Archive for the ‘wisdom’ Category

on aging…

Saturday, April 22nd, 2017

The end goal for finishing the Defining Moments series of 25 pieces is my 70th birthday. Since I am now working on no.19 one could surmise that 70 is approaching. Yes, indeed this is the year, should I be fortunate enough, to reach my 70th birthday. I find that prospect both exhilarating and daunting. Mostly I think a lot about how is this even possible? How can a young person like me be turning 70?! Ha. Twenty five years ago I was in the prime of my life at 44 and 25 years ahead I could be pushing 100, which in my family is entirely possible.

the key looking great past 70 is….hang out with older people!

Aging is both a blessing and a curse. I tend to focus on the blessing, keeping in mind my three dear friends who lost cancer battles and did not have the opportunity. I left two of them behind in my fifties and another two years ago.

I tend to keep my focus on my art and seeing light, color, texture, pattern and shape in everyday life. There is, especially today, so much I could be worrying about other than the next birthday. In fact too many things to worry about, any of which make the following post both shallow and immaterial.

Yet occasionally I am reminded by media, other people or even my own mirror that I am gaining seniority. The two most recent examples were a cashier at Trader Joes who spoke to me but never looked at my face. I was down there somewhere. The very next day the receptionist where I have my hair cut took my cash, made my next appointment and not once looked at me. Initially her rendering me invisible made me angry until my glass half full mindset thought how sad is it to be her and never look anyone in the eye, to never make a connection¬†with another human being. Perhaps it’s the¬†digital mindset.

And yet there are still those little reminders; the distraction while driving to barely avoid someone in the crosswalk (is it my eyes, am I going blind?), the ‘senior moment’ where I ponder is this normal aging or dementia like my¬†sister and my father before her? The dermatologist who with her tight face mentions that ‘unfortunately there is nothing available for YOUR old crepey skin and if there was I would be rich.’ Well bitch according to this ad there is something available and you missed the boat.

If only you had been smart enough to think of this, doc

…how to avoid wrinkles…NOT!

My father used to tell me, as a teenager, that I should be more concerned with what’s¬†inside than outside. (Was this before or after I was surgically altered to have a better appearance?! hmmm…good question!)¬†Still¬†we are bombarded with the media’s obsessional images of “beautiful” with¬†few¬†of the examples over 50; although¬†now 50 seems really young compared to 70! In reality the key to looking youthful is to hang around with really old people;¬†and it did not take me years of expensive education to figure that out.

And remember when flying….sit next to the window with the shade up and take copious photos of the glorious tapestry below. I’d rather be an interesting, visually stimulated old lady than a lifeless, wrinkle free digitized humanoid any day! And it is looking less likely that I will be a ‘nice’ old lady! And get off my lawn…

another defining moment…

Monday, April 3rd, 2017

Defining Moments 18: Inner Growth

I just finished and photographed no. 17 and 18 in the series. With a total of 25 to do the light is at the end of tunnel, for which I have mixed emotions. This series like life has had its ups and downs!

I LOVED no. 18 start to finish and now I am staring down no. 19 which is about motherhood. While I have written the text the design remains elusive. So I will take some time to do other creative things and hope inspiration hits me upside the head when I am not thinking about it.

Most folks who have known me for less than 20 years do not know I was a hand-weaver and spinner in another life. It all started in 1974 right after we bought our home. I signed up for an adult ed class in silk screening, but was the only person to do so. Rather than refund my money they offered me another class, so I reluctantly chose weaving.

The teacher was fabulous. She was enthusiastic and supportive and had lots of ideas, both in books and experience. We wove on a piece of cardboard that we had wrapped with string for warp. I used a purchased¬†hand-spun as weft, as¬†I was not spinning my own yarn at that time. I wove an owl which was about 12″ long x 10″ wide. Hubs cut two wood circles which I colored¬†with black circles for the eyes. I was instantly hooked¬†so¬†he made me several frame looms and an inkle loom. Shortly thereafter I bought a four harness floor loom which took up most of my current¬†studio space and set out to weave yards and yards of fabric. Because I hate following recipes or patterns and am math-averse I seldom wove enough of any one cloth¬†to make anything. That is when I really started to patch fabric and¬†create garments from¬†my woven fabrics.

