Turtle Trax Diary. Page 50
April 30, 2006
The End of the Nanny Gig....
by Susan Shie
At left: Eva worked hard one day in April to teach "PaPaw's Cat Willy" how to balance on an alphabet block by his front paws. I had never seen Eva concentrate so hard on a task before, and it really amazed me. She would be very still and focused, and sometimes Willy behaved!
Topics in this diary: A kind of rambling diary entry about the last year and a half; my last tArts meeting for now; few pix of Eva and us from this last week, including the Big Move Home from the Granny Pad; "Greetings from Wooster"; a little tribute to our gray cat Meeper. Go to the 2006 Gallery to see the three large new quilts I made already this year, as well as some paintings I have for sale. Note: Almost all the pictures below are from this last week, but the writing is a broad review of my nanny gig time. Sorry if that's confusing. Try to just go with the flow!
I think this is the longest I've ever gone between writing diaries, in all the time I've had my Turtle Trax Diary, since August, 1997. The very first diary here was a super short one, with only two images, which I made as drawings. I remember it took me a long time to get that diary made, and it was with the help of Jan Cabral, who created the first version of the Turtle Moon Studios website, with the texts and images I gave her. She and her company Key to the Web still host this site, but I took over the web work, as soon as Jan put the site online on my birthday, September 28, 1997. We made a virtual toast with virtual Box Merlot that day, coordinating to the second when Jan "pulled the switch" and the site went live online. What a thrill that was! Eight and a half years ago! I will always be super grateful to Jan for trading me a Turtle Art Camp week for doing that initial site and teaching me how to make my own web pages!
Here's a detail shot of "Greetings from Wooster," the newest large quilt I've finished. Having so little time to work on my art caused me to make new choices about how to sew my work, so that the new pieces I now make are machine sewn. I still do a lot of hand sewing on the many pieces I'd begun in the last years of my teaching, but for new stuff, will be machine sewing very large painted pieces. Lots of writing with my airpen gives the fine detail now, instead of embellishments.
In November, 2004, I taught my last adult art quilt workshop at Art Quilt Tahoe, before I went on a big sabbatical. I took a year and a half off from teaching, but not from making my art. (See my 2005 Gallery and 2006 Gallery as proof...) Eva, our granddaughter, was born a month early, on October 22, 2004, just before that Lake Tahoe class. And I became her main nanny. I started out with five days of nanny gig each week, and then went to four when Eileen, Eva's other granny, started nannying one day a week. Then I went to three day weeks, when Gretchen, my daughter, started working from home on Mondays for her museum job. My Eva days were 10.5 - 11 hours each day, and I still tried to make my art, enter shows, and keep up with paperwork, in the time I had at night and on weekends here at home with Jimmy.
The round trip drives for Jimmy were pretty long sometimes, especially in the first winter, 2004-05, when we broke the record for the snowiest year! Since I don't drive, he was stuck with all the nanny hauling! What a guy! It should be only an hour between Wooster and Lakewood, but bad weather, rush hours, and construction all made most trips a lot longer. We would get back home for the weekend late at night and leave to go back earlier and earlier, as we got more and more worn out over time! I think we would leave Wooster around 9 PM sometiems, early on, but in the last few months, we'd go about 3 PM!
The other thing that made it hard was the year, truly, that the city of Lakewood took to put in new sewers, street, and sidewalks on Gretchen's street. We had so much construction to walk around, climb through, and listen to, that we thought it would never end! The blizzards and the road work made us all pretty grim at times. Eva kept us charmed through it all, in spite of Gretchen and my sleep deprivation!
I had a sweet little granny pad, a studio apartment, two blocks from Gretchen and Mike's house in Lakewood, Ohio, the first suburb west of Cleveland, and I would spend my days at their place with Eva and then make art at night at my place. Looking back, I'm really glad I kept up with my work, even though I got too little sleep, and that I did the nanny gig. I loved spending so much time with the kids, but it was pretty hard on Jimmy and me both, being apart so much of the time. I wish we could live like my Mennonite and Amish ancestors, in a very close knit community, with several generations supporting each other in everyday interactions. I think that in societies where grandparents, parents, and children see each other daily and spread the family chores out among the generations, there's a lot less stress in people's lives. I would love to have our kids move into this neighborhood on Armstrong Drive, or around the corner on Sunset or Hickory. We could walk back and forth each day, seeing what each other needs, and celebrating our little joys together! But that's all a big pipe dream for now.
