What to Do When You Need A Drink.
Well that's what I do, anyway.
What about you?
On days like this I need a comfort drink (it was -10 or -15° Farenheit last night and I heard "frost quaking" for the first time--who even knew that was a thing? So this morning, in the -5° weather, I treated myself to a good old DD coffee (and added mocha, so hot chocolate).
Oh, the comfort.
Then I drew it.
And finally I ran the drawing thru an iPhone app.
Colors of a Winter Afternoon
The temperature was zero Farenheit when I woke up and this afternoon has reached a blazing 11° F (that would be MINUS 11.6°Centigrade, correct?). I've been basking in the warmth by drawing a blue and black zendala that captures the winter colors.
Wind outside is howling, and howled all through last night.
Daylight is fading. Snow is on the way.
Hot cocoa, anyone?
By Mary Oliver
all the singing is in
the tops of the trees
where the wind-bird
with its white eyes
shoves and pushes
among the branches.
Like any of us
he wants to go to sleep,
but he's restless--
he has an idea,
and slowly it unfolds
from under his beating wings
as long as he stays awake.
But his big, round music, after all,
is too breathy to last.
So, it's over.
In the pine-crown
he makes his nest,
he's done all he can.
I don't know the name of this bird,
I only imagine his glittering beak
tucked in a white wing
while the clouds--
which he has summoned
from the north--
which he has taught
to be mild, and silent--
thicken, and begin to fall
into the world below
like stars, or the feathers
of some unimaginable bird
that loves us,
that is asleep now, and silent--
that has turned itself
It's hot and humid outside, not my preferred weather. Demotivating.
However, I see the value of "warming up" in other contexts, like when doing any kind of art. Warming up = doing anything mental and/or physical to get oneself going. Even sitting down for only ten minutes when there is supposedly NO TIME. Here's last night's warm-up below, a quick tangle done just before sleep, inspired by the Sunday night Tangle Time with Amy Kam.
This morning I noticed I didn't want to meditate. Not. At. All. So I applied the warm-up idea to meditation, telling myself that I only had to sit for ten minutes. And reminding myself that I could look right at the resistance the whole time if I wanted to, and that everyone has resistance at times. I did, and of course discovered that I easily meditated for my entire usual time (way longer than ten minutes) and enjoyed it.
Yep, warming up...I may not like it when the weather does it, but it's pretty darned handy for the arts and for meditation.
After warming up today, I did this:
I'm not sure it's finished yet. Probably is.
This was my second try at drawing Tisoooh (see my first attempt HERE) and I could not believe how much easier it was. So much easier! I want to continue to explore.
Thanks to my friend Susie Ng in Thailand, who actually tried the same video I described in my previous post about it and then went good-crazy into experimenting with Tisoooh on her own. You can see her amazing results HERE (scroll down until you find them but prepare for a visual feast along the way). Susie is a phenomenal artist, as you'll see!
Clouds and Rain
Waking up early this morning I could hear rain pounding down. It's a lovely soothing sound under normal circumstances, but clearly something is very out of whack when half the continent is in a drought of emergency proportions and the other half is experiencing unending rain. If we could only share and balance...but we have interfered too much already.
I like this tile very much and am enjoying having made it. It's my interpretation of what Amy Kam was suggesting in her wonderful meditative Sunday night "Tangle Time," now on Eventbrite every week; and yet, the cloudiness and darkness reminded me of our recent storms and weather issues.
There is a balance between taking "right action," based on a true understanding and wisdom, to correct an issue such as climate change, and rushing in to "fix things" with no clear understanding of what we are doing. Or acting out of some form of individualistic greed.
It is the same in meditation. First, see the thing as it is. Take time to be curious. To understand, to experience. Only then will wisdom come, and be accompanied by right action.
I needed this reminder.
Looking out the window this morning, I noticed the back yard appeared to be covered in light snow, but of course it was merely cottonwood puffs adhering to the grass.
