May 20, 2016
Mar 9, 2016
Some Thoughts While Touch Typing
I am transcribing a very long family history manuscript by a cousin twice removed. I find myself being astonished by touch typing. I haven't done any sustained typing like this in years. I am also rather amazed that I made a living doing this for long periods as a university secretary pre-PCs. My shoulders and upper back are aching.
I keep thinking about the way touch typing works. Sometimes I literally spell the word out in my head and my fingers automatically go to the right keys, fast. Sometimes I just read/ think the whole word and poof, it's keyed. Sometimes I think I just see the word (esp words like and, the) and my brain and fingers make it happen without my silently reading it. Some words I spell part of the word in my head and my brain/finger connection finishes it. I do that with the word L-O-U-I-S ville.
However it goes, it is seems to me like a magical act - an elegant collaboration, neurological ledgerdemain.
I am also thinking about my mother, who left the planet in 2008, not only because this is maternal line family history, but because she made numerous annotations to this manuscript: "we have the blanket chest used by Sudie on the Ohio River packet boats" "we are related to him [John Greenleaf Whittier] - my daughter George-Anna has a quilt made by his aunt" "she started a home for unwed mothers"
So I am feeling like Mama's peering over my shoulder, pleased that I am getting this preserved on the computer, pleased I am enjoying her marginal chitchat.
And I am also remembering how Mama could no longer type, could no longer work a typewriter, really at all, when dementia came in and yanked her out of her life. This was a woman for whom a typewriter was more necessary than an iron or even a cooking pot. She typed her own writing, of course, and I remember her earning money typing manuscripts for others, in particular, a children's author named Mariana Prieto. (I will make my own marginal note here - what I most remember about Mariana was that she seemed rather highstrung and we children seemed to give her migraines.)
Before everything collapsed for her, before it became clear that she was ill with a memory illness, my mother became obsessed with trying to type again. She thought she just needed practice. She thought she needed a better typewriter. A simpler typewriter. A manual needed more strength than she had, so I searched for new, then secondhand electrics. The new were all computer-y - even I could hardly fathom them. Shaun came over one day to try to break the workings down for both of us, but it was no use. I probably bought and returned three typewriters. Once she had been moved to the nursing home area of the continuing care community she lived in, the typing subject still came up. Her care plan always included, at her insistence, that she have a typewriter and space to practice, though she never actually availed herself of it when they did provide it.
Even before dementia, my mother was a bit obsessed with typewriters. There was not a secondhand manual at any yard sale she could pass up. Once someone broke into the old storage garage behind the house in Miami and mother said, 'typewriters were strewn all over the yard.' afterward. I inherited this obsession and pretty soon after moving here I had five typewriters, all bought for $5-10 at yard sales. My mother, upon hearing that Molly, then 5, was learning to write stories, packed up one of her typewriters and shipped it to her. Molly, too, took to typing, and by age 7 when we got a computer, she said "I want to type like you, with both hands" and she zoomed through Mavis Beacon lessons and had a typing speed of 35 wpm, 98% accuracy. Which is what I had when I got that job at the University of Miami.
It is probable I am married to Paul because of my typing speed. It wasn't fast enough for the jobs I really wanted, in the Bookstore or the English Department. They said I could go home and practice and take the test again the next day or I could go interview in the Dept. of Economics because they only required 35 wpm. I went on the interview and was offered that job and took it because I really wanted to not be a waitress anymore and have health benefits. About 3 months later, Dr. Paul B. arrived in the Department. I was very excited about meeting this new professor as his mail had started coming first and there were very interesting return addresses, like Socialist Party USA...
So I'm thinking about all this as I type this manuscript on my computer - and wondering do we still say 'type?' I have googled and apparently we do. Just like we (those of us who haven’t completely gone over to texting) still dial phone numbers and hang up (after leaving messages for those of us who no longer answer phones or listen to messages.)
I have whittled down my own typewriter collection, to a honey of a 1956 manual typewriter my mother somehow found to buy at the retirement community - a Smith Corona in a beautiful case with the handbook and keys; and two really compact beauties, one a Swinger in a late 60s aqua case with a transistor radio in the cover. I've got extra ribbons and carbon paper, so I'm prepared, if the electricity and the social order fail, to type for the underground and the resistance. And for poetry.
