As I was going to Virginny, I met a Mat who was quite skinny. Upon each hand, he wore a mitt. Upon each mitt, a mot* was writ. Within each mot, there was a mutt. Inside each mitt, a hand was put. Met. Mat. Mitt-mot-mutt. This may mean something; I know not what.
*My new word for the day — MOT (pronounced ˈmō ). It’s short for “Bon Mot” or a pithy saying.
Here’s a mot with a mutt in it:
A mutt is couture-it’s the only one like it in the world, made especially for you.
I’m a little punchy after a long day of driving yesterday. I worked 5am – 11 am, then left my house a little after noon to drive to youngest-daughter’s college where I was meeting up with oldest-daughter who was driving with me to visit middle-daughter. Got that?
I think the sun was out when I left home. After collecting daughter #1, we drove off in the snow. “Winter Advisory” signs flashed at us all along I-81.
And I had opted to drive first. Ugh.
It was slushy sloppy slippery slow driving for about 4 hours. Shortly after she took over driving, the weather and the road cleared.
The other day I was trying to explain to someone my artistic process. It was an odd conversation from the get-go because I don’t consider myself an artist and I don’t know what my process is.
“The collages happen,” I said. “I start cutting out pictures not really knowing what the final piece will be. Somewhere along the line, it takes a turn and I’m looking for specifics. For backgrounds or animals or people. It’s like shopping for a gift for someone you love; I know it when I see it.”
It was so beautiful and huge and sad, pacing back and forth along the fence at the far side of its enclosure. Padding, padding, padding, down and back, its huge paws silent and powerful.
I read the explanation at the zoo about how tigers are losing their natural habitats to human expansion. According to the World Wildlife Fund, they have lost 95% of their historical range. They are also poached and their body parts traded.
We “save” them by putting them in zoos.
So tigers — for a collage. I cut out half a dozen of them last night, then sat down this morning to create my collage.
My favorite tiger didn’t make the cut.
I mean — he made the cut from the book, a beat-up scribbled in copy of Where is Christopher? by Anne Lawrence. He didn’t make the cut for the collage. Tigger, however, did.
Oblivious Tigger. Goofy smile. Happy-go-lucky. Oh, the wonderful thing about Tiggers, right?
I think his obliviousness is less about the danger from the tiger and more about the greater plight of the tiger, don’t you think?
It would be so easy to extrapolate this to humans. We are oblivious to the plights of our fellow human beings.
It would be so easy to jump on a soapbox about this, but I will be the first to admit my own obliviousness and my ignorance.
In 2022, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston decommissioned this piece by Georgia O’Keeffe and sold it at auction to benefit acquisitions for the museum. However, it fell short of the $6-8 million estimate of what it would bring in, selling for a mere $4.8 million.
I heard on the news the other day that Manchester United, the soccer team, was for sale. The price was in the billions. $4.5 billion? $5 billion? $8 billion? I can’t fathom numbers that high.
I’m still trying to wrap my head around the price of eggs.
Mimic the master attempt #2 — I tried to make a collage version of “A Sunflower from Maggie.”
This will not win a prize. Every time I try to collage I learn something from my frustrations.
Glue stick is sticky, messy, and dries too quickly.
Mod-Podge is sticky, messy, and makes the paper buckle and curl.
Art requires infinite patience — and I’m sadly lacking.
Art requires time — and I’m sadly lacking that too. I’m surrounded by far more important things I should be doing, but I’m stuck. So I cut up books. Sheesh.
Prestigious artists earn their prestige. I doubt anyone just wakes up one morning and starts creating masterful art. It takes practice, time, patience, and maybe some Mod-Podge and glue sticks.
When I look at other collage-art, it’s very different from mine which makes me think I’m not doing it right.
In America the word “home” is a synonym for “house“; it is a traveling concept, one which you carry around with you — your home is wherever you happen to be living. One might speak of a “development of new homes” in America; in England, such a phrase would be nonsensical, because a house, in England, is merely a “house”; “home” is an altogether broader concept, implying rootedness and long residence.
