what's to come

Say, for a moment, you gave yourself the luxury of floating your mind's
eye to the next chapter or your story. I know, you are still thick in the present tense,
married - for richer or poorer - to these pages. Or else you were told that what matters
is the now you're standing in, and you're a fool to take a stab before the hows and whens
announce themselves. But today, suspend the disbelief of your own wizardry. Imagine
words like roots not yet been planted, the sentences noodle and pliant.
Picture yourself in that ungardened garden,
the soil dark and porous, that loamy scent of what's to come not a defiant
question mark to shrink from but a light to lean against. How the tint and shade
begins to shape this vague new world your heart's already made.

~ Maya Stein
[... her last 10-line poem of 2013]

: : :

Thank you for all your visits here ...
It's been grand.
Let's celebrate new chapters 
 and the many ways we may "write" them next.
I like that idea of suspending disbelief in our own wizardry ... 
more of that, I'd say!
And that littlest seedling in the middle of the photo?
Grew just as tall and produced just as many beans
as all its companions.
No matter, really, if it appears we're lagging behind.
and all of us
in our own good time.

Happy  new ~ a toast to you all on this very fine eve!


A surprising language all their own


During the Victorian era, it became especially popular to attach significant meanings
to flowers and plants.
Also known as floriography, the language of flowers
was a very useful means of relaying important messages ...

Pine Cone (Pinus)  . . .  Conviviality, Life

Mullein (Verbascum)  . . .  Take courage

Poppy (Papaver)  . . .   Fantastic extravagance

Often, the meanings were positive and affirming,
but some were not - quite to the contrary, in fact.

Clematis (Clematis)  . . .  Poverty

Pansy (Viola)  . . .  Think of me

Lavender (Lavandula) . . .   Mistrust

The next time I assemble a bouquet I certainly won't be viewing the arrangement
in quite the same way as I did before reading this book  ...

The Language of Flowers, by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, had been on my library "To Read" list
for so long I'd almost given up hope of getting my hands on it [perpetually checked out]
so I was ecstatic when I found a used copy at the thrift store.
It has been much loved with many dog-ears & now I can understand why.

Every now and again a book crosses my path which feels like its my
destiny to read.  The best writers can make their readers feel this way, I think.
Without giving too much away, the heroine of this story is Victoria, a young woman
who's been in and out of foster care her entire life but has one all-embracing solace ...
a deep love of plants.
As a child she learned this Victorian language of flowers -  an era when every blossom was
assigned a deeper meaning, then used as a way to express sentiment and romantic emotions
since more outward signs were restricted - and since Victoria can't [or won't]
express her emotions either, flowers become her vehicle.

That's only a tiny nutshell of a description ... the story is beautifully complicated.
Filled with symbolism and filled with historical references,
I've barely been able to put this one down.

Amaranth (Amaranthus)  . . .  Immortality

Victoria decides at one point to assemble her own reference collection,
 so she carefully & methodically teaches herself the parameters of photography [film, not digital]
and sets out to capture her subjects with great dedication & perseverence.
The book is set in the San Francisco Bay area of California
and she visits many spots familiar to me
such as the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park,
along with other locales I know and love oh so well [and miss to this day].
At the back of the book the author has included
Victoria's Dictionary of Flowers
and as I was perusing the list, recognizing many names of plants I've grown in my own garden
at one time or another,  I got the crazy idea to take a backwards gander at my own photo files
to see if I could find some items from Victoria's list.
If nothing else it would be a fun exercise in learning those elusive floriography terms.
I soon discovered flowers that one might expect to have, well, a more "positive"
emotion attached to them, 
but do not at all ...

like these two.

Currant (Ribes)  . . .  Thy frown will kill me

Rose, yellow (Rosa)  . . .   Infidelity

I just love books like this
where I'm introduced to a whole new way of looking and thinking
about something otherwise so familiar.

Rose, purple (Rosa)  . . .  Enchantment

Rose, pale peach (Rosa)  . . .   Modesty

Scabiosa (Scabiosa)  . . .  Unfortunate love

Dog (Canis lupus)  . . .  Undying devotion [my floriography]

oh hi.  how'd you get in here?

Just making sure you folks haven't fallen asleep in the petals yet ...
[chuckling happily]

Cherry blossoms (Prunus cerasus)  . . .   Impermanence

Of course, I'm a tad partial to the next one

Sweet pea (Lathyrus odorata)  . . .  Delicate pleasures

and as it happens, I have quite a lot of this next one in my garden.

