Saturday, December 24, 2011

One More Thing (and on and on...)

But wait!  There's more!

  • This program sounds really wonderful:  The Studio Museum of Harlem will kick-off a series of community quilting workshops during Target Free Sundays. Join quilt and fiber artist Ife Felix in conversation with Faith Ringgold as they explore the history and significance of quilting as a collaborative activity. In celebration of the Kwanzaa principal Kuumba, which means creativity.  You are invited to participate in the creation of a community quilt.  December 29, 2011 from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Studio Museum of Harlem, 144 West 125th Street, btw Lenox Ave. and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd.
  • My neighbor in McIvers, the artist extraordinaire, Colette Urban, is selling 2012 calendars featuring images from her new work Limited Possessions.  She has carefully crafted her website so that I can't steal an image from it, but it is really fantastic and funny and will make every month of 2012 fabulous for you, guaranteed.  That is quite a bargain for $20 + shipping, so click here and order a year of fabulousness immediately!  ETA:  Wait - I found an image I could steal!  Enjoy.

  • Call it my legacy or perhaps my rightful inheritance, but while some are born with silver spoons in their mouths, I was born with silver knitting needles in my hands.  Or something like that.  All I know is that this is my Christmas present from my mom:
  • A gorgeous, wool, hand knit afghan.  In a feat of stamina that belies her 84 years, she is making one for each of her children in the colour of their choosing.  Alas, not only do I have to fight over it with Finn and Lucy, but the kittens have tried to stake their claim on it too.  I try to maintain a generous, open heart with most things but I feel the cold clamp down of possessiveness when it comes to sharing the warm woolies.  Maybe I need to make a 2013 calendar of my limited possessions?
  • Finally, I have been spinning and I do plan to stock up my etsy shop first thing in the new year.  In keeping with my tradition of never having a full shop over the busy shopping season, I will break out the goods just in time for the post-holiday slump.  It is all part of my very successful strategy of "How Not to Succeed in Business".  I will be recording seminars on this topic for interested viewers, available on VHS and Beta.  Audio available on cassette tape.
Happy New Year one and all!  1987 is going to be great!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas - Now with Canadian Content

The holiday itself is fast approaching.  As a foot soldier (doughboy?) in the War on Christmas, I will be removing Christ completely and spending the day up at the Monastery.  We will plunge into Rohatsu sesshin immediately afterwards, which will take us to New Year's day when we will silently ring in 2012.  I have heard the tradition is to sit until midnight on December 31st, and then have a celebratory breakfast, presumably with the sesshin precautions lifted i.e. it is ok to speak and make eye contact again.  Considering that I am usually running for my dear, sweet beddy-bye promptly at 9 p.m. each night of sesshin (I usually rise at about 3 a.m.), it should be interesting to see what happens.

In case you were wondering, the children will be surrounded by love and good cheer, not to mention oodles of cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents.  I get a little tightness in my throat and chest when I realize that I will be missing that festivity this year, but it seemed like the right thing to do.  One thing that cheers me is the knowledge that, next year at this time, everything will completely different.  I have no doubt that I will be much more certain about the correct path for this time of year in twelve months time.  The beauty of impermanence is that the shitty things change too.

But I do not want to end on a down note, because really I do not feel down.  I am filled with optimism for 2012.  There are so many exciting things on the horizon both large and small: some potentially crazy big or just plain crazy and some small but very exciting nonetheless, and some will be, no doubt, even more life-changing than the wild stuff that happened in the mind-boggling mess that was 2011.

In the spirit of that optimism, I offer you these two videos to bring a little Canadian content into your holidays.  The first, a lovely version of an old favourite (gotta use the proper spelling here):

And second, in case things are feeling a wee bit too cheery, a good dose of Newfoundland style holiday.  'Tis like a cold gust of wind blowing over the Blomidons, across the bay and right into your front door.

May the light of the season shine through the darkness for you!

Monday, December 19, 2011

If it doesn't fit, you must acquit

First the spaug update - my foot is doing great and I am getting back to my normal activities.  The only uncomfortable time is when I have to wear my shoes.  The one that was soaked in blood last Wednesday seems to have shrunk or stiffened up, not unlike OJ's glove.  But as I am sure OJ discovered, if you just keep wearing it, the thing will soften up again.

Good thing too because it is a busy time of year.  With doorbells ringin' and packages arrivin', it is tough to be laid up.  Today, a package arrived that contained a great present (to myself) that isn't actually related to the holidays at all.  Back when I was a rich, married woman, I asked my friend Patrick Glover if I could buy one of his amazingly beautiful paintings that always brings me back to being a child, sitting in the backseat of our family car and being driven around the north shore of Massachusetts on a rainy day by my mother.  After some back and forth, Patrick said he would paint a new picture, just for me.

