Toward the Solstice

p20141128-103935 Toward the Solstice

by Adrienne Rich

The thirtieth of November.
Snow is starting to fall.
A peculiar silence is spreading
over the fields, the maple grove.
It is the thirtieth of May,
rain pours on ancient bushes, runs
down the youngest blade of grass.
I am trying to hold in one steady glance
all the parts of my life.
A spring torrent races
on this old slanting roof,
the slanted field below
thickens with winter’s first whiteness.
Thistles dried to sticks in last year’s wind
stand nakedly in the green,
stand sullenly in the slowly whitening field.

My brain glows
more violently, more avidly
the quieter, the thicker
the quilt of crystals settles,
the louder, more relentlessly
the torrent beats itself out
on the old boards and shingles.
It is the thirtieth of May,
the thirtieth of November,
a beginning or an end,
we are moving into the solstice
and there is so much here
I still do not understand.
If I could make sense of how
my life is still tangled
with dead weeds, thistles,
enormous burdocks, burdens
slowly shifting under
this first fall of snow,
beaten by this early, racking rain
calling all new life to declare itself strong
or die,

if I could know
in what language to address
the spirits that claim a place
beneath these low and simple ceilings,
tenants that neither speak nor stir
yet dwell in mute insistence
till I can feel utterly ghosted in this house.

If history is a spider-thread
spun over and over though brushed away
it seems I might some twilight
or dawn in the hushed country light
discern its grayness stretching
from molding or doorframe, out
into the empty dooryard
and following it climb
the path into the pinewoods,
tracing from tree to tree
in the failing light, in the slowly
lucidifying day
its constant, purposive trail,
til I reach whatever cellar hole
filling with snowflakes or lichen,
whatever fallen shack
or unremembered clearing
I am meant to have found
and there, under the first or last
star, trusting to instinct
the words would come to mind
I have failed or forgotten to say
year after year, winter
after summer, the right rune
to ease the hold of the past
upon the rest of my life
and ease my hold on the past.

If some rite of separation
is still unaccomplished
between myself and the long-gone
tenants of this house,
between myself and my childhood,
and the childhood of my children,
it is I who have neglected
to perform the needed acts,
set water in corners, light and eucalyptus
in front of mirrors,
or merely pause and listen
to my own pulse vibrating
lightly as falling snow,
relentlessly as the rainstorm,
and hear what it has been saying.
It seems I am still waiting
for them to make some clear demand
some articulate sound or gesture,
for release to come from anywhere
but from inside myself.

A decade of cutting away
dead flesh, cauterizing
old scars ripped open over and over
and still it is not enough.
A decade of performing
the loving humdrum acts
of attention to this house
transplanting lilac suckers,
washing panes, scrubbing
wood-smoke from splitting paint,
sweeping stairs, brushing the thread
of the spider aside,
and so much yet undone,
a woman’s work, the solstice nearing,
and my hand still suspended
as if above a letter
I long and dread to close.

(1977)

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Lost Girl Diaries

Lost Girl Diaries zine

I have written and rewritten this post and it does not seem to do these justice, so bear in mind that they are better than what I am about to say.

I was going to include these in one of the Inspiring me links but it didn’t seem enough. I found Mel when she was still in a drafty garret (:)), some time ago and have quietly stalked her.  I loved her words and her finding her way through the muddle of it all.  She led me to interesting people and connections and discoveries and her honestly in her words spoke to me.

Last year she began doing this zine and I decided to stop just stalking her and to step out a little and it is one of the best things I did last year.  Towards the end of last year I went through a quiet hibernation that involved some regrouping and refocusing, and these brought light into that space for me.

Lost Girl Diaries zine

These are crafted with her heart on the pages,  Her stories (delicious serials that extend over issues and sadden you when they end.  Poetry and invites to write your own poetry and prompts and images to inspire you and make you laugh.

Honestly the joy you feel when you even noticed a personal message to you…

Lost Girl Diaries zine

I am very grateful for them, and for the connection they gave me, to myself and the wider world as well.

They are not light-hearted at the expense of substance and are raw and expressive in all the best of ways.  They are very “old-school zine” in nature, you do feel like you are holding written treasure in a way that is not common in this digital age.  They remind me of how we used to paste together bits and pieces when I was little.

