Category Archives: CLASSES and SHOWS

Sentinel trees

Oooh boy, am I in for a treat with the novel, “The Overstory,” by Richard Powers! Abandoned another piece of fiction in order to begin. Since that disqualifies me from airing any opinion about said abandoned book: My Lips are Sealed (but maybe I don’t like farce all that much?)

“The Overstory” is already blowing the top of my head off, in much the way that “Lincoln in the Bardo” did. Grace, Mo, Alden, Maureen, and Deb have all led me to it.

One of the prompts at the AWA writing retreat in August came from the opening page. I think you’ll swoon to read the lines, too:

The tree is saying things, in words before words.
It says: Sun and water are questions endlessly worth answering.

When I find what I wrote, I’ll post it, even though as I recall it was a bit opaque. In the meantime, scroll down for a response to another prompt that mentions the 250+ year old copper beech that dwells next door.

I’ve probably photographed this tree more than any other feature of our built or natural landscape. It towers over the houses with a reach nothing short of spectacular. The trunk, muscular and sturdy, mediates between sky and earth, while beneath the soil? A downward fractalling mirror of the canopy, unseen and necessary.

A story I’m submitting to literary magazines describes it. My son featured it in a third grade project.

My neighbors steward the being with utmost care: cables strung for support, twice annual feedings.

Can you imagine all that this beech has witnessed? The household secrets, the stirring of war and war again, the native people who may have honored it and perhaps also drank at the spring which once (supposedly) offered cool respite nearby. People with pox, barn fires (our house and its charred beams), orphans and the enslaved, tavern owners and farmers (the Bartletts at the corner).

The Jacksons who built the house in the 1700’s witnessed the early, young days of the tree’s life. Maybe it was the tree that inspired one owner to bequeath the house to an illegitimate daughter. Such things were not done!

Ghosts have been noted. A smithy and a soldier hanging in a closet. Not here but next door.

This little untitled poem by me mentions the tree.

She flipped the french toast,
vanilla fumed, and twisted to
a morning made of thread
and diary, made of weeds along the
road — dandelion and chickweed —
and a sun that glared
hot mystery
through the copper beech.

This time of year leafery,
cotillion, cockswaddle, and
steak. We could be made
of spores and engineered
lumber, but find ache
and patchwork inside instead.

How his back moves
down the road. She, off
with the dog down another.
Was there no plan to map
the distances, to cloud
handshakes and rollovers
with sleep or with taking
out the trash?

And how about Yellow?
Primroses flat, then yarrow, regal.
Soon the pansies made of
sugar and sunlight bought by
the flat will land while the dog pulls
away, scents of cow dung
and denim rot irresistible.

She left the dowels at the store.
The quilt unhung for another
week. Made of forgetfulness,
inclined toward suspense, turning away
not gathering up, and a scold
or two.

If only the oceans lingered
near the driveway, instead
of maple tree detritus
and scum bubbles of tar.

Meanwhile, an unintended consequence of a rheumatologist’s advice last week to “be active like you were ten years ago,” led to bravado in the garden and a back with more pain than I’ve ever experienced. Chiropractor at three. PT beginning within the week. K even stayed home today because yesterday I could barely get up the stairs or into bed. I’m much better now.

In other news: it looks like I have enough people for my first writing class. I’m so excited!

What do you think of my name: “Page by Page?” It’s a little bit like Annie Lamont’s “Bird by Bird,” but not critically enough to foreclose my usage.

 

 

These and others

Once again, sales would dictate: make MORE REPRESENTATIONAL quilts. People consistently respond to them more enthusiastically than they do to geometric/abstract quilts.

As Son #1 might say: “Meh.” But I will probably consider it going forward. And anyway, for a long time I’ve wondered: must my houses be so perpetually empty of creatures?

The air continues on the chilly side. Walked the dog wearing:

  • a down vest,
  • long sleeve shirt,
  • flannel shirt,
  • cashmere sweater

and was still cold!

Even die-hard New Englanders are getting fed up.

Everything is put away (quilts, dolls, staging crates, money box, pricing materials, extra tables) or put back (rugs, chairs and hassock, dog crate, pictures on the wall, lamps and plants). YES!

Normally, I take a lax approach to show breakdown, ensuring weeks of disorientation as one item after another is retrieved out of some drawer or closet. I wasn’t having it this time. Nope. Unfortunately, my style might’ve been a little too task-oriented (some might say, “militaristic”). Maybe lingering mess and resentment are better? It would’ve be so easy to wave co-presenter home with a casual, “don’t worry about it!”

