Category Archives: in the artist’s closet

Black walnut dye, continued.

The first time I remember really seeing a Black Walnut tree was about 15 years ago when I lived in a basement apartment in Brooklyn.

There was a massive Black Walnut tree in the back yard, and the owner of the building –
(who lived upstairs and who was very fond of trees)
– told the story how their neighbor would complain that the Black Walnut tree should be cut down

(Insert incredulous, knitted eyebrow look here)

There was this complaint, because what the neighbor was unaware of, was that Black Walnut trees are exceptionally late to leaf out in Spring & quite early to drop leaves in Autumn…

Otherwise known as: misunderstanding.

IMG_1038.JPG
This is at the farm where I’ve been tending a garden this past season

IMG_1039-0.JPG
Most of the Black Walnut trees along the roadside had already dropped their walnut hulls

IMG_1042-0.JPG
…in their Autumn & Winter finery

IMG_1092-0.JPG
Here’s the paper after a three-day soak in the dye bath

IMG_1095-0.JPG
It’s possible to do a second dye but I’m going to go ahead with the Hopi Black Dye Sunflower seeds next

So time to drain the paper

IMG_1097.JPG
Let it set tipped over a bit

IMG_1099.JPG
Then turn upside down onto a towel

Thump the bottom as needed

IMG_1101.JPG
Voila

Only two sheets left in the dye basin to peel out, carefully

(The abundance of liquid pooling here shows me that I could have let it sit a bit longer to drain)

IMG_1102.JPG
Again, with care so as not to tear the soggy sheets of paper, peel one by one off the stack and lay out onto a towel to dry

IMG_1104.JPG
And after a day of drying…

IMG_1106.JPG
A beautiful small stack ready for use

IMG_1107.JPG


Good morning, black walnut dye, & mini-retreat.

IMG_1037.JPG

I’m heading out for a short retreat

Going to unplug

So the Good morning photos will have a pause

During which time, the black walnut hulls will be dyeing paper.

IMG_1007.JPG
This was after 2 days of simply soaking

Then put on the stove to boil & simmer

IMG_1008.JPG
Then another couple days of simply sitting

IMG_1009.JPG
This morning I got out the trusty dye vat & strainer
(It looks like it has a grumpy face…)

IMG_1020.JPG
This is the black walnut dye after all these days

IMG_1021.JPG

Easy straining such large material

IMG_1022.JPG

IMG_1023.JPG
Let all the goodness drain

IMG_1026.JPG
Gorgeous inky stuff

IMG_1027.JPG
In with the paper

IMG_1029.JPG
Cover it all up

IMG_1031.JPG

IMG_1030.JPG
Repeat & repeat until all 18 sheets are submerged

IMG_1032.JPG
Then set somewhere to just sit undisturbed

IMG_1036.JPG
Next up will be with the Hopi Black Dye Sunflower seeds

IMG_1028.JPG
Till then,
Blessings


How to hold the heart gently.

I’m learning

It’s a new practice

Drawing helps

IMG_0976.JPG

Going for walks

Connecting with friends

IMG_0979.JPG

Seeing what is present, and cultivating gratitude for all the goodness

What do you do?
How do you hold the heart gently through grief times?


Bucket Gallery.

Got to the garden yesterday after work

IMG_0396.JPG
(Inside out hat makes for a veryfine bowl)

And I found that the stark white of a (relatively) clean 3-gallon bucket creates a lovely backdrop for just-harvested vegetables.

So begins (well, perhaps) a series:

Bucket Gallery

IMG_0397.JPG

IMG_0398.JPG
It’s sort of late in the season, and my garden is slowing down in terms of production & variety, so fingers crossed next season I’ll keep a garden again & continue on with the series.


What if… We worked together in this way…? (Thinking about the Ebola epidemic)

IMG_0054.JPG
What if…

The pharmaceutical company which is making the formula which is has helped cure some cases of the Ebola virus…

Could have other pharmaceutical companies to temporarily pause in their production of what-is-already-in-abundance, to help in the production of this formula…?

And in this way, it would be more abundant, and therefore more available & helpful to more people….