Issue IV  made me sob while I journaled and wrote. I felt some stuff come up!  :) Permission to feel anger and rage is quite transforming when you are not suppressing it.  Though they are not all heavy with thinkings and musings and emotions either, there are wildly deranged and hilarious moments as well.  And little gems like this:

Lost Girl Diaries zine

I can’t say enough how much I love these. I am so grateful that Mel followed her heart’s preference and shared these because they need to be shared.  They are bursting with whispers and giggles and extraordinary activities and dangerous thoughts.  I have a notebook set aside (because I need another excuse for a notebook!) just for the writings that she inspires.

I couldn’t think of a better way to share how much they meant to me without sharing some of the words they have provoked as well.  Raw and unfinished and some make no sense, but they are written down snippets of things that came up while I was reading and responding to prompts and thoughts.

I feel like I need to explain and justify them but I am going to be brave and not do that.  They are my words. Full stop.

For more snippets provided by Mel and for information on the zines full stop you can go here.

Detrius of living

Stories of a life

Remnants of me

 

You are good at words of love

But your love injures

Wounds. Eventually. Always.

 

Forgiveness is hiding

Elusive in the hunt

It sneaks in the dark corners

 

What is real?

You see a me

They see a me

I see a me

 

Summer Tuesday

Sticky Toffee

Cherries on ice

 

If I was nicer

They would like me again

But I wouldn’t

Does it matter?

 

She tried to forget

Because only if she forgot

Could she forgive

But she is an elephant

 

In the darkness and silence

I felt my way

To the edge of myself

So I could find my way

To the centre

 

The last cicada

I notice the silence

When did the hum finish

Autumn is here

One sounds lonely

And knowing

You can see her here talking about behind the zines:


And this helped give me the courage to post my words today:

After a while

Looking inDuring the week I had an opportunity to remember my own boundaries and enforce them (oh how I love those life lessons!!). In the middle of the storm I spoke to a good friend who reminded me of my own power and strength. At the end of the call she told me she had a poem she wanted to read me and it brought me to tears (more tears if I am honest!!) :).

I googled it (because that is what you do!! :)) and here it is, sharing it in case anyone else needs it too!

After a While

After a while you learn
the subtle difference between
holding a hand and chaining a soul
and you learn
that love doesn’t mean leaning
and company doesn’t always mean security.
And you begin to learn
that kisses aren’t contracts
and presents aren’t promises
and you begin to accept your defeats
with your head up and your eyes ahead
with the grace of woman, not the grief of a child
and you learn
to build all your roads on today
because tomorrow’s ground is
too uncertain for plans
and futures have a way of falling down
in mid-flight.
After a while you learn
that even sunshine burns
if you get too much
so you plant your own garden
and decorate your own soul
instead of waiting for someone
to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure
you really are strong
you really do have worth
and you learn
and you learn
with every goodbye, you learn.

Veronica A Shoffstall

Making postcards

WARNING: VERY PHOTO HEAVY!! 

The last couple of weeks I have had postcards on the brain.  I joined Hanna’s postcard swap, and Tammy suggested doing an extra 10 so that you could send a postcard to those who send to you…extending the happy mail joy, so I did an extra 10…and then a few more besides.

The backgrounds were all finished last week, some were shown here, and the other three backgrounds are here:

Painted background
Painted background
Painted background

This week I have cut the backgrounds up:
Painted canvas

Cut up cardstock for postcard backs:
Decided my original idea to sew the lines on the postcard backs was a stupid one (and stressful), much happier with free-styled lines! #DIYpostcardswap

Glued the canvas onto the cardstock and then decided to do found poetry on the front so I went through my book text pile and glued on my found poetry (which also means I am joining in with Aimee’s Glue it Tuesday, because there has been A LOT of glue this week, and she suggested it was about existing work rather than working new prompts, so I figure this counts).

So here are the finished cards:
Disprited
The way is clear
I don't believe
Unexplained facts
Giving orders
Looking down
Telling the truth
It is winter
Listening for love
Illusions
Pastel shades of disappointment
The eye of the beholder
There was love
Smiling lips
Sanctity
Defaced symbols
Summoned up
Iron gates
No doubtsCourage
Herself
Your hat
Spared
Rusted time

Next week they will all be written, addressed, and posted!  :)

Turning to my journal

I meant to post earlier in the week and I just never made it here.  I had some contract work and got tied up.  When I had down time I elected to spend it with my paints.  A good choice now I look back at what I did this week.  :)

Fireworks

Last weekend was hectic, my son’s last rugby game for the season, and then a shared lunch for his team an hour later (where he had to take a plate, and I only found out about at the last game???), and then a celebration swim party at the local pool that night for the junior rugby club.  We left early so we could catch the fireworks at the winter carnival, which we only made with minutes to spare. I LOVE fireworks, LOVE. I was especially grateful for the fireworks the next day when we had two sick children requiring tending all day. They were a happy memory.

