Love that quote by H.G. Bohn. It sums up exactly what I've been feeling about not-doing art.
If ya don't do it, it just doesn't get done. (Bohn said it better)
Why haven't I been doing art...and for so long? Because I moved house. And naively, I had no idea that it would take me much longer to UN-pack than it ever did to pack. and move.
I'm still not done, but I just can't wait any longer to start doing at least a tiny bit of art. So today I managed to produce one Zentangle®:
Wow, it has been so long since I've done any of this work on my own that a blank tile was really intimidating. All I knew was I wanted "something round." And I've been saving tangles I liked when I've seen them on the net. I started off with Banana Braid, which was new to me, and then went to a "mac and cheese" (comfort) tangle by Carole Ohl, and then tried another new one.
Of course, I couldn't resist fiddling with these on my iPhone.
I tried out 2 different colorways above, on the iPhone.
Ahem. So, in conclusion, what I've learned is:
If you wait, all that happens is that you get older.
Don't put off till tomorrow what you can do today.
I meant to tell you that yesterday, but...
It's been so long since I've done anything creative or artistic that I've almost forgotten how. Since there is a vast and growing list of "new-house chores" to do here, I rarely allow myself to do much besides basic knitting. This can't continue, but at the moment, it's what's happening.
However a friend recently persuaded me to go with her to Kripalu for a weekend workshop on Zentangle®, focused on working with strings. It was fabulous and here are some of my tangles (plus a few photos of the class "mosaics," (mosaics = other people's tangles put together on a table, revealing how people who hear the same instructions produce such different art--great fun!).
Here were the two "warm-up" tiles I did:
And then we really began to play in earnest.
Here was the class "mosaic" of our Courant Tangle tile. If you study these, you'll note how everyone does Courant differently. And yet look at the result when these tiles are combined into a mosaic. And of course, they can be turned in different ways for different effects. Mine is in there somewhere, but I've no idea where.
We took a walk on the grounds.
and then we headed back to tangling
When I got home, I played with my own tile using an iPhone app, and here's what I did with the Dutch Button Mandala, using just my own tile:
Meanwhile, back at Kripalu, we were all still tangling. We used some of the triangular tiles next, using colored Microns.
and on and on we went...
Getting away from my new house for a weekend was a much-needed respite. Left to my own devices, I have an "I gotta get the next item on the punch list done and checked off NOW" mentality that I'm all-too-aware is preventing me from getting to do anything artistic. It was wonderful to go to Kripalu and spend an entire weekend tangling.
This is my third Kripalu Zentangle workshop, and each of them has been extraordinarily good. Quiet, quality time with Rick, Maria, Molly & Martha...lots of time to tangle, silence, a gorgeous place for walks, excellent food, and of course, all that original and inventive, compassionate, humorous teaching. If you ever have a chance to attend, DO.
Definition of the word "Respite": a short period of rest or relief from something difficult or unpleasant.
What a gift.
Oh my gawd. Who knew that I would be taking a five-month sabbatical from blogging? I knew I would have to stop for awhile, but never thought it would be this long.
Little did I know that UN-packing on the other side of the move would take so much longer than the packing ever did. I moved in late March, and I am still nowhere near ready to call myself settled.
In fact, I can declare myself un-settled. Very unsettled indeed, on a number of levels.
I am confident that it will all come right in the end, but in this transition things have often felt very broken. The absence of time to make art has been a major contributor to that. I still do not have either the space or the time to draw, tangle, or hook/punch rugs.
I've had down days for sure--but I am making progress and once I sort out some of the remaining unpacking challenges, I'll be in good shape.
In all of the boxes I've unpacked, I've only noticed three broken items. All of them were much-loved pottery, and two are broken beyond repair. Last night I set about to try to fix this one:
It's one of my favorite bowls by Nancy Shotola, whose pottery I've been collecting for years now. When I finished my clumsy repair, it looked like this:
Yup. Bloody awful.
But you know, it made me think of Kintsugi, the Japanese art of repairing ceramics with gold-infused resin, transforming them into objects even lovelier than they were before. (It's also referred to as "kintsukuroi.") hope you'll take a moment to view the photos on that site.
