space wrangling

Solar/Lunar polarity

Inanna

ETA:  Some first rate writing from Molly Jong-Fast in Vouge Why I Am Not Leaving New York. 

word tincture is becoming THE currency rather than ancillary background to image as All.

Back in the mid & late 90's I had several UK friends who were quite gifted astrologers.  Each felt that my natal chart "explained everything" -  whatever that may have meant to them when they said it.  Most other remarks/insights were far less cryptic. The most consistently on-point and directly relatable to my life came from a woman who understood the best way for me to both know myself and consistently play to my strengths was to set a course of ongoing pragmatic activity that was nourished by constant meditation on solar-lunar polarity and how necessary it was to seek impeccable reflective balance one into the other.

One thing I've been doing ever since:  Begin each shift of seasons by drawing a solar and lunar card to represent energies that needed and deserved my attention for the season.    I used to work with the Motherpeace tarot major arcana but for years now I've been using Susan Seddon Boulet's Goddess knowledge cards from Pomegranate Press.  As winter shifted into spring I was somewhat delayed in finding the time, space, and centered frame of mind I ask of myself for this slow-down-and-root-Beyond ceremony. 

Yesterday I gave myself moon-in-Taurus rooted energy.  Spent all my studio time cleaning, sorting, and figuring out creative uses for (or storage of) things I'd planned to take to our town dump's freecycle station.  They shut-down recycling until further notice and I doubt they'll re-open freecycling at the beginning of May.  Or maybe ever.  Spent all of yesterday contemplating the shift of my personal expectation/needs sliding scale.  This proved more enormous than I would have imagined.  But eventually it led me to centering enough to recall I had yet to pick spring cards.

Hina

My solar draw was Hina.  I am aware of her place as a Polynesian creatrix goddess and have certainly admired this portrait thousands of times but have never pulled the card so far as I recall.  a snippet from the back of this card:

Hina is perhaps best known as the woman who lives in the moon...[She] represents that part of ourselves that creatively brings forth nourishment even in the midst of what appears to be death and decay.

Flora

Lunar draw - Flora aka Flourishing One.  This goddess presides over nature and the spring season as well as that phase of the human lifespan.  She is extremely familiar to me but I've never drawn her from this deck.  Was ruminating on that over the course of last summer.  When I pulled the card I took my time reading the card's text and how it connected to this particular moment of time.  Thought a lot about how Floralia - often presumed the beginning of the Maypole ritual - aligns with a time in our impending collective experience that hinges on people paying attention to life/death information that's being actively shuttered on an ongoing basis. 

I also felt validated in my sense that my own personal emotional/psychic/mental health depends on seeking out corners of suspended pleasure and joy throughout the day and evening.

Flora teaches us to honor growing things, both inside and outside us.  She is a reminder to pay attention to pleasure, to the beauty of spring, and to new life, wherever it is found.

Artistaltar

Meditating on this pairing guided me to resume and complete the re-building of a long artist's altar here in the studio.   Solar and Lunar energies and talismans are fairly even in distribution.

Crowfeathers
Last night and this morning I completed the finishing touches on this space.   Have also selected the below pairing as my studio reading material for the month of April and beyond.

Booksforapril

How is everyone else balancing their own forms of inner/life/creative polarity in these evolutionary times?


resiliency .1

Forgottensewingtin

Yesterday was largely recuperative without sacrificing a steady stream of small accomplishments outside, in the house, and here in the studio.  The years of debilitating physical illness taught me that small and steady is the only way to fly. The trick is to have enough faith in the process that it sustains commitment to maintaining both small and steady in an ongoing way.

Yesterday I asked my morning self how I could become more comfortable with a shorter attention span and more fragmented abilities to focus on any given activity or thought-problem. Then I had a day of answering the question by simply making note of how I flowed from one activity to another.   What I was drawn to eat or drink and when.   And - as always - how elastic time becomes whenever routines-of-running-around come to a full stop.

