January 18, 2018

Making

One thing that's good about being sick as a dog, orbiting from couch to bed and back again, crumpled tissues and empty tea cups circling like the rings of Saturn, it makes for long, uninterrupted stretches of time to do nothing but knit. Because row upon row of stockinette is just within the limits of my fever addled concentration, I'm close to casting off this big, bulky, wooly project. It's destined to be fulled (felted), and - if my calculations are correct - will shrink to 2 x 3 feet of dense, sturdy wool felt for its future as a hearth rug. I'm a little concerned because I fulled my swatch by hand, but will attempt to full the finished rug in the washing machine. Fingers crossed that the machine will felt the knitted wool as thoroughly and nicely as the swatch. Stay tuned for results.

January 15, 2018

Year of Yoni: Week 38

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.

January 11, 2018

Snail Shell Spirals

I'm starting the year with Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. First published in 1955, her observations are spot on for today, I am delighted to find. While the specific examples are dated - she was not tethered to a tiny screen, for example - the sentiments, yearnings, and distractions of life she writes about are directly applicable to us now. For an idea of what the book contains, there's a page of quotes from the book here, at goodreads.

Chapter 3, Moon Shell, opens with the following passage:
This is a snail shell, round, full and glossy as a horse chestnut. Comfortable and compact, it sits curled up like a cat in the hollow of my hand. Milky and opaque, it has the pinkish bloom of the sky on a summer evening, ripening to rain. On its smooth symmetrical face is penciled with precision a perfect spiral, winding inward to the pinpoint center of the shell, the tiny dark core of the apex, the pupil of the eye. It stares at me, this mysterious single eye - and I stare back.
Image URL: http://www.fontplay.com/freephotos/imagesn/fpfreefoto-1568.jpg
The chapter continues, with the moon shell as metaphor, to explore the necessity of solitude. "How one hates to think of oneself as alone. How one avoids it. It seems to imply rejection or unpopularity. An early wallflower panic still clings to the word." I find this fascinating. It's a window into another world. Personally, I adore and relish solitude. I need great big gobs of alone time in order to function properly in the world. As such, I find it hard to understand why others view solitude with suspicion or express pity for the one alone. Morrow Lindbergh continues, "We seem so frightened today of being alone that we never let it happen. Even if family, friends, and movies should fail, there is still the radio or television to fill up the void." Reading this I can't turn off the vision of a person, any person, with their head bowed, blinders on, fingers flying furiously on their phone. "Now, instead of planting our solitude with our own dream blossoms, we choke the space with continuous music, chatter, and companionship to which we do not even listen. It is simply there to fill the vacuum. When the noise stops there is no inner music to take its place. We must re-learn to be alone."

Later in the chapter, she addresses creativity. "With our garnered free time, we are more apt to drain our creative springs than to refill them." She notes the change in women's roles over generations and that, in 1955,  even housework has been stripped of its quiet, contemplative tasks. Specifically damaging is "the curtain of mechanization [that] has come down between the mind and the hand."

With Anne Morrow Lindbergh's thoughts on solitude, creativity, and hand work percolating in my brain, I spied a photograph of a ram in profile on the wall at Ikea. Not for sale, it was illustrating some marketing text on the wall about their products or philosophy or some such. (Actually, I have no idea what it was marketing, I didn't read a word.) The ram pictured had tightly curled horns, similar to the sculpture below. Seeing it, everything stopped, coalesced, and inspiration struck (yes, it can happen in the hallway to the bathrooms at Ikea!). The next yoni will feature a snail shell. Naturally.
Ram's Head Greek, Late Classical Period, probably 4th century B.C. Collection of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston.
Image URL: http://www.mfa.org/collections/object/rams-head-151042
Whatever search terms I put in to find images of snail shells resulted in multiple references to the Fibonacci sequence. Rather than print a couple of choice shell images to work from, I went down the rabbit hole and discovered all sorts of cool math shit. In the Fibonacci sequence (0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21...) the next number is determined by adding together the two previous numbers. Not fascinated yet? Well, Fibonacci calculated this sequence in 1202 by pondering the following puzzle about rabbits. Rather than try to expalin it myself, here's the puzzle as explained by Live Science:
Beginning with a male and female rabbit, how many pairs of rabbits could be born in a year? The problem assumes the following conditions:
  • Begin with one male rabbit and female rabbit that have just been born.
  • Rabbits reach sexual maturity after one month.
  • The gestation period of a rabbit is one month.
  • After reaching sexual maturity, female rabbits give birth every month.
  • A female rabbit gives birth to one male rabbit and one female rabbit.
  • Rabbits do not die.
If I haven't lost you yet, here's what's so cool about the sequence. It applies to structures in nature as well as imagined scenarios of rabbit breeding. Snail shells, hurricanes, spiral galaxies, flower petals, pine cones all conform to the Fibonacci spiral.
Image URL: http://mathforum.org/mathimages/index.php/MILS_04B_hlv3
In the process of geeking out about the Fibonacci spiral, I stumbled upon the work of artist Rafael Araujo. Take a spin through his website. His work is stunning.
Calculated Shells © Rafael Araujo
Image URL: http://www.rafael-araujo.com/calculation?lightbox=image_iyh

January 8, 2018

Year of Yoni: Week 37

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.

