Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Four pieces finished, framed, packaged and waiting for a FedEx pick-up tomorrow morning, to be delivered to Stewart Fine Art in Charleston, SC. The gallery participates in a First Friday gallery hop, and Sue Stewart has invited me to hang with the artists in her gallery. September 5 is the day. I'm hoping to send more work for October 3.
Stewart Fine Art
12 State Street
Charleston, SC 29401

Friday, September 5
Friday, October 3

Go, if you're in the area.

It's been quiet here since my return from France. I've spent the time trying to clean up the garden (again), getting my house in order, building shelves everywhere in the house and cranking out some new work in the studio. Things will get busy again in October, when I'm to get back on the road to teach in Cleveland, New Orleans and Dallas.

Several weeks ago I had this unexplained burst of energy, which lasted for days. I found myself waking at 3 or 4 a.m. Wide awake. So I figured, why don't I be productive with this time, instead of fighting to get back to sleep like I usually do.

I had been wanting shelves installed in a little room I use as an office. The ceilings are 12 feet high. All my stuff has been stacked on the floor or crammed into files, leaving 2/3 of the room wasted--all that space above me. I had gone to Lowes, had some 1x12's cut to 84", the width of my room, and then I just stressed about it because the walls are plaster; I've already put some frightening holes in my walls (hidden by pictures now) in other parts of the house trying to find studs. I sort of hoped some man with carpentry skills might just appear in my life, but realizing it wouldn't be wise for me to just wait for him, I decided I should give it another try.

I got out of bed and googled 'find studs behind plaster' and did what everybody advised: start at a corner, keep drilling holes until you find a stud, then measure 16" from that. I did it, I found the studs, standing on my desk at 4 a.m. So I proceeded to use my level and measuring tape and found all the studs every 16" across the room, all the way up to the ceiling, allowing for the shelves to be 13" apart. I stained my boards and tried drilling screws through my reinforced metal brackets (which I had spray painted the day before because Lowes didn't have any black ones) into the studs, but they wouldn't penetrate the wood. I was stripping the heads of all the screws. I googled "can't drill screws into studs in 1920 house." Try square screws, someone advised. Try star screws, someone advised. Whatever those were. The consensus was that philips head screws wouldn't work with old dense wood. When Lowes opened that morning, I was there purchasing both kinds of screws and the bits for them.

I know this is going on and on. But just wait. I finally got the job done by the afternoon--all my shelves stained and screwed into the wall, secured onto the brackets with screws--the star screws. Square screws didn't work. I'm learning. I organized the shelves with books and baskets and all the stuff that was all over the floor. I wrote about it on Facebook.

My friend Vicky messaged me that day: "Margaret, are you still on steroids?"

When cleaning out my garden the week or so earlier, I was pulling 20 year old poison ivy from the english ivy which was taking over my yard. LOTS OF IT. I filled 4 construction bags full of only poison ivy. I was relatively careful, work gloves  and plastic bags, knowing however that I'd probably have some reaction, but I've always handled that fine. Three days later I was swollen, gouging my arms scratching, and it lasted for days with no sign of decreasing. I finally went to an emergency clinic, got a shot of prednisone, prescriptions for 10 days of prednisone and itching relief.

If prednisone does that, I want more. I started painting the exterior of my house the next day.


  1. Holy cow! Margaret, I've always been impressed by your art work, but after having lived in a 1920s plaster walled house myself, I'm doubly impressed at your handy-man work. Those shelves are superb! Thanks for describing the details, too.

  2. Poison Ivy arrrgh.
    Isn't there a real sense of piece when you walk into your office now that it is organized? It looks lovely and is inspiring me to get my act together.

    Get your garden done before the trips. The holing up season-staying inside-at least for me, is soon.

    Your work as always is inspiring. Thanks for writing.
    Artliveslong, Diane Leifheit

  3. What a fantastic post (except the poison ivy bit)....love that you persevered and sought out the info you needed to carry the job through all by yourself! Wonderful paintings and colours....I do love your work. You have inspired me to get those little jobs finished that I have been putting off.

  4. Bravo! Congratulations on taking control of those studs! Thanks for introducing us to the new Boss of Bookshelves. I'm impressed -- maybe I could do this too.

  5. You may not remember me but I met you on the 4 AM bus to the airport in Albuquerque after IAPS. I enjoy your blog writing and occasionally read them to my husband starting with, "Remember the woman on the bus...?" Congrats to you on the shelves! I had the same experience with Poison Oak. Love your work!

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  7. I'm loving everyone's responses. And yes, I remember you, Barbara. What a pleasant encounter that has turned out to be. Thanks for following me.

  8. Beautiful and inspiring work! Such rich hues!