It's that time of year again, when we have a blizzard of them floating gracefully down to earth. As I look outside just now, I see them coming down at the rate of a snow-squall, despite the late spring warmth and the heavily leafed-out trees.
From what I recall, this goes on for weeks. Two weeks? Three? This area was (and still is) a major source of poplar wood. The leaves of the poplar (another name for the Cottonwood) are somewhat heart-shaped and may have inspired the following tangle. Or not.
This was inspired by a class from this spring's "Artifex Eruditio," (Latin for "Art Learner"). Actually the class sample looked absolutely nothing like this--I went entirely off-road as usual, so mine doesn't look like anything that was taught in the class. I did some of the line work yesterday, more this morning, and then added color this afternoon.
I am not usually fond of using hearts in my pieces, so I'm blaming this on the fact that it's Cottonwood Season.
Sorrow and Beauty.
My country is in trouble on so many levels at this moment. I am aware every day of my sorrow and concern. I am sitting with both, and experiencing these feelings. Under no circumstances will I turn my back on them, or on what is going on here right now.
At the same time, I took a walk today and was greeted by the utter and complete beauty of a spring day.
I hold both in my heart, the sorrow and the beauty.
I have also reached the point where I am binding the rug. Who knows if this is going to work or not? I'm trying a crocheted binding, which I have not done on this size rug before. I have some doubts about it but here it is so far.
Foggy Mountain Breakdown
This was the scene as I took a walk this morning. I do not live on a mountain, but this reminded me of one of my favorite instrumentals, Foggy Mountain Breakdown.
Such a lovely morning, and then in the afternoon, there was the sun and relative warmth.
Meanwhile, a good friend send me a greeting card I well remember from buying some of these myself in the 1980s. I haven't seen them in years and loved getting this. There was a whole series of these cards, based on flowers and vegetables. Here is the lovely Eggplant Deva, painted by Azra Simonetti circa 1986.
Some days have their own sweetness. This was one.
Yesterday's the past, tomorrow's the future, but today is a gift. That's why it's called "the present."
The Way the Light Shifts
Out my back window, immensely tall trees are swaying in a wind passing through the back yard. I'm thinking about the way the light makes the sky at this moment--just before sunset--look like stainless steel. Exactly the color of stainless steel. Clouds have blocked the setting sun and as I watch, the tone of the clouds shifts slightly more towards blue.
I never tire of watching the changing sky, or the way the gray and brown tree branches dance across it, finding their own rhythm in the evening wind. This light is moving us gradually from day to night. It subtly alters the cloud colors in each passing moment.
Just like thoughts change, and just the way life changes from moment to moment.
I want to be fully present for this moment. Just this moment.
When I finished typing and looked up, I could see a horizontal band of luscious rose-tinted light crossing the sky below the stainless steel and blue clouds. And below that, a band of gold-white from the last rays of the sun.
Exquisite, this moment.
Here It Comes.
Here it comes. Right on schedule, too. I saw a few of these beauties on the path of my morning walk. All the trees are still looking green and lush, but this is evidence of what will be here soon enough.
The weather has turned from horribly humid to dry and cool-ish, although that won't last. Fine with me, as I prefer it. I don't believe summer is quite done with us yet, however.
My latest meditation course (I'm teaching) appears to be off to a good start with absolutely wonderful students, all of them Certified Zentangle® Teachers (CZTs). I am always reminded how CZTs are some of the kindest people anywhere. It's a pleasure to get to know this group.
I'm also aware that today is the 19th anniversary of 9/11, a nightmarish day with a nightmarish aftereffect. A good friend lost her brother on one of the hijacked planes that day. His family will never be the same. May all those connected with that event continue to heal as much as possible.
It's a bit early for the following poem, but I cannot resist. I'm having autumn thoughts today.
