Category Archives: In the Company of Cloth

notes from a quilter, collage artist, fabric collector

Now it’s summer!

I’d made gazpacho. I’d made cold cucumber soup. We’d barbecued here and there and sat on the deck on Sunday mornings with the papers strewn around us. But it didn’t feel like summer.

Until today. We just went swimming over at Crystal Lake. Aaaah! The water is both warmer than usual and shallower, but still utterly refreshing.

It almost seemed normal. Girl says to her brother, “Eric! Let’s play the back float game!” Even more normalizing was the fact that they were being watched by a babysitter (How does that work? Is she a live-in?)

Cases in Massachusetts are rising again. After weeks of toggling between 200 and 300, we are mid-fives.

Last week I heard a statistic that recharged my caution. In Middlesex County (where most of our state’s cases are and where I live), if you have contact with 100 people, there’s a 38% chance that one of them has the virus. Just because we’re not California or Texas, it’s no time to get lax.

Upshot of telemedicine call: cholesterol is okay (wasn’t reading labs correctly it turns out), but I need to lose weight (according to me, not the doctor).

I don’t want to go cold turkey on sugar or join online Weight Watchers or even count calories. But I’m stepping up my exercise (ar ar). This is my third day in a row of exceeding 10,000 steps. Already I feel better.

Look at Saint Finn!

Placeholder post: Ancestors

I don’t practice Ancestor worship — though of course, like anyone, I have often cried out to my parents (most recently during difficult times with my sister). I often heard my father or mother, clear as day. Father: she’s fucking impossible. Mother: don’t let her take you down with her.

Grace has already received her copy of Resmaa Menakem’s book, “My Grandmother’s Hands.” I’m still waiting for mine. His interview with Krista Tippet was beyond interesting. More like galvanizing.

The book, apparently, is full of practices, one of them an Ancestor Practice.

I’ve read it can take time. To make contact. Grace wanted to know where I’d read that.

Because of idiosyncratic research on the Yoruban religion, Ifa, over the years, I’m not exactly sure where I came across that notion. Googling terms like, “ancestor worship,” “Ifa practices,” or “babalawo” will turn up tons of sites, including many videos.

(Two asides: ONE, many religions include an Ancestor practice, of course. And TWO, until recently my feeling has always been, “why would I want to talk with THEM”? (Sorry/Not sorry)).

It was interesting to read that Menakem recommends reaching back several generations. People you never knew. That feels different.

From IfaFoundation.org

“Ifa’s worldview can be thought of as the spiritual representation of Einstein’s theory of relativity. Our belief in, and practices of, ancestor worship bridges the time gap that Einstein believed must exist between the past, present, and future. In Ifa, we understand that the invisible world of our deceased ancestors combines with the visible world of nature and human culture to form a single organic truth. Through ritual we bridge the relationship between the past and the present, and in the process improve the future. The ritual process of ancestor worship can provide us with profound, quantifiable changes in our everyday lives. But the concept often meets with resistance.

The screen shot above reveals some of the links in a free library on the site.

Another wonderful source is Queen Quet, Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation. You can follow her on Instagram

@gullahgeechee

She also has a website. A remarkable figure in environmental justice circles and an advocate for the preservation of Gullah Geechee culture (overlapping circles), there are lots of reasons to follow her.

* * *

Busy morning. Doctor tele-annual shortly (yes, my cholesterol is still high, even taking a statin) and then my Tuesday class. Dog walks in unbearable heat.

One hundred and three days

Like Finn waiting for a bit of my breakfast, I mostly wait for November in an electric expectancy (not feeling like a boiled frog, in other words.)*

I am tentatively hopeful for the turn around that Biden’s election would represent. I am tentatively hopeful that another Blue Wave will overwhelm the GOP’s voter suppression campaigns. I am tentatively hopeful that Operation Legend will backfire and that trump’s push to be more visible will only reveal how advanced his dementia is.

One hundred and three days.

I will get to yesterday’s comments later. But first dog walk! Then a zoom writing class.

We got a marvelous pounding rain last night.

During the walk, I listened to Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy and creator of the Equal Justice Initiative and the lynching memorial in Montgomery. But you knew that. And you probably knew that the memorial features jars of earth taken from lynching sites.

Here’s a moving clip about a woman collecting dirt for the memorial along a remote road being approached by a white man in a pick up truck.

https://overcast.fm/+QLhWC4oWg/36:44

The one minute story exemplifies Stevenson’s core belief about racial healing.

“We deny ourselves redemption when we insist on denying our broken past, our ugly past, our racist past

Until we tell the truth, we deny ourselves the opportunity for beauty. You know, justice can be beautiful.”

