I ‘ve decided on an anniversary pattern and it will be geraniums.
Well they are hardy, like you have to be if you have been in business for twenty five years.
They are a simple plant, no fuss, and there they are from May to early November, showing up everyday, still blooming. Sometimes I forget to water them, other times the rain pours on them. Either way they manage with just a little bit of attention.
They also remind me of how I see a community. I want to be the person who chooses to plant geraniums to make their community a little prettier. Somehow geraniums remind me of the importance of giving back. It is such a simple thing to do and it reminds me that small things matter a great deal in a community.
You’ll notice the four white houses in the background of the pattern. They are there to represent community. When I moved my business into town , one of the things I decided was that I would commit myself to the community. It has been good to me, and I must try to be good to it. Building and supporting my community is an important part of my everyday life.
So is beauty. I love to see the storefronts in our downtown in full summer bloom. It makes coming to work, walking the street, and driving by a little sweeter for everyone.
I think of geraniums as an old fashioned flower. It is traditional.
But it isn’t meek. It is quite showy. And I kinda like that about them. Plain but showy. I relate.
So this is a very simple pattern but it is meaningful to me and part of my celebrating twenty five years.
We have listed it on the online shop here.
On this our twenty fifth year it is important to celebrate. Even if the truth is we have been celebrating all along.
Often it is a cup of tea and an oatcake.
Last year Carol made us 972 oatcakes that we have to studio visitors.
The oatcakes are special.
They are crisp and delicious.
Carol is an important part of the studio because she does this for us. We so appreciate her.
Visitors sometimes ask us how much they are.
We are so happy to tell them they are free.
Just a thank you for visiting us.
Often if someone is waiting while the other shop they are so happy to have a little treat.
That is something to celebrate.
Carol McCall making them for us makes her someone to celebrate.
As a small business owner I have found that people like Carol who are retired but are willing to help a small business make a big difference.
We rely on her and are thankful for her.
For twenty five years I have been hooking rugs and running a business around it.
For twenty five years I have been an artist.
That is a reason to celebrate.
Twenty five years and counting.
I began with a two thousand dollar loan from my mother and an old trunk and hutch in my front room that I used to sell supplies from.
My sister Joan, God Bless her heart, bought many of my early rugs. So did my other sisters. They were all supportive.
My mother wondered what the heck I was doing as I had just graduated with a masters degree in counselling but had decided I wanted to hook rugs for a living. She had right to wonder. She had not hooked rugs for sixty five years but she started again.
I never wondered. Everyday I did something that would make my business a little better.
For a while I spent more money than I made. I poured any money I made back into my business.
My husband paid the household bills. Being married really made a difference. It was so much easier knowing I did not have to pay the light bill.
I paid an employee before I paid myself. I needed help as there was so much to do.
When I think back to my early years in business I think of packing cards late at night.
I loved pretty much every minute of it.
I still do.
Today I am trying to come up with a small pattern to celebrate twenty five years. I went to bed last night thinking about it and I woke up this morning thinking about. That is what it is like. What you do is just part of you all the time.
Twenty five years of grace.
Twenty five years of beauty.
Twenty five years and counting.
Grateful for the years gone by.
Hopeful for the years to come.
Prayers and Blessings.
On Friday night as I was going to Duncan’s for nachos I stopped by the new downtown rink. There was a couple of families skating and playing on the ice.
After dinner another group was out for Friday night skate.
It was so good to see that kind of vibrancy.
The other day on instagram, Cumberland Public Library posted a book called “This is Where You Belong: The Art and Science of Loving the Place Where You Live.” I checked it out because I thought the title was good advice. You have to love the community you live in. When you do it is better for everyone. We can all take some responsibility for making the town a better place. It is easy really to commit to some little thing that makes your town better. It can be tiny. It can be big. Either way , we are the community and we need to carry it out, to make it happen.
