Saturday, March 28, 2009


A Light exists in Spring
Not present on the Year
At any other period —
When March is scarcely here

A Color stands abroad
On Solitary Fields
That Science cannot overtake
But Human Nature feels.

It waits upon the Lawn,
It shows the furthest Tree
Upon the furthest Slope you know
It almost speaks to you.

Then as Horizons step
Or Noons report away
Without the Formula of sound
It passes and we stay —

A quality of loss
Affecting our Content
As Trade had suddenly encroached
Upon a Sacrament.

-Emily Dickinson

Sunday, March 22, 2009


We hiked up in the warm air of late afternoon, stripped to our shirtsleeves as the sun slipped down behind the mountain ridge.
As the sky faded slowly into indigo, we arrived at the hut and were greeted by a warm wood stove, a hot cuppa, and the welcoming cheers of old friends. The conversation was laughing, loud and fast, and lasted into the wee hours, long after the coals burned down to wispy ash.
Later, I woke in the night, climbed down from my bunk, and walked out towards the lake. Thousands of stars filled the night sky, and I inhaled the fresh scent of something sharp and clear blowing in on a mountain wind.

In the morning, the mountains reminded us that winter is still very much alive; gusts of snow danced mad pirouettes across the pond as we dashed for cover in the woods.

Now, back at my computer again, I can still feel the brush of soft snow on my eyelids, and hear the calls of mountain ravens clamoring for spring.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Getting the groove back...

Two years ago this month, PK and I spent a few days exploring the Everglades and Big Cypress Swamp. We had flown down for a wedding, but managed to squeeze all our camping gear into a single suitcase, and sneak a few days off in the wilderness, a place where we are both much more comfortable than when surrounded by fine china and formal wear. There was something mesmerizing about the swamps, and we spent hours following birds through the trees, and sitting on the side of pools, waiting for alligators to surface.

Sometimes they got a little too close- like the one that was, unbeknownst to me, sneaking up behind me while I was busy photographing egrets. Fortunately, Pirate Kings are known for their observation skills and quick wits, and PK let out a yell in time for me to beat a hasty retreat back into the car. We drove that rental down some long, bumpy roads, and left those few brief days feeling energized and more aware of everything around us.

The past few weeks I've been frustrated beyond belief by technological malfunctions that occurred at crucial moments in both my job search and classes. I'm escaping to the woods for a few days to re-charge the batteries. A few friends, a warm hut and the sight of spring creeping into the mountains is just what I need right now. It doesn't need to be someplace as exotic as a Cyprus swamp to re-ignite the creative spark inside of me, just someplace with fresh air, open skies and a few moments of silent contemplation. And perhaps a little possibility of something unexpected happening, right beside me.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

flying aerial what?

A few weeks ago, I took a class in aerial fabric yoga. It was a great way to learn new muscle groups, and I hobbled around for about 3 days afterwards, but since then I've been thinking about how trying something new forces us to experience the uncomfortable. The more I experience that "newness" and overcome the fears and doubts associated with going out on a limb, the more I will become used to it, and will learn to push those boundaries both in my art and my life. I've been busy looking for full-time teaching jobs this week, and am once again experiencing the new and strange, and feeling those uncomfortable twinges and doubts. But now I'm able to more easily push them back down, because I know their dirty tricks...

The picture is of me experiencing "aerial down dog". Woof.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Inspiration: Nanda Currant

Bluebird, by Nanda Currant

On her website, Gila Valley artist Nanda Currant describes her relationship with drawing like this: "Art allows the chance to be with something very essential when I draw; I move into the act of drawing and quiet."

I can relate to this; I have long thought of drawing as something that brings me inside myself as much as it allows me to connect with the subject I am drawing. She is describing a flow experience, that experience of moving with the subject that you are drawing as if you are in a dance together, as though there is nothing else in the world. It's like falling in love, and those first moments when you see someone and suddenly no one else in the world exists.

Check out the rest of Nanda's work, and some links to her fascinating eco-theatre projects here.

