September 16, 2017

Year of Yoni: Week 27

Year of Yoni is a self-assigned studio practice with which I have committed to make a new yoni once a week for at least one year. A broad explanation of yoni and this project can be found here.

September 13, 2017

Year of Yoni: Week 26

Year of Yoni is a self-assigned studio practice with which I have committed to make a new yoni once a week for at least one year. A broad explanation of yoni and this project can be found here.

September 7, 2017


I had absolutely no plan for Yoni #25 this past weekend. As our days quickly filled to over-brimming (for good reason, and ultimately for good cause - more on that later when it's fully resolved), I realized I didn't have the head space nor the time I'd like to dedicate to yoni-ing. Since starting is usually the only hurdle I consciously have to jump, I started. I flipped through a book of stitching techniques looking for inspiration. I found an insertion stitch I wanted to try. And then it became merely a matter of colors and shapes. So I began.
With time in short supply, I'm not sure what possessed me to choose to anchor the two halves of the circle with seed stitches. I love working the stitches, love how they look, love the texture they create, and equally love - if not love even more - the organic edges they create when I don't fill in the space completely. But, when time is of the essence, working slow going seed stitch is surely folly? Maybe. Or maybe it's just what my racing mind and tense shoulders needed to rest and unwind?
As I was working, the Hubs peaked over my shoulder and said something like, "Nice hamburger." Until he said it, it did not occur to me that the two halves of circle with matching color seed stitches were starting to look very much like a sesame seed hamburger bun. Especially with the rust colored "meat" in the middle. I suppose the insertion stitches might resemble sandwich toppings slipping past the confines of the bun. I was chagrined for a moment, then shrugged it off and continued stitching. 

The chagrin is easily explained. I HATE hamburgers. Attempting to ingest red meat of any kind has always made me retch. Other meats and I never got on much better. As a child, this put a bit of a strain on our nightly family dinners. I refused to eat the meat on my plate. My parents insisted I eat X number of bites. I waited them out, stubbornly not eating a thing. Then, after my brothers and parents were long gone from the table, I secreted a few bites in my pocket. This is what one must do when there is no household pet, conveniently waiting under the table, to be fed surreptitiously by little hands. So, with no pet to use as a garbage disposal, I took my secreted pocket of meat to the bathroom and flushed it down the toilet.

This method worked well until the day my oldest brother told me I had backed up the septic system by flushing my meat down the toilet. That's how I remember it anyway. He has no recollection of telling me any such thing. But I remember having to come up with a new disposal plan. This made an lasting impression on me. I don't know how old I was, but definitely still young enough to believe that out of sight equated with no longer in existence.

I began to hide meat around the house. A regular dumping ground was behind the china hutch, conveniently located near the dinner table, with its back a few inches from the wall. At this point, you need to understand that our house had electric baseboard heat. We lived where winter is long and cold. We lived where electricity was expensive. We lived with the heat kept at a low temperature. My hidden meat was safe from discovery.

My hiding place was safe, that is, until my parents had a dinner party. In winter. And turned up the heat to welcome their guests.

A collection of meat in various stages of decay atop a heat register that has been turned up for the first time since the meat began to accumulate -- I don't want to imagine the stink. It is the stink that led to the discovery of my dumping ground.

I don't remember what happened with me and meat after this discovery. But I can tell you that the first time the Hubs spent Christmas with my family, he and my nephew pulled out the checkers and chess set. This boxed game used to sit on a set of cabinets with shelves my father built in the house I grew up in. My parents had since moved to a new place. I think the game was now kept in the guest bedroom. Regardless, inside the box were several pieces of desiccated meat. It resembled tiny pieces of jerky. Apparently no one in my family had played chess in twenty years.

September 4, 2017

Year of Yoni: Week 25

Year of Yoni is a self-assigned studio practice with which I have committed to make a new yoni once a week for at least one year. A broad explanation of yoni and this project can be found here.

August 30, 2017


Pictured above is one (of too many) cluttered surfaces around the apartment. This happens to be the one I stare at daily, opposite the couch, with my first cup of morning coffee. Seen isolated like this, it doesn't look like it would take much time or effort to clear it off, to find homes for all the things piled on it, whether those homes ultimately are places in my own home or the proper places to donate particular items to others.

I've certainly written about clutter clearing a lot. At least it feels like I have. It is a constant struggle for me. And I don't know why. But - here's a gem - I no longer care about the why. I don't need to know what changed to turn me from an organized soul to a crazed by cluttered soul. (Now that's interesting. The way I phrased that sentence without premeditation. I am an organized soul. I am crazed by clutter. The two are not mutually exclusive. I am [or strive to be] organized precisely because I am crazed by clutter.) I am motivated to clear my clutter and organize what's left behind. I simply lack the momentum to do so.

