Review 2015

Every year I post a year in review that is largely visual in nature.  It seems that this year may prove to be different.  There have been so many profound changes that the photographs would only just scratch the surface.  I’ll throw a few in for good measure though, I can’t resist.

150830 Morning Mist

After living with my father for a year and a half I put him back into assisted living.  It was a huge learning curve for me – but I learned that I cannot live with negativity day in and day out.  Living under a black cloud only drags you into that black abyss and it becomes more and more difficult to climb your way out.  In my heart I know it was the right thing to do for everyone involved yet on some level it feels like failure.  I’m working on getting over that in ways that feed my soul.

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Living here helped me maintain my sanity.  The close proximity to nature was a balm many times during each and every day.  Being able to see magnificent sunrises so many mornings began my days in a positive way.  It was a summer of rainbows – every day it seemed .  Hiking trails at the park, new trails in old familiar places brought discovery and appreciation anew.  Let’s face it, it’s quiet here, it smells good and nobody bugs you.  What more could the introvert in me want?

150726 Amanda's Wedding

Then there were weddings, lots of them.  My favorite was the marriage of my daughter – here.  Ten people, surrounded by my gardens in full bloom.  My favorite moment – the family humming Pachelbel’s Canon in D while Amanda and her father walked down the little makeshift aisle, thanks Cait for getting it rolling.  Although Amanda and Yusuf have been together for 9 years and we all knew this was coming it still felt like we were giving her away.  It was a line for me, both joyous and sad.

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As if all of this wasn’t enough November 11th was the birth of our first grandchild.  A boy who dear husband Bill never thought he was going to see (and now has big plans for).  Another shift in my life – from mother to grandmother.  I’m not sure how it affects other people but the generational shift has always been a profound one for me.  When Amanda was born it took me a while to wrap my head around going from daughter to mother, I’m still getting use to the idea of going from mom to grandma.  He is wonderful and I’m enjoying watching them grow into a loving family.

150109 Warp

All through this the constant has been craft.  The ability to make and do things with my hands is the thread.  It feeds me – no, it is a necessity. If I wasn’t able to create something, on a daily basis, I would have sunk into that deep, dark hole long ago.  It sustains me.  It seems odd to me in some ways to admit this.  I have been a crafter all of my life.  My modus operandi is to learn a new craft, work it to what I deem the best I am capable of (more of a plateau really) and move on to the next craft.  This year was all about weaving – again.  It was the realization that I’ve been searching my entire life for what my hands knew how to do.  Weaving has connected me to my past, to people I remember and loved the most.  It is something that will probably take the rest of my life to move towards perfection.  Meanwhile it calms me and helps me to reflect on daily life, meditation.  Something we all need and I daresay find in little things we do.  We just need to recognize it.

151021 Baskets

The new year is promising in so many ways.  Growth is what it’s all about.  I’ll keep on sharing my skills and insights.  I’ll watch my family and friends embrace the changes in their lives and hold them all close because really, that’s what it’s all about.

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Projects Ending and Beginning

150529 Krokbragd (2)

I just realized how very long it’s been since I’ve been here.  Life is full.

The room renovation is almost complete – crown moulding needs to go up and to do that I need to learn to cope.  Fortunately there are only really the four corners to worry about.  We’ll see how that goes.  The room is so much better.  The bad juju has all but disappeared.  Funny what a lot of paint will do.

My latest krokbragd is off of the loom, I’m currently doing a woven edge.  It’s slow going – more so because there are so many other things that need attention.   First a couple of comments on this project.  I used rug wool from Brassard in Canada for the weft in this.  It worked up quickly but didn’t pack as well as the last krokbragd I wove using Harrisville Shetland.  The heathered yarn in this is beautiful though.  I thought I planned this project well as far as color was concerned.  I had everything lined up and numbered, bobbins wound, I was proud of myself because I’m such a wing it kind of person.  Well, none of it really went according to plan.  The time came to change over to the next color and I would just pick something different.  I’ve decided that these mats/rugs are to be woven in a more organic way.  They evolve while on the loom.  I planned on 8 colors, bought 11 colors from Brassard, then a third of the way into it picked up some rug yarn elsewhere to work in.  Because of the weight of the yarn this is definitely something I can see on the floor.  All in all it’s quite lovely – I can live with it.  All of you creatives out there know what I’m talking about, that’s really high praise.

