Sunday, February 24, 2008


This is Twerp.

Here's the cover of the Byberry book. I'm the little white dot at the far right corner. Robert is walking behind me.

Check out that Grandma hair!

This is a picture of Mabel, sleeping on my office chair, and my new desk that Robert built for me. But mostly, it is a picture of how messy my office is.

Happy birthday, all you Februaries! Lindy, Colleen, Dawn, Susie, Susan, Lucas, Margaret, Jane and Norma!

This is a quiet, snowy Sunday afternoon. Robert has ventured out for a walk but I am too paralyzed by lists of things I must get done to do that. ARGH!

I am enjoying my new "job" very much, but I still feel so much at sea about it. I put the word job in quotes there, because having a job usually means that you get paid for the work you do. But my poor boss is having a terrible time. She has to wait for final approval on some sculptures in order to get paid for them, all the while trying to pay employees, make improvements to the foundry building, and buy materials. I have been working full time, but she is only able to pay me for a few hours a week. I expect the situation to get better eventually, and I feel I am getting some useful training, as well as being in a better state of mind doing something that gets me out of the house. I am not in financial difficulty yet, but that may come. For the time being, I have the supplement of unemployment insurance, but that isn't going to last forever, and working for free for someone arguably makes it difficult to work for someone else for money. That may run contrary to the unemployment rules, but I am still applying for regular lawyer jobs, and I swear, if ANYBODY calls me back, I'll jump on it! I figure whatever ends up happening will be a sign from God. I just wish that God would stop speaking to me in mysterious ways, and just pick up the phone and tell me what to do!

This artistic life -- made up of of periods of panic about money interspersed with periods of panic about looming deadlines, smoothed out with moments of creative zen -- is something I know well, as I lived it with my parents for decades. I suppose it is not such a prudent choice for someone like me, who really ought to be thinking about retirement and the need to squirrel some bucks away, but it sure has been interesting! For the past few weeks I have been working on a sculpture of an American WWII soldier for a war memorial. He looks like a giant version of those green plastic "army guy" toys, as my brothers called them. I spent a week on a wax rifle, smoothing joins and filling in tiny air bubbles, and rebuilding a gunsight and other parts that didn't get filled in the mold correctly, or got 'smooshed' in the molding process. I spent another week or so on the soldier's backpack and shirt collar. All the while Insun (my boss) has been putting the finishing touches on a beautiful sculpture of two cranes perched on a tall pillar, caught in barbed wire. It is so gorgeous and sad, and the ironic thing is, it is also a WWII memorial. This one for Japanese soldiers, and will eventually stand somewhere in Japan. It is stunning to contemplate that in the same rooms we are creating symbols to express heroism and loss for people on opposite sides of the world, on opposite sides of the same terrible conflict.

I have been doing the wax re-work while I look around for other ways to be helpful. I answer the phone and I've tried to take over mundane stuff from Insun, like dealing with suppliers and making sure there's enough coffee and toilet paper to make it through the week. I have yet to tackle the bookkeeping work I originally told her I'd do for her, as the computer I need is still in John and Insun's bedroom at their home.

Robert and I did something different last night. Our neighbors invited us to go to a '50s dance with them at a local Knights of Columbus hall. It was fun. I even danced a little, but most of the music was what they call "mixes"--little snippets of old songs connected together--and I didn't like that too much. I guess I'd also prefer to dance to the REAL dance music of my generation--"Born to be Wild" and "Sympathy for the Devil" come to mind. It was funny to watch all those old, silver-haired people gyrating around on the dance floor, then to look at MY husband, who is MY age, and realize, "Oh no! Am I the only YOUTHFUL person here?" Then, with a shudder, I remember that I've got silver hair, too. I'VE GOT GRANDMA HOGG HAIR! I'M GRANDMA HOGG! ARGH!!!! (But I also inherited Grandma Hogg lovely skin, so I'm not complining that much.)

It did not help to learn that some symposium of radio stations has recently decided to add songs from the 1980's to their "Golden Oldies" collections.

Speaking of my wild hippie youth, I have recently been contacted by my first big heart-throb, John a/k/a "Fuzzy" Backus. He lives in Florida now, and seems to have come back to his senses after years of following one cultish (is that a word?) group after another. I told him I'd critique a book he's writing. This is a stupid promise, as I have a grant proposal to write for the cat shelter, an arts grant proposal for the foundry, my own books to work on, my Mom's book to promote, my friend Herman's book to edit, and MY CHRISTMAS LETTER to write! Oh well. It's so hard to write or even to concentrate when I feel so adrift with this job stuff. NERVES!!!!

What else? I told you all a long time ago that a story I wrote for a series of books called "Tales From The Sanitarium" was supposed to be published. This was connected with the photo shoot Robert and I did at the Byberry Mental Institution in Philadelphia a few years ago. I kept being told and told again that it was coming out "next month," and then nothing. We have just received notice that there will be a special publication party and an exhibition about making the book (a movie/slide show) in New York City in March, and we are invited. Sounds like fun, except the announcement/invitation lists the stories in the first book, and mine is NOT one of them! Oh well. I will try to attach a photo of the cover of the book. I am the TEENSY-WEENSY little white dot in the far right corner of the uppermost photo. I think Robert is behind me, but you probably won't be able to make him out.

I'll also try to upload some pictures of other things. Maybe some of our kitties (who wouldn't get out of our room and kept Robert up ALL NIGHT) and if they aren't too dark, a picture of the dance last night, or maybe a picture of my kitchen window or my new office, who knows?

Twerp used to be my Mom's cat and now he lives here, getting fatter and fatter every day. He is so fat and round, in fact, that when he tries to clean his little pink butt, he rolls back and just keeps on rolling, like a beach ball. He has to roll himself up against a wall or something in order to do any really effective cleaning. Without going into nauseating detail, I will tell you that this prime situation doesn't occur often enough. I have started to refer to Twerp's anatomy as "the Black Hole of Cat-butta." I tell him all the time how he should try to be more fastidious, but he doesn't care.

In the morning Twerp runs downstairs with me to the kitchen, where he falls over in a dramatic fashion and acts like Scarlet O'Hara on her lounge, dying from lack of sustenance. Then I lay out a line of four kitty treats (little brown things shaped like rabbits, about the size of my little fingernail) and he gobbles them up. This one morning, when he threw himself down like that, a crusty bit of matter from his nether regions fell off. I told him how disgusting and awful that was, but he ignored me and went after the kitty crunchies. Then he accidentally went toward his own personal "crunchy," and -- my goodness! You never saw such a dirty look from a cat! He absolutely thinks I tried to play a trick on him, and since then, he won't eat kitty treats! He just pats at them, and glowers at me.

Cats are a hoot.

Write soon. I am planning on a four-day trip to Michigan around St. Patrick's Day. I'm looking forward to seeing Mom. Maybe I'll see some of you then, too.


F and R

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