My own clumsy, non-Kintsugi repair of that bowl meant that when I tested it by filling it with water after the glue had "set" overnight, all the water ran out of the bottom immediately. Alas. Unless I can figure out a way to repair-my-repair, I will no longer be able to use the bowl for storing liquids. But that doesn't mean it can no longer be used, right?
There are life metaphors aplenty here. Such as, learning to let go. Or the famous Leonard Cohen quote, "There is crack in everything. That's how the light gets in." Or the Hemingway quote from A Farewell to Arms about being strong at the broken places.
(Although I think the Hemingway quote is usually taken out of context; I'm not sure that, in its original context, it has the meaning we would like to attribute to it!)
Fortunately I have continued to meditate day after day, and that has undoubtedly kept me on a more even keel. But even with the support of meditation, things have been rocky.
There is simply no hastening the process of transition.
I have truly wonderful friends nearby. And much-loved friends from my previous location have also been coming to visit. I'm thinking of joining a chorus which rehearses only two blocks from here. And I have found a great studio space that's only a twenty-minute walk, if I can ever find the time to begin doing art again.
Here's a relevant quote from Thomas Wolfe's book, You Can't Go Home Again, which encapsulates much of what I've been pondering:
"You can't go back home to your family, back home to your childhood ... back home to a young man's dreams of glory and of fame ... back home to places in the country, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time – back home to the escapes of Time and Memory."
I've been thinking about the function of nostalgia in our lives. When is nostalgia useful? When is nostalgia an obstacle?
Here is just one reason I most certainly cannot go back, even if I wished to. It's a photograph of what's underway in my old apartment.
Renovation is well underway in just about every room.
And that is true for me as well--renovation is definitely underway within my psyche. It's turning up a lot of grime as I break through old psychological walls and floors. There are days when I hardly recognize myself. There are days when almost every single thing I do is a "first time adventure." (Exhausting) There are days, hours, minutes, that are dark. There are storms moving through. But, there are these days as well (below):
Whatever the weather, I needed to do this.
To return to my original analogy about the broken bowls: I needed to shatter the container of my life and re-form it.
I'm at the stage now where things are in pieces and I am just beginning to put them back together.
It's disorienting, exciting, upsetting, hard, and comical. This is a stage requiring a lot of patience.
I am not patient.
In fact, I am highly proficient at impatience, heavily laced with whining.
However, I am committed to seeing this through.
As with the art of Kintsugi, If i can mix the gold with the resin here and apply it carefully, then what comes out of this should be even more lovely than what went before. Perhaps that is the one "art" that I am focusing on right now.
Wish me luck.
Here is a poem by Mollie Grant which says it all:
Kintsugi: the Japanese Art of Golden Repair
(I have not been able to reach her to get permission to print it here so I'm just directing you to her page and you can read the poem there.)
And check out this short post for a wonderful poem by Lisa Cohen on Kintsugi.
Yes, I am in the back of a police car here. You can see bars on the window (you can actually see them better in the reflection on the left side of the photo).
I was thrilled.
I think--I hope--this is the only time in my life that I will get to ride in a police car. So why was I happy? Because they were rescuing us. Me and my buddy K. We had set out that morning to drive to CT for a meeting of rug hookers at a good friend's house. While leaving Boston we hit a pothole on the Mass Turnpike and shredded the tire on my friend's car. Argh!!! Nasty.
We limped along on the Pike with hazard lights on and got off at the next exit, which was close, fortunately. I'll spare you the details of a long and somewhat harrowing wait for help (over an hour). The tow truck driver couldn't take 2 people in his truck, so a kindly policeman agreed to ferry us to the garage, and did.
I was in the side of the police car that was apparently for the hardened criminals--no door handle, bars on the windows, hard plastic seat (the better to hose off easily in case of unmentionable disgusting substances produced by anyone sitting there). My friend K was in the opposite seat; her door had a handle and her window had no bars on it. Between us (and also between us and the front seat) was a barrier of clear plexiglass, undoubtedly bullet-proof.
I was so interested to see what all this was like! It was the ONLY good thing about this adventure, trust me. Of course I couldn't keep my mouth shut and told the kind officer that he was giving two hookers a ride. Perhaps that is why I ended up on the "wrong side" of the back seat? I wish you could have seen his face, until I explained I was referring to rug hooking.