I like to say that I discovered I could buy fabric already woven when I gave up the loom for art quilts 18 years ago. I sold the loom and bought a much smaller Thermofax machine for creating printing screens. The remnants of my handwoven cloth have languished since waiting for divine inspiration. Along came this series and voila! My hand-weaving was definitely a defining moment in my life. I knew from the get-go just how I wanted to present that.

I decided to make leaves of the handwoven remnants, and some garments which I actually cut into! I also used some hand-knit scraps and nuno felting which I had done in a workshop years ago. I fused all the leaves back to back and with the exception of two¬†types. ¬†I whip-stitched the leaf centers and outside edges. The two exceptions were a tumbling blocks woven in 1/4″ ribbon and a twill woven from mylar strips. Both of those were so fragile that I machine stitched an edge of Clover fusible bias.

And I wanted the background fabric to be wide enough so a tree looked balanced and bright enough to pop all the handwoven colors. It was tempting to stop at 44″ wide so as to fit a shipping carton but it grew all the way out to 51″ wide, finished. The bottom, or ground on this piece is a fabulous piece of art cloth from a mentor,¬†Els Van Baarle.¬†¬†I do believe in supporting the arts, and other artists!

fused and stitched tree branches with leaves

In designing the piece I knew the best way to stitch it would be in layers. So I stitched the background first, then I fused on the tree branches and stitched those, both in and outside the lines for depth. Then I pinned on the leaves. My initial intention was to hand-stitch the leaves on, but I started with machine stitching the aforementioned special leaves. At that point I was thinking, oh this is too easy so I machine stitched all the leaves on! I stitched only down the center of each leaf which secured it but allowed for the awesome 3-D effect.

woven mylar vest

The tree seems an appropriate image for this piece. For through 25 years of weaving and knitting I grew so much as a person. I listened to a lot of Oprah while in the studio. I read a lot of self-help books and developed a sense of self worth for the first time. This tree is really represents the tree of MY life and my growth as a creative and as a woman.

So this is my first 3-D quilt! And I am so happy with it. It is joyful, just exactly how I feel in my creative life. And it may just be the signature piece of the series!

on dream machines…

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

 

18 in process

Right after my blog post about the rationalization of why I should not buy a mid-arm machine, I decided to buy one! Two things suddenly occurred to me.

One, the idea kept resurfacing¬†while I kept shoving it down, so maybe it was supposed to happen?! And two, that I could have a big machine¬†upstairs if I simply got rid of the futon sofa in the office/guest room. Seriously how often do we have guests?! Like almost never. So why was I reserving this entire wall for the almost never guest and so¬†the dog could snooze all day on¬†said sofa? Once that came to me I felt as though I had been given a tremendous gift…aka permission to break rules, as in every home must have a guest room?!

It was quite the process to prepare for the new machine. I had to get rid of the futon sofa, have new lighting put in, shop for a machine, buy a machine and get it set up. Now all that has happened and just today I finished stitching my 2nd piece on the mid-arm. I stitched the background for no. 18 in the series before designing anything on it. The next layer will be a giant oak tree which I figured would be best stitched, if the background was already done. The top layer will be hand-stitched so much work in store.

When I learned to drive at 15 my mother drove a Mercedes which in my mind was a dream machine. My entire adult life up until about 10 years ago I was obsessed with someday buying a Mercedes. What happened about ten years ago is my non-Mercedes¬†had to go into the shop for two¬†days. I was instantly aware that I never would want to drive a car that had to be taken out of town to be serviced. So at that point I decided I didn’t much care what kind of car I drove, as long as it ran, was clean, had hubcaps,¬†no dents and¬†wasn’t American made. I do have my standards after all!

