Dream Song 14

By John Berryman

Life, friends, is boring. We must not say so.   
After all, the sky flashes, the great sea yearns,   
we ourselves flash and yearn,
and moreover my mother told me as a boy   
(repeatingly) ‘Ever to confess you’re bored   
means you have no

Inner Resources.’ I conclude now I have no   
inner resources, because I am heavy bored.
Peoples bore me,
literature bores me, especially great literature,   
Henry bores me, with his plights & gripes   
as bad as achilles,

who loves people and valiant art, which bores me.   
And the tranquil hills, & gin, look like a drag   
and somehow a dog
has taken itself & its tail considerably away
into mountains or sea or sky, leaving            
behind: me, wag.


The first sip of coffee. The first swig of a cold Steel Rail Pale Ale. The first dip of toes in the ocean at the beach on the first day it is not quite warm enough to get really wet (this varies wildly for the people I know). There is a sort of shock of delight at the beginnings of things. The first spring peepers. The first frost in fall. It seems to be combined pleasure and relief, that the thing you’ve been feeling wistful for lives up to the moment you remembered.

I’d like to add to those; the first cut you make with a new X-acto blade. That precision, and ease – it doesn’t happen past the third or fourth cut, and replacing blades for every single cut feels unconscionably wasteful, but that first slice? Just delightful.

What provides that blip of delight for you?

Happy 2020

I had almost reached that point of embarrassment about not posting that I was contemplating shutting down the blog and staring over, but it seemed like an over-reaction to a medium absence composed of medical issues and holidays.

Hi! I’m back! I had a teratoma (it was a Mass!! It was a MONSTER MASS!) removed when it twisted some internal stuff and hurt a lot. That was the beginning of December. Then I recuperated on the couch, and then the holidays happened and I took the family and fled to the Florida Keys to be warm and together.

We got back in time to have more winter weather happen. Last night friends came to see the perfectly timed evening fireworks (my little city is so civilized!) and come back to the house for dinner and foolishness.

Today I am catching up on the things I meant to do earlier, and thinking about what I want to accomplish this year.

I hope you are also entering the new year with hope and enthusiasm –

welcome to November

While I am fond of Halloween for costumes, candy and foolishness, my deep thinking about ghosts never seems to happen until November. Possibly I take the Day of the Dead too far in thinking of November as a month of memorials, or it could be that nature herself conspires to make me think of ghosts and endings.

I’ve been thinking about seeds that are distributed by the wind, especially since so many of them are in the air right now. The ones that leap to mind are, of course, milkweed and dandelions, but also thistles and sycamore and the humble cattail. Their combined insistence that November is about continuing on colors the way I see the leaves falling and the days getting shorter.

dreamboxes! Still for sale…

I still have a few dreamboxes for sale. These are the things I make that are hardest to describe. They are perfect wooden boxes, filled with tiny evocative things that I have found, saved, collected or been given. Things that are interesting enough by themselves, but gain mystery? emphasis? when placed together into a small box. My friend Troy described them as dreamboxes and it has stuck.

If you don’t see one that speaks to you, I have made several with specific themes on request, mostly bees, but one with ravens But there are already two with small white bears – one with the north star, and one with an extra bear – you must know someone who needs one?

bench notes; how to make line work cut-able

One reason I wanted access to a lasercutter was to cut things that are fiddly and annoying to cut by hand, and even to cut multiples of them. Things like finely cut tree silhouettes, window muntins, and frames for things are easy to cut from a variety of materials, once you have the line work ready to cut. These things are easy enough to draw as simple line work, but is a process to turn the lines into a thing.

  • draw the thing in Inkscape, (a vector graphics program) in this case a tree, using lines of various weights
  • transform the stroke to path, giving you an outline of all the different lines you drew
  • from here, I create a single outline from all that mess, using a command called Union
  • The end result is an outline that goes around the outside of all the grouped line work. This can be used as a cutting line with the laser, or further manipulated (reversed, shrunk, enlarged, etc).

It works the same way for simpler shapes as well – below you can see a tree, a circle turned into small embroidery hoop, and a set of hexagons grouped into a honeycomb shape, already cut out.

In which I look back on a decade

a lot of cake

I thought I wanted to celebrate turning 59, and look back on a decade of accomplishments. I invited friends to come via Facebook and email and face to face encounters. If anyone asked me if they could bring something, I told them cake, or something to drink.

My friends came through, big time! Above is the table full of different cakes, and the author of two of them. I had a tiny slice of each one – they were all so delicious, in so many different ways. Also we had a tent in case of rain but it was turned out to be a nice place to keep out of the sun, and Al decided a birthday is not an elaborately celebrated birthday without helium for balloons and liquid nitrogen for amusement value.

I talked myself hoarse. I visited with people I see regularly and people I hadn’t seen for a couple of years. I introduced friends to other friends; some introductions I’ve been thinking about for a while(!).

Today I am sitting still and reading birthday cards that are making me laugh, and also are making me grateful, and trying not to talk to anyone.

What did I do over the last decade?

  • sheparded/supported two kids through high school graduation, college acceptance, college life and 1.75 graduations (Alice should graduate in the spring. I will still be 59. I’m just anticipating this a little.)
  • Rode a first level dressage test, and got better than 50%
  • built a boat, launched it, rowed it
  • built a boat trailer, and am slowly learning how to back it up
  • designed and printed a tarot deck, and sold 100 copies
  • sold some artwork through a gallery
  • designed and built a city from cardboard – a stage set, but still!
  • worked for five different theater groups building things
  • made new friends
  • kept the old

I’m glad you could join me on this part of the journey, I’m all agog to see what comes next!

back to work!

I’ve been working on a series of landscapes based on photographs from friends. Velma Bolyard is a paper-maker, spinner and weaver in upstate NY who takes evocative pictures of her local landscape, and every time there is a barn in the frame I am smitten. My high school friend Jen Dulin walks her lovely dog (and now her adorable puppy) to a lake nearby every morning, and takes pictures of skies and water that make me swoon. I have permission from both to use their pictures, giving me amazing imagery to work from.

With Velma’s pictures I am working on letting the fabric do more work, and sketching crucial details in thread. Jen’s pictures are all about the colors I can put on different kinds of silk, and layers of color.

It is nice to be in the studio again. And in between work with the iron and work at the sewing machine, I work on how to develop my story and what I want to say with my work.


Did your summer go by as fast as mine did?

The last thing I clearly remember was starting the Paintbox season, with fresh paint and a new attitude. As I sit here to write to you, the season finished more than a month ago, at the beginning of August. August was spent finishing up some house projects, and sitting on a beach on an island off the coast of Maine. That beach sitting involved substantially fewer Pina Coladas, and a great deal more grit and beach glass (and also knitting) than I generally associate with the phrase “sitting on a beach,” but it was exactly what I wanted. Also family – I got to go lobstering with my brother and nephew, admire tiny baby lobsters, cook spectacular meals and revel in sunsets.

Now September is almost half over, I’m staring down a birthday on the 27th, and I have turned my attention to marketing. I turn 59 – I am having a large party to celebrate the end of my 50s, and I shall hunker down next year and let 60 creep gently over me. At least, that is the theory.

The marketing part is going a good deal slower than I expected. A lot of the process is writing about what I do and how and why I do it, which requires more introspection than I have applied to myself recently. I’m finding it very interesting to read other artist’s statements and websites, because I can agree, or disagree, and writing those down helps clarify my thoughts on my own process and how I talk about it.