Wednesday, November 19, 2008

This explains it all:

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I know, I know. It's been more than a month. Maybe this image will help explain what my brain's felt like since I last posted:

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Everybody's Eating Everybody These Days Part II

Well, eventually we were down to one mantis. One fat female with, presumably all the other females from our tiny garden inside her (I counted five total at one point), plus all the spiders she could find, plus assorted bees and butterflies and flies &c &c &c. What else could a voracious predator crave...............

....................a mate!

Here are the two hapless males who showed up one afternoon. They were literally crawling over each other to get the girl:

Now, you read about these things and think, oh, the life of a male mantis is, well, kinda brutal. But fair, I guess, I mean in a natural sort of way, right? Maybe it's a way for the female mantis to ensure that only she gets to pass on the male genetic load, something like that....Sucky, but then you move on.

Somehow the reality was a little more, well, visceral. I never saw the other male again......

Here's the last bits of her meal, er, mate. The head and feet are gone, just sticks and chips left:

At least nothing goes to waste. High-maintenance girl, high protein boy.......

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

"Everybody's eating everybody, these days...."

This was going to be a post about all the little predatory critters Griffin and I were jumping up and down in delight to find in our postage-stamp garden these couple of months:

especially this little gem, a crab spider, something I loved dearly in my Altadena childhood, and hadn't seen since:

The amazing thing about her, is that crab spiders were a huge reason I'd chosen the lantana to plant on the terrace a year and a half ago, and when she showed up, I was almost in tears. I mean I really had given up looking for them, and here she was, almost like an answered prayer. They are somewhat chameleonic, that is they will slowly change their color to match their surrounding (which the green lynx spider and mantids will do too, incidentally), and just so charming, that for an arachnophobe, they are like spider fairies.

The missing characters, here, (in my little aestheticized fantasy, for surely there are more obvious environmental dischords than I could ever document in my little Eagle Rock world) are the orb spiders: the ones which spin the classic spiral web. A few years ago, they were the dominant arthrapod predators in the garden neighborhood, and had been for some time. Sometimes there were half a dozen orbs just in my garden. But as I'd noticed and encouraged the green lynx, I'd noticed fewer and fewer orbs.

Well, Griffin and I were too excited by all the mantids that showed up this year. I mean, what more dramatic and unnerving insect can you imagine (It's turning it's head to look at meee!!!).
And I wasn't seeing any more lynx, so I guessed what was happening, but didn't like to admit it.

Then a lone orb showed up for a few days outside my studio. I watched her happily for a few days. Then one morning I saw a lynx, weirdly hanging onto the now empty orb web (ok, I have to stop here, because I realize that most of my potential readers probably have no idea why any of this is of note, let alone interesting; I can only say that I have been an amateur local naturalist from childhood, and have bored my audiences before; and these things really do matter.... to the spiders....)

Ok, spiders don't usually hang out on each others' webs, that's all. I knew my adored lynx had just eaten my adored orb-spinner, and didn't like to admit it.

But when I caught a verrrry fat mantis near the empty spot where another lynx had been guarding her new egg-ball, I had to let go of my co-existence fantasy, and give in to survival of the fittest. My wail of annoyance called out my 8-year-old from his Harry Potter-watching nest in the livingroom.

"Whatsamatter, mom?" (concerned)

I explain the sequence of disappointing voracity, a bit apprehensive of his deep-felt sorrow for our garden favorites (he's wont to get quite moody at demises).

"Man," he says, turning back to the door. "Everybody's eating everybody these days....."

Friday, September 12, 2008

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

Griffin started school this week (3rd grade! woohoo!), and I've been going through all my photos from the spring (when I started my little hiatus) and summer. I really surprised myself with the amount of work I've accomplished, both in the studio and the garden, not to mention photographing all my past work and getting my etsy site up. It's nice to be able to remind myself how nice it's been before I go back to my dayjob.

Laurey and I have been coming to the Los Angeles Arboretum since we were in kindergarten, and now it's so nostalgic to bring Griffin and Coralie. This is what we always called the jungle, but I think here it looks like a cathedral......

After a hard winter of work and stress and a miserable backyard, I panicked that I wouldn't have tomatoes this summer and frantically put the garden in. By June it was doing pretty good (and looked really lush):

Here's Lord Orp, my mom and Mary's Buff Orpington rooster, master of his domain (and three dozen hens!) This was from our Easter visit. Doesn't he look grand?

That was the vacation right after I'd finished on the last music box job, where I basically sat on the front porch for a week in complete exhaustion, pretending to read and do some needle-felting, but secretly dropping crumbs to attract the chickens so I could just sit and listen to their soothing (if somewhat comical) murmuring, and be mesmerized by their motion.

Here's my studio this spring, right before I accepted the fact that a breakfast nook is not enough space to keep an office, drawing and painting space (the drafting table) and a flatfile (under the drafting table) together with jewelry production (the drafting table again) and jewelry supplies (the flatfile again), and spent a week re-organizing "the Shack", my 6"x 8" studio space out back and moving jewelryland out there:

I'll post "Shack" photos later. Here's the pinboard in the "Nook" this summer while I was tagging up all my Copperwear for mom'n'mary's farmers' markets:

And because I need to wrap this up, I'll leave you with these last two. I'm really proud of how my technique has improved (proud to have come up with the concept to begin with!)and am really jazzed to have a vista opening up before me with all sorts of new design options. I feel like when I was a kid and couldn't wait to hole myself up with all my colored pencils and a fresh pad of paper......