Today while stitching away listening to Cajun music it struck me that this new Juki mid-arm is definitely my dream machine! It goes really fast, only needs oil, and is not American made!  Cross that one off the list!

the muse is keeping me awake…

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

handwoven cotton vest

Anyone who makes art knows how exasperating the muse can be. There are times when she has entirely left the brain, the building and the planet and try as we might we cannot ‘rouse her, no matter how disciplined or urgent the need may be. Then there are times when she is simply there, waiting but we don’t have the time. I have learned the hard way to never let this happen. When she is present, she must be noticed, she must be paid attention to and she must be fed. I can play digital mahjong when she is fallow.

And then there are the times when she is so present, she is dancing on the table, singing off key, shouting obscenities, anything to get my attention. Here I am. Pay attention to me dammit! And do it now, this instant, even if it is 3 am in the morning. 

For me that time is now. For the past three nights I have designed many pieces of work, in my mind’s eye while lying in bed between 3 and 6 am.

I am currently finishing the design of #17 of 25 of the current series; while no. 18, 19 and 20 are pacing outside the window. That is what it feels like, as I try to sleep but all I can do is consider construction, how will I execute that idea, should I try to hand stitch all those leaves, would it work if I tried to pillowcase them or would that be an exercise in futility? How big should I make that tree, what about the background? Do I have enough in my stash or should I buy more? What color way do I want to work in? How many leaves should I make? And the most anxiety producing question of all is when I finish the piece can I actually toss out the remaining handwoven remnants?

handwoven cotton-linen bag

This next piece is about my journey through hand-dyeing, hand-spinning and hand-weaving. It began when I was in my late 20’s and concluded at 50. In thirty years I wove all kinds of yardage and made garments, bags and scarves. I sold some, I gave a lot away and I sewed and wore some. Several¬†years ago, after I outgrew most of it¬†I gathered up a big pile¬†and shoved into a drawer in my studio, the famous someday drawer. Someday I will do something with this; until two years ago¬†I realized someday is here and I need to do something with it or get rid of it. So no. 18 is that something! I am excited at the prospect of the design I wish to create and yet still clearly in discussion with muse about how to actually achieve it, to communicate the idea without destroying the woven and knit cloth.

handwoven silk shirt

Ironically I am also experiencing the call of the spring cleaning genie which I am ignoring as best as I can. I don’t want to get sidetracked into tidying when I can actually be designing. And¬†I did the really big purge a year ago so how much can there be to sort through anyway? ¬†When no. 18 is complete I can depart with whatever remains of the handwoven cloth!

The essential ingredient in being able to let go of old and prized textiles, such as my wedding dress and now my handwoven is in creating something new and beautiful from them; essentially giving them new life. I need not drag around the remnants of old life for the rest of mine. It is quite liberating this art making!

 

 

 

musings…

Saturday, January 7th, 2017

detail of screen-printed wedding dress, lace and bridesmaid dress

In 2012 right after my Dad died and I was recovering from my second knee replacement, I felt like I needed a lifeline. I had been ruminating for at least two years beforehand¬†about creating¬†a mixed media women’s art group. So I chose 7 regional artists to join me, and six accepted. One from my past life in fiber, another three I knew from the arts council¬†and¬†functions there, while others¬†I knew of their work but had never met them.

It was important to me that they be working in different media than I and that they were already established, with a list of juried exhibitions, website, sales history etc. I had been in groups where I was the only one with that history and there was nothing for me to learn. I wanted more! We had our first meeting, set up ground rules and started right in inspiring each other with our work and process.

Now nearly 5 years since, the group has redefined our intention, seen changes and moves, lost members, gained members, retaining three original and settled¬†into a very comfortable¬†dynamic.¬†Now we are a group of six, three here and three in Sonoma and it just feels so right. We rotate each month, meeting in each other’s homes and/or studios. Although my original intention was fewer fiber and more other media, we now are comprised of five who work with fiber (paper and cloth) and one who works with metal;¬†yet none of us does exactly the same work. And all of us have long marriages, which that in of itself in today’s world is¬†both unusual and spectacular!¬†One of the things I enjoy¬†most about this group is the wisdom that transfers between¬†us as we each move in,¬†out and through our individual creative processes.

