Tuesday, August 19, 2014

tapes without measure / books without words

I was weaving a new tape without measure on a small loom, when some visitors
arrived.  I showed this list of measures that it might include to one, who said, Well, that looks like a poem.  I agreed.

Another person said, How are you going to do that?  Simple, I said. The person I'm making it for  sent me the list, and also sent a long string with knots on it, that goes with the list.  I just put the marks into the weave where they are supposed to go.  My visitors left wondering why on earth  anyone would try to reinvent the measuring tape. I feel good if my work causes anyone to wonder at all.

After a while, though, I decided to drop the string knot, and improvise.  It is a collaboration, after all.  I was weaving late, almost midnight, when a dog started to bark in town. Each time it barked, I wove in a dark blue thread, for just 5 minutes.  Not exactly a coyote's crazy yipping, but I thought it sufficed. Then, I decided the tape was long enough, and that was pretty much the end of it.

The project developed as an exchange between Velma Bolyard, artist from upstate NY, Wake Robin blog keeper, and myself: a woven tape without measure in exchange for a handmade book, seen here.  I think we recognize in each other  a similar laissez-faire attitude to what happens in our projects.  The ideas that propel them are down to earth, well grounded, but when things happen that we didn't expect, we are willing to deviate.  Her paper making and book construction appeals to me. The images she has been able to draw from detritus of the ditch (she collected the material, hortus siccus, used to make the images in my book in frozen January!) appeals to my love of graphic design, and the mystery created by shapes and line.  I see faces, claws, paws, ladders, webs, polar glaciers,  and lights-at-the-end-of-tunnels. Nothing is flat on the page, due to the line and shadow. I don't know how she does it, frankly, but I'm so drawn in. This is a graphic novel, with images that mysteriously appear and disappear in it, as I try to relocate them.   Until I realize that I am probably holding the book upside down, and everything is different, from this new  perspective.

An object that shows me the limits of my assumptions has earned its keep, as far as I'm concerned.  It doesn't even have to be beautiful, but this is.

Long ago, when I first dipped into the the www-stream,  Velma B sent me a message out of the blue. I was so amazed to be connecting to a cyber being, as if the Ouija board could possibly be believed.  In the end I was also amazed to find a small piece of paper weaving (shifu) in my actual mailbox,  woven on nails she'd pounded into the endgrain of a wood block, to make a loom.  The paper was hand spun yarn, with little knotty places.  You see how this all comes back, to her string of knots, that I used as a guide.  Now it has found a perfect place in her book.  I care for my internet friends and the ways we can inspire and affect each other's real hands-on work.  Thanks, Velma, that was fun, even if I couldn't fit "desire" onto the tape.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

lush life

The wedding party celebrated in the campground across the road, kept us awake with a band playing loudly until the middle of the night. It was a soft, sweet summer night, with a few early Perseid meteors streaking across the north sky.  The half moon was still orange, though it was high overhead, because of smoke from all the forest fires burning now in the Pacific Northwest.

We have a fresh maitake (chicken of the woods ) mushroom to shred, fry in butter and oil, and eat to our heart's content. It is a rare treat to find one wild in the woods, that someone doesn't mind us

I ride my bike everyday this summer! Today,  I climbed up the overgrown driveway where Veva's house stands, though she died years ago.  She was the artist of Avalanche back in the day, and a very sweet woman.

When my kids were little we used to find our way up this path on Halloween night,  to Trick-or-Treat.  Veva came out on her porch wearing a little Martian helmet with springs sticking up on top. Little handkerchief ghosts came flying out of the woods on strings, pulled by a neighbor boy hiding in the bushes. Her house is tangled in brambles and brush now, and my hair bun got stuck in a blackberry vine while I was climbing the overgrown path to her place.

I felt a little panicky,  as I tried to untangle my hair from the thorn bush, because it was a little bit creepy up there, and I didn't want to hang around.  There was a rock root cellar behind the house, and the door was off. It looked black inside, and If I'd been braver, I'd have gone over to have a look. As it was,  I took a couple of pictures, just to prove to myself I went up there, and to my relief,  there is no face in any of the windows!

The trailer house is still empty where a popular shade tree mechanic lived when we first moved to Avalanche, but he also died years ago.

I started this blog quite a while ago.  At first I was afraid to write words and send them out on the Internet (no, really) so I just posted pictures.  One of my first posts was a picture of the fairy candle flowers blooming along the highway.   Here they are, blooming again!

The last picture is from my friend, Judith, who was recently in County Clare, Ireland, and draped
a scarf I wove on a rock there!  What a thrill for me to see it there. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

now it's the elderflowers

These elderflower banks are killing me.  Large flat plates of creamy umbrels, and a honey scent that
envelopes me as I ride my bike through an invisible cloud of it.  I manage to keep my balance, but try not to fall for all of this. And, then I do.  The old Avalanche chapel continues to attract me, with its empty rooms, and faded, kitchen curtain folds behind old glass windows.  It's crazy out there, even in the practical daylight. After dark, the full moon's glow, mingles with, yes, clouds of lightning bugs twinkling across the hay field and a gauzy layer of ground mist.  Too Beautiful.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

more (useless) beauty

It had been a sultry day, thick air, and then storms.  Suddenly the house filled with  an amazing light. We went out into the yard and saw this show above us.

Friday, June 20, 2014

arctic dreaming

Midsummer.  I ride my bike after supper up County Hwy S. The peonies are past their bloom, now,
and shatter petals on the top of the woodstove when I try to take them out to the compost heap.  I'm still sucked in to the picture archive of N. Sweden. The archive is from 1929, not that many years ago, but it looks like something from a completely different era.  I can't explain, even to myself, why this is so rich and affecting.

I can't read a word of it, and yet there is the stark reality, not sad, not joyous.  It just seems true,
and full of mystery. Black kettles hang over smoky fires in tents with warp weighted loom woven Sami grene weaves on the walls in the background. A reindeer pelt moults against the head of the woman milking it; a midwife sits complacently beside the bed of the new mother. On the pillow next to her is the small, dark head of the newborn. It does and doesn't seem like a miracle.

Storehouses, draped with garlands of drying animal pelts, vast forest covered hills, cut by wide, fast Arctic rivers, landscape that dwarfs the lives of humans and animals. No fences. Boats and sleds, few roads.  I don't want to be there, but I'm hovering there in my imagination.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Stuff (in which I finally find a way to use the word ineffable)

Noticed this week. The cat in action, trying to connect with my head as I carry the laundry basket out to the line, some rusty gates still hanging on the back of the shed, the poppy show at the empty farmhouse along my bike ride. I've finally started a new square scarf on the loom, an idea that has persisted for at least a year now, especially after staring into these wonderful pictures far too long. I love my iPad. And last, my tape to measure the real stuff of life, the ineffable, the hard stuff to measure. Good Day!