Welcome to MissouriBendStudio!

This is an online journal of my artistic investigations and a way to communicate about my work, ideas, quandries and queries! I welcome comments and conversation and do hope you enjoy these musings. My artwork is available in my shop MissouriBendStudio on Etsy.com or on my website.


Thursday, June 30, 2011

Silent Mornings

My morning today has been relatively quiet, but I wouldn't say silent.  The birds chirp and the wind has picked up which, these days especially, makes me uneasy with the water so high...just means more churning and more beating against the fragile banks.  I'm also hearing the all too familiar sound again of huge sideloader dump trucks bringing rock down the neighborhood road...down to the last couple houses, which have lost land and some of the rock put in last month.  This doesn't bode well, considering we're only slightly into the 6-8 weeks of water releases at this level.  Our downstairs remains dry and the sump pump continues to do it's job, coming on slightly more frequently each day.  All these little reminders that things are not normal in my part of the world, as they are not in so many places these days.  What is normal anyway?

I'm going to stretch my horizons and take a wire bending class at The Bead Co., a fun bead shop in Sioux Falls, this evening.  Trying to think outside my own box....even as I make tinier collages, they can still make me feel larger as long as I'm breaking new ground, forging into new territory.  I want to have something new on the horizon and I sense it's waiting out there....I just have to find it or perhaps conjure it up out of the depths!!  And so, it's a new day...I'm taking them one at a time these days, as each one is quite enough unto itself.

Hope you're having a good one....think I'm going now to meet up with Google Reader, which told me yesterday that I am not following any blogs....what?!!!....what happened to the 100+ blogs I was following?  I couldn't deal with it yesterday, but today I'm ready to take it on!


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Perfect Day

Today is the perfect day....at least in terms of the weather.  This morning we sat outside to have breakfast and the mosquitoes weren't bothersome, the air was fresh and cool and the river, though high, seemed to be moving rather calmly and didn't feel quite so menacing.  We turned off the air conditioner, opened the windows and I've just been outside to eat lunch and it's still absolutely perfect.  The sun is shining, birds are chirping, their songs echoing through the cottonwoods whose leaves have the just the slightest rustle...the air is just the right temperature and the water on the river is still relatively calm.  And why do I need to get back inside, I ask myself?  Whose time clock am I punching, but my own....there is nothing that says I must be inside at the computer or in the studio to justify my day...nothing except my own relentless strictness.  My dear husband, much more relaxed than I, would certainly have no problem encouraging me relax and enjoy the day....although he is up at school, working hard and getting ready for the next  couple of weeks of printmaking workshops that will bring people in from all over the country.

So, even as I continue to drive myself to make more work, pursuing this new series that will take advantage of all the fragments from the mountains of unfinished work I keep finding, I remind myself that I do already have over 150 items in my shop....and must I break my neck to keep adding new work? Or, perhaps, another side of me chimes in, I should expand my horizons and learn a new skill.  I've been looking into taking a beading class up in Sioux Falls, which will be a nice treat and a diversion while John is so tied up these next few weeks.  I have this notion in the back of my head that combines sticks and beads.....hmmmm.

For now, here's the first piece in a series I'm calling Fragments, that will be tiny collages from bits and pieces of my "scrap" pile! There's a full shot and a detail below.

Think I'll go back outside....isn't this what I waited all winter for?  See you fine folks in a couple days!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Walk Me Through This World

It's the weekend already!  Maybe it's been a long week for you, but with the trip and the unpredictability of life these days, I'm kind of surprised to find that it's Friday evening!  The river continues to play center stage in our lives these days...neighbors talk among one another, news comes from here and there, some of it just rumor, but taken at face value, it all serves to keep me feeling as if I'm on a roller coaster ride that doesn't quite end.  Some people in the neighborhood are just sure their houses are going in the river, others of us are confident that this is not going to be the case...and yet, the land beyond the last house on the street loses huge chunks into the river every week or so, making the last house especially vulnerable.  It's a raging river alright and it will no doubt have found a different course when all this is said and done.  Makes you remember the power of Mother Nature.  And so, we just plug away and go about our business...which is pretty much all you can do.

I have finished one of the new larger pieces that I had begun calling the Pink Pages.  This was originally one of the Connect the Dots series and just as it was almost finished, I realized it no longer felt "true"....those carefully connected dots didn't make sense to me anymore...and so I took a leap of faith and started drawing randomly.  The marks were chaotic and reflected the moment like a mirror....I was listening to "Calling All Angels" by Jane Siberry and the title announced itself in a snippet from the song...Walk Me Through This World.  As I've always said, I think through my hands and this piece says something about what's going on inside in ways that I can't name, but I know that it's true to the moment.