Last week I had been asked, by a visiting artist friend, how much time I spend in the studio?¬†She asked me if I work in the studio every day? I laughed…hardly! It varies I said but I guesstimate I work in the studio on average 7-10 hours a week. And yet that seems so completely inaccurate to me so perhaps¬†I should keep track. Or maybe count the times I walk past the door?

In¬†yesterday’s art group meeting the subject of studio time came up.¬†Not so much from the how much time do you spend in the studio part but more from the how much time is spent in contemplation and research for each new work? It was then that I really¬†comprehended¬†that so¬†many of my waking hours are spent contemplating the message for¬†each piece in¬†the¬†Defining Moments series. In¬†addition there is thoughtful consideration of how, as in technique to implement that message so when the viewer looks at the piece they understand what I¬†am conveying.

A lot more time goes into thinking about the construction. I used to be very spontaneous in my work, and still am to some extent; but there is also careful thought¬†of just how to construct it to get the most impact; and that thought occurs everywhere, in the shower, at the gym, while driving, ‘watching’ TV, when I should be sleeping, etc. Then there is the stitching. As I am incorporating more hand-stitching into my work¬†I ponder a lot about that.

Most recently I have also dealt with my¬†inner perfection critic… just how perfect these stitches must be?! I used to say I was a recovering perfectionist but clearly there is more work to be done on that front! I find it rather¬†remarkable that I am so drawn to hand-stitching, and sometimes actually crave it, yet when I do it, it’s so tight. A good metaphor for the state of my brain perhaps. So there is more thinking about relaxing¬†which is truly¬†ironic, although a good overall trait to possess.¬†When all of this is added up it seems I spend hours and hours and hours on the process, but maybe just 7-10 hours a week actually applying hand to fabric.

hand-stitching my headscarf through 4 layers of lace, cloth and batting

That said I am putting the final stitches, by hand, onto #16 which is about our marriage, which truly was a defining moment in my life. Because I thought I would be through by now, #17 is being drafted and #18 insisted on 3 am contemplation last night.  So progress is being made on the final 9 pieces of this series, which I still very much enjoy even if it takes up most of my headspace.

So how much time do I spend on my art weekly? How many hours are there in a week?

 

 

it’s the little things…

Monday, December 19th, 2016

the image I wanted to stitch to cloth…just married (1971)

One of the things I most enjoy about this series work is I am continually challenged by how to convey my message or tell the story. The piece I have been working on (#16) these past weeks is about our marriage. A couple months ago I began the prep work by dismantling my wedding dress, which my mother had sewn from heavy cotton pique, lined with cotton flannel. This dress was so well constructed & sturdy, I could have gotten married in the Arctic in January, instead off spring in the Bay Area. After I took the dress apart, I made Thermofax screens of our vows from a fill-in-the-blank book gifted by the preacher.

I printed not only the dress fabric but some of the flannel as well. Additionally, I had retained one bridesmaid dress which was also made by my mother. The wedding theme was based on my Russian heritage. The bridesmaids and I wore headscarves and their dresses were of a flimsy, but lined, cotton voile in a red/white/blue paisley print.

the headscarf upon which I wanted the image

The dresses were ‘granny’ style with a wide ruffle at the bottom. Initially I thought to incorporate the ruffle into the new piece but nothing about that spoke to me. I decided instead to fuse different size squares onto the now pieced wedding dress background. That gave¬†the entire piece a bit of a whimsical feel which certainly was not my intention, but worked!

I hand-stitched a piece of the dress lace vertically to the piece. Then I basted my great grandmother’s hand crocheted lace headscarf to the base and hand-stitched that down. Only in doing so did I find a few areas of disintegration that previously were invisible to the¬†eye.

