sustainability and substance

so here we all are

Collageadditions72120Last week I found my way back to paper collage.   You might recognize the bones of the above because it was my Above/Below/Within creation during the collage challenge.  Within the remake I'm speaking to the experience of my uncovered eye gazing out at the inferno of psy-ops and dis-information.   What I can personally do to counter-act it, sure, but for me the true lede centers on the fact that it's a pic of myself when I was quite ill.  In re-working the original statement I see that Below hovering somewhere between my sense of energetic taproot and a constantly roiling sense of fragmenting reality/root chakra I remain sickened. 

I mean ... I know that intellectually and experientially.  I also think at this point I'm perceiving everyone I talk to or email in a mutually honest way to be sickened.  We often use the word repeatedly.  Some are very clear what it is.  Some don't know but they realize it isn't any closer to normal than it mirrors their organic comfort zone.  Some are painfully aware of their escalating mental health issues.

When this whole debacle first started debacle-ing there was only one thing that was really clear to me.  We'd all collectively been thrown feet first into an abusive relationship (a-hem...) the [utterly pathetic] likes of which the world has never seen.  And given that fact pretty soon the whole world got dragged into what happens when you let a country simmer and stew in its own exceptionally un-exceptional juices for far too long.

The entire planet and all its life forms are now engaged in an existential corridor of life: not-knowing when or how exactly but being unable to always completely forget that It is out there.  And now it's got the overt totalitarian paramilitary backup Howard Zinn illuminated as inevitable once a country lets such a regime gain a viable toehold.  I think about those lectures a lot - and I think of the direct impact it had on me and all his other students through the years.  But especially then being carefully and thematically awakened back when the world seemed fully dystopian to our still-young eyes circa '80-'83. 

WhatisaliciaThis is the first collage I made after a 4 month absence.  The ongoing farce of meaningful existence in the face of an endless bad news monsoon season has baked my noodle to the point of one night telling J I need an entirely new brain while you take this one through the car wash for me.

2020 being the absolutely brutal annus horribilus that it is I found I had no taste for taking pieces of things that used to be whole and recombining them with other no-longer whole things.  In order to express what, exactly?  And why was it my job to do this kind of work?  Shouldn't, I don't know, this be added to a certain son-in-law's portfolio or something?

Projection, internalization, personal grievances galore endlessly piling up in my psychic mudroom because I left them there to wither-down before I dealt with getting it all composted.  Creatively I found myself with a bad attitude.  not a vibe I wanted in this space - not in my home/summer studio or up here in the real thing on cool enough days - that's a haven for much light brought to bear upon dark things.

LettherebelightA lifetime of somatizing disavowed feelings has taught me not to do it anymore.  But what could I do?  Where could I put the stuff that was my honest response to insanity layered-over with all the unique strength/endurance qualities those of us who are trauma survivors have been leaning into all along?

The voice I heard the loudest wasn't even my own.  It was a considerably younger subset alterna-culture voice - the voice I most identify/empathize with in today's world three quarters of the time for sure but definitely not my own.  This merged with Dee Mallon suggesting my fictional characters might be getting restless.  Well hell yeah, yes they were!  And one of them was top dead center the loudest voice I heard in my head.  So my imagination swiftly gave him a brother in arms level of friend that could solidly (reading and writing-wise at least) ground the narrative by spinning through the necessary thematic calls and responses in between major plot exposition points.  Or maybe at least in part so a reader wouldn't notice that mechanical moving along stuff happening quite so much.

And then!  I was driving home from an errand when I was struck with that all too rare but also true pure creative thunderbolt of awareness that the person who'd just helped me in a store was also part of that call and response.  BAM so okay.  As I'm driving home I felt my mind reshaping absolutely everything I thought I might be doing in the fictional sense.

But that was last week which feels like several by the now.  So I'm relatively adjusted to the reality of doing something new and mildly terrifying if only because it boils down to meaning I wasn't really very deep into my characters until this other character showed up fully formed so as to fit right in and amplify the true terrain of a story that hadn't quite articulated itself upon its initial resurrection.   Kind of happy and gratified to be pressing forward with a more fully layered tapestry of generational skews.     the next time I post concerning my word slinging ventures you'll see some of the results in a bigger chunk of text that relates to itself sentence by sentence. 

hopefully anyway.  There's a piece right past the middle of the section I thought it would be fun to share that's still pretty murky in a way that clunks rather than evoking mystery, magic, or even plausible mayhem among the sentences.

