Posted by: bluebirdskies | September 9, 2008

What Do You Do When Your Are Locked in a Vacancy

This is a question that has plagued me for years.  Specifically, ever since I saw and fell in love with The Breakfast Club. I remember all of those angst-y teen years (that, now that I think about it, still prevail even though I am 8 years past being a “teen”) when I could not wrap my tiny pea brain around the idea.  Can I wrap my slightly larger pea brain around the idea now?  Not sure…but what I can do is think, at least, about what the phrase means to me.

Currently, this idea is all about Artist’s Block, that lovely, horrible sensation that can grab hold, shake you around, and ruin your life-at least for a little while.  The question always presents itself:  What do I do when I don’t have any good ideas?  When everything I make sucks?  When I don’t even feel like making work?  As a student, I was always seeking the magic solution, always asking my sage professors for the cure.  The answer was typically, keep working.  Force yourself to work and you will find your way out.  I always found this piece of advice to be difficult to swallow.  Who wants to make work when they don’t know what to make?  Who wants to make work when it always seems to come out looking bad?

Is it obvious that I am stuck in the midst of a block?  I am folks and it is tough.  I am going to press on though and hope that it passes.  In the meantime, in answer to my own question:  What do you do when you are locked in a vacancy?  First, try kicking the door down.  If that doesn’t work, find happiness and peace within the vacancy and hope for the best.  I hope you have snacks in there!

Posted by: bluebirdskies | August 27, 2008

Another Day in the Salt Mines

Every day in the Salt Mines does a number on your body.  Any person working in a salt mine will tell you that.  One surefire way to make sure that your body doesn’t distort over the years is some gentle stretching during the day.  If you have the time for a full yoga practice, this is, of course, the ideal.  But if you don’t have the time or the desire to go full on, try this simple pose when you have a free moment.  This pose has many names, and if you read the On Language column in this Sunday’s Times magazine, you know that some are official, some are arbitrary, and some are just downright silly. For ease of explanation, we will call it Standing Forward Bend, or Uttanasana.

Stand with your feet hips distance apart.  Your abdominal muscles are pulled in slightly.  Your chest is open and your shoulder blades are sliding down your back.  Your spine is nice and long and your chin is slightly tucked.  You have a gentle, slight smile on your face.  As you inhale, stretch your arms above your head, alongside your ears.  Give yourself a nice stretch up and as you exhale, stretch your arms forward, still alongside your ears and begin to bend forward with a nice, flat back.  Think about bringing your belly to knees as you bend forward.  Once you reach the edge of your stretch, you can allow your back to curve slightly and your head to drop like a ripe fruit.  At each exhale, let your body drop deeper into the stretch.

This is a pose of surrender, so once you are there, take a few deep breaths and relax completely.  Take note of where you feel the pose.  In any place that feels tight, focus your mind on that place and breathe into it.

As with most postures, the longer you hold them, the more benefits you will receive.  When you are ready to come out of the posture, bend your knees slightly and slowly roll yourself up, your chin tucked into your chest, stacking each vertebrae on top of the next, until finally your head comes up.  Once standing up again, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths, noting the wonderful effects of Uttanasana.

Posted by: bluebirdskies | August 25, 2008

Welcome to Bluebird Skies!

Today is an atypical day for me and therefore an excellent day to start a blog. I am sitting on an island on a lake in the middle of the great state of New Hampshire. If you have never made it to New Hampshire, I would highly recommend a trip. It is nice and green, lacks pretense, and smells fantastic.

I have been only mildly employed this summer which has lead me to question all that is my life up to this point and where it may lead in the future. Specifically, I have been questioning the ridiculous path of being a visual artist. This is a path, my friends, that chooses you. I have spoken with many of my artist friends and we are all in agreement. If there were another option we would definitely take it. If you are like most normal people, you will find this declaration to be both annoying and ridiculous. I do understand the sentiment. But the level of self-loathing and shear depression that would arise by straying from this path is, for most artists, far too much to handle. We would rather toil in our studios and complain about being broke. I know plenty of wonderful people that had dreams of being artists but lost the spark, got sick of being broke, or ran out of ideas. These people have moved on to have something called a “full-time job” which gives them something novel called a “salary.” This, I believe, makes it possible for them to “do things” and “see people.” I do know that many artists do have full time jobs, choosing to do their work in the evenings and on the weekends. Maybe one day I’ll be capable of that, but at this point, cooking dinner and relaxing with loved ones makes this option undesirable. This brings me to my first recipe that is all at once easy, breezy, and beautiful:

Paddy Paw Pasta
Serves 4
30 minutes from start to finish
This recipe makes the best of farmer’s market fresh summer squash. You can use plain ‘ol zucchini, yellow zucchini, paddy pans, eight balls, or anything else that falls into this category. I usually use a mixture of all of these. I also like to use small zucchini as they tend to be sweeter. My pasta dishes are always heavy on the sauce. As I like to say, “Would you care for some pasta with your sauce?”

10 small zucchini or 20 paddy pans or a mixture
1 large clove or two medium cloves of garlic
3 tablespoons good olive oil
juice from half a lemon
1 cup fresh parsely, chopped
¼ cup pine nuts
1 lb of fettucine
salt and pepper to taste
fresh grated parmesan for the top

heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat
smoosh the garlic through a garlic press or mince it finely and add it to the pan
after 30 seconds, add the squash plus a pinch or two of salt
after 5 minutes, add the lemon juice
cook the squash until it becomes a little bit translucent (about 12 minutes total)

*meanwhile* put water on for the pasta
place the pine nuts in a toaster oven and toast them until they are golden brown-it is important to watch them closely during the process as they can burn easily. Another method is to toast them in a pan if you don’t have a toaster oven.

Once the pasta is cooked, drain it and toss it in with the squash, along with the parsely and the pine nuts. Grate fresh parmesan over it and sit back while your guests sing your praises, hopefully to the tune of “Baby’s Got Back.”