Miz Shoes

The Bitch is Back

Miz Shoes has had quite enough of being quiet, thank you. I've gotten over the shock of the Thing That Cannot Be Named. Back to the blog.

So, when I left the world of corporate America, I let my freak flag fly: I dyed my hair magenta and purple and turquoise and all sorts of happy colors. It made most people shy away from me, just a little, here in my little home town. And that was good. In the last three years, though, there has been some sort of seismic shift in little old ladies. They ALL have fucking purple and turquoise and fairy hair and if you doubt me, go to Disney World and observe the grannies from the flyover states rocking the pink.

One night, the unthinkable happened. I was at a meeting (admittedly, of artists) and some random woman with purple hair got right up in my personal space and did something with her face that was meant to be an ingratiating smile. Then she pointed at my hair and hers and made noise to the effect that we must be soul sisters or something. I was filled with horror. My hair color was meant to be a warning, people, not an invitation. I raced back to my seat and called my hairdresser. Two days later, I had no color and very, very short hair.

This is why we can't have nice things.
Miz Shoes

Born in the USA

It was a gorgeous dusk in the 772, and promised a gorgeous sunset. The RLA and I took out the old 'vette for a long run down old A-1-A, looking to get a burger and a beer at Harry and the Natives on a Saturday night. We pulled in to a spot in the parking lot and were faced with a TRUMP sign stuck in a planter. I gave it the benefit of the doubt, after all, parking lot/planter... could have been a diner who left it behind. So we trotted in to the hostess, but on the inner doors, in front of her stand, was taped up a Make Amurka Great Again sign.

I just couldn't do it. You wanna support that orange bag of toxic waste vaguely shaped like a human with a frightened ferret on its head, fine. But don't expect me to spend my money in your establishment. I find that Trump sign to be the absolute moral equivalent to flying a Nazi flag or wearing a sheet and pointed hood. Period. End of sentence. I will not support your business as long as you support Donald Trump.

The view of the sunset as we rode home with the top down was spectacular.
Miz Shoes

Return To Sender

How to get an OCD ex-webmaster to volunteer for your organization in one quick lesson. I just hit send.

"Your site is non-functional. I spent the greater part of today resizing my photos and attempting to fill out the application form. I couldn't upload photos and I couldn't submit the form without the photos. I couldn't submit the form because the final field had no indication of the information I was supposed to enter and without that field being filled (try saying that three times), I couldn't submit the form.

The final insult was that this contact address is listed incorrectly on the site. Just FYI, you don't use http as a prefix to an email address, only to an actual web(site) address.

So, for shits and giggles, and because maybe 1) someone actually monitors this account, and 2) maybe this mail account can handle attachments, I'm going to submit the files that I can't submit on the application form I can't submit.

You guys look at the art and figure out if you want me involved in the tour and how to get my money if you do. In the interim, I've spoken to a human (Karen) about being a volunteer and overhauling your website so that it, y'know, actually, like, works."
Miz Shoes

And You May Find Yourself…

As the great Bob Dylan once said, "Who says you can't go home again, of course you can." It's true. I did. What he should have said was that you can't start blogging again once you stop.

Miz Shoes

Shake Yer Groove Thing

1. It's been so long since I wrote code (and enjoyed it) that I have done everything in my power today to avoid sitting down and banging out code. Which is exactly the task I have set myself for this week. Because I need to create a new web site. For the new brand. Which brings me to point

2. Tante Leah's Handmades started with custom tallit, and I love making them, but a line of bespoke prayer shawls is not going to be my golden ticket to fame and fortune...or even a brass ticket to 15 minutes and a buck two eighty...unless Bernie wins the White House and I can somehow finagle my way into becoming the official Tallis Maker to the POTUS...which would be a first for sure and thereby ensure fame..but that is never gonna happen, so I need to broaden my market. Which leads us to

Plan B
Plan B is this. Tante Leah's Handmades is dead. Long live Ma Groover's Artisan and Vintage Goods. Except that can't happen until I hit publish on the new Ma Groover site. And THAT can't happen until I sit my ass in this chair, chain myself to the fucking keyboard and painfully write enough code to launch a new Expression Engine site. Expression Engine: The choice of geeks everywhere who are too cool to use a simple program like GoLive or DreamWeaver or WordPress. Expression Engine, where there are no templates or plug and play options. Expression Engine, the impossibly undocumented bad boy to which I hitched my code-writing wagon and I am so long out of the day to day of web work that this hurts me.