Yarrow (Achillea)  . . .  Cure for a broken heart

Hmmm, what can it all mean?
I'm looking forward to spring and making that next bouquet ...

: : :

Wishing all of you who stop by here a most lovely season
of joy and beauty

P.S.   WAIT!  Have I got the holiday gift for you!   Just as I was finishing this book-related post, 
my masterful dye friend, India Flint, announced that she has put together a NEW BOOK ... 
In her words:
"it contains a technique you can do even in the smallest of apartments
and that I think you will want to do over and over again."

Go see ~ there's a preview & you can buy it now ...  over HERE on Blurb.
I treated myself to the hardback  ;>]




Texture Tuesday ... taking the back road


Chased some light 
down a narrow farmland road 
on what was an otherwise ordinary morning
in the Skagit valley.

I'd found god beams*

~ masses of them ~

so I said to the fluffy one riding in back,
it's time to pull over & pay homage.

*otherwise known as crepuscular rays
: : :

Photo recipe:
Shot with an iPhone in a ditch
Resized & color effects added over at PicMonkey
Kim Klassen's texture,  aurora

Joining in with the gang over at today's Texture Tuesday  HERE



Six weeks, ten boats, and Studio Room 222 ...


Traveling with good companions makes for a joyful time
along the road so when I decided on an impromptu road trip to Portland,
I included two very friendly books [seeing as how the Fluffy One could not come along, alas].

One book for inspiration ...

World Enough & Time: On Creativity and Slowing Down ... 
which I first learned of  HERE  and proved perfect
for rest stops & ferry rides.   The other book was pure entertainment,
a downloadable Audio.  Where'd you go, Bernadette  did manage to keep me
thoroughly awake for many a driving hour
and I'm convinced this is a valuable way to [safely] travel solo.

I was looking forward to my first visit to the Oregon College of Art + Craft.
With a kindred name to my alma mater in CA, I suspected an environs lit up with
creativity and dedicated study, just like my old stomping grounds.
Although this time, I did have a very different purpose in mind.

Indigo-dyed shirt remnants

land-bound porcelain boats
were what I'd come to see ...
amongst other things.

My friend, India Flint, just completed a six-week Artist in Residence at OCAC
and decided to hold an *open house.*
Not wishing to pass up a possibly unreapeatable opportunity,
and knowing that soon she would be departing our western shores to head home
after three long months away, 
well ...  let's just say I can pack like a whirling dervish when needs demand.

In short,
there was no way I was not going to say "Three Cheers!" in person
and have a little look-see.

Here is what awaited in Studio Room 222 ...

dust coat left, wind songs [folded paper] right ~
India's poem, stellata, below

~ stitching detail, from dustcoat ~

~ blue angel, left ... hummingbird, right ~

I was quite taken with these magical frocks ... utterly sublime
and mysterious in their fragile way.
Completely stitched by hand, one could spend hours examining all the
folds and gathers.
These beauties [and others] are destined for an ancient castle high on a hill ...
with Sally Stafford [painter, UK]

oh, to be a fly on those stone walls ...

~ detail, from blue angel dress ~

*** Side note:  should you wish to see more of India's dresses
there's a stunning array [and more] over at
Church Boutique  in Los Angeles ...
website page is HERE

~ sweet dreams ~
porcelain boats

Laid on a table, nine bisque-fired boats.  A fine story
must be developing here ...

~ detail, from sweet dreams ~

The studio being a bit small, filled as it was with all the lovelies,
India sat out in the hall, greeting visitors
and stitching on a lapful of indigo ...

I shall never tire of watching those hands work.

~ detail, notebook installation ~

~ notebook ~

unfinished blues ~

~ unfinished blues, alternate view ~

~ detail, from unfinished blues ~

~ detail, from unfinished blues ~

~ detail, from unfinished blues ~

: : :

The practicing artist is, by definition, someone who is able
to build a life around his or her own creative work.
Inevitably, such a person will have considered his or her
attitude to time.  What matters is not how much they actually have,
but how best to inhabit it and make it spacious:
how to allow room in which attention can take root.
Such choices are important for all of us, whatever we are
trying to create.
The philosopher Hannah Arendt wrote of a "timeless region ...
lying beyond human clocks and calendars altogether."
It is a place that many of us have sought in vain, a place
of patience and apprenticeship, and, finally, of creativity,
a "small non-time space in the very heart of time."

by Christian McEwen

: : :

A mere six weeks and ten boats later, studio Room 222 was filled floor-to-ceiling
with new, inspired work ... all because textile artist, India Flint,
was given the gift of time.