Thursday, January 20, 2011

going steady

This picture shows some of the things Dan has given me over the last 42+ days we've been together, and the very latest thing was his high school ring. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, you heard it first right here. Dan Leo and I are going steady.

We went to the same high school a million years ago. Well, actually here's another glimpse of the ring so you'll know for yourself what year we graduated.

And if you graduated from high school about the same time we did, you may need to blow this picture up really big to be able to read the numbers.

You see, Dan has the habit of saving a plethora of things from his life. I do not. He has a bazzillion boxes of treasures. I pretty much have what he's given to me, and that's adding up quite a bit already. Just a couple of nights ago he was going through one of those boxes and discovered his high school ring. Since I gave him my tassel from my graduation mortar board, he passed his ring to me.

I've never gone steady before. I remember looking at some of my high school friends' hands and seeing their boyfriends' rings packed on their fingers with yarn. I couldn't resist doing the same thing, so in the picture there's plenty of fabric strips tied around that bad boy. However, it's just too cumbersome to wear. Dammit, just when I get a ring to go steady with the boy of my dreams, I don't like lugging around baggage of any kind.

Dan and I have been at his college today watching videos he's going to show in his diversity in art class, and lo and behold there was an artist that has to be a sister of his separated at birth. She and her daughter (Betye Saar and Alison Saar) searched all over for found objects to put in their art. They talked about how magical their worlds are because of the way they see it. They can take things left behind in a fire, for instance, clean them up, and use them as treasures knowing that at one time they were prized possessions truly loved by someone before a fire moved through their house and levelled it. They could take anything found on the street and turn it into something magical. They called themselves Conjure Artists because they were able to create magic from twigs, bottle caps, doll parts, etc.

I live with a Conjure Artist. Our house is filled with his magical tools. I've been blogging about creating a small spot for me. I made myself believe that I could only create in an uncluttered space, and the truth is that it's not true. Dan and I got to work together this week all week long. He's introduced me to artists I've never heard of. We've looked at pictures, watched videos and DVDs. We've talked about how we can incorporate what we're uncovering in our own art. Since arriving here last month, I've been on a whirlwind tour of art. I've spent my adult creative time studying quilts and art quilts. I came here without any books, supplies, fabrics, or machines, and it's opened up my world immensely.

For one thing, I live in the midst of Underground Railroad country, and quilts were used to signal slaves where to go, when to go, and what tools to take. Everywhere I've ever lived I've wanted to study the history of that particular place. This is the first home where I've immersed myself in it. I've discovered that the town library was built by an abolitionist as one of those Underground Railroad stops. This town has much to be proud of. It also served as a safe haven for Jews during WWII -- "Sadly, Fort Ontario would be the only shelter in the United States established for European refugees from the second World War and the Holocaust." (according to the brochure I picked up at the Chamber this morning)

How did I end up here? The town of the Underground Railroad and Safe Haven. The house of the Conjure Artist and all of his magic not only stashed in boxes but the wonderment in which he views the world. I have never felt so rich, so blessed, so full than I do right now. Once upon a time I had the studio that was uncluttered, that spacious 1200 sf studio with a separate room for fabric, one for notions, and one for designing, not to mention the expanse of window-filled space for cutting, sewing, reading, and sitting on the balcony looking at the foothills and Longs Peak. As perfect as that space looked, as uncluttered, organized, spacious, and amazing it was, it was the least creative of any space I've ever been in. It was bereft of love, and that I know is what I cannot live without. The love I feel in this crowded house with teetering magical treasure troves everywhere is beyond anything I could have ever imagined.

And, back in 1973 when Dan received his ring I would have loved to have walked around those school halls parading that chunk on my finger. However, now it goes into my stash of treasures, my magical space filled with books, movies, fabrics, beads, buttons, and a few threads, or maybe I'll keep it upstairs on top of our dresser where it can corner the spot of attention. It makes us laugh. It makes us not take ourselves so seriously, and most of all it alters our high school memories. They seem a little sweeter now.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Jill's spot

So, not only did negotiations begin in the House of Leo about my designated spot, but the transformation began yesterday. Here are the pictures I took to document this momentous occasion.

