Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Stopping to Smell Roses

I realize that a lot of my posts are wither about my day job or my days off and maybe not so much about printing or new ideas or the piles of fun wonders I have been creating.  Winter is for hibernating but I can't seem to get  up to full excitement speed.  I've been a little bit sick, very tired and working a lot at something that isn't my love.  That's just what I am doing for now.  How do I combat the lethargy that comes with being tired and sick? All the good ways: walking, small adventures, and remembering to take care of myself.

That's why you get a lot of photos of days off in the park.  You can't work all the time, no matter how much you love what you do. You still need rest and fuel.  Today I took a break from designing the new postcard to go fro a walk at the Oakland Rose Garden.  And what timing! Everything is in bloom (except one poor plant, misnamed "eternity").   I went to the rose garden last year for the first time, but foolishly rode up and over many hills to arrive.  It is tucked on the backside of a hill, in a secret little valley.  It is small and though the flowers are amazing, the whole park is under maintained and a little wild.  All of which makes it the perfect walking spot on an April afternoon.

Things are happening. Our garden is in a state of indecision as we prepare to find a new living space in Oakland. Plans for summer are made.  Maybe I will stop picking up extra shifts and finally make Eric's book and Janet's business cards.  I have been working on things I am not ready to share but maybe that will change.  Meanwhile I have big plans for 3 kinds of pizza this weekend for friends coming to visit this weekend on tour.  And I have been receiving many postcards from y'all and new subscribers, so thanks everyone! I better get to work!

This was my favorite, the Audrey Hepburn

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Across the Bay

northern california coast!
Between tour schedules and work and plans and all, our out-of town anniversary adventure had to be condensed to 2 days so we didn't go too far.  Lucklity we live in the Bay Area and you don't have to go far.  We took BART to San Francisco for breakfast, then rode our Oakland-city bikes across the Golden Gate Bridge to the Marin Headlands.  It was hard to beat the crescent moon over the hills in view of the Pacific Ocean, within walking distance of the Nike Missile site. No swimming but we still managed to get sunburns. A perfect little vacation.
beachy spring!

harbor seals!


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Works ______ With Others part I

  I'm not going to bore you with stories of busy-ness and certainly there are no excuses. But here is a showcase of some of the things I have printed in the past 2 months.  There has been a lot of collaborating going on, some more successful than others.
hand set type, silver on black paper, printed at SFCB

Thou is touring a bunch these moths.  Which means Andy is out of town and I will probably eat more burritos.  I might even catch up on posting Keep Writing photos to the Tumblr website. Maybe.  The best part is that Thou is coming here with Cloud Rat. Which means I get to see them all play and I got to make this poster for some of the shows here. You have to go the website to see the whole list.  And you can get a peek in Bryan's brain as there are days marked for writing and practicing and a to do list that looks little too familiar.  Anyway, these posters were printed at the San Francisco Center for the Book, using their beautiful collection of handset type and photo plates.  I printed while Andy learned about locking in the type, furniture, distributing type and got snacks for us.   I will have these for sale at the shows for $5 and on etsy if there are any left after that.
5.75 x 8 letterpress on somerset paper, image by cecilia hedin
I was lucky to work with designer Cecilia Hedin again to print another hybrid animal postcard.  She sends me a drawing done in film--coated black plastic that she essentially scratches at. I turn it into a plate and print it with the type she chooses. The Goldfant is her 3rd such creation. Her line work is amazing and the fluorescent makes it so fun!
keep writing numbers 59 and 61!
Jeremy Sedita of Sea Monster Workshop was kind enough to let me use two of his drawing for two months of postcards while I was working too much at non-print endeavors.  The first one came out quite nice but the second one had some issues with poor resolution and added text.  It was a fine enough postcard but not exactly Jeremy's work. He's a sweetie and a great artist so don't let the poor linework fool you. The sloppy/loose/handmade look is all me.

There's more but I will save it for another day soon. Rain finally came to California, which means the plants are all reaching for the endless sun and I light have to go take a little ride around the block to check it out! More soon!

Friday, February 28, 2014

Rain for a Draught

The rain has been bringing the birds out in the spaces between storms.  One side of the sky clears while another heavy blanket slinks in.

lavender and pineapple sage flowering

I feel like the past two months have been a counting game of weeks and duties.  Payroll and scheduling and rearranging and sleeping through off days and trying, twice to work a second temporary job.  The off time has felt glorious. Two weeks ago I stopped trying to cram in more stuff, more work, more timelines and decided just to take care of the job at hand.

As I mentioned two months ago, I have been the temporary manager at a vegan cafe in Berkeley. I went from dishwasher to manager in a few months, or, even better, food prep to manager in two weeks.  How did it go? I haven't been printing too much and if I have, I haven't been able to tell you about it. After the first week I gave up trying to avoid overtime.  Luckily the days have been getting longer too so now I occasionally leave when the sun is shining.

When it isn't raining, that is.

neglected fractal cauliflower

But I am grateful for the rain.  There is a draught here in Californina and honestly, the months without any rain at all are eerie.  Not to complain about endless sun and temperate weather but the plants have been sad.  And, in a larger sense, the entire agricultural system is under stress.  But I won't go into that here. Sufficice it to say that I have been busy and I have been learning a lot about myself.   For example, I am generally not a very confrontational person. But I have had to deal with upset and irrational people and found that I can do it, with grace and peace, even if I feel a bit queasy afterwards.  Also I have had the opportunity to say exactly what I think about the way my place of employment is run.  Which is liberating. And has me thinking about other possibilities for the future.

For now though, there is this garden, which has thrived despite neglect thanks to rain and luck.

