grizz, bored

Grizz, bored

Wanna look like a hero while actually tasting a bit of freedom in these pandemicious* times? Run errands for your neighbors.

Remember all those times we’ve moaned and groaned about how little time we have to CREATE, what with work and chores and bill-paying and sundry obligations? And how, if we could just stay HOME, nowhere else to go, we’d be churning out masterpiece after masterpiece? We’d put Bernini, Hemingway, Selznick to shame…if only we had some stay-in-the-studio time.

Congratulations, Cynthia: COVID-19’s unexpected little homebound gift means I’m writing up a storm, sculpting like a maniac, enameling like Faberge, right?

Wrong. Turns out free time and four walls aren’t all that inspirational.

For once in my life I’m sitting at my worktable, staring at clay with frozen fingers. That’s partly because the studio is only about 3/4 finished and I’m just not great at working in a mess. But it’s also because I have a new job (same company, sorta), I’m still doing my old job as well as training a team to take it over, and 16-hour days at the work ‘puter are becoming the norm. My creative energies are going to figuring out websites, not art.

And the very LAST thing I want to do with my free time is sit at a computer, which kinda puts a kink in my writing efforts.


Exploring an impromptu waterfall on our glorious day out.

Sheltering in place has its drawbacks. When the walls start closing in–or your roomie drives you nuts–you can’t go visit your mom, see a movie, go to the museum, try a new restaurant, or hop into your little yellow sportscar to pick up the drycleaning and inadvertently wind up 90 miles away on the twisty Oregon coastal roads.

We did have one outing a couple of weeks ago, before the lockdown locked down tighter: The Resident Carpenter-Blacksmith decided I looked a little frazzled around the edges, so he loaded me and Grizz into Sherman-the-Suburban and headed for the mountains.

Sherman is bedecked with new, much larger tires to improve his offroading (which makes reaching the passenger seat something like scaling a mountain), so we turned off onto old, abandoned logging roads outside one state forest, and headed for the river.

We were careful to keep at least a quarter-mile away from other humans (and goggled at the number of people congregating under the “STAY HOME” signs at campgrounds and rest areas).

It was a gorgeous day, fraught with spring growth; I snapped away at the scenery while Nathan and Grizz clambered down the steep slopes to the river (cliffs are still too much for The Leg to manage).

The river was high and wild with snowmelt but Grizz didn’t hesitate. He dove straight into the deep, rushing currant, and Nathan had to fish him out. They smiled and dripped on each other for the rest of the outing. I didn’t know a puppy could GET that muddy.

It was a farewell of sorts, at least for the season; the way things are I won’t be seeing my beloved mountains and coastline until Fall. If we’re lucky.

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Not that I’m complaining: I’m gainfully employed, I live on the web anyway, and I’m not struggling to push air through a fibrotic lung. Or dead.

All positives, in my book, but still: Who knew that going to the grocery store would become the highlight of my week?

“You don’t really HAVE to go grocery shopping every week,” began The RC-B, “We could live off what’s in the pantry and the freezer for maybe a month.”

ornamental cherries blooming

Every spring, the two ornamental cherries in the front yard put on a show. This year, they help with the stir-crazies.

“Shut up,” I growled, hugging the shopping list fiercely.

But it got me thinking, and I picked up the phone: “Hey, Kim/Emily/Mason/Carol/Stephen/Kat,” I texted to neighbors and friends, “Going to the grocery store. Need anything?”

And so my frivolous food-buying has turned into an errand of mercy. If it also provides a change of scenery, smileable faces for chatting, and a chance to take the LOOOOOOOONG way ’round to the store, even better.

I’ll occasionally add another stop, to the nursery or hardware store; we’re mindful that the economy is fragile, and layoffs are all too real and becoming realer. So spring plantings this year put an emphasis on fresh veggies and fruits in the backyard, and we’re talking about eliminating lawn and just having garden.


Exploring an impromptu waterfall on our glorious day out.

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Not much point in lawn anyway, not with a 75-pound puppy whose waste products more closely resemble a longhorn steer’s. Grizz prefers widdling on green grass, which immediately turns brown. By June, I expect the backyard lawn will be mostly dead.

Grizz thinks he's still a lap-puppy

Grizz (and Nathan) still think he’s a lap-puppy…trying to figure out how to break the news that Grizz’ head is now bigger than his pop’s.

Grizz is every inch the German Shepherd–he’s beginning to look like one of those prison camp guard dogs in a Nazi movie–and every nanometer of his being is Nathan’s. The two are inseparable; if Nathan goes to the car without Grizz, all hell breaks loose.

Grizz and Nathan both believe that dog is a lap-puppy, and nothing will convince them otherwise. “At what point,” I inquired sweetly, “Will Grizz be too big for your lap?”

Nathan and Grizz both gave me a horrified look. “Never!” they insisted.

nathan's forged coathooks

On-site blacksmiths are a luxury: the Resident Carpenter-Blacksmith is making me coathooks!

Grizz plays with Willow the squirrel, her families (we think she’s on her third litter) and boyfriends in the backyard, while Nathan hammers away at the forge. Plays is the wrong word; chase is more like it. The puppy isn’t really serious about it and Willow seems to know it; she will come in through the squirrel door in Nathan’s office while Grizz rests his muzzle on the window seat about 9 inches away, watching interestedly. If he moves suddenly, she’ll sprint outside, so mostly he stays calm and observes.

The pandemic has had a salutory effect on the house: Nathan’s cleaned up the backyard, built in some electronics shelves and fixed drawers that wouldn’t opened. Since Grizz has a tendency to chew up any leashes and harnesses he can reach, I wanted hooks to hang them on the wall. Voila; five gorgeous new hooks appeared, along with a board to hang them.

counter mosaic for studio

OK, I AM working on one big project–a mosaic countertop for the jewelry/ enameling/ torchwork studio counter.

And I misspoke earlier, I do have ONE project in the works: I’m building a mosaic countertop for the jewelry studio.

After noodling around the idea of concrete, a collation of leftover stone, copper foil cut and textured to look like dragon scales, epoxy resin, etc., etc., etc., I’ve settled on combining flowing copper tracery and the umpty-ump pounds of fusing glass scrap clogging up the studio.

At the moment, I’m trying to figure out how to get everything to the same level: The glass is 3mm thick, the copper is about 0.5mm, so I’m obviously going to have to back it with something. I’ve settled on hardboard, and once I get those things cut out and covered in copper, I’ll start choosing glass and planning placement. I’m taking the next two days off work to get the bulk of it done.

Stay tuned. And healthy. Love you all.


*You’ve probably figured out by now that I like to make up words, right?