Fireworks

This photo of my daughter while we were watching my son’s last game of rugby pleases me as well. I turned around to check where she was and saw her at the top of the bank, meandering along. I love this photo.

Exploring her world.

And then the contract work and report writing and editing. I was pleased to have my art journal to play in and journal out some of the gunk in my head.

Room for hope

This was paper clay that I stamped into. The effect was very fresco-esque. I liked the look of plaster about it. And the layers of glazing to bring out the stamping detail. :)

Room for hope - close up

This next page is texture city. Just playing with some paper mache stuff I had (which I am not a fan of), and some scraps of different textures that I had around. The coin is an old one, from when they changed all our coins the last time, and had been very patina-ed. And I found it while I was looking for a rusty bottle cap that I thought I had kept, and it went with the colours on the page so I stuck it in the middle.

Wear, Tear and Tarnish

These next pages were just working out the rubbish in my head. Things that were whirling around and were better out than in. One of the biggest reasons that I am grateful for finding art journaling is the processing and reflecting it allows me to do. I also can’t imagine the crap I used to store in my head before I started journaling…no wonder I had depression and anxiety!! :)

No magic tricks

She had a choice

She felt like a circus performer

I have continued working through the daily prompts that can be found at Tammy’s site and my found word poetry.

Conspicuous Choices:

Conspicuous choices

This was my first mandala. I was so scared about this prompt. I left it and carried on with the other pages, but I knuckled down and did it the other day. OH MY GOSH. Just starting with that dot and then doing lines as they came into my head, not worrying about the outer layers until I was there. And I can’t believe how it came out. I look in awe that I created it. I did it while I was feeling quite drained and tense and it was surprisingly relaxing as you stay focused on the patterns taking shape.

Conspicuous Choices - close up

Fumbling Spirit:

Fumbling spirit

This page was only done using an old credit card. I love the texture of the credit card in the heavybodied paint. I normally only use it to spread the paint quite thinly so creating texture was fun, and I am happy with how it came out. It was so easy and fast, apart from waiting for the paint to dry!

Fumbling spirit

Escaping identities:

Escaping identities

This page was made up of a series of ATC backgrounds that I made. Also I did some sewing, and I had bought some new thread and there was such a big difference, so I am definitely putting last weeks frustration down to the bad quality thread (and my lack of skills). It has been a long time since I made ATCs, I burnt myself out ages ago, and had no interest in it, but I still have a few more of these cards, so I might play a bit more with them.

Silence ran out:

Silence ran out

I love how you can catch the wavy journaling under the paint. Just barely, but it is a beautiful layer. I want to do this again in my art journal. I have done a few lines like that, but the whole page journaled like that looked very cool. Writing the letters taking account of the different lines almost became a mediation practice, it was very deliberate and focusing.

Silence ran out - close up

Fragment:

Fragment

I think that the shapes of weeds are so interesting, I never appreciated them until I began sketching them. I wish that could account for how many weeds are about at the moment, but I just haven’t gotten there yet, though with Spring here pretty much, it will be time to get Summer vegetables in soon.

Fragment - close up

Silence:

Silence

I loved the scroll-ly journaling sprawling over the page. Another writing technique I want to do in my journal. Covering it up with paint was fun as well!! :)

Silence - close up

This third poetry book is nearly full and I am so proud when I see them all together, knowing that I have filled those puppies up. The words I love as well. My moods really dictate where the words go and what words stand out to me. I can look at a page one day and find nothing, and the next day I see words I want all over the page. Just finding the words, and then putting them together and rearranging them is so relaxing and enjoyable. I have also been writing my own poems. Which I love. They are really touching my center at the moment. They flow better when I don’t overthink them…which is a constant battle I face. So far still very raw though and needing more work I think.

Linking up at Paint Party Friday as well, where I am continually inspired and bouyed by the talent and support that is over there.

Friday round up

There was no Frida follow up this week.  I needed the week to process the story she told and think about my interpretation of that story.  How it looks for me.  The week was needed because I am now rearing to go.  Sometimes you just need the processing time.