SameoldcavalryThis is my favorite movie quote to include in visual journals.  It's from Thunderheart and over time I've used it as a tl:dr footnote of administrative terrorism and 'soft' forms of genocide.  


merging hemispheres/summer studio .1

Canopy252620

Back on a later May morning when the freshly unfurling spring canopy of hardwoods looked like the image above  J and I took a gorgeous drive to pick up our last bread order of the winter share season.  As we drove I noticed something with the eagle eye of one who was raised to see and swiftly respond to certain visual cues.   High on that list would be:

a cardboard box nestled just off the road very conspicuously labelled FREE. 

I made happy noises and talked to myself for a good 15 seconds during which J kept driving.  My internal joy stemmed from having not very successfully resigned myself to a summer season devoid of treasure hunting due to the [potentially permanent] closing of our town's freecycle shack at the dump.  I rapidly understood that, deprived of seasonal yard sale clutter busting options, any box by the road might contain more interesting pickin's than the usual sad college era mugs and commensurate coasters.

Somebody, I swiftly concluded, had gotten hunker-buggy and been unable to stop themselves from getting rid of stuff they never use/really don't like once and for all.  My first peek in the closest corner of box seemed to confirm my hunch:

Thekeys

I don't know what these keys were meant to decorate but as soon as I saw them I imagined them hanging right as they do above - on the southern corner of an enclosed space within the evolving sanctuary garden.  J really enjoys them.   We agree we wouldn't like them anywhere in the house.  But hanging from a post on a wire fence in the yard seems pretty close to perfect.

the wide shallow bowl below is (I think) 18 inches.  

Outsideofbowl But ... 'way before I got as far as seeing the keys or the above bowl I had the previous conglomeration of thoughts while J continued to drive until I suddenly found a collection of relatively cogent words. Hey!   There's stuff back there that I want!  Didn't you see it? I didn't actually know I wanted any of whatever was in the box but by this time strongly intuited it was likely.  My level of what he called 'imperious certainty' led J to conclude (and this was somewhat disconcerting for me to process after the fact) that we'd just passed a plant nursery of some kind.  What else [apparently. per my husband.] could possibly rouse me so?

I explained as briefly as possible.  Then he turned the car around while sharing the assumption I'd seen a nursery and couldn't just let us move on without stopping.   Is that what I'm normally like when we're out driving around in the non-pandemic reality??!?  To the point he'd think I'd also be that way withIN this reality????  The questions distracted me in a way that allowed me to keep the tightest lid possible on the ingrained Pearl-indoctrination that once you saw something FREE you had to be lightning fast before somebody else got to it first.  

Insideofbowl
  The first thing I saw beyond the keys was the bowl pictured inside and out above.  I thought, since I only touched it through gloves, and it was profoundly shiny in the bright morning sun, that it was metal rather than glass.  And my eye's mind saw holes drilled into parts of the edge and then attaching it somehow to the front of the potting shed.  Putting directly beneath it a birdbath and letting the blackberry canes I'd been planning to pull grow unchallenged all around it.  Hoping/intuiting this would keep the jays away from my tomatoes.

Alas it's undrillable.  This fact led to an awareness I intend to write about in more depth.  And from there  - all during the extended decontamination period we agreed mandatory because how do we know What Went On - I've had a series of increasingly impractical ideas of how to give this object a second life/designated purpose.  Followed by how to give it a single finite (but entirely appealing) purpose in another few days.

BrushmugAlso in the box - assorted glassware and the mug above.  Intuited it would be just right for holding my brushes here in the summer studio a/k/a our dining room.

  Didn't forget about attaining this stuff but got put-off and overwhelmed when I realized the big metallic disc was actually a glass bowl so shallow only a set-dresser (or possibly the exact right kind of instagram influencer) could love it. We had so many other things going on, after all!  so I left the box lurking in our garage until J started making noises about everyone doing their part to clear away some of the [admittedly out of control] clutter out there.  Earlier this week I washed everything dishwasher safe on the extended sanitizing function.  And then considered my pandemic-induced free stuff with a greater measure of focus earlier today.  

Newvignettedish
Understood straight along I'd use the not-my-style dish of some sort (at first I thought it was the lid of a particularly obnoxious butter dish) to hold stones and shells and crystals.  Had forgotten the simple enjoyment of arranging such display bowls.   And dallying among things brought to life by the addition of previously unknown things. This tableau will need some editing and additions but for today we're in prototype-land.

