Tag Archives: gratitude

Joy where it comes


The Royal Wedding. Sneakers that fit and offer support. Really good homemade gluten free cookies. Lilacs. Lichen. The strength to push a lawnmower. Friends to see movies with. Movies. Social media (yes, even that).

Honeysuckle. Flying overhead: a robin with twigs in her beak (or is it plastic?) landing at the crook of two branches, building her nest. Good books.

A coyote crossing the street at 6:30 in the morning, pausing to look at Finn and me. Disappearing behind Daniella’s place. Finn. Cloth and gifts of cloth (thank you Deb and Ginny!!)

And SoulCollage. Here’s a card made, believe it or not, while constructing the burning infernos and dark fields (actually, I started it months ago and only glued it up this week).

I am the one who adores the wind and the sky and anything that plays with the wind in the sky. I adore red — how it pops and dances. I launch kites — and images and ideas, too. My element is air; my status freewheeling. I am the one who is not afraid to be silly or stand on the edge of a chair.

Counter the bitterness

Sometimes my capacity for bitterness amazes even me. So let this be a gratitude post. Here’s to rocks that spell love out of ancient debris and planetary pressure.

Here’s to the animal companions who model joy and devotion and health without even being asked.

Here’s to the creative impulse which follows seasons and rhythms all its own, thankfully exhibiting an immunity to doubt and self-posturing.

Here’s to the birds that sing, to cleared off sidewalks, to the bobbing red head of the woodpecker out front, and to spring bulbs that continue their flourishing growth long after the flowers are gone.

And lastly, to all sources of wisdom, both unseen and seen, as well as to the tiny window of the personality willing to be cranked open and let them in (at least sometimes), I give Thanks.

Happy Monday!

PS. That cap “T” is one erroneous autocorrect that I’ll let stand. I give Thanks.

Getting show ready

First and importantly to all my readers, known and unknown: you are the best! I mean it. This community has sustained me for years and now, as the U.S. administration spirals out of control into what I’m calling a “Fox shitstorm”, you matter more than ever. Period. Thank you.

I’ve been pulling work out of the basement to air before the show here at my house. It’s “go time” with only two weekends left to prepare.

I have never been so pleased to be in possession of crappy powers of memory. Opening my plastic bags of inventory has been like Christmas! How much I forgot about! And, given how much my style and standards have changed over time, I’m pleased and surprised by how much of it I still really like.

There are at least six quilts from the Global Warming series (example above). More on that another time.

Many pretty baby blankets, this one machine pieced and hand quilted. This week, in light of time pressures, I bought a big spool of bias tape for edging. Usually I cut my own. (#amazonslut).

I’m heartened to see a number of pieces that just need edging. K and I plan also to experiment with wooden frames, where dimensions allow (there’s no time to build frames). To my mind, there’s something violative to the qualities of quilted cloth when you put it under glass or stretch it like a canvas, but I want to be flexible. I want to see how people respond. There remains a certain –ahem — lack of imagination among some buyers about what properly belongs on walls. Frames might overcome that to some degree.

Notes to self:

  • Stowing finished quilts with lavender sachets is a really good idea
  • Stowing quilts leaving price tags pinned on risks rust
  • Wouldn’t it be cool to try a quilt version of the #theunreadshelfproject?
  • Give yourself a little more credit
  • Resume practice of inserting inventory lists in stow-bags

We barely got touched by the last nor’easter but K travels to China again soon, which imposes its own set of (somewhat stressful) conditions.

And can I just say, for those of you following a certain drama in Colorado, my brother has acted the fairy godfather this week. Bless him!

Soon the rain

SCARE: watching water drip from my study ceiling onto the router positioned on the floor. Drop. Drip. At first I thought the router was clicking. But, no.

The pipe that carries condensate from the attic furnace down to a well in the basement had frozen.GRATITUDE: K was NOT in Asia or Russia and knew just what to do. It appears to be fine now.

TRICK: to walk Finn and then write a chapter set in 1744 from the point of view of an enslaved mother. Meaning : to save reading the middle portion of the Fusion gPS transcript for later.

TO DO: find a company-worthy Miso Cod Chili recipe. Go for a glazed fish with bok choy on the side or a soup with soba or udon noodles, bok choy floating?

COMMENTS, please: what is your view on how and when posting to social media becomes a life force drain? Drop. Drip.

Can’t shake this interview in the literary journal, Rattle, with poet Maggie Nelson (that was the fourth book completed for #theunreadshelfproject last week).

Or put another way: how can you use social media in a manner that DOES (fairly consistently) engage the parts of your intellect (or creative process) that is most important to you?

I’m okay with it being a little hit or miss. And maybe I value your and my posts about French toast more than Nelson does.

So it’s about balance, then?

What ISN’T about balance?

Ciao.

Forms of distress

hipstamaticphoto-508700880.644213
img_0641img_0668img_0760img_0640
img_0781Ruin porn is a thing, you know. I learned the term after Season One of “True Detective” which was set in Louisiana and featured one ruined landscape after another. This post’s photos were taken at the Aiken-Rhett House in Charleston, SC. It’s a site dedicated to preservation rather than restoration, meaning a tour affords a gorgeous array of distressed surfaces. Evidence of life, sorrow, styles, labor, wealth, oppression, and the passage of time are made plain on every surface. I love history speaking this way. I find the peeling paint, scraped up wall paper, splintered wood, and decaying furnishings so evocative. I know it would make you swoon, too.

