I went looking for a quote about how areas in our life that are the messiest are often the areas where the most progress is being made. Couldn’t find it. Here’s what I found instead. Enjoy!
“Good writing begins where there is a knot.”
“Art is not about telling our secrets… but it does have to be free to go wherever it needs to go and usually our pain comes out first.”
Pat Schneider, Writing Alone and with Others“We are large enough to encompass our losses. We are brave enough to dream again, risk again, love again. We just need the assurance that we really can do so, and this assurance will come to us in a thousand forms, large and very small, if we ask for it. But ask we must.”
Julia Cameron, The Vein of Gold
“There is no courage without vulnerability.” Brene Brown
“It is not what we do which makes us holy, but we ought to make holy what we do … ” Meister Eckhart
“What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open.”
Denis Levertov, as quoted by Pat Schneider
“Any life will provide material for writing if it is attended to.” Wallace Stegner
“Anger is loaded with information and power.” Audre Lord, Sister Outsider
“We pick and choose what we think is most important, forgetting that it’s all important.” Jude Hill, Spirit Cloth
In the room where I write, various robe ideas are being auditioned. The beige linen is too small, I’ve discovered, so even if it is to be a vest, cloth has to be added to the sides. Bah. Makes the lavender linen more appealing after all. Maybe I can in fact find colors to go with it?
Food procurement has been a little nuts this week mostly because of my pea brain. I ended up with three orders in five days. Not what I intended.
Four dozen eggs? Six heads of lettuce? You can tell what I ran out of several weeks back. I feel like a dolt.
I am sick and tired of walking the dog in a light rain with temps in the thirties. Often, the LOW thirties. Seriously shitty weather here for too long. I can hardly talk to son and brother in LA with them complaining about a heat wave.
For our second walk today, the sky cleared a little and temps rose to the fifties.
Much discussion in writing class today and elsewhere about how our habits have changed because of the coronavirus. What’s changed for the better? What of our old life maybe needs to be surrendered? How are we finding the increased quiet, the slower pace (if so lucky to be afforded that?) Read Kristin’s comment from yesterday. More on this from me later.
I woke at three. By 3:15, I was composing an email in my head to Elder Son, aka the ‘alternate executor’ of both K’s and my estates.
“Rent a storage pod / Put all bedroom bookcases and books in it / Put half the chairs on the first floor in it / Empty basement as best you can.”
“The house’ll show better. Then later, hire a truck to ship stuff you want out west.”
Basement? OMG. Unfinished work is a topic that often keeps me awake, even absent a pandemic. One quilt, in particular, sprang to mind.
It was the less cheery of a pair, both constructed in the unhappy aftermath of Younger Son breaking his arm twice. The second skateboard fall required surgery and meant he started high school with a heavy, itchy cast — not an auspicious beginning in the least.
The Cheery Quilt (finished, below) was made almost as an antidote to the other, with sunflowers in the sky and a bright red house made of flannel plaid with associations to a happier time (Christmas pj’s made for him in elementary school).
The Dark Quilt quilt (above) used a lot of the same fabrics but bleached to represent the joyless aftermath of trauma. This time the house is constructed of deep indigo/ghost white prints to represent X-rays.
Where was it? At 3:45, I trotted down to the basement, determined and curious.
Link to process post about Ghost Xray quilt here. Post about bleaching fabrics and cheerier quilt composition here. Dated 2012 and 2011, respectively (ahem).
The Ghost quilt was in the dresser where I thought it would be. Exultation! But, oh my — how many unfinished projects I had to paw through to find it! I laid piece after piece down on the floor like a colorful cloth sidewalk to nowhere. Or maybe like a path leading straight into a big cloth, working along with Ragmates and Jude?
The Ghost Xray quilt stinks, of course, all the cloth down there does now — so it’s out on the Yew. The Impossibly Large Yew. I flapped the quilt out next to a red blanket that spent the last ten days soaking up rain and freezing in the cold. It had reeked of dog even post-wash. I was afraid it might’ve gone from dog-stink to mildew-stink given the time lapse, but no! It smells like spring. Delicious.
By 4 am, I had careened from concerns about children emptying this stuffed house to my central creative dilemma — finishing work. I don’t want advice or sympathy right now, but it helps to admit this (again) and witness it, maybe with a more balanced lens.
My impulses are good — both the creative and the personal. It feels important to acknowledge this as I beat myself up. There’s a deep river of generosity here. I am passionate about things. I care.
But the daunting business of completing work? Ugh, it really gets me down.
Elder Son’s blanket has, of course, stalled as I pump out masks. I’ve promised about 20 to friends (arg!)
Today, I have to stick to my routine of doing two crossword puzzles — if for no other reason that to let my psyche know that it’s Sunday! Then, maybe I’ll amp up the mask-making a little, to get it behind me.
Then, I need my almost-daily ritual of yard work. MAYBE there won’t be any fucking leaf blowers today, it being Sunday. Yesterday four (FOUR!) crews buzzed and whined their way through very-near-lots, two blowers each. At one point, I put on my ear buds. Next thing you know I’ll be embarrassing myself dancing to ‘Watermelon Sugar’ or ‘Old Town Road’ in full view of the neighbors.
The house silhouettes combined with images from the NYTimes Travel section with fantastic result (below). Even the tears make me swoon.
About to settle in for second Zoom writing class of the week, the one I’ve been part of for many years. This one I get to listen more.
Here’s a quick tour of my writing space on this rainy Thursday.
My son didn’t pack Jude’s strays and (ahem) I didn’t remind him. Someday soon, I’ll pop them in the mail to California.
Day SEVEN of HOME CONTAINMENT. I like that phrase better than self-quarantine or isolation. How’s it going with you all?
It was nice to come down to a ready pot of coffee but weird to hear a conference call about technical appendices going on. Fortunately, K didn’t have his camera on because when I walked in front of his screen his colleagues would’ve seen an old bird with weird hair who looked like she just woke up.
Look who came to visit! After years of FB messaging, sharing online reading, exchanging chapter reviews and comments about sewing, Deb Lacativa and I met in person. It felt as though we’d known each other for decades.
Deb was in town to deliver the key note speech at a writers’ conference in Salem. Her talk was what you’d expect: at once earthy, humorous, and inspirational. I was proud to be her plus-one.
During her visit, I made a bland chili, an alright chicken and potato dish, and an okay spinach salad. Why is it, sometimes, that my renditions of tried and true dishes disappoint when I have guests?
It rained one day but that was okay. Deb joined my class that morning and wrote along with us. That was fun. She also blew everyone away by reading a portion of her manuscript.
Regarding my own draft: conversations at the conference about word count have me all fired up. Today, I printed out a list of chapters and highlighted those that I either love or deem essential. That left about half as dross. Half! I’m eager to see a leaner, more narrative version.
The world is rather rusty and yellow right now. Still quite a lot of raking to do.
The collapsed vegetation offers the rough beauties of decay.