slogging through the weeks

The house looks & smells & sounds wrong. There’s water on the floor of the basement.

Night after night, I dream that I’m cleaning out attics and basements. Throwing away mildewed bolts of ornate fabric, broken lawn furniture, jars of bleached pickles, box after box of other people’s tax records. I sleep okay until about 3:30, and then I doze fitfully until I get up at 4:30 or 5.

The contractors show up every weekday at 7 AM. Shortly thereafter, the banging starts. Most days I leave by 7:30. I go to the studio and work on this thing:


The blue stuff is frit, tiny chips of broken glass. The backs of my hands are covered with little scratches.

By Thursday night, I’ve usually hit a wall. My shingles-infested shoulder and arm are sore. Sometimes my eyes stop working properly. Sometimes I go to bed at 8 o’clock.

I spend Fridays alternately sleeping and crying in my studio.

Saturdays and Sundays I get up at 4. I feed the cat and make myself a cup of tea. After I drink the tea and snuggle the cat, I go back to bed and sleep for another couple of hours. It’s the best thing ever. By Monday I feel halfway sane again.

I can’t go on. I’ll go on. One of these days they’ll finish putting the house back together, and life will feel more manageable.

nine months

When I discovered how bad the moth problem had gotten in my studio, I hung one of my wool-covered wire sculptures in a lilac bush in front of my house. I planned to photograph it every month for a year. And I did, for many months, even though I sometimes felt it was kind of boring.

This month, boredom almost stopped me. I wasn’t going to take a picture, but I did go out and look at it. And it was covered with snow, which was different. So here is a picture:


eight months | seven months | six months

five months | four months | three months

two months | one month | the beginning


I wear leather gloves when I’m working on my sculptures. The left glove always wears out before the right one. Here is what a glove looks like when it stops being useful to me:


The right one ends up filthy too, but much less ragged.

It makes me sad to have to throw both gloves out and buy a whole new pair.



still waiting

It was about this time of year, and I was having thoughts about the darkness and the gradual return of light. I was trying to explain them to N. “It’s getting lighter,” I said, “but nothing’s really changed yet. We’re still waiting.”

“Where is God in all this?” she asked (she was a Presbyterian minister).

I thought about it for a minute. “God is small,” I said, “and needs close attention.”

A few months later, I told her I felt like I had a wire cage inside of me. She looked at me like I had two heads, so I made a sculpture for her as a visual aid. It would be the first of a series, but I didn’t know that yet. The sculpture was human scale, too large to bring to her office, so I brought her a photo of it.

what a healthy girl — and such plentiful organs! (2004)

N said she thought I would be better off working with someone else.

Years later, E and I stood in my studio in front of the actual sculpture and I told her that story. “How was that for you?” she asked.

I said it had been a relief. We had been stuck for a long time. The sculpture showed me the way out.

We stood next to each other, looking at it, and I felt the beginning of a sort of light returning to my body. It had been gone so long I had forgotten it was even missing. Nothing had changed yet, but something was different.

Merry Christmas, my invisible friends. I wish you just enough light to see the next step. It turns out that’s all you need.

Tractor Supply Co

I took a different route to work this morning, and drove past the Tractor Supply Co that opened in Lebanon earlier this year. I had never been in there before, but it seemed like it might be a useful place for me to know about.

It might be the most American place I have ever set foot in. The music was countrified Christmas carols, and the whole place smelled like a Yankee Candle store. They didn’t have the cat food I was looking for, but they had mouth wash for dogs.

IMG_0008(fer fuck’s sake)

I’m glad I went though, because they had the 16 gauge dark annealed steel wire I like to work with (which can be hard to find). It was sitting right next to the portable electric fence wire, so I got some of that too. And porcelain insulators. And nipple shields for my next sculpture battery corrosion washers.


Doesn’t everybody need that kind of thing for their art projects?

In case you are worried about the Teeks: I stopped by the regular pet food place later, so she won’t be going hungry.



I have an older brother. He was born dead, seven years before me. I don’t know what his name was, if he even had one. I don’t dare ask.

From Jennie Vansaco’s excellent “What’s in a Necronym?“:

Fifteen years later, the clinicians Robert Krell and Leslie Rabkin identified three types of replacement children: bound, resurrected, and haunted… A “haunted” child lives in a family overwhelmed by guilt, which imposes “a conspiracy of silence.”

Yes. Even though none of us would describe me as a replacement for him.

How can someone without a name, with such tiny feet, leave such a large footprint?

He probably never even wore shoes.

He is still here, screaming in the corner of the room, using all the air in all the breaths he never took.