designing is not something I do
Wednesday, April 10 2013
This morning Gretchen and I were roused out of bed by an altercation taking place just outside the front door. I looked out and saw Nancy and Ray and their new puppy Jack, a several-month-old Black Labrador whom we'd heard about but not yet met. He's from one of those dog rescue organizations that shuttles dogs up from the American south, a place that, in terms of humanity towards stray dogs, might as well be Guatemala. As it turns out, Jack is unusually shy for a dog of that age and didn't react well to Ramona's aggressively space-invading welcome. Once inside, he pretty much cowered in Ray's lap, growling at Ramona whenever she came close. Jack also growled at Clarence the cat, who was curious and completely unafraid. I made some coffee (our household coffee "rules" permit us to make a pot when guests are visiting) and Gretchen heated up some British crumpets from Trader Joe's. The morning was cool enough to justify a fire in the woodstove, and the combination of all these things gave a Sunday morning vibe to our living room scene.
Ray and Jack today. Click to enlarge.
Note the mug, given to us by our Portland friend Gilly. Click to enlarge.
I spent most of the rest of the day either thinking about or producing crude designs for Hudson Valley Seed Library seed packets. I'd applied to be an artist for one (or perhaps more) of the packets and had survived the first round of elimination. Now I had to come up with designs. But designing anything runs somewhat counter to my creative process; what I tend to do is organically create things, tinkering with them until they are done and never really having a goal beyond a short-term notion of a feature or detail to be added. In this way my creations are similar to organisms or ecosystems, which are similarly built up as palimpsests of features and vestiges. I sketched out all my designs using paper on pencil, scanned them into my computer, and then further reworked them as grey-scale illustrations, adding shading and moving design elements around. They were still crude drawings, but now they were "designs" I could use as guidance should I actually be called upon to paint a seed packet painting.
At some point today a cold rain started falling, which made a woodstove fire that much more essential in the provisioning of ambience for one of Gretchen's poetry get-togethers taking place this evening. (These get togethers are the kind where Gretchen meets on an irregular basis with a number of mostly older ladies at each others' houses to discuss poetry they've read; it's not to be confused with poetry writers' groups, which Gretchen gets paid to lead.) I always try to hide out in the laboratory while such things are going on, materializing into the well-lit and cozily-heated downstairs only after everyone is gone. Of course, when I came down this evening it wasn't just Gretchen down in the kitchen; our odd slow-talking houseguest Joseph the intern was there as well. (He's reminding us a bit of Arthur, the character played by Rainn Wilson on Six Feet Under.) I hadn't had dinner yet, so I found myself snacking gluttonously on crackers flavored with an herbal "cheese" spread Gretchen had recently made from some sort of vegan cultured substance. It was delicious.
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