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."
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."
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.
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.
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.
Yesterday's tangle was titled Rain, and as if invoked, it has been pouring all day today, including thunder and lightning. We've had a rainy spring, a heavily rainy summer, and now a very rainy autumn. We have had more than enough rain.
So for today's tangling I decided to use a Bronze Stardust Gellyroll pen in an effort to invoke the sun. It's still pouring, and heavy rain is forecast for tomorrow so I'm not hopeful.
This is still part of the "Gratitangles2018" challenge.
Today I am grateful that my friend who just had surgery is beginning to feel better. And that the heavy cold I have had for weeks now is beginning to lift.
Just for fun I ran the original photo above through my iPhone app and got this, which I like equally well:
Ayup. Did the mandala (from which this photo was created) three years ago today. This particular photo was created by manipulating the original mandala in one of my iPhone apps. [The app has changed over the last 3 years and now isn't anywhere near as much fun. Phooey.]
I always did love this one.
Three long-distance friends are in town from today thru mid-week next week, so I'm not sure how much tangle time I will have. Thus I'm just posting an oldie for today and we'll see what the next several days bring.
Last night around midnight we had a ferocious thunder-and-lightning storm with heavy rains. So much for peaceful sleep...yawning...
Tangling away during thunder and lightning storms today, and feeling lucky to be safe indoors. Our hideously muggy weather is being altered, one storm at a time. I'll be delighted to see it replaced by drier air.
This one really surprised me. I think I threw in everything but the kitchen sink, but it seemed to work.
This particular tangle is a big challenge for me, but hopefully I got it this time. It reminds me of shells at the beach...
...which inspired the title, "Beachy But Not Peachy," as the weather here is still unbearably hot and humid. It's like walking into a bowl of soup when I go outside. My least favorite weather.
You know that old and trite saying, "When life hands you lemons, make lemonade."
Right. Well, it's hotter than HADES here, and humid to the max, and it's been that way for five full days and won't stop until it gets to seven. We are all miserable; everyone's complaining. We all want to be sitting around drinking cold sweet lemonade. I am fortunate to have air conditioning, and I do mean fortunate.
So today I decided to participate--at least sporadically--in a summer tangle challenge sponsored by the Yankee Tangler. Her tangle challenge for today is Footlites, by CZT Carole Ohl. It's a real favorite of mine, and I thought I would try something different. Some version of it as a monotangle.
Instead of being pleased, I created a big lemon. Here it is:
The only pencil I had to hand happened to be this huge Grumbacher Sketching Pencil with a very wide, flat point. Look at that point! Yowza!
Thus, this was a big experiment, and it didn't work at all. There's a wonderful technique of creating images using only soft pencil and then smudging it so that the patterns look like beautiful soft fog. I thought I'd give it a try but instead of the cool gentle fog, I produced a hot mess.
Even while I was working on this, I wasn't enjoying myself. But I'll never learn if I don't try, or so I tried to console myself. I told myself maybe I'd like it better tomorrow, after a good night's sleep.
But later I walked into the room where it was sitting and I liked it even less.
Yup, I had created a lemon indeed.
Face pucker time.
Having created this monstrosity, and knowing there are "No mistakes" in Zentangle® (I have the t-shirt with the saying on it to prove that), I knew I had to try again.
I grabbed the same tile and for reasons I don't fully understand, I went with a black Micron 08 (thick), not the usual delicate Micron 01. Perhaps this was a subconscious attempt to murder the earlier image?
I more-or-less-kinda-sorta followed what I had previously done. Contrary to my previous experience, I actually enjoyed doing this. It felt much more meditative...always a good sign. I'm much happier with the result. No fail, no learn, right?
A friend who just got her CZT said they experimented with the graphite-only method during the training, so I'm hoping she can help me figure out how to get better results. I left a little of the graphite-only part on the finished tangle.
And now to go drink some cold lemonade. Ahhhhhhhhh...
This was the final tile we did at the workshop that ended yesterday. I've referred to the Perfs (the official Tangle name) as "Pearls" in the title of today's post because they look that way to me.
Because the venue needed to ready the room for the next workshop, there was no time to do a class mosaic so I don't have a picture to show of what would undoubtedly have been a really magnificent collection of tiles. I really enjoyed creating this one, and would like to play more with this particular string. Thanks to Martha & Molly for a truly amazing experience.
When I got home last night it was smotheringly humid here, really unpleasant. But overnight the weather shifted. Here was Dave Hayes the Weather Nut's forecast this morning. It cracked me up!