Ruth Brandon, A Capitalist Romance (1977)
I guess I’m not as American as I thought.
My parents bought an old farm in 1967. At that point in my life, I had lived on four different army bases and I have memories from two of them. My roots, however, are here, on this piece of property.
And they are deep.
When I first heard the concept of “thin places” — that Celtic-Christian idea of physical locations where the distance between heaven and earth is barely perceptible — I immediately thought of this place, from the river to the crest of the hill, where I am rooted and from which I draw strength.
It goes beyond my parents’ property. It’s this community, the streets in this town, the shores of this lake. It’s the seasons here — the rain, the snow, the blaze of color in autumn, the long days of summer, the short days of winter. It’s the fog that covers the road some mornings. It’s the whitetail deer. It’s the peepers in spring.
I move away. I come back. I move away. I come back. I’m here to stay.
“I worry about you,” my sister said to me the other day, “all alone in that big house.”
The Februllage prompt is SHOES. And I put a shoe — singular — in my collage. Fail.
The collage is way too busy. It reflects my mind and my life. Semi-chaotic.
But a girl can dream, right? I needed that little girl, looking ahead to something beautiful, to appear in my collage.
It’s been a hard week.
Honestly, I don’t even feel like blathering.
Let me focus on some positives.
My daughter-in-law came to where I work and gave a presentation on silos. It was so good and so well-received. I wrote 23 words about it in a post called Letters of Introduction, but I forgot some of the letters that go after her name — CEO. She’s the CEO of the organization where she works. Those are pretty important letters — I can’t believe that I forgot them!
Game Night — Last Sunday night we had a family game night via Zoom. Honestly, one of the good things that came out of this pandemic was on-line group games. Maybe they existed before the pandemic, but they’re more prolific now, right? Despite some technical issues, family members in St. Kitts, British Columbia, and various parts of New York were able to join in the fun.
Cake — I’m such a sucker for cake. I heart cake. Yesterday at work, we had some drummed-up excuse for a staff get-together to improve morale. And there was cake. It may not have improved overall morale, but it WAS cake — chocolate cake with thick creamy vanilla frosting.
Here it is, another Saturday, another Stream of Consciousness writing prompt (perfection), another day when I allow myself to write more than 23 words — in other words, another day of blather.
I’ll admit that I’m one of those people who wants things to be perfect. Seriously, are there people who don’t? Doesn’t everyone like that feeling of having done something really well — in fact, so well that it falls into the realm of perfection. I mean, I get satisfaction from a perfectly folded towel, a perfectly baked cookie, a perfect question (you know one when you hear one), a perfect answer (easily recognized as well), a perfect evening spent with a friend.
Imperfection plagues me.
I read a poem by Brian Doyle earlier this week in which he talked about rejection. “Learn to be neighborly with no,” he said, and I thought, I need to learn to be neighborly with mistakes; specifically, MY mistakes.
Seriously, who wants mistakes as neighbors? Who wants to invite them in for a cup of coffee and a chat?
It’s so much easier to show grace to others than ourselves.
Perfectionism is almost a cancer. Strike that — it IS a cancer.
I’ve had times when I wanted to throw in the towel. One tiny bit of advice carried me through those better than any other.
Children are a lot of work. Large families have a unique set of challenges.
For instance, when a family grows from two to three children, mom doesn’t have enough hands when walking to the library with the children. She can hold the hand of one child on her right and the other on her left, but where does the third child go?
When a family grows from three children to four children, they can’t all ride in one car, unless, I suppose, they have a bench seat in the front, which we didn’t.
When a family grows from five children to six children, they can’t fit into a mini-van. Driving a 15-passenger van is overkill, but there aren’t many choices or 12 passenger vans out there.
I had eight children. My mother-in-law had thirteen. Thirteen!
One of the first times I went to their house, she took me by the hand and we walked to their large vegetable garden. I still remember the feel of her hands, calloused and strong. She worked so hard. She earned those hands.
