Maybe it helped to get those complaints out of my system, or maybe it helped that I spent the late afternoon with good friends, or maybe it helped that Sandy and I had a delicious meal at Fishbones, now a weekly event. At any rate, I feel much better.

My iris leaf and abaca pulp has thawed out, so I’ll spend the morning making paper and cooking corn shucks with soda ash to prepare them for making into paper pulp. Once I finish my coffee and the cats hunker down for their post-breakfast snooze, I’m going to try this in the dining room with cardboard on the floor to protect the floor and cushion my back.

I decided that part of my problem was that my studio has too many distractions and it was making me overwhelmed. So I cleaned the clutter that had been collecting on the dining room table for at least a couple of months (and in doing so, found a wedding invitation near the bottom that I’ll be sorry to miss), and brought in just enough from the studio to prepare signatures and bind books. That helped a little, but I still have monkey mind so maybe once I cook the corn shucks and make paper I’ll be able to focus better.

Laura came to my house for the first time, so I enjoyed the appreciation that she showed for my work, past and present, and her general presence, which is gentle and intelligent. She brought me a nice eggplant, which I’ll make either into parmesan or lasagna this week. I love eggplant and I have problems growing it. Anyway, she had a question about paper casting so I took her over to Susanne and John’s house, where John, a sculptor, gave her some ideas, and we hung out talking to Susanne, who was distributing type. The three of us have a lot in common so it was a good, relaxing time, and I think that we’ll probably repeat it.

Susanne and John gave me a drymount press to dry paper evenly and smoothly with heat. I don’t know exactly how it works yet but Susanne is going to help me set it up and show me how.

I found a couple of books at Ed McKay’s on Thursday night that will be sure to bring me much inspiration: al-pha-bet-i-ca, by Lynne Perrella, and 1000 Artist Journal Pages, compiled by Dawn Sokol. These were two that I’ve been tempted to buy online for quite some time, but I found them at less than half-price with no tax or shipping at Ed McKay’s. I feel good about actually buying something from them now and then because I take so much free stuff, but when I’ve mentioned it they say that other people take a whole lot more than I do.

The only bad thing about one of the books is that it smells a little like stale smoke. I never noticed that until I had stopped smoking for a couple of years. What a shame, because I love the smell of books. I saw a tip somewhere that putting a book that smells like smoke in the freezer will help remove the smell. I don’t know how long, because I tried it for a few days with one book and the smell came back. Maybe I need a freezer as a library for these kind of books!

The novel that I am reading is American Gods by Neil Gaiman. At first I didn’t like it so much. I’m not a Stephen King fan because I don’t like being reminded constantly of body fluids and decay and nastiness, and there was a lot of that. But now I’m rather fascinated with it. The plot line is unusual and makes you think. I can say that I’ve really never read a book remotely like it.

Okay, coffee is gone, cats are asleep. Time to get crackin’.