Saturday, October 31, 2009

halloween in ashland

Well, here we are. A month in Ashland has zoomed by, and it's time to have some Halloween fun. We love Halloween, and this town knows how to throw a holiday bash. Rick and Ron are already downtown, blocking off streets and positioning Kiwanis volunteers for the Fun Run and Kid's Parade this afternoon. This cracks me up. Rick isn't much of a joiner, but he's really having fun tagging along with Ron for some of this stuff. He might even become an Elk... What the heck. It's a good way to meet people and make connections, and you get to use the Elk's primo parking lot downtown. Mitzi and I painted our guys up to look sort of dead and ghastly, but not too scary, since the daytime is for the little kids. Heehee... this is fun.

Here are the boys, looking so fine...

And even Heidi is dressed up. She's wearing her blue velvet opera dress by Katy George with a pink silk collar and a sparkly bead necklace.

Mitzi and I will put together our costumes and head out a little later. We might even be in the parade. Might as well. Then later in the evening we'll see what the grownups do here for some spooky fun. My guess is since we're in a university and theater town, this is going to be good. More pictures later, but here's a hint... Frida Kahlo...

OK - Ashland does a kickass Halloween. Sorry Taos. I thought you were the Halloween Queen, but no... you have been hugely outdone. Here's a picture of me in my Frida Kahlo persona. The rest of the photos are on Facebook.

... and a video

Monday, October 26, 2009

boneheads - episode one

I know, I know. I've been missing in action for a few days. So sorry! I've been busy making beads, getting to know a new town, and well, some other stuff... you'll see. The plastic Boneheads I bought a while back have taken on little lives of their own. And Mitzi, being the creative, play-writing, theater person she is, swooped up the Bonehead Project and before we knew it, had us making a video. I'm not sure I want to admit that I did the voice of GOM. I think I might share some personality traits with her... oh dear! And please keep in mind that I have absolutely zero acting experience. As writer/producer/director, Mitz got exactly what she paid for! But anyway... here it is for your viewing pleasure. The first episode of Boneheads Live, or whatever we decide to call it! Be sure to share it with everyone you know. We wanna go viral with it!

Monday, October 19, 2009

there's never a camera when you really need one

I need to get a new camera. There's so much to show you, but I don't want to schlep along my big bead camera everywhere I go, and the little pocket camera died back in Seattle. I guess I should just surrender to getting a new phone, one with all the bells and whistles... and a camera. After all, my phone is crapping out on me too, as I guess it's supposed to after five years or so. Remember when a good sturdy phone came with your house, rugged and dependable and bolted to the wall? I miss that in some ways, but not enough to go back to it. Moving forward, always moving forward. Technology won't wait for the stragglers.

In the absence of a camera, imagine three fifty-ish women, setting out on a thrift shopping excursion to Yreka, California, about 45 minutes south of Ashland. Mitzi and Serena both showed up at my door wearing black and white printed tops, which they did not plan. I teased them about it, but blended in well, wearing a plain black shirt with my jeans. We all busted up though when i picked up my bag, which is, oh yes, a black and white print.

We hit every thrift store in Yreka, on the look out for all things fabulous. I found a brand new red wool, Liz Claiborne cap with a jaunty little newsboy brim for two bucks, and a nice office chair which I need for the studio. Serena found some cute clothes. And Mitzi scored the big deal of the day - a fluorescent lime-and-purple leopard print, large brimmed pimp hat. I dared her to wear it in the street, and of course she was more than happy to oblige, carrying her bags of plastic baby dolls (for use in the Bonehead Project), and a three foot long, battery operated, vibrating, blue massage tube she got on sale for a mere $1.75.

Imagine friends, these three women, causing such a ruckus that other women were following them from store to store, just for the entertainment. And imagine, at the end of the day, Mitzi in her pimp hat, Serena in Mitzi's abandonned pink straw cowboy hat, and me on my new chair, rolling down the sidewalk of downtown Yreka, laughing so hard we could barely breathe. And I swear, not a drop to drink.

I promise to start carrying a camera of some sort.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


I'm sitting in the truck, in front of the trailer, under a canopy of yellowing leaves, with little Heidi sitting beside me. I mentioned before that we don't get internet inside the trailer, but I don't always have to go to the duck pond or Mitzi's house to get online. This is a nice big truck. Not a bad size for an office.

