Wonderful!

Do you ever wonder?

Me too.

The other day I was wondering why I know how, but don’t do.

You know, we all tend toward inertia, I guess. But maybe not. Maybe you might enjoy this best advice from Leo Babauta.

Maybe it will give you something to think about.

This is my attempt to DO … even though I pretty much pissed around all day…except for bathing a Wheaten and trying to comb out her mats under her chin. Hoo boy!

So this is when the rubber hits the road for me. Blog, just do it, dammit!

Talk to you tomorrow. I have some ATCs to make! and I have company tonight. But she’s understanding and talented; maybe she’ll join me!Image

Step the first … Crows

Or as Anne Lamott explains, bird by bird. Although what she means is that we get through the story that we have to write word by word, as for me bird by bird suits in all sorts of ways.

When we first arrived here in Owen Sound, no, when we first began to live here, in this house, in Owen Sound whaImaget really struck me was the murder of crows that woke me every morning. That was different. And delightful…though my dear friend JL will definitely not agree.

So much was different. In good ways and bad. Mostly bad at first. Bad because my husband was sent to BC (the province, not the date) for a two week training and I was already feeling lonely and “interrupted”. I didn’t know who I was and no one else knew either.

But each morning the crows cawed to me. Woke me with their raucous and joyous chorus. And what delighted me about that was that all those crows deterred the starlings who rob the feeders we put out for the birds we want to attract … the pretty ones, the little ones, the ones who warble and tweet and chitterchatter. And those birds also seemed to appreciate that chorus of the crows because they got the lion’s share of the seed and the starlings didn’t disturb their nests.

It still wasn’t home. Maybe it never will be. But it was a start and so this blog post is dedicated to crows. The birds who showed me a new way, a new direction for my life…for the moment. And so I am lead to ask if crow was my first muse pointing me into a whole new direction. Just musing.

The Learning Curve

I’ve never really ever finished school…and I like that. So now I’m learning how to use another tool to hike my art process up a notch and allow me to share it online. I’m doing digital collage…sometimes from my own “pages” but lately I got Adobe Photoshop Elements 11 and I’ve been playing around. This was inspired from Flypaper

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Please let me know what (if any) emotions, thoughts, critiques this picture evokes in you. Thanks for being one of my teachers.

Hopefully thankful

I am so thankful that a friend (thanks Susan!) plugged me into Coursera with its many, many FR*& University courses. And very very grateful for my husband, Jeff, who brings me to such wonderful places to get me away from the computer…

Still, I am presently enjoying myself ploughing through Modern and Contemporary American Poetry and reading poetry that I had only heard of.

It is stretching me and giving me some little self-discipline in paying attention and staying organized somewhat less distract able.

digital camera/photo credit to Jeff Suchak of Mythic Landscape

In fact, I’m so thankful that I’m going to go waaaay out on a limb, like some trembling scarlet leaf, and share my first assignment with you. It is a short essay about Emily Dickinson‘s poem, “I taste a liquor never brewed” which for the sake of ease on your part I have included within this post.

“I taste a liquor never brewed —
From Tankards scooped in Pearl —
Not all the Vats upon the Rhine Yield such an Alcohol!
Inebriate of Air — am I —
And Debauchee of Dew —
Reeling — thro endless summer days —
From inns of Molten Blue —
 
When “Landlords” turn the drunken Bee
Out of the Foxglove’s door —
When Butterflies — renounce their “drams” —
I shall but drink the more!
 
Till Seraphs swing their snowy Hats —
And Saints — to windows run —
To see the little Tippler
Leaning against the — Sun —

“Shook Foil”

One cannot help but be struck with the resonance of this poem with transcendentalism. Other poets such as Ralph Waldo Emerson (who was a visitor in the home where Emily lived) were immersed in transcendentalism, but Emily dances on Ockham’s razor and seems reluctant to fling away her Calvinist Christian roots yet experiences God in the natural world with far greater joy and ease than within the confines of “original sin” which she eschews. Gerard Manly Hopkins manages to stun us with his visceral experience of God in nature in his poem, “God’s Grandeur”[1] from whence I have taken my title for this essay.

This introverted (not ‘shy’) Enneagram Nine woman resists being sucked into the Calvinist vortex of Revival with its social seduction of both earthly acceptance and eternal life with a select few. It is possible to hear these personality traits and the panentheistic (note this is not Pantheistic) leanings of Universalism and Unitarianism which was heavily influenced by her contact with nature and her reading of Emerson and his ilk.

Imagine this young woman who had to leave school – which it would seem agreed with her – and remain in the confines of her home – though some say it was a lifestyle choice. Regardless of the reasons behind her choices, you can hear the abandon of a child set loose in many of her poems, this one in particular for me.