I attended my last meeting of the tArts (West End Textile tArts) as an official Cleveland artist early this month. In this photo I'm holding a tray of various flavors of real tarts, which Susanne created for me, as my going-away surprise! And because we had to postpone our meeting, she had to create the tarts tray twice! What dedication! From left we are Tina (Praline), who started the group and is our fearless leader; me (Apple); Susanne (Peach); and Jill (Key Lime). Missing are Gayle (Kumquat), and our newest member Chris (Cherry). We had / they'll have monthly meetings at Tina's house, though one meeting was at The House of Blues last year... It was kinda hard to hear each other talk that night! We are a fiber support group, and we do show and tell and eat at our meetings. We started meeting last year in March.
The tArts are making a wonderful group project, in which each artist is making a specific sized panel of a full length self portrait. We were going to enter them into Quilts for Change's 2006 juried exhibition, but missed the deadline due to life getting in the way. Because we missed that deadline, we're going to end up with six panels, not four, and we'll have one really cool quilt, made of all of them next to each other, for entering some kind of show, eventually. Peach thinks we should invite a bunch of artists to make the panels of themselves, and make the project into its own exhibition, but I for one, have resigned from organizing and curating show projects!
Here are the five self portrait panels we have so far, some finished, some in progress, as of early April. From left they belong to: Jill, Tina, me, Susanne, and Gayle. Each panel is around 66"h x 19"w. Susanne's and Gayle's are the unfinished ones. They are all very different fiber techniques, and with Chris' panel beside them, this thing will be really huge! Sorry about the lousy photo. They're laying on Tina's livingroom floor, and I needed to be able to get a lot farther back from them than I could for the shot. We were all just really happy to get them laid out and swooned over! We stunned ourselves!
Leaving my tArts group is really sad, besides leaving my kids! I'm going to try to get to the monthly meetings once in a while and have a tArts sleepover at my house in Wooster sometime soon.
At left is Eva visiting my Granny Pad with her mommy at the end of the last day I was her nanny. She turned a year and a half old Saturday, April 22, 2006, on Earth Day. That day was when we rented a U-Haul truck and moved my furniture home. Then on Thursday, April 27, we did a final cleaning of the granny pad and turned in the keys. I wish we could keep the apartment, so we could use it for the West End Textile tArts' clubhouse! Or I wish I could tow the granny pad to Wooster, conceptually, and have it attached to my house! I wish Gretchen, Eva, and Mike could move to our neighborhood in Wooster. They can't, because of their jobs, and Jimmy won't move up there, because he loves it here. I love it here, too, so here I am, unpacking from the move home, and eager to get back into the swing of making art full time again!
My brother Jimmy Shie and my dear friend Renie Meier helped us move the big stuff home. What a day! Thanks so much, you guys! You know you're working with good friends, when they're still smiling at the end of the long day.
I'll teach at QSDS this June in Columbus, Ohio, the wonderful art quilt symposium I used to teach at with Jimmy and then I taught at alone. My only other scheduled teaching jobs will be at Art Quilt Tahoe this November and Arrowmont School of Crafts next April. These are some of my favorite places to teach. We're not planning to restart the Turtle Art Camps we did for 11 years here at the house. I just want to make art and sell art and be in my studio and my home as much as possible. I want to write more little xerox books and sometime a big book about my art and our lives. Only I don't want to be edited. I've gotten so spoiled by putting this unedited diary on my site and making my tiny books at Staples! I dream of the Unplugged Artists' Press! Its editors will spell check, correct syntax, and that's about it!
I know I'm rambling terribly here. I'm sorry I didn't go back and make a bunch of image files and stories about what's happened since the last diary, Nov, 2006. I know we had Christmas, a nice, mild winter, and I made a bunch of art. You can see the art in my gallery links. I am now going to put the web energy mostly into my galleries, and really focus on that. I think the gallery should be the strongest part of a website, and it's probably been, no, it HAS been the weakest part of this site! I'm turning over a new leaf and will be putting each major art quilt into the gallery, as soon as I document that quilt. Right now the 2005 and 2006 galleries are pretty good, but before that, it's all full of holes, lots of work not shown here yet!