In her book, Melody Warwick says that simple things increase the happiness factor you feel about your community. She suggests getting out and walking, volunteering, shopping and eating local, being creative,and knowing your neighbors are just a few ways of loving the place where you live.
I remember years ago there was a woman being interviewed on the radio about her home. She said, “It’s not what you got, it’s how you keep it.” Whether you live in a mansion or something more humble how you keep your place says alot about you. I think the same can be said about our community. A town does not have to be growing to be good. Goodness comes in all sorts of ways. It does not have to be big to be a great place to live. There are many communities much smaller than ours that are amazing places to live
Last summer a visitor was sitting in the window of my studio for a couple of days while she was here on a workshop. She was watching all the comings and going and she said,”This place is like Cedar Creek off the tv.” I wanted to say Cedar Creek is idyllic. It is on the water. Everyone there is beautiful.
But I did not. Instead I listened to what she said and looked at it from her perspective. We live in a small place where people know each other. She was here watching the community and she had a valuable persective.She was watching how we treat and interact with each other. I have thought about that a lot. Especially when I doubt Amherst. I remember that we are a community. We are in a constant state of change because we are made of people. People come and go. Their needs and abilities change. People change with in themselves. Because of this communities change.
We are even more of a community than Cedar Creek because we are real. It was really interesting to see our community from her perspective.
Small things that do not cost a lot like the outdoor rink, or the big block walk through the downtown (3 times around is two kilometres) add to the life of our village. It creates a sense of place, something for people to do and enjoy. When we live here it is our responsibility to create and find the joy in the community. There is buzz in seeing people enjoy and utilize their community. We are all strengthened by it. It is our job to make them happen;to work together to create beauty in the community.
Thanks to the town for listening to the community and working to make it just a little bit more like those sweet little towns on tv.We might not be Cedar Creek, but we’re Amherst.
As I work to create a selection of new beginner kits for the studio I think a lot about what it is like to be a beginner.
I have been starting to paint. Playing with new materials, learning how to handle them. It is a whole new world.
That must be what it is like when people start rug hooking. I remember how I was. I was so curious. I was starting out. Curious about everything.
I feel the same way whenever I start to paint.
I have never painted consistently enough for me to loose that beginner feeling.
I want our beginner kits to inspire people to make more rugs. I want them to make them curious about new and different materials. Curious about design! Curious about finishing and moving on.
I am going to make lots more small kits. I will see what I can come up with to keep people hooking. Small projects that are not daunting. Little pieces that they can finish easy and move on to new materials and colours. It will be like a little series of explorations. You will be able to play with designs, colours, and textures.
For the next little while as I explore painting big as a beginner I am also going to explore hooking small and imagine what it might be like for a beginner.
This year I will be in business for twenty five years. Every new year there is a new beginning. Anyone who works as an artist or as a business person. You are always starting over.
As I hook these small pieces and paint large I feel a real juxtaposition on some levels. On other levels there is a synchronicity. I find them both fun, and both challenging. In paint I work to complicate the materials so they are more interesting. In rug hooking I am trying to simplify the materials and keep the designs interesting.
The thing I am most happy about is that I am making. Ideas are emerging slowly but they are coming and I am excited about the possibility.
You would think if you were good at one it would be easy to be good at the other but it is not that way. I think I will have to make fifteen or twenty paintings to get anything I like. Maybe it is the same for rug hookers. You have to make lots to get to a point where you really start to like your work.
Be happy to make.
Be grateful you have the luxury to make.
It is a joy.
Twenty five years is a long time but really I am twenty five years and counting.
Twenty five years a beginner and hoping to remain that way.
Twenty five years and counting.
Sometimes I have to pull myself away.
I took a road trip on the weekend and delivered 22 of my rugs to the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia for their permanent collection.
I was happy to see them off and into good hands.
Getting around to taking them down there should have been easy but instead I keep talking myself out of hitting the road.
For me it is like a workout. I like it when I do it. I feel good afterward but I do not look forward to it.