My idea was to then layer and hand-stitch my headscarf on top; but something was missing. It didn’t¬†quite feel right as the¬†headscarf was a large triangle bound in trim and¬†essentially blank¬†in the middle. So I decided to hand-stitch¬†the image of hubs and I walking down the aisle onto the headscarf before I stitched it to the base.

the reverse showing the image printed to silk organza

That became my challenge. I didn’t want to trace it and potentially ruin the one and only priceless heirloom. I thought of several options but none seemed right, so I asked an¬†artist friend and a mentor for their opinions. And voila, from that came the solution. I printed the image onto silk organza which I pinned onto the back of the headscarf heirloom. Then I gingerly placed it into a hoop and stitched the image through to the headscarf. Only after I lost the light when the sun went down did I realize I could perfectly see the image from the reverse side, so I flipped it over and stitched from the reverse, remembering to knot accordingly. Ah success.

the finished stitching of the image onto the headscarf

In today’s morning light I cut away the printed organza on the back side and voila! I have exactly what I wanted.

It’s the little things that bring so much joy!¬†Onward to the next layer…

 

2nd layer showing part of GGM’s headscarf and bridesmaid fabric on top of screen printed dress…stay tuned!

 

stop making small…

Friday, November 18th, 2016
scrap purses

scrap purses

One of the problems of being creative in a capitali$t society is people always say you could sell that. As an exhibiting member in artists’ co-ops, that has often been music to my ears as I have had an outlet for $tuff I could $ell!

It is also appealing from the sense that it is a great way to gain exposure for my large work while smaller work pays the rent. And I know they are some who mass-produce small items to make a profit in their respective galleries and good for them. But¬†I have long struggled with the idea of making ‚Äėstuff‚Äô just to $ell.

For me it has always been a huge investment of my time and materials with little gratification in return. I am constantly retraining my brain so that when someone says you could sell that, I take it simply as a compliment and go no further with it. And yet I forget and once again find myself in sweatshop assembly line hell. Seemingly I needed this reminder once again.

I started sewing these small purses as a fun, quirky way to use up scraps. Each one is unique, one of a kind etc. They take on average 90 mins to construct, from scraps, purchased buttons and cord straps. Initially I sold many, which justified to me the rent I paid to show my larger work; the work that resonates in my soul; the true reason I am an artist.

Last summer I received a phone call from someone who had picked up my biz card in the gallery. She wanted to know if I would sew her a custom scrap bag in specific colors to go with (fill in the blank.) I simply said no! She seemed shocked that I would say no! Would I not be grateful that someone liked my work so much that I would welcome a custom order? What kind of ingrate am I anyway? Do I not appreciate the below minimum wage I am making for these fine bags? Sensing¬†her palpable shock I added that I merely sew¬†these to use up scraps from my large ‚Äėmuseum quality‚Äô work; and that making the bags was not my primary creative endeavor. She found a quick way to hang up. I felt liberated!

Then an artist acquaintance called suggesting I take my tote bags to a nearby boutique run by a friend of her sister’s neighbor’s brother-in-law, twice removed. I could sell those in this shop! I told her I wasn’t interested. I have been down that long narrow retail hallway before, selling hand-dyed, screen printed silk scarves. It is not what I want to do with my time. She was quite annoyed that I did not relish this golden retail opportunity!

I have managed to find the strength deep within to just say NO to painting shoes for sale. How many times have I heard you could sell those while wearing my painted chucks? I have painted them for friends, because I don’t mind doing that, but no way am I going to subject myself to hours of fumes for the almighty $. And besides do you have these in pink in a size 6? NO.

This said, recently I was asked to sew up a bunch more of the scrap bags for holiday sales at the gallery and elsewhere. Earlier this year I had sewn a bunch of ‚Äėblanks‚Äô i.e. the pieced scrap backs so essentially the work was already half done. And yet I could not pry myself away my current series to sew these little bags. Finally forcing myself to do it, the first one took me nearly 2 hours to get back into the sweatshop assembly line groove. Once I got a rhythm going it was better but I kept feeling like I did not want to be doing this.

