Sunday at the Sewing Machine

Sunday at the sewing machine. The rhythmic hum of the needle slipping in and out of the fabric is hypnotic, meditative. In the background, Roy Orbison is “Crying” on the 1950’s hits Google Play station. I am working on my Bookshirts and slipping back into remembering what it was like to be feeling what old songs trigger in my memory. As an elder who lives alone without a relationship partner, I miss the emotions that relationships stir and that often serve as a catalyst to certain kinds of creativity (hence compelling songs like “Crying”). I have never considered myself visually talented; my attempts at painting and drawing are unaesthetically unappealing. I do like to play with fabric, however, which has become my medium, and as with most of my projects, the process is more enjoyable than the product. I play with the dozens of embroidery stitches that my machine has available, combining color and patterns on strips of various colored fabric before I even get around to working on an actual shirt. Hours go by, filled with music, and memories, and the pleasures of engaging in a craft that has both form and function.

they tickle my brain to words

Corinne Geersten composes “images of wonder and quirk,” and my ol’ blogger buddy Betsy Devine knew that I would be interested in Corinne’s “Call to Poets.”

I am absolutely intrigued by every one of her images in these two portfolio pages , and sent her three responses. I don’t now whether or not she will use any of them, but I like the combinations so much that I am sharing them here:

1

The Emissary
(Addendum 9/17/16: This poem is being exhibited next to the collage at Geersten’s exhibit as the Mesa Art Center in Arizona.)

She follows the lead
of the lone snow goose
released from the burden of flock —
a warrior in white and Mary Janes,
astride a steed from dreams.

Such is the muse that carries her,
along with miracles of fragrant earth,
safe across the deep seas of memory.

Emissary

2

Tornado

It is always there,
over her shoulder,
both threat and promise —
a whisper in a wind
that can send her flying
finally, into a landscape
devoid of browns and
navy blues, a rainbow
of wildflowers and sunlight
and a bright hint of birdsong.
If she sits, still enough,
breath held and ready…
wait for the moment….
wait for the moment…..

sp1Tornado

3

Fable

Sometimes it gets into a girl’s head
to wield staff instead of broom,
to stand like a stag in morning mist —
antlers the crowning touch —
to command with eyes devoid of fear,
demanding safety and serenity,
the sovereign right of rulers
to craft their own lives.

sp1Fable

Mag #234

Magpie Tales is a blog “dedicated to the enjoyment of poets and writers, for the purpose of honing their craft, sharing it with like-minded bloggers, and keeping their muses alive and well.” Each week, it offers an image as a writing prompt.

Go here to read what others have written.

Mag #234

Starry Night by Alex Ruiz

Starry Night by Alex Ruiz

The artist alone knows
the possibilities of sky.

He stands in open meadow,
in night’s cold moments
and conjures what only
the gods see.

He molds with his hands
the magic of stars unbound
from man’s small view
and unleashes dreams
that will haunt even
the sadness of song.

Mag #225

Magpie Tales is a blog “dedicated to the enjoyment of poets and writers, for the purpose of honing their craft, sharing it with like-minded bloggers, and keeping their muses alive and well.” Each week, it offers an image as a writing prompt

Go here to read the pieces about the image that others have written.

Sweet Summer 1912 -- John William Waterhouse

Sweet Summer 1912 — John William Waterhouse

The world is filled
with the sound of water,
the rustle of lives teeming
beneath a thirsty earth.
I languish among the peonies,
heavy with heat
the earth calling us all
to its measure.
Skin rises to tease the sun,
looses a brazen sigh.

Mag #218

Magpie Tales is a blog “dedicated to the enjoyment of poets and writers, for the purpose of honing their craft, sharing it with like-minded bloggers, and keeping their muses alive and well.” Each week, it offers an image as a writing prompt.

Mag 218. (Go there to read what others have written in response to this prompt.)

chair-with-the-wings-of-a-vulture 1960 salvador dali

(Chair With the Wings of a Vulture
1960, Salvador Dali)

Let’s hear it for our deities–
winged or haloed,
hanged or throned.
We want them to watch,
care, punish, save —
need them to blame
when tsunamis rise
and when bread doesn’t.

Mag #211

Magpie Tales is a blog “dedicated to the enjoyment of poets and writers, for the purpose of honing their craft, sharing it with like-minded bloggers, and keeping their muses alive and well.” Each week, it offers an image as a writing prompt.

Mag #211

Feast in the House of Simon, 1610, El Greco

Feast in the House of Simon, 1610, El Greco

It was the custom of Simon the Zealot to invite his friends to feast at his home after the sacrificial piety of every Sabbath. Of course, that meant “men only,” for we women were not allowed to participate in those raucous discussions of politics and providence. As a female in his household, my task was to keep the wine flowing as freely as did the details of their dialogues. Just by being present in that room, I learned much about the workings of men and government – the subtleties of reasoning and ruling, ideas that never insert themselves into the conversations of women. The men rarely noticed my presence; my purpose was to serve and be silent, and I used my role to my advantage.

