Monday, August 22, 2016

Time for a Revival

I miss this blog. I miss writing it, and pondering things that seem worthy of being written. I've tried to find a way to shift it over to my other blog, but it's not quite right. They're two different, too different things. So I'm bringing Long Way Home back to life, and merging it with Positively Vegan and my website, KimMiles.com. It's all me. Pick out the parts that interest you.

I posted the following, with a few edits, on PV today too, so if you follow anything I do, you have a good shot at being all up to date with me now.

~~~~~~~

Notice anything different around here? (No, not my new dress.) It was time to change things up, in order to make way for other changes that I'm not quite yet clear about. You know how that is? Making anything different has the potential to make everything different. And I'm ready for some differentness.

The old PV logo was fine and lovely, but it was never what I really wanted. I just kept it because I had it, and because a friend designed it for me, but those are both really lame reasons. So poof! Gone are the cute vegetables and the colors I never got comfortable with. If you loved it, well, sorry. I'll send you a picture.

Part of the shift I'm instigating here is a merging of my blogs and my website. I have one site now, which offers links to all the stuff I do. I do a lot and the fragmentation was making me feel all energetically scattered and queasy.

If I can figure out a way of merging this blog in with PV I'll do it.  For now, it feels like they still need to each be their own thing. Go ahead and subscribe to both. There might be some cross-blogging now and then, but mostly, PV is food related, while LWH is more personal. Having said that, I might even post the very same thing on both of them when it applies.

Like this.
It's going on both, with only minor changes.

You know, it's really like one blog in two different rooms. It's all me and my stuff. Hang out in which ever room you feel the most comfortable, or in both, if you like. I'd like that.

So here are the links. If you get lost or confused, and you remember my name, just go to KimMiles.com. It's the hub, with links to everything else, including blogs, books, beads, and handmade finery from my very own fingers.



KimMiles.com
PositivelyVegan
TakingTheLongWayHome

See you out there. Somewhere.
Here's to changes!
Change.
Is.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

100 Peace For Paris Buttons

Peace For Paris original art by Jean Jullien
When I saw Jean Jullien's eloquent, artistic response to what happened in Paris on November 13, I immediately wanted to share the image with everyone I knew. I put it on Facebook and Instagram, but that wasn't enough of a reach for me. Then I remembered the old button maker I had stashed in storage.

As I've pared away possessions that I have little use or space for, I've considered getting rid of it countless times. It's silly. It's a toy. I rarely use it for anything. It's never made me a dime. And frankly, it's a little embarrassing to own such a thing. On the other hand, it doesn't take up much space, every so often it's really quite useful, and honestly, at this point, embarrassment is not something I shy away from.

I ordered a box of button parts and waited a few days for them to arrive. My master plan was/is to make 100 buttons with this beautiful bit of art, and give them away. That's it. I've seen them online already, being sold by various opportunistic sellers, and that makes me sad. This is not my art, so it's wrong to sell it, especially without permission, as I'm sure the folks on CafePress and Zazzle are doing. And besides, there's something so much more hopeful, joyful, and humanly connecting about just plain giving them away to anyone who wants one.

To be clear, I am not a Rich Lady who can afford to do this endlessly. I have no income at the moment. I'm between gigs, so to speak, with no real clue as to what the next one will be. I thought if people asked to pay for the buttons, I'd accept $1 a piece, to cover the cost of the parts so I could order more. So far, only 2 people have offered to pay, so clearly this has to be a mission of Love on my part. And so it is.

I don't mail them. I don't sell them. I don't even offer them to anyone who doesn't first make a comment on the one I'm wearing. And then, the real pleasure and perfection of this project is to pass this simple gesture of peace from my hand to that of another human being. It makes me feel incredibly, unreasonably happy.

I was at the Portland Art Museum the other night, and a pretty young woman looked at my button, and quietly said, "Thank you for that," in her lovely French accent. As I pulled a button out of my pocket and handed it to her, I had no words. I only smiled, and turned away with tears in my eyes as she pinned it on her own coat, over her heart.

Another day, on an impromptu excursion to the little town of Hood River, Rick and I wandered in to a little pop-up art and craft sale. One of the artists greeted us, and immediately asked where I'd gotten my button. This one had glitter and little gold stars in it, so I took it off and gave it to her. In return, I got a big warm hug.

And the Peace goes on.

I've made almost half of the hundred now, and really don't know how many Rick and I have given away between us. I love making them. It's a simple, repetitive, meditative process that goes quickly and takes minimal effort. My hand hurts from leaning down on the lever of the press, so I've started padding it with a pot holder. I make a dozen or so, and then I go out in the world and wait to see who they want to go to. If I go through this first hundred too quickly, I'll probably buy more. How long will people want these? I can't know that. How will I pay for them? Oh... somehow.