She whirls around with metaphors from both her social world and that of nature. For instance she compares herself as “inebriate of air” on “a liquor never brewed” with the “drunken bees”. Both risk being turned out of the foxgloves by developers who would tame and subdue the wildness of nature – and of Emily?

The “drams” refer to both the nectar sipped by butterflies and a small drink of ‘spirits’ sipped in the parlour by her friends and family after a hearty meal. All of us in both worlds gluttons and drunkards and hence kin of sorts.

The “molten blue” refers to the incredible intense blue of early Autumn and late summer skies – a contrast to that flat pale blue of winter when Emily with her frequent cough and kidney disease would have been ‘caged’ inside her home for fear of exacerbating her condition.

Imagine how free she felt then to be out under that open sky, clouds scudding overhead frolicking in a nearby meadow – a freedom she compares to that of the winged world of bees, butterflies, Seraph and Saints.

The world “reeling” connotes both a dizziness and a dance where logic is overtaken by sheer unadulterated joy and visceral sensation.

Picture the Seraphs swinging their “snowy hats” (halos perhaps?) in contrast to the theological reality[2] of Seraphim[3] and Cherubim who would have been understood to be fearsome and awesome Creatures dwelling in and protecting the place where God resides and not confused with cherubic little angels holding hearts on ribbons in some Valentine’s Day postcard.

Saints too dwell in the presence of God – a light that blazes so brightly that we would be consumed and blinded by it. Yet these heavenly Creatures run to see “the little Tippler – leaning against the Sun.” Could Sun be a play on Son an oblique reference to Jesus Christ? If so, we might imagine that God smiles on Emily as she cavorts with the Creatures of Creation and this is her inside joke with the Jesus who has vacated his “cross” to hold her up and support her – dare we say encourage

Nature’s haiku … “Ghosts”

her – in her literary gambol.


[1] Poem retrieved from the Internet on October 7, 2012 at http://www.bartleby.com/122/7.html/  originally found in Gerard Manley Hopkins: Poems and Prose (Penguin Classics, 1985)

[2] I spent two and a half years in a High Anglican seminary and another two years in Francis Sandy Theological Centre (a Christian theological seminary for those working with or of First Nation heritage). The information to which I refer was part of a number of conversations with professors of Old Testament and Theology.

[3] The word “seraph” literally means “burning ones”, they have six wings as described in Isaiah 6:2 “Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying.” Please note that in the Hebrew Testament when the Seraphim, or anyone else for that matter, cover their feet they are actually covering their genitals. Feet is used as a euphemism in “polite” society. Devout Christians of this period were likely knowledgeable about this, hence this image is irreverent and a poke at the stodginess of Calvinism.

Paper Stash Swap

Over at Gluebook Goodness (see Six Degrees of Creativity) we are in the midst of a paper swap. I tried to give my partner, who lives in Florida, a glimpse of my little corner of the world by including local tourist maps, indie mags and dyed in the wool Canadian magazines like Walrus and very old issues of The Beaver (now known as Canada’s History) clippings.

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Also I included photocopies of some of Jeff’s photographs (just the 35 mm ones) with local flora and geographical and topographical details. I even sent it airmail because the postie clerk said it would get there at least a week faster. Canadian mail can seem slow to people in other places of the world. I certainly hope she enjoys it.Image

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Now it’s time for me to just sit and wait for my own little packet of surprises to arrive! Whoot! Fun, fun, fun.

Blossom Women’s Circles

This week our young women will be being introduced to making their own journals. First we’ll be creating paperbag journals from LCBO wine bottle bags, which I’ve already gessoed.

But I’ve been preparing this cover for a while now. It will hold all my Spirit paintings and Dot paintings from this summer. I’m going to keep the paintings secret for a while, but thought this steamy, hot summer day was ideal to share just the cover…

Turtle makes progress …

ImageWe all think of turtles as being slow, methodical and perhaps — if we are really, truly honest — plodding. So I guess it should not surprise me that my work progresses in much the same way. To paraphrase Anne Lamott, it moves forward stitch by stitch by stitch.

In my youth, I wanted to rush. I wanted to see progress and right then! So I spent a lot of time at machines that whirred and hummed. I still like that, but I have found that an hour of stitching every evening, by hand, in the waning hours, even in front of the “telly” (which for us is my computer screen and Netflix) … the work progresses. Yes, the progress is sometimes slow, but it is an enjoyable process.

I get to feel the textures as they emerge, admire the details, immerse myself in the work. And so I will share with you pictorially that Turtle’s carapace is now done. That being said, this does not mean that in some future time another stitch or two or three may be added. Hand stitching allows that when machines would scream defeat.

I suppose you’d like to get closer…

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I have to admit that the texture is luscious!

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You might like to try this yourself…let me know…maybe lessons can be arranged.

