Wednesday, August 31, 2005

WHEELS again, at last!!! And Back to Quilting, too!

After two weeks without a car, I finally have the freedom to travel once again. Not that I was stuck at home all that time - the time was filled with the Vermont contingency on two separate occasions, physical therapy (still - next week is my last week!), and the necessary evils of car shopping... Car shopping is bad enough when one knows ahead of time that a new car is needed - then one is thinking about potentialities, at least. A surprise car hunting expedition has much less forethought, or so it seems to me.

I knew I wanted a car that would be relatively kind to the environment and very kind to my body - thus said car needed to provide very good lumbar support, to be well designed for someone of short proportions (not reaching the pedals or having the steering wheel in my chest or lap is NOT allowed), a good audio system (!!!), great handling on the road, and decent or above gas mileage.

We eventually found the 'perfect for me' car - after 5 grueling days of driving the Route 9 corridor in central NJ - through constructions zones - on too many test drives to recall. We chose one vehicle pretty much by default - when we felt totally overwhelmed by the daunting task and overly pressured by a salesman! That car was returned the next day... just driving it home made me realize I couldn't begin to contemplate 10 years with said car. It was a nice car, very popular model, super comfy - but did NOT fit my body.

We settled on a 2005 VW Jetta - which fills all my requirements plus has so many bells and whistles that I'll be trying to figure them out for the next month or two! I've had it not quite two full days now, and I LOVE it! After my Sable - which suited me perfectly - I didn't know if I could find another perfect fit. But I did.

So now I'm back to a somewhat 'normal' life - the laundry is swishing along upstairs and my studio is finally clean enough to work in, my jpegs are sent to the Incredible Spirit quilt competition & the actual quilts should arrive in CA today. I've caught up on some of the grocery shopping, the house - well, let's just say housework is lowest on the totem pole of my list of "things to do."

The Houston Quilt Festival is fast approaching and I haven't yet begun my cancer fund-raiser postcards... I have been honored by Virginia Spiegel in being asked to contribute one 'special' 4 x 6" fiber art card for the special Silent Auction to be held during Quilt Market (a trade show prior to the quilt fest). See the following website for more info:

Aside from the postcard-making fun ahead, there are 3 art/quilt competition deadlines for me this month, followed by several more in October... I have my one large quilt (see "Flames" below - July 29th entry) nearing completion, plus a plethora of ideas in my mind for upcoming pieces. All I need is TIME... plus persistence, dedication, focus, etc.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

My Sunday Visitor...

The Red-Spotted Purple Admiral Butterfly – top of wings looking very BLUE to me!
While the bottom of the wings definitely reveals the red spots and a touch of purple – which looks totally black on top.

This lovely creature brightened my day – and she was especially meaningful to me because I’ve recently completed a butterfly quilt which I have now titled “Life Cycle.” This particular quilt was started many years ago – with a series of layering of various types of fabrics in random widths on a ground fabric, then placing nylon netting over the entire top, and finally randomly quilting it enough to tack down all the various strips. It began as an underwater image in my minds eye, and evolved slowly over the years – mostly remaining hidden in a bottom drawer far from view.

I took it out after hearing about “The Incredible Spirit” quilt competition, thinking it was an appropriately subdued quilt to reveal my many journeys through depression. For a long time I called it “Undercurrents.” It seemed to represent the undercurrents of emotions that raged beneath the surface of my life – often pulling me beneath a healthy surface into the darkness of despair.

Life Cycle c2005

In taking it out this spring, however, I also saw in it the iridescence of hope layered in with everything else. Slowly I added more elements to create a compositional form – which now is something like a lazy S curve on its side! On the left is a puckered flowery form within which is hidden a silk cocoon that I have lightly painted with iridescent paints. Trailing downward from the cocoon are wool rovings, twisted silken taffeta, gathered, and flower petals leading the eye to a well-disguised furry black caterpillar munching his way through life. The trail now moves across the bottom of the quilt and slightly upward to reveal an open silk cocoon from which the emerging blue feather butterfly has emerged.

