Feb 012016
 
wood stove

Wood stove by Paul Johnson.

There was a certain irony in my recent post about Paul Johnson’s talk, since one of the photos included a beautifully crafted paper rendition of a wood stove that was part of one of Paul’s books.

I haven’t yet mentioned this here, but an increasingly large part of my life lately has been, and is, devoted to anti-woodsmoke activism. Humboldt County has always been a smoky place. But it has gotten noticeably worse over the last several years. Our lives have become a breathless misery (we all have asthma, including Dominic the cat, and, before he died, Larry the cat as well).

I started doing some research on the matter, and I soon discovered that it wasn’t our imagination that wood smoke is not a good thing to be inhaling. I began to connect with others online who are suffering because of wood burning. It is not a small community. There are a lot of sick and unhappy people out there who are running up big medical bills and who’ve been forced from their homes because of what their neighbors are sending up the chimney. It’s a growing problem.

More people seem to be turning to wood stoves in an attempt to lower their heating costs. Unfortunately, their neighbors wind up subsidizing those heating costs with their own increased medical expenses. (See the 17 Reasons to Ban Wood Burning publicized by the group Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment).

Part of the problem is that many people think of wood as something natural. They believe it is environmentally a better choice. However, wood smoke is now thought to be more toxic than cigarette smoke, and the research on it is overwhelming and clear: it kills. Wood smoke exposure is known to cause asthma, heart attacks, strokes, COPD, lung cancer, systemic inflammatory responses and more. It is even now thought to play a role in the development of neurological disorders and dementia.

I’ve become involved with a group of people who are fighting against wood smoke in their communities. An outgrowth of this effort is a new international organization that is being formed to fight wood smoke pollution. It’s still getting going. And I hope to help in whatever way I can.

I’ve also, of course, directed some of my creativity towards the cause.


Times Have Changed: Burning wood harms health

The EPA’s “Burn Wise” program was developed in partnership with the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association, an industry lobbying group that sends its members to training workshops on how to lobby against clean air initiatives. They put out a booklet last year entitled “Tips For Communicating With Congress.” Their mission is to get people to buy more stoves, not to protect health. The problem is that those newer stoves aren’t as clean and green as people have been led to believe. Newer “EPA approved” stoves actually can emit more dioxins, furans and other carcinogens than older stoves. These are some of the most toxic chemicals you can be exposed to. Their performance also degrades over time. Within a few years, they can emit as much particulate pollution as an older stove. The wording from the piece below comes directly from the EPA’s website, but with my own alterations:

Smoke Wise

A few selected links for more information:

Families for Clean Air

Clean Air Revival/Burning Issues

Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment

“Woodstoves may be as toxic as cigarettes,” newspaper article

Comments to an article in the BMJ

Note: After the latest round of WordPress updates, the lightbox feature suddenly stopped working. If you click on the pictures, they don’t enlarge. But if you right click, you can get an enlargement in a separate window. I suspect this is going to be one of those things that will take a while to sort out… ugh. 

Nov 072015
 

Dominic the cat carrying a chipmunk

Appearances to the contrary, I wanted to let you all know that I’m still around and plan to blog again. I’ve just been having a bit of an extended break. As a chronically sick person living with someone who is even more chronically sick than I am, this is sometimes necessary.

Dominic recently presented me with (hmm… a coded message perhaps?), and I feared you all were thinking the same thing.

It turned out my fears for the chipmunk in the photo were premature, I’m happy to say. When Dom got closer, I realized the poor thing was still alive! (It hadn’t looked that way to begin with, and that was why I’d tastelessly bothered to snap a pic on my phone.) Then mayhem ensued after I dropped the phone and tried to encourage him to drop the chipmunk (he growled and ran with it).

Then it dawned on me. He’s lazy. He might prefer canned.

So I scurried into the house and returned with one of his favorite flavors of Fussy Feast and loudly opened it near him. He dropped the chipmunk. The chipmunk ran like hell toward some trees and looked remarkably ok.

Fortunately for Dom’s prey, but less so for Dom, he has no canine teeth and had just had his nails trimmed the day before.

Chipmunks will prevail.

Oct 032013
 

Big stamps above worktable

We’ve been having so much fun around here. Half the roof had to be replaced. A rain storm happened in the middle of the roof replacement. The tarp didn’t work in one spot.