If the clip doesn’t work (still figuring this out), play from 36m on your usual podcast app.

Christ figure w/African face made of shrinky dink

* would we know we were boiled frogs? I don’t mean to return to yesterday’s pessimism, but isn’t that the whole point of that analogy — that we wouldn’t notice the ever increasing temperature of the water until it’s too late?

Rant or Lament?

Can’t tell if this is a rant or a lament. That may be evidence that I badly need to get out of the house and go camping or it may signal something about this extraordinary age. Probably both.

That’s when I got the idea about sleeping out in the forest: pine needle pillow; pricks of stars visible through the jagged, vertical pines; shadows. Hoots and cricks, some scary, some soothing but all better than the eternal thrum of the AC system and its chill result. What are we? Slabs of meat in the walk-in cooler waiting for the sous chef to grab and fry? The heat knows no bounds. Or at least, previous bounds exceeded. 90, 91, 95, 97. Even the dog gets tired after a block.

I drape my bra on the back of my chair — convention set aside. Where am I going anyway? I can speak to a neighbor at the lot line with my arms across my chest.

The deck at night offers no alternative because of all the AC generators littering yards nearby, thrumming into action at regular intervals. Plus traffic two blocks over. You don’t hear traffic in the daylight because of all the suburban sounds of improvement and maintenance — yawing, sawing, polishing, blowing, hammering, trimming, and trucks, trucks, trucks.

The place of my birth always lies to the north or west. Where I write in community in August quite nearly on top of my birth town and so the geography speaks to home as little else can. When no single school, no single neighborhood, not one state, even, claims your history, let the rolling hills and the clinging mists at dawn speak to home. Those hills. Old, old mountains. Not the majesty of young upstarts like the Rockies, but the soothing ancient rolls of tree-covered dirt and stone. That’s where I’d like to sleep.

After a long solitary walk away from the conference center’s line of Adirondack chairs. A creeping fear of bears. A constant look-out for the bite of a tick. Scraping through damp grasses until shadow and branch take over. What happened to our primitive selves — the musculature of the hunt, the wary nervous systems of vigilance?

We’ve been scrambled. First by too many interior hours, then by a wicked remove from food sources and now by the glowing blue light of our devices. How many sleepless nights do I succumb to the news feed — holding the phone above my head, working my arm a little, my thumb a lot, knowing the whole while that I’m entering an insomniac’s hell — a damnation so complete that it might keep me awake until the early doves start calling out to each other and the passerines twitter with their timeless chatter. If the eyes manage to close at three, the continued scroll under the eyelids represents a modern form of torture — not just for the delivery system with its pituitary-disturbing glare, but because of the tsunami of terrifying content.

We are fourteen Reichstag fires into the creation of a fascist state. We are frogs, boiled, boiled, boiled. We are pretend pundits, all, twittering our outrage in fear and pretend hope that something, ANYTHING, we do might forestall the total collapse of the Republic.

How much, then, I might prefer the clicking rattle of a venomous snake or the crackling approach of a large mammal to lying in bed in the glare of news. Dying riddled with poison or after being mauled by a bear, alone and in pain, somehow more right than the accretion of damage to our nervous systems wrought by today and tomorrow’s political fuckery, which of course is not merely political, but personal. DID 1970’S RADICAL FEMINISM TEACH US NOTHING?

So okay, those circles of advocacy were hideously, egregiously white, but now here we are all, arms extended to any and all who would prefer liberty, or let’s say “so-so democracy,” to kleptocracy, hoping to grab each other and sing, not unlike the yellow-shirted moms in Portland trying to protect protesters with their bodies, which is what good moms have always done — tried to protect their young with their bodies. Look how they turn the BLM chant into a lullaby — “hands up, please don’t shoot” — knowing how the nasty, cameo-clad soldiers must not be angered and really, must be soothed.

I’ll sue, you’ll sue, the AG’ll sue, the ACLU will sue — but the delays and the chances of meeting a radical, unqualified right winger on the bench grow by the minute. We’re frogs. We’re boiled. Our organs are near to exploding.

Let me walk, therefore, barefoot on rocks still warm with summer sun and risk disturbing a rattlesnake. Let me enter the deep, cool shade of the forest and lie down there as the sky inks black. Let me be surrounded by the old sounds, even if bringing ancient fear with them. Let me lay my head in the bracken ferns, aware that I crush a few fronds for my comfort, but prepared to do so to save my soul.

  • Collage above made sometime between Zimmerman’s acquittal and Michael Brown’s death.