I thoroughly enjoyed myself. The short ride was mind-bogglingly uncomfortable as we bounced up and down over every tiny bump. Those hard-plastic seats are really torture.
I totally loved my ride in the Paddy Wagon.
After which we got the repair done and proceeded to CT. We had to--we were bringing lunch. We got to stay for only 3 hours before we had to go home, and had a great time as always, but I was so disappointed because we usually stay all day and the setting is absolutely gorgeous. Oh well, another time.
Yesterday I was able to move out of my studio here, with the help of a very kind friend, and bring it 90 miles west to my new home. We couldn't quite get everything in, but here is all that's left:
It will be a cinch to move these final things and I can just put them in my car.
Here is the most recent picture from my room-packing exploits:
Not too much left besides the kitchen, some clothing, and odds and ends. It's all beginning to become real. I'm curious to see what the next month brings, and how I will react to it. Which reminds me: it's time to meditate.
So here is why I haven't been blogging, and won't be able to blog much for awhile.
O, mama! My aching back. Truthfully, my back is fine--a major miracle--but my knees are killing me. Each day I set a goal of how much to get done, and so far so good. But wow, is there a long way to go.
It's bad. But oddly, it's not quite as bad as I'd feared.
The plus side is that I'm finding lots of buried treasure.
-- A memorial journal to a beloved friend (pictured) who died many years ago. I haven't seen it for years and it has a number of great photos and stories--I'll have to get it back into circulation with her other friends, who are all still special much-loved people in my life.
--Several notebooks with tarot notes I wrote back in the 1970s.
-- Random photos popping up, small glimpses of a former life.
-- Books I no longer need and can let go of (hurrah!), and wonderful "old-friend-books" I haven't seen in a long time.
So far I have resisted taking the time to dive into the buried treasure, but tonight I plan on indulging myself, going thru the memorial journal and looking through those 40 year old notes on tarot.
“It's easier to die than to move ... at least for the Other Side you don't need trunks.”
― Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose
No, those aren't weirdly-colored taco chips, they are unfinished KNITTED KNOCKERS. I've written about them in the blog before (and I hope you will click on the link above and read about them). They are hand-knitted, soft cotton breast prostheses for women who have survived breast cancer. That's the current crop that I've knitted. They are "unfinished" because the final step is stuffing each one with polyester filling, at which point they look uncannily like breasts. However, I'm about to mail off this batch, and to save postage, I mail them un-stuffed. They'll get stuffed when they reach their Washington destination, and then each one will be mailed, free, to a woman who has requested it. I really love making these.
Because my schedule is so unpredictable right now, and because I am living in two places, I can't do any rug hooking or any of my usual creative pursuits, but I can grab my very small knitting bag (pictured on the upper right) and I can make a knocker anywhere. It's about all I can do. Because I've learned the pattern, these are stress-relieving no-brainer tiny projects and they make me feel great as I make them.
Helping me, and helping the recipient.
If you knit (or crochet--there's a crochet pattern for them also), please consider making some. The need is great.
I've been in caught in a maelstrom of activity: First spending time with my Woolies, then driving out of state to attend an amazing workshop, then home to officially close on the condo.
I am now a home owner. Gulp.
I've been packing like a crazy woman, loading up the car, and driving across the state and back several times. I'm completely immersed in the early stages of the mess of moving. But I'm getting ahead of myself...
First there was the Wooly Bully meeting the Friday before Martin Luther King weekend. Here are some shots of the rugs we've been working on:
Then on Saturday of Martin Luther King day weekend, I drove to Vermont to take a paste-paper journal workshop with Nancy Shepherd. It was not an good time for me to be doing this, given the messy transition I'm in, but I had signed up for it several months in advance--before I knew what the future held. More importantly, I had been wanting to take this workshop for about 20 years (seriously), after my friend Georg made many such journals and gave me several. Here is a photo of all the journals produced by the students over this three-day workshop:
Below are all the paste papers I made on the first day of the workshop. They are laid out on newspaper to dry.
I wish I'd had a chance to photograph everyone's papers, but I was only able to snap my own.