Mar 2, 2016
I thought I was going to write that I have only been working on poetry and that's why I have neglected the blog. But then I looked around for some photos and see that I do have some visual art to share.
I will make my poetry be the subject of another post.
I just uploaded a bunch of pictures that show what I've been up to in recent months. Now I'll try to post a few comments.
This is a Jane Thornley piece, the Holey Cowl. I used only 3 yarns and almost all of the color change is Mr. Noro's doing. I believe it's Noro Kibou- very cotton-y.
I would say that I have worn this more than I have worn most of the things I have knitted. It has been a totally perfect and practical piece. I usually wear it around my head, draping down like a scarf under my winter coat. It has kept me warm and deeply satisfied my freeform aesthetic.
This is a scarf I am still working on, it's my traveling project, the thing I grab to amuse myself when I'm out and about. I started a plan to name my projects - just give them whatever name occurs to me.Meet Bartholomew. He's random stitching, a bit hole-y as well and yes, Mr. Noro. Kibou - or possibly Taiyo DK.
I found myself desiring to add some new skills to my expressive art journey - painting, mixed media. I took an online course through Brave Girl University - Katie Kendrick's Layered Impressions - no longer available there, but she does have it as an eBook on her website.It was fun, I didn't do nearly all the activities, but it was a great way to start familiarizing myself with tools and materials.
I decided to go ahead and plunge into an even more intensive course of Katie's - Grit and Grace. I have barely begun that, though it has been weeks. Part of my problem was that my studio space is in the basement and some of the materials really need to be used with good ventilation. So I am putting off immersing myself until the weather is warm enough for me to work on my back porch.I did do this as one of the first week's mark-making exercises
Then there was the making of a deck of cards with Mindy Tsonas' Inner Alchemy Circle. I joined in for the Air Coven cards (Earth and Fire have already been done and Water is upcoming in April)
I carved a feather stamp to be the symbol on the back of all my cards. We were given 28 archetypes for which we were free to collage, draw, paint images on our cards. I chose to go simple - one central image for each card primarily. It was fun and I hope to make more cards. I think I am going to have to forego the Water Coven because I have a great deal of pending workshop activities along with keeping up with my poetry and submissions of my work to various publications.
The Teacher (this from a National Geographic article on how a group of people were teaching baby cranes to do things so they could live in the wild. They had to do everything dressed as cranes...)
FINALLY, finished my Stephen West blanket. This is the third winter I've worked on it. I managed to knit myself a frozen shoulder the first winter, two years ago. I worked on it a bit last winter and this winter I was determined to finish it. Very carefully - using a pillow to support my right arm. I really loved working on it when it got big enough to cover me nicely. It is heavy, and very smooshy.
Here it is, posing on the back of my sofa (please ignore the messy bookshelves).
What I also loved about this blanket was that I was able to use a lot of the enormous stash of Noro Kureyon I have. I have come to admit that Kureyon, as color-spectacular as it is, is just too rough to use for anything that has a chance of touching skin.
HOWEVER - please note that combining it as I did here (held double with the Noro), with a soft, non-scratchy yarn, has the potential to mitigate the roughness. I used Encore, which is acrylic/wool blend and one of the few synthetic yarns that gets past my natural fiber snobbery.
In any case, this blanket is snuggly goodness.
Crafty fun with my granddaughter. This is Sister Dazzled-By-The-Light, a nun from the Order of the Hair of the Holy Spirit.
Time out for a nasty weeklong cold, finally vanquished when I remembered about nasal washing with Nasopure (better than neti for me) and keeping our humidifiers going.
From my stitchery sampler, where I practice things - I was ecstatic seeing that I could stitch and do tiny French knots after my cataract surgery.
Work-in-progress. I think of this as textile collage....
Scraps from fiber artist Deborah Lacativa - after washing and ironing them. I am such a process person. I get an incredible amount of pleasure just looking at these random, hand-dyed scraps and then from touching them, smoothing them, ironing them. I've used a few in the piece above.
And finally - a freeform mystery.
I am working diligently to tidy up my studio and a lot of other places where things have accumulated.
I am not at all sure where I was going with these bits and pieces, but it looked kind of intriguing to me.