It would be nice to try and change this but that would be like a diet. It is not going to happen. See I am happy like this. It is just that my curiousity does not get satiated so I have to break the bonds of home sometimes.
Once I got to the city it snowed heavily and I walked about and had a lovely time. It was just so pretty with all the lights. It does not get dark there at five o’clock because there are lights on everywhere.
A good dinner out.
A morning at the market.
Perfect really. I loved it.
I just needed a kick in the arse.
It will be easier if I just keep going away lots.
Just a night here and there.
Filling up the cup.
I wandered around the AGNS and one of the docents came along and guided me through a show of Nova Scotia artists. She asked really interesting questions, ones she herself did not know the answers too. I liked that. It left room for discussion. Art is so beautiful to talk about.
I bought a book by a painter I have been curious about. I bought some pens. Little things.
I looked at more art.
It was like one of Julia Cameron’s artists dates. We need them. We need to socialize the artist in us. She needs to be met in different places.
I came home, still not terrifically inspired but ready to work.
If I work the inspiration will come. I know that. Twenty five years at this has taught me to show up whether you feel like it or not.
Showing up and making lots of work.
That is the answer.
Make the work.
I told myself I would go somewhere in January but it has come and I am not feeling that desire. I am feeling the need for my nest.
I did not book anything for the month because I wanted to keep it open just in case I got the urge to travel.
We all have opinions about this time of year.
Regrets about resolutions not kept.
A friend told me yesterday that they love January. It is time to metaphorically clean house for her.
So many more feel as if it weighs heavy on them. I feel some of both.
The freshness and promise of the new year.
The trepidation and vastness of the year before me.
Hope would be a better word.
I feel the freshness that my friends feel.
We have shed the windows of their Christmas decor.
Georgina has taken down the rugs from The Very Mention of Home show to send to their permanent home at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.
The studio is claiming a different vibe. Hot pink foxes. Red moose. Vibrant coves.
Change is in the air in lots of ways.
Decisions must be made.
A new plan for a new year.
I have not started the first rug of 2017. I feel like once I do it will settle things into place.
For me the new year will begin when that hook slips through burlap to create something.
It will be then that I will settle into this year. A reclaiming of my routine.
On the eve of the New Year I am thankful for the last year.
Sitting with a few prayers, and hair in a towel ready to go out with friends, I look back and see that there was so much beauty behind me this past year.
My family thrived.
Work was good.
I loved so many of the rugs I made.
I sit here hopeful that new ideas, new interests, new beauty will follow for all of us, for you.
Lately when I wake in the morning I think “Let me fill this day with good things.”
I love the video that Maya Angelou made where she tells people to “Be a blessing.”
So often we look for blessings but she reminds us to be one.
A succinct statement. Be a blessing.
May 2017 be just that.
I fell down walking up Victoria Street. My niece and I were talking when I saw that part of the sidewalk was covered with a skiff of snow. I stepped on it.
It was not an easy fall. It was one of those falls that you are in the air first and then you land face down. It was a fall like the ones in the cartoons. A dramatic big time real life smash.
Luckily I had on my big fake fur coat which gave me a nice padding. Not a thing was hurt. Not even my pride. I have fallen a couple of times lately. Once I slipped on all the rotten apples under the tree when I was doing the pine boughs. I thought wouldn’t those bare branches with apples look so good in my window boxes. Wham right into the rotten apples. I was covered with brown scum but I continued with decorating. When I came in the door I took off the dirty clothes right by the door. I felt like a kid again.
It is strange how falling makes you feel like a child. As an adult though , when you get up ok, you are filled with this great sense of relief. Thank goodness nothing was broke. You just know you will be stiff. And I am. Stiff and sore and relieved. That sense of relief makes you happy. Oddly enough, after a fall you have this sense of elation. “I am ok, whew that was close.”