And then there’s the essentially unanswerable question: was it worth it? Even decent sales leaves one unsure: the disruption, the intense, blind effort for a couple of weeks, and most of all, the unwelcome confrontation with a sickeningly low dollar to time ratio. I just don’t know.

These pieces below sold and a few others. I cleared a drawer or two out and made enough money to treat myself to some bodywork and have dinner out with K. Yeah!

Oh, and this also came out of the second day: a possible trip down to Montgomery with two friends to see the National Memorial for Peace and Justice (honoring lynching victims). Did you catch the feature on 60 Minutes last night? Oprah interviewed Bryan Stevenson (the force behind the memorial) and toured the site. It opens April 26.

Found in my FB feed this morning: Presidential ticket — “Oprah and Stevenson”. I suggested Kamala Harris for Secretary of State.

I just heard that the FBI have raided Michael Cohen’s office. Gotta go!

Sale day one

Firmly ensconced in the Crap Out Zone starting new Swedish murder mystery (“Fallet”), but wanted to thank everyone for your good wishes and encouragement and also to give a quick report. Sales were pretty good, traffic fairly steady, but the really exciting thing was using my phone to take credit cards for the first time. And, it didn’t snow (like yesterday).

The clay work, by Pamela Schoenberg Reider, looked lovely all on its own and also paired nicely with my quilts (Instagram : @wonderingaboutclay).

The way times goes

This was made during an intense period of caregiving for my sister so for that reason I can place it in time — about eight and a half years ago. I was really angry about it all at the time. It’s a piece of muslin that was written on, ripped into strips, woven and then top stitched with couched threads and other bits of fabric. I gessoed the surface at the end, or applied white paint — that part I can’t remember. It’s been fun to see some old pieces.

It’s a clear day! K is home and rattling around upstairs. I’m making coffee. Finn has his play date. K and I are loading the Subaru with step stool, drill, vacuum, tarps and baking soda and heading to Salem. It’s not The moving day, but we’ll ferry a couple of trunk loads over.

Six Week Class – starting next week!

Image

Come join me next week at the New Art Center, Newton, MA — ILLUSTRATION QUILTS, 6 Weds., 10/30 to 12/11 (no class 11/27), 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. You can register online at New Art Center’s website.  Take a peek at some ideas / approaches to fiber art in my flickr set “Quilts & More“.

Six weeks is enough time to start and finish a small wall hanging. Hand and machine quilting will be explored, as well as several techniques for attaching pieces of fabric to each other and to a base. No experience necessary.

teach what you want to learn

face-shapes-traced

simplest components from African mask (see last picture, below)

We’ve all heard that right?  We teach what we most want to learn.

On the eve of teaching another class at The Boston Center for the Arts, I ought to be asking, then, “What is it that I want to learn right now?”

Hmmmmm. How to take a motif, maybe, and ‘go deeper’ with it (whatever that means). But I know what that means.

teaching

making faces

Or here’s a corollary: we give the advice we need to follow. This is extremely useful for me personally, because two of the people I routinely give advice to are Oppositional, with a capital “O”. Sometimes all I can do, is turn it around.

What advice have you given recently? Don’t fudge it by scanning memory for advice you WANT to hear. I recommend just thinking of the last three things, the most recent things, you have said to someone… in an effort to be helpful.

I’m always telling certain people to be more organized, or more responsible (and yes, yes, that applies here) but here’s the most recent thing offered:  yesterday, I suggested to someone that she partner written memoir passages that are painful with those that are joyful, so that the juxtaposition told a story, on top of those told in the passages and, possibly, to make it bearable to write the really tough stuff.  My idea for her was that a one-two step like that had the potential to turn into a dance, given sufficient air and trust.  So? Trust. Give work air? Partner the ‘uck’ with the ‘yahoo’? That’s probably pretty good advice for me right now.

four-faces-blue

building from the bottom up

Little changes make big differences

Little changes make big differences

eye lid adjustment

eye lid adjustment

looking askance

looking askance

add patterns!

add patterns!

Tomorrow’s adult class will be ‘more sophisticated’.

two sections (top and bottom) that may or may not belong together

two sections (top and bottom) that may or may not belong together

But, I’m wondering, maybe the more you break a thing down, the more complex it becomes. This I have seen time and time again in the manner of Jude Hill‘s designs and thoughts and cloths… the simpler she makes it, the more avenues spin off in every direction.

So maybe for the adults, I should make it EVEN SIMPLER!

Female kifwebe mask, late 19th or early 20th century. Unknown Songye artist. Democratic Republic of the Congo

Female kifwebe mask, late 19th or early 20th century. Unknown Songye artist. Democratic Republic of the Congo