It feels good to have created a post.Next time, I'll write about where I'm going with my poetry.
Jan 1, 2016
Instead of resolutions, which I haven't made in years, I am making kind of a 2016 mission statement. Reserving the right to change it at any time, here is this morning's version:
To be fully in each moment. To savor. To engage with joy as often and deeply as possible.
To be centered, grounded. To honor my boundaries and those of other people. To create expressive and interesting things. To bring creative forces into play wherever I can. To play as if it is my work. To work as if work is play. To caring for my body with love and hope. To love my body and hold it in esteem and gratitude. To honor my body. To speak kindly. To cultivate patience. To make meaning.
My Word For The Year is:
with another word that wants in on this: honor
Savor - to enjoy and appreciate completely, esp. by dwelling on it
Honor - regard with great respect
And so it is.
This was my first Instagram post of 2016:
What joy! To get up after finishing my first poem of 2016 and see, for the first time in nearly a week, the sun shining into my house. Shining on a loom!
Nov 22, 2015
Slow Time and Sacred Hearts
She is about slow time, smelling roses, healing, dreaming.
She is me these last couple of months.
There was a trip East, writing poetry, a reading at the invitation of the state Poet Laureate, three publications, two weavings sold in a show, then cataract surgery. The second eye done less than three weeks ago.
I am having a frustrating time with visual work, dealing with the loss of any clarity in near vision (cheap reading glasses suffice for the time being)and the astonishing ability to see things across the yard, birds in the sky, without glasses.
It's odd to see my feet look bigger. Driving is awkward. There is neurological adjustment to make, eyes + brain in a new partnership. And it's disconcerting to not have putting on glasses be the first thing upon awakening and the last thing before sleep. After 56 years of that being so.
So I take it slow these days. Re-watching all the Star Treks, writing poetry, knitting, and (inspired after an online class*) finding some pleasure in stitching these small hearts.
"Slowing Time" clay sculpture from Bell Pine Art Farm
(NOT affiliate links, just giving credit for beautiful things)
Aug 21, 2015
Bella Rossa was a restaurant where I spent much happy food time with friends. And alone with books and tea. It opened the same year I helped to start Wabash River Books with Tim Kelley and Todd Nation. Patrick and Molly used to go get us lunch on the two days a week we staffed the shop. They felt very grown-up, walking about downtown by themselves, greeting people. I remember thinking that it was rather wonderful that the whole family* was in a several block radius - Paul at the University, Shaun…if he wasn’t at the Tribune-Star newspaper yet (2 blocks south), he was at ISU as well, and his first apartment was around the corner.
I’m thinking about these things this morning because of these things:
When Bella Rossa closed, Norbert the owner sold all the stuff. The big dry-erase menu board is now in the children’s wing at the Unitarian Universalist church. And I have one of the small iron teapots, a simple white bowl, and a spoon** that became the only spoon I ever want to use. I eat my oatmeal and barley every morning out of this bowl and when I travel, the spoon and the bowl travel with me. They center me, I think.
I just realized that my cutting board was purchased at Bella Rossa as well. Long before it closed. The board was handmade by Jim Campbell, the husband of Marie - a friend of mine for years and years, in our food buying club and later at the UU church. They moved away to Nashville. I hope they are well.
These things delight me to own. They are a pleasure to use and they have magical powers. They are catalysts for memories of the most pleasant kind.
* 'Whole family' meaning those of us in Terre Haute, Paul, me, Shaun, Patrick and Molly. Eldest son Ian and his wife Lisa are always with me in spirit and internet, but physically have been far away for more than two decades - over the years that has meant their own lives in New Mexico, Arizona, California, Florida, Washington, Vancouver, and now, Massachusetts.
**I confess the spoon in the picture might not be the exact spoon I got from Bella Rossa. I truly liked it so much, the shape of so deeply pleased my eye and my mouth and my hand, that I searched out the pattern (Creation I by International Stainless) and bought three more on eBay. And discovered that the forks, too, please me. So now I no longer suffer the aesthetic discomfort of using the badly weighted, ugly Martha Stewart forks I got at K-Mart in what was obviously a bout of temporary insanity, a fit of design-blindness.