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Hey, It's Summer Again
This is just a note to say hello. I’m working on a few projects and trying, as always in late June, to reconcile that work with the total formlessness of summer break. Some day my kids will be old and they won’t make fairy houses with me or take over my home with chaotic slumber parties. They may not even want to cook hot dogs by a fire and sleep in a van on the side of a mountain with me. I’m only a week into the break and I’m already gripped with the same foggy dysregulation and inner turmoil of all the parenting summers that came before. It’s so hard to work. Childhood is fleeting and beautiful and I want to do right by my kids. But I have two deadlines I’m trying to meet, and work I must.
The first deadline I’m trying to meet is for a project I’m probably not supposed to talk about. It’s an illustration/design gig for a big company and I can’t remember if I was told to keep it under wraps for now, but I assume I was. That’s usually the case.
The second deadline is for a book I have been working on, tentatively titled One Week in January. I’m illustrating a journal I kept for a week in 2001, though the deeper I get into the book, the less it feels like illustration. Some of the art illustrates moments in the journal. Much of it is just tangentially or tonally related to my life in January of 2001.
Recently, while I was waiting for Precision Motor Car to replace the header pipe on the van pictured above, I walked around my 2001 neighborhood and took photos to use for reference. I lived in inner industrial southeast Portland. A lot of the city has transformed beyond recognition since then, but the blocks around my old warehouse home seem largely unchanged. I felt changed, of course: a lot older and a little suburban, shyly skulking around taking photos, carefully avoiding the homeless camps.
This project continues to be a wild ride. I’m unsure of the work I’m making. I’m unsure of the premise. But uncertainty was all I knew as an artist in 2001. Maybe it’s appropriate to feel like I don’t know what I’m doing or why as I try to conjure up this partially remembered young artist’s life of 20+ years ago.
In other news, I sustained my first llama-related injury a couple of months ago. Comet the llama, typically so genteel, did not like getting his toenails cut. I was trying to restrain him for the vet when he lept into the air in a panic and came down on my leg. It wasn’t a bad injury, and I’ll admit I was a little proud of it.
In general, things on the farm have been peaceful. All of our animals have settled in well. Everyone is healthy.
During the pandemic we got in the habit of hatching chicks in an incubator. This is so fun. But we got a little carried away and ended up with fifteen free range chickens, which made having an unfenced garden pointless. I had a bunch of lettuce going before we went to Japan in April and when I came home it had disappeared without a trace, as though it were never there.
After a few years of this I was ready to throw in the towel and give up gardening forever, but Colin was like, “Let’s just make the fence around the chicken run higher so they can’t jump over it.” And we did. Now I have fifteen chickens in a spacious chicken run and, if I do say so, a pretty great garden.
If anyone out there remembers the black cat that showed up at our house the night before Halloween, he’s still around and the focus of much obsessive love. His name is Misha and we are all kind of in awe of him.
Bear with me this summer as I attempt to have a beautiful time with my family and also meet deadlines. Slowpoke may be a little quieter than usual. If you are a parent attempting the same and feeling conflicted, lots of love and fellow feeling for you.
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