Song for Autumn
by Mary Oliver
Don’t you imagine the leaves dream now
how comfortable it will be to touch
the earth instead of the
nothingness of the air and the endless
freshets of wind? And don’t you think
the trees, especially those with
mossy hollows, are beginning to look for
the fires that will come—six, a dozen—to sleep
inside their bodies? And don’t you hear
the goldenrod whispering goodbye,
the everlasting being crowned with the first
tuffets of snow?
stiffens and the white field over which
the fox runs so quickly brings out
its long blue shadows. The wind wags
its many tails. And in the evening
the piled firewood shifts a little,
longing to be on its way.
Pondering With Gratitude.
Hotter than Hades where I live this week; I'm lucky to have good air conditioning or I would be prostrate on my floor.
Instead, I have been too busy to tangle or do any textile art. It's all been great--I am engaged in teaching two meditation classes each week in July. Both are practicums for my 2-year Teacher Training Program and the outcome will determine whether I get certified to teach mindfulness meditation or not. When my in-person practicums fell apart due to the pandemic, my kind and generous fellow CZTs rescued me by signing up in droves for the two online courses I hastily put together.
CZTs are incredibly nice people. I was amazed by the level of interest in learning mindfulness meditation and will probably teach a couple of additional courses to try to accommodate those on the waiting list--and the global time zones of the would-be participants. They came to my rescue from all over the globe! Thank you from the bottom of my heart, my friends.
This has meant that I haven't done any art in weeks. So about 4 nights ago, not having the energy to think, I decided to just draw lines on a tile that I had begun years ago; I had used a leftover "snowflake" paper cut-out I'd made years back and then it just sat there for a few years. I found it the other night and my first three nights were spent just drawing random relaxing lines inside the string. I did not use any tangles except Tipple. And perhaps a case could be made for Pokeleaf but I wasn't even aware of or intending to draw that.
Here is the initial finished black and white tile:
It's possible I should have just left it plain like that, with some shading. But today I did add color and shading and ended up with this.
I'm not sure what I think, or even if it matters; I am only sure that I enjoyed every line I put into this, so whatever the outcome, the process was very relaxing.
Today we had late-afternoon sun after nearly a week of heavy clouds and some rain. Amazing the difference sun can make. I've been patiently waiting. Our autumn foliage is beginning to glow and when sun shines through the leaves it is just exquisite. I feel totally lucky to live amidst all this.
Trees are truly extraordinary creatures. May we never lose them.
And here below is what may be my oldest hooked piece. I am guessing I hooked this in the late 80s or early 90s. It's disintegrating now--the foundation is disappearing and unfortunately it won't be worth saving. Although I actually began hooking a rug in 1969 or 1970, I was unable to finish that first piece. It was a round rug I was hooking with wool roving as opposed to wool strips. Unfortunately, I lost it in the chaos of moving repeatedly from place to place during that time. I didn't try again for about 20 years. I began again in the late 80s and think that may be when I made the piece below. I hooked it in a 3-cut, my least-favorite style. It's a wonder I kept hooking at all after that.
What's barely visible in this small photo is the disintegration in the lower left and right corners. I'm wondering if it's moth damage (unlikely) or if the original pattern was on burlap (more likely). Burlap was commonly used back in those days but now has been abandoned by most hookers; it's inexpensive and easy to hook through, but it was actually made to rot. Think of the burlap that's routinely wrapped around the roots of young trees waiting to be planted--the intention is that when the tree goes into the ground, the burlap will disintegrate. It's the same when it's used for a rug foundation. Bad idea.
It was nice to see this piece after all this time--I gave it to a friend and she brought it over this week to see if I could repair it. I can't, but it was good to get a photo and take a walk down memory lane.
Sunday Morning at Church
My form of church, that is.