I guess I'll know, one way or another, when it's time to stop. For now though, if you see me on the street, and you notice the simple Peace For Paris button on my coat, please ask me for one. I really would love to give it to you.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Where Women Really Create

I was wandering through one of the Very Large Corporate Bookstores the other day, because I needed something to do for an hour, and because they happen to have a really wonderful magazine section. I hardly ever get to the actual books when I go there. There are too many. I get confused. I went in for a new notebook (I bought four), and I spent some time with the fancy magazines too. I like to flip through the expensive $15 "collectible" Somerset publications from Stampington and Company, like Artful Blogger, Willow and Sage, and Where Women Cook. They're more like books than magazines, and I usually find them beautiful and inspiring, and worth a visit to that particular store.

Are you sensing a But here? Yes. But, when I picked up a copy of Where Women Create, instead of feeling inspired and happy, I felt... really pissed off. Page after glowing page showed happy, prolifically creative women, with perfect hair and makeup, in their perfectly chaotic sanctuaries of art, as if they are separate and different and somehow more valid than the most-of-us who create all manner of things in regular, everyday, mundane spaces. I'm still annoyed.


Get this. Every single one of us is creative by nature. (Not just women. Men too, of course, but I'm focused on the women today.) We don't all make "art" of some kind, but simply living requires huge amounts of creativity, and living happily takes even more.

Don't believe me? Make a list of all the creative things you do. Most of the mundane little things we do, from getting dressed, choosing the right shoes and jewelry, and making breakfast, to plotting a course to work, school, shopping, whatever, and just generally getting through another day as an inhabitant of this planet, is a creative effort. We have to keep figuring things out, over and over again. That's creativity. There doesn't have to be a shiny handcrafted bauble at the end of the day. There only has to be you.

For those who do create actual "things," like art or writing or cooking or sewing or whatever, most of us know that having the perfect creative space is not a requirement, and often not even an option. If you think it is, and not having that space is stopping you from Making Stuff, drop that silly notion right this minute and get yourself to the art supply store of your choice.

My first beadmaking "studio" was a small round table in the corner of my kitchen. The next one was a cold, damp laundry room attached to the carport. I eventually upgraded to another cold/damp, or hot/sweaty, depending on the season, space that connected to the back door of our house in Taos, and was basically a passthrough for my family when they needed tools from the half of the room I wasn't using, or had a clean load of laundry to take out to the clothesline, or a dirty load of firewood to squeeze past me in a wobbly wheelbarrow and dump on the floor behind me.

Sure, we all referred to it as "my" studio, but it was far from being any kind of sanctuary. I used to long for a space that was really my own, that was orderly and colorful and as beautiful as the ones in the magazine. It never happened, and I made stuff anyway. I still do.

These days, here in Portland, the studio apartment I share with Rick is also my "studio." More specifically, a counter-height table we bought at Ikea, that we use for cooking, eating, and game nights, is also my humble, and perfectly functional, studio. I can leave it in my kitchen area, or slide it over a few feet to the window when I want better/different light.

In this studio, I write, draw, create blogs and websites, make jewelry, teach jewelry making, photograph, knit, crochet, create coloring books, and sometimes, I even cook. And the best part is, I no longer wish for a bigger or "better" space.

Much as some people will tell you that every space is sacred space, all land is holy land, and all water is holy water, I'm telling you that all space, any space you can utilize, even temporarily, can be creative space. If you want to make something, and you've been waiting for the perfect little studio to inspire your dreams and spark your creativity into a bonfire, forget about it. That perfect space might never happen.

I once worked with glass and fire in a tent. Yep. Outside, in winter, with snow and wind blowing all around the flaps, and in summer when it was so hot I could barely breathe. I made it work, because it was what I had.


Do it now. Make it now, wherever you are, with whatever you've got. As creative beings, we can also create the time and space to make the things that want to be made. And stop buying magazines that only make you feel inadequate and underprivileged. Where do women really create? First in our hearts and heads, and then in any old place we please.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

I Finally Wrote a Book

I've been saying it for years - I'm going to write a book. I've started and stalled many times, but I always knew I'd get one done eventually. Now I've done it! OK, technically I sort of drew a book rather than wrote a book. But there are words in it too. Two full pages! And the back cover! And a couple of well thought out paragraphs. Yes indeed, I wrote a book. With pictures. And here it is!


