//long post warning//
I broke everything up into categories that you can open and close individually, kind of like paging through a book. They do bleed into each other, but they make sense individually, too.
My partner took almost a week off because they accrued PTO again at the beginning of the year. I stepped away from work to spend time with them. It was so nice to have time to ourselves; we spent so much of "winter break" in December video chatting with family that had the time off, so it didn't necessarily feel calm or collected...? It was like we were still on a tight schedule. I enjoyed our loved ones, but at the same time I have much smaller social batteries than they all do so the marathons of day-time-activities-turned-late-night-game-night wore me out. This week it was nice to be around each other doing our own activities without interacting directly because there was more together time in general. That type of domestic warmth is hard to accomplish these days, unless we both worked from home I guess, or a storm trapped everyone inside for days.
I've been working on developing pixel art assets as I see objects I like. I don't really have an idea for how they would fit into a game, animation, or greater narrative, I'm just trying to practice rendering things. I started placing them in a dump file in Godot to see what they look like animated, and in context with a controllable avatar. It's been a learning curve to figure out lighting and perspective, as well as scale! I might add a pixel art gallery to this site sometime soon. I'm realizing I need to learn waaaaay more CSS in order to achieve what I want on this site, so it's probably a far off eventuality. But! It's an intention I have.
I made a running animation of a person wearing a flat cap. It's my first running animation since the times of Kid Pix. My partner has a keen, detail-oriented eye and always has wonderful observations and input for improvements I can make. On many of our first dates, we went to galleries in our old neighborhood, before gentrification had fully claimed and altered the space. In the "before times", it was usually relatively dead with a few lively folks about, and artists liked to host visitors and discuss their pieces. They left their doors open if they were open to interruption and sometimes they had snacks or candy sitting out. It felt intimate and somehow removed from the passage of time.
Memories and Bartering
The galleries in our old neighborhood are usually expansive, drafty, abandoned industrial buildings which were re-outfitted with modest concrete cells for artists to rent as studio space. The upper floors are not always used, and some used to be entirely blocked off. Some of the massive, multi-paneled windows are constantly smashed in. The lighting is achieved through ample sunlight and flickering, fluorescent tube bulbs. The hallways are impressively echoey. It used to be common for an independently-owned coffee shop to be on the ground floor. They usually served ok coffee and had lunch available for pretty cheap. My favorite thing to order at most of these places as a child was a grilled cheese, which came with slightly soggy potato chips and a dill pickle spear. They used inexpensive, boring ingredients, but the griddle always made the sandwich taste better than the ones I could make at home somehow.
Some of these coffee shops were bought out and have been reimagined as highbrow brew pubs by developers. A lot of the original wood was stripped out for a more streamlined, neo-industrial look. Isn't that a little weird? It was already literally industrial flooring and walls... It was "free" decor to step into. I wonder where these materials go as they're removed? Is there someone reclaiming them and lovingly reintegrating them into something? There is a two person team in Detroit called Woodward Throwbacks that does this line of work. I was following them on instragram before I decided to leave. Bo does such beautiful work and treats all of the pieces with care. It's delightful to watch her preserve the character of wood as she develops it into something "new".
I digress. My childhood ceramics teacher lived in one of those gallery studios, illegally. They're not zoned for residence. Or they weren't. Maybe that has changed in the past two decades. She had a P.O. box for her mail, and had her legal address listed as someone else's house. It was a common practice for artists and makers at the time. I was told not to tell anyone about it whenever we gave her a ride home from one of the classes she taught. She had an elegantly long neck that drew you up to admire her well-defined jawline. Her forearms were etched with strength; her movements as she cast piece after piece on her wheel highlighted her developed musculature. She always smelled like sweetly-fragranced cigarettes, patchouli, and earth. She wore baggy, muted earth-tone flannels and brown bibs (she had a winter pair and a summer pair). She moved out of state, last I heard. I wonder where she is now?
I get dizzy thinking about all of the people that move in and out of my life. Are people pursuing what they want in life or are they responding to external pressures and realities? I know people have to follow jobs and opportunities, and many people are following their hearts. It's just sad to me to think about communities, that are collections of small, meaningful connections between/among lots of individuals, getting permanently, continually disrupted by artificial economic pressures. I know it's how life works here and if I wanted to, I could reach out virtually.
