Monday, May 31, 2010

more barry lopez and it could be a quilt

I am sitting on a storm pattern rug woven out of the mind of a Navajo woman, Ahinsaha, and traded to a man named Dobrey in Winslow, Arizona, for groceries in August 1934.
In the fall of l936 a Swedish farmer, Kester Vorland, his land gone out from under him in the Depression, leaves his wife and three children in the car and, picking his moment perfectly, steps back into the store to steal the rug while Dobrey is busy in the back with a broken saddle. He trades it the next day in Flagstaff for groceries and $25 cash and moves on to Needles. It is bought later by a young man named Diego Martin who takes it back to San Bernardino, California, with him. He boasts of it to his friends, a piece of shrewd buying. When he is married in 1941 he gives it to his wife and, one flat September night, they make love on it, leaving a small stain that the girl, Yonella, can easily point out but which Diego will not believe, even when she shows him. He believes it is a stain left by an insect; he forbids her to show the rug to anyone after this. He dies in a bar fight in Honolulu on April 16, 1943, a corporal in the Marines. Yonella sells everything. An old woman with red hair and liver spots on her throat pouch named Elizabeth Reiner buys the rug for $45 and takes it home with her to Santa Barbara. In 1951 her daughter comes to visit and her grandson John Charles who is ten begins to covet the rug; when the mother and daughter fall into an argument over something, the older woman angrily gives it to the boy (she snatches it down off the wall) as demonstration of her generosity. She later tells her daughter not to come back again and begins to miss the rug and feel foolish. The boy doesn't care. He vows he will always write her at Christmastime, even if his mother forbids it.
On the train from Los Angeles to Prairie du Chien the boy keeps himself wrapped in the rug like a turtle. He sits on the bed in his underwear with it over his shoulders and watches Nebraska. When he is sixteen John Charles falls in love with Dolores Patherway who is nineteen and a whore. One night she trades him twenty-five minutes for the blanket, but he does not see it this way; it is a gift, the best he can offer, a thing of power. That night she is able to sell it to a Great Lakes sailor for $60. She tells him it is genuine Sioux, there at the battle of the Little Big Horn, and will always bring a good price. The sailor's name is Benedict Langer, from a good Catholic family in Ramapo, New Jersey, and he has never had hard liquor or even VD but in three weeks in the service his father said would make a man of him he has lain in confusion with six different women who have told him he is terrific; he has sensed a pit opening. The day after
he buys it Benedict gives the blanket to a friend, Frank Winter, and goes to look for a priest in Green Bay, the football town. In March 1959 Frank mails it to his parents for an anniversary present (it has been in his footlocker for eighteen months and smells like mothballs, a condition he remedies by airing it at night from the signal deck of the U.S.S. Kissell). He includes with it a document he has had made up in the ship's print shop to the effect that it is an authentic Pawnee blanket, so his parents will be proud, can put it up on the wall of their retirement home in Boca Raton, Florida, next to the maracas from Guadalajara. They leave it in the box in the hall closet; they do not talk about it. Mr. Winter confides to his wife in the dark one night that he doesn't believe in the powers of medicine men.
On July 17, 1963 Frank Winter dies instantly when his foot hits a land mine in the Mekong Delta. His father waits a month before donating the blanket and the boy's other belongings to Catholic Charities. Father Peter Donnell, a local priest, a man of some sensitivity, lays the rug down on brown wall to wall carpeting in the foyer of the refectory of the Catholic Church in Boca Raton, arranging two chairs and a small table precisely on it (he likes especially the Ganado red color) before the Monsignor asks him to remove it. Father Donnell keeps the rug in his room, spread out flat under his mattress for a year. He takes it with him when he is transferred to Ames, Iowa, where it is finally bought in an Easter bazaar as Father Donnell endures a self-inflicted purging of personal possessions. It is bought by antique dealers, Mr. and Mrs. Theodore Wishton Spanner of Jordan Valley, Oregon (as they sign the register). The following winter I buy it from Mrs. Spanner who tells me the rug has been woven by a Comanche who learned his craft from a Navajo, that she bought it on the reservation in Oklahoma. It is certified. I take the rug home and at dusk I undress and lie down under it so that it completely covers my body. I listen all night. I do not hear anything. But in this time I am able to sort out all the smells buried in the threads and the sounds still reverberating deep in the fibers. It is what i have been looking for.

