Sunday, January 29, 2017

Awake and Dreaming

Art is, for me, the process of trying to wake up the soul. Because we live in an industrialized, fast-paced world that prefers that the soul remain asleep. --Bill Viola
Today, I feel like a sleepy bear, slowly waking up from a winter of hibernation, blinking my eyes in the light and trying to find my bearings... gingerly taking steps into the world, sniffing the air and looking at the world around me, trying to relearn what's there, trying to make sense of what's changed and what has remained.

And that's what it feels like to come back after a few weeks away.

I've been spending the last couple of weeks trying to find my feet and sort out a few things in my house and in my head. I've felt this need to get super-organized. I have a freezer full of lunches and a bunch of fresh bread and muffins on the table. I'm so weirdly prepared that I find myself sitting here thinking I have things to do, and then realizing I don't have many chores to do at all. It's a strange feeling. It's like my brain is trying to prepare itself for a storm.

So, I started back at work, and there was no storm, even though I'm still trying to get back into the swing of things. By the second day, I felt like I'd never left.

That's real life, I guess.

We had a wonderful time while we were away in California. We've been to Los Angeles many times before, but this particular visit was really different because we stayed in a different area. We'd been very comfortable in the past staying at hotel near the airport and driving around, but that particular hotel wasn't going to work for us this time, so we had a look through Airbnb for somewhere else that might be just as good, if not better.

What we've learned about Airbnb is that you have to read every single review, and pay particular attention to the ones that rated mid-low on the star scale. Those are the people who will tell you the truth about any details that might annoy you, or that might create a problem for your stay. We learned that the hard way... but learning is the operative word there.

This time, we struck gold:

It was a wonderful little cottage in Topanga Canyon, with fantastic views and a lovely, generous guest. It was so nice to have somewhere where we could take our time getting up and around in the mornings without having to worry about anyone needing to come in to clean, and where we could come back and cook our own dinners and relax in the evenings... a real home away from home. And the best part was that the owner loves vintage stuff even more than I do. It was like living in a vintage shop filled with all of the coolest plates and bowls and ramekins and linens, all for me to look through and admire and use:

We visited new places as well. It was raining one day, so we decided to try visiting The Getty Villa. I really didn't expect to enjoy it as much as I did, but it was a fantastic place. It was built by an oil baron who wanted to share his love of antiquities and art. He did so by building this villa in a style that mimicked the villas in Pompeii, so that people could experience what it would be like to walk around in one. It is filled with treasures from around the world, and decorated with frescoes, tiled floors, and statues that you would expect to see in such a villa. The Getty Foundation now funds programs to teach people about art history and restoration, and charges nothing for people to visit (apart from the parking).

I fell in love with the mosaics, the ones in the collections and the ones that decorated the building:

This one makes me think of an embroidery idea I'd like to try:

And I also loved all of the glasswork. Glasswork amazes: the fact that you only have seconds to work with it gives me so much respect for the skill of glass artists:

A lot of people take exception to the Victorian habit of pillaging treasures around the world to display at home, but I had a thought while I was wandering through: what he wanted to do was share how all of these things made him feel, to make people feel the same welling of inspiration inside of him when he saw them. And you know, that's not so different from what I'm trying to do with this blog..

Except my treasures are yarn and tea cups and stuff like that.

Anyway, we also visited Santa Monica:

And we hiked a few canyons:

And we even saw the Endeavour Space Shuttle on display at the California Science Center. It had a long introduction to it, which included a video showing how they got it there: how they flew it on top of a special Boeing 747 and how people all over stopped what they were doing and looked up to the sky to watch it fly over. And when it landed, they wheeled it through the city, and thousands of people lined the streets to welcome it. Those images of all of those people really moved me, and I was so surprised. I couldn't figure it out until recently...

It seems like so long since I've seen so many people all gathered together in unity, feeling so much pride and joy, without care about where they were from or what religion they practiced or who they shared their lives with. Hm... what a different time.

So, after all of that, I'm back to work and back to the grind. I did get a few things done, though. I finished another glove to go with my lost Straightforward Mitt:

I was surprised at how much longer it took to make this single mitt than it did to make the original pair. This was because I couldn't remember any of the modifications I'd made (and I'm always modifying). In the end, even after all of my careful stitch counting and measuring, I think the new one is slightly longer... but at least I have two warm hands now to type away in my cold office:

But what I'm most interested in finishing is this blanket, which is also taking me much longer than I thought it ever would. I cast off on it a couple of weeks ago with about a third of the skein left because I was really tired of working on it. I washed it, but then realized that it was really too small to be much use, and I didn't want to have another project just sitting in a basket:

So, I rooted around in my stash and pulled out a couple of skeins of cream yarn and a half of a skein of white yarn of the same weight and similar twist, and I've been mixing them together to make a border, which I'm really, really liking so far:


I'm trying hard to randomly switch between the white and cream yarn so that there are no obvious splashes of bright white, but it turns out that trying to be random is a bit of an oxymoron. You can't TRY to be random... you just have to BE random... whatever that means. Anyway, I think it's working. You can't really see the difference unless you're in certain lights:

Someone remarked that it looked like a log cabin-style quilt, and I agree. I'm really excited to see how it all turns out. Each time I spread it out in front of me, my eyes hungrily take in the colours, the lines, the stripes. I take so much pleasure in watching all my projects take shape. It really feeds my soul.

The only trouble with being back at work is that I have had all this time to dream up all sorts of ideas, but now I have so much less time to work on them. Such is life... but I'll just have to keep trying. Speaking of, I think I might go wind another skein of yarn for my next idea... but I'll share that one with you next time.

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