It’s a Matter of Perspective


I’ve been reading a number of posts and memes commenting on what a horrendous year 2016 has been.  If I take a quick look back I might be inclined to agree.  This was a year of tremendous loss for me personally.  Four people I loved dearly passed away leaving some pretty big holes.  Then there was the weather – hot, hot summer, not much rain, a garden left to the weeds.  We won’t even go into the news or current events.


In looking through the photographs of the year I realized that some pretty fantastic things have happened as well.  With the death of my father I was given the gift of time allowing me to be involved in things that are close to my heart.  This brought me into situations where I’ve met some great people and have grown in ways I never expected.


I’ve expanded my horizons by spending time with some wonderful weavers. They are the most generous people I know.  The weaving I’m doing today and the direction it seems to be heading right now is pulling from the history of the craft.  What began as weaving off a warp on a barn frame loom (a figure it out by yourself experience) lead to the purchase and moving of this type of loom to my house.  A mention of a few of these looms available in New England started the journey into bringing one home.  Snow and miles are not a deterrent to a weaver in search of a piece of equipment.


This was also a year of reunions.  I’m not sure if it had to do with the loss of mutual friends or it was just timing but I spent more than a few of my weekends with people I love from past lives.  Calls out of the blue from friends I haven’t talked to in decades.  Calls from people on the other side of the world.  Calls to gather and just remember how much we truly like each other.


It was a year of new-found friendship as well.  Like minded people coming together to work on projects of mutual interest.  Being more involved in a town of this size has brought me great satisfaction, friendships new and renewed and an understanding of the effort needed to keep it all together and keep politics out of it.  No easy feat.


I think what I really learned is it was is all a matter of perspective.  My photography has helped with that – I’m a glass half full kind of photographer.  I try to share the wonder and beauty around me.  I realized a long time ago that worrying about the big picture is pretty destructive.  It’s not that I have my head in the sand it’s just that on a grand scale I know there’s very little I can to about it.  You can’t spend hours in the day projecting what is going to happen down the road, you don’t know.  Things unfold the way they unfold and it’s always in slower motion than you think it’s going to.


Going into 2017 my goals are to learn more about the things I love and share that knowledge with those who will listen (and even those that won’t – sorry).  Perfect my crafts and teach others how to do these things.  Be kind and generous with my time.  Stay connected in a meaningful way to my friends – old and new – because you never know who needs what when and sometimes big change can happen by doing what you think is the littlest of things.  Most of all, never lose that sense of wonder.  There is so much to see and learn even in the smallest of things.


The Love of Handwork

151021 Baskets

Fall has come and gone up in the hills – we are now entering the halcyon days.  Days with that feeling of urgency to get things done before the snow flies.  There are a handful of projects that I really should get done before dark today but a post from a friend struck such a chord with me this morning I needed to share it.

Screw Finding Your Passion by Mark Manson was a post that was music to my ears.  It’s something I’ve known intuitively my entire adult life yet I’d bought into what others had told me.  I needed a plan, I should find what I love to do and make a living doing that.  In the back of my mind I was sort of calling bullshit because my passions are many.  They are always evolving.   I am one of those people who moves from craft to craft but will only move on when the obsession has brought what I consider perfection.  I will work a skill to its highest level I know.

I’ve been this way my entire life.  Focus and move on.  The problem is that as far as society is concerned what I’ve focused on has never been a way “to make a living”.  I think the reality is there are many ways to make a living and without a passion for something it sometimes doesn’t seem worth it.  I’ve almost always worked a job that was less than exciting while I pursued my passions.

I’ve recently begun weaving baskets again after a twenty year or more hiatus.  Basketry goes hand in hand with weaving textiles – all have the same structure, just different materials.  Baskets are 3 dimensional, practical and the materials are fairly inexpensive.  I could go harvest things in my back forty to weave and it’s been just another reason to go for a walk about to see what’s out there.  Always a different way to see.

With so many years of crafting under my belt I have found now that my real passion is for teaching others to do these things.  I feel everyone should make something with their hands – to feel the satisfaction of a finished product unique to them.  Learning a craft expands your way of thinking, exercises your brain.  As we get older I think we all need to continually learn something new.

I’ve begun teaching people to weave baskets, of all kinds.  I started by conning my daughter and grandson into making one.  Making these things is an all day affair so it’s not always easy to convince someone it’s worth doing.

150815 Baskets Cait and Francis

Yes, they were smiling here but by the end they were grumbling.  I look at this as planting seeds.  I was asked why would they need to know how to do this?  I told them they now had skills – if they ever needed a vessel they would know how to make one.  And their vessels were beautiful and I think they both walked away proud of that they accomplished.  Maybe some day they will want to make another.

I put out a message on social media that if anyone wanted to learn to make a basket to contact me and we would do it.  People responded and I am teaching which is good but there has been a huge unexpected bonus.

Weeks after I shared I’d be doing this I was contacted by a dear friend from several lifetimes ago.  I had not seen or spoken to her for over 18 years.  She was visiting her sister and they wanted to make a trip to Fort Pelham Farm to make a basket.

151023 Baskets with Linda and Vicky

The results speaks for itself but I have to say that the passion for weaving baskets has changed from the crafting of the basket itself to the crafting and cultivation of friendships, new and old.  Honestly, that’s something I can truly be passionate about.