Natures Dream Catcher

I’m not sure what is going on here.  You can see the dark hole at the bottom of the hole in the tree, and what looks like a spider’s web stretched across pine needles bent into an oval.

So maybe a spider lives in the tree?

Or perhaps it’s a small animal getting ready to hibernate for the winter, dream catcher in place.

(I didn’t expect to hear the train whistle when I was taking the video.  I was hoping just to capture the sound of rain.  But when I played the video back, the train added an unexpected element to the video along with Fate’s glowing eyes.  Jon found the whole thing a little spooky.)

I still can’t get over how the pine needles are bent to create an oval and how the whole thing floats in front of the hole in the tree like a protective doorway.


A Frost For First Day Of Autumn

It’s the perfect first day of Autumn.  Cold and windy with a bight blue sky and big thick clouds that danced with the sun all day.

Tonight there’s a good chance of frost.

Yesterday I brought in all my houseplants including my forty-year-old cactus.  This evening I covered the gardens with sheets.  I think the zinnias will be fine, but the dahlias are more sensitive to the cold.

Before covering them up, I cut all the dahlia flowers (except the red ones that I have so many of, I’d never have enough jars to put them in) and my Zinnia’s too.  It’s early for a frost so the flowers can continue to bloom into October if they survive the night.

I also picked all the bigger snack peppers from the garden. I don’t know how hardy peppers are, I guess I’ll find out tomorrow.

The Wind Chimes Of Bishop Gibbons

Jon and I didn’t get to go to Bishop Gibbons as planned this week, but we do hope to get there next Thursday.

Some of the kids in Sue’s class have already made cat beds for the local animal shelter.  One girl said she couldn’t wait to show her grandmother what she made.

For the students who already know how to sew, the machines and fabrics are already being used.  For those who want to learn, I’ll be there next week to teach them.

That’s the wonderful thing about how Sue has set up her art classroom.  She has stations in separate areas of the classroom so the students can work in the medium of their choice when they have finished their assignments and have free time.

Today some of the students made windchimes using many of the old pieces of metal that many of you sent them.

Part of the beauty of working with found objects is that everyone gets to choose the objects that appeal to them. Maybe those things bring up memories or there is just something about the shape and color that is appealing to them.

It makes me wonder at the stories that might be behind those choices, behind these windchimes.

Now I can’t wait to get to Bishop Gibbons and see all that is going on in Sue’s classroom and get to work teaching the kids how to sew.

One of the more colorful wind chimes

A Circus At The Mansion

I could sense the festive feeling when Jon, Zinnia, and I walked into The Mansion.

Zinnia went ahead of us under the red and white streamers.  A big Ringling Brothers poster and more colorful streamers welcomed us into the Great Room where the Circus was going on.

The people at The Mansion came up with the idea of having a circus.  And The Army of Good helped make it possible by buying many of the games, decorations and prizes.

The room was noisy and crowded, colorful and busy.

I watched Peg and Bob compete to see who could catch the most fish and threw hoops onto cones with Claudia.  Peggy was getting her cards read by Tania, and Michael was in charge of the Roulette table.  (He told me he was used to run the Roulette table at the church bizarre.)

Ruth and her Giraffe

Ruth tried to give me her giraffe balloon but decided she loved it too much to give away.  I did notice that even the people who didn’t win the games still got prizes. There were homemade cupcakes, animal crackers and cotton candy.

I know Bonnie and the other aides worked hard to pull it all together. Many of them were dressed as clowns running the games and Tania was dressed as a fortune teller reading tarot cards.

When we left, everyone was still going at it.

The Box Next To My Sewing Machine

The box next to my sewing machine

“I want to be famous in the way a pulley is famous, or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular, but because it never forgot what it could do”  from the poem Famous by Naimi Shihab Nye

When I was in art school we had an assignment to make a portrait of someone we knew.   There was an older man in the class whose wife, had just died.

The man (I don’t remember his name) came to class and laid out some things that had belonged to his wife which, for him, told her story.  I don’t remember exactly what they were, but I do remember that from looking at the objects, it was clear she was a painter.

I thought of this when I took the picture above of the box that sits next to my sewing machine.  Not because it defines me. But because it tells the story of the things I use on a regular basis when I’m sewing, along with the odds and ends that find their way into the box.  (Those are the questions in the story.)

This box and the things in are all so familiar to me.  Little pieces of plastic and metal that help make my work possible.

I Get To Live My Life….

The song came to me last week as stacked the wood.  It came slowly.  First, a quiet tune running through my head.  It was one of those familiar folk tunes, although I don’t know what songs it comes from.

Then I started humming it, bits and pieces flowing through me.  After a while, the words came. I didn’t think about them, they were just there, rattling around in my head.

“I get to live my life, I get to live my life, I get to live my, every single day.” 

At first, I sang quietly, but as I pulled each piece of wood from the pile and placed it on the stack, I got louder.  And like the crickets and frogs, the darker it got the louder I sang.

I felt the words coming up from my belly and the truth of each one as they came out of my mouth. Soon I was singing so loud the song vibrated around me.  I had no idea what I sounded like and didn’t care.

A sense of freedom coursed through me. As if I had arrived at a place I’d been longing for all my life.

It’s all I’ve ever wanted really.  To be able to live the life I chose.  Without feeling guilty or bad about my decisions.  Without feeling the need to live up to other people’s expectations.

That song has been going through my head since last week.  Sometimes I make up new words for it but I don’t remember them from one time to the next.

