Monday, August 13, 2018

push plate













 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Dear  Inked, 
 
This is an impression of the push plate from the door of the women's restroom entrance where I work.  An artist I know was printing some unconventional things: steel drawings and little silver pendants.  I started to look at the flat, ink-able surfaces around me differently.  May our eyes always be open to looking in another way.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Friday, August 10, 2018

The Great Wars and Outting Pa














Dear Sad Goodbyes,

I have been informed that my mind and body are the field on which the broader culture wars continue to rage.  I am not sure I approve of this tenancy.  I have suspected it, of course, but it still stings.  Setting this injury aside, for now, I give you this review of a book on Laura Ingalls Wilder. 

What the author is, or was, or even who the author of these books is, might be less important than what the readers did or do with the stories, but the Little House books have been sitting in a stack in my studio, awaiting a tough decision:  continue to treasure their pale yellow spines, and sweet Garth Williams cover illustrations, or let them go like mist.

It pained me, 8 years ago, when I was reading these formerly beloved volumes aloud to my son and husband.  These books were formative, like the many Marguerite Henry books on the
Chincoteague ponies, The Chronicles of Narnia, and Madeline L'Engle books.  I found, in the second or third book, that Pa was actually a complete menace to his family.   A tyrant, really.  I couldn't even go on reading them- the family would laboriously scrape out a little hollow of safety, comfort, or stability, and he'd pack it in to move.  I could find no way to excuse or explain this man's actions to males I cared about.  If my job as a mother is to help to form my son's relationship to women, Pa seemed like a very bad influence, all of a sudden. 

I realized I had categorized Pa as a kind of natural phenomenon, a force of nature, an Act of God in the insurance sense- he struck randomly and fiercely, like fires and blizzards.  But strike he did, and that is why, after this final consideration, confession, and tearful acceptance, I am saying goodbye to the books, because I don't want crazy Pa in my life anymore.  I am sorry that Laura and all the beautiful prairie, woods, plains, and mountains will have to go too, but Pa just isn't good enough for me and my people.









Wednesday, August 8, 2018

The Ruling Passions.
















Dear Enthusiasts,

Things are in disrepair.  They usually are, but the first problem to tackle is the decision of what to fix and what to give up on.  It's clear from reading other pages here, and even from the words I used to write the previous sentence, that I am always sorry to have to give up on things.  I love repaired things; damaged things, even. 

The old rocking chair on the porch has a split cane seat woven in a complex pattern.  The stuff must be soaked, and then woven, and the oak of the armrests and the rockers is worn out of shape, and there are checks and splinters aplenty.  Repairing the seat and back will only be a temporary stay against utter uselessness as a chair.

Still, I thought we might try a webbing seat instead of the split cane, and so I consulted the Ashley Book of Knots.  With any luck, you have a copy already, because it is a really wonderful book, with beautiful illustrations and fascinating names and purposes for the many knots and plaits.

Whenever I look up a knot in this book, I also read the inside back flap of the crumbling dust jacket.  I look at this flap because it's where I begin straightening the paper tatters when I open or close the book.  I always look at dashing Clifford W. Ashley, and I read this sentence: 

     Clifford W. Ashley had two ruling passions all his life:  marine painting and knot tying.

I know you will love this sentence as I do, and so perhaps you will want to stop reading here now, and go forth into the future with your unique relationship to this arrangement of words.  I don't really think you need me to tell you how I feel about these words, after all.  If you did, though, wonder, after considering what they say to you first, I could tell you that I like to imagine my picture there, on the flap, and to think of what my life under two ruling passions might read like, to consider what the 620 pages would be filled with.  I never get too far imagining this before I find that two passions isn't anything like enough passions.  But then I allow as how these are not just any two passions, these, are the Sovereign Passions, and so maybe I really ought to be able to select two to be my Queen and King and to serve under them happily?