Monday, February 23, 2015

the shelf project - zen-dō

There are some experiences in life that change you in more profound ways than others. They become a part of your internal story. One such experience was a trip to a Zen-dō on a winter weekend for an introductory class in meditation. I dragged my (then) 16-year-old daughter along for company. I'm not saying the class changed me much on the outside, but it did bring part of me into focus on the inside.

It was way up in the Catskill Mountains of NY, so the drive in was stunningly beautiful. The buildings were simple and lovely. The monks were compassionate to our little group of beginners. We had lots of questions. We spent the weekend sitting. We ate in silence. We worked. We listened. We chanted. We got some free time to tramp about the grounds in the snow.

For some reason, the shelf project was calling out for a tiny zen-dō, probably because I started a sitting practice for real this year. I attempted to make some tiny zafu, but, while they came out nicely, seemed too time-consuming, so only the bottom cushions got sewn.

I am fully aware that the Tibetan prayer flags are inconsistent with the Japanese tradition, but I felt like making them.

There's a tiny picture of my Mom next to the Buddha on the altar. Photographs of teachers who have passed away are often on the altars in a zen-dō, and my Mom was one of my most important teachers.

There's a tiny study, rendered in colored paper, for a possible quilt on the back wall. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

calling the baby ugly

In the real world of software project management, in which I used to be a small player on the sidelines, we used to talk quietly about calling someone's baby ugly. It's in reference to a project or a technical solution that just doesn't work well, but someone wrote it and has invested some emotion in keeping it going, no matter how inappropriate it is.

Here I am calling my own baby ugly. Creativity isn't always about producing something beautiful. It's about playing with various constraints, building on thoughts and ideas and trying to come up with something new. It doesn't always come out well. Sometimes you have to step back, call the baby ugly and move on. 

I'm re-reading Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott. She talks about persistence, editing, more editing, and walking around behind the back of your work, to really understand what you've got there. Maybe it's ugly. Keep working on it.

The baby. It's ugly. No getting around it. It was making me feel stuck.

Editing, reworking, changing it up.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

the shelf project - hearts go out

The first exhibit of the shelf project was installed this morning. Called "hearts go out", it is a collection of 25 tiny valentines. They are constructed from colored paper, newspaper, thread, paint, glue and ink.

Monday, February 2, 2015

the shelf project - part one

FLTQ is starting a tiny side project. It started with a new office, an empty bookshelf that came in that office and a co-worker's suggestion to decorate said bookshelf. At first, the word "decorate" raised up an emotional barrier. I don't decorate anymore. I'm so over decorating. Harrumph. That was something I did when I had a big house and shelter magazines to pour over. Who needs to spend hard-earned money on that crap taking up space and gathering dust?

Not so fast, partner. The urge to play with spaces is always going to be in me. I still cruise over to Apartment Therapy and Dwell more often than I'd like to admit. But how does one "decorate" a bookshelf? I don't want to spend oodles of cash. I don't want to acquire more stuff. I certainly don't need any books at work.

And so it begins. A series of temporary, tiny art exhibits will inhabit the shelf. They may be built from found objects, paper crafts, fiber, or who-knows-what. They will be trashed or sold when it's time for them to move on.

Here is the placeholder piece, while I build the first collection. (Disclaimer: not the actual shelf at work, this is home, where the light was better)

Sunday, February 1, 2015

quilt migration

The tiny quilts are now moved over to the second coffee shop for the month of February. While the first coffee shop had lots of windows and no wall space, this one has tons of expansive, gorgeous, accessible wall space. I could have five times as many tiny quilts and they would still fit. They look a bit lonely. (Translation: get moving, you lazy quilter!)

Here's my shameless self-promotion spot.