This afternoon as I stacked the last of the wood, I sang my song over and over again, sometimes to myself, but mostly out loud.  So loud at times that Jon heard me in the house.

The last time I wrote about stacking wood Leslie left a comment on my blog saying….

Maria, you have organically and spontaneously (yay! you!) experienced the somatic healing that comes with “rhythmic patterned repetitive movement.” The list of repetitive, rhythmic regulations that have been used for healing trauma is extensive; I think wood stacking can now be added! 

She was referring to how I had been intentionally thinking good thoughts as I stacked the wood.

Jon always wants me to get help stacking the wood (which is kind of him) and I always tell him I like doing it myself.  I think because I intuitively understand that it’s good for me not only physically, but emotionally.

It’s a process that I use to work things through.  Similar to the way dreams bring up issues that we need to address or cleanse ourselves of.

Jon wrote about my stacking wood as work I love to do.  And how it’s not really working because I love doing it. “If there is a code that binds Maria and me as much or more than any other, it is this idea of living our lives.” he wrote.

In one version of my song, I sing that I get to choose what I do every day.  That doesn’t mean I don’t have to do things I’d rather not, or that I get to do everything I want to. But I do get to make the decisions about my life that I believe is best for me.  And I get to take responsibility for them.

For me, that’s what freedom is.

The Happy Determined Dahlia

The Determined Dahlia.

Do you remember the Determined Dahlia?  It’s the bulb I found growing in the basement a few weeks ago and planted in the Dahlia garden.

Well, it’s loving life outside. Its leaves are big and healthy.  This is a plant that had a rough beginning and now that it’s being nurtured and nourished, it’s taking full advantage and living its life.

I have my fingers crossed that it may even grow a flower before the first frost. But even if it doesn’t, those happy leaves are enough for me.

What the Determined Dahlia looked like when I found it growing in the basement.

Old Metal Things For Sue Silverstein Classroom

Some metal for Sue

I’m in my studio and text messages between, me, Jon and Sue Silverstein are flying back and forth.

School starts soon and Sue is collecting all kinds of things for her art classes. In the past week she’s sent pictures of sewing supplies, fabric, boxes of old silverware and metal things, beads, old jewelry, and shells.

The kids in her art class will use them to make Windchimes and found object sculptures.

I started my day out by going into the basement and pulling together a box of old metal.  I found a tin of keys (I made sure none of the skeleton keys worked in our doors before giving them away) gutter hangers, chains, hooks, rings, and things I can’t name.

This afternoon Jon and I are going to pick up a box of metal pieces from our friend Carolyn.  Then we’ll get a box of yarn from Dee who gave us the free motion sewing machine. Sue is already collaborating with a teacher from the school who wants to teach crocheting.

Tomorrow Jon and I will be going to Bishop Gibbons and dropping off what we’ve collected.

Jon is going to be working with a student who wants to be a writer, and I’m looking forward to seeing how Sue’s classroom is filling up.

If you have any old metal things, including all kinds of keys, you can send them to Sue at Bishop Gibbons.  She’s also looking for things like broken tiles to make mosaics, and old jewelry and beads to make Dream Catchers.

You can email Sue at [email protected]

And you can mail your packages to:

Sue Silverstein
Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons High School
2600 Albany St
Schenectady NY 12304

Thanks to all of you who have already sent your boxes of goodies.  It’s going to help make the art class at Bishop Gibbons even more special.

The Determined Dahlia Bulb

I went into the cold storage room in the basement looking for a metal garbage pail.  We’ve had a problem with mice.

Two days ago Jon picked up a roll of toilet paper from the shelf in the bathroom and dry dog food cascaded out of the tube all over the floor.

Apparently, a mouse was using it for storage.

We put out traps and this morning when I went to the bathroom, I saw the trap on the other side of the bathroom, the mouse caught in it, still alive. I knew it wouldn’t live for long by the way it was caught in the trap, so I helped the mouse meet his end.

I will not go into details, it is not something I like to dwell on.

After this, I decided I needed to put the dog food bags into a container that mice couldn’t get into.  I can’t keep the mice from coming in (I clogged up many holes in the floor around the pipes coming up from the basement with steel wool which they can’t eat through) but I can keep them from using the dog food as an easy source of survival.

I knew there was a metal pail in the basement, I didn’t know about the dahlia bulb.

It must have fallen out of one of the bags I store the bulbs in when I got them out of the cold storage room in the spring for planting.

Sitting on top of the garbage can cover was a single shriveled dahlia bulb, its roots reaching out for sustenance, a red stem at least eighteen inches tall growing straight up towards the light coming in the small window, tiny green leaves sprouting at even intervals to its very tip.

What a marvel. What a beacon of hope and perseverance.

If not for that brave, adventurous mouse I don’t know that I ever would have seen it.

Needless to say, I planted the dahlia bulb in the dahlia garden.  I put it in the shade of the other flowers so it wouldn’t be shocked by the sunlight.   I surrounded it with a little metal fence to keep it safe from the chickens and cats.

I don’t expect it to flower but at least those heroic roots will be able to suck some nutrients from the soil.  And maybe the leaves will spread enough to pull in some sunlight.

It might be able to live its life cycle, if not fully, at least enough to experience life the way it is meant to be.

When I dig up the dahlias bulbs in the fall, I will put this one in a separate bag.  Next spring I’ll be sure to plant it in a place where I can watch it grow.

I don’t know if it will survive, but I’ll do what I can to help it along.  And I’ll remember the mouse that didn’t die easy.

Full Moon Fiber Art