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Monday, September 8, 2008

scent memories: the last beauties of the season

I couldn't believe it when I walked through the flower-mart entry at Trader Joe's this afternoon. These are among my three or four favourite flowers ever in my life, ever, and I've never seen them sold. Naked Lady amaryllis (I can't help saying "AmaryLLITH" for any Music Man fans out there), a flower from my childhood which still haunts me with its smell and the way of its growth. I wish I had photos of the stalks coming from the bare shadowy ground, like girly snakes, before the buds open, but for some reason I can't get them to grow, and I seem to always miss them when I visit my mom in Tuolumne every summer (not where I grew up-no Nuetra in Tuolumne!-but often planted in the thirties or fifties and still thriving where they are). And I wish Blogger had smell-o-vision, because the perfume is fabulous: shockingly sweet and girly, but wild and sharp rather than heavy or sickly or childish. My olfactory memory actually combines it with Concord grape (like Welch's!) because they come out at the same time of the year, and grew in the same part of our yard. A glorious, drowning perfume.

Which makes me think of other scent-combo-memories: night jessamine and a trace of skunk from summer nights living in Mt Washington; cigarettes, fried chicken and turpentine from my mother's parents' apartment in North Hollywood; gunpowder and cut grass from childhood 4ths of July by the Altadena country club; brushfire, borade (does it have a smell? or just a horrible, opressive colour and B-17 sound?) and cut grass from my father's parents' in Calabasas.

Do you notice one common thread in all these? that they are all season-specific? They all come up for me as real sensations; and I know I have a whole library of scent-memories, equally sensate, for the rest of the year, which I cannot now up-summon. An old friend, Sarah, told me once, that as the seasons come around, events and experiences and traumas come up again in our memories at the same times of year. I really like that idea; it confirms my adamant belief in seasonality (food in season, holiday decorations dammit!).

My whole apartment smells of them................

Voodoo Corn

My summer garden is winding down. In fact, after feeling forlorn and dejected every time I walk through it, I had to finally admit IT'S OVER! Harvest time. This weekend was so hot, but I was so sick of sitting around watching the last of vacation videos with Griffin (3rd grade starts tomorrow, yay!) that I just had to go and take down the corn. It was a big hot dusty scratchy slaughter of my once majestic plants. I hung up the dry ears to cure outside my kitchen window, and they looked like a bunch of little mandrake babies. Just in time to get me in the mood for Halloween........I've bagged up most of the sunflower heads, and can't wait to pull those plants out. My neighbor had her part of the terrace cleared, so it's mostly a scrappy, dusty dirt hole back there. But as I clear out the old, compost the weeds, and tidy up, it feels so much better already. I can't wait for real fall weather and spooky nights filled with chill breezes, strange rustly sounds and the smell of my neighbors' fireplaces.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

the museum of self-importance

It is with great trepidation that I present (ta-DAH) my actual blog........! For some reason I've found it hard to believe anyone would find a website about ME worth spending regular time persuing. And even that statement seems egotistical (as humility often is). But I've secretly enjoyed so many of your postings, that I'm slowly being convinced maybe some of you might like mine. And for heaven's sake I've got to pry myself out of my hole and make contact with the rest of the world, or I'm going to curl up and be found behind the piano like a dried up little spider! I'll try not to bore anyone.

I've kept the name from my Etsy shop (instead of what I had long planned on, which is the title of this post, and which I will save for another blog of just my rantings), because although I plan on creating more of a journal than a showcase, I want to keep myself focused on what moves and inspires me, and on the elements from the world around me that become transformed alchemically into my environment and my art-work.

"Kika", by the way, was what my little brother called me when he was four and couldn't say "Erika", and was a nickname between me and my best friend Laurey (who was likewise caled "Lolay") in our youth. It didn't otherwise stick, which in retrospect is too bad! My dad laughed when he saw my Etsy site and told me this story: When I was born, he was a photographer on the Valley Times, and the society editor (who had a really great name herself, which I'll have to ask him about), said, "Oh, you'll have to call her Kika, she'll be so chic!" And my dad said, "Oh, no, we're just going to call her Erika!" Funny how fate works, isn't it?

So Kika is my alter ego: Erika wears the same damn three sundresses all summer; Kika has a different outfit everytime she leaves the house. Erika works as a scenic artist and dresses in Merrils, Carhardts and boys' Halloween t-shirts from Target (but you have to pay her dress like that!). Kika wears Anthropologie to work everyday, and never feels guilty having the service station check her oil and tire pressure for her (remember service stations?!). Erika is a recluse who almost never gets enough "alone-time" (well, she's also a mom, so that's a big issue, anyways); Kika keeps up with all her friends, and corresponds regularly with every artist, writer and otherwise interesting person she admires, or who take an interest in her. And Erika is opinionated, whereas Kika speaks her mind, but is always diplomatic........well, anyways, I try!

The word "Fancy" is one of my favourites. It seems the most common usage nowadays is slightly pejorative, like Mies van der Roh commenting on Louis Sullivan. Now I don't know if he ever did, but I'd be holding Mr Sullivan's coat. Even though I grew up in a Neutra (yes, I will occasionally name-drop). I like frou-frou and find the strictly utilitarian rather soul-less. Although I prefer Neutra to Frank Lloyd Wright, as far as liveability is concerned.......ok I'm falling astray here, and my argument is fraying. And this is going on too long.

I love frou-frou. Lipstick and earrings always improve my mood. I love Christmas deco (in season, people, in season!). I love the little strings of seed-balls the sycamores dangle all over themselves. I love pretty packaging. I love the Milky Way.

But I miss the usage of "fancy"s other meanings: to imagine ("She fancies she saw a ghost!!"), to want or desire ("I fancy a bacon-dog right now, and the guy I saw on his bike yesterday!"), or to be superior (fancy nuts!), or to have an interest or hobby (like my cousin the bird-fancier, as if birds needed to be any fancier........).

So, if you can string that altogether and fit it into one idea, that's how I named my shop.