Life Cycle – detail of caterpillar c2005

This is a very subtle quilt – mainly blues and lavenders, very muted and very quiet. The glistening Angelina Fibers add the spiritual dimension I hoped to create with the help of some buried-beneath-the-netting Tinzle. Two sides of the quilt are bordered in lavender while the remaining two sides are bordered with a deep blue beaded fringe. The many layers of fibers and fabrics, the many dimensions of sizes and shapes, the illusions of movement, the sparkle beneath the dull, the somewhat monochromatic palette all work together to create a piece of mystery, beauty and life.

Tonight, “Life Cycle” is photographed, labeled, rod pocketed and readied for mailing in to the quilt challenge. I hope you find some beauty herein…

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Full Moon - Crazy Week!

It’s been a very crazy week with all sorts of odd + atypical occurrences – some good, some less so. Quilting time has been at a premium, however I have been doing some quilting on “Flames.” This weekend I’ll be setting up the studio to photograph “Flaming Feathers” and a few other completed projects. Then I can send “Flaming Feathers” off to the Indelible Spirit competition just in the nick of time.

Family matters were at the forefront this week. Our son and his family have had a number of extremely difficult situations happening in the past week or so, including the demise of one of their cars in Manhattan this week. Try to picture this: a couple from Vermont, with one of their 3 teens in tow, plus their Russian Foreign Exchange student – whom they have just picked up for the first time – all stranded in NYC with their car dying on the Hudson Parkway. Now picture this same group, having been towed to an automotive dealership, standing in the service department of said dealership on the 4th floor of a skyscraper, no less – learning their car is a total loss… Fortunately, we live in central Jersey and were a phone call away.

So we got to meet Maria, from Russia, at tad earlier than we had anticipated. She is a bright and lively 15 year old who loves sports – especially basketball. Her English is excellent – which is a good thing since none of us knows any Russian! We’re all learning to speak more slowly so she can understand us. Maria has a delightful presence and I’m sure we all will benefit immensely from knowing one another over the course of the next 9 months. Just imagine being a 15 year old in a new country where you’ll be living with perfect strangers in rural Vermont – and before you even get to their home, you are stranded in the middle of one of the biggest cities in the world with this new family, without any transportation to go anywhere! Talk about an immersion experience!

One funny aspect in this saga is that Maria’s father owns an automotive parts store in a large city (the name of which I can neither spell nor pronounce) in Eastern Russia.

SO after a couple of days of frenetic activity, and by full the light of the full moon, I’m finally back to sewing, tranquility and calm. Next week the excitement will all return – the Vermonters are on vacation and will be returning my car, on their way to introducing Maria to Philadelphia and the Jersey shore for some history, sun and fun. All 6 will be here at some point making our little townhouse bustle with activity once again. I’m enjoying the present state of calm and look forward with happy anticipation to all the excitement when they return!

Oh, one more funny tidbit: the very first thing our youngest granddaughter showed Maria after they entered our home was my fabric stash!!! Granted, my studio is the living room of our townhouse, so it is the first room people enter. But my fabric stash??? Maybe Alyssa is on her way to becoming a fiber/fabric artist! She certainly knows what’s important in life!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

I'm QUILTING Again!!!

Oh, happy day! I'm back at the sewing machine and loving it. It's only been a week that I've been too busy to do anything much in the studio, but it seems like an age! I've started quilting "Flames" and this quilt continues to speak very powerfully to me. It speaks to me of choices - options - new ways to see the 'old' and recreate the 'new.' And I love the bright colors against the black.

This quilt nearly twice the size of my usual quilts, so I'm finding it awkward to handle that much 'stuff' both in the machine and on my table. It's not like I haven't made queen sized quilts before, but it's been a long, LONG time! And I'm in no rush to make another anytime soon! Granddaughter #2 has asked for an Irish Chain quilt - actually, she asked me to make it last Thanksgiving and give it to her for Christmas. Well, that did NOT happen. Nor did I make it in time for her July birthday. (Twenty lashes with a wet noodle!) Maybe she'll get it THIS Christmas, who knows? Not I, that's for sure!