That's right - it's a coloring book! And it's beautiful! And it gets even more beautiful when you color it! Inside are 19 of my hand drawn mandalas, a page of bookmarks, and even a draw-your-own-mandala in the back. I had it printed single-side, so the pages can be removed from the book and framed once you've added your coloring magic to them.

Coloring is hot right now, especially for adults. It takes zero art skill, it's portable, fun, relaxing, even meditative, and all you need is a handful of colored pencils or markers. You can order the Mostly Mandalas coloring book online at CreateSpace now, and soon it will also be available on Amazon. Then, in a few weeks, it will be ready for expanded distribution to stores. How grand! They print and ship on demand, which keeps the cost down, and also means I don't have to do any mailing. I love how this is going. In fact, I love it so much, I'm already working on volume two!

You can find me these days over at MostlyMandalas.com, (which is also KimMiles.com). I offer new coloring pages every week, which you can order and download instantly. And who knows - there might be a whole shelf full of books coming up soon. Once I get going, it's hard to stop me!

Friday, May 22, 2015

One Year in Portland

It's official. We've been here in Portland for a year already. Our "date" with PDX (as the cool people refer to it) sees us walked safely back to our doorstep, and... signing another 13 month lease. It's still to be determined whether or not we marry Portland, but we do like her an awful lot. Living downtown suits us right now, and we haven't found another part of town we'd rather live in. We don't love the idea of our rent going up, up, up every year, which we hadn't really thought about when we started this. So if we stay, I suppose at some point we might want to buy again. But we like apartment life. It's so easy compared to all the maintenance we used to do on our adobe acre in Taos. We don't miss it. Not one bit. And aside from a few friends we'd love to see, there's nothing in New Mexico to lure us back. A year here seems to have made that pretty clear.

We live about 2 blocks beyond the tallest white building in the picture. It's a 10 minute walk down to the marina. Not bad!
So what do we love about Portland? It's a long and growing list. Our proximity to so many things is right at the top. We've discovered that we can walk to all the places we used to take the streetcar to. In bad weather it's nice to have a ride, but more often than not, we just hoof it. It makes for more fun and in-depth explorations, and we find new things out there all the time.

So where do we walk? Well... The park behind our building, Lovejoy Fountain, Keller Fountain, Keller Auditorium, and the riverfront are all regular dog-walks. Laughing Planet restaurant is in our building, along with a terrific little market that carries our favorite snacks and has the best prices on wine and beer, and a nail shop I have yet to go to. I plan to! Pizza Schmizza is right across the street, and a couple of blocks up is Hot Lips Pizza, which we like best for it's vegan cheese offering and smoke-free outdoor seating. Our bank is also just steps away, as is the UPS Store, several other restaurants and bars, and a nice little pod of food carts.

We're basically on the Portland State University campus, and love going to the bookstore there. The streetcar stop and MAX stop are right there too. The Park Blocks run for a long way north, a lush strip of urban green, with beautiful lawns, big old trees, sculptures, fountains, and benches. Little cafes and restaurants line the Park Blocks, and the Farmers Market magically appears there every Saturday and Wednesday. Then we have the Portland Art Museum (which offers free admission every Friday after 5PM) and the Historical Museum, which is free to Multnomah County residents. A little further out is City Target, the designer label Goodwill Store, and the main library.

For provisions we walk to Safeway - a 10 minute walk - or Whole Foods - about 20 minutes away, with Powell's Books as an optional detour. In between, of course, we find a seemingly endless number of little shops we've never seen before, favorite cupcake and coffee places, and restaurants to add to our long to-try list. The downtown mall, Apple Store, and Pioneer Courthouse Square (which is known as "the Living Room of Portland") are just a quick few blocks up the street from us.

One day, on a really ambitious Fitbit spree, I walked all the way up to 23rd Ave from our place on 4th. It took me about 40 minutes to get to Trader Joe's on 21st, and the only reason I took a Car2Go home was I bought too much food and couldn't carry it! From there, if one is really feeling peppy, it's completely possible to walk the next hill up to the Rose Garden, and a little farther up to the Japanese Garden. We like it so much there that we just bought a membership, which will get us and two guests per visit in for a year. So come see us. We'll take you along!

I'm leaving out a lot, but you get the picture. And this is all on "our" side of the river. The whole east side is another world of Portland, that we discover little by little, when we feel like taking the car out. Another year here seems like a pretty good idea. Forever? Here or anywhere? Well, I really can't say. We've never lived at the beach, and we'd both really like to try that before we're too old to move anymore. For now though, our date with Portland continues. We're playing hard to get, and Portland is being a very attentive suitor.