letting loose of safety

A house.  I have a house.  The apartment thing was OK for the transition- sort of like a cocoon is OK…its a place to live, its safe, its uncomplicated, you just wait to grow enough to leave it behind.

I wish I could tell you the whole story of the house…but its long and complicated, and I am pretty sure I would loose you somewhere along the way…and I have tried to write it- several times, in fact, because its so serendipitous…and the timing still blows me away.

dreamhouseI am sure you will remember me saying that I have wanted a house.  Not just any house…I had a list – a dream house list…and it seemed to me that being in a house should be cheaper than an apartment, because you pay for your own utilities in a house.  Well, I was in for “a rude awakening”, as my father would say…it became clear that I couldn’t afford to rent the dream house, if it even existed.

I looked in the newspaper classifieds, on Craigslist, on local bulletin boards, on rental websites, on property management websites.  I posted a “house wanted” ad in a company classified section. I looked everywhere.  I looked at alot of houses.  They were too big, or too small, in a bad area of town, didn’t allow pets, not private, too expensive, too run down, too far out of town, too risky.

Just when I was reconsidering staying in my apartment, because I couldn’t find anywhere I wanted to live, two different houses appeared in my path.  The first one was good sized, bland, sensible, – it didn’t fit the dream house list, but it had a yard, and they allowed cats…it wasn’t going to get any better than that.  I filled out an application, paid the $25 fee, and began to mentally move in.  The other house looked pretty tiny from my drive-by, probably not even worth meeting the landlord for a tour, but the door was purple, there was a porch swing and I felt obligated.

I honestly wasn’t expecting much when I walked in…I had seen lots of houses.  I caught my breath as I stepped in the door…cathedral ceilings, a ladder drew my attention to the right, and i saw an open loft tucked up high in the ceiling corner.  The landlord was talking, but I really wasn’t listening…my mind was trying to reconcile the outside of this house with the inside that I was seeing…in short, it was amazing…fun blues and warm browns, woodwork, an open kitchen with updated appliances…speechless, that’s what I was.  I hesitantly mentioned that I had a cat after I had already fallen in love with the place.  The landlord waved my words away, like a fly, and said, “cats are fine.” ( are you looking back at my long forgotten wish list?)Did I mention it was on a street in a historic area with great big trees.

Because I am impulsive, and make snap decisions that I often regret, I asked if I could think it over. Now you are probably saying, “think it OVER? It has everything on your list…what is there to think over?” But here is the thing- it wasn’t the sensible house, the sensible house had more room, and while it didn’t have many of the “wants” on the list, it had the necessities. It was safe, and uncomplicated… like a cocoon. The dream house has color, and its a little wild and a little crazy…it is going to take some getting used to…

“i knew you would want this…”

I spun for 2 hours yesterday…no music on, no TV, no distraction…just the whirring of the wheel…it was a precious time- felt like it was one of those fluffy dandelions that is captured in the glass paperweight… safe, soundless and insulated.

last fall when i returned to school for the year, my dear friend Karen came to me with a garbage bag in her arms.  She presented it to me and said, “I knew you would want this.”  Turns out she had sheared her llama, Bella, and apparently at some point in time, I had told her that if she ever did clip Bella that I would love the fleece.  I had no recollection of this, but that’s not unusual…i say things like that.  So here i was… with several pounds of unwashed unpicked llama fleece.  I ventured a look in the bag when I got home.  Yep.  That’s what it was.  I stashed it in the waterheater room.  Every so often I would glance at that trash bag and wonder about what i was going to do with it…and then would be distracted by something more urgent.  I had absolutely no idea what i was going to do with this fleece- I didn’t spin, i didn’t knit, i didn’t crochet…in fact, i didn’t know really anything about fleece, except for one failed attempt to make a drop spindle from a Mother Earth News article years ago…and so it sat…and i ignored it.

