Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Early Morning Reflection

Lubec foggy morning drive.
Visit from heron at Mulholland Light, Campobello
(New Brunswick, Canada)
Where two meet.
Back at the drawing table: Order and disorder.
Best climbing tree ever, missing a few limbs now.
(West Gardiner, Maine)
Thinking about the thinking nook.
Heidi's tomatoes at the Lubec Open Air Market.
It's been a great season! Come visit the market on Saturdays 9-11 downtown.
Open through October 12th.
 She flops wherever she wants regardless of how inconvenient it is to her human companions. She's such a cat.
I woke shortly before five to one of those sunrises that Lubec is notorious for. Fading midnight blue gave way to a soft blend of yellow to green. Moon still in the sky.  I listened to the stillness and noted the absence of the rooster's call. Nary a being had come to wake save for me and the cats. I slipped into comfy paint-stained yoga pants and an old ripped tee, filled a bucket with hot water, and headed into the cave.
For this morning I needed the dark and still. With only a dim light and the sun filtering slowly into the space, I began the ritual of wedging and weighing. In relative darkness, I listened to the sounds of the clay as it rolled along the surface of wood, the sound of my hands as they cupped this malleable dirt into round forms, and the hum of the wheel as I centered and pulled. The heater emitted an orange glow warming the left side of my body. Clay was heavily scented with musky earth, like patchouli.
In the darkness, all the senses come to life. My mind went on one of those journeys where stream of consciousness leads from one thought to another. I thought of O'Keeffe and how she took to pottery in her eighties when her sight had faulted so badly that she could no longer paint. I closed my eyes and with only the sense of touch centered and formed a pot while repeating the mantra that all my pots receive: love peace joy compassion and sweetness of life.
I thought about the space where two meet and how in one moment we can feel this perfect balance and stillness and in another deep anguish. I thought about how much of our lives are determined by fated circumstance versus a determination to create it as we envision it. Or maybe the two work in tandem?
Inundated with news of all that is wrong in this world I find myself slipping further from that space that my soul most longs for. What is the best path for the most good? Scream and shout? Or find my center and visualize? It seems that, as with most aspects of my being, I haven't found that space where I can blend it all. I immerse myself in one or the other - at least for short bits of time. But there must be a space - in the middle - where I can synthesize it all but still keep the calm?
This past week was a time of recharging, rebalancing, and refocusing. I lessened my work hours and spent a lot of time walking, driving, and thinking. I gave myself permission to let go of obsessive work tendencies to explore and process. It felt sort of like a mini vacation at times. I've come back to the studio with a new perspective and perhaps a releasing of always having to know the outcome. I have begun a drawing that is in a sense a continuation of where I left off last spring. Though this is the start, it is not where I will end up in three months time as the semester comes to close. I am questioning what it is that attracts me to these images of decay and chaos juxtaposed against the serene.
Searching. Trusting.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Shifting Energies

Despite several failed weeding attempts, lack of watering during a sunny stretch, and overall incompetence when it comes to gardening, the veggies are coming forth. Beets were a first attempt and though petite were quite delicious roasted.
Is that Van Gogh in the garden?
Chris released the basil plants from their weedy confines. He makes an awesome batch of pesto for freezing and hopefully there is enough fresh basil this year to continue the tradition.
 The Eastport Pirates invaded Lubec. They came by air (plane), land (motorcycle), and sea (boat).  It was total mayhem at the waterfront.
 A pirate pulling into town on his Harley.
Pirates parked their bikes and headed into straight to the pub for a tankard of grog.
Two of the most adorable pirates I 've ever seen!
I love pulling out Nana's favorite cookbook and looking at her handwritten recipes. She had a sweet tooth for sure.
 To transition back into artwork I spent a day with a friend photographing factory detritus.
 Lubec Arts Alive is still working on this year's art installation at the community playground. We had a fabulous team last week help with the installation of the revolving teleidoscope columns and xylophone. With a nice sunny stretch of weather we should be able to get it painted before (gulp) snow flies.
Lots of carving going on in prep for autumn vending adventures.
 Kinda melancholy thinking about the possible retirement of one of my favorite work shirts. If you have visited the shop on one of my work days, you have probably caught me clay-covered in this shirt, a bit tattered from years-long wear.
It's 3:30 a.m. and I have been up the past the two and half hours trying to convince myself that sleep is just a few sheep away. Silly me to think such a thing. The energies are shifting and I am feeling it. The air is more crisp and darkness is descending earlier every day. My mind is scattered with too many thoughts and attempts are being made to sort and file. This seems normal for this time of year. As autumn approaches MFA studies resume. The pottery business is still in full swing with a rigorous vending schedule and year-round committee/volunteer work continues. Add in the flurry of family and holiday events and end-of-the season gatherings and there is little time to clear the mind.
Yesterday morning I woke with the best of intentions. I looked forward to a day of throwing but when I got into the studio nothing went right. Sometimes that's just how it is. Even with twenty-four years of clay behind me, there are days when everything feels off center. Without internal centering, clay just won't find its way. I finally threw in the proverbial towel and moved onto the more menial tasks of paying bills and cleaning the house. 
Afterwards, my sneakers logged five miles: two with my friend Amy and three solo. The first walk was for enjoyment and the second walk goal-oriented. The purpose was to narrow my focus for an upcoming art project and to tackle writing my semester's proposal. When I returned with a somewhat clearer mind I went into the studio, pulled the curtains, lit a candle, and nestled into my thinking nook. All felt serene.
At this point I have surmised that what I am really craving is time to create. Introversion and introspection. A couple days ago I spent an afternoon with a friend photographing various factory sites. That has me itching to begin drawing which for me is akin to meditation. Repetition, whether it is weaving, potting, or drawing, helps to focus me and quell some of the voices.
Also on my mind is that today is the anniversary of my Nana's passing. The walk yesterday allowed time to focus on her, too. My family was truly blessed by her presence. She was a resilient, hard working, full-of-love woman who was a master of limericks. She could cook like no one's business and break out in a spontaneous jig. I spent many weekends with her as a child and remember fondly our walks across the bridge to Gardiner, gardening, watching Lawrence Welk, making taffy, and craft projects like needlepoint or crocheting. When I say that Nana was resilient, I mean it. Much of her life was spent as a factory worker. As a primarily single parent she raised my mother and did an outstanding job with that task. As one of eleven children in a poor family, her journey presented many obstacles.  Never having a driver's license, she walked at one time sixteen miles a day to and from work until she was gifted a bicycle. She did what she had to do without complaint. I dropped off some work at Lubec Landmarks on Wednesday for their fiber arts show. As a token of honoring Nana I included a tapestry that I made with some of Nana's most worn clothing items.
The shifting energies, though turbulent at first, are welcome. It just takes me a while to find my balance. I love this time of year as autumn approaches. I crave the early darkness and wet days that help to calm my spirit. Simple things like eating an apple fresh-picked from a tree remind me of nature's cycles and her precious bounty.
Even on the most challenging days, I am honored to be present.