It is this rug I have carefully spread out now, east and west over the dust. It is only from such a height above the floor of the desert that one is able to see clearly what is going on.
The moon has just risen; the sun has just gone down. There are only a few stars up and a breeze is blowing up from the south. It smells like wet cottonwood leaves.
This is the best time to see what is happening. Everyone who is passing through will be visible for a short time. already I have seen the priest with his Bible bound in wolves' fur and the blackbirds asleep in his hair.
I see the woman who smells like sagebrush and her three children with the large white eyes and tattered leggings. I see the boy who rolls in dust like a horse and the legionnaire with the alabaster skin polished smooth by the wind. I see the magnificent jethery loping across the desert like a greyhound with his arms full of oars, I watch cheetahs in silver chariots pulled by a span of white crows. I see the rainbow in arabesques of the wind.
The night gets deeper. I pull down to listen for Ahinsaha; she is crying in Arizona. This is what she is singing:
Go to the white rain
Ta ta ta ta
Go to the white rain
Ta ta ta ta
I see the horses
Ta ta ta ta
They are feeding above there.

There is no rain; there are no horses. Her music falls into pieces with her tears in the dust like lies. She smells like your face in wheat.
The moon is up higher, clearing the thin clouds on the horizon.
The two girls with the sun in a spiderweb bag are standing by the mountains south talking with the blue snake that makes holes in the wind with his whistle.
I can smell the heat of the day stuck on the edges of the cracks in the earth like a salt crust after a tide. I lay back and watch the sky. I close my eyes. I run my hands out smooth over the rug and feel the cold rising from the earth. When I come again I will bring a friar's robe with a deep cowl and shoes of jute fiber. I will run like a madman to the west all night until I begin to fall asleep; then I will walk back, being careful to correct for the tilt of the earth, the force of Coriolis, reading my breviary by the precise arrowlightt of stars, assured of my destination.
The day hugs the desert floor like a fallen warrior. I am warm. I am alert for any sort of light. I believe there is someplace out there where you can see right down into the heart of the earth. The light there is strong enough to burn out your eyes like sap in a fire. But I won't go near it. I let it pass. I like to know tha if I need it, with only a shovel or a small spade, I can begin digging and recall the day.
This time is the only time you will see the turtles massed on the eastern border for the march to the western edge where there is water, and then back the same night to hide in the bushes and smash insects dazed to lethargy in the cold. I have spoken with these turtles. They are reticent about their commitments. Each one looks like half the earth.
This is the only time you can study both of your shadows. If you sit perfectly still and watch your primary shadow as the sun sets you will be able to hold it long enough to see your other shadow fill up when the moon rises like a porcelain basin with clear water. If you turn carefully to face the south you may regard both of them; to understand the nature of silence you must be able to see into this space between your shadows.
This is the only time you will be able to smell water and not mistake it for the smell of a sheet of granite, or confuse it with the smell of marble or darkness. If you are moving about at this time, able to go anywhere you choose, you will find water as easily as if you were looking for your hands. It may take you some hours, even days to arrive at the place, but there will be no mistake about the direction to go once you smell it. The smell of water is not affected by the air currents so you won't need to know the direction of the wind; the smell of water lays along the surface of the earth like a long stick of peeled elmwood.
This is the only time you can hear the flight of the grey eagle over the desert. You cannot see him because he fades with the sun and is born out of it in the morning but it is possible to hear his wings pumping against the columns of warm air rising and hear the slip of the wind in his feathers as he tilts his gyre out over the desert floor. There is nothing out there for him, no rabbits to hunt, no cliff faces to fall from, no rock on which to roost, but he is always out there at this time fading to grey and then to nothing, turning on the wind with his eyes closed. It doesn't matter how high he goes or how far away he drifts, you will be able to hear him. It is only necessary to lie out flat somewhere and listen for the sound, like the wrinkling of the ocean.
The last thing you will notice will be the stones, small bits of volcanic ash, black glass, blue tourmaline, sapphires, narrow slabs of grey feldspar, rose quartz, sheets of mica and blood agate. They are small enough to be missed, laying down in the cracks of the desert floor, but they are the last things to give up the light; you will see them flare and burn like coals before they let go.
It is good to have a few of these kinds of stones with you in a pocket or cupped in your hands before you go to sleep. One man I knew, only for a short time, was sure the stones were more important than anything else; he kept a blue one tied behind his ear. One evening while we were talking he reached over and with a wet finger took alkaline dust and painted a small lightning bolt on his right cheek. I regarded him for more than an hour before it became too dark to see. I rolled myself up in this blanket and slept.

