Trash Day: coffee bags

I drink a lot of coffee. I won’t say how much, but trust me, it’s a lot, even for a Seattleite. So coffee bags are a mainstay of my trash.

The bags my coffee comes in are made of thick, tough plastic, with a silvery inside and a printed outside. As far as I can tell, they are not recyclable; when even Berkeley-based Peet’s doesn’t have recycling info on their bags that pretty much says it all.

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Trash Day.

Monday is trash collection day in my neighborhood. And yes, most of my trash and recycling does make it into the appropriate bins and out of my life.

But I’ve always enjoyed playing with discarded things, finding new and unexpected ways to use them. It’s free art materials! Why not use them? So not everything gets tossed on trash day.

Unfortunately, I’ve never been good at putting those materials to the amazing, creative use I intended. Even when I’ve had great ideas, they’ve too often gone untried–because unless I take immediate action when my interest is fresh and new, and I’m excited? Forget about it. So many previously-inspiring, carefully-accumulated materials have ended up discarded later on. If they didn’t, my house would look like something from an episode of Hoarders (and I admit there are times when it’s come scarily close to that).

When I started giving serious thought to getting serious about blogging, it was during one of my periodic clean-outs. I filled the gigantic wheelie bin for recycling to the very top, and for the first time in over a year had a full trash can. I felt rather guilty at discarding all this stuff unused, and rather stupid at having expended so much thought, effort, and storage space to accumulate it in the first place, but out it went.

Several days later, it finally dawned on me that I could start using all that trash to creative ends, and hey! I could blog about it! And of course I realized this in the exact moment I watched the recycling guys tip the contents of my bin into their truck. But while I couldn’t go out and rescue my stash of materials (without looking like a complete nut), that’s okay–in a relentlessly throwaway society, there’s always more to be had.

I like the idea of making Trash Day a regular (perhaps weekly?) feature here, so I’m going to give it a try. On as many Mondays as I can manage to do so, I’ll post a piece of art, a craft item, or some other creative re-use of something that would, in a normal person’s household, end up on its way to the landfill or the recycler’s. Anything in my trash (or that I’ve picked out of someone else’s trash, or otherwise found discarded) is fair game.

So with that in mind, here’s my inaugural Trash Day project: coffee bags.

Review: The Last Werewolf, by Glen Duncan

I admit it–I almost dismissed The Last Werewolf out of hand. While I’ve read my share of vampire fiction, werewolves were never my thing, and I’d never read a werewolf book that was any damned good. And yes, I’ll go ahead and blame Twilight while I’m at it, just because I can: Twilight tainted werewolves.

But hey, I was at Costco, where the pickings are slim. Cheapskates can’t be choosers. So I bought it anyway.

This should be said, right from the start: The Last Werewolf is not a horror novel. It is not fantasy. It is not a paranormal romance. Oh, sure, it’s fantastic, and horrific, and even romantic. But it’s not genre fiction by any means–which is why I loved it. (Readers expecting it to conform to genre norms might not, complaining that it’s “too literary.”)

So: Jacob (“Jake”) Marlowe is a 201-year-old English werewolf. As the novel opens, another full moon has just passed, and so has the only other remaining werewolf–a German named Wolfgang, beheaded by an international occult law enforcement agency. Wolfgang’s demise leaves Jake to be the last of his kind (or, as he puts it, he’s now All wolf and no gang). Jake himself is slated for extermination during the next full moon, courtesy of the same agency.

There’s no surprise in that; he knows he’s been saved for last because he ate the head werewolf hunter’s father 40 years earlier. But after 167 lonely, loveless years as a monster? He’s ready. Bring on the silver bullets, baby. Continue reading

Starting over from scratch.

I had a half-assed, rarely-updated blog by this name over on WordPress for a while. I started it because I liked the idea of becoming a blogger, but somewhere between aspiration and execution I kept getting stuck.

Part of my problem was that I had no clear vision of what kind of blog it was going to be. If it was going to be an art blog, would it be specifically about painting and art technique, orĀ  about creativity in general? And if it was going to be an art blog, would there still be room for all my other interests, including (but not limited to): sewing, textiles, decorating, thrift stores, scavenging, recycling, books, fashion, refinishing furniture, photography, needlework, art history, and adopting fucked-up old cats and taking them to the vet a lot?

And then there was the problem of commitment. To write (draw, paint, sew, photograph, etc.) enough interesting content to keep the blog I had in mind going for months or years on end, updating at least twice a week (and ideally more often), is a lot of work. To do it right, to do it the way I imagined it, would be a full-time career in itself. Did I really want that?

The answer, as you can see, turned out to be “Yes.” I’ve needed to shake things up for a very long time, and if not now, when? The longer I thought about it, the more sense it made. So I dusted off the domain I bought years ago, found a suitable host, and installed a fresh version of WordPress. The old blog is still there, but I decided that if I wanted to do this right it deserved a clean, blank canvas without a lot of old rub-outs and clumsy paint-overs.

So here I am. Again. Anew. And this time, I’m in it for real. It’ll probably be slow around here at first. But as I pick up steam in the next month or so things should start to get interesting. Coming up tomorrow, I’ve got a book review (Glen Duncan’s The Last Werewolf), and on Monday I’ll kick off a weekly series of posts in which I experiment with unconventional materials and attempt to make art with them. (Will I succeed? You’ll just have to wait and see.)