Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Thanks, Velma!

I got home from a trip to Brooklyn to visit our son and his wife and their two-year-old, Nate, very early this morning.  Unfortunately, my husband and I came home with the same wretched cold that had dogged our heels the whole time we were in Brooklyn.  We had spent the whole time in Brooklyn sniffling and hacking and sneezing and whining and feeling pitiful and sorry for ourselves.  Our daughter-in-law had the same cold and our son and Nate had a minor version of it, so many of the things we had planned to do got cancelled.

So I opened email this morning (after sleeping a few hours) and what did I find but a wonderful comment from someone named Velma about a posting I made last year when I first started Real-Life-Journals.  I went back and read the post Velma was commenting on, and I realized there IS a point to keeping a journal and even to blogging about the thing, even when it's as thin and pitiful as my journal from the past two weeks is.  So this post is for Velma, to thank her for inspiring me.  I dug into my journal from this week and it looked pretty lame, not one bit like an art journal or even a visual verbal journal.  It looks more like notes taken on the back of envelopes.  And I decided, well, that's what it is and that's what real about it.

This first entry I made the day I came down with the cold.  I had hiked to the Brooklyn Museum, one of my favorite places in New York as well as one of my favorite walks (and our kids are moving in two weeks from Park Slope, where they've lived for twelve years, to Maplewood, NJ, so we will no longer live in this neighborhood when we visit them).  I really wanted to be out and about as much as possible.  But it was icy cold and very windy, and by the time I got home  I knew I had made a big mistake.  At any rate, this drawing is of a very fine divination and healing piece in the African collection.  I would like to place my cold in a clay vessel and be done with it.  I have some clay. . . .
The next piece reflects the fact that we spent a lot of time sitting around the kids' apartment.  On this day I had cooked a calzone from a Nonna Stella YouTube (lezione 14) and a kale salad.  Nate and I had had a conversation about the subways that his dad takes to his job in Midtown.  Nate loves all train things, including subways, and is currently fascinated by numbers.  I was trying to figure out how to get to Erik's office by subway, thinking we would go there the next day if we felt up to it (we didn't), and trusting Nate to be a good source of information.  It turned out that he was exactly right!

This third page reflects the continuation of the wretched colds.  We were slumped over tea in a neighborhood cafe on the morning of 12/31 watching pigeons fluff out their feathers as they roosted on top of a building across the street.  I ran out of energy and never finished the drawing.  The recipe was from the night before.  I had copied it from Kerstin's recipe journal as I remembered it from another trip, way back when the kids lived in DC the year after they finished college at AU.
So, yes, these are pretty pitiful entries, but I think they're worth making.  And my vow for 2012 is A Page A Day and a posting once a week.  Pretty daunting, and I've already skipped yesterday.  But onward.  Someday this cold will fade away and the days will grow longer and the mornings will be warmer than the 15 degrees we had this morning.


  1. gwen, an honor, indeed! thank you. journaling is always work (even if it's good work) and your work ethic is amazing. get well soon; i know you will now that you're home and can rest (remember the lemon/ginger/honey infusion cure). take good care and please stop in at my blog from time to time!

  2. the bloggy world is indeed a funny ole place - I only found YOUR blog as velma just left a link on HER blog (and I've been following along velma's bloggy journey for a while now....)

    what a double dip of delight to find this blog as I've enjoyed your books (and only yesterday was sitting on my back verandah sharing arty thoughts and books with a fellow Higher Research student and I pulled your 'decorated journal' from my shelf...... )

    ahhhh its a small small world filled with funny moments of synchronicity

  3. I was happy to see your pigeon posting, since I was admiring our local mourning doves this morning. They were perched on the railing of the deck, but had fluffed their feathers out so much they looked like double their usual size.

    I started my sketch diary after reading your first book. I still love to reread it, too. I always find more neat methods to try. Thanks!

