where the water goes


Today’s On Point radio program (with Tom Ashbrook) focused on how the lowered volume of the Mississippi River is forcing businesses to find alternatives to river travel…how the federal government can’t sufficiently address the problem even on the micro-level of funding a study… how water might become the precious commodity that oil currently is (on this point, one caller queried, “why else would Ted Turner be buying up 1,000’s upon 1,000’s of river front properties!!?”).

This quilt is called “Long Island Blues” because it was pieced while waiting to hear how friends and family on Long Island fared in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

Because the quilt is more about rising water levels than about the destructive winds and tides of these increasingly common giant storms,  the composition has a quietness to it.  There is nothing quiet about what is happening, of course.  We should, as a nation, be acting like those poor orcas trapped in the Hudson Bay, breathing out of a ridiculously small area of open water — arching, leaping, arching, leaping for air in pure panic.  Instead, we are still trying to fend off those who say climate change isn’t real?!  And still making excuses for the failure to SPEAK OF THE PROBLEM, because it is political poison?!

I can hardly think of a situation that could be more pervasively or profoundly demoralizing (oh yeah, which reminds me, I’ve committed to being more CHEERFUL in 2013).

My younger son had to write an essay about the ‘American Dream’ last week – what it is, how his relatives may have lived it, how he views the idea as it relates to him.

“… the American Dream is an illusion,” he started out.  “It may have existed at one time, but it doesn’t anymore.”

Remember when scientists (I’m talking pre-Rachel Carson, or her contemporaries) thought that technology and innovation could solve anything?   The generation of kids approaching adulthood are not afforded that optimism.


“Long Island Blues” before stitching

Perhaps it is setting myself up for failure to ask that I become more cheerful.

Perhaps it would be more realistic to figure out how to bring my heart and soul to the problem of global warming in a whole new way this year (and mightn’t that make me feel better? maybe not more cheerful, but more engaged, more useful…)

… posting lamentations online hardly counts as anything;  making quilts of grief hardly counts as anything.

Have you made any commitments toward being less of a consumer this year?  If so, what?

P.S. “Long Island Blues” features antique linens that were gifted to me, linen and silk that I was allowed to take from the scrap pile of an upholsterer (some of which I dunked in my indigo bucket this summer), a skirt that I bought at the warehouse that receives goods after they don’t sell at Salvation Army, a repurposed piece of a Tibetan Prayer flag, a shirt from Supersavers that also went into the indigo vat, three small chunks of quilting cotton bought at a fabric store, and lastly one piece of blue and white linen bought in the Fashion District of NYC about eight years ago (I still have a little more left!!)

13 thoughts on “where the water goes

  1. Ginny

    You are right, it does have a quiet quality, and a hopeful one too. Perhaps the calm before the storm? Or right after? I love the right/center – reminds me a bit too of the shore in the winter, with the sleeping seeds waiting for spring. Another image of hope?

  2. manhandledinmt

    this is such a lovely cloth, dee. i love the jumping fish and the line of trees that remind me of the creek that ran just outside of my little hometown…

    i wonder if this isn’t actually a more constructive way of approaching the problems already? one which raises consciousness rather than cries for governmental money to be thrown at every problem, for that latter form of thinking cannot be supported. but rather, by getting people to think and to see what is going on in their own backyards, they then have the opportunity to come up with solutions. the american dream is not an illusion. truth. it is not the same as the one our ancestors dreamed. but there is always a dream out there. one must simply stop pining away for an old, near-forgotten dream half-remembered through rose-colored glasses and open our eyes to the many dreams that are currently floating through mind, and then, as our grandparents did, roll up our sleeves and get to work toward realizing them! dreams were never meant to be handed to us. they would be worthless if they were. they were meant to be built. to be fought for. to be cherished!

    i love how your sweet, quiet little cloth takes a step in that very direction through its conscious use of precious material filled with dreams of their own!

  3. deedeemallon

    Hi Joe, your comment makes me realize there is a lot to ‘unpack’ about the idea that the American Dream is dead or that government action on Global Warming is a necessity… I hope I didn’t give the impression that my son thinks the world will be handed to him (by the government or by his parents), or that I think individuals should sit around and wait for the government to fix things. NO!