January 4, 2018

Root

Many years ago I toyed with a photo project I called Root. It began in Glasgow, where I traveled instead of participating in my grad school graduation ceremony. The images were pictures of the ground, with isolated urban detritus: A couple of broken plastic forks on cracked macadam, heavily painted 3-dimensional yellow lines at the curb, cast off flyers for concerts parties lock-ins. The project never coalesced because, at the time, I couldn't convey through the images what Root meant to me. The images were lonely and desolate rather than nurturing and burgeoning with possibilities.

I'm not really sure what, if anything, that abandoned photo project has to do with my intention for 2018. But it's been on my mind since the word is the same.
Word for 2018 :: ROOT
  • (re)Define and honor my personal core / spine, (re)surface the essentials
  • Align inner (values) and outer (actions)
  • Mine and mind my core / spine / essentials in my studio practice
  • Put down roots in the regular sense of personalizing our home
  • Expand outwards to invest (heart / mind involvement) in our neighborhood and community
  • Dig in the dirt and plant seeds, food, beauty
Do you choose a word for the year or set a yearly intention? I've never used the resource, but the 5-day Find Your Word (free!) email course by Susannah Conway comes highly recommended from folks I trust. Susannah also offers a free Unravel Your Year workbook. She has expanded the 2018 version: "There are more prompts and pages in the current iteration of the workbook but the intention has always been the same: to mark the passing of the old year and the start of the new with mindfulness, honesty and gratitude." I'll admit, I find 62 blank pages a bit daunting, but do intend to dip into it.

December 27, 2017

52 Books

For an explanation of 52 Books (2012) click here. Click here for 2013 and here for 2014 and here for 2015 and here for 2016.
BOOKS 2017
The Admissions • Meg Mitchell Moore
The Glass Kitchen • Linda Francis Lee
Voyager • Diana Gabaldon
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America • Erik Larson
The Buddha in the Attic • Julie Otsuka
The King's Stilts • Dr. Seuss
The Daylight Gate • Jeanette Winterson
The Enchantment of Lily Dahl • Siri Hustvedt
Neil Gaiman's 'Make Good Art' Speech • Neil Gaiman
The Captain and the Enemy • Graham Greene
Weathering • Lucy Wood
The Secrets of a Fire King • Kim Edwards
Eight Girls Taking Pictures • Dani Shapiro
The Blindfold • Siri Hustvedt
Daughters of Witching Hill • Mary Sharratt
Little Black Book of Stories • A. S. Byatt
The Last Painting of Sara de Vos • Dominic Smith
The Gunslinger • Stephen King
The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox • Maggie O'Farrell
The Name of the Wind • Patrick Rothfuss
My Dream of You • Nuala O'Faolain
Commonwealth • Ann Patchett
Everyday Sacred: A Woman's Journey Home • Sue Bender
Moonglow • Michael Chabon
The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards • Kristopher Jansma
Memory Wall • Anthony Doerr
Drums of Autumn • Diana Gabaldon
The Safety of Objects • A. M. Homes
The Vagina Monologues • Eve Ensler
State of Wonder • Ann Patchett
The Yard • Alex Grecian
Who Will Run the Frog Hospital? • Lorrie Moore
The Drawing of the Three • Stephen King
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear • Elizabeth Gilbert
A Field Guide to Getting Lost • Rebecca Solnit
The Trespasser • Tana French
When Will There Be Good News? • Kate Atkinson
The Fifth Avenue Artists Society • Joy Callaway
The Name of the Wind • Patrick Rothfuss
The Wise Man's Fear • Patrick Rothfuss
House of Light • Mary Oliver
Frog Music • Emma Donoghue
The Black Country • Alex Grecian
In the Company of Women: Inspiration and Advice from Over 100 Makers, Artists, and Entrepreneurs • Grace Bonney
The Waste Lands • Stephen King
The Adventures of Perrine • Hector Malot
Quiet Dell • Jayne Anne Phillips
You Must Change Your Life: The Story of Ranier Maria Rilke and Auguste Rodin • Rachel Corbett
The Enchanted April • Elizabeth von Arnim
At Large and at Small • Anne Fadiman
No One Belongs Here More Than You • Miranda July

December 21, 2017

Happy Solstice

Solstice greetings, friends! The city birds aren't early birds, but they sure do flock to the feeder by mid-day. Visiting the buffet and environs are house finches, wrens (is that a Carolina wren just above?), various sparrows (the only one I think I identified correctly is the house sparrow), tufted titmice, black-capped chickadees, mourning doves, cardinals, juncos, and possibly nuthatches.
Year of Yoni is on break for the holidays. My slow stitching of late has been of a more practical nature. A familiar sight to some of you.
Which is not to imply that the crotch of my jeans is a familiar sight to you, rather that the patching of the crotch of jeans is an oft repeated task pictured on these here pages.
Slow stitching by the wood stove, listening to Morning on the Dock conversations, a pretty darn good way to spend an hour or two in my book. Trying something new this time. Rather than patching with cast off denim, I'm using a soft yet sturdy scrap of bed sheet. I picked the sheets up at a thrift store ages ago and used them to line curtains. I'm pretty sure the tag indicated that the fabric is 100% linen. I can't tell by feel. It's either linen, linen/cotton blend, or all cotton. Regardless, it will be less bulky than a denim patch. Here's hoping it wears well and prevents these jeans from splitting open while in use.