“You can rest, while I take care of the animals,” I told Jon yesterday, “then I’ll come back to bed.” We decided yesterday that we would stay in bed late this morning.
As usual, Jon was awake before me. “I’m thinking of writing about resting” was the first thing he said to me. Then he asked me what I thought resting meant.
First I laughed. Then told him he was supposed to be resting, not writing about resting.
“But what if writing is restful to me,” he asked.
I had to think about that. And it led to a conversation about how our heads can get tired just like our body and how creatively we sometimes need headspace which comes from not working constantly. We decided if the writing was a compulsion that it wasn’t really restful.
Jon is still without his computer. Yesterday he found out he needed a new one. We’ll be picking his new computer up on Wednesday on our way home from picking up our new puppy Zinnia in Connecticut (a new puppy and a new computer all in one day!) That leaves him either using my computer (which he has already done) or not blogging at all.
So I have a feeling when I get done blogging, answering emails and packing up the potholders I sold yesterday, Jon will be sitting at the dining room table, where I am now, in front of my computer as he was yesterday.
He’ll be resting or working or doing both at the same time, depending on who you talk to.
Jon called me from the road. “Sue told me I look tired, she said I’m doing too much and need to take a break. I told her you’ve been saying the same thing and she said it’s because you and she are sisters”.
Jon was talking about Sue Silverstein from the Bishop Maginn School where Jon has been raising money and teaching a writing class.
“So, I said, What are you going to do about it?”
Jon was on his way back from dropping off his computer to be repaired in Bennington Vermont. No computer, people he trusts telling him he needs to take a break, it seemed to me like the forces of the universe were hitting Jon over the head with the idea of taking some time off.
I take Saturdays off from working in my studio and being online. Jon never takes a day off. Writing comes to him organically. He moves into it effortlessly throughout the day. Everyday.
“But what will I do if I take time off?” he asked me, kind of nervously.
Read, sleep, walk, those are the things I like to fill my time with when I’m not working. Add watching a British Mystery or two and I think this would work for Jon too.
But he can figure that out on his own.
Last night when I got home from Bellydancing, I looked in his office and saw him hunched over my small laptop, the absence of his giant computer screen that dominates the desk and room creating a disconcerting void.
Things seem right in my world when I glance into Jon’s office and see him at his desk writing. So I can understand how unnerving it must be to him not to have his computer waiting for him, like a loyal dog.
But Jon did eventually agree to take some time off. I, like my “sister” Sue, think it will do him good. But even though he says he’s going to do it, I won’t believe it till I see it.
Now there’s no question about whether or not to feed the sheep and donkeys hay. Last night’s thick layer of snow covered what was left of the grass in an icy mix.
This hasn’t stopped the animals from grazing where the sun has melted some of the snow, but now the clouds are moving in and it’s supposed to be cold for the next few days so I think most of the pastures will be covered for a while.
We let Fate in the barnyard for the first time since she cut her foot running last Friday. Her wound looks healed to me, but we’ll bring her to the Vet this afternoon to have the staples removed.
Although we didn’t let her run a lot, she seemed relieved to be back to her sheep.
I am guided by the seasons. I feel the changes and the durations physically in my body. I experience them emotionally. I try, but always fail to be as accepting of them as the trees, the animals and the flowers.
Warm autumn days can feel like the spring, the naked trees just budding instead of just having lost their leaves. Late autumn is always melancholy to me. More longing than sadness. An end, but not without hope.
And since I stopped trying to push the melancholy away with frantically focusing on the holidays, I’ve come to savor it. Like wrapping myself in a deep, warm, spicy, maroon cocoon.
Which is no doubt why I chose this batik print, called River Sunrise made by Carol Conklin this time of year to create my quilt around. And why I chose the name Autumn Comes that came from the same two-word comment that Ellen left on my blog when she saw the quilt.
The colors in the quilt reflect the intensity of the dying autumn leaves and flowers as well as the fading of color that is simultaneous.
And I remember after framing Carol’s batik with fabric how I clearly saw the reddish-orange “steps” leading up to it, like the steps of the ancient Mexican Pyramid of the Sun.
I used so many different types of fabric in this quilt, mimicking the textures in nature. Some fine and silky, printed and solid cottons, bulky and soft velvet, and corduroy and thick tapestry.
I ran my fingers along Zelda’s raw wool that hung over the stands of black buttons and under the spools of thread nailed to the post next to my studio door. I didn’t think about it, it was just an instinct.
That’s when I thought it was like a mezuzah.
I only knew about mezuzah’s, those small metal pieces nailed next to the door, that look like a doorbell without a button to push, and contain a sacred text, from what my Jewish friends told me. “Touch it before going into the house”, Lisa said, “it’s good luck”.
But I figured it couldn’t be that simple, that secular.
So I googled mezuzah and found that originally they were used to identify a Jewish household so exiled Jews could find each other. The mezuzah (which literally means doorpost) is hung to the right of the door as a symbol to anyone who comes into the house that it is a Jewish home where certain religious commitments and rituals are practiced.
According to ReformJudiasm.org “The mezuzah reminds us that our homes are holy places and that we should act accordingly—when we enter them and when we leave them to go out into the world. “
Reading this I thought how in a way, I did create my own kind of mezuzah.
Not in a religious sense, but in a spiritual one. And, I think, anyone entering my studio and seeing my buttons, wool, and thread, could easily see it as a symbol of what is going on inside my studio.
It was a few years ago that I strung the black buttons together after hearing that a friend died. It was all I could think to do. Soothing and symbolic the repetitive act of creating something of all those small parts felt productive at a time of helplessness.
They hung in my studio until I had a dream of a jester-like head on a stick and used the buttons as “hair” for the fabric head I created from the image in my dream. I stuffed the head with Zelda’s raw wool and sewed the small spools of thread between the buttons.
The “jester’s head” on a stick leaned against the wall in the living room until one day a few weeks ago, I dismantled it leaving only the buttons, wool, and thread. Soon after that, for no particular reason, I got the idea to hang it from a nail on the right side of my studio door.
There is life, death, and work in those buttons, wool, and thread.
And my studio is certainly a holy space to me. A sacred space, a “room of one’s own” that I preserve for my work. And when I enter it, it’s with a focus and intention of going inside myself to birth a creation of beauty and meaning.
Jon often writes about how God, in the mystical writing in the Kabbalah, has given humans the “creative spark” and that he warns people who squander it they will feel his wrath.
So my mezuzah is obviously not a mezuzah in the traditional way. But I do like the idea of my mezuzah reminding me, each time I pass the doorpost into my studio, that creativity is serious and sacred work.