I used to have a bag of clay in the corner of my atelier here at the house. Which didn’t make much sense since the room was set up for bookbinding. For a year maybe -as a form of meditation – I made tiny begging bowls that I would return to the bag of clay each day.

The bag of clay dried out before long.

wp-1467116767648.jpgI haven’t really worked with clay since I was 13. I had an art teacher then who let me use the kick-wheel during lunch breaks. Mr. Shannon didn’t teach or instruct me that year. He was my mentor.

Once he gave me a set of watercolors and a salt shaker and said, Get at it.

Once he made a blind so I couldn’t see the paper while I drew my own hand, and I have been fascinated by the tactile quality of lines ever since.

Later I learned that Edouard Manet said there are no lines in nature. That is because line is a language. And, like my grasp of Norwegian, here my comprehension far exceeds my composition skills.

Another time, Mr. Shannon asked me to describe all the colors I could see in a white hat – worn by a cowboy in a Marlboro ad in a Smithsonian magazine –  if I remember correctly.

Not even black and white are black & white.

At the end of that year, my life was uprooted (again), and I lost whatever I was connecting to then. But the desire remains even now.

When I experience nostalgia, it is like this: small moments of half-discoveries. And nostalgia’s inherent fear of the unmet potentials.

Still, everytime I hold a rough piece of ceramic I am flooded with a calming and full ambivalence. There are days I wonder why I’ve not thrown out all of the dishes and settled with a few scratchy, glazed bowls and a few wooden spoons.

I suppose this really is the very definition of nostalgia? If I ever won the lottery, I would have a second, tiny home made of roughly-hewn cedar – and I would fill it with wool and beeswax.

Cinder block frightens me.

But so does snow.

img_20161007_095640Paper can make me weep with grief.

Handling old books is cathartic. And I cannot – and don’t want to – explain it.

I trace marginalia with my finger.

*

Last year I asked E. to give me Play Doh for Christmas. Now I have a small plastic box on my desk. It smells like my childhood: plastic.

Plastic/plastique/amorphous.

I suppose my experience is more associative than it is synaesthetic.

I hold the Play doh. I squeeze it like a stress ball.

I make ephemeral, unnaturally green begging bowls.

Truth be told: I am still too timid to leave a begging bowl – of any kind – in the world.

 

 

 

 

 

Today I learned that hummingbirds see more colors than we do. I don’t know why that fact keeps bobbing into my consciousness now. I find myself searching for a word to describe the emotion that I feel.

Wistful?

Attending to life is an act of love. – Katie Rubenstein

I sit on a rock in the forest, I try so hard to take it all in. The cold, the damp, the blackbirds’ song, the bugs, the soft rotting wood of the tree stumps, the mushrooms, the moss. Leonard sniffs and pushes his nose under the leaves. Grunts. 

I can’t shake the feeling that I am missing something – not doing it right. Although I can’t find the words to describe what it is either. 

Attending?

My thought process is attending, attendance, lessons. But I know that isn’t the point: there are no lessons. Only attendance.

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love
the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are
now written in a very foreign tongue.  – Rainer Maria Rilke

This is day 3 of a pilgrimage I felt too broken to begin. I have not been attending. Rather, I’ve been observing the gap between my ambitions and my efforts widen into an iridescent gorge. It’s kind of mesmorizing. Stupefying.

Last week between the cloudbursts, I painted the new birdfeeder and put it in the yard beside the raspberry bushes. I screwed in a hook and hung a net with a ball of seeds under the feeder’s little roof. But the crows are too cunning and they took the ball of seeds – and the net as well. I tried to make small talk with the neighbors and share my little anticdote, but I couldn’t remember the word for crow. This happens in the summer, especially when E. is offshore: it’s like my Norwegian is folded and put in a box in the back of the closet for the season.

Today during a spell of blue sky, I poured sunflower seeds on the platform of the birdfeeder. The neighbors were passing by as I did so and they told me that the songbirds aren’t interested in seeds this time of year, but that I’d surely have sunflowers growing among my raspberry bushes soon.

img_20200624_1615431518280510275908546.jpg
The world’s most expensive dog dish.

So I’m considering whether that might be totally fine with me.

I pour myself a glass of wine, settle into a deckchair, and watch Leonard drink out of the new bird fountain.

Pigeons see the world in slow motion, and there are mourning doves resting on the electric lines that run from the house.

I think I can imagine what it’s like to have a bird’s-eye view of this sunny window of a wet afternoon.

Random facts:

  • A pigeon and a dove are both named due in Norwegian: doo-eh.
  • The Norwegian word for hummingbird is kolibri.

I have no idea of the etymology of the word, and no idea why they bothered to give it a Norwegian name:

  • There are no hummingbirds in Norway.

I wonder if rain is heavy on hummingbird wings.

I wonder if they see it coming.