#DailyFeb2021

Hey Friends! We are half way thought January 2021 (I know, it feels like another damn decade, but no, it is just that full of incident) and it is time to think about, and make your plans for, doing something daily in Feb 2021. I have posted these “rules” before, for Feb 2020, and Feb 2019. I’ve been recruiting friends for almost as long; from Clevermanka.net, and Jenny Crusie’s Argh people, as well as anyone else who is inspired by seeing it here or on Instagram.

Below are some images from #dailyFeb2018, #dailyFeb2019 and #dailyFeb2020:

February, as we all well know, is the longest month. The Romans did us a favor by chopping days off it until it felt as long as July, but since it has only 28 days this year, it is technically shorter by two or three days than any other month we have.

Since we are going to do something daily, picking Feb to start seems like a good plan. And yes, we are going for daily, which is why we have The Rules, outlined and explained below.

In order to keep from being overwhelmed, we have Rules, and the Rules are what we must have:

  1. we must have A Very Low Bar
  2. we must have Very Clear Boundaries and
  3. and we should aim for Quantity Not Quality

Let me explain.

A Very Low Bar: The purpose of an absurdly low bar is to invite anyone and everyone to step over it, to prove, in fact, that anyone and everyone can step over it. Having stepped over it gives you a little jolt of accomplishment, which is a good thing, and encourages you to do it again. We are after that tiny jolt of encouragement that comes from doing the thing. That will propel you to do it again, and again, and again, which is practice. So choose something you have tools for. Choose something that you can set up quickly and clean up easily (or set up in a corner somewhere that won’t be disturbed). Lower the threshold for doing the thing as much as you possibly can. To that end, it is perfectly legit to lay in a stock of things before Feb 1 – like pre-cut paper, sharpened pencils, the paints for this February’s palette, or all the ends of sock yarn you have on hand. Get a little excited about this process!

Very Clear Boundaries: This is a lesson from Twyla Tharpe’s book The Creative Habit , reinforced by personal experience, and even Orson Welles (“The enemy of art is the absence of limitations.” ) To this end, 1) you must put some lines around what you want to practice, and B) make that measurable. So choose a size, limit your palette, limit number of stitches you are knitting, limit yarn size, commit to buying nothing new, or using up all of a resource, do whatever you need to make the box you are creating around your project small enough to be a little constrictive, so that you can experiment with pushing at the edges without having to spend too much time finding the edges first.

Quantity Not Quality: To make that measurable, choose metrics you can see, and count, things that are strictly mathematical or true/false. Your metrics matter, a lot. “Make one nice picture” is useless because who says it is nice? “Use up all the paint I have” is a very good metric because you can tell when you’ve achieved it and also it is pushing you towards more using and making.

I will posting my work on my Instagram account, using the #dailyFeb2021 tag. Post your work too! Use the tag to boast about your own work, and see what other people are doing. Everyone’s friendly!

ending 2020

This has been a decade of a year. I don’t even know what to say about it, that other people haven’t already said, and said better. It has, like most years, both crawled and flown. It has definitely had some comedically awful parts, as well as heartbreakingly awful, and plain boring and awful, and glimmers of the completely ridiculous.

I started 2020 as oblivious as anyone. I started the 100 Day Project on Jan 22, 2020, slated to end April 30. By the time the time April 30 happened, we were in the middle of lockdown for the pandemic, and it seemed silly to stop. So I kept going. I kept going past 200 pieces, and past 300 pieces, and through the election, and the subjective month it took to count and recount the votes, and here I am closing on a full year.

Oddly for me, I am not sure how to stop. I could keep going – I’d have to stop labeling each day as N of 100, because working on the second year is just a complete failure to comprehend the idea of a limited project. I could stop with Inauguration Day. I could stop at a full year, on Jan 22. (Your comments are welcome on this topic!)

I leave you with some retrospective pictures of the tiny finished things, massed together.

Notes: Pieces are glued to tie-tack pins and stuck into twelve inch square cork tiles. The first 100 were in varied frames, with double-size frames every Sunday. For 1-50 and 51-100 the taller frames meant it was easier to fit 50 pieces/cork tile. Continuing the project, I chose uniform size frames to fit better on the display tiles. Numbers 101 – present fit sixty-four to a tile.

over-dyed

I dip myself
  In seawater
Just like
  I dip fabric
Folded, stitched, bound
  In indigo
Over and over

things brought home home from a day at the beach: shells, sand in the car, poetry, a picture

Poem:

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.

firsts

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?