She was a hugger. My own mother was not a hugger. Sometimes huggy people feel awkward to those of us who haven’t always had those outward displays of affection. But it seemed such a natural extension of who she was.
Basically, she was amazing and made everything look easy.
One day I asked her when I was struggling with my two or three or six children — “How do you do it?”
In her sweet, sweet way, she said, “Oh, Sally, you just do.”
You just do. Those are hefty words to live by.
And honestly, I have failed at just doing sometimes too many times.
Still, that simple exchange was one of the most unforgettable conversations in my life.
The following blather is brought to you by “Stream of Consciousness Saturday.” This is the day of the week I give myself permission to write more than 23 words.
Last Saturday, I promised a reverse poem (one that can be read top-to-bottom or bottom-to-top). Good golly, I stared at my scribbles too long. And then, came up with a reverse poem that’s too short and a little awkward. But, oh well. Here you go:
History is boring Some people actually think that All those dates and foreign-sounding names matter And eccentric people worm their way into Those stories where the world changes I find history fascinating
Meh — not the best, but I’m going to check the “Done” box and move on.
I spent a few hours yesterday in the research library.
I wrote a post called The Negative Split not too long ago. I think I research in negative-split mode.
I got to the library a few minutes after my scheduled appointment. (Yes, we have to schedule appointments at the research library now. And wear masks.)
I had given myself two hours. For the first 45 minutes or so, I leafed through photographs, not really finding anything I wanted. Or maybe I did. A few new names, therefore a few new rabbit trails. (Side-question for you: What could the nickname “Dell” be short for, for a man in the late 1800s or early 1900s?)
The librarian left to find a few more boxes for me. I feel a little bad. She’s new on the job, and I kept saying Joe (the former librarian) did this or brought me that. Comparison to a predecessor has to be the worst.
Anyway, she brought me some boxes that Joe had never brought me. Suddenly I was lost in old correspondence and organizational reports. I looked at the clock and saw that I had been there well over my two hours.
“Let me just look at one more thing,” I said to the librarian. I was in my groove — researching faster and stronger than I had been at the beginning.
“Do you think you have a photograph of this?” I asked her about a specific place in town. She started hunting.
I kept reading.
And wishing time would just stop long enough that I could pursue these many lines of inquiry.
I snapped a photo of a bit of correspondence because it had made me laugh out loud in the quiet of the library.
“Yours till Pancakes are a thing of the past.”
I could have spent the next three weeks looking for the pancake story that inspired that closing sentiment, but I’ll almost bet it’s an inside joke between two men that I will never know. Plus, it was way past time for me to go.
But if I had those three weeks to spend, who knows what other little stories I would have uncovered?
I lied I promised a poem and blather I may just blather I won’t give you a poem Not today I can do this thing Next Saturday
Yesterday, the prompt was “reversal” and, like an idiot, I all-too-quickly decided I would write a reverse poem. I used the word reversal instead of reverse because it actually shows up that way in the interwebs.
Last night I sketched out my idea — two opposing thoughts to put at each end with a few middle-ish words. This morning, I filled that page with words and arrows and crossing-things-out and carets to insert new words. It was a mess. It definitely needs more work.
So I got out my computer and stream-of-consciously wrote the intro to this post — which CAN be read forward and backwards, but it’s not really two opposing ideas.
Next Saturday, I hope to have a worthy poem to accompany my blather.
If we were having coffee this morning, I would bore you with all the new words and concepts I learned this week.
Check out this one: AESTIVATION. It has two definitions. In zoology, it’s a state of dormancy during hot weather, as compared with hibernation, which is that dormant state in cold weather. Snakes in the desert aestivate.
But the second definition is the one I fell in love with. In botany, aestivation is the arrangement of petals and sepals in a bud before it opens.
We have words for the coolest things.
I also learned the concept “Homo Faber” which means “Man the Maker.” One definition I found talked about man making tools to “control” their environment. I prefer to think about it more along the lines of Dorothy Sayers in her book The Mind of the Maker. There she talks about us being made in the image of God and the only thing we really knew about God at that point in the scriptures is that He created. We were made to be creative.
