Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Knitting Frenzy

The last two weeks I can't stop knitting and felting . . .

I'm in a frenzy. I can't stop. The good -- using up yarn I've collected. The bad -- my house is a mess! But I'm calm (and happy :)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Georgia on my mind

My lady Georgia, that's what my high school art teacher called her. She's the one who got me hooked on Georgia. Georgia O'Keefe. My all time favorite, wish I could have met her, artist. She's the one this blog is named after.

The painting From the faraway nearby can be seen here. My favorite vacation spot, so far, is New Mexico and one of my favorite vacations was a first anniversary trip there. We rented a (rustic) cabin in Red River for a week or so and did day trips all around the northern part of the state. We did things like rent a jeep and go 4-wheelin', visited Bandelier National Monument, I read lots sitting on the porch swing while Everett went fishing. Then I bought a Georgia O'Keefe guidebook of sorts and we travelled all around her "stomping grounds" in northern New Mexico. We had the best indian tacos in a little hole in the wall on a deserted stretch of highway near Abiquiu. And we went to the Lawrence ranch (D.H.) where she spent lots of time when she was in the area. I laid under the tree she used as her muse for this painting, The Lawrence TreeThere's a bench under the tree which, they say, she laid on to gain her perspective. I laid on it and took this pictureAs an art teacher "wannabe" this was an experience that I carry with me and look forward to sharing with my students some day. What can we do to get an unusual perspective on something we see every day? How does it change how we see something when we look at it froma different view? Hey, these things could have a kind of profound impact on other daily activities too. Hmmmmmm, I need to ponder that some more. I've been feeling pretty intolerant and angry lately, just ask my co-workers :)

Oh, and I almost forgot, her birthday was November 15. She would have been 111 this year :)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

On taking offense

I belong to an e-mail group of people I graduated from high school with. This week, there was much and varied election discussion. I'm all for people not agreeing and not being happy, or being very happy, with who wins an election. This year's presidential election brought out many strong feelings on both ends of the spectrum. After one e-mail tirade (about how Obama is going to take away our civil rights AND all our money), one of the listee's went on to say something like, "is it just me, or does Obama look like BJ Armstrong?" I don't even know who BJ Armstrong is. But then someone sent another e-mail with their pictures side by side. What do you think?

I'll be the first to admit that maybe I have some baggage related to issues of race. But, for the life of me, I don't really see any resemblance except for (sorta) their skin color. They both are brownish, although completely different shades of brown. Their eye, mouth and face shapes are totally different. I took offense and responded saying besides the fact that they're both African American I didn't see any similarity. Discussion on the e-mail list skidded to a complete halt. Nothing else was said about it.

So my question is, what I over-reacting? All I heard in my head was "they all look alike" and all the racism, overt and otherwise, that goes along with that. I won't apologize for being touchy about issues like this. The people I love the most are very affected by these things in ways I can only imagine. I've never been followed around in a store like the shop-keeper thinks I'm going to steal something, but I've been with my husband when it's happened to him. And I know that's just a tip of the iceberg.

I feel such hope for the future of my children and ALL children, that our country was able to rise above superficial issues like race in last week's election. But there's a long road ahead.

A brave new world requires a brave new mind.
Author Unknown
But Greatly Appreciated!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Let us turn our thoughts . . .

I'm so overwhelmed with feelings this week. In true Mary Catherine Gallager fashion, my feelings could best be expressed, not by dialogue from a play or movie, but with song lyrics (James Taylor song lyrics - Shed a little light).

Let us turn our thoughts today
To Martin Luther King
And recognize that there are ties between us
All men and women
Living on the Earth
Ties of hope and love
Sister and brotherhood
That we are bound together
In our desire to see the world become
A place in which our children

Can grow free and strong
We are bound together
By the task that stands before us
And the road that lies ahead
We are bound and we are bound

There is a feeling like the clenching of a fist
There is a hunger in the center of the chest
There is a passage through the darkness and the mist
And though the body sleeps the heart will never rest

Shed a little light, oh Lord
So that we can see
Just a little light, oh Lord
Wanna stand it on up
Stand it on up, oh Lord
Wanna walk it on down
Shed a little light, oh Lord

Can't get no light from the dollar bill
Don't give me no light from a TV screen
When I open my eyes
I wanna drink my fill
From the well on the hill

(Do you know what I mean?)
- Chorus -

There is a feeling like the clenching of a fist
There is a hunger in the center of the chest
There is a passage through the darkness and the mist
And though the body sleeps the heart will never rest

Oh, Let us turn our thoughts today
To Martin Luther King
And recognize that there are ties between us
All men and women
Living on the Earth
Ties of hope and love
Sister and brotherhood

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The sacred art of dish-washing

I've been knitting these dishcloths like crazy. I love the pattern. And the colors. It's called a ball-band dishcloth and it's from the book Mason-Dixon knitting. I got the book for my birthday but the pattern is available in several places online too. It looks and sounds complicated at first but it's really not hard if you can knit and purl.

I started knitting them as a project for the prayer shawl knitting group at our church. We started out knitting shawls, kind of based on a concept you can read about at this site.

Later we moved into knitting prayer cloths, 12"x12" cloths that are carried in each Sunday morning and set underneath an oil lamp as part of the worship center and our worship centering. I started knitting one of these dishcloths thinking it would be a nice pattern for a prayer cloth.

Then I started giving them to people to use as dishclothes, which is what the pattern says it is. Then I started thinking about washing dishes.

I read Kathleen Norris' book The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and "Women's Work". I don't remember all that many specifics about the book, it's been several years since I read it, but the basis is that the daily tasks of life are sacred. That resonated with me, although some days I have a tough time finding the sacred in some of my daily tasks.

Recently I've gotten to the point where washing dishes is a stressful, kind of angry time. I get frustrated that no one else thinks about doing the dishes, or washing the table, or wiping off the counter. It's a downward spiral from there, and I often end up slamming cupboard doors and banging pots and plates and silverware loudly. I decided about a month ago that I was going to try to not get angry and just try to stay on top of the one task of dishwashing.

Then I discovered this pattern. While I was knitting these I started wondering "what if I knit dishclothes prayerfully, for myself and for others . . . how would that affect the art dishwashing as a sacred experience?".

So pretty much everyone on my Christmas list is going to get prayerfully knit dishcloths and, if time allows, some home-made dishwashing soap. I'm really re-motivated by this to try to find the sacred and focus on mindfulness in all that I do. Let me know if you'd like to receive one OR if you'd like to learn to knit your own.

When we walk like (we are running), we print anxiety and sorrow on the earth. We have to walk in a way that we only print peace and serenity on the earth... Be aware of the contact between your feet and the earth. Walk as if you are kissing the earth with your feet.
~Thich Nhat Hanh