“That old black ice took a hold of me”…but I got up , continued to walk with my niece and just counted my blessings. Today, however, I will walk at the rink. I should be fine on that nice rubber floor as I walk slowly and stiffly trying to juice up my muscles and apologize to them for my clumsiness.
This is my niece and I prior to the dramatic slip on the ice where I pummelled into the air before hitting the ice with a thud. It was misty out so we were protecting our hair with our scarves. Had I known I could have also worn some hockey gear.
In my writing I have periods where I write a lot and periods where I barely write at all. I find that when I hook a lot I get better. Ideas flow more easily. I am going to try to write in the same way I hook. Just let it flow.
So I will not wait for the new year.
There will be no beginning.
Instead it will just be a continuance.
I will start from here. No waiting for the right time.
Why wait when you can begin.
I might wait for something else. Something I have to build a commitment to.
Something I do not look forward to.
I love to read my old writing. The old blog posts here from years ago.
Once I have written them I am glad.
Sometimes I read things over and I remember.
Sometimes I read things over and see how I have grown .
These writings will be right off the cuff.
I want to write from the spirit inside me that wants to write. They will be done in the moment because that is the only way I do it well.
Maybe these will be a conversation. Maybe sometimes I will ask a question. Right now I am wondering…
Are there practical creative habits that you need to start?
It happens so suddenly, that after Christmas feeling. Just a few days ago we were awaiting the magic and now it is past.
Personally I feel a kind of peace to have things back to normal, but also I feel a sense of loss.
I love the idea that it can be Christmas all year long, that we can keep that Christmas spirit, but if that was perfectly true the magic of Christmas would be lost.
I love gathering. I love the beauty of the lights. I love the season.
On the other hand, I do not love the winter. I just try to accept it.
I must adapt to this new season. This season of winter, with all it’s faults, beholds a great deal.
It is a time to renew and prepare.
It is a time to collect out thoughts.
A time to collect out thanks.
In all the barren and bareness, there is so much joy and hope.
So much anticipation of what might become.
Those bare branches will bloom again. I just have to wait.
Over the past four months I have visited a local Syrian family who has moved to our community. I have watched them adapt to winter so easily, with such gratefulness and acceptance.
It is cold, yes.
It is slippery. It is wet. It is windy.
There is also a fire in my wood stove.
The pantry is stocked.
Life is good here.
Watching someone else appreciate the peace here has made me more grateful in general.
When I start to waver I remember that others have come a long way to be in these blizzards.
Many other wait, and dream of the day that they can build a snowman with their children.
So there is loveliness in the bare trees.
When the roads are bad I will try to just settle in,
find some hand work,
say my prayers,
and be grateful even when things about the winter are getting own my nerves.
The pond was fit for skating yesterday. Today it is ten degrees.
This photo of my friends was taken by a photographer from the states who was here on a Rotary International Film crew. It is so beautiful.
I am hooking neutrals…..
There is nothing like home. I have had a long tradition of making a rug for myself in December. I had just finished making a rug for my kitchen.
The other night I walked into my home just after dark and gasped at the comfort it offered. It surprised me. I walk in this house every evening but somehow the light surprised me, it was the glow from the fire in the wood stove. The rug in the corner, the twenty year old couches, the plant on the coffee table were waiting for me. I felt so certain I was in the right place. That is home.
It waits for us.
The house feels fuller because we are there.
We belong, feel situated.
It takes very little to turn a house into home.
It is the light, the people, the fire.
It is the bits of me memory in the little things.
A painting, a rock picked on a beach somewhere.
The books that you love.
Something soft underfoot.
And the thankfulness that it is there upon your return.
Waiting for you like you never left.
Yesterday a little boy visited our house because he had asked Santa to see inside some old houses. It made me look at our house from a different perspective and I appreciated that.
The things we are used to we look at from the same perspective all the time. It takes another pair of eyes to help us see again sometimes.
Whether it is your home, your business, your art, you rug hooking. Sometimes we need to step away and let someone else show it to us from their point of view.