Meanwhile, granddaughter #1 is celebrating her 17th birthday today. How is it I can possibly have a 17 year old grandchild?! I guess she comes along with our almost-39-year-old son , her father... and 15 her year old brother, 14 year old sister - and their marvelous mom! Time passes...

There is finally some evidence that the physical therapy is 'working.' Today was the first day I could go for a walk without experiencing muscle sprain, muscle spasm, and limited strength/movement. The internal spiritual work relating to the injuries has taken me just as long to decipher and accomplish as the physical recovery time. Not that I'm done 'recovering' in either arena, but I'm now confident that I will make a complete recovery and actually be better off physically (not to mention spiritually!) than I was before the injury.

As this day ends with cooler temps (just as humid, but not as hot!) and crickets cricking out back, I'm one happy gal. It's been a good summer so far, and I expect it will continue to be so. May yours be wonderful, too.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Nothing. Everything. Kything...

What Have I Been Doing??? Not quilting, that’s for sure…

It’s been a busy week, but quilting hasn’t really been a part of it. I did wash yards + yards of new fabrics, however, purchased from several of the quilt fabric web sites that were recommended in our QuiltArt mailing list. So all is not lost, it’s just not what I had hoped to be doing this week. I think I’m ready to quilt “Flames,” but since I’ve not had the time available, it’s obviously not the right time!

The week was full, in every sense of the word. Between physical therapy three times per week and DH’s follow-up doctor appointment following last week’s surgery, plus a trip to pick up a quilt I accidentally left behind last weekend at the home of our Art Lunatics hostess, plus the usual, mundane routine stuff…I was exhausted by last night. So today was spent leisurely reading a sci-fi novel, first read 14 years ago, by Madeleine L’Engle entitled, “A Wind in the Door.” It’s actually written for young adults, but has much to say to everyone about prayer and/or energy healing.

Madeleine L’Engle (1918- ) - author of 60+ books, lecturer, mystic, wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, widow, philanthropist, and spiritual director - happened into my life for a brief moment in time about a decade ago… We shared morning prayer together, nothing more…or less. She was ‘plain’ in many ways, yet seemed extraordinary as well. For more, visit her website at

The book, “A Wind in the Door,” was recommended during a 6-week intensive course on prayer. The prof advised us to pay special attention to all that is written with regard to “kything.” Mind you, this professor (Louis M. Savary) co-authored an entire BOOK on kything, yet he referred us to Madeleine L’Engle’s young adult book! I read it then, and I reread it today, with an even stronger appreciation for it now than I had then…

L’Engle teaches about paradox - the power of balance, the rhythm of opposites, the importance of ‘naming’ lest the truth be lost. And she does it masterfully. According to L’Engle’s novel, mental telepathy is the first stage of kything. It is communication without talking, without words – perhaps more akin to communion, a union of mind/thought/being. From another perspective, it is the Oneness we all share – and in which we can all commune (hence communicate) with each and every part thereof.

Paraphrasing Savary + Berne’s book, “Kything: the Art of Spiritual Presence,” when dealing with the physical realm, kything can be used to facilitate healing. On the psychological level, kything can deepen our experience of caring and support. Spiritually, kything can facilitate the release of the energies of creativity, self-affirmation, forgiveness, compassion and commitment. Kything and the sacred explores the movements of indwelling and communion between Great Spirit and the individual.

Thanks to physical therapy, I’ve met two young adults who just happen to be interested in learning more about energy medicine. One has just completed Reiki Level II and the other is accomplished in the art of cranial sacral therapy. Having quit my formal teaching position at a local university, new ‘students’ are now finding me – just about anywhere at anytime! There is an old saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.” Well, it almost seems the reverse is true as well… Perhaps kything will be the topic of the next few sessions together, Come to think if it, both Reiki and cranial sacral therapy use a form of kything to connect with the person seeking healing for the purpose of facilitating the healing process…

But kything is ever so much more than that…or so it seems to me. Yes, it’s part mental telepathy. It’s a form of presence, a very deep type of connection, a psycho-spiritual state of being…and I’m discovering that I’m not very good at explaining what seems somewhat beyond verbal explanations!