Last Night I finished the mama, and her baby. Maria named them Daisy, and Violet. She tucked them into a nest she wove, surrounded them with flowers and read them to sleep. And she told them that papa gnome and the other children were exploring in the garden and would be back soon.
Gotta dash, now. Time to pick up Maria from school!
Last spring Alex and I scored a huge canvas for only twenty bucks. It was one of those thrift shop moments when you want to fist pump the air and do a victory lap around the store. I think bargain hunting is the modern age, suburban, vision quest.He finished his painting last June, and we hung it up in the entry. And then there was this long spell of no painting, because large canvases don't show up too often... Alex and Paul were discussing this very thing, about art supplies, deals, finds, resources, and ingenuity, and the very next day we found an even bigger canvas, and for half the price! We had to tie it to the roof, it was so large.
Max and Bambi helped Alex paint over the canvas, which had some rough sketches and a lot of mess. They used seconds paint from the home store which makes an affordable gesso, and the next day Alex brought out his pencils, a Sharpie and his line drawings for reference.
When I can record his art from concept to completion, I am happy... because the beginning and the end are only two parts, and there is always so much to witness in between. The layers, the stages, fascinate me. Sometimes I fall in love with a version, then come home and find it's gone. I wouldn't have the nerve, the confidence to decide to cover one beautiful layer, with something new. But that's only because I would be so awestruck at having made something decent to begin with!
I watched him for thirty minutes. For eighteen minutes I filmed a stop-motion movie... sorry, I haven't figured out how to post it here, but I'll keep trying.
I marvel at the lines, the forms. He doesn't use tools... everything just flows out of him, and his pencil.
Then he added more details and layers with a Sharpie. A permanent, black marker. Moxie.
See? It's at a point like this that I am glad I happen to be home, with a camera. This is only a moment. And soon, all these lines and forms will take new shape, evolve.
Sure enough... a few days later, and the paints come out.
You see he has an apprentice?
Maria had to help me get Mister Foo's attention, because almost nothing would get him to turn away from his painting lesson, and that marvelous brush.
Some movement... walk, a swim, stretching, playing, yoga.
Every day, for thirty days.
We picked a ripe watermelon from our garden! A big one! It was delicious.
These patterns were ironed on from an Aunt Martha's embroidery pattern. I made these so long ago, I cannot even come close to a date. Have I ever shared them before (I'm talking to myself)... I don't recall.
My embroidery floss collection is like treasure to me. I began buying floss when I was ten, in Escuintla. Each skein cost diez centavos... about a dime. I collected them for the little cardboard loom I was using to weave. My small tapestry was beautiful with every color I could get my hands on, but floss is slim, and the weaving went slowly! I still have some of those same flosses from the market.
I cannot bring myself to make dish cloths out of these samples, because I know they'd get thrashed. But. What in the world can I do with them? I seem to make things without a final vision of just what I am making. When I rediscovered these I was really surprised. I had forgotten them completely.
None of the ladies going to market need any work, but I do have a half finished fellow...
The original transfer has faded too much to see. Maria and William convinced me I know turkeys well enough to sketch the rest in, so I am trying. Today I picked up the threads and started finishing his tail feathers. Guess what? Yeah, I have no idea what to do with him either!
I am glad that I was already in this challenge to sew everyday. The momentum was in place, the projects on hand... otherwise I think I would have wished for something to do, something productive, but almost mindless, to ease the grief of losing our Benjamin Kitty. There are last pictures of him on my phone, and I don't know how to deal with those. I am still in shock. Can you tell? Maybe it's too soon to be here, trying to move forward...
I'll see if it helps to look back, then move forward. I found another unfinished quilt top, including a pieced row unattached to the main quilt top. And I took that row and decided to learn some new embroidery stitches with it before adding it to the rest of the quilt. I learned a feathered stitch, and some funny little curly stitches. And even though I was working without a plan, I was enjoying the process and the play.
Those first flowers were floating on the square, so I added some blues. Lots of little French knots... maybe Delphiniums?
Then stems, leaves, a cottage roof and cottage walls. By this point I was imagining gardens and cottages, and my favorite animals all over the quilt... a crazy quilt of whimsical cottages and cozy spaces, with hens, and bunnies, cats, goats, and birds in the flowers. And the idea of it was very nice to imagine.
And then, suddenly, Benjamin was sick, and he was diagnosed with a summer virus... not uncommon during a hot or humid summer. We were sure he would be up and about in no time after a round of IV fluids, and quiet rest. He did rest. He slept near Maria, and visited me and Geoff, too. He was slow, a little unsteady, but nothing alarming. He was our Benjamin Franklin Thundercat, sweet and handsome, affectionate.
Then he was in respiratory distress... wheezing, almost hairball style, but he wasn't coming out of it... we rushed him to the vet, and by now I was crying because I could feel him slipping away. Our vet knew. He called the staff, "Cancel everything! We have an emergency. Thunder is in cardiac arrest." He called him Thunder. Benjamin was having a heart attack. Then the x-ray showed something else entirely. His heart was being compressed by his intestines, it looked like. Had he been run over? Why was every internal organ shifted up out of the abdomen and into his chest cavity? By now, we were all gathered, and facing those awful decisions, and we chose to let the vet operate... it felt hopeful. Our poor vet found something no one could have known: Benjamin was born with a congenital defect, and his liver was up next to his heart... nothing could be done to save him from a condition that had gotten out of control. We let him go.
I'm sorry. That was a lot of detail. I think I am hoping it will help me really let go if I write it down, face it. We did everything we could. That's supposed to be a comfort, right? Knowing you tried. It does help, but I still have those pictures, those last images and impressions, and his suffering breaks my heart.
I held him, wrapped in a towel, while William and Maria chose a spot, while Geoff and Alex dug a hole. Maria picked flowers. Max stood. Stunned. Silent. His gaze faraway. I rocked Benjamin and touched the fur around his face. So soft. I asked Max to bring me the unfinished quilt row, with the flowers and garden. It's Benjamin's garden home now, buried with him in our garden. We put a bench next to his place there. That's where he is buried, but I still see him by the bird bath, on the seat at the front door, waiting for us in the shade, stretched out across the walkway.
I find that I am not any good at all at losing loved ones. A family friend passed away recently, too, and this loss stuns me. Whether it was faith, or hope, or naiveté... I do not know, but I cannot believe he had to die, and I am indignant and confused by his passing. Rationality has nothing to do with my expectations, my wishes and prayers. And though it's untrue, I still say there ought to be exceptions, because there are exceptional beings, and it hurts too much when they are taken from us. Why do I still believe in happy endings?
My sewing projects have been getting a bit out of hand, and I've spent many sewing moments thinking about organization, order, accessibility,and convenience. Sewing at home. Sewing on the go. Hand sewing, embroidery, crochet. I wanted to make everything work, and look pretty, too. I cleaned off the coffee table, which had become my drop-off point for all the things I've been doing. And in the middle of crying, and mourning, and feeling like I couldn't do anything, I made some order and sense of my threads and needles, of finished projects, and works in progress. I wound floss on cards, mindlessly wrapping. Simple work. Moving forward in small ways, looking for the sense of something, anything.
Yesterday I finished a tea towel. It's a small blue print, and I gave it a cranberry blanket stitch, then crocheted an edge. Then I dashed the seam with wide stitches. And it's fall, now, and there are lovely things we want to see and do. So, we move forward, however tenderly.