The “Re” Nobody Tells You About

Out1

I married a man
who developed a strong, solid good
reputation in his career field
for being a man
of integrity,
a man who keeps his word,
a man who is patient
a man who understands that
everybody at the table needs to make money.

I married a man
who, despite building an impressive career,
never missed a soccer game
or a stage performance
or a parents’ night.

I married a man
who enjoys cooking
(and not just on the grill)
and grocery shopping
(except during The Season)
and tending a garden
(when the crows leave him enough to tend).

I married a man
who literally swept me into his arms
and carried me out of the church
because the car that hit me six weeks before
broke my knee.
A man continues to
sweep me off my feet
in ways large
and small.

In in the past 41 years,
I’ve married this man many times over,
only once
when we stood in front of a group of people,
repeating the words of a preacher I never particularly liked.
Every other time
the vows have been quiet, private vows
of laughter
of hand-holding
of listening
of sharing a look
of sharing the look
of being quiet
of staying.
Because in 41 years of togetherness,
you learn that
marriage is a series of re-marriages.

JeanneAndyPreWeddingResized

On Creative Authority

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I am gobsmacked with these drawings.

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with Nancy’s use of color.

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It’s obvious that she’s making choices.
She’s also filling the page, and that’s significant.

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I just had no idea how on earth I’ll stitch these drawings, so I turned a few into fabric then stitched over it by hand. There’s still a learning curve ahead of me to avoid the pixillation of the images, but I’m rather liking this choice, this direction I’m taking with In Our Own Language 10. Yes, I’ve skipped from In Our Own Language 3 to In Our Own Language 10 cause when ideas and inspiration comes to visit, I invite them in for tea. (Sweet tea, of course, in a big ole’ Mason jar that sweats in the summertime heat of The South. But you knew that.)

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The vessel I stitched is a shape Nancy uses a lot.
Sometimes with pencil strokes,

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sometimes with space.

I want to do more with that shape, with that vessel.

 

I reorganized The Dissenter’s Chapel (a.k.a. my studio) this weekend. Had to take down the quotes scribbled on slips of paper that decorated my Wall of Fortitude to make room for something else. This is one of my all-time favorites:

“Creative authority is when you believe in yourself. You don’t hedge it, you don’t say ‘but it’s not true for everybody’ – you say ‘This is the way it is’, and not everybody sees it.” Ellie Epp, the faculty advisor I worked with my third semester of graduate school, wrote me that.

a weekend well spent

dolly parton sings “it’s just a little bitty puissant country place, nothin’ much to see.” the words she uses to describe what is reported to be the best little whorehouse in texas are the same words i use to describe The Dissenter’s Chapel (a.k.a. my studio).

(but i don’t sing it.)

(you’re welcome.)

Andybuilds

Before1

Cubby2

i spent the weekend (re)organizing my studio for the umpteenth time
after andy (my fabulous husband)
built me some cubbies that my fabric now calls home.
in a studio this small,
when you move one thing,
you move everything.
and everything must serve multiple uses.

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quilts, for example,

Mannequin2

become a pedestal for the mannequin that wears not one but two party frocks.
(there’s another one underneath this periwinkle beauty.)

having so much in plain sight
makes for a constant battle between
inspiration
and visual clutter.
on my list of things to think about
is how to attach a shade to the
new cubbies.
maybe i can even find a way for it
to double as a designing wall.

Flower2

Flower3

even with all the reorganizing,
i still took walks
to get my steps in, you know

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and i finished
stitching all the drawings (271, but who’s counting)
for In Our Own Language 3.

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tomorrow i start fiddling around
with this fabric and this hand dyed thread
to figure out the border.

in the home stretch . . . well actually, sliding into third base is more like it

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as i stitch, i wonder what nancy’s thinking as she draws.
what she’s trying to say.

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i marvel at how most of her drawings are one stroke.
she puts the pen to the paper
and doesn’t pick it up till she’s finished
with that particular drawing.
the “x” tells me which side is the top.

i have 37 of the 271 drawings left to stitch
on In Our Own Language 3.
if i stitch 4 drawings a day, i’ll be starting on the border before the end of the month.
join me in a squeal of excited anticipation?

Bigassmoth

miss luna moth came to visit my studio last week.
thank goodness she stayed on the other side of the glass
cause you know: moths and cloths don’t exactly go together like a horse and carriage.
but then i guess that depends on whether you’re asking me or the moth.

///

susan lenz, one of the most prolific artists i know,
tagged me in her blog post today. go here
to read more about her process and what she’s currently up to
(she really does turn the proverbial sow’s ear into a silk purse.)
and stop back by next monday when i’ll answer the questions
about process and productivity.

getting organized and taking stock

Stackofnancysdrawings04july2014

where other girls wore pretty necklaces and lanyards they braided at summer camp, i wore the cutest little brownie camera you ever saw. you know, the kind you had to lick the base of the flash bulbs to ensure they’d go off when you snapped a picture. i guess i’ve always been the family historian, and once upon a decade, i earned my living as a personal historian, recording stories about a person, then sifting through their photos and documents, eventually pulling everything together into a book.

