Inside the Studio

Inside the Studio

Sunday, January 24, 2010

It's All Poppy~cock

The poppy has always been one of my favorite flowers. It's showy, comes in many colors and varieties, and carries powerful medicine. The poppy inspires me.

For the 10th Anniversary show for May Day Press I made several little flower books. Poppy was the first.

My idea was to use a strip of paper as long as the press could carry and do only one print run. I didn't want to glue or sew any pages together to make the book longer. The text had to fit in the length of the press bed in one line. I sat with the poppy and drew on all my knowledge of its history and medicine to write a poem. I worked the poem in the press bed so it would fit and the pages would fold in between the words. It was a challenge. I love the result. Four pages for the four petals.



Poppy

Weaver of fantastical journeys.
You are the spice of dreams,
healer of unbearable hurt,
rattle of oblivion.



I ended up with far more to say about the poppy and began working on a second book. This one was more dense with text, and like Hazel Tree Lore & Legend, came in a small box with drawers full of stuff.

Poppy: Seed, Petal, Leaf & Pod. 3" x 3" x 3" What looks like blue is really dark purple.

A selection of pod varieties with paper petals in the big bottom drawer. The top drawer holds the book and seed packet.

Box with book's title page and a paper packet of poppy seeds. The book is letterpress printed with a tiny border of 6pt. poppies in different colors bordering the bottom of the text pages. The text gives various cultural uses of the poppy, both past and present, a recipe, and other facts. One of which is that opium was once used as a spermicide for birth control. This leads me to my current project --

Sex In The Garden. My poppy and other flower shaped books are coming back to mind as I work to develop a flower shaped book for Sex In The Garden, something to hold an essence of the experience without the dryness of a lecture presentation. I was visiting my book artist friend Diane Jacobs last week, and she and her husband gave me some inspiring support for this book. Thank you!

Of course there is so much left to do in the garden, or should I say, left undone. . . ? But walking about and taking pictures of the mess revealed some beauty. This poppy was expressing the other side of life.

In less than a week we will be celebrating Imbolc, an old Gaelic celebration of light and the beginning of spring. Yes, spring. How our calendar and seasonal markings became so odd, I am not sure. But around here, spring is surely happening. The birds are singing again and plants show signs of renewal. The light is returning and it is calling us up out of the compost of the past year and into the possibilities of now.


Poppycock - (from Wikipedia) Anglicized form of the Dutch pappekak, which literally means soft dung or diarrhea (from Dutch pap pap + kak dung) - is an interjection meaning "nonsense" or "balderdash".

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Rain and rainbow shells

It's been a rainy, rainy time. I have been trying to get pictures of the hazel tree in it's blooming stages, but it has been a challenge in this weather. Bill got this shot. Hazels are one of my favorite winter bloomers. And one of my favorites overall.

We sleep with the window open, and though I am generally a very hard sleeper, sometimes I wake and hear the rain. The other night I dreamt that water was flooding around my studio. A year ago this wasn't just a dream. It was actually happening. I had to go get Bill from work so we could both work on digging trenches. He called it Catherine Creek when I told him there was a stream running down the driveway.

Six years ago this month I was on Sanibel Island in Florida. I don't wish I was there now necessarily, just appreciating the opportunity to step into a different place when I really needed it. I had a book project in mind that justified me needing to be there to collect shells. I also have great friends who made it possible.

We'll see if I ever put them into a binding!

My favorite are the little coquina sunrise rainbows.

Three years ago this month I was back, with Billy. You can take in so much more of a place the second time around. And of course, it can take in so much more of you!

I think of Florida a lot this time of year, not just because I was there in January, but because the year is new. I start out with lots of enthusiasm and energy for all I think I can accomplish in the studio in a year. I had such great plans for these seashells. And so I re-visit this idea as sort of a new year's overview of my goals. It is really an ambitious book idea. I am working to become the person who can create it.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Small Decisions That Changed Everything

Each New Year's Day I can't help but think of Florence. Her and her family brought so much into my life, and into the lives of many. These flowers were scattered new year's day into the Gulf of Mexico in the same place Florence and her husband's ashes were tossed. It's a ritual her daughters and son-in-laws, and once myself, perform each year about this time. I feel so honored to have been included.