As I get ready to teach this winters online class I try to think from the perspective of the people who will be learning with me. Every little video we make is about the learner. When I do this I see my rug hooking from a new perspective. I can see what I am doing rather than just doing it. I learn a lot myself from this. It slows me down and makes me examine the process more carefully.
It is a kind of self examination, watching your shadow, or thinking about the way you think.
Today as I look around the studio and the women’s store I feel the season of Christmas fast approaching. Remembrance Day has passed and we are busy prepping for the holidays. Windows are glittering with white lights and shiny balls.
At night at home I have little lights on timers that come on at five until ten and when I come home in the evening they are waiting for me. I try to think of winter as a festival of light. I miss the early morning and evening light that came naturally in my window so I reinvent it with a little sparkle. I put small white lights on shelves to lighten up the long hours of darkness in my house studio. They make me feel cozy and warm.
Our windows in both shops are simple but they too focus on the warm white light that we need in winter. Georgina, Susan (30 Church Women’s Clothing) and Denise put the windows together today. Watching them really got me in the mood for this long season of celebration.
I just do not engage in all the negative hype we hear about Christmas. I think it is a miracle season. It is a time when we look outside of ourselves to help, or cherish others. I still see the beauty in giving and receiving gifts and love the symbolism of it. The wisemen brought frankincense and myrrh to the baby and it turns out, he too , already had everything. Gifts can be simple, joyous, and useful. We do not have to overburden anyone. I love to give gifts.
I look forward to the little celebrations that people have.
The joy and comfort. The hope, peace, and charity that prevail at this time of year. It still makes me believe in possibility. It reminds me of the importance of faith.
It is our season. It is my season. Time to spread a little joy. Time to remember others’ kindness.
There is no way that I am going to diminish the beauty of this season. It is a celebration of birth. I want it. I want to share it. I want to celebrate it.
These months of darkness need a blessing.
And Christmas is just that, a chance to celebrate what we have, what we had, and what we hope for.
So the season starts, not with endless shopping, though I will do some of that.
Not with endless plans for fancy evenings and complicated foods.
It starts with a little white light in the window.
Lip Service, Diane Krys
It’s been a number of years since I first tried my hand at felting and it’s taken my work in all sorts of unexpected directions. l make a point to take a felting workshop every year or two to try new things and build my skills. This fall I made a road trip to Penticton, British Columbia for Felt :: Feutre Canada’s biannual symposium which featured an International gathering of instructors, as well as, many other inspiring events including an exhibition, fashion show, artist’s talks and a Saturday night banquet.
It was a rich experience full of camaraderie. I registered for Charlotte Sehmisch’s workshop. She was traveling all the way from Germany and I was excited to gain an understanding of her fascinating architectural structures and surfaces. I also had work accepted for the Migration exhibition and was delighted to participate in a morning art chat- although I never expected to be standing in front of large group of felters talking about rug hooking! An even bigger surprise came Saturday night at the banquet. You could have knocked me over with a feather when my name was announced for the sculptural felt award. I was extremely honoured and thrilled but along with joy unexpected emotions cropped up the next day in class.
As others kindly offered their congratulations I started to feel self conscious about the wonky work I was doing in class. Charlotte’s techniques were amazing but challenging and they sure didn’t roll off of my fingertips with grace. The class projects were methodical, precise and took me right out of my comfort zone.
In the wake of recognition I was having skittering feelings of discomfort as I realized everyone was seeing my lumpy, bumpy, learning curve. I thought my obvious fumbles would surely leave them questioning how the heck I ever received an award. Oh the mind games we play with ourselves about perceptions and worthiness.
Long ago I let go of any expectation of producing perfection in workshop situations and liberated myself to experiment without inhibition even if it meant a crash and burn. Experience has taught me the real prize is the new idea or technique and that you can bring into your work down the road and it can surface from the good, the bad and the ugly. I reminded myself of all this as I made peace with this odd convergence of feelings.