You know how sometimes you just get a feeling about something, but you keep ignoring it? Well this time it took two artist friends, in the span of two days to tell me to stop making small stuff! Stop making stuff that other people want me to make and make stuff that I want to make! DUH.

Of course then the daughter-of-the-war-bride steps in and says, yeah, but…or as I like to abbreviate yebbit.. what am I to do with all this stuff I have made (that never sold although you could sell that?!) This is where the helpful people step in and say, you could open an Etsy shop! Yeah, that is also what I don’t want to do. I want to get out of the small stuff biz entirely. So for now I will just put it all away or I may just donate it to charity before year’s end and take a tax deduction. Yes I could do that!

Some of the small stuff I have made under the guise of you could sell that is… iPad bags & large tote bags made from early quilts, matted collages,

matted collages

matted collages

portfolio folders collaged with batik & painted papers & foreign newspapers; fabric postcards and note cards. The latter sell, some of the former has sold but there has also been a lot of could I get one in red and black? Could you make these in a smaller size? Could you make four for me to choose from?

quilted tote bags

quilted tote bags

So this latest round of spectacular scrap bags are a limited edition! I am finished thinking small (she says optimistically). I LOVE the museum quality work I am doing. I am done with small.

As a friend says…NO is a complete sentence! So I continue to learn to play attention to that inner nudge and take better care of myself. After all that is pricele$$.

 

 

 

15 down, 10 to go…

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016
Defining Moments 15: Finding Mr. Right

Defining Moments 15: Finding Mr. Right

I recently finished no. 15 in the Defining Moments series! Now with just ten more to meet our goal I am really feeling the momentum. However, I must pause to whip up some small bags for the arts guild so have pieced the background of no. 16 to inspire me from the wall.

The interesting part to me of no. 15 is I probably would have given the box to charity if I had come across it before I was working on this series.¬†Thirty years ago we moved my mother-in-law to assisted living and cleaned out her home to sell it. I had long forgotten that we brought a box of hubs’ scouting stuff,¬†old photos and stuck it in the attic. Only last year when we¬†performed a massive attic cleansing did this box reappear. It sat for a while in the basement, the other out of sight, out of mind location. Then the box came upstairs and I began to look at the treasure within. By that time I had started this series and knew these items would be invaluable to it at some point. To think I might have otherwise donated to charity for some Halloween costume makes me shutter now.

detail, Defining Moments 15, Eagle Scout sash

detail, Defining Moments 15, Eagle Scout sash

So no. 15 is about meeting my husband aka Mr. Right. This piece contains his Boy Scouts of America shirt, which was pristine as it had been mounted to cardboard by his stepmother.

Defining Moments 15: detail

Defining Moments 15: detail

I also used his Eagle Scout sash and shirt, print transfers of the Eagle Scout commendation dinner, newspaper articles and a journal article about this achievement, photos of him as a teenager, high school graduation, in the Army and the insignia patch from his fire department uniform. And since we met by a computer match in 1970, I added a custom image of data cards as well.

It seems each piece I do I am learning something, gaining new perspective which is really something I did not anticipate. For example no. 9: The Homemaker was about my mother’s occupation as homemaker¬†who¬†had a black domestic who did many of the tasks. The epiphany¬†in doing that piece¬†was that my mother pretty much solely raised three children as my father traveled on business about 80% of the time. How she did that and survived is way beyond me!

No. 15 really reaffirmed what an all-American guy I met and married. A Boy Scout and Eagle Scout, Army vet and firefighter. It doesn’t get much more all-American than that, and he has been my personal hero for 45 years.

wedding dress screen-printed, background for no. 16

wedding dress screen-printed, background for no. 16

In preparation for the next piece no. 16 which is about marriage, I screen-printed and embroidered our vows to my dismantled wedding dress. I was one who never wanted to renew my vows as it seemed all too redundant. And yet in stitching and printing them I felt a sense of renewal. This is the start of no. 16 which is the upcycled dress fabric.

detail, screen-printed wedding dress fabric

detail, screen-printed wedding dress fabric

In the aforementioned box of treasure was an old photo envelope. The photos were relocated but the negatives remained and were mostly of hubs as a young lad.