…until someone mentioned a spinning class in Hot Springs in March…and the rest is history 🙂

life has changed in the past year…my empty nest is full for a time…

so thankful for this quiet tactile colorful art, that allows me to be creative during this time in my life…and so thankful for a friend who “knew you would want this”, even if i didn’t.

Spinning with grace

 

“is this the way? is this how you hold it, Aunt Pat? Do I pinch like this?” I was sweating.  In my mind, teaching my 5 year old niece, Grace, to spin had been such a lyrical task.  I would show her the wool, the colors, and the textures, and I would explain how the wool came to be sheared, and dyed and carded.  And together we would learn the parts of the spinning wheel, and I would show her how the flyer spun the wool and wound it onto the bobbin.

It wasn’t going that way at all- she was miles ahead of me and treadling the wheel at warp speed.  I was trying to catch up with her thought processes, still wondering in some small corner of my mind, why she wasn’t enamored into stillness by the colors and the textures of the wool.  Determined to recover, I entreated her to treadle more slowly, giving the wool a chance to spin before it was consumed by the flyer orifice and bobbin.  She slowed a bit.

Taking this small window of opportunity- this itty bitty breather- I asked her to stop.  I peeled a narrow rope of wool from the roving.  Handing one end to her, we drafted from both ends, like a spaghetti noodle between two.  At that point, we pulled it apart in the middle.  With her focused on drafting, i was able to demonstrate how much stronger the wool was when it is twisted, rather than the fibers laying side by side.  This made the critical impression.  She showed everyone else in the house, even her next door friend, what ‘strong wool’ we were making.

Teaching can be challenging. But so often what you teach isn’t the craft itself, but the qualities associated with it- patience, diligence, craftsmanship, and appreciation for other’s work. Grace will never look at machine made yarn in the same way.  And I found that the only way to teach effectively was to abandon my lofty ideas of how it was going to go, and roll up my sleeves, catch up and get to the objective of the whole thing- making strong wool.

tomorrow we are dying with Kool-Aid, and carding…

it can be done… :)

More

stuck…in creative silence

a few years ago Tasha, my middle daughter, gave me a case of blue glass bottles for Mother’s Day…”what?” you may be saying…”what kind of a Mother’s Day gift is that?!”  Perfect for me!  I absolutely love cobalt glass, and the idea of a case of bottles to play with was exhilarating!  So i set to.  i came up with this marvelous idea of decorating them with wire, and beads, and making them holders of ‘messages’.  I was so excited! I bought corks, and special paper, thread to bind the messages into a scroll to put into the bottles, wax to seal the cork…it was a fabulous idea.  And i finished the wire and beads on one bottle, admired it…hmmm…what to put on the “message”…? I struggled with that for a few days, and decided to go on to another bottle, confident that the “message” would come to me.  Another finished, and no message…another…no message…another…no message.  Well, you get the idea.

So now i have this collection of wire/beaded blue bottles…they are beautiful, they sparkle in the sun…but they are empty.

Yesterday (2 years after i have begun this project, lets keep in mind) i got out one of the bottles.  Determined to finish one of them, i put it on the table with materials to make the message and seal it into the bottle…and there it sat…all day.

Late last night, with the bottle still sitting empty, i realized that I am afraid…afraid to put the wrong message in there, afraid that what i think is of substance to write and seal into a bottle isn’t valuable to another…and so i wait for the perfect message, while the bottles gather dust.  Why does it matter what someone else thinks of my message?

Isn’t this blog, essentially a message in a bottle?  It is.  And I have become braver every day here…its practice…and watching my blog grow in audience, and reading the comments.

Being stuck creatively…i think it might be fear that ‘sticks’ us…the key, it would seem, is to find out what you are afraid of.  Maybe these questions will help.

  • If I move to the next step in this project, what is the worst that could happen?
  • What kind of a mess could I make, if i don’t do this “right”?
  • Who would love this piece?, who would hate it?

so today, i am setting the task of writing the first message, and sealing it into the bottle…i will let you know how it goes.

Update: Here is a link to the finished product in my etsy shop

Message in a bottle

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