For 25 years, along with whatever else I was doing, I did end-of-life care for over 30 people in Seattle and on Vashon Island. Florence was my last hospice client. I almost didn't take the job. It seemed very short term and not many hours. At least at first. I ended up caring for Florence for 7 1/2 years. And she took care of me, too. She showered me with love. You never know when you take on a job what it will bring, and this job was one of those that at the beginning I could have had no idea what gifts would be opened up. And they keep opening.

Every day of ours lives is like that. Last night at a friend's for New Year's Eve, Kevin asked each one of us to share a decision we had made in the last year and what that decision meant for us. It was amazing to hear what people shared. And today as the new year begins I have been reflecting on some of the smallest decisions I have made and what results they have brought. They are like Russian dolls, but beginning with the smallest, the result of the decision gets bigger and bigger as the ramifications unfold.

Of course one of them was the decision to go to a Peruvian mysticism community outreach meeting on a day when I was sick and and at a time when I didn't travel off Vashon Island very much. That was where I met Bill. Two months later I realized I was in love, and three months after that we were married. As cliche as it sounds, the day we married was the happiest day of my life to date, though truly, I have had so many days with Bill that have been nearly as equal. This was three and a half years ago, and I think of it as the beginning of my life.

This reminds of a day in January in 1984, I was 23 years old. A friend asked me to take a tai chi class with her so she wouldn't have to go alone. I didn't know anything about tai chi, but decided I would go and try it. The teacher talked about her recent trip to China as part of a group tour. At the end of the first class I turned to my friend and told her I was going to China. To put this in perspective, I had never travelled outside the country, I didn't have a passport, and I didn't know China was "closed," though it opened to individual traveller's that year. I just felt compelled, like a force beyond myself was guiding me, and I had no choice at that point. A year and half later, I was there. I loved it! I spent 3 months travelling around with a woman friend, Connie, who asked to join me just before I was to leave.

We went to lots of wonderful places in China.

Saw amazing things.

We met wonderful people everywhere.

We were invited in for tea, a meal, a party, an english lesson. Rarely did anyone speak english, and we knew no Chinese.

We ate great food, all the time.

And we stayed in some charming places.

Because of Connie, we went to Tibet, and again, because of Connie (more adventurous than I) we went to Nepal. But there in Tibet I met Narayan, a Nepali mountain climber who would also change my life. Once in Kathmandu, he took charge of my sightseeing and even took me trekking.

Narayan died just a few years later in an avalanche on Mt. Everest. His death brought me closer to these good friends of his who would become family, bringing so much love and joy into my life.

My Nepali "sister" Lalita holding her son Bijay, me with their daughter Rashmi in front, and Lalita's husband Hom in 1985. They would go on to have two more children, twin boys.

Rashmi is grown and married with a little girl of her own, Aleya.

Her brother Bijay is married as well, and they have a son, Arush.

I would return to Asia soon to live in Japan, but that is another story for another time.

Only as I write these two "small decision events" right now am I realizing they both have a spiritual beginning.

And that leads me to one last realization about a small decision. It was the decision to take an astrology class that inspired me to finally sit down and read Julia Brayshaw's beautiful book: "Medicine of Place." I realized then that Julia, who was joining my astrology class, was an avid sacred geometer, as am I. We got together for soup and sharing and our Sacred Geometry Study Group was soon born, and grew fast! This has been such a gift for me. As well as pushing me to deepen my spiritual studies through geometry, it has brought me into circle with some of the most wonderful people in Olympia. They have become important friends that feed my heart.

The marriage of five and six. Inspired by John Michell's book: "How the World is Made: The Story of Creation According to Geometry.

I wonder what I am doing now, or have done recently, that will be one of these great unfoldings of wonder. I can tell you I called an old friend, Kim, from high school the other day. We don't talk or see each other often, sometimes years go by. Late in the conversation I told Kim I was reading the "Bagavad Gita" and really getting so much out of it. She told me she tried to take a class in that when we were freshmen in college, but it was too hard. She told be she was reading "Autobiography of a Yogi." Bill had traded for that book last summer and I have been wanting to read it. But there is always so much to read. Kim said she was a little bogged down in the book and I suggested I read it too so we could talk about it and help each other along. Well, in three days I am over half way through book. And I am already wondering, is this "small" decision to read this book going to change my life?

(One of Bill's drawings from a group geometry night.)