Within time's suspended animation I had a pivotal epiphany about how I set up my creative life prior to brain trauma. This is key to helping me properly sort out the rest of my studio space.  Had previously reached the conclusion I had innumerable boxes and tins and a few plastic shoe boxes crammed full of seemingly random creative supplies because I didn't inherently understand how to organize things 'properly' and was too impatient to learn.  But in yesterday's early evening I finally grasped what should have been obvious:  I mixed up my supplies so in the event of a drop-and-run emergency no matter what I grabbed-up in a few precious seconds would leave me able to make any number of different things from what was inside. 

Everything

Last night I discovered a long-overlooked supply tin holding the above contents. I decided to take pictures because I knew the process of setting them up would help me organize the grouping at a mental level.  I can tell just by the goldeny velvet circle in the center, the strip of turquoise dyed suede and the collection of threads in the upper right corner that this grouping evolved from Jude's second Cloth to Cloth workshop followed by the heart-oriented class.   Also had previously imagined I'd permanently lost the hank of faceted sunstone beads.  Reuniting with them has been outstanding!

Rosequartzstonefish
In the now, of course, preparing for a potential need to grab and go has been replaced by keeping still.  Isolating one set of possibilities and potential in order to to discover working with what's on hand at a whole new psychic decibel range.  This particular sewing box is destined for considerable retrofitting in order to make it functional.  For starters it needs a scissors and wider assortment of both pins and needles.   Some kind of straight edge marking device - maybe a six inch quilter's square.

  What I assemble will then become my working sewing box over in the house.  Raw supplies that don't fit my evolving needs are being reabsorbed into the relevant storage containers here in the studio or within the single plastic tote of fiber arts related supplies that will continue to live in the house.  House-based/dining room table/downstairs bathroom creativity becomes important to me during the parts of summer when it's simply too hot to be up here.  And have found stitching is easiest to pick up and put down in the spontaneous rhythms of the Outside seasons.

Beeswaxetal
While I was deciding how to best utilize the tin's oddly shaped space I had the sudden awareness that I'd learned to keep these kind of storage tins from The Sisters  - Grace & Pearl - for sure.  But more vividly and sensually I got it from my mother.  As a child I did what many of us do with off-the-rails Living Large if only in their own minds parents.  I mythologized her behavior and did everything I could to reframe it as mysterious rather than alarming and cruel.

To that end I spent a lot of clearly recalled time sitting on the splintered floor of a strange set of closets built between our two bedrooms.   I'd sit there as silently as possible - cradling a carved rosewood box I still have - and silently commune with the contents of the box in my arms.   They fascinated me.  There was liquid kohl in a small wrinkled tube and five or six mascara brushes.  I had no idea what they were until years later.  

Deets1

What some women would have kept as a straight-up makeup box became more of a magic carpet in my mother's hands.  She'd included a few gaudy shoe buckles I recognized as belonging to my grandmother.  Years later I'd hear her tell a neighbor lady who hung on her every word for almost 20 years that she'd 'filched' them from Pearl's traveling case so as to keep them from appearing at an impending wedding rehearsal dinner.

There were tiny pine cones and glittering chips of semi-precious beads from a number of broken necklaces.  A political button expressing support for McKinley that I've kept in the box all these years.  Paper scraps in her handwriting loaded with various writing ideas.  There was also a tiny red datebook from the year 1955.  It felt wrong to read it (and this remained true up until just four or five years ago) but I always sat with it pressed tightly between my palms.  Trying as best I could to create mystery and magic that could hold me steady during times when she frightened me into a state of silence for any number of reasons.

Introspection related to more tangled family roots seems like a luxurious albatross a lot of the time.  The self-involvement level of traversing and untangling every nook and cranny one encounters is, for me, achingly exhausting to maintain.   Although there's always an underlying context of fear involved with anything that speaks directly to our physical and cellular connections I'm also pleased on a daily basis with the positive and most meaningful ways I was shaped by my mother in a manner I authentically treasure.  

