Tag Archives: global warming

Offspring: a poem, a lament

Speaking of offspring, here’s a lament written during the summer writing retreat.* I can’t remember what the prompt was — maybe something about emptying your mind?


Golden rod tug slightly in a breeze. Higher up, the rustle of maples. And everywhere: insects. Bees and flies and stinging pests. How sweet it’d be to merely lament the season coming to a close and not the earth herself melting, collapsing, churning, with the Ring of Fire activating quakes up and down the coasts on either side of the Pacific. Which one will open up under Brentwood, Pasadena, Korea Town, and Studio City and gobble up great edifices of society not to mention, people: Brother, Son? I could never have been the mother who said, ‘No. Do not go.’ And even if I had been, he’d not have listened which is how it should be, but still — a bigger worry added to the usual worries.

And then there’s the plains of Nebraska, the river banks along the Mississippi, the lower reaches of Missouri — should so much land be under water?

And how can the potential destruction of, say, one American Western city compare to all of Greenland’s ice melting, Paris and London frying under a merciless sun? Or colony collapse, the bees giving up the ghost, along with whole caveloads of bats, unable to fight the poisonous fight any longer, tongues and nails, slab and tourniquet. What place, then after?

When we look at the data, we also look away, preferring to note how a grasshopper landing not five feet away says something about summer ending and the memory of other summers ending — times when bikes, hoses, pools, bare feet were the signifiers. Our poor brood when little watched nature show after nature show offering up news of habitat decline and species extinction and people wonder why millennials are anxious?

We wonder why the young refuse heirlooms of any kind, but especially have no interest in the Rosenthal china, the Royal Doulton, the Strawberry Wedgewood. ‘Will we have a home or air?’ they wonder — the inability to afford the former a trifling but inescapable concern compared to the latter.

‘We have ten years,’ they keep saying, trying and failing to sound the alarm. ‘Ten years’ means something different to the young than it does to my aging ears. Gone are the days when insects present as cute and annoying pests. Not when closer scrutiny might reveal how numbered their days are. How connected they are to everything else.

Even if we all rowed in the same direction, what a monumental challenge! But with lies the prevalent currency and corporations granted all ascendancy, we first have to clean house and by then — I’m sorry, the thought is there — mightn’t it be too late?

How many monarchs migrated to the milkweeds, those perennials standing proud and erect, proper in their heliotropic course, casting lozenge-shaped shadows, offering praise to sun and nourishment to caterpillars? How many? Less than last year? A tenth of the year before?

It’s easy to shrug at the extinction of some two-toed sloth or a miniature lizard with nocturnal habits literally never seeing the light of day, but what about ALL of the passerines? Polar bears and reindeer? What about us? If we’d cared more about the two-toed sloth all those years ago, would we be better situated today — able to enter the “Wild Kingdom” programming, sponsored by Mutual of Omaha and hosted by some hokey and corny know-nothing, instead of learning about floating islands of plastic the size of Delaware and about Colorado burning for half a season?

 

* It turns out that the response to the prompt mentioned yesterday became a chapter in the book (working title: •Blood and Indigo•). That means I’m precluded from ‘publishing’ here (seriously, with 100 hits a day?) What would happen if I ‘published’ it, left it up for ten days, and then tagged it private? SShhh

Sharon Olds poem, published in Atlantic Magazine.

A series — global warming

This Global Warming quilt is probably four feet long and exhibits the most surface work of all of them.

Visual vocabulary: Orange concentric circles for heat; bamboo to suggest nonnative invasive species taking advantage of climate change; lots of spirals for tornadoes; ferns and palms to hint at enlarged tropics; smokestack shapes “found” in cut up clothing to represent the source of carbon gasses; stripes for both rain and radiating heat.

I have a total of eight finished quilts in the series. There are at least two more unfinished pieced tops — one is flapping on the line outside right now (what a cold windy day it’s been here!) and the other is in the studio, I think.

These last shots are of the back of the four footer.

PS I unexpectedly sold two small quilts off of my FB business page yesterday. How nice is that?

A pewter sky and hope

IMG_7913Another snap of cold, waggling branches, and a pewter sky can mean only one thing: MORE SNOW!!! I can take it. Knowing temperatures will rise into the 50’s by week’s end really helps.
IMG_7930On Monday, in order to apply some machine-stitching on one of the Global Warming panels, I bundled up. The basement has been very cold this week.
IMG_7955Originally, part of the motivation to ‘white-wash’ the surface with quotes of climate change naysayers was speed. As much as I have re-engaged with these panels, I want them done. The cold kept me upstairs, however, and hours of hand quilting ensued.
IMG_7862 This was starting to have a paralyzing effect. Would I scrawl the machine-stitched words OVER the embroidery floss? Would I RUIN carefully applied textures?!
IMG_7933And then there was this recent discussion about Hope (a few posts back).  If I accept that it is incumbent upon us as moral and spiritual beings to find a way to HOPE, what was this stitching doing to me? Is it healthy to be spend so much time with the sentiments of people whose destructive idiocy makes my blood boil?!
IMG_7939So I really had to get down there and keep going.
IMG_7942Some new idea about pairing the bad shit with good stuff is forming… ideas as antidotes or something. What would happen if I scoured the internet for innovations or movers and shakers and reported about them in tandem with these gems from Fox News. Would that at least neutralize the blood-boiling effects of these nay-sayers?

