Wednesday, September 30, 2009

there are few intimacies in life that can be shared the way a book can be. words on paper in beautiful worn editions, smelling of damp dust and appealing to my need for a few moments of quiet and solitude. i am drawn into book stores, mostly used book stores. or any place i can find a little treasure for my shelves. paris has my favorite books. little shops that are collapsing under the piles of volumes. sellers along the seine. old paper markets that set up in the square at certain metro stops. boxes of books and paper under tables at the marche aux puces at montreuil or saint-ouen. a book that has been held by many hands, that has absorbed the energy and emotions of people from different generations, is a special gift. it's enough to hold one of my favorite books for a few minutes, opened randomly, gulping a few sentences or swallowing several pages. with my favorites, that i have read and re-read for decades, i rarely need to read the entire book. it's a visit with the characters, the language, the images, the places. when i read the entire book i inhabit it all, but a little visit is sometimes better. there is no simpler pleasure than a brilliant book plucked from my own collection.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

photo courtesy of theresa bodi yaroshevich

the raspberries are finished now. but it was only a few weeks ago that they sat sun warmed and ripe in their prickly little maze. my fingers cracked and stained with the juice. scratches on my arms. the warm explosion of sweet in my mouth. my lips stained a little deeper red. and it was only a few weeks ago. now the stores have little plastic boxes of berries. but no allure. they still have a small taste of summer, not like the berries we find in winter that taste of dust and refrigerators. but raspberries that have been gathered in an afternoon, that there are war wounds from the gathering, are still the perfect temperature and sweetness and juiciness. and the moment can sit in me for months, years even. the sun on my neck, the brambles scratching bare legs, and the taste of one single berry is the essence of an afternoon well spent.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

i love this old house. an old farmhouse. with the 'new' house built behind it {it's not in the picture, but the 'new' house looks like it was built around the 1890's}. this beauty has weathered so much. watched it's generations live & work & grow & die. and it sits there with authority, even in it's weakened state. old houses develop characteristics like a face. they often smile. in rare instances i see a scowl. but it's mostly a wry little smile. i was noticing today as i drove home along country roads from lynn's baby shower, how i love the houses that sit at an angle to the road. the old houses. the old working houses. farm houses seem to work along with their inhabitants. there is an energy that invades the whole property. years ago my aunt told me that old farmhouses are most often built facing south. so they seem to twist away from the road, to find the sun.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

lately, i've been waking up in the middle of the night. i love the silence and lonely darkness. but i can only wait to fall back to sleep for so long. the moon usually makes long, leafy shadows on the wall above the bathtub. and sometimes i can hear the rustle of animals knocking over garbage cans. or raccoons crying in the trees around the house. and if the wind is strong, the branches scrape across the roof. if i don't fall asleep in 15 or 20 minutes, i read myself back to sleep. there are usually cats on our bed. and my husband asleep beside me. so, i pull the covers over my head, with my book and my little reading light. and there is a glowing tent where i feel like i'm 8 years old again, with a pilfered flashlight and archie comics that were hidden under my mattress, tented in my bed long after i was supposed to be asleep. with the same moon spreading different braches across different walls. but more alike than different. i love the same things about it now, as i did then. the sheets are exagerated folds. i can hear each breath i take. and it seems like no one on earth knows where to find me. until i want to be found. and reading just seems sweeter when you are hidden away in a duvet tent.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

we had a little vacation today. it's our anniversary. and we had the best day. a weekday with no plans and only your own whims to please can be a great re-connect day. it's the sort of day that was easy to find in youth. class is easy to skip. even work is easy to skip when you're young. but for us, a day that you wander around downtown shops, buying little things that catch your eye and basically killing time is the sort of luxury i forgot i wanted. a day off is great. it's a day i usually get caught up on all the projects that i need to do. but today neither of us did that. we had a lazy morning making breakfast and then wandered downtown around 1.00 pm. as if we were in a new city or a vacation spot, instead of our own city. we bought a few clothes and went in some shops we wouldn't have normally thought of going in. we had a really early dinner since we'd had such a late and lazy breakfast. and then home to walk the dog and watch a movie. a great day.

Monday, September 21, 2009

friends came by the studio as i worked today. i cut squares of fabric for quilts and ironed scraps that will be cut into smaller squares. the sun was strong. the energy was bright. i planned a new size for a quilt. and i talked to courtney about letter writing. after she left, i continued to ponder on the fading art of hand-written correspondence. there is an intimacy about a hand written letter that is rarely equalled. letters come from a silent place. ink and paper, such a physical extension of the hand and mind. the writing of a letter becomes not only a transfer of thoughts and ideas, but also an aesthetic communique. the variations of hand-writing. a coffee stain. the rapid scrawl of a sudden idea. the jagged edges of paper ripped from a spiral bound notebook. or the creamy silk of fine stationary. i have boxes of letters, saved from different stages of my life. the round loopy girlish writing of letters received while i was in boarding school. the longer, more serious missives while in university. and living in paris, the swoon when i saw a white envelope and it's angular address. letters from men i loved. and from men who loved me.

