Saturday, September 16, 2006

Channeling Martha

Although I don't haven't had a TV since 1989, and I've never seen The Martha Stewart S how, I've seen her magazine and quite recently the transcription & recording service at which I transcribe every manner of recorded material did three batchs of videos which will probably be cut for future shows. For all I know the "Martha in Paris" segment has already run or will soon. So when an interior decoration problem arose a work last week ... this is what happened.

The brownstone in which the office is located has been cut up into a number of smal rooms. Claustrophobia is avoided because most rooms have half walls with glass in the upper half. Until last week I was looking through glass, through an empty office to a window. Then the office was rented by a slightly self-conscious guy who thought of blocking MY window. I said, wait, I'll do something. I thought I would use a long narrow quilt in a part of the window, leaving light around the edges. But then I thought he'd be looking at a not very interesting back. Besides the one that would be best is still in the UFO category [it has been an Unfinished Object for some years now]

Sometime that evening the answer simply came to me and I immediately thought I'd seen something like it in a Martha Stewart Living magazine ... maybe. Viola! a window blocker that lets light in but give sufficent privacy.

I made approximately 40 quilt postcards in the early summer, using the designs as drawn by Bea Oglesby in her recent book aptly called BUTTERFLIES. I had suddenly realized that I could attach the post cards, in pairs, to face both sides of the window, pin them to grosgrain ribbons and attach the ribbons to the frame of a window pane. It works!! Now I have a variety of butterflies to look at as I work and the young guy, who says his mother who lives in Houston and is a maker of traditional quilts, has some appreciation also. And, as he says it gives him privacy to scratch his [shaved, I think] bald head.

I have been quilting in series so all these butterfly postcards is just an extension. I'm a little amazed that I got hooked on them. I bought the book because the drawings seemed to make applique fairly easy [raw edge, mostly zig-zag/outline stiched on the machine -- I am not a hand appliquer]. I thought: well, butterflies are kind of nice, maybe I'll want to use them one day. Now I'm aware that my attitude was that mixture of supercilliousness and ignorance that is how we often approach things that we've paid very little attention to and know little about. By "we" I mean me -- it's a self-defensive mental habit because there's not enough time to be interested in everything anyway. I think others do the same.

Bea has used actual butterflies and gives their names. In making the ones in her book, I discovered in a very immediate way that there's a great variety of shapes/configurations, of colors and of marking. And Bea is far from comprehensive. She makes me considef all I don't know much about. In the lasts few years I've traveled with bird watchers in Costa Rica, Turkey and Mongolia and discovered from them that they look first for shape of the bird. Until someone says something self-evident the bells don't start dinging in my brain ... of course, I can tell the difference between a chicken, a duck and goose by shape. They happen to know the difference between an eagle and a perigrine hawk, and much, much more, including the differnt songs of different birds.

A little bit of knowledge leads to curiosity, at least for me. I'm not inspired to become a lepedopterist, but I'll look at butterflies more carefully now ... it's not too late to stretch a little bit, learn something new. Mary Oliver's poetry can make me look more closely at nature, Bea Oglesby's simple butterfly book has opened another window [tho' paradoxically, the butterflies block a window also!]

My bird watching acquaintances, I saw, live in a world that has a dimension to which they are exquisitely attuned. In a way it's the equivalent of knowing that dogs hear high pitched sounds I don't. Other people live in perceptual worlds that are different than mine, and richer in that way. Perhaps I am richer than some of them because I have traveled many places they haven't, or because I can bake bread and pastry as they can't. A woman on the the grand jury I'm on, said she's stymied by the idea of making cookies. If I had a dollar for every cookies I've baked, almost effortlessly, I'd be able to take a six month around the world trip.

I work at a computer facing those hanging butterfly quilt post cards and, when the work is dull I think thoughts like these ... I'm happy to have seen an ad for a new book by Bea Oglesby which has birds in it. When it comes to the City Quilter shop here in Manhattan, I'll buy it. Maybe I'll make bird post cards or maybe something else ...

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