Thursday, June 16, 2016

A meditation on color and bravery.

Dear sister,
Sunday morning I got up in my hostel in Sintra –the epicenter of Portuguese romanticism, just outside of Lisbon– and explored a magical garden with cave tunnels, a waterfall, and all of the excessive and unnecessary ornamentation that brings it to be called the 'best occult landscape in Europe'. I got back to the hostel to take a quick shower about 4:40, and checked the internet for the first time. And then everything was just numb.

...
I hear.

Be careful abroad, especially traveling alone!

Are you here all by yourself? Where's your husband? You're so brave for traveling by yourself.

You went out of town by yourself? How brave you are!

You must be really brave to travel by yourself, I couldn't imagine it.

...

Telling LGBTQ people and women and people of color and anyone who falls outside of cishetwhitemalechristian normativity to be careful or calling them brave for living their lives isn't helping. Going to a bar with your friends –going to a safe space– isn't bravery. But it should be safe. Like going to school. Like going to church. Like going to the movies. Like arriving home to your own apartment and opening the door with your own key. I don't understand the obsession with bringing death to others. The desire to rend and puncture and leave holes in other people's lives. You are your own but they are not yours. Let them be safe. Harm none.

...

And then the news coming out of the US is all terror. And so many people in power are denying the identity of the victims the same way that LGBT existence has been ignored and denied and forced to the sidelines for so long.

...

Here, the news is about the homophobe who saw two men kissing and went nuts. All around the world, the empathy is not for victims of an ISIS attack, but for the victims of a homophobe who couldn't handle difference. It makes me not want to go back. Not in a rhapsodizing about how wonderful my time here is way, not at all. But in the way that language lessons are often conversations and I have spent the last five weeks trying to not only have problems to talk about.

...

Sometime I will write to you about the camelias and the gardens and the castle and the primary colored palace. But I can't right now. So here's a picture of a goldfish pond in that garden, fed by a water mine at the top of the hill, reflecting the trees full of peace and carrying the tiny daisies that I floated on its surface like the dancing flowers in Fantasia.

Portuguese has a color that English doesn't. It isn't blue and it isn't purple, but somewhere near them both. It isn't lavender or violet or lilac or periwinkle. It is the color of the flowers of the jacarand√° tree in the light of the morning. It is roxo. It is love.

I love you,
your sister.


Friday, June 3, 2016

Skipping Spring, moving straight to summer

Dearest sister, 

It has been an odd spring.  So warm.  The foliage looks like July and it is only the beginning of June.  And yet the iconic springtime/early summer blooms are adorning the woods: wild roses, labrador tea's white clusters, cotton grass in the boggy places, bluebells, bunchberry's dogwood flowers that always evoke early childhood memories from humid southern woods.  

My strawberries are flowering, daisies growing tall with buds, and my lily is poking through the earth. 
I have a box of sprouted potatoes that need to be tucked into the soil, and I plan on a bed of parsley and one of calendula but I'm not feeling particularly drawn to the garden this year. Instead, my eyes are drawn to the woods.  My feet long to wander between trees rather than squat at the side of a garden bed.
So this will be the summer of riverside rambles and woodland wildcrafting.  
It feels odd, unsettling, to not have the seasonal urge to tuck cultivated roots into the ground and look after them.  I presume the gardening bug will return next year with a vengeance, and in the meanwhile I'm attempting to gracefully roll with the way the season is calling to me.  Of course as soon as I compose myself for grace, the doubts roll in: am I just being lazy?  am I giving up on some crucial part of myself, of life, of the aspirational standards I hold my self to?  am I failing at the commitment I made by purchasing this land/homestead by failing to put in a garden? for failing to really care that this year is not the year we fence in a giant swath of hillside and fight roots to till it?

Avery enjoys woodswalking.   She prefers it to lying in the grass while I weed garden beds.  She likes to reach out and grasp onto leaves.  I have a renewed appreciation of my knowledge of the local flora every time I see her stuff every leave and stalk within reach directly into her mouth.  There's little that can hurt her.  So far, she seems to enjoy the bitter flavor of dandelion and mature fireweed greens.

We spent a few hours rambling by the Tanana this week, collecting wild rose petals to dry and make into salves and steams once the snow flies.

The smell of fresh rose petals drying is absolutely and utterly divine.  I wish I could fill my house with it always.  

That's not strictly true, of course.  It is a fleeting seasonal moment, this time of the blooming roses and the drying petals.  Cultivating the seasonal cycles of a child-paced life is the lesson of this season of my life, I think.




I hope to spend more time this summer on the banks (and on the waters! we have a canoe!) of the Chatanika.  It is the river on which Avery will grow up.  With it only two miles down the road, I forsee frequent afternoon excursions in the years to come.  It will be one of the 'places' of her childhood.  It is a bright river, friendly and welcoming.  But there is something about the majesty of the Tanana.  The way that it allows personal issues and concerns to fade into their rightful relative insignificance.  I realized that its been almost a decade I've been going to the Tanana to walk the dogs, wandering the trails and the banks in the early afternoon, soaking in the early early morning stillness, or walking with a friend and coffee in cardboard to-go mugs, the warmth of the brew keeping our fingers from freezing as we talk through the ways in which the world feels heavy.   It may not be conviently close to our house but I want this place too, to be a place of familiarity and sanctuary for my daughter.



Avery is getting closer and closer and oh so closer to being mobile.  She rolls over and she scoots herself around in circles, the midpoint of which is her belly button.  She has cobra/seal pose down, and has recently added inchworm-butt pose to the mix.  This is accompanied by a faceplant allowing her to lick the carpet and arms that flail to the sides like wings.  

She spent the afternoon with Luisa last weekend. It was so fun watching her watch this other little person, noticing all the things that Lu could do, the places she could go with her own two feet.  Seeing the wheels turning in A's mind "I could do that too!"  We sat on the couch for a while the three of us, reading Beatrix Potter, and it was like a little future-viewing of life with a toddler and a new baby.  It is a pretty glorious era of life, this era I'm embarking on.  

Avery is discovering food.  It is so fun to watch her explore this new aspect of the world.  It is mostly play for her, but her the other day was flecked with mashed carrot bits, so at least some of it is going down! 

She's fascinated by toothbrushing.  She will grab at our toothbrushes, trying to move them in our mouths or stick them in her own, so we pulled out the kiddie toothbrush from the dentist.  Now she "brushes her teeth" i.e. chews on the bristles and/or handle of her toothbrush sometimes twice an evening while Raif and/or I brush our teeth.  It is ADORABLE.  And yes, capital letters are warranted.
  



As far as things go in the studio...  I'm having a lot of fun!  I gave myself permission to just play on the last piece of this warp.  Clasped weft, weft pinstiping, treadling changes.  It is really like painting with yarn.  It is slow - slower than handweaving always is.  But so rewarding.  It is just a different rhythm, endlessly captivating.   





In other news, I've discovered that I have a habit of resting bitch face when taking babywearing yoga selfies.  



all my love from across the world, 
Jasmine

P.S.  Avery is beginning to play with consonants.  "Tia" might not be very far away!