Clothshelves

Most of my fabric stash is quilter's cotton I collected between '87 and '05.  The latter date has no real significance in relation to compulsively gathering fabric in preparation for the stage of life I'm now in.  I simply knew Enough when I saw it.   Not all that long ago this collection was color sorted with separate 'category piles' for florals and leaves, specific topical themes etc.  When Mama first made it clear she intended to become a full-time studio companion I started shifting piles all around so she could nest and get her bearings in the first and second shelves.  The color coding system is still discernible but it's scarcely well ordered.  The unique pleasure of working and dreaming in the company of a studio cat is worth the shift.

The larger point is that I took most of yesterday to actively ground with outside work and time by myself here in the studio in which to feel raw and untested.  By last night the bedroom floor was empty and I'd put some drops of lavender and tangerine essential oils in the dehumidifier water.   Also put thought-time and just-being into the small third bedroom.   I'm glad to have liberated space so that it becomes a satellite evolving sanctuary of a room, as I originally envisioned it might be.    As we adjust to all being here all the time I've noticed this space becoming something of a small-scaled family room.  The atmosphere is livelier and more communal without the rolls of finished/not finished handwork and stacks of raw supplies absorbing so much vibrational energy.   Noticed that within hours of learning everything I'd removed wouldn't be coming back in the room T. began organizing his friends so they could have virtual meet-ups in the afternoon and evening.

Life's not good given larger contexts but it's definitely workable and contains many moments of sustained grace. The luxury of  being able to work a tiny piece of land is fomenting inner resilience and relative ease (so far) in returning to a place of inner equilibrium a lot more organically possible than I might have imagined when I didn't know what to imagine, really.  

for now we wait and sow seeds.


private chaos .1

Notsoprivatechaos

eta:  by the time it was tonight and T. was at last home from the end of his work shift until whenever, I was able to sincerely make light of my freakout.  J. was mainly on the stuff all over the floor track but T. quite kindly informed me that typhoid is a bacteria and that was what required so much burning.  Thought that was rather chivalrous of him.

Above is an unapologetic image of how my corner of our bedroom looked this morning before I had a few hours to contemplate and then begin to implement organization. The melange of finished work, WISPs and 'raw' cloth looks a lot more coherent at the moment.  My quest for this day and early evening  weekend is to have everything organized and at least most of it successfully relocated and stored up here in the studio.  As an unexpected bonus a box of family relics that's currently lurking in the studio will be going into the closet that used to be too full of everything above (but the pile of jeans and my bathrobe) to contain it.

Fiftyquestionmark

 Every now and then it's good to examine the contemporary embroidery sampler I made to commemorate my fiftieth birthday.   I worked on it mainly in a weekly stitching group that met just across a modest parking lot abutting our side yard back at the old place.  Other members of the group really liked the question mark factor.  It had been unplanned.  I merely "saw" a spiral of half a Century releasing an unexplored seed of promise courtesy of a beneficent cosmic Beyond.  The question mark overlay has come to mean a lot to  me over the past dozen years so.

Clothtoday

I'm sharing these particular words and pictures today because somebody known and accordingly cherished for her quiet wisdom suggested it might be good medicine for us to afford each other peeks into our individual scope of private chaos.  Specifically as we all evolve into something we've yet to become.  Indeed - here we all are in uncharted waters.  About to experience something unprecedented - and here in the US going through a profoundly unsettling existential crisis in an unpresidented condition.  While also constantly shedding layers of what simply isn't relevant to moving forward.

Hence the reason all this stuff is in my bedroom piled up like somebody was running for their life.  Right before I fell asleep for a few hours I thought:  what if one of us has to be sequestered in that room and then we have to burn ALL the stuff (as with typhoid) I've made and/or hoped to complete before

The End. 

Openstashboxes

That particular question mark woke me up and adrenalized just enough of my motor control to get everything cloth-related out of the room right then and there.  Also had the presence of mind to create a safe path around the bed's corner.  Only then did it feel safe/prudent/advisable to allow myself to rest.  When I woke up this morning I thought this abrupt change in life/style/focus is dis-ordering our minds because any real organization of thought in today's world has grown more precarious than most of us can realize or fully understand.  It was a daunting a-ha moment and I was pleased to burrow back closer to sleep until J. arrived home from his first foray into early seniors shopping hour.  He told me he was the only one he encountered who seemed to be actively practicing social distancing protocol.  