In retrospect it was an unusual juxtaposition to receive recognition for an accomplishment and in the very next breath be back in the trenches faltering and fumbling- all with the same group. Yet the more I think about it it seems a perfect manifestation of artistic growth where practice, skill and achievement form a perfect circle to connect right back to a new beginning.
Aside from a great learning experience with Charlotte I also learned something about myself. I’m okay to let others see my imperfect growth and missteps, which is something I realized you may need to contend with as you move further into the world as a professional. I think it’s part of the humanity embedded in every piece of work and while it may not show when you’re putting your best foot forward for an exhibition or something, we all have imperfect beginnings and they too are beautiful things.
Ok, it’s stewing time here in Amherst Nova Scotia
yup, in November I often simmer
on a back burner and I get a little bored waiting for the next idea
that could possibly become a reality.
Some of my ideas are bad, like this morning when I looked at the empty stone bank building and thought I should do something with that.
It would be a good idea if I needed a building but all I really need is a project.
That is why I simmer. I am not waiting for someone to give me an idea of what I should do next.
I just need to wait and see what I can do next. What motivates me and what I am inspired to do.
That is the simmer.
If you don’t simmer you never really get a well cooked , delicious stew. I know that.
So I came in to my office, unsure, thinking, if only I had an idea.
Then a little package came in the mail from a woman I met at 30 Church, my clothing store.
She said after coming to 30 Church and the studio she went home and read my blog from start to finish and that she was inspired. That inspired me.
Then I got a little thank you note from a lovely woman else for an event we hosted.
Then I thought, “Hey, maybe you just need to keep doing what you are doing.”
Two nice notes on one day. I posted them above my desk to remind me to keep doing, thinking and writing. To remind me of the kindness of others.
To remind me to do the same for other people who are good to me, or whom I enjoy.
Then I walked down to the bowling alley by myself and had a piece of pan fried cod. It was really good.
I got very little done today, and that’s okay.
Cause I’m on simmer.
There is no need to be on full boil all the time.
You cannot be everything all at once.
You are what you are.
Beauty is on the inside.
We know all of this . We have heard it a hundred times. Yet we wonder.
Am I enough?
We would not be saying, “I need to lose ten pounds.”
We would not be comparing ourselves to others if we were sure we were enough.
Recently I was surprised when a few of my friends and myself all agreed that sometimes we felt not enough.
We talked about it. It was our own thing, we owned it. It was not that people made us feel that way. We were just that way.
A few years ago there was a photography trend on the internet where people wrote “I am enough.” on themselves a had their picture taken. You have probably seen them.
I liked them. It is good to reinforce the idea that you are enough.
Then I started to feel that gnawing feeling. If she is enough, how come sometimes I don’t feel enough.
My friends and I were honest with each other. Sometimes we compare ourselves with others. Sometimes we feel that we are not enough. Not enough, not good enough, not loving enough, not kind enough, not thin enough.
Lately I have been hearing many women say…”Oh I am past all that.” Some are. I am sure.
But some I am sure, are not.
Some are past it some of the time.
Many struggle with it occasionally.
It is only human to wonder if you are enough.
Some days I am enough.
Some days I am more than enough.
But frankly, some days I could do better.
Some days I could be kinder, more generous.
Maybe I returned home with kitchen envy.
Maybe I ate a big pistachio square at the local deli.
Maybe I snapped at my husband.
Maybe I looked at the beautiful people across the room and felt frumpy..
Maybe I did not do any of those things in the last week but I know I am fsusceptible and know they might happen again. Cause sometimes I am good and sometimes I feel I’m a bit …well you know… a bit “not good enough”.
I just want to say that this struggle seems real to a lot of us.
“Comparison is the thief of joy” said Theodore Roosevelt, and that was before instagram, Facebook and photographic filters.
That was before we were all faced everyday with the marvels of social media where no one ever posts that they picked their nose. Warning: If you are thinking of doing that just to even things out a little, don’t. It is not a good idea. It is just something we don’t need to know.
