving spouse cringes every time I mention using bones. It’ll just be our little secret when I put them in and we’ll see if he notices.

Finally, the real headache of the week is just coming on. It’s that time of year when I have to sift through all my business records to come up with the numbers for my tax forms. Oh joy. At the same time I downloaded the forms I need to become a citizen, which is a big step for me. I now know that not every American has a gun, and that Bloomington is a wonderful oasis for an artist like me. Plus, I’ll get to vote! Watch out world!

Until next week…

Martina Celerin

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