Category Archives: Collage

Focus and restriction

Focus and restriction can yield relief. After a few days on the BRAT diet, I am feeling better. Blood and stool lab work all came back negative. Phew. So a re-set. I can do that.

Focusing on the history of our young nation through the lens of John James Audubon also makes me feel better. I’m reading a second biography and taking notes. I’ve read two biographies about his wife, Lucy.

Okay, okay — so much for keeping secrets. But you probably would like to learn that at one point the Audubons owned close to a dozen slaves, yes? And that for some reason, historic mentions quantify nine as “a few.” Let me reality check. Would YOU refer to nine of anything as “a few”?

You cannot read about Audubon without getting fantastic descriptions of huge sycamore and chestnut trees, of paddling down the Ohio, of camping with the Osage, and of course birds. Birds, birds, and more birds.

Audubon loved them all which makes him even more appealing somehow — from the humble warblers and wrens to the spectacular eagles and rose-breasted grosbeak.*

Here’s what I’ve learned about JJA as a husband. He was hyper-focused on his drawings and investigations of nature, which meant he roamed the woods for weeks and even months at a time. He was an abject failure at business and also given to confabulation (DID he study with Jacques-Louis David, for instance?). In short, he was unreliable.

He presents the weird mix of fate and innate capacities that produces works of genius. But you also get poverty and extended periods of isolation for Lucy. For substantial stretches of their marriage, Lucy supported them by teaching.

It’s chilly this morning but supposed to reach 100 this weekend. Huh?

Had dinner with friends last night. Seven of us. We didn’t hug even though it’s been a while but if someone was sick, we’ve all been exposed, hugs or no.

K is on a conference call with China. They tend to be endless, which is part of why I’m outside. He goes into the office three days a week now, I think I’ve said. It seems a little pointless — the commute and diminished sleep the cost of collegiality?

All the annuals are in pots now.

* Under a Wild Sky, John James Audubon and the Making of The Birds of America, by William Souder, pages 90 – 93.

All 3 collages from Paris Collage Collective’s weekly prompt

Back at it

The amount of psychic energy required to finish my manuscript and begin the querying process was substantial but also invisible. It really tanked my cloth and collage work. I kept thinking something was wrong, but nothing’s wrong.

Spring brings with it a rising energy. This year I plan to ride that wave with attention to finishing. Finish. Finish. Finish.

Oh, and I plan on starting things too. I’m seesawing between two possible topics for a new novel. Many pages already written. I’m pretty sure it’s gonna be contemporary. Enough with parlors and drays, small pox and reticules. You won’t hear a specific thing about it til it’s done this time (she said).

I’ve become a ridiculous puzzle hound. Jigsaw puzzles. Wordle AND quordle. Daily NYTimes crossword puzzle and Spelling Bee. Every day!

Enough. I’ll be spending a lot more time outdoors.

I’ll be binding quilts.

I’ll be reading.

Kimono House #1
Kimono House #2
Adding houses to old butterfly quilt; small simple collage printed on fabric to the left

How none of it seems to end

The list of things imposing misery right now is quite long. Ukraine is never far from mind. For many of my friends, Russia’s atrocities are personal.

Things I’ve heard in the last month from people I am close to:

My mother grew up in Belarus.

My grandparents are Russian Jews, but from areas now Ukraine.

I just found out that I have a relative from Poland who died in the Holocaust. I was named after her.

I’m have very little family history, which is traumatizing too.

My grandfather grew up in Odessa.

I didn’t realize that H’s mother was Ukrainian.

Meanwhile, it’s Monday and K has gone into the office. He will travel into Boston every day this week. It strikes me as a signature Covid experience how the familiar becomes strange and the strange becomes familiar. Example: in spite of this being my husband’s commuting routine for decades before the pandemic, it now feels a little weird, a little dangerous, a little not-normal.

Also today: I get to make a friend lunch and we won’t have to be quiet because K is on the phone at his workstation (aka the kitchen table).

And, I get my second booster this afternoon.

Five Things March ‘22

I am in the process of renewing my daily writing practice. Without it I’m a little lost to be honest. My in-class writing suffers, my to-do list wilts, and I lose track of things. I am not overstating this.

So today I reset my intention. I will use up a small annoying notebook. Guess what? I have a preference! Kill me! I like college-ruled, five-subject, 8 1/2 x 11 inch pages.

I shall also reinstitute occasional practice of the Five Things entry. I learned this from my friend and fellow writer, Sarah. In case you forget, the Five Things are: 1) the weather; 2) some thing you commit to doing this day; 3) one thing you did well yesterday; 4) one thing you could’ve done better; 5) one thing that brings you joy.

The practice is simple and quick and yet manages to construct a meaningful record. It can trigger more writing.

So here goes.

1) Today is cold and clear. Not as cold as Monday, but still quite cold.

2) Today I commit to finishing that fucking orange notebook so that tomorrow I can start fresh in my preferred size.

3) One thing I did well yesterday was manage the time for my Tuesday writing group.

4) One thing I could’ve done better yesterday was to eat one ice cream sandwich instead of two.

5) Something that gives me joy is the thought of spending time with paper and scissors. I used the prompt judgment this morning.

I snipped a finger and bled on a bunch of the scraps. I left the traces and kept on working because I’m lazy that way and because it felt appropriate. Don’t we all bleed under the harsh judgment of others and ourselves?

The blood worked but the images aren’t there yet.

I’ll admit to identifying the most with the squirrel looking on from the sidelines.

Pics and a little sound

“white women’s tears”

We walked in the woods today. The frogs were LOUD.

https://videos.files.wordpress.com/2VmI6Srd/img_4890.mp4

Next door neighbor’s yard crew showed up for the first time this season today. After asking them to take their ladder off of my Rose of Sharon sapling near the curb, I retired to the basement. Two leaf blowers went on and on but I didn’t care. My new plan. My sanctuary!

Cleaned out three bins of fabric, worked on D’s quilt until I ran out of bobbin thread, and made this little collage, above.

The initial three-house black and white was a gelatin print made with a cardboard and onion bag resist.

We just had an early and simple dinner: grilled cheese sandwiches and leftover soup. For real sustenance, we listened to Biden’s speech from this morning.