Month: January 2015

poetry: Roo

IMG_0035She sobs from loneliness,
her whole world upended
by the absence of the one she loves.
With each whistle, moan and bark,
i realize more fully:
i have been her.
Intelligence does nothing
to mitigate the sorrow
that can cling to solitude.
When the heart is focused,
demanding that one person,
beating in an echoing chamber,
an endless loop of need –
all one can do is howl.

written 1/16/2015

Darkness and warmth

roxi
Don’t blame me for your high heating oil bills, human slave.

For the past several years, the cats have defeated all attempts at weatherproofing the house with plastic.  Plastic over windows, like catnip, is completely irresistible.  Since they don’t pay the power bills, they don’t care.  Also, they wear fuzzy fur coats all the time, and their jobs are to hold the bed down (Roxi) and hug all the blankets (Martin) for at least twenty hour a day, so an argument to be made that they stay warmer than their hairless ape.

So, Saturday, i went to my friend Lara Max’s house and used one of her marvelous, vintage Singer sewing machines (getting a severe case of sewing machine envy in the process. i forgot how much i liked it) and made heavy curtains out of fabric – taping them down like i do the plastic – to stop the precious heat from seeping out the house.  Yesterday, i put them all up, took some advil for my aching back and stared at my work with pride.

For about five minutes.

Then i had to make myself feel useful.  Since i was waiting for responses for a website job, the next logical thing was to attack something on the monstrous to-do list, squatting on Stickies (the app, not actual pieces of paper) on my computer.  Of course, i wanted to choose the most fun thing…Print

So, i started working on my presentation for PKBucksport – our local Pecha Kucha event happening February 5.

Sometimes, i think i develop short-term creatively-based OCD.  i didn’t have to finish the project last night.  i already had all the slides together – getting the text done was gravy.  But try as i might, i could not stop.  i knew what i needed to say in a way that might have disappeared if i waited until morning.

i finally fell asleep at 4 am – having finished the job.  After some more advil kicked in, i slept like a baby until nine-thirty when Roo, my new tenant’s dog, woke me up with her angst (the poem she inspired will post tomorrow.)

Once i straggled into wakefulness, i found myself dealing with websites and moving furniture and stealing time to walk the dog for a half an hour on the Bucksport boardwalk while the weather was good … not doing what i wanted to do all day.  My house feels like a womb now, as though i have sealed the rest of the world out.  The light of day was muted through these brand new heavy curtains.  There is the perception of warmth, if not the reality of it.  For whatever reason, with the view of the outer world cut off, it is making the inner one light up.  It feels like words are filling this space, bouncing off the walls, floating up to the ceiling (like the bed would if it were not for Roxi’s diligent efforts.)

Transitioning my work to the house has been slow.  Except for painting and my new standing desk (yay!), everything is thrown into place, not organized and sorted.  Other labor demands several hours out of each day, and thank God for it, but i still find myself craving stillness and quiet and the chance to pluck those words out of the air and put them down onto paper.  i have written so many poems in the past week, stealing time from one task or another.  The PK writing felt like theft too – as though i was stealing something from the universe that felt indecently good – and happily will be able to give it back on the fifth.

The house is filled darkness and warmth.  i stole time to write this from the dishes, but i don’t actually repent …  the dishes are patient.

dancers

i amdancer drawing dancers, more and more dancers.  It seems like every time i sit down with pen and paper, another dancer comes out.

There is something about that fluidity of movement  – an ease that i only get through the lines of my pen, or the velvet of paint going across the canvas, or the arching beauty of a pot taking form under my fingertips.dancer4

We find grace in our own peculiar ways.  Some people can hear the gentle refrain of music and move their bodies in ways that make the rest of us feel awe.  Some can navigate a kitchen, making a meal that is as complicated as conducting an orchestra, with everything done on time. Some can take strange knobby bits of metal and make an engine that works seamlessly.  dancer3Others are able to weave words into tapestries that can evoke the strongest emotions in the readers.

Perhaps i feel this fascination because i cannot quite manage to dance well, but i follow the movements of dancers with the eyes of the artist and poetry in my soul.  From the dervishes swirling to ballet to free form movement that seems impossible to my dancer7confused legs, this act of art is like a treasure.  The immediacy of it feels like a gift – that movement as it is in precisely that moment – can never happen again.  The river can keep flowing but it is never exactly the same.