I was a little nervous after I was no longer a rich, married woman about whether I could really afford to buy a painting from Patrick.  As it turned out, the answer to that was a resounding yes.** 

And voilĂ :

This photograph is but a poor representation of the painting, which is luminous and textural and contains the multitudes.  

Unlike OJ's glove or my shoe, this painting fits perfectly.  Thank you, Patrick!

** I think everyone should buy real, live art from real, live artists.  For one thing, most artists really need your money.  For another thing, real, live art is a wonderful thing to have living your house because it is alive.  That's the idea.  If you can pay for a monthly cellphone subscription or for cable television, then you can afford a modestly sized artwork by a contemporary artist.  You won't regret it, I promise.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Keep Calm and...Did I Remember to Turn the Oven Off Before I Left?

Thank you for your well wishes for my bloody foot.  It is healing nicely.  I can't seem to get Finn and Lucy to look directly at my wound yet, no matter how many times I stick it directly in their line of vision.  Finn refused to smell it as well.  Kids these days!

Alas, I must venture back out into the world today.  But before I go, I want to share this brilliant piece of cinema with you.

Citta Vrtti Nirodah.  That's what it is all about!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Enforced Relaxation

Yesterday, I had my second surgery on my foot.  My health scare was about skin cancer - the bad one that begins with a M.  It is a topic that I suspect will never be too far away given my overall paleness and reckless history of sunburns.  In any case, this time, instead of being overly freaked out, I was, perhaps, overly nonchalant.  A sizable piece of flesh was removed and I headed home via subway with my heel bandaged and taped, stopping at the bank and the drug store for some errands.  Upon arrival home, I discovered that my sock was soaked through with blood (hand knit socks, too!) and my shoe was quickly filling up.  To a chorus of "eeeewww"s from Finn and Lucy, I raced upstairs to rinse off and apply some pressure, leaving a trail of bloody footprints behind.

Boy, this story is getting gory.

Lucy suggested I photograph my wound and post it on Facebook.  I wonder how many "unfriends" I would get if I did that?  I did photograph it and I could post a photo here....shall I?

Nah.  It is red and juicy.  You get the picture.  This morning, more blood in the kitchen after I attempted to walk normally.  So it is that I am home with my foot up, missing Finn and Lucy's special presentations at their homeschool Waldorf program.  To comfort me, Lucy told me that it was ok, she would just tell the  instructor that I didn't love them.  She's such a dear.

On the bright side, it means I have all day to just sit around trying not to bleed.  Shall I fix my website?  Rewrite my artist's statement?

Or perhaps, begin that sweater I have planned and for which I recently purchased this yarn?

Anzula "Squishy" (merino, cashmere and nylon) - purchased with a gift certificate from my dear friend Jennifer from Newfoundland at Purl Soho with my dear friend Anne from Newfoundland.  Must knit this sweater and wear it to Newfoundland!

Or should I spin, having had three requests for yarn in the last two weeks? will treadling be in this current condition?  "Blood on the Spinning Wheel: The Robyn Love Story" (A possible title for my autobiography.)

Or maybe I will just read a book and snuggle with these two cutie pies.

So many delicious choices on this day of enforced relaxation.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

New York City Secrets

In the fall of 1983, I moved to New York City to attend art school.  While there have been interruptions, some have been a couple of years even, mostly it has been my home (until Newfoundland entered the picture, but that is another story).

Almost 30 years of living in New York and there are still things to discover.  For example, this:

It is a statue representing Asia on the northeastern corner of the old Customs House in lower Manhattan.  Look who is sitting in her lap.  It is Buddha at the moment of his enlightenment, when he touched the ground.  A little research indicates that most of the other symbols surrounding the seated woman are rather paternalistic and come from an imperialist mindset, but I can appreciate Buddha looking northward, surrounded by the heavy duty karmic forces at play in the financial district.  Maybe he needs to be just a little bigger, actually.

And then, this:

It is Stone Street, also in lower Manhattan.  I was amazed to discover this street that I had never seen nor heard of before.  It is in the shadow of Goldman Sachs building at 85 Broad Street.  Past history and history being made at this very moment.  It is all there at the tip of this little island off the northeast coast of the United States.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Finishing Touches

My holiday plans are not terribly ambitious this year.  Or maybe they are extremely ambitious but just don't include lots of merry-making and gift giving and receiving.  In any case, I am nearly finished with the making end of things.

It is so fun, I almost wish I had more to make.  I guess it wouldn't be hard to find someone else who needs a funky hat or scarf.  

Meanwhile, if you are in town, check out the exhibition of photographs of artists working in their Long Island City studios by Orestes Gonzalez at Long Island City Market.

Orestes came by my studio a couple of months ago and I tried to look productive and artful.  Not sure I succeeded but it was great fun to meet him and see his work.  It is a lovely exhibition that makes clear that LIC is chock-a-block full of creative talent.  Stop by if you can!

