Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Ripping up the past.

The walls and ceilings were painted. The woodwork was scrubbed. And today’s the day to rip up the old carpet. I can’t wait to step on the soft, clean beautiful new floor. But I can’t help looking back as the past is ripped up from underfoot.

There’s an orange stain in my son’s room, about three feet from the wall where the end of his bunk bed used to sit. There was a chair that I used to pull out and climb up on so I could kiss him goodnight. Every night he slept with glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling over his head like a celestial night light. One night, after a big Thanksgiving dinner, he got sick from a little too much pumpkin pie.

He hates pumpkin pie to this day, but today, the stain will be gone, once and for all.

There’s a hole by the closet and door in my daughter’s room. It’s about an inch or so deep and there’s fuzz all around it. There used to be a white metal daybed along the one wall covered in a fuchsia and jade quilt with bunny prints on the wall where I tucked her in at night. She always fell asleep with a little purple unicorn tucked under her arm and a night light softly glowing across the room. She grew up and moved out to go to college. A year later, she moved back in bringing her fluffy, white kitten, who loved to dig holes in the carpet in her room.

She still loves her kitty (and so do I), but today, the holes will be gone, once and for all.

There are stains and marks and divots all over the carpet upstairs in my house. I’ve vacuumed and steam cleaned and spot cleaned probably every inch of it in the last 17 years.

This carpet's seen sweet little pajama footed feet grow into big, smelly feet. It’s seen kittens grow into big cats and old cats and die. It’s seen young pups get too old to make it up the carpeted stairs.

It’s seen a couple young and vibrant and sleep deprived cheer children through soccer, band, choir, college and, now, becoming young and vibrant couples, while they become older, closer and less sleep deprived but still bouncing in the cheering sections when needed. It’s seen accidents of all kinds caused by colds, flus, sleepovers, secret stashes of candy, cookies, drinks and, yes, tobacco. It’s seen bunk beds become big beds; toy chests become desks leaving empty indentations in the pile.

But today, all those marks of the growth, the giggles and tears, the sighs of comfort and stress, the sleepless and restful nights will disappear. The past will be ripped up and replaced by new carpet. Shiny. Clean. Unblemished. With no wrinkles or holes or stains or mats left by former occupants or past mistakes.

Underfoot is the present and in this moment, it’s brand new. I sink my feet into the soft support, smell the fresh tang of new fibers and admire the clean slate gray carpet that spreads across the room. Where our steps will lead now, I don’t know. I do have a hope, though, that this new carpet will cushion and comfort the feet that pad and walk across it in spite of the inevitable divots and dirt of life.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Giving Thanks.

It’s the simple things that make life wonderful. Usually, those simple things just slip by me unnoticed. Not today.

Today, I want to give thanks for all those simple things.

A blue sky. No rain. And a walk around a lake.

Looking up through the birch tree at that clearing sky and seeing a birds nest.

Taking walks with my husband and my sweet dog, Jilly.

Laughing at Terra terrorizing a towel. (No one was hurt, not even the towel.)

Today, like many people I give thanks for my husband, my daughter, my son, my friends and neighbors. A little breakfast delivered with kindness. A cup of eggnog and fresh coffee cake shared with love. A burger and fries and good talk.

Today, for all our abundance, health and love…I am simply thankful.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Horses and Acrobats and Love.

I saw Cavalia a few days ago and I’m still amazed and charmed by the show. It was all that was promised and more. A unique blend of music, acrobats and horses. . Yes, there were beautiful, well-trained horses and skilled riders. Men and women danced on high wires, jumped, tumbled and flew through the air. Even the horses danced.

It was stunning, amazing, thrilling and lovely. Live music and vocals. Beautiful backdrops and film clips. Playful stage props and costumes. Fast paced action sequences and graceful ballets (done by horses).

But what really stayed with me was the love between the riders and trainers and horses. I watched the riders stroke the horses and the horses nuzzle the trainers. The love story between man and horse illustrated on cave walls began early and despite faster and more powerful transportation, man and horse are still loyal partners.

Cavalia is a beautifully crafted show from beginning to end. But what it really shows is love.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Consumed by Clay: Passion or obsession?

Pots got trimmed and the wheel got cleaned before the dishes. Bowls were thrown before I showered. The cat had to bump my studio door to remind me it was her dinnertime. The dog barked at nothing to get my attention away from the wheel. Tea and coffee got cold and forgotten. Dinner was leftovers. Again.

Clay seems to be taking over my studio, my day and my life. I don’t know why. Is it passion or obsession?