I left very early today to meet a friend and fellow textile artist on a rural road 45 minutes from my home. Each with rugs in tow. Our goal was to drape the rugs we brought over the stone wall that looks over a meadow and then down, down, down into a huge reservoir (part of which is just barely visible over the tops of the trees and under the surrounding hills) and get a decent photo. I ran the resulting picture thru an iPhone app and got this. I'm pleased. It's a mix of a few of my rugs and a few of her rugs.
This picture describes my spiritual life--the natural world plus a meditative form of craft such as traditional rug hooking.
The light, the earth, the stones, the colors, the sun, the clouds, the wind, the water, the trees, the hills.
I can't think of a better place to be on a Sunday morning in the autumn.
“The sun shines not on us but in us.”
― John Muir
No drawing happening because I've been doing this.
Yep, back to traditional rug hooking. There is a lot more to this story, but I'll share that another time. I'm really enjoying the process, as always. I even have a space in my house reserved for this rug, assuming I like the way it turns out.
Ferocious thunder & heavy rain today while I was working on this. Anything that clears out humidity is fine with me. I'm concerned about those in the path of the Dorian hurricane however, and horrified about the Bahamas. How will the Bahamas recover?
(I am not in Dorian's path)
The Last on This Theme
Compare this one to the previous post where I worked that previous tile just as Maria did (basically copying her to learn from her). Last night and today I re-did it more in my own style, as a mandala. I added a few random things and a variation of the tangle Fanning (which I had never done before) around the edge, then shaded with a grey chalk pencil and highlighted with white. I'm liking the result, and feel like I've explored this "theme" created by Maria as much as I wish to right now. I'm done with it for for the moment.
Weather here is fiercely hot and humid. Not that far (20 miles) from me the heat index today was 115 degrees F, resulting from a high temperature and a dew point of 79. I had no idea dew points could even go that high. When I ventured outdoors to get the mail this evening it felt as though I was walking thru a vat of hot soup, wearing a sweater. It's been years since the weather has been this bad. Tomorrow will be the same; they are promising relief by Monday night. Let's hope so!
Hellish or Ellish
As far as I can remember, I have only ever done this tangle once, and that was years ago. So I wasn't sure if this would end up becoming "Hellish" or "Ellish." I do like the way it turned out and I need to practice more to allow myself to relax right from the start.
Speaking of hellish, the outdoor temperature is warming up and humidity is just beginning to slide in this direction; my all-time least favorite weather. I can tolerate cold far better than heat. Ok, enough of that!
Yesterday I broke out my gellyroll pens, which I haven't used since I can't remember when, and played with another grid-based tangle, this one a fragment from the Zentangle® book, Reticula and Fragments. (A "reiticula" is just another name for "grid.")
In love with this weather? I'm happy for you! (You've certainly waited long enough for it after the long cold rainy spring.). "Hellish" or Coolish, we all welcome summer. There is so much to enjoy. May yours be a wonderful one.
"The difficult part of the process is the long exploration and discovery of your own soul and living with the results."
Bits and Bobs
A compilation of random thoughts this fine spring morning.
1. Aren't these buttons fun? I found them online and loved them, probably because they remind me of various patterns used in Zentangle® and also of patterns used in Oriental Rugs. I'm hoping to use them in some tangling projects. And maybe one or two will inspire a rug.
They are a collection of tiny mandalas.
2. I spotted this beauty yesterday on a walk. Yowza! A "button"/mandala created by Mother Nature herself, and what a beauty. There has to be a tangle design (or a rug) in there somewhere.
The plant goes by the unglamorous name of Osteospermum, also known as "Flower Power White." It stopped me in my tracks on my walk. Just an amazing flower; it positively glowed.
3. This is a partially-done panel on the bottom (yes, the bottom) of a tan paper box. I've been working on this for two weeks and the going has been slow because I don't have all that much time to tangle right now. Below you can see the completed design. It will probably take me another month to finish.
Alas, I couldn't quite get that photo above to come out straight-on, but you get the idea.
The same box, vertical photo. I still couldn't get a straight-on image.