Look, I tried and tried to get permission from the author or the site that posted it originally. Nobody answered me. Ever. I'm sorry.
So. On Monday, your author turns 60.

This led me to consider the ways I have celebrated birthdays of significant number in the past. On my 21st birthday, I took a final exam for my art history class and then packed my dorm room as that was the end of my college career. I was (trigger warning: Politically Incorrect Phrase Ahead) free, white, 21 and a college graduate. The universe got a good horse laugh at me and booted me off to go be an adult. I spent the next nine years having a two-year attention span and lots of adventures. Then I turned 30 and felt I needed to Get Serious.

I straightened up and married a criminal defense attorney, proving that clean and sober was a bad lifestyle choice for me. I remedied that and dumped the lawyer, quit graduate school and several jobs in quick succession and took up with the Renowned Local Artist, moved to New Mexico and back to Miami (another set of 2-year attention spans, I guess) and dug in at the next job, lasting through my 40s and all the way to 50. For my 40th birthday, a friend built me a giant 4-0 out of straw and we burned it in effigy. It was brilliant. We were pulling ashes out of the pool filter for years.

My fiftieth year was rather horrid: lost my cat, lost my father, lost my mother to Alzheimer's, my sister-in-law lost her mother, George Bush "won" a second term, I lost my job, I had to move my mother to a facility near me, and I turned 50. There was only one thing to do: I went to White Party in full mermaid drag. Take that, universe. And I bought myself a puppy.

This year, I am taking the day off from packing the pod (not a euphemism for anything) and heading over to the day spa for a four-handed massage (ooh, just like a three-way, but with no sex! I said to the booker), a facial and a mani-pedi. I mentioned that this was a birthday present to myself for turning the big digits, and she asked if I wanted a little color touch up. I explained that my hair, on its best days, looks like Roger Daltry/Isle of Wight/1971 and she told me that she had to Google that. Then I told her that the color I wanted was a full ombre in turquoise or purple or something, as the combination of magenta and that hair would make me look like an escapee from clown college. The booker told me that she was very sorry that she would be off Monday, as she expressed an interest in meeting me, but swore that they would take before and after photos. I'm sure they will.

Miz Shoes

In the Windmills of Your Mind

Or, more accurately, in the hamster treadmill of yours truly's mind. I started with the bathroom, packing up stuff I won't need in the next 2 months, probably less, but who knows for date certain when we will relocate hearth and home to points north. Sitting on the floor, looking at the stuff in the little storage cabinet, not the medicine cabinet over the sink. You know, the place where you put stuff you don't need or only need once and a great while, but yet often enough to keep on hand, just not something that has to be easily reachable, either. THAT cabinet. There is all sorts of interesting stuff in there. Out of date sun screen, a flea comb for the cat, last used two cats ago, and a broken brass incense burner.

If this were a drinking game, here's where you'd take a drink because it is me alone in my head, and here's where I go off on a tangent. This particular burner has been a part of my life since I was capable of being aware of it. In its first incarnation, it was my mother's: it was black and it sat in her sewing room on the bookshelf over the daybed in the old house. This is important. It will be on the test. It is small, round and sits on little foo dog feet, and has a pierced lid with another fierce dragon dog reclining upon it as a handle. By the mid-sixties it was living in my bedroom in the new house and went off to college with me. At some point I stripped it of its black paint, the reclining dragon came loose and there is a side piece broken off and living somewhere in my studio where I see it regularly enough to remember what it is and not to incorporate it into a piece of found object art before I find someone who can weld brass, or bronze, whatever this is. The point is, it is both older than me and been a part of my life since I can remember. It has moved from my mother's girlish possession, into her married life, whence I claimed it for my childhood bedroom, through I cannot remember how many dorm rooms; it has moved with me from Miami to NYC, to Miami and back north to Woodstock back to Miami and off to New Mexico and back again to Miami (and that's leaving out the dozen or so apartments I had and my divorce where I lost so many personal belongings) and now it is going back to what was my childhood bedroom, but is now the second guest bedroom, claimed jointly by Paulie and My Cousin Judy. I barely know how I am still here and in mostly one piece after all that, but how did this little thing make it through all those years and all those moves? What spirit is holding us together?

