Friday, August 24, 2018

the elders speak

it feels like tired summer, 
the cicadas and crickets chorus their endsong: 
the elders are listening. 
maurice kenney wrote this
he said at a reading that he wrote this before his morning coffee.
i think i've loved bear since reading this.
i saw a bear lumber quickly across the road where i walk
behind my place last summer.
is summer this bear?
this bear
by Judy Serebrin
is beautiful, 
having landed in my arms today.
below is what might have been
 wild plum fruit leather
sadly not successful.
below is today's table
full of grace
from fiona dempster and barry smith
reminding me to celebrate world day of peace
september 21.
i will share this message with my new class, 
six of whom i met on wednesday.
 judy martin's poem
pigments from heidi in washington
 and below
milkweed in aimee's book
 and what am i working on?
(besides syllabus and lesson plans and dyeing and spinning and foraging and observing miracles like wild plums growing here?)
 a new edition
covered with bark cloth, 
linen thread text.
 this is the dummy where i work out the kinks.
 hopefully it will be done soon.
happy week, 
and a beautiful beautiful moon to sleep under.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

living through

the season has shifted,
ever so slightly, we've all been talking about it
as though it doesn't every damned year.
you can rely on it, morning cold toes
sniffly or more nose
ripening reds and purples continue with joy.
we gather
so do the deer
the raccoons
birds have avain business to attend, 
flight plans logged,
wasps in the dropped fruit, look out!
and maybe a bear you might see
if you're very lucky.
me, i look for stanghorns in sumac
falling stars in the night sky
first leaves turning
succession of goldenrods.
reappearance of asters
and wild grapes
ticks will search, too.
it's a give and take and beware and bedazzled
all wrapped up into what we need for
maybe that's why i've been making these things:
 flax paper drying on house rugs before tess the english setter arrived
for a weekend stay.
 some of my blotter papers have become interesting
 this is badger paper again,
a mix of everything but largely lokta and flax and words, many many words
 a red ochre pigment to the pulp
 my dashboard 'decor'
 i went to a painting with soils workshop
and the selection was interesting, 
all gathered on site except for the black and green

 the binder we used:
elmer's glue.
the soils were sieved, but not quite enough for a good paint
 the binder/carrier was less than desirable
but the soil scientists were great to talk with.
 scientists and artists need to get together
they have so much to talk about.
black eyed susans last a long season here.
 useful plants
 make themselves known in contact prints
if you can talk them into it.
 this is how i felt when i saw them!
 indian pipe.
in my perennial border!
 i haven't seen them here 
ghost plants
that i once used to dye wool a lovely gray.
 and another thing i've never seen here.
across the road, on the edge, last evening
a branch with a large red berry and a few on the ground.
it looked, smelled, felt, and then tasted like a cherry!
these are wild plums. they are tiny, and very plummy, with a stone that's got a ridge around it's long-side-circumference. 
love facebook where the locals answer my questions!
and the taste--definitely more plummy than cherry.
i was astonished
this is most certainly not wild cherry country. 
and now i have so many questions.
in the day to day news of my small living,
i'm preparing for my fall papermaking class with joy.
i will also travel to Maiwa in early september.
and then
and then
another big thing
in february
and i've been accepted.
i'll be there with the rock stars in the book arts world.
don't know how i feel about it all (except those fears)
 familiar ghosts,
but i'm giving it a chance.
if anyone has any advice about it, i would love to hear from you!
golly, CODEX.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018


the season is going gold
and there are marvels in our sky
holy moly
scared off the neighbors
days shorter with nights crowding into them.
a neighbor pulled in and said
would you let me know if you see my bull.
he's really sweet, a black cross, but he jumps fences.
never seen anything like it,
he's after apples.
there are windfalls around the trees,
a wealth of good food and soon cider.
i said, of course!
living in the country...
then there's this stuff,
i've collected it before, 
but in the GREAT studio CLEAN of 2018
it resurfaced, like the madder and so much else.
and i've been focussed on flax paper 

fern dust.
after researching this is what i've found 
(botanists, can you add more?)
"there are thin, brown, paper-like scales covering the newly emerging fiddleheads. 
the scales fall off as the fiddlehead grows and elongates... 
the brown paper-like covering..."

a soft rosy tints the raw flax
with tiny dark bits
sheet formation is irregular because i was pouring the pulp
in my sink
in a modified method using rubber bands and one of Britt Quinlin's moulds
in the horrid humid heat
while outside the clothes hang no longer drying in the new rain.
it makes me irritable. 
here is a drying sheet with the last little bit of fern dust until next spring

2/3 raw flax beaten just over an hour

1/3 fiddlehead fern dust, blendered.
if it wasn't so hard to gather i'd make paper with just that dust.
the Maine Cooperative Extension online calls it 
"papery covering on the emerging fiddleheads"
i call it fern dust.
i've written my syllabus for my fall class. it looks like a hill with a few words and a star.
i have a bunch of nephews, one sends me wonderful stuff. 
like a red fox skin he prepped himself
or a walrus tusk chip.
my nephew gathered some earth for me many years ago.
it's from the hill behind his childhood house
and is typical for the Niagara Gorge.
i will make some colorant with it soon.
there's a wee class in soil painting this week at the VIC,
i'm going to go and be a student.
maybe soils will be a part of my fall class...
well, both of them are,
but the one i'm particularly revved about is her milkweed paper primer.
(the other one is more than amazing)
it's fantastic and affordable and you must order one. 
go for the deluxe!
while you're there, go looking around her site.
you will be amazed.

