a little boost for you to start your week....
i love it when things flow, as they have been doing these past few weeks for me in the studio. thank goodness, i say, because there are so often times when things are rusty and creaky and just do not want to move freely on their own. when i saw all of these words laid out in a row like this, soft and whisper-light, i thought it would be lovely to make them all the same, since the words and emotions are each and every one succinct, unique. i absolutely love these earrings - featherweight, fluttery things that remind me of wind chimes in the early morning mist. it was a lovely thing to sit out on the deck last evening when the last of the sun was down behind the mountains, yet there was still ample soft light at that magic hour to work with the silver pieces in my lap. i live such a beautiful life - quiet and easy at times, frenetic and overfilled often enough. to be able to translate what i feel and see and do into my work, into things that will be appreciated and worn by like-minded souls, is a gift of which i never tire. these remind me of this beautiful place (although, heaven knows, the waters are anything but still):
and yes, oh goodness yes, this
you'll remember, perhaps, that i stopped by the gem and mineral show, biggest of the year, on my weary way back home from ecuador and alabama. i could barely think or see straight, yet needed to take the time to shop for fresh gemstones and beads. remember these?
now that i've been home a couple of weeks from my latest string of journeys (so many, in body and spirit both), i've been grateful to have time to tinker away in the coolness of my little studio.
i look at the photographs of ecuador, i look at the jewelry i've made - and then i realize just how strongly i am influenced by my surroundings, no matter which path my feet take me. there are splendors far away, i've seen so many of them all across this earth; and there are exquisite beauties right outside my back door. from this, in ecuador:
and this, just twenty minutes down the road from where i live
there are my treasured walks i am now taking every single morning, extending them to be three miles, rising earlier and earlier because i have fallen in love with the way that the day seeps into my house, the way that the path is hushed and muted in light, the way that everything is still green, still soft as it waits in this gentle late summer to give in to the cooler, crisper days ahead. from this, which i now see every single early morning:
(jewelry is now listed in my etsy shop, click here)
i wish for all of you, quiet walks under the canopies of sheltering trees, i wish you dreams of fog-shrouded rivers and dewy grass, i wish you always soothing calm, i wish you lasting peace... xo
i think back to those days - the sleepless nights, the tossing and turning while wondering if i was out of my mind to take this journey, the planning and replanning, the changing of plane tickets, the brainstorm of making the charms and selling them, and then the actual madness, the sheer frenzy of making and then packaging and sending them (thank you laura!!!), the packing, and then - oh then - the going - and i shake my head with a big old lump in my throat. when asked what sort of impact this adventure, this Grand Adventure, has had on me thus far (for it does continue to enlighten and enrich more deeply, as time goes on), i think i have to say that it is the sense of strength it provided me, the sense of accomplishment in dreaming of something huge and then setting out to make it become an integral part of my own "wild and precious" life. i know i'll continue to speak of ecuador here at ornamental - how could i not? - but heavens, it is time to bring this part of the journey to a close; i imagine you all a bit weary of my yearnings, my dreams and misty tales of ecuador.
tomorrow, i hope to share with you some of the new jewelry that was inspired from my Grand Adventure. here is a little glimpse, to whet your apetite. thank you all for being here, for listening to my stories, for lifting me up high, so that i was able to reach for a very real and beautiful dream. with love, nina (whose name, in quichua, means fire) xo
The Summer Day
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
- Mary Oliver
here i'm afraid i must suddenly interrupt, from the present time, on an afternoon when it is finally, finally raining for the first time since i've been back home and the mountains view outside my windows here reminds me so much of what i saw in ecuador....lush, steep mountainsides, low lying clouds and mist over deep, dark green that merges with dreamy grey... birds chattering in the cooler rain air, nature everywhere. i'm perturbed that i let a couple of busy days in ecuador lapse, those final two days when so much wonder was packed into such a intensely short amount of time. journals, for this very reason, are paramount to travel, i see in retrospect. whole afternoons were omitted - the butterfly house, and our beautiful lunch with joe and a rousing match of chinese checkers there... the spot on the balcony and outside stairs where the three of us sat and snapped photo after photo after unending photo of hummingbirds coming and going at the many feeders hanging there at jungle's edge.... the sounds of the frogs at the "frog concert" we attended at dusk one rainy evening... the log that glowed in the dark from phosphorescence...