The thing is comparing ourselves to others might be the thief of joy, unless it makes you strive to be a little more, a little kinder, a little healthier, a little better.
Only a few of us have been blessed with the kind of self possession that keeps us from looking around at what the other fella is doing. If you have it, good for you. Honestly, that is great.
For the rest of us, we are only human.
Sometimes we might forget our blessings.
We have been given hearts to love and minds to think so it is natural to wonder.
And sometimes we might even wonder about ourselves.
Every year I start preparing for my fall workshop a year in advance.
Every year I am afraid. You might not know that about me. That I am scared.
Scared I won’t know enough. Scared it will not be good. Scared. Anxious. Worried.
I prepare for it for months. I work hard at it. I am ready. I know I am ready but still I am never sure. I never take it for granted.
One woman told me she taught six classes a year at university and she was always nervous before every class. Thank you for telling me. I feel less alone.
I want it to be beautiful. The first day is always so hard because there is so much to cover. There is so much to say, to do, to learn.
Hard but good. You can feel that people are taking things in st the end of the first day.
By the second day you can see eyes lighting up with idea. You see hearts open. You see rugs on their way, but mostly you see people on their way. You see their art spirits emerging.
The morning of the third day I walk on and I am not scared anymore. I am in good company. We have talked and reassured each other. I have made friendships. I know names. I see the soulfulness in each person instead of their name tag. That is why I love the third day. There is a magic in the air that comes with knowing there is only so much time left for the work that has to be done.
Best of all, I am not scared anymore. I believe again. I know that people have learned and that I have more to give.
The day ends with a beautiful feeling. A kind of elation. Joy. Purpose. All in the pursuit of art. It is good.
And then everyone goes home and I say a little prayer that they will carry the ideas and the spirit of the workshop with them as they make their mats. I pray that they will find the artist inside themselves.
Then I look to my own work. I think about next year and I am not scared. I am sure. And I relish that feeling because I know it will go away and I will be scared again. Because that is how it is.
And that unsureness will insure that I will work hard and make and create. It will make me make. And that is a good thing. Not to be too sure of oneself. To question, to study, to learn.
It is the artist in you stewing.
It is the teacher in you wanting to teach.
It is the student in you learning.
It is your little soul stirring.
But you do it even if you are afraid.
People weigh in all the time on what you should or shouldn’t do. I have found as I have gotten older I know that you cannot know what is good for another person. It is hard enough to know what is good for ourselves. When I started 30 Church Women’s Clothing store across the street I wondered if I was taking on too much. It is like that when you start anything new I suppose. You wonder how far you can push yourself. What I discovered though is that creatively, it opened me up because it made me step away from my artistic work. It made me take full breaks where I was not thinking at all about what to hook next. Instead of just plodding through I took a time out, and the results have shown themselves this year in my work. The 49 squares that I completed this summer makes me happy every time I see it. The house show , The Very Mention of Home has helped me explore my own very personal relationships with both Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. I think essentially we spend our time doing what we want to be doing. I never feel as if there is no time to hook rugs because when I want to hook rugs, I make the time. When I need to step away from it I go across the street and help women pick out clothes and follow my values about what is beautiful. Beauty is everywhere. I seek it and I strive for it. There are many different ways of finding it. Trusting yourself about what you should be doing is the first step, then committing yourself to doing it is the next step. I love to make rugs. I believe rugs are art. Art is a way of being, one of of seeing the beauty around you. When I say it is a way of being, that also means it is about action, about making, about the practical act of creation. In making we can become more ourselves. I have learned this as made these last two series of rugs. I identify with them because they are part of me. I see the 49 rugs as 49 walks or 49 stories or 49 days or 49 places. They are my history and my present.
