Hungry Eyes

November 22nd, 2015
Ancient Greek pottery at the Williams College Musuem

Ancient Greek Pottery at the Williams College Museum

Friday night I was reading an article in the New Yorker about Herculaneum. It’s the lesser known ancient Italian city that was covered by ash during the same eruption of Mount Vesuvius that covered Pompeii.

Herculaneum has only been partially excavated, but in 1752 a library of papyrus scrolls were found there.  And since then people have been trying to figure out a way to unroll  them with the scrolls falling apart into hundreds of pieces.  They’re believed to contain some of the missing writings of ancient Greek and Roman philosophers, poets and historians.   The article explains how there’s now technology that may be able to read the scrolls without unrolling them.  Don’t ask me to explain that part, I could barely understand what I was reading.

But those details didn’t matter.  I was fascinated by all the history and the descriptions of the ink and the papyrus used to  create the scrolls.  And as I was reading the article the idea popped into my head that I needed to go to the Williams College Museum.

So on Saturday, we went.  The Williams College Museum is about 50 minutes from us in Williamstown MA.  It’s small, but has a serious permanent collection.   A mix of ancient, historical and contemporary art , that is always changing, and always has a new contemporary exhibit.  I wasn’t sure exactly what I was looking for when I went to the museum, but when I walked into the room with the ancient Greek Pottery, I knew I was on the right track.

It was a big room with only a few pieces in it. I thought of how many times I’ve been to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and breezed through the rooms  of Greek Pottery.  There’s so much of it, it’s like being in one of those giant box stores, I could just never look at it all or even just choose one to focus on.  And I was never really interested in it.

There were only about five pieces of pottery and I devoured each of them with my eyes.  Then I came to the cabinet with the scrap of papyrus with words on it.  It was the writings of the Greek Philosopher Epicurus.  Not from the scrolls I had read about, but close enough.

The Papyrus somehow got me to the museum, but it wasn’t the Holy Grail.  I found myself looking at a lot of the other art in the museum with the same intensity.  Usually when I go to a museum I walk through the rooms, finding one or two pieces to concentrate on.   This time so much of art got my attention and held it.  I didn’t even realize how much time I was spending looking, until two hours later when Jon told me.   Usually we’re in sync when we go to museums.  This time it was like it was just me and the art.

I was drawn to all those fine lines in the figures on the  Greek Pottery, the simplicity and elegance.   And the clarity of the story that each vase told.  The texture and ware was visceral, some of the less preserved  images faded to nothing.   And it wasn’t the content, but was the line and the edge and the physical “feel” that pulled me to the other art I was interested in looking at too.

So I’m not sure what happened, or how this experience will work its way into my art. But I’m glad I listened to the voice that told me to go to the Museum.   It was a fulfilling couple of hours.  Like eating a really tasty meal with someone I love.  My eyes were hungry when I got to the museum,  and when I left, they were satisfied.

One of the other Ancient Greek Vases

A detail from one of the other Ancient Greek Vases (the figure on the right reminds me of a Picasso figure)





Driving with the Train

November 22nd, 2015

There’s a train that runs right along the road we take to go into  Williamstown MA.  Yesterday we drove together for a while, on our way to the Willam’s College Museum.  To me the train feels like it’s alive.  A giant sea serpent out of water,  slowly and purposefully making its way to its destination.  It takes command of the landscape, only a threat if you get in it’s way.

Coexisting with the Holidays

November 20th, 2015

xmas s carf

Last night I had a dream that I was walking in the woods and something was following me.  It wasn’t walking behind me, but along side me.  I couldn’t see it, because it was off the path in the thick woods, but I knew it was a bear.   When I ran, it ran, when I walked, it slowed down.   I didn’t feel threatened by the bear, but it didn’t feel good either.

When I looked up the meaning of being chased by a bear in a dream, I found it meant I was avoiding something that I needed to confront.

That’s when I thought of the holidays.  How they’re beginning to loom over me.  How I wish they would just go away.  Then Jon suggested that  we don’t celebrate  Christmas.  And the holidays started to feel a little bit better.  It’s been a dream of mine for a long time to do just that.  But Jon always seemed to want to try to make the day special and I didn’t want to take that away from him.

So this year we’re thinking differently about the holidays.  Not running from them, but making them what we want them to be.  And Christmas, as a day of being together with Jon, and the animals, reading, walking, taking it easy, that feels really good to me.

So when I went into my studio this morning and was looking through my vintage hankies to make more scarves, I found the stash of Christmas hankies.  I could have left them in my box, but then I knew they’d be there for at least another year.

So I decided to put them together and make them into a Christmas Scarf.  Just the opposite of what I want from my holidays.  But, while I know I’m not alone in my distress this time of year, I also know there are so many people who genuinely enjoy the season.  It has meaning for them that I’ve never been able to grasp.  So I like the idea of sending these Christmas hankies, some of them soft with wear and others stiff with having been kept safe for years, back out into the world.

They’ll bring someone some Christmas joy, not something that would happen if I left them in my hankie box.  And I have to say, I like the way the design of this scarf came out.

Also, I’m tired of running from the bear.   Maybe this year we can just coexist.

Grey Hen In The Barn

November 20th, 2015

hen in the barn

Grey Hen was in the barn this morning and she was awful chatty.  The chickens have been moulting for  a couple of months and they were looking pretty skanky for a while.   But now they’re beautiful again, exploring all corners of the farm and even laying eggs.

Gray Hen had so much to say this morning I thought I should give voice to her clucking by taking a video.  Then the light burst through the window and sudden Grey Hen was almost ethereal.  Like she was in Hen Heaven or something.   Have a look….