And so it went, until the day that Simon invited to the table the man who caused a welcome disturbance at his wedding by magically changing barrels of water into barrels of wine. While I was attending to other wedding guests when this supposed miracle took place, I cannot assert that this actually happened. However, I did taste the “miraculous” wine and have to say that I found it quite fragrant.

Now, the day that Jesus joined Simon the Zealot’s table, everything changed. While the debates still agonized over the world’s politics and providence, they became less heated and more thoughtful, as the graceful gestures and soft responses of the man, Jesus, orchestrated a calmer tone. I marveled at the way he could hold the attention of every man there without even raising his voice. And there was something about his eyes, radiating a warmth and acceptance that penetrated to even the most doubtful heart.

It was not long after that Simon the Zealot left his wife and family to follow the man, Jesus – followed him out into the world of politics and provenance, joined others who did the same, all aroused by the man’s gentle promise of a world suffused with peace and harmony, fairness and compassion.

They say that there were some women who followed him, as well, for he welcomed all who welcomed him. I never left the house of Simon the Zealot, although sometimes I would dream of solemn eyes that brushed my soul and hands that graced the rest with a merciful yearning.

I never found my niche

I enjoy reading mystery novels. Even more if the main character is a female. Even more if the plot involves some kind of “headology” — that intriguing mish-mash of psychology and shamanism, magic and wishing. (Granny Weatherwax is what I consider to be the model for practicing headology, but I’ve posted about her before and that’s off the topic of this post.)

I am thinking about niches and headology (two rarely connected topics) because I just finished the novel Night Angel, which applies various kinds of headologies to the process solving a murder mystery that involves a group of former 1960 Haight-Ashbury roommates.

I never lived that hippie life except in occasional free-flowing fantasies that I knew would probably not be as satisfying if played out in reality. But that didn’t stop me from fantasizing.

In the 1960s, I was married with children and living in a rural suburbia; I believed that had I not been living the responsible life, I might have been on some Magical Mystery Tour of my own, taking the Electric Kool Aid Acid Test. But I never even had a puff of pot back then. (Oh wait, yes, once, when a cousin who was married to a prison guard gave me a joint to try. Never having even learned how to smoke a cigarette, it was a failed secret experiment for me.)

If housewifery was not my niche, neither was hippiedom. Decades went by without the feeling that I had finally found where I was supposed to be in the world. I simply made the best of wherever I found myself. I guess that I am still doing that.

I look back and see myself as sort of a wife, sort of a mother, sort of a poet, sort of an activist, sort of a bureaucrat, sort of a dancer …. so many sorts, but no real niche, no place of grounding.

Maybe I found this Night Angel novel intriguing because each character seemed to have his or her own consistent niche.

My late once-husband had a very definite niche: He was a writer. He once said to me that everything else was just sawdust. He lived to write. He had found his niche.

Alongside my new La-Z-boy recliner is a box with 700+ pages of a typewritten novel of his that our son is self-publishing for him posthumously. It will be available soon to the public.

I want to read it because he often wrote with a strong sense of the power of headology, and his female characters were always forces of nature. But at the moment there is something in me that is envious of his niche — resentful, even. His niche has manifested into legacies that will go on without him.

You need a niche to leave a legacy.

I never found my niche.

Unless it’s late night blogging.

my latest yarn improvisation

front


back


hexagon motif

I layered it over a long sleeved shirt for photo contrast, but it looks much better layered over a white camisole — which is how I’m going to wear it when I go to Saratoga this weekend. No, I’m not going to the racetrack, although this is the season for that. I’m going to see the production of an original script performed by a new company with whose founder I worked and whom I’ve known since college.

After Saratoga, I’ll be spending a few days in Lake Luzerne with my long-time group of women friends. And, if all goes well, I will motor one afternoon over to Northville to visit another former colleague and still friend with whom I play Zynga on FaceBook.

I’ll be taking along my latest plarn market bag project to work on as we sit around in the evening drinking Comsos and getting therapeutically giggly.

But back to my latest improvisation, for which I had no pattern and no plan. I found a pattern for the hexagon and I wanted to try it with a lighter yarn that I had purchased ages ago on sale. I’m not even sure they sell it any more, so I’m glad I bought as much as I did, because I used every ball I had.

I started with one hexagon and just kept adding others, figuring out the shape as I went along. I wound up with it being too wide at the bottom. Hmm. I had to figure out what to do to make it work.

