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This is not the squirrel that was on our porch; our squirrels are grey and plump. I think this guy came from MC Yogi’s facebook page.

This is what you need to know: the hole in our screen door on the third floor porch is slightly wider than the average squirrel – which makes sense, because a squirrel made the hole. And the latch on the wooden door behind the screen door is somewhat iffy. And also, there was a package of crackers* on the porch for feeding the local squirrels** until my forgetful ass remembers to pick up some more peanuts.

The other day when I came home from work and noticed that there was only one cracker left in the open cracker sleeve, and a pile of crumbs on the chair, it was sorta cute, right? Aww – look at the (non-poop) evidence that squirrels have been here. And when I have looked into the porch to occasionally find a squirrel snacking in the chair on the porch, and then see her vacate when she sees me reach for the camera, that’s also cute. Be aware, that in neither of these situations was the squirrel panicked, and so it was adorbz.

Panicked squirrels, on the other hand, are not adorbz. They are, in fact, a little terrifying. This is what happened on Wednesday afternoon when I was leaving the house to pick up Dearest Will from work:

– I discover a squirrel on my third floor porch with a cracker in her mouth.  She rushes at me, I jump back and squeal, because this is startling. She stops in the spot where I was. I stamp my foot, in hopes that she will run back toward the screen door and out the way she came in. This is not what happens; she says Bring It On in squirrel, which is to say she rushes me and jumps back at the same time as I jump back, making surprised noises (both of us). Then she runs past me, down the stairs. I swear a little bit.

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In the dream, I am waking in a small room with a very big bed, a four poster with a rectangle of white silk at the top, and a rich red blanket on top of soft white sheets. The room is made of a kind of stone that holds a golden glow in the morning light. I can smell incense. I stand and go to the window, which is actually a huge balcony, open to the street far below.

There’s no more of it that I remember, but I remember that part so strongly, that two years later it is clear as a bell.

And Monday night when I saw the picture on the right, I very nearly lost my shit –  the place in that dream is a real place, Jaisalmer Fort in Rajasthan, India. Color me weirded out. I’m still trying to figure out the significance of all that – I’ll let you know if I come to any conclusions that are illuminating, kk?

Also, for reference, I saved the above picture on my Pinterest board Places, where I’m collecting pictures of places that let me escape in little bitty bits over the day to a place where things are content (and pretty). Feel free to take a peek.

 

 

Earlier today I posted up about my new camera (phone), and in the notes at the bottom, I mentioned that I’ve been working on Something. And I’ve made that Something.

I’ve desired for a while to make poetry videos that are not performance based (meaning videos that do not focus on the poet reading to the camera or the audience). And now that I have the camera (ok, phone), I’ve had the chance to try it. I started this project thinking that I would shoot some footage of the area around No. 208, have some friends climb up on the roof, and film them, blah blah blah. But I struggled with it, and it didn’t turn out. In a fit of aggravation, I turned to what I know best: my scraps table. I currently* know little to nothing about shooting a video, but I do know how to make a collage. And so that’s what I did.**

Here it is; I humbly offer you my very first video –

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When I was little, there was a darkroom off the living room – I’m pretty sure it had once been a closet. It was my father’s darkroom, built with his own two hands. There was a red light, and there was equipment and paper in there, and it smelled of chemicals that I came to associate with my dad and with grownup stuff. My dad carried his camera pretty much everywhere when I was little – it may or may not have been a Minolta. Whatever the camera was, he took some truly bitchin’ black and white photos, and he processed them himself (I was really impressed by this when I was little – I still remain impressed, to be honest) over the course of my childhood, in a series of smallish rooms cordoned off in every house we lived in. When the digital age arrived, he moved on to digital cameras, of course, and the darkrooms disappeared. At some point he picked other hobbies,* and really only shoots pictures now at family events or when he and my mom go on vacation. They’re still really good pictures, just not as many.