Swirling and stillness

20140319-181534.jpg
Storms abound in this quilt.

20140319-181625.jpg
But there is sanctuary, too.

20140319-181721.jpg20140319-181739.jpg
One window still in progress

20140319-181817.jpg

There’s that wool challis from a scarf my mother wore

20140319-181833.jpg

there’s a piece from those childhood curtains

20140319-181850.jpg

rayon overalls with scenes from NYC

20140319-181908.jpg

one corner of this roof was dipped in my indigo pot

IMG_7860

Adding stitched lines is new.

IMG_7858Committed. And aware my efforts may not work how I want them to — do the added lines unify? Or create more distracting patterning? I shall have to wait and see.

stitching and stitching some more

IMG_7544There is the sense, with this Global Warming panel, that I could continue quilting for as long as time permits. The process of ‘connecting up’ some of the lines and colors between rectangles could just go on and on and on. Nevertheless, I think it is nearly done.IMG_7453 IMG_7455 IMG_7456 IMG_7457 IMG_7460Down in the studio, I have MANY other sections of this series pieced up and ready for something. Pondering, as I clean downstairs, what will become of them. Maybe some sections will stay very small. Maybe others will be surrounded with white. We’ll see.

surround this with white?

surround this with white?

make a narrow vertical?

make a narrow vertical?

IMG_7521

tornado-back-litA section of the Global Warming quilt backlit reveals layering that won’t necessarily be visible when the quilt is hung on a wall. I like to know the layers are there anyway. I am surprised and pleased by how much the stitching is making the piece cohere — even with all that pattern and color.
clean-room
Once back home from the Cape, I took advantage of the boys’ absence to really clean their rooms. An earwig invasion in C’s room (above) further inspired action. When I cleared out the basement freezer in order to be able to freeze one of D’s pillows, look at what a prize awaited me!! Freezing, by the way, kills dust mites and their eggs (which D may or may not be allergic to).
freeze-clean-outI discovered during our brief but idyllic sojourn on the Cape that I truly need quiet. It’s not something I’m cooking up. And it’s a real thing, quiet. I thought maybe I was just turning into that cranky old lady who screams at the neighbor-kids to get out of her flowerbeds (and I may be), but I am thinking about it all differently, now. Being away in such a beautiful AND QUIET place was a gift.

The second gift was discovering upon our return that our road (which the city had been threatening to grind and pave for weeks) was ground and paved in our absence. Oh my goodness, this almost gave me religion.
hammock“How much can you need quiet if you sullied it with cellphone talk?!” you ask. Well, it was a quick call to one of the boys, and the only spoken communique during the whole week, so I won’t make excuses for myself — or did I just?

Jack is panting harder today, but continues to eat well and relish his treats.

One thing at a time

Global Warming - in progress

Global Warming – in progress

It’s not clear to me when the intentionally chaotic Global Warming quilt (a jumble meant to depict the effects of climate change) shifted from design to “visual clutter”.  But, it did. Which means that I have changed.

Two questions emerge: How much do our aesthetics change over time? What makes them change?

Looking and learning online has decidedly been a factor.  All those gorgeous eco-dyed fabrics. The Slow Cloth movement. The classes with Karen Ruane (contemporary embroidery) and Jude Hill (Spirit Cloth). In particular, I have learned to appreciate a softer palette, unprinted fabrics, and embroidered surface design. I will always be a sucker for polka dots. And paisleys. And certain florals. And stripes. Well, okay, a collage sensibility means that in all likelihood I will forever love printed fabrics, but something has shifted.

Nowadays, I want the prints to have SPACE around them. Breathing space. Space to rest. This is exactly parallel to how I feel in life – there is too much shit everywhere in my house and the calendar has been ridiculously chopped up. Not enough space to breathe or rest.

Because I have worked too long and hard on making all the sections on the quilt pictured above relate to each other, I won’t cut it up. It’s nearly done anyway. The four or five companions in the series, though?  Maybe not. Because I am itching to see what happens when I take a section of vibrant, crazy, patched color and surrounded it with pure blue or shades of white. . .

ONE THING AT A TIME. I will add breathing room on the NEXT quilt. Jack is teaching me the unbelievable value of taking one thing at a time. With a quilt, that can mean very simply, taking one thread at a time, or one patch at a time, or one quadrant at a time.  One can rest in that, too.