First off I will get the drawings a day over with….
I pieced together
scraps of colored silk fabrics
making a long scarf.
Cotton grey and white
patterned scarf is very soft
and loosely woven.
the bottom part of a skirt
for this pleated scarf.
My drawer is so full
of these Mahdi Chandler scarves
made from bits of gauze.
Then a switch back to travel journals….. starting in France where my daughter took this picture of me wandering the streets of a small village.
And drawings from the journal I took along.
And some more random journal entries…
It is the journal that is indispensable when traveling. Not the camera or even the companions. The camera gives too much information and the companions will not see nor remember it the way I do. But the journal with quick marks of local color, wines, foods, and notes bring the entire trip back each time I refer to it. I see the place and smell the food. I taste the wine again and hear those sounds of being in the country, in the hotel, at an art opening, alone in an unfinished building with the soft sound of cane toad feet dragging across the floor toward my bed. My journals are filled with a shorthand and economy of marks that preserve it all, and I can return anytime I want to.
Young Patrick is waiting in the pub somewhere in New South Wales to shout me another beer while I wait to be found. The Poets in Pubs group that meets monthly in Broken Hill are still seated around the table in the back room listening to me read their favorite American poet in an appropriate accent. I can smell the worn leather case belonging to an elderly former boxer as he removes an old black and white photo of himself “in the day” and the poem he wrote earlier that week.
There are travel journals from Japan, China, Bali, France and Italy but the outback towns of Australia is where I prefer to spend most of my return voyages. Our shoulders touch, our eyes meet and we raise our Toohey’s Old and Stone’s Ginger Wine in remembrance.
And one of the reasons I so love Australia….
Notes from 2007 on Teaching in Australia
“Fourteen of them are here and I interview them all to find their personal direction and get them to contain their passions to a small place that has lids, doors, pages, covers, bags and baskets – how much of all this do they want to conceal or reveal. Some of those working with the personal stay quiet and have the materials needed. Others might ask my input on materials and form. Then they, too, go quiet and leave me out of their next decision. Now I am only the direction sign.
I envy them at these moments of discovery, adjusting, learning and note-taking. So I busy myself with making another sample, drawing and writing on the board, and try not to hover too close to them.
Later I will make the rounds again, one by one, to see if I am needed or not. If I am, it is usually a technical problem, easily solved while they let me handle their work and materials. They will also share why their work is taking a particular form. How it all fits around some thing that matters to them.
This is the gift they give to me – letting me in to help make the spaces and places for things that matter.
The other day two friends came a long ways to lift my spirits. Kent, a student of mine who took private white line printmaking classes with me here until a year ago, and his wife, Catherine, a well known textile artist, showed up with these gifts.
Kent brought the single malt scotch for me and the assortment of dark beers for Lee. Catherine brought Madeleines and a fresh baked loaf of sour dough bread. She has taught in Australia and it was wonderful to share our thoughts on teaching in that country. They said they will return and bring me some sour dough starter. I am so happy they came and are thinking of coming back. Kent has kept in touch this past year by sending hand drawn images on postcards for Lee and I. Such a thoughtful couple. Thank you!
And speaking of Lee, I found this poem I wrote six years ago…..
He prefers to stay home
She is vegetarian
He needs red meat
She will talk to anyone
He is selective or silent
Her glass is half full
He is on the way to empty
How does this work?
After forty-seven years of one floating
And the other sinking
They simply trust the tether line