Home

I have done some encaustics.  I am not thrilled with the outcome, but somewhere to start from.  I can only progress!  :)  This piece came from some meditation I did.  I was not in the best frame of mind, but when is the best frame of mind for meditation?  I aspire to meditate every day, I have varying success with this.  For a course I am doing, there was a meditation session built in, and I decided to schedule this in on my to-do list and leverage the meditation session as my day’s meditation.  I actually came to it with this mindset…leveraging meditation???  It shows how much I have had on my to-do list at any rate.  So I came to cross it off my to-do list.

No great expectations other than crossing it off, and instead it turned out to be quite enlightening in it’s own way, because of the mindset I came in with I expect.  The result completely different to what I normally experience in meditation.  Showing up regardless of my headspace is a lesson in itself that I needed. It showed me the value of turning up without excuses even if my to-do list is a mile long.

During the meditation I saw this image really clearly of a deep black and a setting deep red sun.  After I saw white flowing lines.  I can feel an encaustic series coming on while I develop my skills enough to translate the image to the substrate of what I saw in my head.

The good, the bad and the ugly

I finished up this journal page. It has been half finished in my journal for over a year, and I completely painted over it pretty much. Before I was completely stuck, but as soon as I started smearing the white over the page, I saw a way forward. Sometimes a reminder that you just need to pick up a brush. The next way forward on the path will make itself known – sometimes! :)

Standing my ground

Another page that got finished this week. I had an art journal that I thought I had nearly finished, but when I actually started going through it, it turned out much of the pages were actually unfinished, so before the end of the year I want to have finished the pages in this journal. I work better with a deadline I find, and by the end of the year is plenty of time (says she in August, but no doubt that will fly by as has the rest of this year!).

And then I have been working through my board books using the daily paper prompts that can be found here to inspire my backgrounds and then finding poetry in book text that I have collected.

Craving silence:
Craving silence

I made a pattern with some airbrush acrylics and then sprayed with water. It felt like a blurry kind of day that day and I like how it turned out in the end, with the blurred parts of the pattern and the more fixed parts of the pattern. I am also going through a drip loving phase at the moment as well.

Craving silence - close up

Chandelier:

Chandelier

This is a chandelier that I drew roughly in airbrush acrylics. I love how sketchy it came out, and how it is not immediately obvious as a chandelier, almost dream like. I also love the way the paint and gesso buckled and crinkled on the page. A happy accident.

Chandelier - close up

She found her voice:
She found her voice

This was based on a prompt about celebrating an achievement. This poetry and the poetry that I am writing at the moment is what I decided to celebrate. And I was so excited when I found “book of poetry” twice (because this book is my second book!). Poetry is touching me deeply right now, as I begin to see phrases all around me.

She found her voice - close up

Shipped with gratitude:

Shipped with gratitude

This prompt was actually meant to be mail art, but given I am using the prompts to inspire backgrounds, I changed it to suit my purposes. I always used to struggle with prompts. Wanting to do my own thing, it has only been a recent realisation that I don’t have to stick to other people’s prompts strictly, I can actually modify them to fit what I am doing. This may seem basic to everyone else, but it was one of those paint outside the line kind of realisations for me. So no mail art that will be sent in the mail, but I did cover the spread in stamps…mail art kind off?!?

Shipped with gratitude - close up

Coiled:

Coiled

This photo represents the truce that I thought I had reached with my sewing machine been called off. I deeply admire people that can work those machines with ease. I am not one of them, but I love how sewn paper looks. I will keep persevering, but I am pretty sure my sewing machine dislikes me intensely. Either we need relationship counseling or I need lessons…I suspect the later! :)

Coiled close up

AND THAT WAS THE END OF BOOK TWO!!!!! I am now working on the third book. I am a finisher! :) hahaha

Dream time:

Dream time

The butterflies are meant to be a stamped mandala, which I used embossing powder for. This did not turn out like I saw it in my head, and so I put a lot of layers on this page to push them back. when they weren’t so in my face, I liked their dreamy look, a little bit of magic. :)

Dream time - close up

Escape:

Escape

This page has strips of maps, covered in gesso and then covered in tissue paper. I regretted the tissue paper, too many stars and there are two layers of light gesso to push them back a wee bit. I loved that the tissue paper tore a little bit and you could see a crack of the maps clearly. A little slip in time.

Escape - close up

And before I sign off this round up I thought I would show my studio assistant that decided she was not getting enough attention while I was taking photos…

Studio Assistant
Studio Assistant
Studio assistant

Ever so helpful (though so much less destructive than she has been this week!).

And I am linking up to Paint Party Friday. So much inspiration over there!!

A new week

Such a busy weekend, but not overly creative.  I got into a cleaning and decluttering fit of madness after aliens abducted me and switched my personality with someone more organised.

