Thursday, November 5, 2015

Crafting thanks

Three years (1095 days) ago today the first posting appeared on this blog. Since then, 1084 additional postings have appeared, today being #1086. I'm grateful to the readers and commenters that have helped make My Minnesota worth doing. Thank you for reading, commenting and following.

Something that's concerned me as I've done my best daily to post thoughts, feelings, rants, raves, plus related photos and poems, is that there's rarely opportunity to write a first draft, let it sit for awhile, and then do a rewrite. Future posts may be less frequent in the interest of being better crafted. It's entirely too easy to fall into the trap of focusing on quantity over quality. I've found my photography more satisfying as my craftsmanship improves. I want to follow a similar path with my writing and, on a good day, my thinking. If you're a frequent reader, you may have noticed that the relationship among craftsmanship, local foods, economies and sustainable living (bioregionalism) has become of increasing interest to me. I've just started reading the current issue of Trim Tab magazine and am really heartened to note that its theme is crafts and crafts(wo)men. If you're not careful, this is interest in historic preservation, local foods, baking your own bread and such can do to you. I highly recommend it.

inherited wooden bowl, ~100 years old
inherited wooden bowl, ~100 years old
Photo by J. Harrington
I'm grateful to still have in my possession a wooden bowl that, as I recall, I inherited from my mother. I think she may even have inherited it from her mother. (Or, maybe it came through my Better Half's mother and grandmother.) In any case, every so often, I contemplate the pleasures of using something even older than I am. Unlike smart phones, vehicles, computers and many of the other accoutrements of modern life, newer isn't always better. (There's a reason to never be among the first to try a dot zero version of software.) I still treasure a hand-knitted wool hat my friend and landlady at the time made for me as a Christmas present almost 50 years ago. If you're interested in preservation and craftsmanship and restoration and such, and haven't yet read it, I suggest you see if your local library system or independent book store can get you a copy of The Same Ax Twice. Here's a sampling from the New York Times. As I look about and note what our corporate and political leaders have sold us as "progress," I see restoration as a growth craft.

Monet Refuses the Operation

By Lisel Mueller 

Doctor, you say there are no haloes
around the streetlights in Paris
and what I see is an aberration
caused by old age, an affliction.
I tell you it has taken me all my life
to arrive at the vision of gas lamps as angels,
to soften and blur and finally banish
the edges you regret I don’t see,
to learn that the line I called the horizon
does not exist and sky and water,
so long apart, are the same state of being.
Fifty-four years before I could see
Rouen cathedral is built
of parallel shafts of sun,
and now you want to restore
my youthful errors: fixed
notions of top and bottom,
the illusion of three-dimensional space,
wisteria separate
from the bridge it covers.
What can I say to convince you
the Houses of Parliament dissolve
night after night to become
the fluid dream of the Thames?
I will not return to a universe
of objects that don’t know each other,
as if islands were not the lost children
of one great continent.  The world
is flux, and light becomes what it touches,
becomes water, lilies on water,
above and below water,
becomes lilac and mauve and yellow
and white and cerulean lamps,
small fists passing sunlight
so quickly to one another
that it would take long, streaming hair
inside my brush to catch it.
To paint the speed of light!
Our weighted shapes, these verticals,
burn to mix with air
and change our bones, skin, clothes
to gases.  Doctor,
if only you could see
how heaven pulls earth into its arms
and how infinitely the heart expands
to claim this world, blue vapor without end.


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