window cloths

they are not really curtains at all, but more cloths that seal the windows against winter wind. probably with my beloved clear
push pins unless i can come up with a better plan. the two windows to the left of the West window are left un~covered....cannot
bear it to have all the world kept out. The cracks in these are stuffed with strips of wool felt.
8 3/4 inches short. will need to find something to stitch to the TOPS of each.
Would like to (if winter ever becomes "normal" again) be able to roll them up on sunny days (if winter ever becomes "normal"
again). Maybe with a dowel across the bottom?
The Summer Curtain would not be there...but replaced with whatever i come up with this year.....maybe a even newer door cloth?
Ordinarily, winter is only Jan ~ mid Feb so ordinarily, i choose to just suffer. this last winter began in November
and did not give up its grip till mid April.
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valerianna ~

from Desert Notes by Barry Lopez

if you want to know more about the raven: bury yourself in the desert so that you have a commanding view of the high basalt cliffs where he lives. Let only your eyes protrude. Do not blink~the movement will alert the raven to your continued presence. Wait until a generation of ravens has passed away. Of the new generation there will be at least one bird who will find you. He will see your eyes staring up out of the desert floor. The raven is cautious, but he is thorough. He will sense your peaceful intentions. Let him have the first word. Be careful: he will tell you he knows nothing.

mask and cut out

very loosely woven strips of the old skirt no backing will be stitched onto the long awaiting yardage of ripstop nylon.
will become Winter Window panels in the Room. the cutout on the South panel, mask on the West.
Love them.
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Sunday, May 30, 2010

and anonymous marti, see....your intuition is impeccable
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so far. on the right leg, jude's magic thread. anyone who can, please advise about "embroidery" of raven....i feel like i am not
skilled enough to fully embroider. that with my ability, it's almost best to leave some negative space? eee. don't know.
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Saturday, May 29, 2010

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just so no one thinks i died of plaid, here is where i've been since i got home from the laundromat. i wanted to wait a little
more till i put this here, but i really need to go outside and be responsible to the plant people right now....more later.
and you can see, helen, i didn't change the color, it was just on a different wall, and taken late with the flash...
yup, jude. i CUT it! Fearless. borrowed the laundry lady's scissors.
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Thursday, May 27, 2010


look what happened at the laundromat yesterday
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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

the little grey smiling face

hey! that little smile is Lisa who creates beautiful hand dyed cottons and raises a world
of goats for wool.......HAPPY that you came over here!!!!
oh...and she is going to learn about making mudcloth soon..........oooooooooooooooo!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

this is week one of Jude Hill's Cloth to Cloth Workshop. 5-15-10 ~ 5 -24-10
Horizons Free Form
Stripes Anchored block made with fabric that i would ordinarily not choose
Reminder Cut Out
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Friday, May 21, 2010 we go...this is EXACTLY what i have been thinking about. how it seems to me that cloth, fiber, thread(s) have a Life.
not one in particular, but maybe more, a Life Force, that is in
to human touch, to any vision someone might have of how the cloth can become an expression of something inside them that wants to be communicated?
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look at what just happened
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Thursday, May 20, 2010

yesterday i received a package in the mail.
the memory keeper from Kaye Turner
to describe it, i feel like i need some kind of special language, some like, cuneiform shapes to make the letters.
but just have my worn out Full, Wonder full .....
it is exquisite
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Thursday, May 13, 2010


wind has become silk gauze.
i dyed this in glennis' workshop and for me, is a god send. i can draw wind with pencil, graphite, but cloth????? ahhhh. silk gauze.