Friday, August 10, 2018

a list, of sorts

 (rebecca goodale sent this image today, 
from the Arctic Museum at Bowdoin, and i love it)
some things on my mind...
my falling-down-barn

Catherine Michaelis is co-juror for a wonderful book arts show 
for all of us paper/cloth/stitching folks, and there's a whole chunk of months so you can plan and complete work for it. 
i envision the paper and the cloth worlds uniting inside the wonders of BOOKness.


traveling from the northern part of new york always takes time. 
and it's therefore expensive. 
i'm going to Maiwa early in September to take Charlotte Kwon's class 
The Natural Dye Studio. 
it's a big deal for me and i will have to miss teaching my class at st lawrence, 
which i regret. 
(do you hear me singing, "i'm teaching papermaking, i'm teaching papermaking!")
st lawrence found funds to support my professional development. 
this is really what it is, 
though i just knew it was more learning i needed, 
never thought of it in terms as professional development 
(that was what i did when i was teaching emotionally disturbed kids). 
i was offered support in several ways by friends who live in the area. 
friends i've met through the internet and then in the flesh. 
there are some wonderful things about technology. 
linda and jean, a special shout out!
i can be an unfortunately vague person, 
which annoys me (as well as other people).
it's a habit and an inclination, 
because words often seem too vague for me.
poems are better.
paper, too.
anyway a friend mentioned "rice paper" recently.
and what i want to say here is

 there isn't a thing that's "rice paper".

~ there isn't a thing that's "rice paper". 
if you google it you'll come up with a food item. 
but not paper. 
other plant fiber papermakers may have experience 
making paper with rice straw, 
but it's not what we think of when "rice paper" is referenced. 
then we are really thinking of beautiful asian papers,
often with visible sensuous fibers distributed throughout the sheet. 
probably japanese or korean papers, 
but certainly papers made from long-fibered plants like paper mulberry. 
paper that is made in asia by people living there, 
often poor artisans like some of us.
~ "rice paper" is a racist term. 
it indicates a thing made by people who are referenced by "rice", 
people who eat rice and are somehow rice, not asian.
(does anyone call western paper beef paper?)
~ it is inaccurate and racist and it makes me squirm
~ it makes me squirm because of my experience with unintentional but real racism.
 i'm a white american woman of european (and native american) descent. 
except for not being male, 
i have some power and privilege in this place.
a story: 
many years ago i was a smallholder, 
and had a little flock of what was then termed "colored sheep". 
 at a workshop once i was telling an african american woman about my flock of sheep, 
"colored sheep", 
and before i said the words aloud
(words which were wholly acceptable in 
the small farm-homesteader-handspinner journals i read and which 
i'd never questioned
i realized they were racist. 
in 1981 i didn't refer to other non-white-like-me-people as "colored". 
yet here i was using that racist term about my sheep. 
it was an embarrassingly thoughtless and privileged thing to say. 
i began to refer to my sheep as individuals 
(they did have names) 
or just sheep. 
just sheep. 
just people. 
just papermakers, shepherds, carpenters, farmers, professors, mechanics...mothers, brothers, a rainbow of people. 
i would gladly remove that incident from my life 
and from hers.
but it taught me to pay attention. 
so now when i read "rice paper" i think of generations of oppression 
and language intended to keep those oppressed lesser somehow. 
i say, think about your words. 
i try to.

many goldenrod species bloom hereabouts

recent mail contained a couple of lovely surprises,
on one day came notes from my children (from either coast), 
a student's piece from PBI that i loved and so she made me one! 
 on the flax paper we made in class
 a sampler
 wonderful huck lace shifu
thank you Dana Kull.

and some little presents-to-be from shanna leino.
and last week the mail brought me two books which i can't write about yet.
by a very special friend.
stay tuned!

Monday, August 6, 2018

august heat

the spent madder dyebath waiting for me to pour it into the perennials
started to grow some other life forms
and then i noticed the spoon.
 the bowl and half the handle took a refraction bend 
and created a non-shadow shadow.
 and became disassociated from its reality
 i mistakenly got some watercolors on something and used them as finger paint
and a little bleeding from the last of the big orange day lilies.
 left in my full sketch book
(thank you Sarah Bryant)
 indigo dyed shifu on a piece of flax pigment colored Hark! paper
as it becomes another book cover (maybe my next sketchbook)
 this hot august weather makes morning mist
 which burns off
 and then there were some new neighbors visiting.
this lady came by and surprised me.
she seemed contented and happy to have new eating
so i tootled down to my neighbor's where i thought she lived
and was met with an ornery response
"those aren't my cows.
see-there are mine"
i must say 
 there was a little herd, actually, where she pointed.
and a few minutes later her son came along on an atv and took the cows home.
the north country orneriness sometimes rubs me the wrong way.
not a word of thanks, instead an accusation.
the cows were very pretty
wonderful browns and roans, my favorite cow colorings.
i would be happy to have these ladies
across the road every evening,
if only they weren't loose, because of that hazardous
55 mph road between their usurped pasture
and my place.
a potential disaster.
i know. 
i watched another neighbor's loose horse be put down
after a car hit her, broke her leg
one winter morning, years ago.
i'm feeling a bit haggard and ragged because of this humid heat.
in other news,
i received a wonderful bit of travel funding for my Maiwa trip
professional development!
and i had yet another nail in a tire
almost 2 inches long,
necessitating a new tire (thankfully i didn't have to buy all 4,
because with 4WD all have to be the same and this set was new)
and my vacuum broke,
meaning two (so far) trips to the repair shop.
60 miles away or so.
it's a summer of little joys and a few issues.
the summer feels like it's changing, almost over except for the heat, 
it's really only just turned the corner
towards autumn.

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