Monday, March 28, 2011

Cave vs. Sanctuary

When does a sanctuary become a cave, and vice versa? Well, let's look at the differences.

A sanctuary is where one rests, rejuvenates, and relaxes. It's a place of peace. Like my bedroom, which is done in the shabby chic style, lots of airy white with greens and blues and touches of pink and has sunlight and daylight and sunset light pouring in all the time.

A cave is where one retreats to wrestle with matters of the mind, heart and soul. It's a dark place, whether literally or figuratively. Like my bedroom, which is not literally dark except at night. But figuratively? Couldn't have a better, deeper, darker cave and I've been in many a cave in this lifetime.

When my last job ended two days before Christmas, I was shattered. There was an element of relief, knowing I wouldn't have to deal with the dreck any more, but the pain, the shattering into a thousand pieces, overwhelmed everything else. That's what happens when your entire life changes in a split second. (Truly? No one should ever have to wake up on Christmas morning with tears pouring down their face even before waking.)

Cave and sanctuary: My room folded itself around me and let me just be ME. The healing process began and continues, the letting go of that day and the eight years leading up to it began and continues, the reorganization of my life began and continues, and the transformation began and continues.

One mentally ill man came through my workplace on his bike and said in passing, "Life's a funny old thing, isn't it?" It is. It really is. And if one takes that perspective, then everything sorta kinda falls into place.

I've been laying down the groundwork for the next segment of my life's path. Life goes on. I have family and freelance work and other matters that make up my life; the world didn't stop just because my path hit a very large roadblock. And I'll be making some very exciting announcements in the near future as my dream gets off the ground!

There are those of you who have been beyond supportive: my Milwaukee "twin," my fellow reader and Pal, my fellow sojourner who absolutely believes in my dream, my daughter who also learned the pain of losing a job, my two sisters (especially the one who opened her arms and just held me on Christmas Day), and my mother. Where would I be without any and all of you?

I'm back on my life's path and I'm moving forward, wherever it leads me. The sunlight feels great!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Miranda and the Artist's Learning Curve

This is Miranda. She was my teacher last night, as you'll see, and she was most patient and effective. Every artist, every crafter needs a Miranda. Here she is at a restaurant.

I've sat at sewing machines since I was thirteen, and I grew up around them. Clothes, quilts, wall hangings, artsy-craftsy items and more have come from my Singer sewing machines. I have this ginormous fabric stash in my garage going back 20 years (with some fabrics from 1980-1983). But I had to set aside sewing for the last four years other than making curtains for my mother in 2008 and a sewing job in January - and that job reminded me why I love to sew and how much I miss it.

Well, a week or so ago, I got a Borders 40% off coupon in my inbox. That, for a book lover, is akin to giving home-grown catnip to a cat. Purr-- uh, muttering in excitement, I headed for my local Borders (which, fortunately, is not being closed) to browse. I was delighted to find this book:

I'm a bird watcher. I'm a crafter or artist. And my sister's birthday was rapidly approaching. Need I say more? There are many scrumptious projects in this book and I had the supplies. Oh, which one to make? The week took on a life of its own, as weeks do, and the ensuing time crunch had me eliminating the more elaborate projects. I was quite taken with this Quail project and I had all the fabrics chosen in pale yellows, greens and purples:

Easy-peasy, right? 'Twas the day and night before my sister's birthday...and if that doesn't have red flags and alarms going for all you crafters out there, I don't know what does. The first bird was a pinhead quail. The author's instructions didn't quite work the way they should have, particularly with the head and bottom gussets. Gussets are a necessary evil in sewing 3-D objects, to keep them from being flat and two-dimensional. So I sat down again and reviewed the instructions. I mentally told the author what she could do with instructions #2, 6 and 7 and did it my way. Better, much better. Then I hit a roadblock. I'm not sure what exactly happened. The project wasn't flowing, it was late and I was tired and cold and exasperated and annoyed with myself. This is what my dining room looks like when I'm immersed in a project.

Can you tell I need my own crafting/sewing room? Badly. But I'm utterly grateful for having this much space! In my previous location, I had to use a desk with about 2 feet by 3 feet of clear space in a space created by two sofas at a 90-degree angle in a corner. So this is heaven.

This was taken at about 1:30 AM. By midnight or so, that roadblock hit. I briefly considered setting aside the project and buying something for my sister. I paced back and forth. I asked myself why I was doing this. Come to think of it, that's still kind of a good question...always is.
Because, you see, something shifted. I was in the living room, where my ironing board was set up and the uncut but ironed fabrics were draped over chairs, and I was staring blankly at the fabrics with the quail in my hand...and this tiny, tiny voice whispered in my mind...Hi, I'm Miranda. You know me. I've read Diary of a Mad Housewife (oh, I probably wrote it) and The Bell Jar and I've read Gone With the Wind. I read a lot and my life is crazy and not always my own...and I'm unique. I'm MIRANDA! I looked down at Miranda with shocked delight - remembering - when my creations talk to me or I weave stories about and around them, then I'm tapping into my core, my heart, of creativity, reaching into the recesses of my soul and my mind - how could I have forgetten this?
And I spent a glorious hour or so putting the finishing touches on Miranda - she did not at all want to look prim and proper like the quail project in the book. I created a wire nest with fabric strips woven throughout the wires because Miranda is a mother and loves her home and her brood even if they drive her crazy. I created wires and beads for her quail head feathers and true to form, they wobble, and I created a necklace for her because she just loves bling. But the beak wouldn't stay on. It wouldn't. So I whipped out the disappearing-ink pen and inked in a toothy, mad grin and used pen ink over it. (That purple ink had better air-disappear as the packaging claims. But if it doesn't, then Miranda has a few tattoos!) And I went to bed tired and happy.

