Using what lies in front of you

Picture of Agave cactus

My parents and their parents were children of the Depression. They saved string, wore hand-me-down clothes, and ate left-overs–ALL of them! A favorite expression was “Making Do.”

Native American families before the age of supermarkets and department stores did the same thing. In this picture you’ll see, on the right, a healthy agave cactus. Vivid green, with sharp spines at the end of the stalks.

But on the left, you’ll see something even more important. Notice those beautiful fibers that remain when the plant dies? They can be used to make sandals, weave baskets, line baby cradles. Making do.

Because of our routines,
we sometimes forget that life is a
an ongoing adventure.
~Maya Angelou~

You can never have too much yarn

Photo of blue red magenta yarn

I’m a crocheter rather than a knitter, but this exuberant bundle caught my eye when I visited a yarn shop in Jerome, Arizona.

And then I realized if I bought it, I’d have to keep it that way forever, never made into a project. Because, can you imagining unraveling a piece of work if you made a mistake, say, eight inches down?

Some things are just not made for a do-over.

You know you knit too much when you put your computer keyboard on the floor while reading your daily emails so you can hit the space bar with your toe to scroll through them while knitting.
~Stephanie Pearl-McPhee~

 

Remembrance of things past

Picture of glass reflections

Can you tell what this thing is? I couldn’t either, but it looked cool. I was spending the afternoon with a friend at the University of Michigan Property Disposition Department, 41 million square feet of warehouse space filled with a few odds and ends.

There were the expected 16 dozen used clay-colored steel case files (I guess professors swap them out for NEW clay-colored steel case files every year or so), desks, old computer CPUs, and such.

But the big kahoona of finds was the scientific equipment room. Talk about the mother lode of stuff you have no idea what it is (or was, 49 years ago) used for. Like this highly-calibrated, brass thing-a-ma-gig, complete with fun house reflections. I want one!

Curiosity’s like a fun friend you can’t really trust. It turns you on and then it leaves you
to make it on your own.

~Haruki Murakami~

Know your rock and trust your mason

Picture of dry rock wall

Old historic buildings in Sedona were often constructed of red sandstone. And skilled craftsmen paid attention to the type red sandstone that they used, for the sandstone was formed by inland seas that rose and retreated. And each time the seas receded, a different type of sandstone was built.

One sediment layer was formed in thin brittle layers of shale while another was the “hold together” sandstone that erodes in soft rounded shapes, similar to Bell Rock near Sedona. If you built a house with the first type, the layers would crumble and shatter, and the house along with it.

I was reminded of that when I visited New Hampshire recently. There, the building rock of choice is granite. The stuff that tombstones are made from.

A house constructed of granite will be there a long time from now. And yet this building material, too, has its own idiosyncratic ways. View the skill it must have taken to construct this granite wall over a hundred years ago.

It pays to understand your rock. And to trust the skill of your stone mason.

It can be everything to have found a fellow bird
with whom you can sit among the rafters while
the drinking and boasting
and reciting and fighting
go on below.

~Wallace Stegner~ 

 

Paper patterns make a life

Picture of paper patterns

In the back room of a dressmakers shop lived a row of paper patterns. Some had yellowed with age, but the fingers of the seamstress unerringly drew the pattern she wanted from the collection. She knew them all by heart. They were familiar friends.

We all have our own row of familiar patterns. I know which cup I’ll choose for my morning coffee, which Internet news website I’ll read first. My fingers reach for that favorite T-shirt to wear when the stack is fresh from the wash.

Just as there is growth in newness and surprise, there is comfort in predictability. We need both in our life to thrive.

I am an idealist.
I don’t know where I’m going
but I’m on my way.

~Carl Sandburg~

 

 

In the eye of the beholder

pipe and wire

Some people collect agate marbles or Japanese netsuke. Martha Stewart collects everything!

My goals are more modest. I collect textures. So when I found this abstract image of a pipe and electric wire on an old stucco wall, I was delighted. It wasn’t a Mondrian or a Rothko, but in my book, it was pretty darn close.

It doesn’t take much to make me happy.

My formula for living is quite simple.
I get up in the morning and I go to bed at night.
In between I occupy myself as best I can.
~Cary Grant~