But here’s the thing: distress of the soul does not enamor me. It most certainly does not make me swoon. It is NOT where I want to start, thank you very much Pema Chodron.

After a morning of being told how unsympathetic I am, hearing my sister’s reports of ongoing (possibly life threatening?) diarrhea, and making multiple calls to arrange the dissembling of one hospital bed and the delivery of another (there is such a long and fraught story there), I’m on to ordering sheets and mattress covers and protectors, with a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I just want that feeling to go away.

And then, there’s how the dog lunged at people this weekend! It’s discouraging, hard not to blame myself, or feel a stab of self-pity — (“Couldn’t I have gotten ONE easy dependent,” goes the whine). I’m watching Cesar Milan and adopting his interventions but worry they won’t work because I lack inner calm and confidence. (“My dog makes ME anxious not the other way around!” goes the defense). Finn’s distress might be partly physical, too — oh how he itches lately! He’s always been allergic, but that too has worsened. So far efforts to identify an allergen have failed.

Writing’s hard and sometimes (truthfully — OFTEN) I just hate it. Love it. Hate it.

There’s a new house renovation four doors up the street, meaning the summer of ’17 now rolls into its ninth or tenth week of jack hammering. On Friday I just couldn’t take it anymore and fled the house as if my pants were on fire. Writing in a coffee shop turned out to be a good thing, but still…

Then there’s the absence of compensatory external rewards, like you know, a paycheck or communicative children.

Image result for monty python it could always be worse

from “The Holy Grail”

I DO KNOW it could be worse, because it could always be worse. (Think: Monty Python’s crucified characters singing: “always look on the bright side of life!”).

For instance, I just read about a father who traveled to Texas last week with his family so his son could have brain surgery. The parents were stranded at the hotel, unable to visit their hospitalized boy on account of the flooding. The poor man said, “It’s bad enough that my son has to have brain surgery without also having to deal with a hurricane.”

So yeah. I have a lot to be grateful for. Today? The sun, the cool air, the time to write, the financial support to write, a stocked fridge, noise-cancelling headphones, tons of state-sponsored care for my sister, an upcoming trip to see Son #2, the coming of fall, friends, ice cream.

Ta-da! What’s on your gratitude or complaint list today?

Accidental beauty

Accidental Beauty

Look at the clipped grasses! The curb with its
divets. Tell me, could the ribbons of tar
shining in the midday sun be
any more gorgeous?

I’m waiting
for the light to turn, for the grey
hulk of hospital to leave the rearview —
waiting for the return of things
or the start of them, or even the
end.

Impatience is a surly thief!

And, shopping, a deficient religion.
I should have known better.
By the time I arrive,
the capris of summer are picked over.

Meanwhile, my sister’s heart flutters
in uncertain alarm and children
dead from cholera in Yemen pile up,
200, 300.
Somehow, I’m alive and shopping for pants.

In the swanky interior, the clack of my sandals
on the polished geometry stirs
sorrow. How it is these days.
“This is it,” my shoes percuss. “This is it.”

Going one place to another, you are never
anywhere but here.

Impatience acts the rude interloper
while uncertainty takes you to your knees.

Later, but not much, I slap my notebook
on the shiny ebon surface of a grand piano
and pull a pen out of my hair. One of
two. There, in the sunlit atrium, a prop of luxury
holds my weight. To one side, the familiar
bronze statue of girl and dog and to the other,
an absence I can’t get used to even though
the beloved fountain’s been gone for years.

(All those pennies tossed and wishes made
two little tow-heads at my side —
where are they now — pennies, wishes, and
boys turned brown-haired men?)

Regret followed far enough
takes you to love.

The Tiffany’s clerk paces
behind jewel-filled cases, not sure
what to make of a woman writing in fury
in the middle of the morning, in the middle of
the atrium and where did
that notebook come from anyway?

the ribbons of tar, the cement divets
polished geometry, regret,
bronze.

Oh tissue first, silver medallion next and finally,
the tasteful grey bag. The clerk chirps
“Have a good day of shopping,” even as
my ribs smolder about to combust, one hour
being thirty minutes too long.

How much time do we have? Ever?

Tick. Tick. Swipe. Delete.

How much time do we have
to be kind, to be kind,
to preserve the republic?

Fairness gone amok in every quarter
makes a girl want to cry —
even a girl who never cries.
No wonder the ordinary sound
of sandals clacking on
polished tile calls out, “Wake up!
This is it!” rattling up a
ferocious grief twinned
with gratitude.

“These are no ordinary times.” Say.
Repeat. Do nothing. The acts
held in reserve depend on gross
miscalculations of risk — as if we
have time and time and more time?

Tick. Tick. Delete. Swipe.

Regret followed far enough
leads to damnation.

Would the clerk in Tiffany’s understand
why a woman wails in the bathroom
corridor given our collective failure
or would she choose not to hear?

You lean your frantic frame against the
silent instrument, hoping to leave
behind more than the echoes of impatience
or a sweaty hand print that the cleaners
will have to buff off later.

Let me be kind. Let me speak up. Let
me pause long enough
to give thanks.

Regret expressed deeply enough always
turns into prayer.

The ribbons of tar, the polished geometry,
vanished pools and children, wishes
gathered and held in regions unknown.




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