"THE 411 FOR THE 413: SUNNY, WARM, SWEET, NICE, AWESOME, PLEASANT, KILLER, GREAT, LOVELY, FABULOUS, MORE PLEASE, AND THANK YOU..."
He turned out to be 110% accurate. Love him--so helpful. It is absolutely exquisite out there. I just took a long walk and spotted these phlox broadcasting their extraordinary color along the sidewalk. Most phlox here are shriveling up now, but because these are in shade for much of the day they're still going. In person, the color is nearly psychedelic, almost too much for the eyes.
This little beauty is a much smaller mosaic that the one I posted yesterday, but it is the same pattern I posted yesterday. I took this shot of "3-Z tiles" placed into a tiny four-person mosaic before everyone else at the workshop added their own tiles. Even though it's small, I had trouble remembering which was mine, but I finally determined it's at the lower left.
This is an even better illustration than yesterday's of how we all heard the same instructions, and we all used the same materials, and yet each person produced a unique result.
Life is like art - it is all about interpretation.
It seems Spring is scarce as hen's teeth around here. It comes and then goes just as quickly. Fortunately last Saturday we had one glorious spring day, coinciding with our rug hooking meeting in Connecticut at Ann's farmhouse. The weather and sun smiled upon us; all of us were able to attend, and we had a blast.
I have only a few pictures (since many of us have been working on the same projects for quite a long time) but they'll be worth seeing.
Well, of course--those of you who've been reading the rug hooking category of this blog will recognize Cheryl the Rug Rescuer's name and title. Yes, this is ANOTHER rug rescue by our intrepid colleague. I believe the designer's name is Denise Mitchell...see this close-up below:
Apparently Denise (if I have her name correct) was a rug hooking teacher who died recently. Before her death she designed and hooked most of this rug, but was unable to finish it. Another rug hooker who didn't feel able to tackle the job approached Cheryl, asking her to do complete it, and gave her the remaining wool for the rug. Cheryl accepted the challenge and is basically done with the hooking now. Someone else will take care of the binding, and then the rug will go to the woman who asked Cheryl to finish it. Denise, wherever she's currently existing, would be proud to see her rug completed. A better photo is below.
Elizabeth was punching away on this beauty:
And Kathleen had brought along this pattern to work on for the day (K is in the middle of two other very complicated gorgeous rugs, too large to carry around):
That's it for the rug photos, but wait until you see what is coming next. Ann, our hostess, brought out a hand-embroidered tablecloth that had us all drooling down our shirts. One of her relatives (grandmother? uh-oh, I can't remember) had begun this, and I think Ann prevailed upon an aunt to complete it. It is just stunning. I took lots of photos. Here it is:
Here are more photos of various motifs, and some close-ups. What a labor of love.
You may be wondering (but you probably aren't!!!), "Where's your rug?" My rug is so close to done that I've decided to wait until it is done to show the photo. Since I am moving at a snail's pace--too busy to work on it much--that could be another month, but I hope not. I'll try to get it done and on here sooner.
Instead, since Ann had been asking me about punchneedle, I did bring my latest punchneedle project. I finished it this morning. Still debating how to frame it. Below you can see the original tee-shirt I've had for at least ten years, if not more, with this design on the front. And next to it, my punchneedle version. The tee-shirt is fading, and I've loved this redwing blackbird image for so long that I cannot bear to lose it, so I wanted to immortalize it in punchneedle.
The one problem: I cannot find any contact information for the original artist, Rob McClellan. I believe I've traced him to Ohio, and have even found a gallery there that sells some of his work. But the most recent work they have is decades old. I wrote to the gallery to see if they could help me locate him, but they wrote back to say they have no idea how to do that. If anyone--anyone!--knows how to locate him (I suspect he may be long dead--I've found some photos of someone with that name on the internet but they too are decades old), PLEASE let me know. Clearly I did this for myself only and will not be selling or profiting in any way from the piece, but I would love to find him and thank him and credit him even more than I can by doing this.
A happy Spring to all. May it come, and stay for awhile, before the summer.
I know we've had winter this late before. Four years ago to the day, in fact, I'm pretty certain we also had snow. Today we had snow plus drizzle ("snizzle," says our local forecaster), plus now rain. It's grim out there, and of course, in Boston, the Marathon goes on. Admiration for those runners!
Much as I dislike heat, I'm ready for spring and even--gulp--summer.
Spent part of the morning coloring this tile. It has a story attached (see below).