At night, alone in my house, with the music turned up so loud that i am glad none of my neighbors are close enough to be bothered, i dance.  i know it is graceless and lurching, and sometimes involvesdancer2 falling or unexpectedly slamming into walls, but i don’t care.  i am seduced by the beat. As i dance, i sing loudly and often out of key. Indeed, this evokes marvelous wholeness of being.  It brings me into joy, no matter how i felt when the music started.

i might not be good at dancing, but i fall into it, drunk on music.

The dancers i draw, they are better at it than i am.  Perhaps, they are not actually more graceful or more talented dancer6– but in my perception, they have the audacious confidence to be open-hearted, open armed and move no matter who sees them or what happens.  They are fearless in every way that i can put into ink.  They celebrate their union with creation – the wholeness of being that is expressed through limb and gesture.

Secretly, or perhaps not so secretly now, i draw these dancers to create the same confidence in myself.

Often, i find myself thinking that if i can dream it, i can manifest it.  To a degree it works – i have been able to change much about myself, become a stronger woman over time.

Perhaps, someday, i will be able to dance, if not with more grace, but with more unashamed zeal.dancinggoddess2

dancewithwildjoy

without technology’s hum

IMG_0004Since we closed the popup, i have been avoiding technology.  All the social media accounts have lain fallow, i have not even typed in the poetry that is literally gushing from my fingers.  Not content with the solitude of the house, i have been keeping myself walled off in the newly created house-studio, locked inside what had been my livingroom and spare bedroom.

Even the kitchen seems to be too convivial for my needs.  Each time i go to do dishes, i wind up listening to music and singing – which seems at odds with the peace that i am actively seeking.

Sunday, in response to some interpersonal strife, i became truly draconian – unplugging one phone and turning the other off.

i have needed silence. i have needed stillness. However, the silence has not been that quiet – it has been filled with word and image.  My heart felt too heavy (interpersonal strife-wise) to write long prose.  Instead, i focused on pen and ink haiku. As soon as the art began to trickle out again, it turned into a flood.  In forty-eight hours, i have written about twenty standard poems and i had to refill my ink jar three times, i drew so much.  i have made over 30 tiny pen and inks – this form of art feels like a compulsion at this point.  i feel agitated when i am not making art, fully content when i am.

Today, though, i have been forcing myself to work on somewhat unpleasant jobs, taking time away from the flow of creation.  I enjoyed no fewer than six phone calls to the Healthcare Marketplace (five were disconnected midway through), two to local health insurance companies, one to my current health insurance company.  But in the end, i got new health insurance to replace the plan that the old company canceled.  The dog went to the vet – he’s lost over ten pounds! – and got his license for the year.  i got more dishes done, along with the litter, and the laundry is sorted to wash tomorrow.

Practical and necessary jobs were finished.  The weariness i feel is somewhat earned. Yet, even as i type this up, i stare at the bottle and pen.  With all my heart, i want to throw myself into drawing and forget the rest of the world.  Even through the chores of the day, every spare moment i could (including the two hours on hold for various healthcare entities), i drew with pen and ink and wrote these wee poems.

Too many were just for me, expressing my current frustrations, sadness, gratitude, hope, confusion, as well as my dismay at the cruelty and oddness of people, and repeated calls to be stronger within myself.  This art made me feel a bit self-indulgent, but it helped to create. i lost myself in the flow.  Everything else became quiet.

And, now, i am overloaded again – ready to throw myself into the search for silence.

 

By Maine Hands: bittersweet closure

IMG_6357I am going to turn in the keys for the By Maine Hands popup today.

All the bookkeeping is done (only three mistakes, all caught by the same wonderful artist!), all the artists paid, and the check sent – at the request of the town – for our $263 raffle to the Bucksport Mill Crisis Fund, earmarked for fuel oil. The space itself is empty, swept and vacuumed.

Today wears a cloak of transition.

For over a month, every day was focused around that store.  I adored getting to talk to so many people – seeing what customers wanted, hearing what people dream about for Bucksport, talking about local economies.  We all share the same vulnerabilities and thanksgivings, no matter our disparate circumstances.