Friday, March 13, 2009

At Last!

So I woke up on Monday of this week, and all of the sudden it was Friday...I'm not sure about all the craziness in between, because somehow the days and nights just blurred together in a flurry of teaching and writing papers. Today I actually got home while the sun was still shining, and before the BBC came on the radio, and was treated to a surprise-the snowdrops have finally bloomed! This weekend I'll be able to slow myself down a little and catch up on blogging , drawing and other fun stuff...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

liquid chaos

Monday, March 9, 2009

Sunday, March 8, 2009

"Creativity is a central source of meaning in our lives . . . most of the things that are interesting, important, and human are the results of creativity . . . when we are involved in it, we feel that we are living more fully than during the rest of life."

- Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

someone else's shoes

One of the classes I teach in my day-job as an English Teacher is an experiential literary magazine class. My students divide their time between creating a school-wide literary magazine, and working on their own personal ‘zine. I guide them through the process of developing an idea from a series of goals to a finished product. We spend a lot of time on generating ideas and creative play. We start each class with a transition time, when we all respond to a creative prompt in our journals. I write when they write, and complete all the creative assignments along with them, because I have a strong belief in modeling what I teach.

Last week I brought in a random assortment of shoes. Each student chose a pair of shoes and had to tell the story of the person who owned them. It’s a fun exercise, and a great way to think about how we define ourselves by what we wear and how we present ourselves to the world, which is a very time-consuming activity for the average teenager.

After about fifteen minutes of writing time, we had stories about mutant princesses, bedraggled runaways, rampaging fashionistas, and a whole list of characters truly struggling with what it means to be a human being trying to relate to others in this world. For as much as I may teach them about the technicalities of writing, I feel like I come away the richer for having had the opportunity to share in their creative processes…

Friday, March 6, 2009

evening, snowmelt

Photo by SFD
Down the street a ways, there is a small parcel of conservation land that PK and I spend a lot of time exploring. It runs along the edge of a tidal river, and there are always geese and ducks seeking shelter from the wilder waters of the bay. We sometimes see rabbits and deer, hawks and owls. Occasionally, a beaver slaps its tail on the surface of the pond when we walk by. It's fairly quiet in the winter, and we don't get to visit as much because the parking is usually blocked in by snowbanks.
But that snow is melting now, and we can finally make our way back. The beavers have been hard at work felling trees for their homes, and birds have left only a few wizzled-up berries on the crabapple trees. Life has gone on as usual in the winter woods, and I can't wait to listen to the burbling runoff and catch up on the latest gossip...

Photo by SFD

snowdrop watch 2009

Despite the fact that spring has always happened in the past, I'm usually a bit of a skeptic until I see the first flower blooming, especially when we get slammed with so many late season storms like we have this year. Almost there!

Thursday, March 5, 2009


It was cold and windy, scarcely the
day to take a walk on that long beach
Everything was withdrawn as far as possible,
indrawn: the tide far out, the ocean
shrunken, seabirds in ones or twos.
The rackety, icy, offshore
wind numbed our faces on one side;
disrupted the formation
of a lone flight of Canada geese;
and blew back the low, inaudible rollers
in upright, steely mist.

- Elizabeth Bishop, The End of March

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Intentions: Layered Journal Page 1

Despite the distractions of snow and schoolwork, I'm making good progress with my layered journal. I'm using the first page as a place to set intentions. The yoga pose is half moon, one I am having difficulty doing without wobbling, and which I am working on improving. I'm thinking about twilight (no, not the vampire books) with this page, and how my memories of evening are related to waking up and feeling alive, not winding down, which connects to the idea of becoming more awake in all aspects of life. I wish the colors would photograph more accurately, because the blues are much more ethereal in person. And, sadly, you can't see the glitter. The margins are filled with words and ideas that relate to what I want to accomplish by creating this journal, and I left space at the top to add in additional thoughts.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

pas de deux

Scene: A small-town library, open windows, pale yellow walls lined with books. A student and his tutor sit at a table. They are surrounded by papers and books. As they begin to study, an older couple, man and woman, enter and sit down in an alcove beside the table.