I'm having fun in Ashland, and at the same time, feeling sort of fragmented. I have all my worldly stuff pared down to a neat little portable pile, only it doesn't all work in the close quarters we've set ourselves up in. It's OK. I just need to adjust to getting less done than I'm used to. Or maybe I'm getting more done and I just don't know it yet. Email is being answered, orders are being shipped, blogs are being written, beads are being made. This week I've gone "back to the garden", and have made nothing but flower beads. Hm. That's unexpected, and I'm really not giving it too much thought. My time is consumed with other things. The boneheads are still a work in progress, and rather than try to sell them, we have plans to make silly videos with them. It's not my area of expertise, but what the heck. I'll play.

I'm also trying my hand at watercolor. It's only fair. Mitzi is making beads, so I need to stretch my comfort zone and do some painting. I just started yesterday, and I think I like it, but it sure is intimidating learning from a master like Mitzi. I'm used to being good at what I do, and so is she. We have to laugh at ourselves a lot these days, starting as beginners in each other's worlds. We have a lot to share though, and it's fun because we both recognize that. We've loosely formed Fire and Water Studios, and now we'll just keep playing and see where it all takes us.

Maybe fragmented isn't the right word. Maybe it's more like faceted, this life I'm living right now. Lots of angles and sparkling sides, catching the light, and my attention, like a diamond. Sometimes the reflections can be dizzying, but most of the time it's pure beauty.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

lessons from sardinia

I'm not sure yet, but I think maybe I got my groove back. I was watching Anthony Bourdain the other night. (I love his show, even though he regularly jeers at vegetarians.) He was in Sardinia, and the people featured in this episode were simple country folks, doing things the way they'd been done there for centuries. Everyone worked hard, and being a food/travel show, everyone had a hand in the preparation of the food. Someone made the cheese, someone else made the wine. There were ancient looking cooks in the giant communal kitchens, making the same dishes they'd made all their lives, dishes passed down through many generations. And the flat bread that came from the wood fired oven was as beautiful and practical as it has been since it was first made for the sheep herders to carry with them for months at a time while tending the flocks.

What struck me was that everyone knew their place, knew their job, and did what they did for the good of the whole. Everybody was important. Nobody tinkered with time honored recipes and traditions, and nobody sat there whining about being tired of doing their part and wanting to change things up. Watching this, I started to feel like a spoiled bratty baby, not a comfortable feeling at all...

I started thinking... Maybe, like the cheese maker and the baker and the old cook in the family kitchen, I have been given the job of beadmaker, and it just won't do to shirk that responsibility. Maybe I've been given this skill and this talent for the good of the whole in some way. Maybe it matters on some level that the particular beads I make find their way into the world. Maybe the job of beadmaking is some sort of Divine Assignment, every bit as important as making sure the shepherds have their bread.

I planned to spend an hour or two in the studio yesterday, just to see if I could still make a decent bead. I ended up staying glued to that wobbly little stool all morning, all afternoon, and almost into cocktail time. Bead after bead seemed to form themselves in the flame with no effort on my part. I was actually kind of surprised to see all those mandrels sticking out the kiln door. I did it. I made a good batch of beads. I've been thinking I was finished with all that, but it seems I'm not. I am a beadmaker. It's not only what I do, but a big part of who I am. Maybe I'll get paid for them, and maybe I won't. Right now I really don't care. The beads I make are my gift to the Universe, and I trust that in return, I will have what I need.

Thanks Anthony, from one of your biggest vegetarian fans. I'd like to give you a bead. Just tell me where to send it.

Monday, October 12, 2009

nesting... for now

We've moved the good ship Tessie Beau to a new camp site. It's in the same RV park, but it's a much roomier, prettier site, with a little stream running through the back. I can't believe how lucky we are. I've always wanted to live by a stream. Almost can't believe my eyes...

And for those of you who are just catching up to us, we completely remodeled our trailer before we set out in July. It took about six weeks to paint the walls, make curtains, make new upholstery, and replace the floor. We even managed to fit our king size mattress in the little nest that is now, literally, the bedroom. This is the coziest little house I could ever want to live in. We even have a small electric fireplace. Fake fire is cleaner than real fire, and the dogs love it. So do I.