SandysglassesBecause I have zero clue what was in style last year-  or five or six or eighteen years ago - I did not understand at first that these shot glasses have bubbles trapped in the glass. Prior to going through the washing machine  I thought the bubbles and blurs were evidence of a DIY event gone bad.  Think their actuality is somewhat appealing and almost magical in nature.  Because. Soon after I set them out to consider how I might transform them into miniature containers filled with even smaller things I began to spontaneously narrate deep in my brain.  Just looking at the glasses there on the windowsill gave me a viable section of new skeleton territory for The Novel. The specific scene I envisioned in a whole cloth way gave me a much deeper way-in to a character who has always existed among this crew but she was never previously given her own narrative voice or even a shimmer of POV status.

CandlestickcomparisonI thought to compare and contrast the flower-shaped candle holder (there was a pair in the box) with a different glass holder that actively reflects my personal taste and style preference.    I thought I could use one of the pair as a marking tool on my gelli plate.  While taking the pic I realized I could fill the other with sand/dirt/very small pebbles and use it as an incense holder. 

Gravyboat

Have always loved gravy boats and if I were a completely different person I would have spent some period of time heretofore tra-la-la-ing my way around flea markets scooping up an entire lifetime in the making collection.  But I'm me and in that capacity have only three - each with strong family significance.    And now i have this one, too.  I like the lines of it a lot and am fully cognizant it may be a vase.  In which case for me it will always be thought of as the gravy boat vase.

Today I studied it just as it appears.  And asked it aloud what it might like to become.  And then actively imagined it replying

think of me as a vessel of cosmic good will.

I mean, sure.  Why not?  And I can't think of anything that personifies 'cosmic goodwill' more eloquently than a cluster of amethyst crystal clusters.   What comes next for this combo remains unclear.

Amesthystclusterwet

Oldnanadish

The blue dish above has a peak old Nana vibe for me.  I mean that in terms of Pearl and her friends and my adoption of Emrie's name for grace as a collective name for them.  Between now and the autumn season of ancestors I'm going to collect small notations concerning details I recall from the women who set the tone as I grew into my teenage years.  Then some type of ceremony I might be right on the brink of visualizing somewhat cogently.

who knows.

guess this is just my as upbeat as possible way of welcoming myself to our collective new third world summertime. think we already know it's gonna be a challenge of noise and happenstance.

Buttonuncertainty


the studio is morphing in its basic purpose/need equation

Studiowindow60920

Nearly everything plant related is out of the studio for the summer season.  This always opens up the space creatively as well as spatially.  I anticipate this yearly marker with a lot of building/gathering energy making itself known from mid-winter forward.  Never knowing for sure what form it's going to take but understanding it's always something meaningful creatively.

  What's happening in this particular season's iteration involves word-slinging in a capacity I've not seriously attempted in I don't even know how many years.  Every day for almost two weeks now I've spent the bulk of my studio time writing.  It seems the closest I can come to sorting out my own thoughts, feelings, and opinions about life as it's changed and continues to put everything plutonic and massively uncomfortable right in our faces is to run deep into the wild and wacky hills of fictionland.

it wasn't a decision - or even a reflex- so much as an inevitability.  The experience has been a collaborative effort (or so it seems) because I've been living with this imaginary group of people for a very long time.  Dee Mallon somewhat recently encouraged me to talk about this/them which I did after inwardly scoffing that I didn't 'need' such talking.  Then I scoffed while writing out some - not exactly pointless but ultimately known by me to be irrelevant - plot point noodlings in a couple warm up/character voice reconnection files. 

true story:  right at this point, of which she knew no details, Dee remarked that it seemed my characters might be getting restless.  and in response I had a sense of them  (the non-existent people in my head) collectively experiencing gratitude and relief to be understood.   I actively imagined the patriarch of this clan saying I've always liked that Dee.  She sees what's there.  Nutty af but totally run of the mill fiction writer stuff. 

considered - albeit belatedly -  what's involved with writing a novel.  Realized first and foremost I'd have to get and remain diligent about committing to words ONLY what I actively saw and felt to be truly The Story.  In relation to what I knew inside my head, sure, but also what I understood/saw/felt at the heart and gut level.

this development dovetailed with:

me reaching a specific but now indeterminate mentally & emotionally unacceptable point in the past 10 or 11 days when I abruptly opened my laptop and checked all the way out because by then I was as restless as my characters. 