My mother had a saying in Polish that translated into something like “a dumb person will not even notice, and a smart person will think that’s how you intended it to be.” She used that saying a lot with me, since I’ve always embarked on projects by the seat of my pants and then had to improvise to figure out how to make them work.

So, I made a pleat in the back of the sweater to take up the slack. It looks like it was actually designed that way. Works for me!

On a whim, I tried to search for the exact saying in Polish, and, while I didn’t find what I was looking for, I did come across this wonderfully outrageous Polish crocheter whose work is on exhibit now until February at the the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington DC. Be sure to watch her short video.

I could learn a lot from her, on lots of levels.

I know that there are women who continue to be outrageous right up until the end. The extent of my outrageousness these days is wearing my latest improvisation with matching orange sandals and white cropped pants.

Oh, and I I’ve had my hair cut sort of like Andy Warhol. Well, maybe more like Sharon Gless on “Burn Notice.” But a little longer.

I’ll get around to a photo eventually.

kick-assing at age 71

It’s hard to kick-ass at age 71. And there really aren’t many role models out there for someone my age.

Oh, I don’t mean people who jump out of planes at age 100 or scuba dive at age 94. All of that is all well and good, but risking my life for fun has never been one of my turn-ons. My risks tend to be sendentary and verbal. (Like, that’s a surprise.) I guess that’s why I’m such a fan of contemporary television’s Harry’s Law. Now, there’s a role model for me (even though she’s youngER.)

Aside from good ol’ Granny Weatherwax, however, there are really no older fantasy kick-ass females, probably because older women are not considered sexy. Hell, we’re usually not even considered attractive by standard standards. And young, attractive, and sexy is what kick-ass females are “supposed” to be — or at least that’s what the fantasy sub-culture artists believe.

There’s a complex and intelligent online discussion about “sexy geek girls” going on among members of the fandom subcuture — the ones into who love fantasy writings, go to fantasy and comic conventions, and find it empowering to “cosplay.” (I’ll bet few of my readers know what that word means.) The worthwhile discussion is spinning off from a panel discussion at the recent San Diego Comic-Con called “Oh You Sexy Geek!”

The only reason I know about the convention or the panel is because I follow my son’s tweets, and he was a photographer there. And I’ve been tooling around the web leaving my comments here and there about my take — not on whether girl geeks are/can be/should be sexy, but rather what priority should (IMHO) flamboyant “sexiness” be for young women, geeks or not, fantasy or real.

Anyway, here’s what I said in one of those comments:

I’m speaking/writing as a somewhat marginalized geeky female (71 years old) who has been a fan of powerful kick-ass, attractive (notice that I didn’t say “sexy”) female characters since I discovered the original Wonder Woman back in the 1940s. Halloween was my favorite holiday long before there was such a thing as cosplay because I could dress up as Barbaraella or Xena or a vampire (depending on the decade) and not be considered a fruitcake (now, there’s a dated word!) This whole discussion has drawn me in because I also fought in the feminist wave back in the 60s and learned much from the struggle of us females to balance the power of our sexuality with the power and respect that we deserve to have in the realms of social , political, and personal relationships. It’s a little too easy for us females to confuse limited sexual power with the other kinds, and, for whatever reasons, unenlightened males too often get off on all of the sexist implications of the Slave Leia kind of sexiness. And while being sexy is not a bad thing, it needs to be kept in perspective. An it’s not all all the same as “attractiveness,” although the two can overlap. I understand why male comic artists pander to the adolescent fantasies of pubescent males, but I nonetheless urge all of you attractive geek chicks to keep pushing for less emphasis on the visual sexiness of female comic book heroes and more on their strength, independence, and overall attractiveness. (At least more realistically proportioned and less exposed boobs and butts!) I look forward to watching the evolution of the geekgirl con, especially the panel on how to raise geeky kids. (Since I already seem to somehow have done that – both male and female. And they are both feminists as well.)

Anyway, to satisfy my curiosity, I did a search for “unattractive kick-ass female characters.” I found this one on this site:

Now, to me that’s a female fantasy hero!!!

Or this

Or this.

I wonder what they would look like at age 71 or older. (More like Granny Weatherwax, I suppose.)

I also suppose that I was spoiled by having the early Wonder Woman as my fantasy. There was only one like her, and she was a life-long positive inspiration for lots of the comic-addicted females of my generation. She inspired us to become the strong-voiced women we are today. I wonder if the sexy young geeks of this generation will feel that way about their current fantasy females 40 or 50 years from now.

I mean REALLY???!!

she might

The following is my response to the visual writing prompt at Magpie Tales #59. Go to the site to find the responses of other writers.


she might really be him, you know,
that quirky painter who so loved codes
that he scratched subtle signs
behind and under what you see
so that you can’t see what he really
means unless you look too close,
and, even then, no one knows if
that’s what he meant or if he just
liked to play in a wig and snide smile.