I don't have the box in front of me but I'm guessing that the dimensions are about 9" long, about 2" wide, and perhaps and inch-and-a-half tall, with a cover that flips open. I have a button to sew on when I'm done with the tangling and will use that for a closure (not one of the buttons shown at the top of this post).
4. Spring has fully sprung here and today we're having stunningly beautiful weather; up until today there have been very few sunny days and plenty of soggy ones.
May all the lovely colors, sounds, and scents of spring fill your senses today.
(At least in the Northern Hemisphere)
Trees are in bud, the buds looking bigger each passing day. There is a small maple on my front lawn with large tight red buds. I worry about this tree as it was mistreated in the past, but despite all that, it's resilient and looking pretty darned good. I'm guessing I'll see leaves within a week or so. I think of this tree as courageous and persistent. May it have a peaceful and ease-filled summer growth season this year.
A few days ago I begin work on this tile below. Because I'm so busy it took days to finish, even though it's a very small piece. It's clearly Spring-inspired.
This morning I snuck in one more tile when I should have been working on something else. I am a world-class procrastinator, especially when whatever I am supposed to be doing is preventing me from making art.
A "cartouche"-based tangled piece using Doodah on a black post-card-sized paper. Maria Thomas did the calligraphy of the word Gratitude; it was enclosed on a business card inside one of my orders, and I loved it. I pasted it onto the black page, along with the Zentangle® chop (the red square at the bottom right, which I embellished) and used white gellyroll, gold gellyroll, and red General's chalk pencil, gold metallic Prismacolor.
And now, back to the big projects. Sigh.
Rainy Day Thoughts
It's an icy rainy day out there, very bleak.
I am amused to notice how much my thoughts have been shaped by this weather. Today was "tax day," the annual ritual when I try to get my income taxes organized and finished. I have utterly failed, despite hours of trying, and it's been very stressful. I finally threw in the towel about an hour ago and allowed myself a short bit of tangling, which helped improve my mood.
Experience tells me I'll get through this and get the darned taxes done eventually. I'm have to get some help, hopefully by mid-week. The weather will improve. So will my mood. Keep on tangling, keep on working, and eventually it will all straighten out.
As the great Alfred E Neuman once said, "Today it takes more brains and effort to make out the income tax form than it does to make the income."
On Being Quiet and Other People's Work
Away from home in this very cold midwinter week, I've been doing just a little tangling. And watching a good friend do her weaving. While yet another good friend sent me a wonderful photograph. Below are my latest tangles, my friend's weaving, and my other friend's photo. Enjoy.
Below is my friend's weaving--two "mug rugs" for my coffee cups. Love the patterns and subtle colors she chose, and I feel lucky to have these gifts!
Finally, this wonderful Currier & Ives-type photo taken by a good friend who was out on a walk during a snow squall near our homes last week. Is this not beautiful?
"Silence is true wisdom's best reply."
What I Didn't Listen To.
tWhat is the use of seeking advice if one doesn't listen? This was my card for Monday (I love these cards, more info below). But did I listen? No. Instead of cocooning after a tiring week away, I spent the day in 5 degree Farenheit weather running around from event to event. Now, all the events were good ones. I'm just lucky, though, that my good friends were able to put up with my grumpy self.
Because trust me, I was grumpy. Overtired, overscheduled, and grumpy. Very bad planning on my part. Good thing I have long-suffering friends.
The cards (these are not tarot cards, just wonderful little cardboard coaches):
Experimenting with Mimi Lempart's tangle Mi2, using a thin gold pen (sorry, don't know the name) a friend gave me, plus Pokeroot and Pokeleaf tangles. Colored with Generals Chalk pencils on a black Zentangle® tile. I hope to do more of these experiments when I have time.
Just got back from a week away and we are having our first serious storm of the winter; it's just begun.