This was just a temporary measure however, and so normal transmission has resumed.  Though looking at the rubbish I threw out, makes me feel very happy and lighter.  I always wonder why i keep some things, for just in case moments, or because it seems wasteful to get rid of things even if I am not a fan.  It was not a problem on the weekend as Ms Ruthless took over my body.  Even the children got worried as I began to head for their room.  :D

I have still being working on the Daily prompts for my backgrounds and the found poetry. I have also been working on finishing up some journal pages.  I had a journal that I thought was mostly finished, but when I actually looked at it, there were actually still a lot of pages half done, so I am going to go through that and get some done.  I found it quite interesting how much my style has changed from the start of the book until the end.  And made some progress on a spread that has been taunting me with the mess on the page.

Always, there is so much I want to do, but only so much time.  I am not complaining about all the ideas and inspiration that I have going on (far from it, having gone through more than one phase where I thought I had no ideas left), but I sometimes feel permanently behind.  Though I am trying to leave that in the sphere of activity and doing things and not feeling overwhelmed, which is the place for me where procrastination begins and nothing much happens.

I am currently working on a vision board.  I have never placed a lot of stock in them before to be honest.  I have admired the people that cut up their magazines and found their images and words and what have you.  But it never really called to me.  But I have sat down and asked my wise woman self “Where to now?”  and then cut out images and words.  Time will tell I imagine.  And the only reason I bring it up here (because I wasn’t going to), is that if things do start coming true off the vision board, or things start happening, you can bet I will be here writing a post about it.  So I am setting the stage so to speak!!  :) Just in case.

I have been excited about Spring and the magnolias that are out even more this week, and the sun has been nice, and then today it is freezing enough for a fire.  If I didn’t have to go outside to bring wood in I would be more motivated to light one, but it is cold out there.

That is me, I have also been doing my morning pages each day and a lot of written journaling, and getting ready to prepare myself for my Frida interpretation.  She took a lot of energy last week, and I was pretty focused on her, so I am thinking I will take the week to process that and her story and begin the piece over the weekend.  We will see how the next couple of days pan out.  I have some other paintings to go on with.  The benefit of so many ideas and a lot of starting is there is always something to go on with.

Here are the paintings and poetry so far.

No Coat:

No coat

In the middle of the page is tissue paper that I sewed onto a page of book text, which I then stuck onto the background. I left all the threads loose on the page and I am quite happy with it. Especially that there is no bubbling of thread under the book text (because I have sorted out my tension problems :)).

No coat - close up

Gentle Heart:

Gentle heart

The daily prompt was to do the colours of the seasons, and so those are the colours that I associate with the seasons. Beginning with Winter and then working through Spring, Summer and Autumn. I brayered over all of them to unify the page somewhat and push some of the colours back a wee bit.

Gentle heart close up

Whispered stories:

Whispered Stories

On this page I did all sorts of circles, from a cup dipped in paint, to inky circles. I then had the idea to do half a circle and smush the paint together, which I quite liked. :)

Whispered Stories close up

Soul Orchestra:

Soul orchestra

This one has music scores put on the page and then gesso and paint. I then splattered with some ink, which I quite like. The colours are richer in person and the green almost like a patina.

Soul orchestra close up

Mother’s Alter:

Mother's alter

I decided to use the left over scrapbook paper as a pocket and so used the colours on the scrapbook paper. That day I snapped a blurry photo on my phone of the children that I really liked. So I printed that out to put in the pocket, pleasantly surprised that the colours fit with the page well. I then found that scrap of magazine page on the table so I stuck it down as well. A bit of a hodge podge page.

Mother's alter close up

Intermezzo:
Intermezzo

The daily prompt was to use words, and I really like how the cross word pages came out with a layer of gesso…a good art journal background. very quick and easy, and effective. I then did the drips and stamping with paint. Part of the prompt was also to learn a new word and I happened to have some vintage dictionary page out, so I looked to find a word I didn’t know and found “intermezzo”. Intermezzo is defined as a short musical composition generally of a light sparking character, or an interlude. I liked that. And I also knew I had some pages in my plastic file that involved music for my found poetry so I was happy with how well it worked out.

Intermezzo close up

Also I am surprised at the found words poetry. Sometimes I can look for ages and find nothing that inspires me. The next day I can look through the same pages and words jump out at me. Always different. I love doing these.

It is night now, the children are in bed.  I began this post this morning. It has been one of those days.  I hope you are having a better day.