Last weekend on a visit to Newfoundland I thought a lot about the house rugs I made last winter. I thought a lot about growing up and where I live now. It is in the making of these rugs that I came to terms with my own notions about home. The act of making art is a process of discovery. You learn things about yourself that you never knew existed. I am always amazed to discover what comes out of it.
You go back to the hill you grew up on,
And visit friends from years ago.
There is not much to say.
You take a walk.
You take it all in.
You go back in the house to get your jacket and you hear your friend singing an old Kris Kristofferson tune.
The same one he sang when you were twelve. The sound of the voice wraps around you like a comfort.
You know you are in the right place.
And you remember there was never much to say, and that was the pleasure of it.
That you are friends and not much needs to be said.
We go out for a fish dinner.
The restaurant has the same lemon squares and dates squares your mother made when company came.
The light has to be just so and your viewing angle must be perfect to see it. The labour of a spider, the web of entrapment is a mesmerizing piece of detail and finery that humans cannot reproduce.
Today two friends from childhood visited me in my studio. It was a sudden unexpected visit. My favourite kind.
Shirley Pomroy and her sister Moe lived three doors up the hill on the other side of the road. After school Shirley would come to my house for French fries. We would play.
On quiet grey Sunday afternoons I would go to her house and we would eat thick slices of homemade bread smothered in cabbage water. She was one of about eleven kids who were all still at home.
I was the youngest of seven, six who had moved away. I remember her mother with her dark Irish hair and fair skin leaned over a Singer treadle machine, sewing. She made tailored suits for my sister who would bring out grey pin striped wool cloth from St Johns where she worked in a bank.
We grew up on a hill in clapboard houses that shook and lifted in the wind. Our windows rattled and we ate porridge and corned beef and cabbage and salt fish. We were soaked in culture but absent in the knowledge of it. We had everything we needed but we had nothing at all. Forget me nots grew in the ditches outside our houses and our yards flowed down to the sea. We walked across gravel paths, and threw rocks, and caught Caplin in white buckets.
Our lives were so simple. Today as we talked, things we had not thought about in years came flooding back. The things we never knew or understood. The beauty that surrounded us, that we loved and took for granted, at the same time.
My show of hooked rugs called The Very Mention of Home was hanging on the wall when they came. As I look at it now every rug is connected to our stories. They are the symbols of what we left behind and of what we found.
Neither of us think daily of what we had there as a lament. But as we said good bye, our eyes filled up, and I think it is because when ever you find something new there is so much lost in the old. There is so much lost in what you left behind. So much so that you cannot remember unless you see the others who were there and knew what you knew, and heard what you heard and saw what you saw. We know each other’s stories.
So our eyes filled as they left, not so much for each other but for some kind of beauty and innocence that has been lost and forsaken for what we now have and what we know to be blessings. For none of us would go back there to that place and time but neither would we forsake those long afternoons of not knowing about the big world outside of the bay we lived upon. Of sitting on Sunday afternoon with nothing to do but look out upon that bay and wonder what was beyond it.
Visiting cousins and nieces and sisters.
And bicycling and swimming and walking.
A summer of writing down everything you can remember about what you are thankful for.
And then writing down everything you know about making rugs so you can teach another how to do the same.
It is a summer of harvests from others’gardens. Little farm stands on the roadside and big greenhouses on back roads.
It is the summer of friendship. Long evening walks with our faces pointed toward the marsh as the sun goes down upon it.
It is a summer of bounty, family and friendship.
Swimming with and against the tide. Walking half a mile just to get wet.
A summer of letting your hair down,
of walking into the wind,
And getting messy.
A summer of waking up and thanking God for the pleasure of the day,
For the beauty of the wooden beams above my head and the shiny boards under my feet.
This morning I marvelled that the winter could actually come as I filled my table with fresh eggs and tomatoes.
I could hardly believe the truth in the seasons.
That there would be snow and ice when now summer is just so strong and precious.
Simple suppers eaten outside.
Full moons and meteor showers.
The smell of roses in the air and dragon flies all around.
Summer, every year we fall in love again.