Alicesguesttowel

Above is a fragment of family predecessor Alice Mary's perfect needleworking skills.  She for whom I was named looms large in my sense of who I am not.  And that's a sentence that never would have occurred to me before perpetual crisis mode changed the kind of thoughts I'm having. A few are fairly astute - like my Alice Mary realization.  But a lot of them feel like lost ants who can't find the scented trails that will lead them home to the safe core of their society.

  I find it very uncomfortable to be unable to sit quietly with a thought or difficult feeling and slowly unwind it.  Sitting quietly belongs to a part of myself that reflexively packed itself away while in my first rush of baseline survival instinct.  Am now thinking that earliest part of my process might have been overly efficient because I've no clue at all how to be or what to do in the absence of longform attention span and ability to focus well within it.  It's something that hasn't been a problem - not even after sustained brain trauma - since I left my mother's sphere of influence back in my late teens.

All the same A is for Anxiety is back in a way that needs unwinding and sustainable deconstruction as and when necessary.  The other night I had two back to back 'attacks' (first since Kavanaugh shouting on that horrible summer afternoon ...) that went unnoticed by the household because that was what I deemed best.  And must have imagined I could rely on as a game plan moving forwards: Oh don't mind me.  I'll be upstairs out of the way freaking all the way out in a dark room by myself.

  As reality unrolls I have uncomfortable portions of each day where I confront personal unraveling in ways that make me realize I spend a lot of unacknowledged time thinking about what's best at the widest scale possible.   But this global situation - while embodying wide scale by definition - is also a spiraling-down process that pushes into the core of our sense of individual self as well as our sense of community, culture, and how close to larger reality we're willing to live at any given moment.

Thelittledyedpocket

Stuff in progress

In the process of sorting and folding and planning a major ironing binge fest I found things that are ready to be backed and bound for display.  Stuff to be pressed and stuff that can be finished or moved much closer to that end goal.  Stuff I can think about instead of spiking adrenaline every time I realize there's no existing plan on any level - not just my own universe of Place and family but you know - out there in the world beyond this place where we're actively waiting to be told we must shelter as best we can.

my to-hand bio/phyto-chemical self-prescription of the day and weekend to follow:  aromatherapy once the evening/back in the house portion of the day is at hand. Stitching a few easy seams on the long quilt until then.  This is not the time to compete with myself - and certainly not for the reflex reason that it's what I always do.  And you?

Bjps

[noticing big-time the way time is warping more than usual :  earlier today I asked J. if it had been two or three weeks since he started working at home.  He stared at me before replying It's just one week today.]


balancing. sorta.

Mama030720

A lot of my studio time during the second half of this week felt like one long practical application of all the times I've stayed awake far too long running through various mental lists and scenarios related to emergency/disaster preparedness.   A lot of people I know in the walking around world started doing this as a feature rather than a bug after 9-11 or Katrina.  I've been doing it - with long offs and then painfully intense on cycles that feel like they'll never end - since an exceedingly boisterous fireman came to my 3rd grade class.  Grinning as wide as Dick Van Dyke he enthusiastically described all the things we must do to keep ourselves and our families safe in the event of a fire.

Fast forward to the now in which J. and I reflected on our past while taking a break from inventorying and collating/date-coding our amassed non-perishables.  I reminded him of whatever hurricane it was that roared all the way up the east coast when T. was quite young back in Boston.  We'd barely had enough extra money to get the duct tape we needed to put on our windows as per neighborhood watch request - plus extra ice for our battered cooler and a gallon of water each for the three of us.

We spoke of how many hundreds of millions of people are in that place now.  