The water mess is mostly cleaned up now — mostly — but it has meant even less time in the studio. No studio time and lots of loud noise and lack of sleep makes for a grumpy Chipmunk.

I needed to get less grumpy. It was time for simple, mindless paper crafting and a small amount of studio decorating.

There’s one patch of unused wall above a drafting table. It’s too high and inaccessible for a shelf. I’d thought I might hang something decorative there, but had never gotten around to it.

If you scan something quite small, such as a postage stamp, at a high resolution you can turn it into something considerably larger with no loss of image quality. These stamps were scanned at their usual size at 3200 dpi, then resized to roughly 12 x 18″ at 300 dpi — perfect for printing on a 13″ wide printer.

I have a lot of stamps.

Big stamps

Atoms for Peace

 

Jul 142013
 

These other paper aficionados have set up house right over one of my studio’s windows. Oh dear.

My new neighbors.

My new neighbors.

Update: There are two of them. One on either side of the house. The other is high up in a redwood. We’ve decided to let them stay… for now. We’ve been told they are mellow paper wasps, as opposed to the scary hornets we had a few years ago. Even so, I sure don’t want to offend them.

Nest Number 2

Next to the Window

Outside the window.

Mar 052012
 

My experiment in blogging began three years ago today. Chewing with the Paper Chipmunk has changed quite a bit since then. A lot of things have changed since then.

Peek-a-boo...I see you...

But one thing has not.

My very first post was about the black widow spiders in my studio. They, alas, are still here. As I walked in the door the other day, I spied a rather large specimen darting behind a big heavy bookcase that is bolted to the wall (this is, after all, California). I can’t move the bookcase, and there isn’t much I can stick back there with which to remove her nor, I am imagining, her several hundred children waiting to hatch.

I’m not particularly worried about being bitten. Black widows, as far as I know, keep to themselves and don’t wander too far. She’s kind of cute, in her way. I’ve since seen her hide upon sight of me a few other times. Charming. Really. Delightful. Most delightful.

And now that I’ve probably scared off all my spider phobic readers (Wait! Come back!), I want to announce a celebratory blogiversary giveaway—my very first. I never dreamt three years ago how many fabulously eccentric, fun, funny, creative and all-around wonderful people I would meet through this blog. Thank you all.

Leave a comment, and I’ll send you a little surprise. I loved Amanda Watson-Will’s idea of sending a little something to several people (and, I must say, her little giveaway book was delightful). I’m not sure if my small surprise will be delightful, but that will be the idea here, at least for all legitimate and welcome comments (alas, unfortunately there’s been a dark side to having the blog as well…). The deadline is the end of this coming weekend (before Monday 12th) California time.

And I promise—you won’t find any stowaways in the the package.

Jul 012011
 

Some of my blogging friends have been doing things like Worktable Wednesdays or finding other thematic days to highlight their studios. I thought I’d join in. Muddled Monday came to mind, but it’s not Monday. Disarray Daily is more all-purpose. Although Freaked Out Friday might’ve worked as well.

I need to get stuff done. I have a show headed toward me. Thanks to my various maladies, I feel muddled and very, very tired. Pretty much all the time. I have been doing things, but not finishing much of anything. I have quite a few half-made prototypes and projects. I keep telling myself this is good — better than no projects at all! Still.

I decided that I need to pick one thing and focus on it as best as I can. Just start working through the list. First up is a flag book called You’re Not Paranoid. I made one similar to it a couple of years ago, and decided to make a more polished small edition. This is my prototype copy. I took Karen Hanmer’s advice and used a heavier weight paper for the flags than the spine. This ensures a satisfying tactile experience when opened.

A few other things in the pipeline: a small edition foldout book about germs with petri dish covers; a Board Book for Bored Children that will require a disclaimer that, no, I’m not really suggesting children play with matches or bleach etc; a book about memory made with a dollhouse window in a box (still being assembled); and an accordion consisting of layers of transparencies. Still not started, but being contemplated, is something with a skeletons in the closet theme. And I haven’t forgotten the vending machine minis, although I haven’t been able to do much with them at the moment. I feel overwhelmed.

The pages will actually all be connected, accordion-like and attached to the petri dish.

Transparencies layered with dry mount adhesive. This is becoming more complicated than anticipated.

Really kids, don’t try this at home.

Most of these projects keep winding up piled on my table. Often all at the same time.