Jude's words continue to be primary in my day. I didn't ask if i can use them yet, but i will...
here they are anyway:

Jude Hill
Spirit Cloth
May 11, 2010

"Today i have magic on my mind. not just the magic cloth, but magic in general. and i am just thinking about vanishing and
re-appearing and escaping, and transforming and predicting and all that. and it seems to be awfully related to making, making something from nothing. performance and production. a theater of process. this has a lot to do with my choice of focus this year. and my big project the magic cloth and the videos and all that. i just thought i would say that about that. and that has started to effect how i see all my work. as invisibly connected. as disappearing and re-appearing. as changing, and dissolving and being restored. as defying reason, as passing through something. as a performance. as illusion but not lie. as order, re-ordered.

it is frightfully delightful and almost spooky to realize the infinite variations of the way things might seem. and how true they can all be at once."

funny, i read, have read, all manner of things. these words hold the most reality of what i know so far, what i have learned and hope to learn.
about Life, not just cloth, or what i label as Art.
i read them to my daughter tonight, after we had talked long about her life
she understood
and applied the truth
to herself
which is about her marriage, her son, her goats
about me, her experience of me as her mother, about her daughter and back, for me, about them
about who i am/am becoming/hope for
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Sunday, May 9, 2010

days for making and spooky beauty


it's sweet grass, kaite. the first people here, or native americans, or indians, used/use it
braided as a means of blessing. grows along rivers, is woven into braids.
Suzanna...notices the path
and jude..."spooky beauty"...LOVE this
life is spooky
when you allow it to permeate the "filters" we use to keep it , uhhhh, ordinary.
I love that you said this. Gives me permission in a certain way, to talk, maybe, about
the ordinary spooky.
as in
no matter where we live
greece, australia, new york, new mexico, oregon, the U.K.
we look up
and there is this moon. same moon, yours, mine. how can this be?
I used to try to explain this to the child that this spookily beautiful "doll" was "made from".
she is now 22 years old and in the United States Navy, stationed in San Diego and has a
son, Julian, who is 6 months old and has just learned to
sit up
on his own
and THAT's spooky.

they are coming next week. and my son who is a chef in the fast lane of Denver. Spookier still.

notes with a nice accident

have been thinking about cloth weaving while hauling composted manure. One of the most important things is to make
window covers for the ROOM in winter days. Covering the windows is almost painful. But....if it's with something with
meaning... ~
i'd had this photograph in the scanner from another thing. it's from my old days of "doll making" is life size, my granddaughter
alyssia at about 3 1/2.
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Saturday, May 8, 2010

in/out sacred space

the great thing is that each of your comments highlights a word or thought for me. i like that. Deb, the concept of interface,
Jennlui the understanding of sacred space and refuge, Kaite understanding that the door, tho "defective" is more important
than a "proper" door, jude, commenting on aliveness with humor Kaye, so responsive to it all
and it you? the Kathy of my "other life"? and here, we finally meet?

weaving selves together. what did/do i mean?
this is the first time in my lifetime that i have lived alone with the intention of never changing that. There have been spans
of time before, but never this way of wanting a solitary day to day life that can finally be devoted to Art, to Making, to
trying to articulate that interface of the acre "room" outside and the 12X45' shelter. The doors and windows.
What i do outside reflecting what i do inside and inside, outside. weaving them together, stitching layers, of a life that
is not fragmented.
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Friday, May 7, 2010

more thoughts about windows

this is my livingroom. funny word.
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Thursday, May 6, 2010

this is the beginning of the 6th cloth in preparation for beginning the workshops. I have no
idea what will happen.
it is the summer curtain on the door that my daughter, granddaughter and i built together
out of an old screen door.
judes feathers...
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Monday, May 3, 2010

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it takes a looooong time to create a sanctuary for things
last year was the first time for a
walking stick
it felt to me like a stigmata, as in a mark of ecstasy
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the desert earth

weeding here has a different reality from anywhere else i've ever lived. The common
and traditional thing is to have very neat dirt. Things growing few and far between.
The elders had enormous respect for water.
any time there is opportunity, some very common "weeds" go crazy...kochia and a wild
mustard. if let grow, the kochia will become the height of a small tree and i've had to
use a hatchet to cut the stems. I learned that year.
The native grasses that i have re-introduced here are primarily "clump" grasses and
once established, seem to be the best deterent to being overwhelmed.
What i am trying to learn is What purpose does Everything Serve? The kochia, for
instance, is the first to green up in late winter, providing grazing for range livestock.
Birds even. and, chickens LOVE the tiny new plants. The roots also aerate the soil and
hold agains erosion. None of those things I personally need, but i am only small here.
There is a BIG PICTURE in which we are all equal.
Every year at least once, a praying mantis will come in the house. Sometimes i see when
s(he) arrives through the open door, sometimes am startled by the unexpected presence.
I love them. have no even tiny piece of earth for planting?