So here's the story. A few days ago, Cris Strovilas Letourneau--a CZT and author I admire--found out that while she & daughter Alexa were visiting her sister for an overnight, their house burned to the ground. Unfortunately, their husband/father was inside and didn't make it out. He died in the fire. I cannot imagine the grief and shock and loss.
To make bad matters even worse, it now appears the fire was started by a burglar who was in the house. Of course, HE got out just fine.
There's a GoFundMe page set up and I've contributed, but I've been feeling so badly for Cris and Alexa. Other than sending prayers, there's not much I can do (I don't know her, have just met her once), and then Sonya Yencer, another CZT, created a tangle named SoulStar with Cris and Alexa and Cris's husband in mind. So last night and this morning I did the tile above.
While working on the tile, it came to me that the front "star" (lower right) is for Cris, the star tucked behind that one is for Alexa, and the "lead star" that appears to be a comet in the upper right is her husband, on his way through transition, leaving that golden trail behind as he sets out on his journey. The fact that his circle is smaller seemed to me to be about the fact that he's given up a physical life and is now on his way in soul-form.
My heart goes out to them each day. May their loss lessen, even though I know it will never go away, and may he travel safely into the Light.
"Body at rest, spirit free."
I'm not dithering, but the weather is. After yesterday's glorious sun and spring flower adventure (see the last post), today it's dull and starting to snow heavily. Every New England Spring is like this; the weather can't make up its mind.
I got busy doing the latest It's a String Thing Challenge, from CZT Adele Bruno, based on the letter Pi. Click on that link and hop on over to the challenge page to read about Pi and have a chuckle. Also to see what everyone does with this string. You'll get an eyeful out of the way the same instructions turn out so differently when read by different people. Enjoy!
In my last place of residence, the local homemade pie shop celebrated the letter Pi on March 14th annually with free pie. Yum. (See why March 14th is relevant by clicking on the link to the challenge page above.)
Earth teach me to forget myself as melted snow forgets its life.
Earth teach me resignation as the leaves which die in the fall.
Earth teach me courage as the tree which stands all alone.
Earth teach me regeneration as the seed which rises in the spring.
Today I missed a rug hooking meeting with my favorite group because of the snow. I miss my friends and it made me sad.
Still, it is beautiful:
Above: Down one side of the street.
Below: Down the other side of the street.
Both photos taken just after sunset.
"I used to be Snow White,
but I drifted."
for this week's "it's a string thing" challenge #205:
there seems to be a theme going on here. my journal page from yesterday (note the rainbow lead pencil i'm determined to use until the last 1/8"):
finally, some pix from my long walk at 5.30 this morning:
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?
I have indeed been absent from writing for a long while.
It's nothing bad, nor have I abandoned my blog. Instead, life has been overly-full with good things, including two major projects. I'll write about one of them today.
I just returned from a less-than-24 hour trip to Cornwall, VT, where I stayed overnight at the Oxford Rug Hooking School and completed the requirements to become a Certified Teacher Punch Needle Rug Hooking. (!! Hurrah !!)
And as if that weren't wonderful enough, just look at the weather and views I had while I was there (even though I hardly had time to be outside).
There was earthy eye candy everywhere.
Here are some samples, a photo journey for your enjoyment:
Amy Oxford's school is a bit of heaven on earth, one of my favorite places to go and well worth the four-hour drive for me. (Although TWO four-hour drives in 24 hours just about did me in.)
And then there is Amy herself, one of the kindest and most generous people I know. A fabulous artist, teacher and businesswoman. And there is also Heidi the dye wizard, working her magic on both creative and administrative aspects of the school--and just as nice. (Heidi also can repair absolutely anything.)
It is sheer pleasure to be in residence there.
I am ready to collapse for the evening and try to take in the fact that I'm now certified...a fact which just makes me think, "But I have so much more to learn!"
My one regret is that I couldn't stay longer. Anyone who has been to the school and is reading this will know exactly what I mean.
As for the other project I'm involved in: that one is bigger, longer-term, and more disruptive, and may prevent me from writing much for a while.
It's all good. But it's also all-consuming.
To quote the old Beatles' move, Help: "I can say no more."
I have been busy today, despite excessive heat and humidity. Although it hardly seems possible that I actually needed to dye more gold yarn for my current rug (after all the excess I had at the finish of the last one), I did.
But dyeing during the heat of August is not my idea of fun. So what to do?