Reminds me . . . years ago a friend came to visit. He was a sculptor whose work emphasized open space and clean lines. After sitting down in my studio, he began to look noticeably uncomfortable. Beads of sweat formed on his brow. He needed to go outside.

My workspace gave him a panic attack.

Jun 252011
 

http://www.says-it.com/safety/index.php

With grateful thanks to Buechertiger, I discovered that my blog feed was messed up without me knowing it. The new feed was working on my end and sporadically working elsewhere, so I didn’t realize that others were having a problem. It used to work. I’m not sure what happened — possibly it had something to do with the forward that I have set up from the old blog. Whatever it was, I’m grateful to my persistent friend for leading me to dealing with it.

Unfortunately, in spite of trying to do it without dumping everyone, the only way I was able to get everything working right in the end was to start over. ARGH!! My growing list of deeply appreciated followers is now . . . gone. Blogger misery and isolation.

I do realize I’m trying your patience at this point over this @#$%! blog move, but please, I’m hoping you’ll find it in your hearts (and that you’ll find that, on the whole, I’m more entertaining than annoying enough) to resubscribe, even if you just did after the move. This really should be the last time. Thank you very much. And now please excuse me while I go pound my head against the wall.

My answering machine says that I’ve been abducted by aliens again and when the probing is finished, I’ll return the call. Moving this blog has, at times, really felt like. . . never mind.

I’ve been thinking about caution signs. I’m currently working on an edition of flag books that has some inside. Not showing aliens, but surveillance cameras. A peek is coming soon.

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a paper crafts story. I have a surveillance camera in my studio, aimed over my worktable. It’s actually just a paper model designed by Kenn Munk that came with the book Papercraft: Design and Art with Paper. But the weird thing is, even though I glued it together and put it there, I found myself, in the first few weeks it was there, frequently looking up at it with a vague sense of unease, as if it were real. I’ve noticed that people quietly eye it when they come in. Interesting.

Nov 242010
 

Heavens! This has nothing to do with paper, books or art, but is so pleasing I just had to mention it. About a day ago my bedroom started to smell as if it were filled with roses. Lots of roses.

Then I noticed sticky gobs of sap by my printer (fortunately, not on the printer). I looked straight up over my head and saw this. It’s a Dracaena (commonly known as a corn plant). I’ve had plants like this for 25 years and never previously had one do this. Its name turns out to be Dracaena fragrans—those lushly-scented flowers, apparently, are a defining feature.

One houseplant website says they rarely bloom indoors. I thought I was mean to it, but it turns out they like low light and forgetful watering. Who knew?

It sits right next to a mother-in-law’s tongue that blooms annually. Perhaps this will become a regular occurrence.

One of my mother-in-law’s tongues in bloom.
Jan 102010
 

We had a 6.5 magnitude earthquake yesterday, centered to the south of us here in Humboldt County. Fortunately for us, we shook a lot and lost our electric for several hours, but there was no damage and nothing fell off the shelves here at home. People we know who are not that far to the south didn’t get off quite so lucky.

The photo above was taken at the seaside in the town I live near, Trinidad, about a week ago. This general area is scenic, but seismically scary. A few major tectonic plates converge here. Eighteen years ago we had a series of three major earthquakes over two days. It was the only time I’ve ever seen an entire house (the one I was living in) wag vigorously back and forth. I wound up with a deep appreciation for the flexible wooden buildings we have here in California (nothing, miraculously, broke in spite of that motion).

Our most recent event made the national news. This coverage [update: since removed] from the San Jose paper includes a couple of YouTube videos. One of these is like a Humboldt County joke–it shows a bunch of people standing around in the woods like stunned deer, wondering if a redwood will fall on them. Sigh.

Mar 072009
 

Much to my amazement, we didn’t find many black widows in the studio the other day, but instead found all kinds of other things that had fallen behind furniture and storage boxes.

Cleaning my work space feels as futile as going down to the beach and attempting to bail and organize the Pacific, but I guess one has to start somewhere. Part of the problem is that I sometimes do use things like leftover packaging and scraps of paper, so I can rationalize having things like that around. But one needs limits.      

I discovered a while ago that those 3-tiered plastic bin organizing things designed for kids’ bedrooms are useful for messy, visually-minded artists. I’ve had one for a while and have grown fond of it. I keep rulers, inks, glues, small toys (for assemblages, of course), etc in it, and it works great. I like having things out in the open where I can grab at them.