My tomatoes, cucumbers and squash plants are at the end of their hardening off period.  I will probably till the garden for the second time tomorrow (around the rows of potatoes) and plant the beginning of next week.  The weather here has been kind of crazy.  Hot, no rain save a torrential downpour a couple of days ago.  I hate to plant things and have to water them everyday.  Other years it’s so wet and cold I’ve planted things multiple times.  It’s never perfect.  How dull life would be if it was.

 

Wise Words

Siberian Iris

I visited with an old friend the other day.  I see her much more often now that I am in Rowe than I ever saw of her in the past 35 years or so that we’ve known each other.  She has gone through some major life changes in the past few months.  She is a wise woman.  We talked about others that we know who are dealing with life changes of their own (myself included).  Some are retiring and moving away from the place that has been their home for over 50 years.  Others are taking care of aging parents, their children are moving out or they’re recovering from the loss of a loved one.

 

She said “You need to learn to love your new life.”

 

Profound words those.  We are all hit with changes – some predictable, some not.  For me, the changes were seen and prepared for in the best way I knew how.  That doesn’t mean there aren’t things that are happening that I hadn’t anticipated.  When life changes are made (or happen) it can take a while to truly get the big picture of how those changes are going to affect you and yours.  It takes awhile to get into that new routine.

I confess to be floundering a bit here.  There’s so much to do and so many of the decisions have to be made in somewhat of a vacuum. The idea of being in a situation where I can work on producing the kind of life I only saw myself doing after “retirement” has been a bit overwhelming.  I think I thought I would have a more concrete idea of what I was going to do than I do.  Things are getting done, not necessarily in the time or way I thought they would.  I just have to roll with it.

In realizing that things are never what they seem or intended those words about learning to love my new life were exactly what I needed to hear.  Decisions were made based on the realities of my life whether good or bad – this is the way life is.  Learning to love it – working on loving it – is probably the most important thing I can do to have things be just as they should be.

 

 

 

What We’re Called to Do

140521 Back FortyWhen I was 18 people told me that I needed a plan, a plan for my life.  My friends went off to college, confident in the choices they had made for their life’s work – nuclear engineer, mechanical engineer, music education, nursing.  I had taken business courses in high school knowing that I wouldn’t be going to college – wasn’t in the cards for this girl.  This was back in the day where if you knew how to type, take dictation and do rudimentary bookkeeping you could land a pretty good job. Yes, I’m really dating myself here.

Although I took and kept an office job for a few years I knew that it was not what I wanted to do.  Little did I realize that taking that path initially I would always be working in an office in one capacity or another for a good deal of my life.  I’m an excellent multi-tasker and can be pretty well-organized.  I manage my time well if I have to.

I went to school for photography when I was 22 and again was told I needed a plan for my life.  “Your days are numbered” said to me by my teacher and mentor still whispers in the back of my brain on many occasions.  Good words, words that really should be heeded.

Fast forward 35 years and I have to say I’m just beginning to formulate what it is I should be doing.  Honestly, I may never truly know but I think you have to look at your history, your ancestry, your genetics. I come from a long, long line of farming and textiles, both of which require good problem solving capabilities. (Although I sometimes think the biggest problem I have is figuring out what it is I want to do).

I think many people (especially in recent years) choose a career based on their likes and capabilities.  Some are blessed with extraordinary gifts and are pushed or sent in a certain direction.  Somewhere along the way I believe everyone undergoes a “crisis of faith” so to speak.  That moment (or moments) when we wonder just what the heck were we thinking.  Upon reflection we either realize that what we are doing is the only thing we should be or know in our hearts it’s time to get out.  Taking action is the next big step and that always contains the fear that you are not listening close enough.  You just have to leap.

My move to Rowe permanently was really precipitated by finance but the reality is that this is what I really should be doing.  It allows me to create on many different levels and that is who I am intrinsically.  To sit in an office, no matter who’s it was, was killing me.  I thought it then, I know it now. I’ve had the slate of Fort Pelham Farm for a few years but now I have the time to form it into a thing of beauty both physically and spiritually.

Following in the footsteps of those I knew and loved makes what I’m doing special to me. I am learning to live much the way my ancestors have.  Growing my own food, weaving my own cloth, knitting my own sweaters. We all create our own happiness minute by minute and I’ve been given a new opportunity. People shake their heads and wonder, at least those in the urban area I just left.  I’m certain the tide is shifting where some will understand but you should know I have never, ever done what people expected me to do.  I’d rather have them watch and be amused.

On Blogging

White CleomeIt was just a little over a year ago that I spent a day with Jenna Woginrich, Jon Katz and Jim Kunstler at Jenna’s house on a snowy day listening and talking about the way of words.  Their creative process, their commitment to producing material that is fired out into the ether for anyone to read.  The baring of souls in some respect.  I made a commitment that day that I would write something on this blog every weekday for a year.  For the most part I did it.