Expect more about printing soon. I have some things I want to share with you. And I am almost ready to start talking about new projects.

the return of rhubarb

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year's Day

I had a plan for January.  I was going to make some paper sculpture, catch up on a backlog of postcards to post, hand address all my New Year's cards.  I thought I was losing my job so I was preparing to print more, scramble more for rent money, and so I took all the extra shifts I could.  Then they asked me to take over at the restaurant.  Instead of closing, the owner decided to stay open but the manager already had a better job offer.  I wrote a long, thought out list about why I wasn't interested in the job.  The best reason was that I like my life, I like working 4 days a week at a decent and likable job and spending my off days making the things I love and wandering the hills of Oakland.  A few days went by and there was no one ready to take the job full time.  I like having a little control in my life, however fleeting and farcical it might be.  I didn't want to find a new job again, I didn't want my co-workers to find a new job, and mostly I wanted things to stay as calm and smooth as possible until they found someone committed who can make the changes needed.  I like where I work, I like my co-workers and it seems things could work.  So I offered to be a temporary manager.  This is how I got a full time job.  It is only for two months, which is 2 weeks longer than Andy suggested, and I have to come home and be nice to him but I think I can do it.  This past week has been a whirlwind of training and I am realizing I have skills I didn't know I had.  So here we go.  Work a bunch, pay off the lingering debt, and see where 2014 falls.

This does mean that I will be on hiatus from taking a lot of new print work.  There are a few people I have talked with casually, or to whom I already owe something (Jeremy---it's coming!) and I will still be sending your postcards.  But I might not take on much else till March.  But in March, boyhowdee watch out.  I feel big things are coming in 2014.  I've napped the past 2 days, and am almost ready for it.  Here we go.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

At Least I'll Have More Free Time...

So you may know that since moving to the Bay Area 15 months ago I have had a number of jobs. Some were temporary, some didn't pay enough and some just didn't work out.  I would love for postcard making to be my full-time job (only 790 more subscribers needed! more or less...) but I have been lucky to have a variety of print-related jobs.  I have also had one steady, there-when-I-need-it, restaurant job.  The hours were flexible, the pay was good and my co-workers are great.  Really really great.  Recently, as a seasonal job came to an end, I decided not to get another job but to stay at the restaurant a few days a week and focus on more printing and bookmaking.

Then a few days ago, on the morning of our holiday party, the owner of the restaurant decided to close it down.  In two weeks.  Since then, he has recanted and thinks maybe we'll stay open for awhile longer.  Not because he employs 20 amazing, talented individuals who are about to visit family or work extra hours so coworkers can do so, but because he was advised financially not to close. Not yet. I get that business is business, and this is how capitalism works. Our restaurant was losing money and there are definitely things that could be done to make it more efficient.  We all did our best with that but ultimately, those decisions aren't up to us.  We knew it might end but we didn't expect it mid-December, while adjusting to new changes.  Some co-workers wish he would've given us more notice, while I think that the incertainty and impending job loss has sunk morale, added stress and leaves us generally unmotivated. I still show up for my shifts and do my job but it would be foolish to not be looking for alternate employment.  Our job isn't changing much in the world but it is amazing to work in a place where people care about each other and consider each other friends.  It is pretty special as far as restaurant jobs go.

I've thought about what is going to happen to us all. None of us are financially secure and I'd bet few of us have savings. Four households have 2 folks employed here which means 2 people loosing income at the same time.  I am angry at the guy who thinks this is an acceptable way to treat people and then I realized it doesn't matter.  It sucks to be job hunting and it is stressful and unemployment won't even cover my rent, but we are a lucky group of folks, youngish, educated and experienced and creative.  So while I want to complain, to vent, I also want to check myself.  We are lucky to have support systems and no dependents. We can creative folk with varied talents who are sure to work out something and probably,  eventually, something better.  But I also want that guy to think about he is affecting our lives, how making business decisions on a whim will not win you loyalty nor love nor even decently motivated employees.  The owner was there the other day, after telling us we might have our jobs for a few more weeks or not, and I wanted to tell him that the reason we showed up for work that day was because we are loyal to each other and we all need one more paycheck.  But I chickened out. And I didn't think he'd get it.

Maybe I'll start an employment agency.   There is a great variety of skill and talent among my co-workers.  Or if you were thinking of starting a vegan sandwich shop but need a staff, let me know.  I think I have something for you.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Ebb and Flow

Using a space heater to coax the ink across the rollers.
I won't complain about the cold because I am not that Californian yet, even if it is below freezing at night making our little space heater work its hardest.  Because in the middle of the day I spread mulch on hte garden which is getting along just fine.

Two days of printing and one cup of tea

We've been busy here, printing and printing and binding for the holiday season and already our sale season is over.  You can still but journals, blank books and post card subscriptions as gift on etsy.  If you order any blank books or datebooks for $10 or more, I will send you five randomly selsected postcards from the Keep Writing archives. This offer is good through the end of the year but you have to order by December 17th to get it in time for Christmas.
this could be yours!

Last weekend, we set up to table at Oakland's First Friday but packed up immediately as it began to rain. The light mist continued all night, enough to bum anyone out but luckily we went home.  It would have been our first tabling event with Gazelle and Goat but it seems it was not meant to be.  Instead, we went out for pizza and went to bed early in anticipation of the East Bay Alternative Book and Zine Fest.  I was seated next to the sweetest, most excited pair I could hope for.  I went home with an armload of new reading, including a bunch of poetry.  I have barely dug in but the prose poems of Julian S. of Ash and Bone and the comic zine by Lacey both made a surprise afternoon off even much better.

basket of zines!

I am also taking some time to look ahead to the new year, to think about making paper like I have been talking about, writing more, finishing a new zine and hopefully so much more.  This morning I gathered these marigolds seeds to save for when the weather is a little more hospitable.  Until then, hunker down with a warm drink and take care.