Pondering an old red sweater …

Right now I am reading “No Ordinary Time” by Jan Phillips. Well, to be truthful I am not so much reading … as practicing this book. There are ideas, concepts, constructs, words, sentences, musings on every single page that I want to commit to memory, imbue into my cellular structure. This, found on page 195, speaks so intimately to my sense of “At Loose Ends” that I must share it…

Your words and thoughts

are your yarn and knitting needles.

Your life is the afghan, the mittens, the scarf.

If you work with wool and cotton threads

You will never end up with a cashmere sweater.

At first glance our socially constructed dichotomies will cause us to judge wool and cotton threads as “less than” cashmere.

But stop and think for a minute…

Do we all need, want, struggle to attain, desire, feel comfortable in and with a cashmere sweater?

Mostly I like to wrap myself in an over sized wool sweater while I snuggle into the sofa with a good book and a canine companion.

I still have an old red, acrylic sweater that I rescued from the cloImageset of my mother after her death. For years I fondled the hankie left in one of the pockets and was comforted by the scent of Noxema. It quite literally WAS my mother in those letting go times. Now the scent is gone, but still the sweater is pulled from the closet to be worn when I need to let go of feeling like a “motherless child” and yet still feel childlike and cared for and safe.

My mother and I were/are both knitters. Wool is my choice; acrylic hers. We are so different, so alike…a knitted sweater so familiar an object as to be taken for granted (like a mother perhaps) until it becomes necessary. How wonderful to have these lines to bring to recall so much. To feed my soul with the ordinary, the mundane, the trivial…that makes up so much of a rich, full life.

And so this short five lines gives me material to meditate on for years…

Thanks, Jan.

Enough…

I recently read in a post by Martina McGowan (http://martinamcgowan.visibli.com/share/LFSPsq) through SoulSeeds
this quote from Anne Lamott (who by the way is my favourite writer on spirituality) which I have decided will be my mantra,

“Every single day I try to figure out

something I no longer agree to do.”

Imagine that. Really. What if I … what if we … did what was necessary … and then stopped?

So, I am not going to do more than expected for at least 8 hours every day.

And by “more than expected” I mean what is absolutely necessary.

As an instance … when the garden needs watering,
I will water it … just enough.

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I will not weed out every single thing that I didn’t plant. It might, after all, be a gift.

I will not decide to transplant a dozen perennials.

I will not decide to dig a new area out.

I will do what is expected (supposedly by my plants), I will water them … just enough.

I won’t soak them unless they are parched.

And I certainly won’t even water them if there are rain clouds in the sky.

I will water them … just enough.

And I will enjoy that I am just enough while I am at it.

And while I’m at it…I’m giving you permission to do the same…because you are enough.

Live joyfully…

You ARE enough.

You are ENOUGH.

YOU are enough.

Spirited

Next intention word says a great deal. Let’s look at the etymology of that word:

spirit (n.)  mid-13c., “animating or vital principle in man and animals,” from O.Fr. espirit, from L. spiritus “soul, courage, vigor, breath,” related to spirare “to breathe,” from PIE *(s)peis- “to blow” (cf. O.C.S. pisto “to play on the flute”). Original usage in English mainly from passages in Vulgate, where the Latin word translates Gk. pneuma and Heb. ruah. Distinction between “soul” and “spirit” (as “seat of emotions”) became current in Christian terminology (e.g. Gk. psykhe vs. pneuma, L. anima vs. spiritus) but “is without significance for earlier periods” [Buck]. L. spiritus, usually in classical L. “breath,” replaces animus in the sense “spirit” in the imperial period and appears in Christian writings as the usual equivalent of Gk. pneuma. Meaning “supernatural being” is attested from c.1300; that of “essential principle of something” (in a non-theological sense, e.g. Spirit of St. Louis) is attested from 1690, common after 1800.

excerpted from: the Online Etymology Dictionary (http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=spirit)

We’ll have to spend sometime sorting this out, but for now it speaks of how I see myself “being” in the world. Alive, full of breath, vital, soulful (full of feeling), courageous and a super natural be-ing.

Not supernatural, but a super, natural be-ing … not just “doing” but being present in my body, mind and deep in my soul.

As a tip of the hat to this word, I have begun to create figurative art once again…dolls, if you will…but much more than dolls…”spirit dolls”.

The first one is now in her cosy home in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.

Her name is Mandala Woman and she is companion to the real-life Mandala Woman, Kathryn Tisdale.

I hope I have captured her spirit here. Admittedly, I am out of practice … and all art is practice. I have been “buried in books” for quite some time. Both literally, as in, I have been busy making books, altering books, journaling in books. And figuratively, as in, I have had my nose buried in a book since September studying at Huron.

But this is a new beginning…not because the calendar says so, but my heart says so. My heart calls me in a different direction and by saying I need to pay attention to that I mean that I need to listen to my spirit. That will allow me to be spirited in 2012.

I have a feeling I’ll be dancing a lot more!

Olé!