It’s 60 degrees here. Crickets sing their autumnal songs. Hard not to feel blessed, with zero hurricanes coming at us and zero fires raging nearby. The finches are feeding on the echinacea seed heads near the side door. When I come out, they fly off, startled and pretty.
K went to work today for only the second time since March 13. There were 313 Covid cases in Massachusetts yesterday, so I don’t know? Finn understood the change and stayed up in bed with me.
I am adding batting to the single-layer sections of the global warming quilt. Tricky. Fussy in a way that would be avoided if I were a Point-A-to-Point-B creator. Believe me, sometimes I wish I was.
But just look at that amaranth! It is one of the few glorious results of my seed planting efforts this year. Exactly ONE of the dozens of sunflower seeds I planted survived the rabbits.
The huge squash leaves came from a rogue seed that took root when a piece of compost fell into a yard waste bin and took off! I love how surprises arrive in the garden with a casual regularity that defy their miraculous nature.
The first house (below) didn’t belong so I took it off. New house includes cloth that Deb Lacativa gifted me recently.
As a hostess gift, Deb brought threads, too!
I’ve put them in the box that formerly housed my sister’s Aquarian Tarot deck. Noreen left behind some fifteen decks, but this was her favorite, in her possession since the mid-seventies. I love the cards, too, but knew they weren’t mine to use. During Deb’s visit, it just became so clear that they should go home with her.
Deb later informed me that the artist who created the deck, David Palladini, died on March 13. The same day as my sister. (He also went to Pratt Institute — which is where my parents met).
My sister’s glass collection cheered up an otherwise grey day. I can already tell that the season of watching Hallmark Christmas movies won’t be the same without her. We used to play an informal Bingo on the phone. “I got a character named Nick!” Or “I had the magic ornament!” “The kiss during a sleigh ride!” Or, “We need to add: Dancing while making cookies!”
That’s alright. I’ll be watching the impeachment hearings.
Spent more time on the manuscript: combining phrases and cutting out paragraphs and splitting a chapter for better flow. And even, for the first time in ages, doing a little research. Learned more about the Royalls who moved from Antigua around the same time as the Lucases and probably for some of the same reasons (hurricane, drought, an earthquake, and credible evidence of a slave revolt in 1736). All so I could add a line to a conversation between Eliza and her mother.
And so it goes.
Sorry if this is so disjointed. I’m watching Maddow as I type and it’s a dense episode.
The midsection of this work-in-progress uses a contour map print for the central form, leading me to call this and others in the series, “geography of the heart.” The embroidered word “love” below the heart underscores the theme, but in a generic and possibly saccharine way.
I was nevertheless prepared to finish it up when I came across some spoonflower fabric that used a collage (above) that I made a while back as part of the second of two sketchbook projects.
The scrappy fella silhouetted speaks of war orphans, Spanish flu orphans and children of immigrants in New York City.
More specifically, this jaunty man-boy is a stand in for my father who grew up in Woodhaven, New York (an area sometimes claimed by Queens, sometimes Brooklyn). As a teenager he worked as a runner on Wall Street. I can imagine his wiry form, his scrawny athleticism. Eventually he earned enough to attend Pratt Institute and set himself on a path out of the boroughs and into the suburbs.
Suddenly, the idea of the heart’s geography comes alive with particularly.
‘Design is working with what you have and doing the best you can to hold it together.’ Jude Hill
One of the biggest challenges for a collage-style quilter is holding onto the feeling of the piece as you adhere the components. Things that are overlaid in the design phase may lose an element of spontaneity or positioning or something when pieced. On the other hand, if elements are simply stitched down, they may not relate well enough to each other.
Problem one: to lend more meaning to an otherwise generic notion of origins. Solved: by inserting scrappy fella.
Problem two: adding one overlay guy on the left (circled in red). The strip of spoonflower fabric under him will be seamed — just like the right-side panel. But the guy? If I appliqué him will he float too much? And if, on the other hand, I piece him in, will the narrow seam allowances be significant enough subtractions of pattern to disrupt what’s going on?
I’ve gone both ways with this over the years without having formed a real preference. This time, I think I’ll use appliqué.
[Couldn’t find my xerox copies of the sketchbook and so grabbed a few images from Flickr. The first two page spread below is shown two ways. It reads: When will they try to steal your liberty?
The bottom image shows the title page, “It’s Not About Me” — which was one of the themes offered that year.
How endless the visual and historical delight is here! This morning I went back to visit San Rufino, a cathedral I’ve now been to seven or eight times. Since I went on the Roman Antiquities tour yesterday — an absolute subterranean wonder, medieval Assisi having been built on top of a first century Roman town– I paid more attention to what is under the Cathedral… the layers of civilization and time in plain view.
Above: the front rose window from the outside on Good Friday and from inside this morning, reflected in the glass flooring that’s been used in order to reveal Roman wall work underneath.
On one side of the cathedral, next to statues of Jesus, Mary, David, Isaiah and others, is a preserved arch opening into an ancient Roman space.
Here, a hokey inclusion of my own shadow to hint at the insubstantial brevity of this life.
Speaking of life passing, one of the blessings of being here has been distraction from the last months of my sister’s struggle. I’ve lit candles for her all over the city and shared a little about her with a new friend, but otherwise not much — not much memory or hand-wringing. This morning, I threw coins into a pool at Santa Chiara (my sister’s middle name being Claire, recall), one each for K, the boys, me, and her.
Not three minutes later, there was a beautiful and perfect feather in my path. Some say finding a feather means an Angel is near. I thought cynically, it also means pigeons are near. But then, not two feet away, I found a sticker emblazoned with a pentagram, a symbol important in magic generally and to my sister personally. And so, there she was. Hello, Noreen!
I took out the little owl that I’ve been carrying around in my pocket (one of hers) and photographed it near a new picture of Francis in her honor from my favorite perch of this visit — my chair by the windowsill. Need I say — I am a sucker for religious iconography?
I finished the first Assisi-inspired quilt (below) and am rushing to finishing another to give my host before I leave.
Didn’t get to share pix of the sweet cafe where I had breakfast or the many incredible street views returning home, but look how long this is already. I’m going to load some wall and door pix on Flickr and otherwise will be posting about this trip for weeks to come!
Home Tuesday. Apologies for not commenting on blogs right now. Can’t wait to catch up with Jude’s class and Happy Birthday, Nancy!!!