But, personal connections are really hard for me to make in the first place, and many of them are context-dependent and reliant on the activity(/ies) I do with the person(/people). It's a part of my neurotype, and probably also a function of being strongly introverted. Maybe that's a surprise because I'm so wordy here! I don't talk much in-person unless I know someone well, and I go mute if I become overwhelmed. I do a lot of work to connect with people, but I seem to require more time than a lot of folks to develop a connection.
It feels like I lose a part of myself when people leave. I know the investments are more complex than the social benefits we receive in real-time; substantive, positive interactions and relationships stay with me for a lifetime, even if people move away or grow apart. It frequently feels arbitrary/forced when people move though, especially lately. I guess that's mainly what bothers me: the arbitrariness of it.
Maybe you are wondering how I was able to do the different things I talk about--I did occassionally, fleetingly wonder as a child. Aside from scrimping and rarely buying things new (unless it was tech...), I've realized that my family did a lot of bartering when I was a kid. My parents had barter-able skills, and they used them to make sure I could learn all types of skills and knowledge. My dad has recently started telling me about how his father had to barter often out in the sticks to provide for his large family. I feel like this type of commerce is becoming more mainstream with the internet and skillsharing amongst friends and colleagues, but I am struggling to find ways to engage in it myself generally. I feel like it's a form of haggling, which I'm not really confident in yet.
I started writing a classical orchestral piece a month ago I think. It's been difficult to edit it and get it to progress unless I'm sitting at it without interruptions for a couple hours at a time. I don't really know what I'm doing to be honest. It's all by ear and I only have snippets I take out of my head and shape everything else around. If I lived in a society with more leisure time, or that was more open to people working less while learning skills for their own sake, I think I would want to go to school for music, technology, and art all at the same time.
I finished a short bossa nova style piece last night with some impossible-in-real-life percussion. My partner had to tell me people can't physically stick a rimshot or play a bongo at the tempo I have it set to, but they like it as imaginary electronics-based music. I agree, that's part of why I like composition software and sound engineering so much. People make really interesting songs and soundscapes outside of what we are collectively able to do physically.
On the website, I'm going to clip all of the ferment updates out of the blog and group them into their own node. I finally jarred up the Italian Herbs ferment yesterday--it's everything I hoped it would be! The shallots lent a pleasant, subtle sweet note; the herbs seem to be the right amount to my taste, not overpowering, not too faint; the garlic rounds out the savoryness; the cabbage is delightfully crisp; everything is sour. I'll post the picture of the 2 pint jars I filled when I structure the ferments page. I made American Midwest style spaghetti sauce yesterday and we had some of the ferment as a side. I had a bowl of the ferment with my breakfast today, too. I'm very pleased.
There is a ferment I've made a couple times in the past and I think I got it exactly how I wanted it last time; it was a cabage base with caraway seeds, cucumber, garlic, and yellow onion. I might write that recipe with ratios out soon if I make it again so that there are progress pictures to go along with it.
I made some veggie stock out of veggie scraps I'd been saving for a couple months in the freezer in ball jars. After 3 hours of simmering, the yield was 4 strong cups. We held a flashlight up to the jar, and the light was just barely visible through the liquid. It's a deep flavor, pretty onion-forward. I used 8 cups of water and 8 cups of a mix of the following:
- yellow onion
- sweet potatoes
- green beans
I think I'm going to make a big batch of borscht with it. Maybe I'll put drop dumplings in it? Or pearl barley? I dunno. I gotta get some beets and onions and replenish the all-purpose flour bin before I make any concrete plans for it.
I made some lemon rosemary scones for the first time in a long time at the beginning of the week with some fresh rosemary that I didn't toss in the stock. They go nicely with black tea. I think I am close to how I want the salt and pepper ratios for the crackers I've been working on to be. Now I just need to get down my rolling out technique and remembering to pierce them so that they stay mostly flat during baking.
I feel like this post has been all over the place. It's kind of where I'm at internally. I want to focus on internal clarity and stability as much as I can this year.
I hope you're having a good start to this solar cycle. Thanks for stopping by! Seeya next time.