Here are the front covers of the journals I made, and their bindings:
I have to say I was thrilled beyond belief to learn how to do this. My only wish is that had the time now to practice with all the other papers I created. But that will have to wait until after I move and unpack--so the earliest that I'll be getting back to this will be summer. Phooey. Not only that, but I don't have room to store the new papers because I'm packing everything up; I had to store all of them in my hosts' house in Vermont.
This would be a good time to say a hearty thank-you to my two kind and talented hosts, Sadelle and Ann. Not only did they put me up (or more accurately, "put up with me" !!) but they went way above and beyond with great conversation and excellent home cooking. "Num num num," as Cookie Monster would say. And then there were the Sweetie-Pie Doggie, the Cat Who Must Be Obeyed, and the Shy Timid Kitty, who were really lovely. Thank you Sadelle and Ann for making this possible.
But wait, there's more...
Coming back from Vermont, I drove to the condo for a pre-purchase walk-through, then drove back to Boston. The following day I signed all the final papers to officially buy it. 24 hours later, I left Boston and drove back to the condo and stayed for two nights. Then back here for a couple of days, then out there again for two more nights. Taking stuff with me each trip...lots of packing, hauling, moving. I'm exhausted and feel like a ping-pong ball. I'm sure it will all be worth it, but this is not easy. Here are some views:
Oh, and in between all this, two wonderful signs somehow sneaked into this post. The first is my favorite sign from the women's march:
Next I saw this sign (below) in front of my friend Elizabeth's store, and promptly went online HERE and ordered my own copy to download.
That's my (current) story, and I'm sticking to it.
All I can say is, thank goodness for meditation.
I need a vacation.
Lovely snow over the weekend, but oh-so-cold. As I walked through my freezing kitchen this morning I spotted this guy out my back door. I'll be thinking of him as the Snow Buddha from now on. He reminded me to make the best of things, including the chaos I'll be experiencing for the next few months.
I doubt I can live up to his attitude. But I'll do my best.
Meanwhile, in starting to pack yesterday I had to roll up one of the small rugs to make room for boxes. This is a tiny rug I hooked a long, long time ago. I haven't measured it in ages but I'm guessing it's something like 2.5 feet by 18". That's probably way off, but you get the idea--it's small. It's also a long-time favorite of mine. This is just a partial view of it. When I was making it, I was lucky enough to know and live relatively near to Pat Merikallio, a fabulously talented colorist, artist, and rug maker. She now lives on the West Coast, but she was kind enough to help me with the color planning and I am a forever fan of her color instincts and all her rugs. Thank you, Pat!
But alas, just look at the binding. Yikes. I confess I've known for awhile that it was disintegrating and have been too lazy to address it. Once I get myself moved I will make it a priority. I may even have some of the original wool.
It occurred to me as I was writing this that adjusting my attitude and "fixing things" are common themes for me. I was just reading this quote from Jack Kornfield about meditation, which has implications for both these themes: "Part of spiritual and emotional maturity is recognizing that it's not like you're going to try to fix yourself and become a different person. You remain the same person, but you become awakened."
Which I certainly am not. Maybe someday?
Here we go...the start of relocating after 40 years in one spot.
Piece of cake, right?
I'm looking at months of this.
"The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are."
The exhibit is active and on the move. "Exploring the Tarot: 23 Artists Hook the Major Arcana" has traveled widely and still has far to go.
On February 4th, the exhibit is opening from 2-4 pm at the Barron Arts Center in Woodbridge Township, NJ.
To see previous posts on these rugs, including photographs and commentary on each, click HERE.
I'm a textile artist (traditional rug hooking, punch needle rug hooking, and other textile arts), long-time meditator and coach, focused on learning about the interplay of art, creativity, and mindfulness every day.
NEXT INTRO TO ZENTANGLE CLASS:
No immediate group classes scheduled (I'm always open to hearing about a good venue in Western Massachusetts. I am always happy to teach 1-1 and/or in a small group in your home.
Come and amaze yourself!
SITES TO WATCH:
Insight Meditation Society
Oxford Rug Hooking School
Zentangle: The Official Site
Green Mountain Rug Hooking
Massachusetts Tarot Society
Skillful Meditation Project