Tuesday, April 30, 2013

there are little shifts that shape a life.  and in my life, it's the quilt thing that always surprises me.  for most of my life, i didn't notice quilts.  they held no appeal to me.  i didn't seek the story or notice the artfulness in a quilt.  there may have even been a bit of contempt in my youthful artist's sensibilities, considering them folksy and simple, those being characteristics i hadn't yet learned to admire.  yet many of my memories from childhood are anchored with a quilt, or the making of quilts.  and i remember wandering through an exhibition at the u of michigan art museum in my ann arbor days.  it was an exhibition of quilts that i expected to dismiss, but found myself enjoying. the idea, the import, the interest, must have spent years fermenting and settling deep in.  so when i was cuddled on the couch with tom, watching a movie (the eternal sunshine of the spotless mind), almost 9 years ago, and my eye was drawn inexplicably to a relatively small detail, a quilt of large colorful squares of vintage fabric, my life took one of those dramatic turns.  but i suppose i wouldn't have noticed the quilt and been so pulled into it's design, if i didn't have an internal tug in that direction to begin with.  and finally, at 38 years old, i was allowing it to surface.  (i searched for an image from the movie.  and this is the only one i could find..... i feel like i'm looking at an old friend, a part of my family.  although it's been years and years since i've seen the movie or this pivotal quilt.) 
if you watch the movie, you'll see it here and there.  but to me, it was all i noticed.  like a main character.  but why?  i fancied myself a painter then.  i noticed line and juxtaposition and composition.  i didn't know i noticed fabric.  sure i bought fabric that i would stretch and paint on.  and it turned out i had quite a bit, because the morning after the movie, i had enough fabric to cut and sew and fashion a quilt of sorts.  it evolved, this first quilt.  all my quilts really.  they sprout from my head and my hand.  and from that moment, a day doesn't pass that my thoughts aren't full of the chaos of pattern and color and managing it all into something a little wild and yet cohesive. 

Saturday, April 27, 2013

have you noticed, i like to write in the morning.  early when the house is quiet.  or as quiet as it can be.  when the sun is thin and the covers are rumpled.  the house will be tidy later.  and it will smell better too.  after i change the litter and wash the floors.  but right now i want to hear the tap of computer keys as i make words.  it's how i like to start my day.  
in the studio, i'm into the meaty part of the quilt i'm making.  past the stage that feels like prep and not yet to the part that feels like it's done already.  but in the phase that excites me as it begins to breathe and mingle and have a personality. 
upstairs, i just heard tom get into the shower.  and ezra stumbled down the stairs to see what i was doing.  sleepy and warm and smelling of clean sheets, with his eyes squinty and dreamy.  but without tom in bed, it wasn't quite so cozy for him.  i know how he feels.  
so the day has burst upon us.  i'll make eggs and see if ezra will sniff around the yard for a few minutes to properly wake up. and get a second pot of coffee on the go!

Friday, April 26, 2013

the lake is my retreat.  and we are coming into the season that our friendship is the most active.  i can sit in the little lipping waves for hours, sifting through rocks looking for the gleam of pebble-softened glass.  a therapeutic hunt. but there is a magnetic draw even without the heat of summer.  she is our walking partner.  she calms me and and makes me happy.  ezra is just learning about her magical ways.  he's a little uncertain, not too sure about getting close.  but we walk along beside her every day and soon i hope he'll let her cool his feet. there is always a little thrill when the ice begins the crack and shift and open to the waves beneath.  for although there is power in her iciness, the stillness is disconcerting after a while.  i'm glad she's open and teeming, filling our little village in the city with her rhythm and energy. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

here i sit.  early morning, awake with the noisiest birds.  a good noise.  bright and melodic and a reminder that the air will soon be hot and sweet with the scent of lavender, with lilac and the pleasantness of green.  the scent of green.  and warm humid air.  good to look forward to.  telulah is perched on my lap in the little space between my belly and the computer.  purring.  and tapping at my face periodically with her paw. ezra is upstairs in bed with tom.  he slid into the warm empty spot i left when i heard ellsworth crying at the kitchen door.  everyone is shuffling into awakeness, some of us more quickly than others. the windows are a gray glow now, and the birds are not quite as loud.  day is overtaking night.  
it's good to feel the bubble of happiness again.  ezra fills the room with it.  his gentle eyes and soft nose add a layer of love to our days.  i know he feels it too.  and there is a quilt on the go in the studio.  it's been slipping into my thoughts all night. and so our day begins..... 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

it's another dreary gray and rainy april day here.  and i can't seem to find a way to motivate myself.  this is an unusual problem for me.  normally i can't get to the studio fast enough in the morning.  and once i'm there, i work like a little one person factory, digging into fabric and making it do my bidding.  but today i'm unfocussed and i'm a bit sluggish.  i had to run out to the vet's this morning to grab some anti-biotics for ezra.  on the way back, we pulled into the cemetary in all it's gray day loveliness.  the air swimming with stories.  every turn of my head, my eyes would catch a name, a date, an epitaph that drew me in, told me a little bit about a life.  beautiful and sad at once. generations and generations under grass and stone.  trees whose roots wrap around them and shade them at the same time.  there was a cemetary in the little town in michigan where i went to university.  a tiny little spot on a dirt road.  i would drive there with dora (my first great dane) and a pile of books.  there was a certain stone under a tree where we would set up everytime.  and i would spend the afternoon reading while dora explored.  i don't do that enough now.  i don't do that ever.  i need to take the time to wander trough the stones with my camera and books and feel the stories wash over me.   