A bit of Saturday night moon crazies

Samsara.
This is it.
I am one of many waves in this great ocean of humanity

I am trying to be kind
Trying to hold my heart gently
Trying to encourage it to open
To cultivate contentment
To hold space for myself and others
To practice being with uncertainty, which is life itself

I am not perfect
What is perfection?
Living in gravity
I break things, even unintentionally.
Challenges within & without abound

IMG_0079-0.JPG
I’m trying to stay open to this world
It flows through anyways, so may as well try to be with it

IMG_0087-0.JPG
Thank goodness and blessings for friends
For the bounty of Late Summer
And sometimes both in the same moment

All of it, all of us are made of the same stuff

IMG_0215.JPG
Thank you Spotify dance music
And
Blessings on all beings


sometimes, you just gotta stay (y)inside.

yesterday

was a very tender day

Image

i don’t really know why

i could try to point my finger in a number of directions, trying to find the root cause…

Uranus opposition? Pluto square? transits, moon cycle, mid-life unraveling…?

but the truth is i don’t really know.

Image

all i know is that being alive felt very porous

and open to the world

thin-skinned.

Image

today was grand jury duty.

Image

and today i lied and called in sick because i just felt too tender to go and listen and see

Image

so i stayed home.

i stayed inside.

(the irony of lying regarding jury duty did not escape me)

i listened to the birds, and read, & meditated, made a phone call & wrote some emails trying to forward a project i’ve been working on since 2011, ate food, drank hot water, listened to the 3 saved astrology cd’s, baked muffins, and threw out all of my old journals.

Image

they were in a box marked to be burned in the case of death, so, why was i waiting?

Image

(blue flax is one of my favorite perennials)

today, a friend & shiatsu mentor since 1995 called – it was so nice to catch up.

and so nice to be able to tell her about the tender, raw-ness, & that she understood such things.

she gave her support for taking care of my Heart Protector, for the self-care i practiced today, & encouraged me to stay in Yin until i was ready to rise up again.

and while we are well into Spring, and while it’s the time of great rising energy

Image

well, sometimes, you just gotta stay (y)inside.

Image

and sometimes, you gotta write things that your friends say on your wrist.

Image

on one of the cd’s, my teacher said: you’ve got to share the pain out into the world to heal it.

which, quite honestly, feels really naked-making, but i get the feeling that she’s right.

and so, this.

Image

20 years ago, i moved to NYC to study shiatsu.

and while i don’t practice all that much any more, i am still learning about Heart Protector & Triple Heater.

but from the inside out, this time.

Image

i don’t honestly know where all of this is headed, how things will unfold.

it remains to be seen.

i feel patient, though.

i hope it will be of benefit

this time, this composting time…

i guess only time will tell.

Image

 

 

 


internet, loneliness, & rambling about missing my elder

okay i know i’m not supposed to say this

but

i don’t feel any less lonely than usual now that i have internet

Image

(April 3rd, o yes)

perhaps this is a DUH sort of thing

i guess i had it in my head that something radical would shift once the internet was up and working

Image

but the truth is

i kinda liked having to ask my elder to use his computer

i like being all braided up with others

Image

i do

i need people.

for better or for worse, i do.

i feel at a loss without being braided up with others.

the loneliness gets too big without the connections.

Image

i kinda liked not thinking about email, Facebook, etc. for a while.

i kinda liked going for a week between email checkings, only to find that i hadn’t missed any important emails (because i don’t really get that many important emails…)

i liked asking to use someone else’s computer… sharing.

Image

sure, i got behind on reading blogs

and i was off of Facebook for a month

but

i wrote letters

i’ve been settling in to my new home

Image

(passion flower was happy for the new window)

going for walks

Image

and

been on Grand Jury duty

i don’t recommend it if you happen to not like watching crime drama in media…

alas

i go each week and watch & listen to cases being presented in ways where i honestly just want to cover my face and stick my fingers in my ears and go LALALALALALALA

Image

“it could be worse”

a mantra i learned from my elder

Image

who i miss deeply

Image

who i think of every day

Image

she’s in every flower i see blooming

Image

every twittering bird

Image

in the outfits i wear

Image

*sigh*

i do hope

to be so lucky

to love someone in such a way through time

that when the Time comes for them to go

Image

that i’ll feel a sheet-sized tear in my heart

Image

“we’re such lucky, lucky people”

(another anchor mantra)

the last day i saw her

Image

she said to me to make sure i posted it

i don’t know what “it” was or is

so i’ll just keep posting things

it just wasn’t the time to say “what?”

it was just a time to say i love you

to say good bye

to say thank you

Image

after Jury duty i go to the farm where i’m keeping a garden this season

and it’s so helpful.