i also have collections of letters i have purchased from estates. they are fascinating, even without knowing the full extent of their context. i have one little bundle, tied in a tattered and faded light blue ribbon that are saved from the 1920's. letters of a summer love and the heartbreak that ensued. another collection that ranges from a son's letter to his parents, in the 1890's, telling of his intention to marry, letters from his father to the future daughter-in-law, letters between the newlyweds, letters from this couples child to her parents, and ultimately letters telling of the death of her father.....3 generations of a family, distilled to pages of writing.

will we have such historical treasures to leave future generations? letters carry more than words in them.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

i feel safe and loved and part of something real when i am in an old building. and an old building that i spend years in becomes a part of my family. there are several members of this family of mine.....our house, my childhood home, my grandmother's home and the art building.

this weekend is my 20th college reunion. i'm not one to enjoy large gatherings of the over-dressed and over-interesting. but i may have been convinced to attend if it hadn't been for the art building. this building sits in me as the core of my transition from child to woman. it surrounded me and let me bloom. i remember every inch of this building, a three level wooden structure, with a wide central staircase criss-crossing through the middle of the building. the front door shut heavily with a bang like thick solid doors do. the floors creaked. the windows were screenless and would often swell, refusing to open or shut. there was a dusty, dreamy quality to the air. a large gallery space took up one half of the main floor. it was windowless and echo-y. and a large room at the back for drawing classes, with huge iron presses against the wall for printmaking class. i fell in love in that room. probably more than once....there were many drawing classes. every corner of this building was special. upstairs where i had my painting classes. and a little corner i could call my own studio. the smell of oils. sneaking in after hours so i could keep painting. the wonderful lair of treasure and art that was my favorite teacher's studio. books. art. paint. and the damp smell of the basement with wet clay and alabaster dust. tables of drying pottery and every few weeks the glow of the kiln. the perfect idea factory. this building breathed with me. and now it's gone. several years ago it was torn down; i heard it was considered unsafe. thankfully a few years before, i'd taken my husband on a summer afternoon, driving home from indianapolis, to see the little university, and mostly the art building. it was a late summer afternoon. and the bulding was empty. and exactly as i remembered it. the dusty smells. the creaky floors. the open spacious feeling. i saw it all for the last time as i ran up the stairs, showing him every corner. and so i'm not prepared to return yet, without this central figure to my college experience.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

i appreciate september mornings in a different way. the sun has started to hang at an autumn angle, changing the light and making everything glow a little. but it's warm enough to pretend it's still summer. i made my favorite green tea this morning. green tea chai with honey. and hung a load of laundry on the line, before walking across the yard to the studio. there are few things more beautiful than a clothesline full of whites dancing in the trees. i'm drawn to both the simplicity and the drama. the deep folds in the fabric, like black cracks. and they really do dance through the air, bringing home all the freshest scents they can absorb, like fine wine infused with all the flavors from the soil and the air. an old russian woman once told me it would take 3 days for her sheets to dry in the siberian winter air. but when she brought them in, the entire house would sing with the scent of them for days.

Monday, September 14, 2009

it's almost autumn. but not quite. the air still smells of clipped grass. the windows are still wide open letting in the scent of lake and sun. but we close them halfway at night now. the crickets sing all the time....not just at night. the sky is clear. the air is bright. queen anne's lace still stands in the fields {and in my front yard where i sow seeds every spring} but not as thick and white as it was a few weeks ago. the nights are cooler. there is a reminder in the air that summer only has a few breaths left.

today i had friends stopping by the studio while i worked. and they brought their kids. luca is almost 3 and he thought i was very lucky to have a tape measure. he liked meeting edgar, but was disappointed he wasn't able to find any cats. and 10 day old clara bea who still naturally folds into the shape of a womb. her skin so clear and soft and new. she slept and made dainty little snorts as everyone took turns holding her and staring into her perfect little face.
and between visitors i made tea towels and a bowl of napkins.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

the back porch is where i go to be quiet. it's where i find myself when i'm excited & happy. it's where i need to be when i'm tired or frustrated or sad. i drink my morning tea on the porch and spend a few minutes writing in my journal. i hang our laundry on the clothesline from the porch. the back porch is where our life happens. our porch swing is covered with pillows and quilts, and often a couple of cats, and is never tidy. it's the perfect reading spot. edgar, our 5 year old blue great dane, perches on it, sometimes climbing up and sleeping with the cats. we have barbecues on the porch; our friends playing guitar and drinking beer under 'the stars'......the roof is full of little white lights we call the stars that are left over from our wedding (oh yeah, 9 years ago, we got married on the porch). last summer we watched 'breakfast at tiffany's' from the porch with the screen set up in the yard. and it was from our porch, that i watched my neighbor's little girl running under the crabapple tree at dusk, chasing lightning bugs. tom (my husband) had found jars in the kitchen, pressed a nail through the lids for air holes, and was teaching her how to catch lightning bugs to watch them glow for a few minutes in the jar and then let fly off into the night. during july, our yard is popping with lightning bugs, gathered under the crabapple tree and along the edge of the porch. everywhere. bursting little yellow lights. these moments represent the sweet and simple beauty in life that i never grow tired of. chasing lightning bugs.