at the suggestion of several people i met at that workshop a few weeks ago, i’ve started writing a book about nancy. one day last week i took stock of her drawings. turns out i have 11 sets (remember, a set = the drawings i bring home from a visit with her), and the numbers look like this:

set 1 – 6/2012 – 167 drawings
set 2 – 8/2012 – 454 drawings
set 3 – 10/2012 – 271 drawings
set 4 – 11/2012 – 94 drawings (we were with her only one day that time)
set 5 – 3/2013 – 162 drawings
set 6 – 3/13/2013 to 7/13/2013 – 366 drawings (these are drawings she made at her day program
set 7 – 7/2013 – 35 drawings
set 8 – 7/2013 to 11/2013 – 279 drawings
set 9 – 11/2013 – 102 drawings
set 10 – 12/2013 to 6/2014 – 889 drawings (yes, really)
set 11 – 6/2014 – 257 drawings

i ordered binders and page protectors to store them in instead of the rubber band method currently in use. next week, i’ll get them in the binders, and i’ll scan the sets i haven’t yet scanned. i’m kinda’ excited to be able to look at the drawings while slipping through a book. every time i look at them through a different lens, i see different things.

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meanwhile, i continue working on In Our Own Language 3. last week i figured i could have it completed by the end of july. now that’s funny and proof that i live in a fantasy world.

Happy Fourth of July

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It was a night of firsts for me:

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First time I sat so close to the fireworks that I needed to take cover a couple of times.

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First time I got a crick in my neck from watching the fireworks.

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First time I’ve worn a sweatsuit on the Fourth of July . . . and still been chilly.

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Today I declare my independence from
writer’s block;
from worrying my pretty little head about other people’s opinion of me;
and from sharing any part of my life with people who behave more like ticks than humans.

And you – who or what do you declare your independence from?
You don’t have to make your answer public, just do it
cause it’s time.

the mantle museum in my studio

MyManleMuseum

“When we are sad, it can be comforting to cling to old, familiar things that don’t change.”
a line from The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Sometimes it’s just comforting, even without the sadness.

A Barn Dance, Kinda’

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Barn1

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Today The Engineer took me out behind the barn -
Okay, he took me over TO the barn,
where we hung In Our Own Language #1

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and In Our Own Language #2.

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It is the first time I’ve seen
all three panels of
In Our Own Language #1 hung together,
and it is the first time I’ve seen
In Our Own Language #2 at all
because our ceilings are quite low
and we don’t even have enough floor space
for me to spread it out on the floor and
climb in a chair for a look.

A neighbor came by to see what we were doing
and declared the cloths “pretty”.
It was obvious he was eager
to get back to playing on
his new toy: the cutest little backhoe you ever saw.

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In Our Own Language #1 is Nancy’s first set of drawings.

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She drew them in June 2012.

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There are 167 drawings in set 1.

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In Our Own Language #2 is her second set of drawings

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created in August 2012.

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There are 454 drawings in set 2.

It was quite thrilling, really.

From Cover to Cover (Which is Not to be Confused with From Sea to Shining Sea)

My souvenir from The Grassroots Art Gallery in Lucas, Kansas (I’ll tell you more about that another day) was this altered book created by Luanne Howell.

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Alteredbook1

Alteredbook4

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I have long loved altered books . . . and never given myself time, space, or permission to create one.

Until now.

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This morning was the annual library used book sale where you fill boxes, bags, buckets with books then just make a donation on your way out. I caught myself reading book flaps to see what I thought about the book, then I wondered why it mattered, given that it’s all donation-based.

Oh, all these aren’t mine, silly. There were four of us, and this is our collective loot.

These are the jewels I adopted:

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Some I’ll read; others I’ll alter while The Engineer (who filled three boxes) is busy reading. My selection criteria for books to alter was (1) hardback and (2) fetching book covers. I only picked up hardback books with fetching covers, and the kinda’ amazing thing? The books with the interesting covers were all fiction books about Southern women. Ha.

It feels rather sacrilegious to alter books. And I also hear the stern voice on my committee scoffing at how I can’t stick to one thing and how I should be stitching and asking what I’m going to do with them anyway. You know the kind of stuff he barks at me. I think it’s time to stop that nonsense voice, so I choose to follow the soft whisper of my wise woman who says simply “Do it.”

And I’ll no doubt be inspired by Susan Lenz’s altered books.

I even have an idea for a way to alter the perennially popular Gift From the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Hint: The title will become “Gift from Nancy.” Gift from the Sea . . . Gift from Nancy . . . Get it? Maybe you have to say it aloud. Or just stay tuned cause you know I’ll keep you posted.

communion 10

Andytiesknots

today, while the engineer tied knots
(i’m always impressed with all the things he learned
while under the tutelage of the Boy Scouts and his dad)
so our daughter and her friend could do this:

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and i could ride around and feast on this:

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and, this,

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(which is an art installation, if you ask me
’cause i just have a thing for fabric
fluttering in the breeze)
i tied my own knot.
well, knots, actually
several of them,
taking Communion 10 from this:

Communion10before2

to this:

Communion10after2

when lisa call saw the “before”,
she said she kept wanting to
pull the blue swath down.
rather than remove all those french knots,
i decided to add a piece of blue,
and now it feels more balanced.
anchored.
complete.

~~~~~~~

the Communion series
is a selection of
non-representational representations
of conversations with my
developmentally disabled
sister-in-law, nancy.