  4. hi Gwen
    I reckon whatever we do, whenever we can do it, is useful and lovely... I just want to enjoy the bits I do, so dont feel bad about taking some time out when youre sick and its ... some terrible New York temperature and theres an icy wind blowing and youre hanging out with your kids. Man!

    Its a miracle just to pull it out and say hello to it really I think sometimes..
    Have to stay friends with the process, and whatever youve got happening in there, your stories are always being formed, one way or the other on the page or amongst them somewhere..
    I have to say thanks for the inspiration of your Decorated Journal, as well, I have it out of the library, definitely overdue by now but too precious to take back. Its been helping me do a book for the Sketchbook Project, over the last month or so. I like the fact that you encourage people to do their own work, and not get caught up in the fashions of journal work, the materials and processes that are popular in the blogs, and books, out there.
    Somebody said - in one of the online places I check, lately that a Sketchbook / Journal is in process, its just us using our books, living with them, not a cool collected thing, and I feel that makes sense to me.
    But i'm getting obsessed with making books now, everthing I see looks like a potential cover and I think i'm dreaming of them as well. Have a strong and healthy year to come, keep up the cod liver oil and gargle with sage, and vitamin C - great for sore throats as well.
    Happy making art and being alive, anyway!

  5. Gwen,
    We all missed you terribly on Monday - and had a delightful day wandering around the Museum. So sorry that you were still sick - hopefully recovery is not far away. See you in the Spring.

  6. Sorry to hear about your Wretched Cold - but happy that you'll be up north a little more often! -teri

  7. Thanks, all, for your very encouraging and nice-to-hear comments! The cold is way better today-- even went back to the gym and yoga and didn't need to slink off into any corners to cough and doze all day. Rose-- I appreciate what you said about my books not being about the usual fashions of journal work, the materials and processes. Do you know Jennifer New's book, several years old, about artists' journals? I love that book for the same reason. And one final note- the Decorated Page and Decorated Journal are about to be re-released by Lark as a combination of the two books with a few revisions and some additional material. Dec. Journal has been out of print and very hard to come by for a couple of years now, so I'm happy to have an answer finally to questions about where it can be found. Should be listed on-line soon. And Shirley, whose comment is here, is one of the journal keepers featured in the new edition!

  8. hi Gwen,
    Glad youre going well again
    yes I have Jennifers lovely one, and my daughter is going to get me your new book, very excited about that... she's started a new job and will have resources for that so we're both looking forward to it being released.

    I finally put a cover on my Sketchy book - a woven fabric, backed with paper, and stitched with longstitch along the spine. So thrilled to get up in the morning and find it each time now, with good pages to paint and work in. Not perfect, or prob archivally done, but what a buzz to make it! Something clicked and now I know I can make them.. so glad I stayed with the process and just did it, messy or otherwise. Its going to be hard to send it off to Brooklyn!

    have a wonderful weekend there, its
    Friday here and warm outside.
    happy doing and making things, everyone!

  9. Rosie- I just delivered my Sketchbook Project book to Brooklyn, too, and it WAS hard to let go of it. I had opted to have mine digitized, so I can at least check it out on line from time to time. I made a new sketchbook yesterday, this one out of willow paper that I made last spring and an old birdseed bag. I will post it on my other blog, That's a blog that goes with the micro-business that my friend and I have of making wallets and things out of recycled materials. We have recently expanded into making sketchbook-wallets and sketchbooks out of our materials.

  10. hi Gwen

    just saw your msg now.
    Thats exciting - whats yours under? I mean, just your name, or something different,
    how fun.
    You have to do it, with the deadline, don't you? Amazing to think of everyone finishing them off, and posting them in, what a mountain of books...
    Im glad I scanned and put the images up last time, and have to get this one in, i've already paid to have it digitised.. Last years book is under roshi7 -
    Yes, been checking out your wallets and things, they look good!
    have a lovely weekend , almost there now...

  11. sorry the puter is having a bad day...