The only slight problem is the internet. The signal isn't very good anywhere in the park, especially if a "big rig" pulls in next door. The solution is to grab the computer and walk over to the office, where we can sit on the deck next to the duck pond and get a most excellent signal. A big storm is predicted for the next few days, so I may not be here much, but in good weather, which I'm told we'll have for most of the winter, you will often find me here with the ducks. Not a bad arrangement actually.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


It's all my fault. I bought a "dollar bag" of little plastic skulls at the local Dollar Tree the other day, and gifted several of the Boneheads to Mitzi. One thing led to another, and now we have her dining table covered with paints and glitter and beads and flowers, and spend way too many of our waking hours on the Bonehead Project. I had no idea we'd get this carried away, but there's no point in resisting. This little obsession needs to be followed to its natural end, unless of course its only the beginning of something we're not yet aware of. I'm going with my gut these days. If it seems silly and creative and fun, it's probably a good idea.

So here are the pics so far. The skulls are about golfball size, and come nine in a bag. Now who wouldn't buy that for a buck?

Since Mitzi is a painter, and she's painted Weird Objects before, she knew we needed to spray them with primer. She also had skewers handy, so now we have all these little heads-on-a-stick.

Here's Mitzi at her table full of magical art supplies. We had to make another paint run yesterday. More colors, more colors!

And here's what we have so far. They aren't finished yet, and there are more to paint. We also bought little dolls and ripped their heads off. The heads will be painted too, and their bodies will be attached to some of the skulls. Ack! I love this!

This is the Bonehead Team - me, Mitzi, and Serena, all happily embellishing cheap blobs of plastic. Oh yes, life is good here in Ashland.

Friday, October 9, 2009

looking for normal

Have you seen this on Facebook? It's a quick video Mitzi took of our new joint studio adventure. We're both really excited about the possibilities presented by this mingling of fire and water.

What I'm not so thrilled about is that creepy roll of fat that's collected around my middle! Oh dear... better do something about that. I'm not at all settled in here yet, and my days are spent sort of banging around, in my head and in town, trying to figure out what to do. New town, same old me. Not that I want to get away from myself, but I would like to make a few changes in what I call "normal". I spent entirely too much time in my studio in Taos. All day, every day, rarely leaving the house. Sometimes I'd go a week or more without setting foot past my own driveway. I became pretty clueless about the goings-on in town, and would always joke about "not getting out much". But it was way too true, and I don't want that to happen here. So far I haven't done as much exploring as I'd like, but I'm at least aware of my need to do something other than sit at that torch all day, no matter how cool the studio is. I've said that I'm going to take the dogs for a good long walk every day, and I've actually done it twice. Impressive. That should help with the fat belly problem. But I've made that promise before, and I don't trust me much to keep it. I'm willing to give myself another chance though. If I won't, who will? I'm also considering volunteering at some interesting place in town. Good way to meet people and do something useful in the community I hope to call my own. I really think the best thing to do when we need something is to give something to someone else. It always works for me. And right now, I need to feel like I belong someplace.

Later today I'm going over to Mitzi's to paint "boneheads" - these little plastic skulls I got at the dollar store. We're going to do them up like Dia De Los Muertos Skulls. Way too cool. And I'm looking forward to playing with paint. Time to mix it up and explore some new stuff. Deep breath... I'm OK. I'm OK. I'm OK.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

a new studio

My dear cousin, Mitzi Miles-Kubota, has graciously, generously, and hopefully a little selfishly invited me to share her studio space. Can glass and paint peacefully coexist? I think so. She thinks so. We'll give it a try.

Yesterday afternoon we shoved around some furniture and hauled in all my beadmaking gear. Before long, Mitzi's painting sanctuary/garage morphed into some kind of crazy artists' co-op. She wants to learn to make beads, and though I generally don't like to teach, this is different. Mitzi is such an absolute artist, in every cell of her body, in everything she does. I just know she'll get the basics from me and run off in her own fabulous direction. I also know I'm creating some tough competition for myself, and I see that as a good thing. I'm going to try my hand at painting too, which is totally foreign territory for me. I don't expect to become a great painter, but I do hope this will stretch my creativity in ways I haven't thought of yet, and rekindle my love for the flame. I never thought I'd get tired of making beads, and taking a bit of a break has been wonderful. I'm not going to push myself into anything though. This is all experimental. Our whole life right now is experimental; living in a trailer, sharing one vehicle, dropping into Ashland practically unannounced, sharing studio space... I never thought I would want to do that. Mitzi didn't know she would either. But I have a feeling we're going to be really good for each other. Watch out! When Miles Girls get together, things happen!