In the morning, I found a note from my daughter next to Miranda: Mom, Aunt Lynn's present is beautiful but you should really consider putting a beak on it. It doesn't look like a bird, it has a creepy smile. But it's very creative. (heart)
So I thought some more. Aha! A beak mask! I grabbed felt and orange thread and created a beak mask for the days when Miranda must put on a nice face and go out. It can be removed any time to show that toothy, maniacal grin:

Miranda and my sister (her birthday is today) took to each other and when I showed her that quail picture, she said "uh-uh, I love Miranda, she's perfect" - and talked about Miranda flying until she finds her own spot in her house or craft room and taking the beak mask off as a mood indicator.
Thank you, Miranda. I know you'll be very happy in Lynn's home - and I'll make the other birds MY WAY, listening to them and their stories and knowing to whom they will go.

Friday, March 11, 2011


I was working on my blog post last night, and the topic was Death and what it's all about. I had the news going at the same time...and the breaking news was about Japan's 8.9 earthquake and tsunami. The terrible devastation that we all witnessed on the news rendered my post insignificant and I have set it aside for the time being out of respect for the events still unfolding.

It hits home even harder because I live in that Ring of Fire, in Southern California. My parents and their oldest (an infant) lived through the Tehachapi quake in 1951 - in Taft, right by the epicenter - and my mother's stories are vivid. That oldest, my older sister, lived through the Loma Prieta quake in October 1989 (better known as the Bay Area quake). Her stories are equally vivid. Earthquakes are a fact of life here. We shake, rattle and roll along with the quakes. The east-facing doors in my apartments will not stay open without a doorstop and my bedroom floor upstairs is disconcertingly uneven, due to the apartment's structure resettling from quakes.

I can tell you one thing. When an earthquake strikes, anything above magnitude 5.0, 5.5, you are literally in the moment and the moment seems to last for an eternity, even though it may be 30, 45 seconds, one minute. And when it stops, it feels as if it is continuing and you don't quite realize it. It is always a peculiar sensation, no matter how many times one has experienced it. So for the 8.9 quake to last five solid minutes, that truly is an eternity, an unimaginable eternity.

I'm about 15 to 18 miles inland from the beaches, in a flood basin. Prado Dam is about 24 miles northeast and if it were to go, there would be six feet of water throughout the flood basin. We faced that about seven or eight years ago when the dam sprang a major leak. It's a well known fact that we're long overdue for the Big One and the smaller quakes relieve our fault lines of the tension building up to the potential Big One. I'm okay with that, believe me.

Why? Why do people live in risky areas? Well, why do people live in Tornado Alley? Or near volcanoes (whether active, dormant or extinct)? Or by the beach? In the mountains? Let's face it, our planet is a living, breathing organism and Nature is not going to cease for mere humans. Planet Earth will continue to shift the tectonic plates and scratch an itch here and there. Weather prediction and control? Still very much a developing science. I will allow that I think it is just beyond incredibly stupid when people build tunnels under water (such as BART or the Chunnel). And nuclear plants in earthquake zones? Suicidal. People become complacent, thinking it will never happen to them. Or they figure with fatalism that there's a bullet with their name on it, wrought by an earthquake, that they're not going to dodge. Meanwhile, they've got to live somewhere. Might as well be someplace nice and worth taking the risk.

(That movement, Zero Population Growth, is starting to look awfully good again. So are the annual Darwinist Awards. Mind you, I'm talking about Southern California.)

Can it happen here? Hell, yeah. Will it happen here? Oh, yes. When? We don't have the answer to that one, folks. But I can tell you, when the earth jiggles, and we feel it, our first thought - whether we admit it or not - invariably is, The Big One, is it the Big One? And when it turns out not to be the Big One, we shake it off and resume the daily routine. But it whispers at the very back of our minds, from the shadowy recesses...

Because Nature trumps us. Hands-down.

We Southern Californians would do well to keep that in mind.

For all the people and animals who have lost their lives in the Honshu earthquake and made the transition Home, I offer this prayer:

May the Grace and the Glory, the Mercy and the Compassion, and above all else, the Love of the Lady and the Lord surround you as you continue on your souls' journeys. So mote it be and blessed be.

And my heart and prayers go out to the survivors who must live through this awful nightmare for days, months and years to come.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Spirit Circle at my place!

Whoa! Where did February go?! It has been exactly one month since my last post and I have a LOT of catching up to do. This picture epitomizes what my month has been like. (I took it near Jenny Lake in the Grand Tetons several years ago.) Wildly scattered energies with a few roadblocks while many loose ends have been tied up. I'm starting anew in a lot of areas, laying down the groundwork. Some of it is personal in that I'm reorganizing at home and working on new art projects. Some of it is professional, and I'm learning how to use social media to advertise myself. There are new and exciting developments in store and by later this month I will have lots of news! When a very major door was slammed shut last December, I had to recover from that and start anew on my path. Actually, it was more like being yanked back to my path. New doors are opening in many areas of my life, and I'm grateful and thankful to be able to explore these new paths. A lot has been accomplished to date but the downside was that I didn't have time to blog because my days and half the evenings have been jam-packed.

But first (and this is a first for me), I'm doing a spirit circle at my home!

Saturday, March 20 from 1 to 3 pm

$40 per person

E-mail me at to reserve a spot and to get directions to my comfortable living room. There's a maximum of 10 although I can go up to 12 or 14 (but count on overtime for that). Hope to see you here - what better way to treat yourself to the Spring Equinox than a lively time in the circle?

Stay tuned. A new post is in the works and will be uploaded tomorrow.