Monday, December 05, 2011

Crescit Eundo -- It Grows as it Goes

Ah, those days of unfettered racism and environmental destruction.

From all that I have been hearing and despite our best efforts, it seems that we haven't managed to kill the magic of New Mexico yet.

Get out the atlas, honey!  We have ourselves a road trip!

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Comfort Seeking Missives

When things get a bit dicey, we all have something that we reach for as a way of getting through the tricky bits.  There are healthy choices and less healthy choices.  I guess it depends on how much you want to numb and/or distract yourself.  Last Sunday, I downed two glasses of wine, which definitely numbed things in a rather pleasant way.  Until it didn't anymore.  Everything came barreling back ten times stronger than before.  So much for that option.  

What I really wanted was the simple comfort of just knowing what to do:  knowing what comes next and not having to worry through anything.  

In difficult times, I reach for my drum carder.  Rivers of colour blending together: matte and glossy, primary and tertiary, complimentary and jarring.  It never gets old.

Some might remember that two people won skeins of Wee Ball Yarns as part of the give-aways for The Avenue of Trees project.  One person claimed her yarn from an already existing supply, so that was easy. Perhaps too easy - I kind of, sort of, forgot about the other one.  But then I remembered!  The recipient told me she liked colourful yarn but not pink, so I aimed for lots of colour but no pink.  It was harder than I thought it would be to resist tossing a little pink in there.  In fact, I might have added just a little.  You know, as an accent.

Then, more recently, I was matched up with a very wonderful, special person to be her secret Santa.  She is an interesting combination of large personality and dedication to simplicity and service.

A bit of pink is ok for her, I suspect, but not any wimpy pinks.  She needs strong, powerful pinks.  I wanted to make a yarn that was mostly neutrals but with little explosions of colour.  This will become a hat.

Yes, comfort and joy.  'Tis the season, after all.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Wanted: A Real Vacation

Last winter, I went with a friend to a woman who reads Tarot cards in Corner Brook.  Many people had sung her praises and my friend is pretty devoted to her so I thought it would be something of a hoot to have a reading.  I can't say that I put a lot of store in the whole enterprise, but I was definitely intrigued and I am game to do just about anything at least once.

The woman herself was not particularly impressive - just a slightly past middle aged woman in a housecoat.  No burning incense, no crystal balls, in fact, nothing fortune teller-esque about her or her home at all.  After she and my friend chatted about this and that, and we discovered that we had both lived in Jamaica Plains, Massachusetts, we got down to business.  Other than this little tidbit about my time in JP, this woman knew exactly nothing about me.

To say she totally rocked my world would not be overstating the case.  I will spare you the details but it was almost a little embarrassing the amount of rather intimate details she went into in front of my friend (who I adore but I hadn't - yet - really bared my soul to).  In among the life-altering revelations and odd radio announcer coincidences, she suddenly turned to me and said, "You need a vacation."

I could have cried right there and then.  Because, dear friends, I most sincerely do need a vacation.  I have not taken time away that wasn't related to work or Zen practice, which contrary to what my mother claims is not relaxing, for so many years that I can not actually remember the last time.  Perhaps it was being at my parent's cottage on Cape Cod in the summer of 1997?

After a rather tough week of dealing with a potential health-related crisis and having not one but two total meltdowns (sorry, Dan), I vowed that, should said crisis be averted and I was not going to be involved in various unpleasant treatments, I would plan a real vacation.  Thankfully, the verdict, while slightly mixed, is mostly positive on the health front.  So, I am ready to plan!

Part of me wants to find a quiet place to just sit and read and knit and do yoga and completely enjoy doing nothing.  Side note:  when I said all that to Finn, he replied that it sounded like I would be doing an awful lot of something for someone doing nothing.  Then, part of me wants to travel just for the fun of it.  Lucy wants to go back to Texas and the most excellent South Indian food ever at the Taj Chat House in Irving.  Finn suggested Berlin or Tokyo, which I nixed immediately.  My only rule that is whatever we do, it can not add to the overall stress level, which has been peaking on a too regular basis for too many months.  So, airplanes are out (however good they may be for character-building).

Driving to Texas and on to New Mexico (hint, hint Martie!) is a possibility.  Maybe go through Asheville, NC?  Going back to Montreal also seems quite appealing except that we need to do this before March 2012 when I begin an advanced yoga teacher training program in ernest.  I have driven from NYC to Peterborough, ON, in January and it was not exactly stress-free so I am not sure heading north makes a lot of sense.

Ideas?  Suggestions?  Recommendations?  Finn and Lucy are ok with some car time especially if there is some pay-off (read: masala dosa) at the end.  We are thinking of taking perhaps two or three weeks in total time away.

I eagerly await your replies.