tonight i came home from the bookstore, to my yard alight with dozens of lightning bugs. it was just the bright and dreamy shot of happiness i needed. it was a bit of a sad night up to that point. i have often mentioned my bookstore job. the evening rides home. walking through darkened streets after shutting the shop up for the night. it's been a lovely part of my life for the past 6 years. and tonight i did all those things for the last time.
we had a special store. it blended the mega bookstore with downtown local flavor perfectly. i worked a couple nights a week. and i would come home jacked, full of the energy of good people. the customers. my co-workers. the beautiful atmosphere. all of it combined to be something i could never let go of, even when it seemed my life couldn't take another commitment, i wouldn't let myself think of life without the bookstore.
it's white fresh walls covered in books. the graceful staircase. the hum of voices. the light and quick conversations with customers. and the wonderful energy of the books weaving through it all. but all of this was not enough to keep it's doors open. the flow of money and customers declined to the point that a few months ago we were told that the store would close at the end of june. and the time has arrived.
i haven't spoken to a single person who doesn't feel that this store closing is a tragedy of sorts for our town. but tonight i soaked up every moment of being there for the last time. i enjoyed every second.
and i had the good moments blended with the parts that weren't my favorite. it turned out my last night was a little microcosm of my entire tenure there. many of my favorite customers saying good bye. the dogs who always run behind the cash desk looking for treats. kids coming in after school (and today just happened to be the last day of school as well) right down to the local b-movie actress who demands special treatment and discounts. it was the perfect last night, drifting through the store saying goodbye. many shelves are already empty. a dozen empty tables pushed together and filling a large section upstairs. bare and echoey. we are all saying goodbye, feeling the shuffle of change as it does what it must.
it was a busy and beautiful weekend. hot and muggy. perfect porch weather. we barbecued. we set up chairs in the grass and on the porch. we ate and drank and laughed. the kids scuttled around with water guns. lemonade. rhubarb crisp.. ezra had his first taste of our summer life with the doors and windows open and people coming and going and food everywhere. he was great.
and then when the house suddenly emptied to put kids to bed and prepare for the coming week, we had another wonderful visit. kim and tammy from friendly giants dog rescue stopped in on their way through town. kim, ezra's 'other mother', rescued ezra from a cruel and criminal backyard breeder in quebec. she took him into her home for a year and a half, coaxing him into the trusting and loving and beautiful dog he now is. she taught him to be the amazing dog we now have. i always tear up when i think of what an amazing thing she does everyday. ezzie was so excited to be with her again. he was playful and happy and just loved being with them. kisses with kim and ear rubs with tammy. they are always welcome to visit. they are part of the family.
we drove to the farm this morning. the rain was teeming. we stopped and got coffees to drink on the road. ezra with his head resting on his front paws, between the two front seats. a gray wet sunless day. but when we walked through the kitchen door at my parents, the fire was burning, and the house was bright and warm. we had a bag of little presents for my dad. and we spent a couple of hours chatting and visiting. suddenly my dad pointed to the window. and there was the lone deer who has been visiting lately. normally there are groups of deer that slip from the trees that surround their yard, and onto the lawn. they eat fruit from the trees. they bathe in the sun. they play, and then disappear back into the trees. but lately this little lady has been visiting alone. we've named her virginia. or ginny. yesterday morning she was a mound under one of their trees, resting and chewing her cud. and she's been back a few times.
she seemed to listen to us talking. her ears moving with our words. she wandered around. she hept her ears alert in our direction. and then ezra noticed her. they had a staring match for awhile.....he was mostly quiet and calm, but eventually he made her uncomfortable and she left. i wonder why she's alone. i wonder if traveling alone is safe for her. i hope she finds safety in the little oasis that is my parents quiet protected garden. it was a perfect father's day afternoon. afterall, my daddy has provided me with everything that fills my life with happiness. and i feel the pleasant dreamy little doe represented something profound for us to experience together on father's day.