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

 it's been a long and dreary winter in our little world.  but we can finally feel spring emerging.  and it's wonderful.  i spent the past weekend putting our house back together.  when edgar got sick, we moved all our living into the library.  it was cozy and warm for the winter, but it had become crowded and cluttered, dark and dusty. and once the days started getting longer, it was a little claustrophobic.   so i moved furniture and cleaned and dusted and rearranged.  i rubbed coconut oil into the wood to make it gleam and smell fresh and delicious.  the house felt open and fresh and bright again.  all in time for my daddy's birthday yesterday.  his 75th birthday.  my mother was out of town for her 55th high school reunion in virginia.   but we invited my aunt over and we had an easy little dinner for him.  and it was a bit of an awakening.  i think ezra had more than a little to do with it.  we are all breathing again.  smiling again.  moving into spring.  

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

i think we stumble upon things in life, just when we need them.  and being aware that we need them is just an added little bonus.  this week i am blissfully leafing through old poetry books i haven't read in years.  and finding the perfect words to stitch into quilts.  just while the ugliness that happened in boston is sitting deep in my belly.  and little health concerns with our animals pick at my thoughts.  and while i'm wondering if i'll ever have enough time to give to all the areas in my life that need some extra attention.  
but i'm reading rilke and james joyce and baudelaire and verlaine and t.s. eliot and of course, ezra pound.  there is soothing in their words.  i often turn to the poets who boil up my innards like rimbaud and sexton and plath.  but finding the rolling and sensual words without the barbs and sharpness is what i need for the quilts.  and what i need for my frazzled soul right now.  
today i made a quilt with the words of 'slumber song' by rilke. 'words as tender as eyelids'.  wow!!!
so i keep finding dreamy poems and sewing them into dreamy quilts. 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

gray days have been our stage this week.  rain and cold.  even ice thickly layering the trees.  and when the temperatures rose a little, the sidewalks and yard were covered in little icy troughs as they began to melt and break away from the branches.  april has been so wintry that ezra and i kept long hours at the studio the past few days, with little interest in cold damp wanderings.

i made my first little batch of 'poetry quilts' this week.  the subtlety of stitch and word is very striking.  the fabric is a plain unbleached, toothy muslin that carries the word to your eye unadulterated with color or pattern.  these have been planted in my mind for months, swimming around in there, waiting for the right time to emerge.  and the other day, i had finished quilting all the tops i'd made last week and decided to try my hand at writing.  so i found a lovely little robert frost poem, 'beech'.  and started writing with my sewing machine...

Where my imaginary line
Bends square in woods, an iron spine
And pile of real rocks have been founded.
And off this corner in the wild,
Where these are driven in and piled,
One tree, by being deeply wounded,
Has been impressed as Witness Tree
And made commit to memory
My proof of being not unbounded.
This truth’s established and borne out,
Though circumstanced with dark and doubt—
Though by a world of doubt surrounded.
and the poetry quilt was born.  yesterday, 2 rilke poems, 'piano practice' and 'the apple orchard' became quilts.  lightweight and breezy.  today my job is to photograph them and list them on etsy.  photographing the subtle tone on tone texture that creates the words is difficult. it requires an exact light that i haven't quite figured out yet.  but i'll figure it out!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

we are on the couch. ezra and me and a cup of tea. enjoying our evening after a delightful day of sunshine and studio time and wonderful people.  ezra fits perfectly into our lives.  one of our neighbors said the other day, that she thinks edgar found ezra and sent him to us.  i love that idea and i think there must be something to that.  
today the studio was full of spring energy.  tracy and dave bringing me starbucks early early started it all off perfectly.  a long meandering wander by the lake with ezra, meeting new people and dear friends.  and then back to the quilts where i finished a lovely black and red single quilt.  it's always so rewarding when i finally take a quilt, all warm and puckery, from the drier.  it is only at that moment that i see it's full completed self.  
early in the afternoon, my friend marc walked in the back door carrying his skateboard and a bag of goodies for me.  music and my favorite tea (see photo).  he had never met tracy or ezra....i love when all the people dear to me know each other....so it was nice to complete the circle. 
the best sushi in the city happens to be a 2 minute walk away from us.  so when marc and i needed some lunch, we walked up to the corner and shared fresh and delicious rolls.  
it's nice to relive the high points of a day.  and today was full of them.