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.

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