Sunday, December 31, 2017

so cold

the last big snow
 porcupine today
 out on a limb, 
s/he's moving keeping balance
 my walk was short and very very cold
 i could hardly see past the balaclava and my glasses frosted up
 shadows were all kinds of indigo
and purple.
new years eve and i sit home with a candle lit,
babysitting this old house as the thermometer creeps ever lower.
i am alone, not lonely, still missing the new place.
jude wrote about shelter, what porcupine seeks (between meals)
and what i must have or i would die (also between meals). 
i have no quills to defend myself, or ability to climb agiley up, eating bark and buds
out on limbs that challenge balance,
and my language is a conversation with friends, not repelling enemies.
thank you for being along on the journey.

Friday, December 29, 2017

thanking porcupine

a large flat package came with the instructions
don't open till the 25th, or sooner if you wish.
 i waited
ian made us a drawing of home.
home in the woods
(these woods are actually overgrown farmland, marginal at best, 
 logged before once or twice, and before that, woods)
the front of the house faces a meadow and the ridges that form the land.
 the back, where the back door, bridge, and side door live
is the side where the work happens.
 i see some odd beasts in the snowy woods
 the sun came out after the big snow.
that's when it gets cold.
  walks this week have been painfully cold
so much so that i barely go out.
(don't listen to my complaints about car troubles, over 2K worth,
and the fact that these old knees don't like the cold any more,
and the fact i'm housebound)
 this is when the snow set in.
 the stream that winds through and out and away
 i think this is wool grass
 gin might know
 when it gets this cold,
so cold that a face mask is essential.
i need to stay at my place to keep an eye on things
the new place also has to be kept warm, a different task.
 hauling wood and feeding the stove is straightforward hard work, 
here it's a furnace and potentially freezing pipes. 
 the new place is warmer and tighter with 14 in. outside walls.
i become grumpy when i have to drive 5 hours for a post op check.
i spotted this small fierce one yesterday, finally,
and went out later when s/he returned to the woods.
i'd seen evidence of eating activity in the arbor vitae
deer and porcupine already.
here s/he is.
 porcupine has begun feeding the cedar (arbor vitae) by my diveway
 s/he was not happy about me speaking and photographing,
and tried for a bit to enter my garage.
 i found that porcupine did not like having snow tossed at it
s/he turned away and was off.
 i was presented with the armor side, 
and if i got closer that tail would have tried to bop me one.
they can move surprisingly quickly.
when i first moved to the north country i lived in star lake in the adirondacks.
i found dead porcupines, and harvested some quills, with thanks.
they became part of a coil basket, and some were umbilicaria lichen dyed
and given to silversmith friends.
which were given back to me as earrings!
anyway, my neighbors stopped once,
asking me if i need help.
i was taking some quills from a roadkilled one. they thought i'd had an accident. 
needed help.
i thought they were worried i wouldn't take care of (relocate) the body.
a lesson in perspective and gratitude.
it's hard to maintain both practices isn't it?

Saturday, December 23, 2017

all of the holy days

the light is returning again
 dear friends
 all of the children
 in the simplest of ways
 may you feel