Image

from a spinning top i become calm, happy, content.

my elder would have wanted Blue Hubbard squash – so i’ll be planting that for sure.

even if she’s not around to eat it.

Image

her memorial service was lovely

so much beauty

kindness

stories

Image

facets of her that i never knew about, revealed in the telling of story

such a generosity

lots of food

Image

laughter

sadness

missing

sweetness.

i think of elephants

their ways of mourning

we’re all not so different, really.

Image

 


quilt, letting go, & allowing

this is a quilt

0309141022a

first one i ever made

in the early 90’s

you can see the many rips & tears in some of the fabric.

most of the white patches were once a rusty orange color – long since faded

…mudcloth given to me by a friend back in 1992

i was a senior in college

and began asking friends for old clothes or pieces of fabric they no longer wanted.

i remember taking the bus

or was it two buses?

in order to get to Sears

i wanted a sewing machine

because i wanted to make a quilt.

the top was completed in 1993

0309141022

by then i had graduated and began working as a corps member in City Year

there are many memories in this quilt:

…the cloth given by a friend

…the shorts given by the aunt of an ex-boyfriend

…the shirt worn in the 2nd grade poetry recital

…a favorite flannel from a high school

…hem of the long pants from the City Year year

…leftover pieces from jeans-turned-shorts

…the pajamas i wore when Flecks was still alive

i’ve done some patching – but the truth is

i don’t want some of the reminders on the top layer

and recently learned about this garment recycling collection

which allowed for some space around this blanket

which is warm & which i love

but has been neglected – because some of the memories woven into this quilt

i just don’t want the reminders every time i look at it, or use it.

i tried – i tried to patch it

found some beautiful corduroy fabric

but no steam behind it

no heart.

so the other day – i cut off the top layer

0309141039

leaving the Polarfleece bottom layer

(which mostly became the top layer because i didn’t want the confrontation of the top)

sure, there are memories in the fleece layer as well

…the man i bartered with in NYC from Malden Mills – Shiatsu for fabric scraps that became my second quilt

(then given to my Shiatsu teacher)

…my first long-term boyfriend who gifted me this fabric in 1994

(peace was made here – so, while complicated, i don’t mind this memory.)

i don’t like to waste things – feels bad to just “throw things away”

because there is no “away”

(and thus the beauty of composting)

i find that i also need to bring in some breathing room – i don’t need to drag memories around if they drag me down.

so

i’m allowing myself to begin again.

which feels like a luxury, in a way.

to start over

simple, perhaps, for most

but for whatever reason

it’s challenging to simply let go, start over, & allow myself to begin again, using materials.

i suppose i owe it to meditation practice helping with this.

1224130934


one of the things i love about this retreat #2

one of the things i love about being on this particular retreat

is the community

teeth

the Sangha that weaves itself together

each person contributing to the whole

a living organism is created by the actions of each person

the sitting, the walking, the working, the silence

all movements a laying down of threads, creating a supportive blanket, a net, a web.

0928130812

now at home

i see more clearly a sort of

ubiquitous, mundane burden of everyday life

…what i see as a flaw of this culture…

(more rice)

having to do so much of it oneself.

(rice. rice. rice.)

(not to say that i do it all myself

i certainly don’t

with a whoop of joy i proclaim my love & appreciation for the people of the plows pushing the snow by…)

0103140750

it’s the little things

so many things to tend to…

food prep, laundry, hot water, etc.

yes i love my hot water

at the retreat, it was someone’s job to keep hot water in the urns

!!!!!

(split between two people… an a.m. shift, and a p.m. shift)

anyone could simply walk up and lift the lever and *minor miracle* hot water to drink.

0103140758

here at home

i tend to the hot water

put it into the various thermoses

(what a word – thermoses)

which, in the grand scheme of things, thankfully, currently, is not difficult for me to do.

and i do very much enjoy the process of taking care of house…

still, there is laundry, food to prepare, dishes to do, general cleaning, etc., etc…

0722131317

simply, there are many things to tend to.

what i love about this retreat

is the community.

each person participating

just enough, and not beyond ability.

it’s gentle.

each one contributing in some small way which supports the whole

(which supports each part of the whole)

like some imperfect perfect butcher-baker-candlestickmaker community

(or kitchen helper-cleaner-snow shoveler, hot-water-maker etc.)

like the ants working together.

or the paper mill

the gentle functional cohesion

that opens up the space for each one to practice, to sit.

i just love that part of it.

what if our world could actually be like this…?

0520130708