walking out of the bookstore last night, onto a downtown city street, muggy and buzzing with thursday night energy, i noticed my car was covered in flowers. it was a bit out of place. like i was a bride stepping into a prettily decorated limo. it made me smile. white petals covered it almost entirely. and now that i'm home, the driveway and walkway and sidewalk are equally peppered with petals. it's this tree. my neighbor's tree, that i was so worried was being cut down this spring.....but it was just being trimmed. it must be 80 years old or older. a flowering locust that buzzes with bees and scents the neighborhood like honey. and sprinkles petals on my car so i drive around town like a bride.
when i stumble through my thoughts, grabbing at words to tell the story, i'm so often lacking. i have a friend who calls these posts of mine, 'tone poems'. i just think of them as little moments. but the words, the work, the genius of one word choice has been awing me these past few weeks. i get lost in the beauty of the words and i continue to sew the words of genius poets into my quilts. the poetry quilts are swinging between great literary moments, and the lyrics of a song you danced to with your high school boyfriend. and they all equally jarring with their loveliness. i'm making personal custom pieces for people who feel connected to a clump of words they have sung or listened to over and over again throughout their lifetime. i love looping the sewing machine into these words. i love the happiness they bring the people who take them home. and how these words that have been a memory for them for so many years can now wrap around them, warm them, look at them. it's all quite satisfying and lovely for me.
and i continue to make the ones that i find beautiful and important and lovely. the ones that speak to me and that speak to a universal me as well. today i did another rilke poem. 'childhood'. simple and momentous at the same time...i'll include the poem and a selection of my quilted version.
It would be good to give much thought, before you try to find words for something so lost, for those long childhood afternoons you knew that vanished so completely -and why?
We're still reminded-: sometimes by a rain, but we can no longer say what it means; life was never again so filled with meeting, with reunion and with passing on
as back then, when nothing happened to us except what happens to things and creatures: we lived their world as something human, and became filled to the brim with figures.
And became as lonely as a sheperd and as overburdened by vast distances, and summoned and stirred as from far away, and slowly, like a long new thread, introduced into that picture-sequence where now having to go on bewilders us.
the rain sounds different in every room. in the bedroom it's soft and it duets with the measured rhythm of sleeping and breathing and the metal roof that covers just the bedroom, makes every drop a note. in the stairwell, the window that is protected by the porch is open wide into the night. the heavy rain sounds torrential, as i descend. and as it falls past the shut up windows of our little library, it pings like a cymbal off the lid of a metal garbage can sitting beside the kitchen door. but i feel very protected and safe within the thick walls and old bubbly windows.
i feel so much better lately in the studio. i took this photo this morning....do you see ezra, my studio partner, on his couch in the corner? it is such a happy workspace now. the studio has transposed over the past couple of months. for years i had tried to make it about displaying the quilts and various other wares, using the main room as a shop space with static displays. but slowly my work space began to take an ever larger chunk out of the overall studio. and although it has taken most of this past year to let my space become the smooth and open workspace i needed, it finally has. it has wonderfully transformed into just such a space. and although i'm still working on the organization as the need arises, i feel the circle of rooms breathe with me now as i work. and the business has restructured along with the space. the studio is functioning in an entirely new way. and i love it. i must confess, i never loved having open houses and studio sales. waiting for people to come is very draining. it does not feel natural to me, to move among a group of people. i always felt a little off, a little unbalanced, a little like i was going to burst into tears. but for 3 1/2 years that is what i thought i had to do to get the sales to make the business a success. and then edgar died. i had so little spark in me, i could only do what came to me easily. i had no extra emotional energy to give. so i just sewed. i put my head down and i made quilts that i loved. i let my ideas swim into the fabric and new and different designs emerged. and i listed them on etsy. i felt a little guilty for not having sales. but i began to feel happier. the studio began to fill with energy. more and more people contacted me and i welcomed them to the studio. and i felt a little surge in business. and, without knowing it, i began to do what came naturally to me. i felt the ease and the flow as the studio recalibrated. and it has become what my studio needs to be. what it was always meant to be. so if you have a hankering to see the quilts, or if you have bought from me in the past and are wondering when the next sale is, just get in touch and come by.