    The social contract that says “you get an education and a job is yours to turn down” is broken… these words come from the wise and wonderful Ken Robinson, who lectures and writes about education

    (his first TED talk — http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html
    has been viewed over 14 million times and is inspiring on many levels).

    … my kids KNOW this. It’s particularly disturbing to them that jobs don’t seem to be in the offing when the cost of a college degree is so astronomical. There’s more to say about this — another time.

    And my short(ish) comment about government and climate change is this – there are areas where we absolutely need government action – how else can we as a society decide, for instance, about the allocation of water resources across state lines? Or, require car manufacturers to build more fuel efficient engines? (history has demonstrated on the latter point, that they won’t do it out of the goodness of their profit-driven hearts).

    When it comes to carbon emissions and alternative sources of fuel, as Americans we are way too attached to our comforts to be expected to make the kinds of radical reductions in consumption that would make enough of an impact on climate change to create a different kind of future for our children. No matter how hard our children work and dream and create, if they can’t breathe the air, or live near the shores, or drink the water, or survive the wicked storms, or rebuild after one of the wicked storms, or, or, or…. it’s all for naught.

    But! Having said all that, all the petitions in the world aren’t going to get us a Congress that can solve even simple problems until we get money out of there. I think the BEST response to the Newtown shootings, for example, would be to petition for new laws outlawing lobbying in Washington. Get the money out of the process. Same with climate change. I don’t think anything meaningful can happen until this happens first. On this point, Lawrence Lessig is eloquent and clear.


  4. gretchen1960

    Dee et al,
    This is all so tricky to navigate for everyone, young and old alike. I do not know anyone for whom the reality is better or even close to their dream. It would certainly be incredible if we could say the opposite.

    Perhaps the trick is to have smaller attainable dreams? I would also like to think that if we all pulled together on the big stuff; global warming issues, clean safe drinking water, hunger, peace and whole lot more; we might make a dent in all the worlds great needs. Maybe that is the big dream and it knows no nation.

    Being an artist for whom water keeps entering her work, I just love this piece (and I was all about the barns yesterday!). There is a ripple of comfort when I look at it. That they are gathered from various gifts and things of the past rediscovered and directed to a new future – – – makes it even better. There is a moral in there somewhere.

    Thank you Dee & company

  5. deedeemallon

    “the big dream knows no nation” – I like that… and it’s nice that the quilt manages to be an image of hope!

  6. debgorr

    So the very practical answer to your question: I keep talking myself out of a new phone. My old one still works just fine. Yes it is a pain to text (flip phone!), and yes everyone is texting more at work but I don’t need a new phone. 🙂 I am going to buy a new washing machine. Mine is very old and uses way more water than necessary.

    As for the big picture, very much agree with what you are saying. I can’t feel cheerful at all when I think of the future, but there are things that help me feel optimistic.

  7. Mo Crow

    we live in paradise… right here and now…. we just have to look after our small blue and green planet with all her sentient & non sentient beings… I believe it’s that simple & this good cloth helps us see that Dee!

  8. annie!

    I live in Colombia – a third world country – where we haven’t seen rain since August and then …. very little the whole of last year. We take sailor showers and use the dirty dish water for cleaning and watering plants. We have even taken a shower in the rain. We’ve seen people who can’t afford water bathing in the city fountains. We don’t flush every time. Yuk…I know. We definitely don’t let the water run while brushing our teeth. We don’t have car washes and the only water park on the coast between Santa Marta and Cartagena runs only on select days. Water is very expensive and precious and I will never ever take it for granted…or misuse it again.

  9. saskia

    the line of delicate trees is so beautiful. I love the whole piece with the calm blues.
    The Netherlands is a very wet country, the people have always struggled with and have had to manage the water; where we live is literally in the wetlands, a beautiful area and a delicate balance has been struck, but the work continues. Because of our national history we are perhaps more aware of how serious the challeges are, but that does not mean we are complacent, far from it and (new) solutions in watermanagment are ongoing.
    great post Dee


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