goodness, such incredible memories. a friend wrote and said she hoped that by my sharing these images and stories with all of you, my trip would become real for me again. and it is, oh my goodness, yes it is.
i'll save more of my favorite images (there are so many!), and the final story of ecuador - the highlight of my trip - for the next post, to follow in a couple of days. and i leave you here this afternoon, remembering the sounds of the jungle, the sound of the rain on the metal roof above our heads, the blissful feeling i held in my heart (and do, i still do, i always will)... xo
incredible, the things roy and i saw together, with our own artists' eyes, as we walked the ancient streets of Old Town Ecuador, as we peered around dusty corners, climbed groaning wooden steps, smelled old wax and oil paint mixed with the heady, lingering scent of frankincense. stories hovered before they unfolded. shadows stood quiet and still. roy and i tiptoed; we whispered; we stood side by side and tried not to make a single sound. the air was heavy; afternoon storms brewed. we gazed. we wondered. we were there. and now, one month later, i am here, and none of this seems anymore that it was real.
(editorial note: i've made ceviche twice now that i'm back home, using a true quito recipe i found online - click here - it is delicious~!)
blogging is a funny thing. i tend to think of entries and posts here at ornamental as bits of journal writings, yet here they are broadcast to whomever out there in this world might want to take a peek. it takes me a good five hours to work on the ecuador pieces; i sort through photographs, edit them for size, see which ones will fit with what it is i am trying to say, to convey. i write, and post photos, i write some more. then i look back over what i've done and think - is this too personal? will people tire of the same old ramblings about traveling with a son? it is worth it, in the end, to bother posting anything, ever, at all? i ponder this, a lot. i write of many things - my jewelry and mixed media work, the books i read, the places i travel, the magic of home, the people and creatures i dearly love. there are ups and downs and confusion and exhaustion, joy and sadness, satiation and hunger, often many times over in one short week. i see the statistics - for new posts, over 1,000 hits a day - so where are you, then? and who might you be? be not so quiet or invisible, my friends. let me know you are there, that you are reading, thinking, breathing your own lives and your dreams. xo
here for you, then, is a poem by the infamously reclusive emily dickinson that my father, in his more lucid days, used to frequently recite by memory to me:
I'm nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there's a pair of us -don't tell!
They'd banish us, you know.
How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!
how can i not show you the smiles of the children who danced for us, or the way the clouds crept into every afternoon to turn landscape colors another shade of otherworldly green? i want to show you, too, the friendly peddler who appeared in the rainy afternoon at the black sheep inn, who sold me a green striped blanket of softest alpaca blend (look at the photo of roy dancing with the tiny girl in green; do you see him up in the window there, watching from above?). he was little, and kind, and shy, and when i asked if i could take a photograph, he absolutely beamed, then glanced down and away from the camera's gazing lens. if you'll recall the palm-sized painting i shared with you here, i want to tell you that he is the shy artist, that he painted the beautiful volcanic crater lake on sheep stomach skin. nothing goes unused in ecuador. nothing is unappreciated. beauty is everywhere. now, on to the journal entries, which in retrospect look lackluster and bland. i think the hour must have been late, and the roads we'd traveled hard and long, when i scrabbled these pages down:
registration opens today - so if you are interested, i highly suggest you jump on it now, as classes do fill quickly. cindy, the organizer, does a TOP NOTCH job, and is keeping the workshop size to a minimum, assuring that each student's needs will be fully met. i love, love, love a longer workshop time frame; teaching my classes in a stretched format allows for the channels of creativity to open freely and easily flow.in the days before i left for ecuador, i worked on the project we'll be exploring in class. somehow, the notion of sitting quietly and hand stitching for much of that time, in an environment so conducive to peace and calm, was one that appealed to my heart.
your choice. your time. your heart. please come and be with us there, february 17-21; more information about the retreat can be found here.