it's three in the morning. and i'm awake, sifting through beach glass. today was a gray day, with a soft misty rain thickening the air for most of it. and tracy and i spent the afternoon at the beach filling pockets and buckets and fists with smooth little glass gems. ezra came for the first part, and although he was patient and found lots to interest him, 15 or 20 minutes was all he really had in him. as i was walking him home, we met tracy's aunt and little cousin and we all settled in at the beach.
i haven't picked glass in a long time. it used to be my daily escape in the summer. i'd lose myself down at the beach for hours. tom would have to come and bring me home. often sunburned and sore. i would get lost in the deafening of the waves and the expanse of lake. the steadiness of the sound became silence, and it drummed out thoughts that were buried deep. i would catalog my little collections by date. or put little notes in the jar. like the day i spent the afternoon after gala died. (gala was my great dane before edgar). or certain birthdays. i always had to allot a portion of my birthday to collect the jar of my birthday glass. my first pieces that are linked to an event, are the ones i found the day my grandma gladys died in august, 1997. big pieces of pastel and white ceramic. i have them on the shelf on the stairs. so it's been almost 16 years that these little shards started filling my life.
these are some of my favorites from today. i love the clear ones. i love pieces that have texture or even words. i love the robins egg and soft 1950s green pieces. i kept finding smoky lavender pieces today. several of them, that were the color of the sky. and today, hunting with beautiful people and gentle rain, sharing our finds and giving each other the pieces we thought the other would like, an experience of love and beauty and giving. a good good day.
reflections and layers of images have always been part of what i toy with visually. painting. collage. photography. i like the extra layers. the dreamy and inexplicable little world that forms on a flat surface, swimming with the depth of light and line and image. early yesterday, i put floyd outside so i could feed tiny 18 year old telulah without him pushing her out of the way. he knew he was missing out, and cried in the window. the angle of the sun and the different layers of glass and screens created a universe of green summer morning. thankfully my camera was nearby. 6 am is the witching hour for fantastic light.
maybe it was the light that threw me in the right direction, but when i got to the studio, i felt the need to take away all suggestion of a display space and utilize every corner as a workspace. a workspace that i can breeze seamlessly through as i keep the projects moving. and a space that appeals to me visually.
so the complete quilts are in fanciful piles along one wall. and the rest of the main floor moves along with me. accepting the mess i create daily. but allowing it to be strong with the energy of how i work. i feel good things coming from this little shake up.
a quiet day that spread sun and cloud equally through the day. sun hot enough to make us sweaty and lazy and then the cloud would breeze over to cool it all off. and now, late in the day, we are settled inside, for the rainstorm that kept threatening, finally took over. the mantle clock, with it's spring works that tom winds by hand, is like the room's heartbeat. steady and echoey with that double tick that would confuse me as a child. i would count it as two. and every minute or so there is the odd arhythmia that happens. the ticks shudder together. maybe it is exactly every minute as it registers the movement of the minute hand. it's very sound makes the room feel more silent.
i'm filling up with poetry lately. ezra curls beside me and listens to my whispers. poetry has to be heard. i have to form the words. i whisper as i read. and the quilts i make carry the words of my whispered reading. the latest is emily dickinson. just tiny little phrases of lovely. so i filled a quilt with them. 'the little sentences i began and never finished. the little wells i dug and never filled'. i write the words with my sewing machine and fall more in love with them. there is a new and stronger connection as i feel the words becoming something with thickness and shadows and warmth.
lately there have been rilke and neruda. kenneth pathchen. baudelaire. and my notebook keeps filling.
i feel like quilts are alive. they reflect all the little joys that make life special. they emanate love and warmth. the quilts i make blend a grandmother's ideals with a fresh youthful flair. there is a nostalgia for seasons past combined with hopefulness for a bright full future. you can find me online at www.chasinglightningbugs.com