Me, I never got into photography that much. When I was thirteen, I ended up with a Minolta that had once been my dad’s. I dropped it directly on its lens onto a brick sidewalk in Princeton, NJ, and the cap got jammed so tight it had to be taken to a camera shop to get fixed, and I had to borrow two weeks of allowance in order to do it. I brought the camera home from that outing in tears – I was mortified, and also afraid to pick it up ever again. I think I shot something like two rolls of film, all told. When my son was born, I shot lots of pictures for, like, two years – but I never had the money to develop them,** and once it became apparent that I took pictures and never developed them, I stopped taking pictures altogether.

But now, zomg, I got a phone.

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So. I brought the little bitty computer with me to Kripalu with the express intention of writing every night while I was on retreat. But it turned out that even checking my email on the little machine was akin to trading on the NASDAQ from a cigar box, so, um, yeh, that really didn’t happen. But honestly, this was the first time in four years that I went on retreat and brought any electronic business with me – usually I go up there and unplug pretty completely; I don’t even call home, right? So perhaps this was a sign from the Universe that really, unplugged is the way to go while I’m on retreat. Or that the little lappie just gets bamboozled when taken out of its natural environment.* But, um, I’m back \o/

Anyway! What a fantastic week this was! This was the second year that Mom and I went to Kripalu for the Vibrant Visionary Collage Workshop, and it did not disappoint. We were both a little apprehensive that the course material would repeat from the year before, but no such thing – the presenter, Karen Arp-Sandel, had a different angle of approach this year from the year before, and it was just as delightful as it was the year before.**

So the workshop is just what you might think it is from the title – it’s a week of collaging, cutting and pasting, and playing with paper and pieces, and learning techniques for treating paper and other images. Which, in my book, is pretty dandy all in itself. But wait – there’s more: tho’ we were working in the studio all week,*** really, the focus was on Sisterhood. Now, before you tune out because that sounds all new-agey, try and embrace the crunchy granola spot inside you, because it was really truly osm to be in the presence of such business all week. (Also, please go read this, which I had the luxury of reading directly upon return – funny these rhythms, huh? Also, this.****)

I truly felt a strong vibe of Sisterhood in that room full of interesting, strong women. For someone who struggles (frequently) over the notions of safe spaces v. ghettoization of women, it was kind of a big deal for me. Maybe it’s easier to begin explaining it in terms of what it was not: it was not divisive, it was not anti-, it was not aggressive, it was not political beyond what the personal is in all of us. I don’t remember any talk about men in terms other than in terms of the husbands, sons, fathers, and brothers that we love.***** Actually, I don’t remember a whole lot of talk about men overall – primarily the talk was about women in our lives. There was a lot of talk of sisters and mothers. There were three mother/daughter pairs of participants in the group (I was honored to be part of one of those pairs, myself). And the energy in the room was about bringing together, about shared experience and consciousness as women, and about play expressed in in that scope.

It was also about claiming one’s art.

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Have you read The Hunger Games yet? One of the nicest things about Our Man Cub being thirteen now is that we not only read together*, but we can share books independently. I read the book (well, books) after hearing about it for probably a year from all my friends. I have no idea why it took me so long to get around it it – prolly ‘cos I was buried in  the Song of Fire & Ice books for the better part of three seasons, right? But anyway, Hunger Games, the whole series (there are three books), was wonderful – a page-turner, and a quick read as well, and I passed the books on as I finished them, to Man Cub, who devoured them, and then passed them off to Jaquelyn, who also loved them. Her beau listened to them on audio book, too, so all of us wound up chatting quite a bit about these books after we’d all caught up – a merry little book party, for sure!

Well! When it was announced that the first book is being made into a movie, we all got pretty excited. It’s coming out on the 23rd, and I’m keeping fingers crossed that it’s done well,** and planning to pick up movie tickets in advance. We are stoked =D

Also out soon (June 22nd) will be Brave, a Disney Pixar film that looks pretty fantastic. It appears we finally have a Disney with an actual girl hero \o/ The trailers give me chills, both with the content and the beauty of the whole thing (also the score sounds gorgeous). Look! Look!

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So I lost something sometime over the last few years, and I didn’t even realize I had lost it. The good news is, I think I found it over the weekend. Let me explain.