When preparing to move from Ohio to Philadelphia, I was forced to do a MAJOR clearing out. It was exhausting, painful, excruciating --- until it became exhilarating. At some point, it became joyful to release stuff into the world, to new life and new purposes in other homes. This incredible momentum also corresponded with lifting the burden of monetary value from my stuff. Don't get me wrong. I am nothing if not frugal and practical. I sold plenty of the furniture and tools on craigslist, and we made a hefty bundle at a yard sale. Combined, we earned enough to pay to have the central air repaired which was a contingency of our house sale. Covering that cost was a blessing. But, after that, assigning monetary value to the things that I needed to get rid of became a hindrance to getting rid of them. So I stopped doing it. I stopped perceiving giving things away as a loss of money. I started viewing it as a clearing of space as well as a lightening of burdens. 

This attitude carried over to moving into our little apartment in the city. Despite my best efforts to downsize, we simply had too much stuff to fit. So, for the first couple of weeks anyway, we systematically went through our things and donated anything that we were unlikely to need or use in the next year. The idea of renting a storage unit seemed ludicrous. If we could live without it for a year, then we obviously didn't need it at all. It was fun to get rid of our stuff. Giddy at times.

But, then, inertia set in. That's where I am now. That's why we have cluttered surfaces. And a stuffed to the gills closet. And no certain idea of what lingers at the very back of said closet. And visual clutter nearly everywhere we look. I need to re-establish the clearing out momentum. I know it simply requires a change in attitude, a change in perspective. I say simply. If it were simple I would have done it before now. But, it is that simple. Viewing the clearing out not as overwhelming, but as joyful. Not as painful and exhausting, but as a necessary step to create a home that is cozy, inviting, functional, and free of burden. With each thing cleared out, a little burden is released. That's what I'm aiming for; release of burden.

And this post has helped. Seeing the table top pictured above in isolation has already shifted my attitude. After clearing that table, I plan to photograph another sticky area (by sticky I mean stuck, a cluttered space that has remained so for months). I will look at the photo rather than the reality. Viewing it in isolation will trigger my brain to conceive of the task at hand in rational terms, as actual size, rather than conflate it to overwhelming proportions. Now, if only I can hold on to this wellspring of momentum until after work today. I'm already running late...

August 27, 2017

Year of Yoni: Week 24

Year of Yoni is a self-assigned studio practice with which I have committed to make a new yoni once a week for at least one year. A broad explanation of yoni and this project can be found here.

August 23, 2017

Think Small: Focus

Keeping with the small is mighty notion, the following quotes have resonated with me this past week. The first, from the tomb of an Anglican Bishop in Westminster Abbey, speaks directly to focus. By focusing our efforts inwards, on our selves (small and powerful), rather than outwards on others or the greater world (large and domineering), we may be (I would say will be) more effective at creating the change we wish to see. The small gesture ripple effect in action, as it were.
     When I was young and free and my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world.
     As I grew older and wiser I discovered the world would not change – So I shortened my sights somewhat and decided to change only my country, but it too seemed immovable.
     As I grew into my twilight years, in one last desperate attempt, I settled for changing only my family, those closest to me, but alas, they would have none of it.
     And now I realize as I lie on my deathbed, if I had only changed myself first, then by example I might have changed my family. From their inspiration and encouragement I would then have been able to better my country,
     And who knows, I might have even changed the world.
The next passage is from the essay One-Story House by Rebecca Solnit, published in the collection A Field Guide to Getting Lost. I interpret her words as a plea to re-evaluate the notion of "enough," and to focus inwards in this assessment rather than by comparison to our skewed and faulty perceptions of what's out there, on the other side of the fence. The grass isn't necessarily greener. The grass may not even exist.  But, really, I am butchering what she says so well. So here it is.
... maybe there's one thing to say, about the capitalism of the heart, the belief that the essences of life too can be seized and hoarded, that you can corner the market on confidence, stage a hostile takeover of happiness. It's based on scarcity economics, the notion or perhaps the feeling that there's not enough to go around, and the belief that the intangible phenomena exist in a fixed quantity to be scrambled for, rather than that you can only increase them by giving them away.
And finally, I leave you with thoughts from Felicia Semple, creator of The Craft Sessions.
I believe that the little things we do in our everyday are actually the big things, the meaningful things. I believe that big change in the world happens over time because of these tiny acts slowly changing our culture and creating the conditions for big shifts to occur. These acts are about us standing up and saying what we want the world to look like, saying what we believe.