In retrospect, as I have uncovered so much of my mother's life before us (her years in NYC in the late 30s), that I presume this is a souvenir of her time there from some shop on Mott Street, perhaps, or maybe from Newport. In the event, seeing it was enough to bring back all of that and more, including the notion that it would be a good thing to take to the new house (our New House, which from 1966 until we bought it, was also my parents' New House, as opposed to the Old House--you see, it was on the test) this weekend when The Person Dressed in Black and I go to Stuart and sleep overnight.

Which brings us back full circle to why I was sitting on the floor and packing stuff from THAT cabinet to go to the guest bath in the New House which has generous built-in cabinets and a built-in laundry hamper...thank you MCM and efficient living. We are now about 6 weeks out from the move. It's just that THIS weekend is Halloween. And Mummy passed away two years ago on Halloween night, with yours truly and The Person Dressed in Black at her side. That makes it important to me to be there then (as opposed to being here now) this year and lay a path of marigolds to the front door and ask her spirit to come back and be honored. At least figuratively. I don't know where the hell I'd get marigold petals if I didn't grow my own. It isn't like there is a botanica in the neighborhood or anything....wait. I'm still here in Miami, I probably CAN get fresh marigolds.

But I digress.

incense burner foo dog
Miz Shoes

Strawberry Letter 22

Today in the studio (hey, just because it's only a spare, very small, bedroom crammed with art supplies and three desktop surfaces doesn't mean I can't give it a grandiose name), I spun up a very pink batt and plied it with a magenta metallic commercial thread. It is very, very fluffy and may need to become a long, very skinny scarf. Just under 200 yards of Batts in the Belfry spun rough and plied with a commercial metallic thread, I call it Strawberry Letter 22.

Strawberry Letter 22
Miz Shoes

Slow Down, You Move Too Fast

This morning I floated in the pool. As I was drifting and considering the luxury of time and idleness, I pondered the old chestnut about youth being wasted on the young and came to the conclusion that it is uttered as truth only by those whose own youths were misspent in a manner far less amusing than my own.

Looking back at those years between high school and marrying the Renowned Local Artist, there are episodes of hair-raising stupidity, randomly located habitations, jobs and attention-spans that were lucky to last as long as two years, and absolutely no qualms about trying anything once. I do not consider that time wasted. At the same time, there were close to 40 years spent slaving away for the man, in one form or another. Forty years of keeping my nature tamped down, money seeping slowly into my retirement accounts and stock-piling art supplies. Neither were those years wasted.

Now, in this year of turning 60, all of that is coming to fruition. Time to go use some of those art supplies.

bird beading
Miz Shoes

This is Not My Beautiful House

Well, not yet. We have now ripped out floors and carpets, added a screen room, gutted the kitchen, pulled down all the ceilings and replaced 50 year old insulation (I swear it wasn’t asbestos) with new spray foam, gutted the master bath, gutted my father’s workshop, added a new studio for the RLA. We have picked our new flooring, our new appliances, our new bathroom vanity. I have commissioned extensive tile work in for the kitchen. Still to be determined are windows and window treatments, lamps and lighting, tile for the master bath, plumbing fixtures for the master bath and a new vanity and lighting for the second bath.

I need a gas dryer. We’ve reconsidered our position on dish washers. I still can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, but there may be some vague lightening of the dark.

In the meantime, there is code to write, and a new site to develop. I’m off to sharpen my Word Press chops.

Miz Shoes

Gotta Put On My Traveling Shoes

Yesterday’s experiment in dyeing with lichens was, you’ll excuse the expression, a complete wash out. Today we do something constructive and terrifying: edit the closet, and especially the shoe collection. As I am no longer employed outside my home and studio, my wardrobe requirements are meager. It is time for the closet to reflect the new era. Wish me luck.

The Rejects

Miz Shoes

In Your Wildest Dreams

We have reached the part of this adventure where we must purchase new appliances. We must decide on what flooring we will be using. Which range/cooktop/oven/double ovens (or combination thereof) will go in the new kitchen. The cabinets. The sinks. The tub. The human-sized lobster pot of my dreams, situated outside in a hidden garden lit by hanging lanterns and overhung with trellises. Or not, because dear Flying Spaghetti Monster, have you seen the price of those tubs? I’m back to the rusted claw-foot tub with a handle pump. But I digress.