This has been an interesting endeavor.  I have a few followers (more than I ever expected), many of who comment here.  I have cyber friends that are like-minded.  One of the most interesting things for me is the number of people who tell me in person that they enjoy reading my blog.  That makes me laugh a little bit but it also adds another little dimension to what this started out to be.

This has been a difficult year on a personal level.  I have tried to keep everything here positive even when things weren’t that way in real life.  If I keep the story going it will become a reality – and in some ways it has.  It forces me to look at the little things that make up each day and pay particular notice to the gifts that are right in front of me.  I like to point them out here so the blog has made me much more aware of the good things happening around me even if they are very small.  I’m always looking.

It has helped me consider photography in a way that I had not for many years.  Images were the way I made a living for a long time and it seemed exhausting to me to take the camera out to capture a sunrise or the birds in the garden.  I made the commitment to post a photo a day with the blog and it helped me to see again.  Not only do I listen for the little gifts I look for them as well.

So my year commitment is over but it will continue without the urgency of a New Year’s resolution.  I have found that looking for the gifts and sharing them here has become a minor addiction and one should never overlook the good things no matter how small.

 

A Love Letter

900601 Mom & Girls (2)

 

I’ve been given time alone for Mother’s Day.  Doesn’t sound like fun to many people but sometimes being alone can be quite an awesome treat.

I remembered these two photographs earlier this morning and wanted to share.  They were taken in 1990 by a dear friend of mine.  I think I had her take them for a Father’s Day gift.  They are also two of just a handful of photographs taken of me with the girls over the years. I treasure them, they speak of the happiness that was ours all the time they were growing up.

They’ve turned into wonderful, brilliant, kind women.  I’m more proud of them than anything else in my life.

On Mother’s Day children come together to celebrate the woman who brought them up.  I’ve never had a real fondness for Mother’s Day only because I’ve always felt that my children were such a gift to me.  For years they were my photographic muse.  They grew up in costumes, in studios, at parks – always with a camera in front of them.  The yearly Christmas card was what I strove for each year, anxiously waiting for the reviews.

I watched them go through their childhood, teenage and young adult years with joy and trepidation.  We all know how hard life can be and you silently hope that your kids won’t ever go through some of the things you’ve been through.  You try to guide them in a direction that will make them happy and content adults.  You encourage each one of them in their interests, nurturing those little sparks.

I hear many of my younger friends with small children of their own now talk about the annoyances of day to day life and I remember it was hard balancing everything in your daily lives.  I want you to know it’s all worth it, it may not seem so now, but it is.

So my children are now adults, I’ve been through the empty nest, I am growing in a different direction.  My life is actually the accumulation of many smaller lives, I think we are all like that.  I see mine as sort of a pie chart sectioned off, it’s not a whole yet but I can see each section as a different phase – who I was with, what I was doing.  They are all in different colors.  The biggest part of my pie chart at the moment is motherhood and it’s bright red.  It stands out.  It was the best thing ever.

So this mother’s day I’m not celebrating mothers, I’m celebrating children, my own. For without them this day would not exist.

900601 Mom & Girls (1)

 

Waxing Philosophical

Sunrise Winnie

Sunrise, Bear Island, Lake Winnipesaukee

I rarely quote anyone in my blog,  I like my words to be my own but this morning I read this and thought “Hmmm, this is so true”.

“All human beings have three lives: public, private, and secret.”
― Gabriel Garcí­a MárquezGabriel García Márquez: a Life

I would add to this that our lives are compartmentalized in many different ways.  We are different people to and with different people and I might add we continue to gather them throughout our lives.  I can’t speak for anyone else but this is why I orchestrate any gathering at my home carefully because I’ve found when I group family and friends from different aspects and times of my life I can’t cope and become a rather bad hostess.  It becomes chaotic to me (and I want to hide in a rather quiet room somewhere).

Recently I had all three of those lives – public, private and secret – come crashing together.  Rather like a car crash.  I can’t say that I’m on life support but it’s been a blinding whirlwind of a ride.  On this crazy ride I have to say that I am surrounded by the most awesome people – friends, family and new found.  I’ve made some good choices in my life and I was just reminded of it in a very real way.

Look around you, see the people that are going on this journey with you, think about the ones missing or are gone.  There are no coincidences in life, I’m convinced.  Everything happens in its own time and for a reason.