It's been posted in my shop, so you can see some better detail shots.  This piece is on a sheet of the handmade paper Johntimothy makes and measures about 15"h x 12 1/2"w.  I'm now finding myself drawn to tiny collages, having found a couple more boxes of our cast off unfinished pieces and scraps of this and that in the storage room.  Plan to be in the studio a fair amount this weekend.  Hope everyone has a great weekend, full of memorable experiences. Thanks so much for all the comments...good to be back among friends across the globe!


Thursday, June 23, 2011

I'm Back!!

Wow, I'm finally back "in the saddle" so to speak!  I had a wonderful trip with some of my family to Glendive, Montana for a family reunion, where I met a couple of cousins I'd never met before and caught up with the extended family I rarely see.  This is a very small town in eastern Montana, on the edge of the badlands, where both my parents grew up.  My mother's grandfather was one of the founding citizens, having followed the railroad out in the late 1800s.  There's a lot of family history there and I find myself attempting to piece together an elusive past, trying to get some sense of what life was like there as the town built itself up to prominence in those early years.  I always think of time and history as a building process, which it is in many ways, but in certain others there is a slow dismantling and a kind of crumbling.  I guess this struck me most when some of us went to see our great grandfather's (Henri Dion, originally from Quebec) original house, which is still there. Once an imposing structure in the center of town, by the middle of the last century it had long been sold, probably numerous times, and was moved to a new location not far away.  Now it sits in the shadow of an overpass, having been remodeled and added onto over the years in strange ways, broken up into apartments and now is practically unrecognizable as something that might have once been a grand home. Time passes, but I still struggle to capture something of my history, not to relive it, but to "connect the dots", to understand where I came from and how that frontier past informs my identity.  One of my cousins there is friendly with a 98-year old woman who has lived in Glendive on and off her entire life and, quite the perky one, she remembered both my parents, as they were almost contemporaries.  Sort of like time travel to be in the presence of someone like that.  My brothers, cousins and I are now the oldest generation of the Dion family and even that feels strange.  Obviously, I'm still processing the experiences and will no doubt come to more understanding as I get back into the studio and start making artwork.

Perhaps some of you are wondering about that flooding Missouri River, a not-so-friendly presence these days.  We're still high and dry, although less high than we were.  The Army Corps of Engineers has had to up the flow from 150,000 (cubic feet per second) to 160,000 (cubic feet per second) from the dam in Yankton, which we'd hoped wouldn't have to happen.  The water table by now has got to be much closer to the house and we've heard the sump pump kick on occasionally, so we'll hope it can keep up.  The rains have been pretty heavy in this whole area--the last thing we need.  Fingers still crossed that we won't have too many worries over the next couple months, because these high waters will be with us for a long time to come!

I finished up a little piece and added it to the shop a bit ago and am headed back to the studio to really get to work.  I'll be back tomorrow, hopefully with some other things to show you!  A waarm welcome to the new followers and thank you to everyone for your support and good wishes--I missed you all!

Friday, June 10, 2011

The News From My Little Section of Bank Along the Rising Missouri River

It's June 10th and the Missouri River rises each day, some days more dramatically than others.  It all depends on the release schedule up river at Gavins Point Dam (and by default all the dams up the Missouri)...the full release of 150,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) I believe is due to be reached on June 15th.  I think we're at 140,000 cfs now, maybe more...I can't keep track anymore.  The barge and its crew continue to put rock up our banks to protect us....because we are a private development of 30 or so houses, there is no county or state aid and we are completely on our own to protect ourselves.  They still have to put rock along the banks of the only road that comes in and out of here...again a private road that the homeowners pay for and maintain.  There are moments when I'm relaxed and I feel hopeful that we won't feel this a bit, except the huge outlay of monies, and others when I'm seized by panic, thinking the basement will fill with water.  So far, the water table, which seeps through the saturated land to the house, is still about 18 inches or so under the house....but we're also not at the full release of water from the dam, so that level will change some, but hopefully not too much.  

Last night I was seized by panic when our neighbor was outside arranging the house for his sump pump to move the water away from his house...it was starting to seep.  Granted he has a full basement and is farther in the ground, but still....so this morning I finally called the plumber to come out and make sure everything that needed to be in place was and that we were doing all we could.  We're pretty well set up and I was glad to know it was the owner or perhaps the son of the owner and he actually remembers doing the plumbing in our house when we built it 3 1/2 years ago.  We have a check valve where we should and our sump pump is in working order....just to make sure we bought a back up, in case the first one conks out.  This is all so new to me....I'm from Florida, where there is absolutely no such thing as a basement and the notion of a sump pump would be ridiculous, since you'd probably hit water down only a foot! 