************

As far as leading with a kitty pic on Caturday - Mama detests the survival assemblage making havoc of the usual mudroom arrangement and she also had a little hissy fit knocking things over upon discovering there was also a lot of other stuff scattered  throughout the kitchen and hallway floors.  Obviously most or all of these full throttle irregular activities are by default a feline ordeal.  While I was taking her picture above I told her the story of everything we'd gathered especially for her.   To me her expressive gaze says: I don't care why or how I just want it to stop.

Todaysfodderadds

After partially digesting this morning's news cycle I felt a renewed need to rip apart and consolidate a few more text blocks and part of an old calendar.   

Stashbaggie

Tomorrow I'll start a new daily collage week with a greatly amplified stash baggie.   It will be a great thing to have all ripe and ready to go because if life keeps throwing us enormous things to be processed ASAP we'll all need to maintain a super reliable brainwave fulcrum.  Stitching and gluing pieces of paper to each other - plus hopefully maintaining my morning reading routine and yoga practice - may have to be suffice in scattered pieces throughout the day.  "morning" pages in my writing journal may need to take a less expansive form depending on what any given morning brings.  In earlier portions of my life that were largely structured around the overlapping structures of my husband and son I embraced evening pages.  In the most maxed-out stretched thin portions of the past I've kept lists of Five Beautiful Things at the end of every week.   This eventually funneled into keeping an ongoing gratitude journal with morning and evening entries in the brief but hugely rewarding and clarifying method described by Angeles Arrien - more than likely within her book Living in Gratitude.

Woolnfelt

Also accomplished this morning:  folding up my strewn wool and wool felt collection and putting it away.  Before we got our catastrophe game plan mapped out and task lists divvied-up I was cleaning out a cloth-based storage drawer.  Whittling down and streamlining.  As I was examining the wool I understood I should make sure to savor the afternoon's slow and unpressurized pace.  Knew once J. got home from work our regularly scheduled Friday evening programming would be overwritten.  All the energy we didn't need to expend since we haven't been dealing with extreme winter weather or its aftermath (or J.'s mother having an anticipated but so far not-yet health crisis) kind of exploded out of both of us all at once just as I thought it would.  Have consciously chosen to live with the strewn pile as a sanity beacon/nurturing promise to myself: when everything has been as solidified as it can get for now I'll come back to this and relish the experience of colors and texture

which I did.

Flamingheart

Within my storage drawer excavation I came across a stack of WISPs I'd thought were in a completely different place.  Am now hoping my indigo stash I was sure was in the drawer is actually located where I thought I'd stored the WISP's.  Remembered the above without recalling I'd layered raw-appliqued scraps of silk velvet to the base heart in order to give it some depth and texture.  Oftentimes when I re-connect with something still undone that I haven't seen in awhile I'm pleasantly surprised at how much farther along I am than I'd estimated from memory.  In this case I was shocked at how little I'd accomplished.  I thought this was ready to bind but it's nowhere close. 

Flamingheartexpanded

Practically a blank slate.  Due to the frail antique kimono scrap and the looser weave of the silk taffeta behind the heart I elected not to baste or pin into shape.  Consequently I will need to quasi-block the piece as you would a sweater only I'll use in the ditch quilting to ease the piece back into shape.  Have done this many many times and am confident of pulling it off  but it requires mindfulness and care, same as blocking a sweater.  This project will be a good foil for whatever the next week (or hour) will reveal in terms of both world wide crisis and one of the species' biggest ignorant mendacious assholes ever born being 'in charge' of this particular country and the condition/scope of it readiness/response. 

Right now the big quilt feels too overwhelming as a stitching process.  Am quite near the end so it's not that.  It's a physical sense of being boxed-in right on the edge of claustrophobia by the size and physical weight of the quilt.  But it's comforting to have it one hand so for now I've spread it out on the couch for the classic hippie slipcover effect.  Only I did it specifically for the cat. The quilt is her comfort object and she is mine.   Just watching her blissful sleep posture warms my heart and evokes tenderness.

Botswanaagate

When not inventorying non-perishables, towels, sheets and first aid supplies - I've been inventorying my tarot card collection.  This process has led me to realize that I don't have many tarot decks (3) at all.  But I do have a number (11) of oracle decks.  Oracles of all kinds fascinate me.   While inventorying and whittling I found the above loitering with clear intent to be found just then. I love that the white "moon" has a slightly more opaque waxing crescent shape within the circle.

