Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmas Treat

The dogs loved their Christmas present from Uncle Thom, who was actually the only one to give them a gift.  They each got a package of homemade treats, special treats with caviar.  This picture is before they had tasted them and I took it quickly before they could jump up after them.  I still have my coat on after walking home after a wonderful Christmas dinner.  David's daughter Martha is here for the holiday and we happily drank champagne, opened gifts (or I should say I opened gifts since everyone else had already opened theirs), and watched "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," a tradition we have had for many years.  It never loses its appeal or fails to delight us as if we were seeing it for the first time.

The rest of my day was basically spent on the phone.........long visits.  I had awakened with a feeling of general sadness that hung over me long enough to write several pages of woeful musings in my journal. I was just finishing up when Carrie called.  Immediately I recovered my good humor and have remained in splendid spirits since.  I think I was unsettled by my decision not to go to a Christmas Eve party I had been invited to.  Whenever I look at my own self imposed lack of social contact I begin to think there must be something wrong with me.  I feel conflicted, and a little weird.  I consider why I am the way I am (I don't know) and wonder if I should force myself to be more social.  It takes a little time for me to get comfortable with myself again.  It takes some time to remember that the friendships I have are just the ones I want......

Saturday, December 20, 2014

My Masterpiece

Although it isn't quite perfect, it's pretty close.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

You have to admit..........

....I'm getting the hang of it.  This is a pretty complicated design.  It's messy in places, but basically I am achieving what I wanted to achieve.  This is the point at which I will likely lose interest, although I'd like to be more sure of myself so the paper wouldn't be manhandled as much.  The progression from the upper right corner around the design shows the progress of my understanding the folds.  By the time I reached 9 o'clock I was hitting my stride.

Yesterday I had the idea of doing origami using fabric, which is not original with me by any means.  I got a piece of cloth that I imagined would hold a pressed pleat well.  As soon as I began, I realized making a grid by pressing folds presents some significant problems.  As you might imagine, once the horizontal pleats are pressed, ironing the vertical ones destroys them.  I abandoned the project with uncharacteristic resignation.
Since it was a relatively mild day (probably in the mid thirties) I spent some time changing the bedding in the chicken house.  After I put the girls out this morning I wrestled the new bag of shavings out of the car and back behind the house.  After removing the old stuff with rake, hoe, and shovel I dumped the pristine stuff.  The chickens showed their usual irritation at my redecorating and refused to go back inside.  Later, when it started to rain-snow, I went back to close them up, only to find them hovering under a small platform in the yard. I tried to threaten them with the handle of the hoe, but they know from experience that I wouldn't  really touch them.  They've never experienced a hunger pang in their little lives, so bribery with food is useless.  Finally my exuberant and cheerful "come on girls, come on, come on" finally enticed them out, but they were still having nothing to do with their clean house.  Eventually I went inside the coup and called them repeatedly until Bonnie, my boldest girl, tiptoed through the door.  Once she was in, the others followed.

How I love my dogs and my chickens.  I think I could have been happy spending my life taking care of farm animals.  In a way it's a selfish kind of happiness, because it comes from knowing that I provide everything for them, that I give them the happiest little lives they can have.....the other side of that being that they have no knowledge of any other way of life and therefore have no responsibility to feel gratitude. To them life is just what is.  They take food and shelter and comfort for granted. 

I wonder if this pleases me so much because I have never lived up to expectations, never achieved the goals set for me, never accomplished what I was supposed to.  I am smart and talented, yet a failure at everything our society expects of such a person.  I never really wanted to be that person except for my insatiable desire to please.  Wanting to please is a terrible, crippling, degrading thing. 

These are two boys who seem to have no interest in pleasing me, and I love them for it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

New Self Portrait

In anticipation of my show in May I decided to paint a new self portrait.  I haven't done one for awhile, and I plan to devote part of my show to paintings I've done of myself over the years.  Zislav Sikora, a visiting teacher from Chicago, once told me that self portraits were an important part of my work.  Though I don't know how important they are, they certainly represent a large part of the paintings I've done throughout my life.  This is a little one, 8x10, done with acrylic paint.  I'd forgotten how much I like acrylics and am glad I tried them again.  It's a fairly good likeness, though possibly a little flattering.  If that's true, it is the first one that is.  I have always been pretty brutal when portraying myself.  I don't know if it's because of a poor  perception of  my appearance (or of myself in general), or lack of ability.

This painting is the result of three days of struggle.  Usually I don't have to work so hard.  It could be because I almost had to chain myself to my easel to keep from going back to my origami.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Moving Forward

Here is a more complicated tessellation that has taken me more endless hours to accomplish.  I've done better versions, but my camera batteries died after taking this picture.  No one would notice the difference, anyway.  It's an ever increasing mystery why I am so enthralled with this project.  I have become "proficient" enough now to begin to wonder why I keep going.  It's my usual habit to work at something just long enough to think I would be able to become good at it.  It's the pursuit of the thing rather than the product.  What in the world would I do with this?  Do I have to prove to myself over and over again that there is nothing I can't learn to do if I try hard enough?

When I was a lot younger I was in the habit of becoming an expert at everything I did.  This doesn't seem to be the case now...........possibly because I don't have the time left on earth to work that hard at each thing I try.  I have been patient with my paper folding in its different forms, giving up temporarily when I reach an impasse and going back later.  In my wake there is origami insects, origami flowers, and free form paper folding.  All of these keep coming and going as my mental energy warps and wanes.  There comes a time when some time for integration of experience takes place better on auto pilot.  Yet I'm not ready yet to say good enough for now.  I have managed to succeed at quite a few of the tessellations in my book when I make just one repeat of the maneuver.  These folds are meant for repetitions, though, and that's the beauty of them. 