Notice that lovely Texas flag behind the love seat. There is a sewing machine hidden in there somewhere also...

At this point you can see a bit more of the carpet. By the way, the only things that are mine in this picture can hardly been seen at all. Just sayin'...

And with the help of Zane, one of Dan's sons, the beloved Texas flag comes down. Oh happy day!!

And there he is in action! Thank you, sweet baby Jesus!!

And yes, ladies and gentlemen, the flag is down! I am one happy girl! Oops, did I use my outside voice for that one?

And now for a few Jill touches. These are wall hangings I made years ago, and the only ones I have in my possession at the moment. All others have been sold or are in stores in two different states. The one on the upper left was made from my wedding dress and Japanese silk Kimonos. The one in the middle is hand-painted cotton background with silk organza 3-D flowers with gold bead centers. The little one on the bottom right is a commercial print with thread-painted turtles, and the one on the top right is one I did of my daughter's high school picture. Her face is in thread and the rest is thread and fabric. The flowers between the pieces are made from Dan's dyed fabrics.

And this is the finished-at-the-moment spot in Jill's spot. There are more flowers I made from Dan's fabrics on the table. Beside the love seat on the floor are boxes of the fabrics I've accumulated while living here. There are four boxes, count them four, and I've been here about five weeks. I'll need to take pictures to show the blog world what I've been doing with fabrics that show up in my life.

Now for the very last picture until I do more transforming --

The table in front of the window has the sewing machine I'm using under the fabrics laying on top of it. On the other side of the room, Dan has been doing a little transforming of his own to make room for a place for me to cut fabrics, iron, etc. It is soooo almost done, but no pictures until I'm at least able to use it.

This truly wonderful man invited me to come live with him, and is now allowing me the highest possibility of taking over the entire front room. He calls it the Louisiana Purchase. His friend, Eric, calls it Manifest Destiny. In either case, let it keep going!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Jill's spots in Leo Land

I thought I would begin this post with how I've decorated my number one spot in Leo Land. This is the white-ish love seat that Dan bought for me without knowing at the time that it was for me. It's his flag and sponge hand that parks itself in my number one spot, but negotiations have not begun yet to alter that. However, you can see by the contents of the love seat what I've been doing with his t-shirts... well sort of you can. I've been cutting them up, making stockings, knitting scarves, and sewing pot holders, to name just a few things.

Anyway, back to my spots in Leo Land. I used to live a very pristine life in Taos with NOTHING out of place. However, living with a man who loves to keep things has affected me in this way. I will show you pictures instead of describing it just yet.
books I've "inherited"

and more books

These pictures don't even come close to telling the whole story either. I arrived in Leo Land with three suitcases and a box -- a sum total of 5 books in my possession at that time. I have been here a exactly one month today and look at what has come to my side of the house already. Oh my gawd, what could possibly happen next?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

my man

When I first decided to move across the country to be with Dan, I had no idea what I was in for, but whatever it was, I just knew it was going to be good. I just didn’t know it was going to be this good.

I arrived in Syracuse on December 8, 2010 where my man picked me up and we kissed for the very first time. We haven’t stopped kissing since.

I’ve learned a lot about this man since then, and I’ve learned even more about me.

I live in a house full of men. It has a revolving door where young men come and go. They all happen to have Dan’s last name. One left last Friday, and a couple of days later another moved in. Well, at least his stuff did. I haven’t seen him since our last big meal together.