I decided these also were too precious to toss so I stitched them to screening and have now hung it in the bathroom window. It is really fun!

vintage negatives stitched to screen

vintage negatives stitched to screen

long arms vs. my arms which are also long…

Saturday, October 15th, 2016
img_7477

detail stitching, no 15

For most of the time that I have been working on this series of 25 large pieces, I have been ruminating about my machine. I actually have three at present. I have a Pfussy Pfaff workhorse which does great free-motion stitch, I have a Janome 3000 for when the workhouse is in the shop and I have a Baby Lock serger that threads itself.

Yet everytime I stitch large work I get into a tug of war with the small apron on the workhorse through which¬†passes¬†a lot of fabric. Last time I took Pfussy in for service I was seduced by a mid-arm placed strategically by the door. Oooh, aaah I thought, for a mere $6K I could stop fighting with Pfussy and acquire this dream machine with its three foot table and my life would be perfect! And hey it is a lot cheaper than a long arm machine, I rationalized. I didn’t buy it, but I have given it a lot of thought.

The long arm, for example, would take up a lot of real estate but I could put it in the basement, as in out of sight, out of mind; which of course would mean standing on that cold hard concrete floor to stitch. Ok, a rug would fix that but must I stand to stitch, really? The mid-arm would allow me to sit but where would I put it?

There is nary three square feet of space available in my studio, let alone for me to pull up a chair and sit next to it. I suppose I could put it in the living room but then would have to move it for entertaining, or I could also put it in the basement, but then would have to put in better lighting to use it there. And so it goes.

This weekend is PIQF, the big Mancuso quilt show in Santa Clara, which is a perfect chance to see all my¬†choices front and center, to tear and compare. And yet¬†I decided to stay home and stitch #15 on Pfussy.¬†Apparently I don’t want one bad enough!

Today I encountered even more challenges¬†such as the machine and slanted board on which it sits, hitchhiking near the table’s edge; the dog having a¬†corner of the quilt in her mouth thinking this was a game and my ongoing covet of the slick pulley system to lift the quilt’s weight, for which I put in my order to the honey-do list at least 3 months ago. I trudged on. I fretted about my curved stitching on this manly piece. I envisioned my¬†conversation¬†at the hardware store asking in clear mud for just the part I need…I need one of those do-hickeys that cord wraps around in a figure eight. And I need a thin mat of rubber, like those round jar openers that realtors sent out twenty years ago, to put under my machine so it doesn’t walk. Huh?

Why am I procrastinating on buying a machine¬†&¬†table that will greatly enhance the quality of my life as textile artist? The real reason is I don’t know how much longer I will be doing this type of work. My brain is overflowing with ideas of work to do after this series but I don’t know how they will manifest so I don’t feel like investing in major equipment that I may or may not be using for another decade.

Or in plain English decluttering has taken possession of my brain.

lessons learned…

Saturday, September 17th, 2016
sunset on Norwegian sea

sunset on Norwegian sea

In my last post I eluded to being away from the computer for awhile…We made a trek to Norway to cruise the coast and see the fjords, which has been a long time dream of hubs. Originally we were to go in May but had to postpone the trip to fall¬†so we¬†chose these particular dates to get the best of the autumnal colors, but alas we were about a week early, and saw maybe 2-3 orange shrubs in over 5000 miles of sailing.

We also saw lots of clouds, fog and rain. In 12 days at sea, there were two half days of glorious sunshine, and surprisingly one of those was at the very far north of the planet in Kirkenes. The fjords though were fabulous! It was astonishing to me how so many people made their homes on this hardscrabble land.