Part of what is so disheartening about this event is that these water levels will remain through the summer....so the sump pumps will have to work hard to keep the basements dry, the banks will be so saturated for so long that even with all that rock, they'll be vulnerable. We've heard recommendations that trees within six feet of the banks should be cut down, as they may topple.  Almost no one down here wants to, nor thinks we should, cut down 125 foot cottonwoods that are probably older than anyone alive.  I always thought they stabilized the banks....only a couple of panic stricken neighbors cut any along their banks.  The trees are vital to stabilizing the bank and they soak up huge amounts of water each day. We've been advised to get 30-40 sandbags per house, just to have on hand, in case any breeches show up along our shored up banks.  Tomorrow John and our neighbor will go into town to get our sandbags....there are National Guard troops there filling them and making them available to those who need them.

These are strange times, that's all I can say and I'm sure I speak for many who will not wish to relive this summer.  With all the rain we've had the mosquitoes and the gnats are fierce, so it's hard to be outside. But, I'm thankful we're high up and I'm hoping we don't have any surprises that will threaten us further.  I feel terrible for those who are being flooded, even as I write this, and for those who watch the river take a little more of their land and livelihood each day.  I'm sure no one thought they'd go through this, especially because many of us are not in a flood zone....otherwise we'd have had flood insurance in time.  We got it last week, but too late....it will be useless in this event, although we didn't know that when we bought it.  So....I'll report back soon, although I do have family coming through on Monday, so there may be a gap.  No worries though, we're fine, really.  What we may experience, nerve wracking as it is, is probably going to be minor compared to many others.

The barge parks next door overnight...

Our last layer of rock almost goes to the top of the bank 
where I'm standing

It would be a beautiful evening if you didn't know that river
was engulfing more land day by day

I do fiddle around in the studio some, but am so distracted that it's hard to get anywhere.  In case some of you are wondering where the new work in my shop is coming from these days....I'm adding the pieces that went to New Hampshire in February for the small works show....I finally got them back this week!
These two will be added in the next day or so.

Love of Language

In the Moment no.3

So, there you have it...hope you all have a good weekend....one that is worry free, if possible!  I want to thank everyone for their concern and support.  It's good to have a base of caring folks all over the world....thank you for keeping us in your thoughts!!


Monday, June 6, 2011

Missouri River Flooding

June 4, 2011

June 4, 2011

June 6, 2011

Well, here we are on the banks of the slowly flooding Missouri River, still trying to get our banks loaded with rock to protect ourselves, but the rumors are flying and speculation is everywhere.  I have yet to feel as if I have one bit of concrete information to make any informed decisions about what actions to take and I feel like a wreck with all this fear and uncertainty.  The first picture above was taken Saturday, as the barge, which had done our initial rock about a month ago, is now back doing more rock on each bank, after a special $$$ assessment on every homeowner. This time, if the money holds out, the plan is to rock all the way up the bank, but in stages, because they want to make sure to have at least enough to cover where the water level will rise.  In the back of these first two photos, you can see the very low level of rock....shock....that's the TOP or what's left of many feet of rock we got a month ago.  I was standing on a neighbor's deck when I took this Saturday, waiting for them to add our new rock to the level of what you see in the front of the photo.  I think I heard the water rose about a foot between Saturday and Sunday. The last photo above is looking across the river at Nebraska, slowly going under a bit more each day.  So strange, so surreal. The frightening part is that they haven't even reached the full level of $150,000 cfs (cubic feet per second) of water release from the dam up in Yankton.  I think that will be on Friday.

I don't think anyone expects the water to go over our banks, but we're still worried about erosion, about water filling our basements and about septic systems failing, not to mention if the water cuts in around us and floods the one road in and out.  Of course, there are others who say the banks will erode and our houses will just fall into the water.  There is plenty to worry about....we did get flood insurance the other day, but it isn't effective for 30 days.  So, we'll just start getting essentials out of the studios and wait for real information.  Meanwhile, plenty of other folks have moved everything out and are evacuating, but there has been no information yet that would indicate such a necessity. Fear and panic have set in.

This last shot is from the backyard and looks at the windows of my studio....John's is adjacent and his windows are under the deck.  It's called a half basement I think, as those studio windows are at eye level, so at least we're not all the way underground...but still plenty vulnerable. 

I'm having a free shipping sale in my shop through next Sunday if anyone would like to take any work off my hands....it's going to have get moved out someplace....I'd be pleased to ship work off to happy buyers!

There's a coupon code to use at checkout: MISSOURIFLOOD, if you're interested!

Stay tuned....I suppose I'll have more news by Friday and I'm crossing my fingers it's good news and not bad.  Thanks so much for all your support and concern everyone!