I woke at 5 a.m. and it was only 70 degrees outside, so I zipped into the kitchen and dyed four skeins before the heat could build. Hopefully this will be enough to finish the rug. After hanging the skeins to dry, I spent a few hours punching also and am coming close to finishing everything but the borders. on the rug Well, perhaps that's pushing it just a little bit...but I'm definitely making good progress and I think the above statement will be true after one more day of work.
Once I wound the yarn, I amused myself by making a yarn-cake mandala on my iPhone. Love these fun iPhone apps...
It's too early to show my rug design, but a took a photo of a small part of the rug and ran it through another iPhone app to make a spiral.
Wow, these apps are powerful...I love this and only wish my rug could look like this! Quite amazing. (Indeed, my rug looks nothing like this at all.)
Ahhhhhhhhhhhh...I love it when I discover something scientific that justifies one of my so-called bad habits, and this video is less than 2 minutes long:
AND ABOUT THOSE KNITTED KNOCKERS:
Ok, so here is what I have been doing in the off-moments when I haven't been dyeing yarn for my new rug: making Knitted Knockers.
Yes, they are what they sound like and look like. They are ingenious prostheses for mastectomy patients to wear instead of the (usually) nasty implants or other heavy, unwieldy prostheses. You can find out all about them on this amazing website.
You see here a pair I have nicknamed the Blue Boobies...isn't there a bird called the Blue-Footed Boobie? Well anyway, I couldn't resist doing a pair in blue.
I was really moved by this project, and--given the trauma a good friend of mine is going through this very week--really wanted to be a part of it. So I am knitting knockers and I hope someone finds them useful.
Now that I've got the hang of it, they are easy to make and require no thought. But the first one! Oy vey. Let's just say I haven't worked with double-pointed needles in years (I prefer Magic Loop for socks) and it took me more than a dozen tries to get the first one going. But that was it--once I got that one started, the rest have been a snap. I just love this project.
I'm snowed in here so haven't been able to get to the studio to work on my rug, but I've been continuing the yarn-dyeing orgy and should have more skeins to show very shortly. I may--just may--have finished dyeing all the yarn for the rug. Just about 50 pounds of yarn. Phew. And each 4 oz skein has been dyed individually, by hand.
A stunningly beautiful day in the state--in the bright sunlight, sugar maples are burning up with reds, oranges, yellows. Autumn everywhere! Only the sky was blue...but an incandescent blue.
With excellent coaching from artist and CZT Cheryl Cianci, I produced the blue-themed tile above, although I was in anything BUT a blue mood today. This was a soothing process, and the slow work with the Prismacolor pencils made it entirely meditative. With thanks to Cheryl.
Tangles used: Mooka, Munchin, Pokeleaf & root, Florz, Knot Rickz, Tipple, drawn on a brown paper bag.
Here is a mirrored version (using the mirror app on my iPhone)
...and a version using the app "Painteresque."
Back in the studio--at last! I cannot believe how happy this makes me. I started my current rug, Micmac, the first week in March of this year. "Starting" is defined as beginning to color plan it., not actually starting to pull loops. By March 20 and 21, I was actually beginning to hook. Here is how it looked then:
On the left, the pattern before I began. Middle: Fooling around with colors. I loved those colors, but couldn't make them work throughout the rug. On the right: How I started the center motif. So...that was back in early March.
I worked on the rug pretty steadily for the next 4 months. See my blog post answering the question, "How long did it take to make that?" here.
In July and August it was too hot in the studio to do anything will wool, so no further hooking got done. In September it was still very warm but the bigger obstacle was my wonky back, which made even driving to the studio impossible. Walking? Unthinkable.
Finally two days ago I got in there for 90 minutes. And today, for three hours! And I walked. I'm very excited. So here is the rug now, after basically 4 months of work (24x42", aka 61x107cm):
Today I was able to finish off the motif in the lower left border, and then I was able to add the motif in the upper border (center top). Here's a better look at the start of the top border that I completed today:
Feeling good about how this is turning out.
The background is Jeannie Benjamin's fabulous hand-dyed wool in a color called Old Underwear, (!!) and I love the way it sets off the rest of the rug. Check out Jeanne's website and wools at New Earth Designs.
While I was hooking today I was listening to the Mindfulness Summit recordings and was, frankly, beside myself with enjoyment. My back is beginning to heal completely. To add to all of this, the weather today was perfect: sunny and cool but not chilly.
How lovely to have a day like today.
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:
My next Beginning Zentangle® class is not yet scheduled--stay tuned.
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