Minnie’s New Pillow

November 20th, 2015

minne and flo with new pilow

Well it worked.  Minnie seems to like the new pillow I made her for her box.  She and Flo were in their places when we got up this morning.

I may use a little velcro on the bottom of the pillow to keep it in place, it’s a bit slippery.

Maybe I Wasn’t Procrastinating After All

November 19th, 2015
Detail from the wedding ring quilt

Detail from the wedding ring quilt

This is what procrastinating got me.  And I have to say, I’m pretty happy with it.

Quite a few people suggested that I wasn’t procrastinating at all.  (my husband being one of them) They said it was more likely I was clearing my mind, recharging, getting to the place were the energy was aligned in a way that made what I was doing effortless.

This is a new idea for me.  And I’m rethinking how I see myself in terms of putting things off.  Some things I put off because they make me anxious (like dealing with changing my Health Insurance) But maybe it’s true that, I’m just waiting for the right time.  As long as I don’t wait so long that I no longer have a choice, maybe that’s okay.

So here’s some of the work I did on the wedding ring quilt yesterday and today….

detail  alligator


detail  collage


A Pillow For Minnie

November 19th, 2015
Minnie and Flo's cat box on the porch

Minnie and Flo’s cat box on the porch

It’s empty now, but I bet tomorrow morning when I go out to feed the cats, Minnie will be on the bottom bunk and Flo on top.  And won’t Minnie be surprised when she snuggles into the pillow I made for her instead of the hard wooden box.  I made it out of an old flannel shirt, so it’s already soft.  I do hope she likes it.

Flo and Minnie  before the pillow

Flo and Minnie before the pillow

Procrastinating Makes a Tidy Desk

November 18th, 2015


This is what procrastinating looks like.  The top drawer of my desk with my thread in it all neat and tidy.  This is not what my thread drawer usually looks like.  For me a neat studio means I’m not working.

It was around 10:30 and I just finished making a couple of potholders, enough for a batch.  And now it was time to start sewing all the pieces of fabric  I  had pinned onto my Wedding Ring Quilt.  And I really didn’t want to do it.

So I decided that I  needed to clean my desk off so I’d have a clear surface to work on. Then  This is how bad it got), instead of sewing, I chose to go on the website and try to sort through the Health Insurance options and choose a new plan.

Forty five minutes later I left a message for someone from New York State of Health  to call me back in the next 24 hours and  found I was thrilled to start sewing.

I started with the alligator because I knew that would be the most satisfying.  And it was.  It inspired me to keep going.   Some I did on the machine, which was quicker by harder to do because the quilt is so big and the machine so small.  And some I hand stitched which was easier but took longer.  It just depended on the look I wanted for each piece I sewed down.  By the end of the night  I had everything stitched down and was actually enjoying it.

Don’t know what all that procrastinating was about.  Guess it was my mind making trouble again, telling me I didn’t want to do something that I actually did want to do.  Have to quiet that mind and remember to listen to my gut.  I think I’m almost done with the quilt.  Just a few more things to do.  And tomorrow I’ll begin with the Rick Rack, I can’t wait.

A Prisoner Of My Own Mind

November 17th, 2015

new potholder

I read Russell Banks’ novel  Cloudsplitter  when it first came out.   It’s historical fiction about Abolitionist  John Brown, someone who’s always intrigued me because of his complexities.    It’s been years since I read it, but there’s one part that still comes back to me.

The story is told through the life of  Brown’s son, Owen.  He’s in the thrall of his father’s madness. His life’s choices dictated to him by his father.   At one point he meets a young woman who is unmarried and pregnant.  She tells him that in their society, a woman in her situation has very few options (she later commits suicide) but he can do what ever he wants to do.  All he has to do is change his mind.

The woman is a prisoner of her society, but Owen is a prisoner of his mind.

That idea stayed with me.  I think because at the time I read it I didn’t quite understand it and was trying to.  And now, it comes back to me because I understand it too well.

I know about being a prisoner of my mind.  Because of my beliefs,   I didn’t know I could leave my marriage if I didn’t want to be in it anymore.  I didn’t even know I could leave a family dinner if it made me uncomfortable.  I didn’t know that I could not like my father.  I didn’t know I could be an artist or be loved and desired.  I grew up in the suburbs of New York City in the 1970’s a time of freedom, experimentation and equal rights.  And I know I was effected by what was going on around me, but still, my beliefs kept me small and voiceless.

It took me most of my life to  begin the process of freeing my mind.  But those grooves run deep and if I’m walking along the edge, after just having pulled my self up out of that worn path, it’s easy to slip back in.  Changing my mind is work.  It’s doesn’t just happen because I want it to.  Because my mind is in my body too, not just my brain.  Everything has to be rearranged.  And I had to actually do it, not just think about doing it.  Again and again, until I carved a new groove.  Lots of new grooves, of my choosing, that cradled me and  led me to my freedom.

I’ve heard that the Israelites had to wander in the desert for 40 years after they were freed from Egypt because  they had their physical freedom but still had the minds of slaves.  And it takes that long to free the mind.  That makes sense to me.  It took me forty years just to understand I was a prisoner of my own mind and I’m still working on  the freedom part.




Wedding Ring Quilt…Continued

November 17th, 2015

ring quilt

I’ve changed some things on my wedding ring quilt.  This is my latest version of it.  I’m determined to sew down what I’ve pinned on so far, which is a lot, before I add anything new.   Here’s a close up of the alligator I pinned on yesterday….

alligator on ring quilt

I think I want to put a piece of green rickrack down her spine.  But I’m making myself wait till I have it all sewn down.  It will be my reward and maybe inspire me to do the stitching, something I’m not looking forward to doing.