Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The best reasons to go shoe shopping.

This is where I work now: the Gallery at the Penland School of Crafts. (fyi, this photo was taken from a helicopter. The mountains here aren't that steep!)

I just started last week, and I like my job so far: I'm in a beautiful historic building full of handmade objects all day, I like the people I work with, and it is just a little isolated from the main campus of the school. I'm learning new things and using some of my non-teaching skills, which is great.

Three days a week, which still allows plenty of time for studio-set-up-ing, which is still barely happening.

Try harder, Michelle.

I bought boots in Asheville the other a pre-birthday present to myself. They were not the comfy/stylish gallery-working shoes that I set out to buy, but several people in the store told me they were cute......I just didn't want to disappoint them....

But look!
See? It is almost sort of starting to think about being fall.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Same as it ever was.

During Penland's 26th Annual Benefit Auction, I had this quote from Ecclesiastes written out on taped-together manila envelopes and posted on the wall of the Pines Dining Hall:

"All things are full of labor; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun."

This was my tenth auction, and the ninth time I volunteered to manage the dining hall during this elaborate event.

"Manage the dining hall" can be translated into "Try to keep things running as smoothly and Penlandy as possible as auction preparations throw everything into chaos."


"through enthusiasm, silliness, sarcasm, and music, somehow persuade 10+ people to join me (in enthusiasm, silliness, sarcasm, and music) in volunteering to wash dishes 'TIL IT HURTS."

And this was a good year. and man, did it hurt.

Washing "dishes" may be translated into "classy-looking-but-annoyingly-large-and-heavy square dinner plates, dessert plates, also dessert bowls (because the auction is all about excessive desserts), wine glasses, water glasses, highball glasses, silverware, coffee cups, saucers, creamers, laughter-inducing plates full of butter, kitchen-prep stuff (for both auction-events and volunteer meals), trays, carafes, serving pieces, catering pieces, and, and, and......."

We finished Friday night around 11:30, a lot later than previous years, (because of more patrons, bigger dishes, and an under-the-tent dessert) but it ended well that night because of the splendidly-timed surprise appearance of veterans Kathy Steinsberger and Wes Stitt.

Then Saturday we washed it all again, and it was glorious.

Please follow the link at top and read about what a record-breaking event this was. More funds funded, more attendees...yeah! I can also report that this bigger-than-ever event was put on with fewer volunteers than previous years. And here most of them are...

I had a great team this year, almost half of whom were stout-hearted veterans of "Team Awesome," "the Dream Team" and the "All-star Dishwashers of 2006". I also had three hard-core 5th session students who volunteered not only to work at the auction, but to keep doing close to what they had been doing for the 2 1/2 weeks prior to the event. Of course, on several occasions I had to clarify that "this isn't quite work study"....meaning we work a hell of a lot harder than a typical work-study shift, but I also say things like, "you guys take a break when you need to...."

It is confusing. I'm confusing.

One of my favorite times during auction weekend is when my crew is done washing all the rental stuff on Saturday. Other crews are counting and sorting things and packing art, but the Pines crew is almost done, and there is this golden time before the volunteers eat dinner, (because yes, we clean up after that too!) My camera having failed me, here are a couple of Heather Miller's pictures from this in-between time....out on the grass in front of the auction tent, which is one of my favorite places on campus...

...And a final picture borrowed from Devin McKim...This was thursday night volunteer-down-time under the tent. The tent is weird and wonderful. We love it and hate it. That's how I feel about the auction too.

"Next Year" are bad words during and immediately after the Auction.

Lastly, please check out the lovely little slide show by Robin Dreyer!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


I've been in Spruce Pine, North Carolina just over a month, and everything is going well.

I am suspicious of how well things are going. But that's just my distrustful nature.

I haven't been blogging because I have no idea where to begin. There are things I want to share from the month before I left Los Angeles. Heck, I never really reported on Unique LA or Austin Renegade, huh?

Or my super-cool former students and the conclusion to my time at CSUN.

Or my spontaneous adventure to Visalia and Sequoia with a van full of teenagers.

Right now I am at the sweet little Spruce Pine Library. the calico library-cat, Valentine, is curled up on my red backpack, purring quite loudly. Yeah, yeah: cute. But my heart belongs to my roommate, (the one who is not human) Henry, who doesn't pay rent, sleeps all day, stays up late, and doesn't clean up his messes.

Actually, Henry is one of the most mellow, easy-going cats I have ever known.

I have spent the past month unpacking, organizing, arranging, rearranging, cleaning, moving, and looking. I'm bored with it and wish it could be an automatic adjustment into feeling "at home."

I have also been digging in the yard which has been wonderful, satisfying work. I arrived a bit late in summer to get a garden going, but about a week ago I did start some pumpkins. They were growing quite happily until yesterday I discovered that some spiteful cutworms had put an end to them. Boo. So that's enough about gardening for the moment...

My "studio" is still the area of the house where I haven't unpacked everything, and I don't know where things I haven't been working. But soon. Oh, and I have a little table-top etching press staying with me now, as the fourth roommate. She's still settling in too. I'd post a picture, but my camera seems to be broken.

This past weekend was Penland's Annual Benefit Auction, the tenth that I have been involved in. And that deserves its own post.
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