And that’s another thing I’m not used to. There are big meals in this house. BIG meals, meals like I haven’t had since growing up with three brothers. And all the men cook. I do the dishes. I just pull myself up to the table and food appears. It’s one of the most magical things I’ve ever experienced. Who knew? As a matter of fact, while sitting here typing this, the oldest of the frat boys brought me chocolate candy and a piece of fudge while I’m in his school library. That frat boy is the one I get to sleep with, so that chocolate was already melting before I got it unwrapped.

What else have I learned from this experience with lots and lots of boys? Well, I miss flowers. I don’t mean the kind growing in beds, I mean flower prints, flowered throw pillows, flowers in pictures hanging on the walls, flowers on my clothing… just flowers. Lace, pink, flowers, china, glass… you know, dainty, sweet, fragile things that go so well with flowered pillows. Right now I have a Texas flag the size of the capitol building tacked to walls around the little space I’ve precariously carved out for myself in what is lovingly called the front room, or better still, The Texas Room. Sweet baby jesus…

And sometimes I miss women. I remember soft voices, light touches. Somewhere far, far back in the farthest corners of my mind I can recall the sweetest laughter from people who looked much more like me. I remember arriving in Taos with my friend Tammy and sharing a closet filled with stilettos and flowing skirts and dresses. Now, I can vaguely recall what they looked like without glancing over old photos.

Would I trade any of it? Not on your life. This is my life now. While I’ve been typing this, the oldest son was sending me messages and his father was stopping by to check on me. Right now I glance at my bar on the computer and there’s a message from his father. I hear his voice behind me as he’s talking with a colleague, and I know he’s making his way back over to me.

Would I change any of it? Oh, I’d probably add a flower or two. I’ll probably adjust my attitude a bit about more things encroaching into or near my little niche. I’ll find some pink and lace and something to help me remember what it was like to share a closet with stilettos. And in the meantime, I am going to so enjoy all these men in my life, especially the one I get to call my man.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

access to scissors

What I started with was a tie-dyed t-shirt. Not just any tie-dyed t-shirt, but a Dan Leo. In the fabric art world that is worth some very big coin, and I got to cut it up. Yes, I'm sure there are minds around the world reading these very words and their realities have stopped existing for just a moment until they come to.

You see, once upon  a time I went to high school in Dallas, and there I heard of a teenager named Dan Leo. I've decided after listening to NPR today while knitting that I'm going to change my history, but I'm not sure where to start. I just know that Dan and I have raised a whole lot of eyebrows because I jumped on a train with a one-way ticket to travel across the country to live with him after only seeing each other for somewhere around three hours this summer. Yep, we did go to high school together, but neither one of us really has a great recollection of even talking to each other, and so here we are living and working together. Go figure...

Okay, so back to the ball of -- no, I think I left off at the t-shirt.

Once upon a time in a house in NY there lived a man minding his own business when along came a Facebook friend request from someone he had gone to high school with. He accepted the request. Ooooh dear, what little he knew of the consequences of that action.

Just a few months later he decided to drop in to see this Facebook friend that he had gone to high school with while she was living in the Dallas area. That visit lasted less than three hours. However, just a few months later this friend boarded Amtrak heading for NY where she now lives with this man, his dyes, his boxes, his boys, and his fabrics. Oh sweet baby jesus!!

So, with one of his tie-dyed t-shirts (yes, I am getting back to the original point of this blog post) I (the Facebook friend) cut it into strips and knitted it into a scarf as you can see in the above picture. And, for your viewing enjoyment here are some other pictures that highlight the communion of talents in this household.

Here's the latest one I've been working on, gleaned from a UT tie-dyed shirt. Just a little something to do on a Sunday morning in the House of Leo while all the menfolk are asleep. Well, not exactly... I actually knitted this after Dan did a morning of dyeing.

Dan's pile of tie-dyed wonders. This is something he did in just a very few minutes. On the other hand, the pile I did yesterday took me all day. Hm, he's done it a day or two longer than me...

And here they are after being dyed. And after the next process they go through who knows what could possibly happen to them if I have access to scissors.
stay tuned...