I’m not a newbie to art or the art process. I’ve taken art classes for 4 decades or more. I’ve made a lot of art, paintings, pastels, collage, beadwork, fiber pieces, copper repousse’, mixed media sculptures and masks. But I have to say that I’ve always been able to leave them, sometimes for weeks at a time. I used to call this the ‘percolation’ process. I always thought that in order to have a good piece, I needed to leave it alone for a while. And the process has worked for me.

Not anymore.

I just can’t seem to do that with clay. I’m organized. I make lists and plans and schedules. Even when I plan, that today, I will get to that cleaning, errand, email, website…all of a sudden it’s 5 pm and I would, but you see, my hands are covered with clay.

My writing that was taking up most of my time last year, is moving at a snail’s pace. Even my beloved blog posts have gotten further and further apart. Because, well, I just have to get to that piece before it gets too dry. Or I just need to add this leaf or handle or texture. Really, I’ll just be a minute…then I’ll run that errand, get the mail, do the laundry. Honest. I’ll check my email, read my favorite blogs, post on Facebook.

And I will answer the phone. Honest.

I do really want to hear from you, but, well, there’s this bowl, cup, platter, vessel or face that just really needs a little water or maybe a little trimming… Maybe you should leave a message…

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Lone Goose.

I heard the honk from the sky and I didn’t think much of it. After all, geese are quite a gabby group, always honking to each other on land, water or in the air. It makes me wonder what they are all taking about all the time. I hear them honking loudly on the lake almost every day.

In the spring, I can see they’re defending their nesting territory, announcing births and protecting the goslings swimming around them. In the summer, it’s flight school time. I hear nervous parents honking warnings to goslings learning to fly and flight trainers calling out the flight path and landing patterns to the group. In the fall, large v-shaped groups of geese fly above honking loudly in continuous cacophonous discussions. I see the clashing of opinions about landing sights and wind directions as the geese formations shift and move across the sky.

But today, the honking is different. It is not a group, but one goose. The honk sounds once, twice, then silence. I stop, listen and go to the window but I’m too late to see the goose flying by. As I sit back down in my chair to write, I remember what I learned about geese years ago. Geese are very social birds. They live, eat, protect and train their goslings together. They nest in the same area where they were born. There are resident geese and migrating geese. Resident geese, like the ones at my neighborhood park fly 200 miles or less from pond to pond for food, but go back home. Migrating geese flying in ‘V’ formation travel as much as 3,000 miles from their spring nesting place to the winter shelter together honking all the way. I can imagine the discussion, “Are we there yet?” and “The food looks good, let’s stop there.” Geese are an organized, intelligent and social group. They have leaders and followers and teachers, too. And if they see a gosling out of line, even if it’s not theirs, they quickly give it a poke in the right direction. Yup, you guessed it, that’s where the phrase, ‘goosed’, comes from. Unlike ducks, geese mate for life. Once paired, they find a nest, defend it, and share hatching duties. Every year, over and over, for life.

When I heard that one goose flying alone and honking alone, I knew. This goose was alone. What happened to the mate? It could be many things, illness, attack from a predator, an accident between them and us. It doesn’t really matter what happened, because it doesn’t make the loss any less. I looked up at the empty sky, thanking the universe that my own mate is safe, blessing the goose on its lonely fall journey. And I nod my head, seeing that geese and humans may not be so different after all.

Friday, November 4, 2011

New work popping up everywhere.

As a working artist, there’s pressure to produce. Sometimes, it feels like my pieces just flow out one after another. Sometimes, it feels like a tug of war that I’m not winning.

I’m sure there are artists out there who churn out work with ease and efficiency. I’m not one of them, at least, not this week. But the weird thing is, just when I think I’m not getting anywhere at all and leave my studio in frustration, I come back the next week and there, all around me, are new pieces. And they’re not bad.

I can’t tell you how many times this has happened to me. Honest.

I walk out in disgust and total frustration only to return to a room filled with pieces in process that I find myself excited and pleased about. It seems to happen overnight and I’ve long suspected that I have some very artistic elves living in my house, who while I am asleep or working in another part of the house, step in and nudge my pieces along the right road.

This last week, after spending days working on several pieces, feeling the frustration of coils drying up and snapping, slabs cracking and screening crinkling in all the wrong ways, I left my studio to clean and redo a room upstairs. This week, I walked into my studio to find the bowl and coils had become one, the slab held its shape and the screening was ready for paint.


The process of making art is a kind of magic. It can be wonderfully exhilarating and frustrating and fun and difficult. And I wouldn’t want it any other way. Ok. Maybe I would, but then, what would those elves have to do?