Before I can give this a rest, I am going to have to learn at least one well enough to repeat it successfully on a fairly large grid.  Folding the grid is, as I've said, the obnoxious part of the process and I'm not going to invest the time in making a big one until I know I won't mess it up with mistakes.  I'm trying to learn to see it as a Zen kind of activity, as I'm sure it can be.  So far, though, I've made negligible progress on that.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

An Unexpected Rush

I ordered this book after I read a review of it, but before I even opened the package I felt a peculiar thrill just from the sight of it.  It was heavy and solid in my hands, and I could feel the book's edges and binding through the brown wrapping.  It took me a short while to understand what was going on in my mind.......a book.  A book with substance, with a hard cover and with pages that could be turned.  It dawned on me that all my reading for quite some time has been on my Kindle. I have grown accustomed to its somewhat ethereal way of presenting the text that disappears with the touch of a button.  I have no expertise with the thing, and various messages often appear, seemingly random bits of information I didn't ask for.  If I lose my place, there are no page numbers to help me find it again. 

The digital world is so immediate, and each moment seems to exist by itself, a pin prick of time.  I first became aware of this when people stated wearing digital watches.  It's a completely different way of seeing time.  A clock sees the whole day at once with the hands moving through it.  One can't help but see the big picture, looking at a clock.  The present is seen in the context of a whole.  It can be almost two o'clock instead of 1:48.  It is clear on a clock that it was one thirty recently and that it will be two o'clock very soon.  I still have to translate digital clocks in my mind to orient myself in the day.  The idea of an hour, or a morning, seems difficult to conceive when every minute disappears almost as soon as one can grasp it, to be replaced by a new present, also in the process of fleeing as soon as it registers in the psyche.  I know that people brought up in my children's generation have no trouble with any of this.  They are able to hopscotch from one minute to the next and keep their balance.  I think people think differently in this digital age.  I have no opinion about whether one is better than the other.  Things always evolve, and the world is in quite a mess doing things the way my generation is doing them.

Well, quite a departure from my original thought about the book.  I adore this book without even opening its cover.  I love how the whole text is available at once, how the weight of the book feels in my lap, how the pages turn, but, like the minute on a clock, can still be reviewed at will.  The book is real in a way that the same text on my Kindle isn't.  I possess it.  It's mine, here, not floating invisibly  in the air, indifferent.  I am a slow reader, savoring every word.  It's a big book.  I have a lot to look forward to.

Friday, December 05, 2014


 Big news from downtown made the front page of the BDN.  Part of the breakwater fell apart in the middle of the night.  I haven't been to look at it, but this is quite a catastrophe.  A lot of business takes place at the breakwater. Some of the the fishing boats were damaged, and a truck parked there went down. I read that the town had just started to request bids for long needed repairs.  Certainly it will be a monumental task to repair and rebuild it.  All of the dirt in the picture is apparently what was holding it up.....dirt packed in metal boxes anchored to the ocean floor.  It will be interesting to see what happens now.

 Meanwhile, the moon came out full this afternoon and I couldn't resist taking a picture even though I knew it wouldn't do the scene justice.  It's pretty dark at four o'clock now, so this is what I saw as I walked the dogs down the street.  In the distance is Campobello, Canada.  The lights are from houses over there.  It's an hour later over there, Atlantic time.  I think Maine ought to be on Atlantic time as well.  It would prevent these days when the day starts to wane at three in the afternoon.  I guess the trouble is that the day is so short the morning would be too dark for the early business of the world.

The bottom picture is proof that I forced myself away from my paper projects long enough to sew covers for two old pillows that were ravaged by time, dogs, spilled food, and feet.  Thelma gave me the fabric years and years ago, and I have kept it in storage along with a lot of other cloth.  Thelma was a real pack rat and never wanted to throw anything away.  Instead she gave her surplus away when it became overwhelming.  I was often the beneficiary. She liked to sew, and I have lots of remnants from her projects.  I think of Thelma at least once a day and miss her still in a very present way.  Now there is yet more evidence of her in my living room.  The light color perks the room up quite a lot.  It was an easy project with a concrete beginning, middle, and end.  The product is predictably what it was meant to be.  From setting up the sewing machine, winding the bobbin, threading the machine everything went smoothly.  The scissors were sharp, the pins in the pin-cushion.  the needle flew down the seams without hesitation.  I turned the resulting squares right side out, poked the corners nice and sharp, slipped the pillows inside effortlessly.  The fit was perfect. 

What a pleasure it was to simply go from one step to the next, steadily moving confidently toward my goal.  It was all so smooth.  I almost felt sleepy as I worked, soothed by what was happening exactly as planned, with a specific end, the product of my effort floating into existence without so much as a murmur of either regret or surprise.  Now there it is, right where it was supposed to be, right where I envisioned it, looking exactly as I knew it would.

The antithesis of what my recent obsession has been............

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

A Little Progress

Well, it's good to find out early when an idea turns out to be not so good.  I finally mastered folding the square to the point where I thought I could experiment.  My thought has been that I could take old images and make something new out of them.  I guess I did that, but the results, at least with these images, are nothing I want to use.  It could be that something else would work, but I can see that random images do nothing.  I'd have to trust the power of my "inner artist" a lot more than I do.  I doubt that my inner artist went along for the bumpy ride while I struggled to duplicate a prescribed geometric form.  And even my choice of the piece of work I used was based on its size and manipulative qualities, not the image on it.

So, keep going.

(I ordered the book you reviewed, bookseller friend, but I still don't know how to communicate with you besides as a footnote to my own posts.)