So far, we're having an extraordinarily early winter. Multiple snowstorms have already struck, and it's been much colder than normal. We are nowhere near the Winter Solstice when the season officially begins, but it's definitely winter out there.
I spent 2 hours today getting snow tires put on at the very busy local dealership. More snow due tonight. Fortunately, it's accumulating more in the hill towns surrounding this valley, but it's often rain or slush here. We are lurching rather haplessly from storm to storm, with just a few bits of sunshine in between. Today was mostly cloudy with a couple of hours of filtered sun. This tangle was done to honor the short days and the occasional lovely brief moments of sun, when they come.
Thanksgiving and Sun
Little darling, the smile's returning to the faces
Little darling, it seems like years since it's been here
Here comes the sun
Here comes the sun, and I say
It's all right
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes
There are so many things to be thankful for today, but let me begin with seeing the sun. Where I live we haven't had a sunny day in a long time, and although it's extremely cold out, I notice how much the sunshine has lifted my mood. I can't be the only one feeling this way.
I've a long list of things to be grateful for, including the fact that I was able to do some Zentangle® last night and today, a process that is so meditative and so centering that I feel extremely lucky to have stumbled on it years ago. Here's last night's tangle:
Next, I did a tangle for Diva Challenge #377. This piece definitely has a "What the hell happened here???!!!" feel to it, as it ended up in such an unexpected result, with colors I rarely use. But that's ok--I like it. Later today I'll treat myself to going to the Diva's page (see link above) and see how everyone else handled this "duotangle" (combining 2 tangles). I expect I'll be astounded and intrigued by all the different approaches, as always. Here it is:
I also had time to find a place for the lovely little Buddha my good friend P brought back from her month-long trip to Asia. There is now another tiny altar in my house:
Gratitude today, in no particular order, for:
After all, Mother Earth is the ONLY planet with coffee. And chocolate.
Waiting for the Storm
We are expecting our first snow of the season, here in the Northeastern US. Things are growing progressively quieter as people scurry to get home before the snow begins.
This is another Zendala tile for the Grati-tangles2018 Project. I've nearly caught up now and am so enjoying myself. I was focused today on gratitude for good friends and for lovely art materials.
This tile went somewhere I never expected. I was in an experimental mode.
Heavy rain both last night and this morning, followed by high winds. I sat in front of my picture window and watched as every last leaf blew off the many trees outside. It is now officially November, with denuded trees. In the back of my house, where yesterday I saw nothing but colorful fall leaves on the trees, I now see only tree trunks and the houses on the next street over. Yesterday those houses were still invisible.
It is November in every way, after the gusty winds took the leaves from the trees and plastered them onto wet streets, sidewalks, and lawns.
Something is off in that photo--the lighting, for sure! It's done on a white Zentangle® tile which surely doesn't look white. Micron 01 pen and graphite, white gellyroll pen to add the dots and a few highlights. Tangles are Opus and Jetties. Part of the November Gratitangle Project, Days 3 and 4.
While tangling, I focused on being grateful for:
My good friend in the hospital who is now just beginning to recover. I know it will take time, but I'm grateful she is ok and that she has access to world-class healthcare.
I'm leaving shortly for four days of tangling heaven--I particularly appreciate the opportunity to attend an art workshop while the American mid-term election is going on (next Tuesday). And yes, I have already voted via absentee ballot since I won't be here. But if I were here, my doorbell would be ringing and I'd be barraged by television ads on how to vote. It will be a massive relief to escape to art-land until after it's over. And I desperately hope we move in the direction of civility, sanity, and kindness.
I'm a textile artist (traditional rug hooking, punch needle rug hooking, and other textile arts), a long-time meditator, a certified meditation teacher and coach, and focused on learning about the interplay of art, creativity, and mindfulness every day.
SITES TO WATCH:
Insight Meditation Society
Oxford Rug Hooking School
Zentangle: The Official Site
Green Mountain Rug Hooking
Massachusetts Tarot Society