Saturday, December 16, 2017

paper fiber/fiber paper

 antidote for a bad cold:
kitchen papermaking
i made the pulp over at Zone 4 (school)
and brought home a couple of quarts.
(below you can also see one of hannah's dish cloths, water, a split rock and some dyed fern spores in the jar.)
i'm using carriage house flax and it's delicious and beautiful pulp.
it takes such a short time to beat, less than an hour in the valley.
but the cold meant that my energy lasted only until i'd finished the beat,
so just like the times when i have some pulp left over from the big vat, i bring it home to make some little sheets in a little vat. it's a way to use it all up.
so having a tiny set up in the kitchen means i can make paper,
sneeze and cough, drink medicinal tinctures and teas, 
and nap between posts (wet sheets). i can even take it all out to the hydraulic press and leave it for a while, press slowly, and then retrieve, then put in blotters and press in the iron book press and change them every few hours. this is easy in my house, especially since my kitchen is not the kitchen of someone who loves to cook.
this wouldn't work for normal size paper, but for these tiny ones, it's a pleasure.
my beautiful moulds, one laid, one wove, were made by lee macdonald,
and i got them during one of handpapermaking's auctions.
i absolutely love them.
 i can't imagine that i'll ever be able to afford a larger size traditional mahogany and brass mould, but i have these sweet minis.
 i can fit 10 on a half felt, fold it over and make 10 more. i usually make about 100 at a time.
it's funny, this has been a constant for years, no matter what size sheets i'm pulling, i have about a hundred. not always 100 good sheets, mind you. 
 right now i have a bucket of flax left at Z4, and 5 quarts here, and i've started to experiment some with earth pigments again. i bought the maiwa set, three jars in melbourne, (trace willans sent me some, too, but those are for surface work)
 above is the sum total of the good part of a bad cold.
about 350 sheets.
i've placed them on a handwoven hemp cloth from mjolk.
 here you can see them with as much detail as i could tease out of the iphone
which admittedly is not much.
flax is beautiful,
and takes some getting used to after my years working with foraged plant fibers
and relearning rag processing this past year.
how many items from my closet are now editions of paper?
and one or two are now books in process.
this work is in preparation for two things on my horizon, PBI (paper and book intensive) in may, and a papermaking class for fall 2018 at SLU. imagine, an entire semester of papermaking with a sustainability theme!
aimee posted some books and birds in the works and newly completed. i love them.
and sarah challenges me to see life though comic eyes, a good thing. both of these women draw comics which i think frame life in a way that reminds me of funny medieval marginalia doodlers mixed with the sunday papers.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017


i'm tired of having a cold now.
please go away.
but we have lots of snow now and more coming.
i beat a pound of flax
and brought home 2 quarts
and made 93 sheets of little paper.
it's really nice stuff
and so i went to school yesterday, 
and melissa, my co-teacher
has the cold.
we left early, 
but not until we'd done our juxtaposition origami book exchange.
i'll take photos and post.
i love how these sheets look/sound/feel so very FLAX.
i haven't seen this one
since all the snow began to fall.
i've been pretty bored 
i wrote a silly poem, but the cold is still here. 

sleeping or not
with a head full of snot
a cold is a cold is a cold.

eyeballs are achy
and tummy is quaky
a cold is a cold is a cold.

head twice too big
it thinks of nothing
a cold is a cold is a cold.

tomorrow i know
it won’t be here, no!
a cold was a cold was a cold.

Velma Bolyard 12/10/17

Friday, December 8, 2017

semester winds down. or up.

i didn't see these until sometime mid-fall
small messages
surprises hidden in doorways.
activism in little ways.
the students are so beautiful in their inquisitiveness, interesting and unique.
for their response to writing piece their work was as varied as possible.
below is a hand felted vovelle book with a secret pocket that holds one word
from the assigned text.
little details like these really help this book shine
this was an ambitious project, 
that combined several skills she learned in the various projects we taught.
see the felted buttons for the closure? 
the delicacy of images and papercutting in this book surprises the reader.
and below, 
those fish swim connected.
 next to that is a box full of runes and spells with no easily understood key.
books in cases are very hard to present well
are even hard to see when you stand right in front of them.
books are meant to be held or at least touched when perused.

for those of you who asked for a soapstone creature,
thank you. 
i was surprised that so many people asked for one, 
i had to turn some folks down.
the selkie remains, if anyone needs her. 
she's sort of in the middle, with a long resting tail.
she has spots.
i participated in the indigo (ai) project
coordinated by rowland ricketts.
and sent off my sun-washed cloth yesterday.
it will go back to japan
and i'm not quite sure what's next, 
but then my head is fuzzy.
japanese envelopes feel very fragile to me.
got a little something from shanna leino
and some very interesting papers came from my dear friend carol
who sends me tidbits for my students.
she has thought several times of ways to inspire them.
my co-teacher melissa and i are continually surprised by them;
by hearing that they think the class needs to be two semesters long.
i've enjoyed being an adjunct professor this fall, 
and am eager to do this sort of thing again. 
it does look like i have a papermaking class scheduled for next fall,
and in between some workshops (including PBI).
i woke up with a cold wednesday morning and was worried 
that i wouldn't feel like teaching. 
i feel worse today, which means i'll be better by monday.
sadly i have to miss dancing tonight
to radio bob's band...
oh, and,
there's lots of snow, south and east of us. 
we have an inch or so.

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