I forget stuff sometimes – important stuff – because I’m so fixated on stamping out the little fires of day-to-day living, and trying to piece together chaos in my head, that things just slip. Like my own history, for example – I forget that I’m the sum of my parts, and where I’ve been. I’ve always felt like I’m only as good as the last thing I did, and so don’t tend to put too much stock in the things that I’m not doing anymore, but I don’t remember to at least give where I have been and what I have learned enough credence. As soon as whatever I was last doing is done, I get all emotionally hungover and find myself thinking that I’m not doing anything, and furthermore, never will do anything ever again.* I’m certainly not as good or as cool as that girl who was doing that thing a few weeks ago, right?

And that’s the funk I’ve been in for months.  I’ve been working and playing around with some projects, but nothing with any real focus – just a little here, a little there – dicking around, rather than really doing.

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I’ve been sitting on this for too long – this is a picture that Will Dearest took of BisQuit, the big cat. I just love it =)

So this happened over the weekend.

I couldn’t take it anymore – the beautiful sun room, the place where I started seeds in the springtime, and the wonderful library space with the comfy wicker chair that Snowball likes to call His Throne, had become a disaster. It started to collect stuff in the corners, becoming a catchall for random stuff. Basically, it became nigh unusable except as a place to stuff, well,  stuff. And when I walked through the apartment last week, it felt like more and more of it was becoming this combination between catchall and clearinghouse (oh, kitchen table!) and less sanctuary. Which, really? Was a pretty clear reflection of my headspace, which has been super chaotic for about two months now. Something had to freaking give – either that or my blood pressure was going to become yet another thing that I was going to worry about.

Well, my family will be in town this week for the Thanksgiving holiday, and I needed to clean the house till it sparkled anyway, so this seemed as good a time as any to move some stuff, right? Right.

So we moved stuff. I spent a month working up to the decision of what to do with the sun room. I knew that I needed to make it into a dedicated space in order to make it function, but I couldn’t decide between a yoga space or a studio space. We started moving stuff out of the room, because I figured that once it was more empty, I would be able to visualize what it was I wanted from the room. It wasn’t until we moved Queen Coleus that I started to get a clearer picture.

It was also when we moved Queen Coleus that things started to get really hairy. See that pretty red trunk? That was where we originally had the papasan chair. Which now I couldn’t bear to put back in that spot, because it would block the view to the trunk and the plant, which looked totally pretty together.  So I moved a bookcase on the other side of the room and stuck the chair there. Which made me want to move the table holding the teevee and assorted other electronics to the other wall.  (Only I hated it there, and in the morning would wind up moving it back.*) Did I mention, this took place at, like, nine o’clock at night?? But in the end it was worth it, and by the next morning, I had made a decision: project space it would be.

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I’ve always been a little bit fascinated with armour – maybe it’s all the sci-fi and fantasy that I read and have read since I was little, maybe it’s just a preoccupation with fashion, but I just think the stuff is terribly neat-o. As you may or may not know, Dear Will works at the Higgy as the conservator, and I worked there briefly, in education, a while back.  So I’ve managed to learn bits and pieces about the stuff over the years.

So in 2oo8 when Man Cub wanted to be a knight for Halloween, I dug in with gusto. He and I discussed the matter at hand (fashion!), and decided on some fanceh scale armour. I researched, asked a ton of questions, and then  I cut about a zillion pieces of black craft  foam into chevrons, pulled an old long-sleeved tee out of the closet, and fired up the glue gun.

I fashioned the shoulders by molding them around a small pumpkin, and scaled up the shirt from the bottom up, and when I got most of the way around, I ran out of foam chevrons. So, um, I made him a cape and called it a day. Will finagled a helmet and a wooden sword, and our man cub brought home much candy that Halloween. That costume actually made it through two Halloweens (the second year spray painted gold and, “blood” spattered) before it was too small. I believe he would have worn it a third year had it not gotten tight.*

I loved the process of building the costume – the shaping and molding, and even the cutting out of chevrons was kinda meditative. And ever since that costume, I’ve been wanting to build another armour.

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