Firstbud

The first narcissus bud is fully emerged from the group's protective sheath.  So far there are ten emergent flower stalks.


mercifully mellow

Robinfortressblg

Today has been warm enough to open windows on both sides of the studio.  The pleasure of naturally fresh air - and the fact that it's still possible to say we live with such a blessing - left me hungry for spring.   Am in the throes of pretty much going through everything I own here in the studio and elsewhere.  It's been an ongoing process for about a year now.  The more I lean into it the more it picks up speed and volume. 

Think it's my sane response to the increasingly insane world.  I want and need this space to have energetic flow and practical workability.  In addition to very lo-fi yet optimum storage reconfiguration it's become really important to me that all dust and bits of debris be corralled and removed.  (note as is obvious in above image I do not consider flaking bark fragments to be "debris")

There is much going on in my family - thankfully nearly all of it of a purposeful and positive nature - that's pulled my energy back to the basics of the Householder path.  Last night I had a chance to sit quietly with the new moon in pisces vibration.  That's when the phrase mercifully mellow popped into my head.

Bulbsplantedonsolstic22420

Here in the studio we have two very unglamorous pots of bulbs I planted on the winter solstice.  Sunny yellow and orange sweet scented daffodilly energy is on the rise!  It's a ritual I've enjoyed since a friend and I declared ourselves the Inventresses of the practice roundabout '81.  Then we had an old fashion metal milk delivery cooler to store our pots and now I have a left-behind refrigerator that just sort of hulks at the edges of our garage.  For the two months of winter the bulbs give it purpose.  At this point (other slower to rise bulbs are still sequestered) the narcissus have been slowly acclimating to light for 5 days.  Tomorrow or the next day I'll put them in their permanent spot for budding-up.

Malachiterescue

Have also been breathing life in a long-neglected and pretty much ossified tube of discontinued (malachite) Daniel Smith watercolor from their primatek line.  The color doesn't handle reliably and it's streaky.  But the specific green itself is rather marvelous and I've been thinking of ways I could use the smaller chunks as mark making tools.

Herbacrafterspouch

Today I also sewed a silk-lined storage pouch for a tarot deck I acquired very late last year - The Herbcrafter's Tarot.  Although I'm quite aware dandelions aren't pink it's the scrap that kept calling to me.  I lined the quilter's cotton with a green dupioni silk that stops just short of chartreuse.

[note:  per a request I'll soon be posting about Herbcrafters in relation to the way I approach a new deck upon unboxing.  Will do that on my main blog as I know some who read there but not here will be interested and inspired by the card imagery.]

I just cut long rectangles of the outer fabric and silk, eyeballed to leave sufficient room for a front, back, and tuckable flap.

Pouch unsewn

The two fabric's raw edges are folded inward (sometime with unravelling silk involved it winds up being as much as a half an inch for the silk and then easing-along the cotton to keep the edges even.  Below you can see how the folded seams look when the finished rectangle is positioned in the proper place for its intended contents. 

  Pouchedgedges

You can also see how the two fabrics are folded inward to self-seam with a continuous well spaced running stitch and (sometimes gently botched) mitered corners. 

Today I had to work with set dimensions based on what I had of the dandelion print.  And within that constraint long experience has taught me that if I set further folding and sewing lines based on the booklet and cards placed horizontally as it is above...

Herbcrafters

When all is said and done the cards and accompanying booklet will be housed in verticially snug comfort with just enough space to slip in a polished stone or crystal if you do that sort of thing.  

Pro-Tip:  Join the finishing side seams of the pouch with a continuous backstitch. 

Begin at the BASE of the sides rather than the top. When you get to the top take one or two small but sturdy stitches that are perpendicular to the rest of the stitches.  The top edge of the pouch will receive the most stress and wear.  Mindful stitch planning significantly increases the timeline before you have to repair or outright re-stitch the joining seams.