Tutor: So look through your book and tell me what you think about Othello’s relationship with Desdemona.

The student starts to rifle through the pages. While he does this, the tutor looks around the room and overhears the hushed conversation of the couple in the chairs.

Man: So I’m supposed to be in court at 7 on Thursday. But I won’t go.
Woman: Oh?
Man: I don’t want to push this any further. I’m trying to be fair.


Man: I can meet you for coffee at the store, so you’ll know I’m not there.
Woman: Where we used to eat breakfast?
Man: Yeah, I can meet you at 7. That way you can be sure I’m not pushing things. I’m not going to take him from you.


Student: I don’t think Othello can truly love Desdemona. I mean, he loves her, but nobody can love another person completely. So he loves her, but not enough.

Man: Frank told me you can have the apartment downstairs. I don’t mind. You have to live somewhere.
Woman: I know. All my stuff is scattered everywhere right now. I don’t know where anything is.
Man: Well, you can have that apartment. I’ll call and check. It’s easier for now if you don’t have to move too far.

Tutor: What is your evidence?

Student: Well, he knew she lied to her father, and he is really quick to judge her and think she is a liar. So that isn’t complete love.

Woman: I still think about you every day, you know. How are you doing?
Man: Not too good. But I told them to lift the restraining order.
Woman: I know.


Woman: You could go see a doctor. If you could just get some medicine I think it would help you a lot.
Man: You know I don’t have insurance right now, so I just can’t go. I don’t think it would help, anyway.
Woman: (softly) It might help.

Student: I just don’t think people are capable of loving other people completely. You never really know what is going on in someone else’s mind, so how could Othello trust her?

The woman walks across the room and presses her head against the window glass. The man makes a phone call, then softly calls her back. They exit, together.

Monday, March 2, 2009

a room of one's own with a view...

The view from my study right now

This morning a Nor'easter is roaring down on us, and will leave about a foot of snow by the end of the day, burying all the little snowdrops and daffodils that were starting to poke up through the soil. Normally I'd be really annoyed at the large amounts of shoveling awaiting me and PK, but right now the snow is falling quietly and surrounding the house with a peaceful hush. It's a good day to write.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

adding layers

pages 2 and 3 of my layered journal
This weekend I started experimenting with layered journals. I've been stumbling across all kinds of sites on the web with pictures of people's journals in process. Some of these have a very specific set of instructions for people to follow to create their own journals,such as Caspiana, but many are just fascinating collections of individual works. I'm not much of a direction-follower, myself, and I'd rather assemble my own prompts, so instead of starting at the beginning of a series I decided to make my book non-linear and to spend the weekend setting up the pages. I collected text from books I love, such as Paul Bowles The Sheltering Sky, Thoreau's Walden, and old dictionaries. I cut images from magazines I subscribe to. I printed out copies of photos I have taken. I collected materials from the little piles of "stuff" I like to collect on walks. I started pasting these into my journal without thinking so much about what order they go in, and only minimal attention to layout. I mixed up the clippings from the books so there is no linear relationship to the scraps of text. I left pages in between the inclusions, and lots of empty space for things to be added later on. I gessoed over the text with a thin layer of white, paving the way for the variety of mediums to be used in future layers.
The idea is that over the next few months I'll focus on an idea or a question and find a page in the journal that seems to correspond with it. Then, I'll add layers of writing, painting and additional collage. I think this kind of excercise works best with a specific focus, in the same way the commonplace books explore a single idea or book, and I'll be working on developing that focus over the next week. Right now I'm thinking about using the journal to expand my thoughts on my developing yoga practice and its influence on my creativity.
This was the perfect exercise for me this weekend, because I was able to work on it in small bursts between writing papers and curriculum, and then was forced to stop for long periods because of the gesso drying time, so I was actually able to get schoolwork done, instead of being consumed by the project. It's a sort of forced balance, which is good for me right now...