We cruised on a Hurtigruten cargo ship. They sail daily out of Bergen and in addition to cargo, there is a car deck, 200+/-passenger cabins. three restaurants, a bar/lounge and laundry & excursions. I can heartily recommend this line for the same cruise as the luxe ships for half the price.

how would you like your salmon today, m'am?

how would you like your salmon today, m’am?

While the cabin was built for munchkins the food was out of this world. The first night in¬†conversation with my ‘personal server’ about my food allergies I jokingly said¬†I love salmon so much I could eat it everyday. Well, careful what you ask for! I ate smoked salmon, gravlax and poached salmon with fingerling potatoes twice a day for most of 12 days. Actually I began to skip lunch and just eat a handful of trail mix I had brought with me, to avoid the fish!¬†I had to laugh on the return flight from Oslo on wonderful Norwegian Air when¬†I was served poached salmon and fingerling potatoes! I did eat however way more than I should have of fabulous desserts and yet still managed to lose weight on this trip by skipping¬†lunch.

best desserts i have ever eaten...and not super sweet!

best desserts i have ever eaten…

I learned so much on this trip. I love it how sometimes it takes relocation for the message to get through, and while it took several incidents to come across; it finally came through loud and clear. An aggressive chap from Down Under peppering me with unwanted attention and sexual innuendos, a stumble on a levitating floor mat, a nasty head cold and finally my trick knee making an appearance all appeared as clues in my telegram from the Universe.

When I could no longer walk without assistance, we changed our plans to go from Bergen to Oslo by train, stayed two extra days in beautiful Bergen and flew home from there. I spent the final two days of the trip, hotel bound in a huge spacious room with natural light, hand-stitching. I also tweaked a lot of photos with apps which is endlessly entertaining. It was pure bliss for me while hubs traipsed through six museums in the two days, which would have bored me out of my gourd. Everyone was happy!

kaleidoscope app of kleenex from head cold!

kaleidoscope app of kleenex from head cold!

So what did I learn? I learned that after four cruising trips (Mexico, Lake Powell, the Seine in France and this one) that I really HATE sitting and staring out the window at life at 9 knots per hour!

I learned that as much as I love world travel, I am retiring my passport. I may go to Canada but that is it. There is nothing worse than having the body fail in a foreign country. Never say never, but with us both having health & aging issues, I am just not up for the long haul game anymore. Ironically in having this discussion with peers, many are hanging up the passport! It is a sad decision and yet to reinforce it I made a list. I have been to 46 of the 50 states and 17 countries; four of those more than once! How blessed am I.

I was reminded how often I am embarrassed to be an American abroad. To be away from all the election noise for two weeks, to hear no mention of either idiot running for office for two entire weeks was absolute bliss. To visit a country inhabited by adults and not childish pettiness, self-absorption, celebrity worship, media manipulation is so completely refreshing. Sure most people here are good but that is certainly not the image we project abroad. It is just embarrassing.

I got my final lesson on the trip home. In the airport in Bergen there was another woman in a wheelchair. We discovered we lived 10 miles apart and were headed home on the same flight out of Oslo. It turned out we “knew’ each other from past lives in fiber¬†and¬†knew many of the same people. She had been visiting a friend in Norway who she had visited¬†several times before. However this time she sustained 3rd degree burns over much of her body in a propane fire at a farmhouse. She was returning home after a month in the burn unit in Bergen. Her strength and courage made such a profound impact on me. And made all of my physical challenges seem quite minimal.

We’ve been home enough days that sleep is returning to normal and enjoying an intensive in dog cuddling. So as soon as I shake the rest of this cold which is holding my ‘sea legs’ hostage I will be back in the studio. I’ve postponed an October trip to next year and also plan to change another. Before we left I had booked us to go in a 3 week CRUISE¬†next year to Australia-NZ! For now just packing up the car &¬†dog and heading up the coast seems a lot more feasible.

Meanwhile I continue to post collages of trip photos on my Instagram feed.