Monday, October 5, 2009

don quixote

The production of Don Quixote last night was wonderful. Sets, costumes, acting, all terrific, as one would expect from pros like these. It was blasted cold outside though, and even though we thought ahead and brought seat cushions, warm coats, gloves, hats, scarves, blankets, and even snow boots, we were really uncomfortable out there in that beautiful open air theater. Talk about a test from a new town... If there's anything that can wear me down, it's being cold. It makes me cranky. Then it makes me sleepy and I just shut down. But I decided to suck it up and embrace the damn cold, along with the play, a package deal. We bought coffee and red wine, and huddled together, and laughed, at the fine entertainment presented before us, and also at ourselves, for our silly bravery and determination to love whatever we're presented with.

Why didn't we do that in Taos? We did. For eight years. We loved it there. We still love it there. We just knew it was time to move on. Not exactly like Don Quixote, we're on something of a quest, following that star and that impossible dream and all that. There's a loose connection there somewhere. We have no illusions about saving anyone or changing the world. What we're up to is living this life for all it's worth, following every dream that seems worth the effort, even if it's uncomfortable. Even if it's cold. To sit still in a warm place would mean we'd miss an awful lot.

We came home and drank some whiskey to warm up, and talked about the play and laughed some more. (It was presented as a comedy, and it worked well.) This morning we're still enjoying last night. It was that good. Worth every penny and every shiver. Is there any such thing as an impossible dream? I think not. I think everything is possible. I think it's all in how you approach it. And it helps to have a good horse and a good sidekick like Sancho Panza. I have the big-ass truck and Rick. I can do anything.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


A rainy Sunday morning. It's late. I slept late, feeling like I needed to rest and regroup after three months of go, go, go. Three months is usually my limit for being away from home. This time was different though, because I didn't know where home was going to be. I didn't even feel it coming. Didn't get homesick or catch a cold or even start whining... Well, OK, for the last hour of driving the other day I whined a little bit. Are we there yet? I need to get out of this truck... But I didn't know that once we got here, I'd want to stop and just be here. I guess three months is still my limit.

A rainy Sunday is a good day for "Blog Lite". I just want to sit by the fire and do little else. I forget to do that sometimes. The rain reminds me. Thank you rain.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


Oh my... I think we're going steady...
Yesterday morning, Rick was talking to Ted, the RV park owner, about the possibility of staying longer than just the month of October. We thought maybe until Thanksgiving or so would be good. Ted said he had one long term spot left, over by the creek, but it wouldn't be available for a couple of weeks. If we wanted it, he wanted a commitment until March. March! Yikes! That's a lot longer than we were thinking! But when Rick came back to tell me all this, I took about two seconds and one huge deep breath to say, Let's take it. An unbelievable amount of logic flashed through my mind in those two seconds. For starters, we've had our sights set on Ashland for years. What better way to see if we like it than to go through a winter? Forget the dreamy loveliness of spring and summer. Anybody can love that. Winter has a way of showing you what you're made of. Might as well dig in and get down to it. Also, the constant traveling we've done for the last three months has been expensive. Diesel for the big-ass truck is always shockingly spendy, and at an average of $30 a night for RV parks, rent has been anything but cheap. One other big consideration is that I can't make all the family money anymore. The bead business, like so many others, has dwindled down to a slow trickle that makes me feel more like a hobbyist than a "famous artist". I just can't do it, so Rick needs to find some work, and that means staying in one place for a while. That's a lot of thinking in two seconds!

I'm cracking up here, because I've always said I want to live by a stream. We've had a few nice spots this summer, on great big rivers, for a night or two. And now we'll have this darling little ribbon of water behind our "house" for the next few months. It's only a few inches wide, but I suppose it will get bigger when the rains come. And who knows, maybe my trickling little business will follow its example. I'm so excited, and so amused, and only mildly freaked out. I didn't know this was what I wanted, but now that I have it, it feels really good, and it's a relief to know that rent will be only $400 a month for a while. It includes everything; water, electric, sewer, TV, internet, and that sweet little creek. Amazing.