After my father passed away in 2019, I had some pretty serious struggles. In the spring of 2020, I found myself going for frequent walks to think — but more and more my thoughts were dark and morbid. Finally, I reached out for help and found a mental health counselor. We talked A LOT — and we still talk. I also admitted my struggles to my primary care provider who prescribed an anti-depressant. It helped, too.
There were a few times that I tried to wean myself off the anti-depressant, but quickly saw the dark road again. Then, this past fall, I found that I was forgetting to take it. I tried a bunch of different systems to help me remember, but none of them worked.
And the truth was that this time I was not seeing the darkness. Instead, I found myself feeling creative again. I mean, look at me! I’m writing here again!
I talked to my counselor about it. “I think I’m doing really well,” I told her. I showed her some of the Christmas gifts I had made — MADE — for my co-workers. “Do you think it’s okay if I just stop the anti-depressant? I promise to start again if I see the darkness or feel the darkness or have those dark, dark thoughts. I just refilled the prescription so I have a supply ready.”
She gave me her blessing — with a thousand caveats, of course, as I presume she must. She confirmed that the anti-depressant could also stifle creativity. I would have talked to my primary care provider, too, but she has since moved on to another city.
I say all this not to give my own blessing to anyone who stops taking a prescribed medication. Always have someone else in your loop who can monitor you and keep an eye on you!
I say all this because I feel alive again. Grief threw me into a period of aestivation. Now I’m ready for my petals to start opening.
First, let me just say HOLY COW!! WRITING ONLY 23 WORDS IS A CHALLENGE!!
There. Got that off my chest!
I was thinking about Sabbaths and how we need to take breaks — regular breaks — from hard things. There’s discipline and then there are nutso compulsions. I work at a gym, so I see a lot of those people who are very disciplined about their training, but I also see people who compulsively overtrain to a point where it’s pretty unhealthy.
Writing 23 words is not unhealthy. It’s hard, though! But I decided that I would be disciplined about it six days a week and on the seventh I would blather. Uncontrollably blather. And use Linda Hill’s Stream of Consciousness (SoCS) writing prompt as my excuse.
Today’s prompt: “out of the box.” This isn’t really an out of the box story, but it’s the first thing that came to my mind so I’m going to run with it.
Over the last few weeks I have found myself.
I know that sounds ridiculously pop-psychology 1980s, but when you’ve lost yourself and found yourself again, it’s kind of amazing.
For my regular readers, remember when I wrote this post: What’s Your Goal? I was incredibly frustrated by someone trying to help me by asking me about my goals. I was too lost in the darkness of a deep forest of I-don’t-know-what to even understand that question.
Fast forward to maybe two weeks ago.
No wait — in the intervening time — about 9 months — I took on some new duties with my job. I’m helping bring some senior programming to the facility where I work. To do that, I’ve been working with a woman who has been running a senior program at another location. This past Thursday, January 5, was the big day of inviting seniors in for an Open House.
Like I said, leading up to it, I’ve been meeting regularly with a woman who has been doing this job elsewhere. We’ve discussed rooms to hold events and places to store materials. We’ve discussed personnel to be involved and practical safety issues for the population we’ll be working with. It’s all been so good.
Then the lightbulb went on a couple weeks ago. I was talking to one of my daughters about it, about a few ideas I had. Specifically, I said, “We should have a ‘Bird’ month of programming. We could have one of the artists lead an art project involving birds. We could maybe build some birdhouses, We could have someone speak on backyard birding and ways to attract birds.”
I was on a roll and getting excited as the ideas started to flow. “We could go out birding. We could get out the badminton nets if people wanted to hit the birdie back and forth.”
“Mom,” my daughter said, “this is what you do.”
And she was so right. I’m an idea person.
That free flow of ideas had been so stuffed in for so long, for so many reasons.
Not everyone likes idea people. One of the people I work with is an idea-shutter-downer. “Stay in your lane,” she said to me when I made suggestions.