next on the calendar comes the one and only Artfest, an event where i've (quite proudly) been invited to teach every single year - eleven, going on twelve - that it has been held in port townsend, washington. i go there, frankly, with great angst every year: it is SO far from home (in so many different ways), walter gets shuffled to the kennel much to my sadness and regret, the weather is blustery and unpredictable, the venue night loud and frenzied, things i don't handle well at all. but the electricity in the air is palpable, the scenery hauntingly beautiful, the students' faces flushed with the joy of being in the midst of such powerful creativity. every march the butterflies in my stomach begin to come out from their hiding corners and start their crazy dance; and every year i come home exhausted but completely rewarded (and wiser) by the entire experience. here, then, we have three new one day workshops, all in jewelry:
Fit for a King (Bracelet Wrap) - click here for details
Necklace of Affirmation (click here for details)
and, finally, Gypsy Fairy Necklace (details here)
and finally, something that i'm adding to my next big Wish List: an opportunity to return to both Western Australia and the southern island tip of New Zealand (where i've yet to visit, but i will, you watch and see - dreams do come true!). a couple of wonderful artist friends of mine have put their heads and shoulders together to team up for a unified teaching retreat; i'll be teaching an extended, deeply enriched version of my classic Gatherings Shadowbox Portfolio workshop in both places (Dwellingup, Australia is july 11-15; details here; Glenorchy, New Zealand is july 19-22; details here). if you've ever wanted to travel to either of these countries from this part of the world, why not now? and if you live in either of these countries and want to take a workshop with me - please come! i promise it to be a magical, heartening experience that you'll cherish for the rest of your life. i promise you that.
Gatherings Shadowbox Portfolio/Journal
okay then. come see me, there or there or there and there. i wish you would.
tomorrow: ecuador Grand Adventure stories resume.
it's awfully quiet this hot august afternoon, here on firefly road. roy left an hour ago, headed back down the highway across this wide, wide state to his own home in wilmington, five minutes from the beach. for five days he flew in and out of here, drifted back in the late mornings after spending the night at a friend's, settled in for dinners and quiet talks on the deck in twilight, drinks on the screened porch at dark. now that he's gone, i'm not sure where to begin to pick back up from where my own rollercoaster life left off again. i longed for quiet, in the midst of busy-ness with my mother's surgery (she's doing really well), with the long hours spent driving back and forth to alabama four times in ten days; now that the quiet has finally descended, i'm (predictably) at a loss as to where to go from here. those boys, they've grown SO fast; their lives are theirs, and they are happy, thriving, assured. i've done my job well then, haven't i?
here's a little outlined schedule for you Ornamental readers, then:
tomorrow, i'm writing about some new workshops that are scheduled for 2011. i've created new designs and projects, and look forward to sharing the news with you of artful journey in beautiful california, artfest in port townsend, washington, and - yes - western australia and the southern tip of new zealand. imagine that!
by the middle of this week, i hope and plan to return to my accounts of the Grand Adventure in ecuador. i've so many, many wonderful photos and stories to share with you that i just do not know where to dive in, how to get securely back on track. not a bad problem, i know, but with time being what it is, i glaze over when thinking how much work, how much time all of these blog posts - the journey, the workshops - will take. bear with me; i'm like the duck that is floating serenely on the surface of the water, with my feet furiously paddling underneath. just a little more time, i tell myself, to get feet firmly planted back to the ground (and i've a feeling i'll be heading out to colorado before too long, i'm missing that other child way too much as well..).meanwhile, i want to share some absolutely exquisite photographs with you of a few hours roy and i spent in the latest afternoon and early evening, then at dusk yesterday alongside the nantahala river in a cool, deep gorge just 25 minutes from here. i never stop being amazed at the fact that i can travel the world over to see magnificent sights, then i drive right down the road (or stand out on my deck) and see things, feel and breathe and touch things, that are every bit as lovely as some far flung place five thousand miles from tender, wonderful here.
the gorge is a particularly poignant, bittersweet spot where the boys' dad and i first courted by green canoe all the way back in the late, hazy summer of 1981. we were roy's age, now that i think about it - we were just about roy's age, and as green ourselves as that sweet canoe, so many lifetimes ago. it was a magical time again last evening, when the mist hung low over the water, when the cool temperatures literally rolled over us, or past our legs, as we stood at water's edge.
here's what i need to let you know today:
1. my mother came through the surgery beautifully, and there was no sign of spreading cancer, so for that i am ever thankful.
2. roy came back from ecuador, drove from atlanta to alabama to visit the grandparents, and arrived here on firefly road last night just after dusk. we have many memories to unwrap and polish together before he leaves for wilmington this weekend.
3. walter is beside himself to finally be back home again. while i was in ecuador, he was with my friends in ohio, playing with his cousin pups. while i was in alabama, he was in a kennel, making the most of his time by bonding with the springer spaniel in the kennel next to his.
4. i will return to my ecuador entries within the next couple of days. there are so many, many more stories and photos to share.