I guess one leap of faith leads to another. Every step along the way that got us to this point has been a leap of faith. And now that we're here, we'll take our time and enjoy a nice long courtship with Ashland. Yesterday's first date went well, starting with an afternoon stroll through town, and later, the gallery walk, with Mitzi showing us all the best places. Today I'll get some work done. And tomorrow we'll go to see our very first Oregon Shakespeare Festival play. Don Quixote at the Elizabethan Theatre. This is exciting and expensive. We have no business doing this, but we have to anyway. This is how we prime the pump, how we embrace Ashland so that she will embrace us. A leap of faith to spend some money, to begin to become part of the community, to say, OK, here we are, and we're going to make the most of every little day. It's what we believe and how we live no matter where we are, and now it seems even more important to walk our talk. More fun too. Here we are. Here we go. Weeee!!!

Friday, October 2, 2009

first date

We've been flirting with Ashland for years, watching from afar, perking up our ears for news and tidbits of information, hoping, just hoping for the chance to say hello. And now, at long last, here we are, standing at the door of the party, struggling to come up with a good opening line. Tonight is "First Friday" in Ashland, the monthly gallery walk that everyone who's anyone will surely attend. Fortunately, we have Mitzi and Ron (my cool and talented cousin, and her darling and socially well-connected husband) to show us around and introduce us to some fun people. I feel like tonight is our "first date" with Ashland, and I'm actually a little nervous. What will I wear? Will my hair behave itself? What if, after all this time, we don't like it here? Or if Ashland somehow rejects us the way Taos, with her ever-looming Mountain is known to do? What if, what if, what if..........

Or what if everything works out great? That could happen too, and likely will happen. And after all, we're only dating. It's still early in our flirtation with Ashland. Too soon to even call it a relationship. There have been no promises made, no commitments, not even so much as phone numbers exchanged. My deepest hope is that we will all fall in love with each other and live happily ever after, but it's too soon to start shopping for rings or talking to wedding planners. We're dating, just dating. And tonight we'll do our best to make ourselves pretty and try to make a good first impression.


We drove down the Oregon Coast yesterday. Not the first time for either of us, and I'm sure we'll do it again and again. A beautiful drive. Try it sometime. My pictures are available on Facebook.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


In the past, when I've moved to a new place, it was well planned and I knew about it far, far in advance. A house was chosen, and rented or purchased, schools and shopping were carefully considered, and I had a big truck filled with all my worldly goods strapped to my back, giving me a mixed sense of security and encumbrance. That's how a normal person moves, and I tried to be normal for years.

Today we're leaving Newport, Oregon, and driving down the coast for a while. At some point we'll take a left and scoot on over to Ashland. I am savoring this name and this day like a bit of deepest dark chocolate with sea salt on top. Ashland... It has been my dream to live there since before we moved to Taos. In fact, Ashland and Taos were neck and neck, and for reasons I've forgotten, the southwest won that particular coin toss. I think we needed to go there. No regrets, and many happy memories. But now I'm smacking my lips at the prospect of maybe, just maybe, actually getting to live in Ashland. And oh, what living I can imagine there.

All days are uncertain, but today is uncertain even more than most. We might actually be moving to Ashland today, or we might only be visiting. We won't know... until we know. This is not normal. I'm aware of that. It would make a lot of you queasy in your boots if you were plopped into my place. But believe me when I say, I love this kind of roller coaster ride. We are happily dancing smack in the middle of the Chaos from which all great dreams begin.

I'm resisting jumping across the canyon from this morning straight to this evening. I want to feel every bit of this whole long day. I want to take the long way over, down into the shadows, along the winding afternoon, and back up the craggy wall to Sometime This Evening, when we'll finally be there. Or maybe not finally. Maybe only temporarily. This day means a lot, and I still have to be comfortable with the possibility that it might mean nothing at all. No expectations? Not possible for me today. Low expectations? Too mundane... I'll settle for slowly melting, rich, sweet, salty, sticky, smooth slow expectations. Let's see where this day takes us.