I am vacillating wildly. I cannot decide what I want: the gas cook-top and twin wall ovens, or a dual fuel range and a single wall oven. The issue is whether or not I need an oven dedicated to baking. If I do, do I want a stack, or do I want a range that can be a bright color (and there are many that come in colors) and then rest of the appliances in stainless or black or do I want everything the same finish? Matchy-matchy is not my thing, but there is something to be said to having the appliances meld into the background. Even that, the color/finish of my cabinetry is dependent upon another decision I have yet to nail down…what are the floors going to be? Engineered wood, but which engineered wood? A hand-scraped rustic grey with undertones of yellow? That nifty bamboo that looks like it was smuggled out of Thailand from an abandoned temple in the jungle? Or the pale driftwood grey oak?

Tomorrow I head back up to the new house, and I will come to some conclusions. Really. In the meantime, here’s the current view from the back slab.

back yard before

Someday that slab will be a human bird cage, with chunks of Miami Oolite covering the knee-high wall and screened walls and a wooden ceiling. There will be air plants tucked into the coral. The cat will sit on the half wall and gaze out upon the yard. The workshop will be my studio.

But first, we must make choices.

So. Part of this whole third act thing is our relocation to my childhood home, updated to suit our more hipster aesthetic. I’ve spent the last half hour searching for evidence of something I seem to recall from some art history/ethno/cultural exposure: That there was at least one early culture that with some regularity buried the architects of monuments/temples/etc. under their own designs to ensure good hoodoo. The architects’ deaths were arranged to work with the building schedule. No evidence was found, but then, one doesn’t care to search too hard for a string of key words like that, eh? In any event, the reason for the search was my sad realization that I must have been one of those people sending poor innocent architects to their untimely deaths, because my architect karma in this life is batting zero. Over the last 20 years, the RLA and I have engaged 3 architects for three projects. The first was insanely overpriced, showed us no respect, couldn’t be bothered to produce drawings and ultimately delivered a completely unacceptable set of plans for something that was twice the agreed budget. The second round of plans came from an old friend from my home town. Expensive for the likes of us, but the drawings were beautiful and exactly what we wanted. Then the market crashed and there was no way that the beautiful studio could be built. This third go round has elements of the first: the first set of drawings were procured by dint of force. They were priced and whaddayaknow, the first estimate to build came in at exactly TWICE the budget. That was a couple of months ago, and despite emails, pleas and general nagging, nothing.

When I was very young, I used to read whatever I could find in my mother’s library. By the age of ten I was reading James Thurber, I loved The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. I loved the movie version with Danny Kaye, but then, I loved Danny Kaye. That there is a reboot currently in the theaters starring Ben Stiller gives me hope that perhaps one of my other favorites from the period will be rediscovered. I refer, of course, to Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, and I fear that this blog will descend to that level. I pray that we don’t end up in full Money Pit.

Miz Shoes

Second Hand Rose

About to head back to the studio to make patchwork bags from vintage scraps given to me years ago by Russell Corbett. From his grandmother’s stash. I think, upon studying them, that many are commercial production scraps…20 layers in one cut of a shape that can only be a neckline or armhole. Dress-weight cotton prints from the 30s or 40s, it looks like, and I swear that some of these prints I’ve seen reproduced. These are not reproductions.

I have ideas to pursue.

Miz Shoes

You Gotta Live It Every Day

Today in my studio, I am feeling at home. In my body, in my room, in my space, in my head. That’s a big thing, sometimes, to feel at home. The RLA took some photos of me yesterday to submit to a charity calendar thingie, and I do not like to have my photo took. Years of being behind the camera and in the darkroom have left me convinced that the belief that that the camera somehow steals your soul is not so far-fetched as the rational would have one believe. Even though I wanted to do this, it was hard for me to do, and to let someone else have the camera, even someone I trust as much as the RLA. Two of the resulting shots are quite lovely.  They do not steal my soul so much as admit a glimpse of how I am seen by my husband, who just happens to be one of my oldest (it goes without saying my dearest) friends and a very fine artist. It is a very heady thing to be a muse.

I can’t remember the last time I saw myself like this, if ever. Maybe the photos I had taken when I was thirty, of my back and shoulders, hair up, head turned and profile back-lit. Pre-tats, pre-chicken neck, pre-surgical scars. My father kept a framed copy on his dresser. In the photos from yesterday, you can see some wrinkles and some grey. I am turning 59 next month, and my 50s were a hard decade. I earned this face and this body and looking at this photo, I find am very much at home in both of them. I didn’t know until I saw the photo how much at home and at ease.

I have so many ideas for work, and as I am sewing a large quilt, my mind keeps working on these other ideas. I have to keep a note book next to me so I can sketch and write or else I may forget the details.