One other big change in my attitude, besides the ones I've been telling you about just now (retiring from nannying; teaching a lot less; not having camps here; and focusing more on the web site galleries...) is that I am now calling my work Outsider Art Quilts, which I started calling it many years ago, but got shouted down by people who thought the fact that I have a terminal degree in my field makes that not possible. They think only uneducated people can be Outsider Artists. To me, the reality is that there are lots of reasons a person can be outside the system, and not being formally educated is just one of those reasons. If a person can survive formal art education and still think and work uniquely and outside of the fences, then that person is an outsider artist.
Here's what I think is the bottom line: You cannot control an outsider artist. They just ignore your rules or don't care. They make spontaneous art that has to come out of them, or they will pop. Yep, I think that's really it. So there. Nyah!
Meanwhile, Jimmy took off Friday to fly fish at Oil Creek, PA, about three hours away from here, and it's the first nice, sunny weekend for this trip in years. Last year he cancelled, due to rain, like he's had to do so often. He takes so much stuff with him, he might as well put a rope on the house and drag it over there, but he is happy! We got to see the kids when we signed off on the granny pad Thursday night, and now I'm using this alone time this weekend to get settled in and make some headway on my art!
Eva started daycare last Monday, April 24, in Lakewood, where she finally has a bunch of kids to tear around with. I know the teachers there must be saints, to work with so many kids at once and give them such loving attention. I just can't imagine it, though I had a tiny stint at a parttime daycare when Gretchen was little. It wore me out, so I praise and adore those women, like I do waitresses! How I would love to be able to watch Eva playing with all her new friends there at school! She's so bright and quick, she will adore the interactions and the learning she now has her mitts on! Hurray! No more home schooling for our sweet little Fruit Bat! (OH, that's the name I gave her because of how she obsesses on eating fruit. Especially "bumbles" or blueberries, to the non-initiated. My personal name for her is still Possum though. But Gretchen hates that name, so she is Eva most of the time.)
Our old gray girl cat, Meeper (real name Gray See Cat or Gracie), died on April 8, this month, from cancer. We had to have her put to sleep, and it was a very, very hard decision to make. We did it because we didn't want to see her go through all the suffering the cancer would soon bring, on top of what she'd already been through. The picture here was taken the day before she died. Meeper was almost 18 years old, having come into our back yard when she was a tiny, beat up kitten in August, 1988. Jimmy had fed her rib fat from his barbecue, and Gretchen and I took her in. At that time, Jimmy's cat Ernesto Juarez decided to be her daddy and took very good care of her. They were always together, til Ernesto died in 1993. Meeper and our calico Maggie were the most gentle cats we've ever had, always purring, always accepting. Meeper is buried out back, in our little pet cemetery, along with Ernesto, Maggie, Vikki, Rita, Willy, our dog Elvira, and a friend's parrot named Albert. It sure is hard to lose pets, but they give us so much love! Now we're "down" to Marigold, Evil Tulip, and our dog Hattie Spooler.
This has been such a lovely Spring this year, especially compared to last year! We had this nice, mild Winter this year, and now this gorgeous Spring. I went outside and took tons of pix of our yard a few days ago, not knowing that killing frosts would come right afterwards!
About three days ago they hit and we lost all the daffodils and the magnolia blossoms. The big crabapples in the Moon Garden out front made it and are still really pretty now. The apple trees made it, too, but just yesterday I realized our biennial blooming wisteria was frozen in its tiny bud stage. The little sprigs were about an inch long and are dried up little corpses now. We have to wait another two whole years before we can be awed by the wisteria's beauty again!
I'll try to work on this site a lot more often now, but as I said, it's going to be a lot more gallery, a lot less diary. And then if that gets all straightened out, maybe I can write more again. But for now, there are so many bloggers on the internet, you don't need me! And I've got a bunch of gardens to get going around here, too. I'm not going to promise when I'll be back here, since this last time I did a rotten job of keeping my promised diary date. It was supposed to be up in early February. Oops. Then I just kept going online and changing the date it'd appear. So no more of that for a while, while I get centered again! I do hope to have something to say again by the end of September!
See ya then, Susan, aka Panny (to Eva), aka Lucky Magnolia
PS. Here's GEM (Gretchen, Eva, and Mike) at my Granny Pad, the last day I lived there. If you'd like to find out about Mike's band, Mike St Jude and The Valentines, check out their site. Mike writes all the songs, plays guitar, and sings lead.
I really love GEM and will miss seeing them so often. How I wish I could drive!
Turtle Moon Studios
Susan Shie and James Acord
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This page updated by Susan Shie, April 30, 2006.
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