Ever since the afternoon of the 3rd, the popup and my studio have been depositing huge amounts of art and the equipment needed to make it into my house.  Between that mess and finishing up the paperwork for the popup, my days have been taken over.  There has been nothing left for art or writing or the other tasks of life.  IMG_6349A few poems and haiku managed to make it into the world, crowding into that space between when I collapsed from weariness and before sleep overtook me.

Instead I have been drowning in stuff.  Good stuff.  Pretty stuff.  The stuff that I have been called to make.  But, still, a lot of stuff.

So, I feel compelled to remind you that you can buy this stuff online (there will be a huge influx of work to the shop this week) and by making an appointment at my studio-in-the-house this winter.  Just email me and we can set up a time.

In all this bittersweet transition, I am still awash in gratitude.  This was such a marvelous experience and it taught me more about myself than I had expected.  It has left me dreaming like a parched man in the desert of water.  Indeed, I suspect my subconscious has it all figured out, but won’t tell the rest of me out of pure mischievousness.

As for this moment? All is well.  After I finally get this blog to publish (third try!) I will put on my snow boots, turn in the key to the landlord, and start a new page in my life.

The Blessings in New Year’s Day

studio5I love my studio.  It was part of the reason I chose this house in the first place, after working in a tiny studio in Virginia or in my condo’s small living-room.  Two floors, the upper that could be private, a sanctum sanctorum for art, and the other for teaching and messy, muddy work.  The big door to bring in canvases and (as it turned out) kilns, wheels and tables. It felt decadent.  I had space for kilns and wheels and slab rollers and tables.  I could teach and make art on a level that I had not previously conceived.

Today, Lara Max was kind enough to watch the pop up after we drew for the raffle today (we only have one more full day – given the weather coming in Sunday, we’re going to let artists start collecting their work at 2 pm Saturday) and during those lovely empty hours of the afternoon my friend Melisenda Ellis helped me with a project I had been stressing over and avoiding:  moving my wheel into the house so that I can keep making pottery this winter.  There was a huge part of me that resisted this change, even though it was unavoidable.

Heating two buildings last winter was crippling financially – I just cannot do it again.  Now, there will be times I can work in the studio – just after a kiln has fired while it is heated by red-hot pottery wrapped up inside fire-brick – but to get the bulk of whatever sculpting and throwing I want to do this winter done would require my wheel and tools to be here in the house. Praying for a miracle windfall of cash has not been as effective as making do with the resources I have: a spare room in the warm house.  By Halloween, I had moved the glazes (and the shelves required for them) to the house (again, thanks Mel).  However, the wheel had been too much for that dayDSCN5425, both physically and psychologically.

Today, even though it was cold, we had no ice, no snow and (thanks to Mel’s kindness) two strong women to muscle the equipment over.  The wheel now sits on hard plastic in my spare bedroom.  While we worked, I had an epiphany on how to protect the walls and floor from clay splatter and how to set up my tools for easy access.

A lot of them sit in the kitchen, waiting to be washed so I can start my work for the winter with that last box of porcelain.

tovanquishthesefears
to vanquish these fears – i force my arms to open – i begin to dance (one of the prizes in today’s raffle)

After Mel left and I sat here on the couch being exhausted, listening to my back mumble curses at me, I realized this was one of the best New Year’s blessings I could have gotten: two good friends willing to help me out.  Lara made phone calls for me – something that is a greater kindness than she could know.  Mel’s willingness to lend her strength and stamina to push my dreams a little further has consistently left me grateful.  A chance to continue making art – vanquishing my worries about the change of venue – is a blessing beyond compare.  If I am honest, I will tell you: I already miss the studio.  This solution is not perfect.  I will have to be quite vigilant about clay dust and mess (and curious cats) in the house.  The rhythm of my work will change, without doubt.  However, the important part is that the work will continue. New ideas and challenges already bubble up in my imagination. I already know what my first post-firing project will be – how to best use the slab roller and the work table when I can be in the studio, exploiting a brief gust of heat.

It will be another few days before the spare bedroom is ready for me to be actively throwing and by that time my back will stop complaining about today’s lifting (and it could have been so much worse – Mel moved the clay for me!)

But, today was a new beginning – like every day, every moment.  This particular beginning was proof that I am not alone in this world – that I still have good friends and my art.

Really, what more could I have asked for?