So there's that and all it entails going on.  Have been also considering ways I might develop a sustainable system of organizing/clarifying my thoughts on a few key non-fictional/spiritual topics of interest to me.  With the ultimate goal being a series of essays or as I'm thinking of them relatable modular units.  At the moment most manifestation of said units is at a mind-map stage with the details on that level growing a lot more focused and coherent. The main point where non-fiction writing is concerned is that I'm thinking like a communicator.  Wasn't sure if I could (or wanted to) do that anymore.  But now I am - both sure and able.  am not at all sure why but it's what is happening.

***

 have also accessed another piece of automatic grief moon writing.  This grouping pertains to both my recently observed and internally experienced forms of white fragility.  It's fairly unusual for me to let myself sit in the parts I embody without reflexively working to shade, shape, and otherwise alter the overwhelming sense I'm being swallowed alive by ideas and certainties, expectations and unresolved needs that are not authentically my own.

and yet they are quite thickly pooled within the matrix of how that authenticity has learned to recognize and define its other-ness.  not just trigger but also cause.  that's a huge perceptual shift.  Not just trigger.  Also cause.  Puts a whole new spin on acts of self-sabotage and why/how they may occur specifically when and as they do.

***

moons of realizing we are nothing like we imagined.

moons of cherished narrative and our very best

myths of origin crashing with elegant finality.

moons of disavowed emotions squirming like snakes.

slithering throughout what we thought

we knew. believed in.

and felt to be of value within ourselves.

moons of clarity we never sought

and may never learn how to embrace.

moons that laugh shrilly

at the moments when we

most need peace shrieking

youfoolyoufoolyoufool


beyond words (plus words)

Graceinclusion

Longcloth6220

Moonmadness6220

*****

wrote these words spontaneously after re-working the Lunar Annal title page background and creating some equally spontaneous collage pieces.  less than a day before shit got real in the most effed-up way yet.  bearing witness to our country literally going up in flames has given the implications of what I wrote a much deeper collective context.

*****

dark black elliptical shattered

broken scary moons.

moons to haunt the dreams of the dying

as well as the merely alive

amidst unending disconsolation.

 


mending & growing

Mendingheart

Think the title of this post might be the name of the long cloth I'm making.  As is my usual process with jude-related classes I seem to be riffing on her stated themes and what they evoke in me more than I'm following along in a more direct kind of way.    Yet this is the most direct interpretation I've attempted so far as well as soft collaboration - jude created the lovely silk pink moon with just the right size of waxing crescent to represent my birth moon.  Also Glennis created the heart and those two combined energies are one of the most natural pairings I can imagine.  The heart didn't have a tip so I patched one from the cutaway scraps.  Not sure if I'll fill in the little 'nick' on the left or if I'll embroider a rootlet/something else.

Originally I had put together the layout below.   Ultimately the silk kimono scrap wasn't working for me at a structural level.  I like to have a whole cloth ground as my base  for multi-technique sewing.  But in this case felt that defeated the purpose of piecing something directly on top of it.   So I decided to eliminate the silk section and further decided how it might be included in a different form.

Longcloth1stidea

Day before yesterday I sewed the two indigo pieces on either end of the brighter fabric.  Pieced small borders on the top two pieces to make them the same size as the bottom scrap.  Moved the indigo 'seed' down into the root section.  Will add two small seeds on the opposite side of that section and stitch their life force rising to the surface. 

The heart migrated of its own accord from one side of the image to the other.  I have ideas for how to finish this piece with an additional panel at both the top and bottom.  If I follow through in a faithful manner that part will be as time consuming as this one was simple and quick to piece once I finally got that far.  Maybe I will modify my current plan so it's less labor intensive but these days I find I really want to make exactly what I want to make a lot more than I care to be expedient. 

Longcloth51420

This morning when I took a picture of the the basted heart I had to move it around to prevent distracting light and shadow patterns made by the woodworking of my studio's front window.  But the shadows did successfully distract me all the same with their potential suggestion of leaves and stems that would be made with subtle stitch work or something more overtly embroidered.  Design options are good so long as I don't flood my mind and its eye with too many at a time.  In theory I could mark a design over the whole top using the window's larger pattern of light and shadow ...

Shadowgrowth

(also I am enjoying the fact that the hole in the heart is letting the MOONlight through.  Feels more true to my life experience than Leonard Cohen's cracks letting the light in which I always picture as something more directly solar and sharp edged than the same illumination reflected through a lunar window of glowing diffusion.