The Processing Begins

Home! I got in Friday afternoon, and have been decompressing with happy Man and Dog: the Pack is together again (admittedly, one of the pack is not quite unpacked yet). This first summer trip has been (as Velma wished for me!) something of a watershed; wondrous.  Both my destinations far exceeded any good things I might have anticipated even in my broadest imaginings, and the road itself was rich, easy, calm and warm.

Chataqua

A short stop at Chataqua Lake.

There is so much to process, to write about and also to privately ponder and grow into, and a lot of portioning-parts-of-it-into-media, too: blogs are forthcoming here and at MakerCentric, plus website updates and a new page to be added as well. (I have just about a month’s break to do that in: foresight in planning, for once!)

Carota TBalbosis

Finished just before I left: industrial vegetable, species Carota TomBalbosis

But first and foremost, HUGE thanks are due to the warm and wonderful folks along the road, without whom this would not have been the amazingly all-round positive experience it was. All were at places and with people who are touchstones for me, places that also feel like coming home, and there was one wonderful gamble as well.

BalboCastle

First, Tom Balbo and the Morgan. It’s always both comforting and exciting to walk into the Morgan, whether you’re going to be there for ten minutes or for weeks. When I e-mailed to say I was stopping by to pick up my beautiful new half-size bal (a gift from Paul, via Aimee’s work with her connections in Korea, shipped to the Morgan earlier) and wanting to get flax, Tom immediately asked if I wanted to stay overnight.  Oh, of course: yes please! That’s always a huge treat; just seeing what’s new in his ever-fluctuating museum / studio space on the fourth floor.  That would have been absolutely wonderful as it was, but Tom’s spontaneous kindness literally saved me from a faux pas of my own making, and allowed the entire trip to happen without what would  have been a major troubling glitch. I can’t (ever) thank him enough!  Here is a nice recent feature video about Tom and the Morgan.

BeckerBeater

New 5lb beater at Tom’s, made by the incomparable Helmut Becker.  There’s a window in the roll cover!

CompoundWSW

The soon-to-be WSW Compound is progressing nicely.  Kozo will be grown out front; beautiful.

The next day, I took six healthy young kozo plants to Ann Kalmbach and Tana Kellner at Women’s Studio Workshop; a gift between dedicated handmade paper producers and perpetuators, from the Morgan to the WSW ArtFarm. I was more than pleased to be the delivery person! I’d thought I’d simply be stopping for a night in one of WSW’s spare resident / intern rooms, but instead, I was surprised and very happy to be Ann and Tana’s guest: a delicious home-cooked (and much of it home-grown) dinner (with Anita Wetzel’s kind and witty company as well) and breakfast; with great, fun, wide-ranging conversation, and a long after-dinner talk about Scotland, looking people and places up online with Tana as they came up. Ann and Tana are there now, in a breathtaking, remote setting! I am so excited for them both (and I just received a gorgeous lichen photo from Tana, who’s already out hiking!)

ATanaLichen

Scottish lichen, uploaded fresh this morning: just…wow.

FerryFromFerry

The 12 noon ferry heading towards Vineyard Haven, shot from the 10:45 ferry from Oak Bluff.

I made it to Haystack on time, had a glorious two weeks, drove down to catch the boat and had another fabulous four days at Seastone Papers on the Vineyard: those experiences definitely require their own blogs, ASAP!  On Tuesday, lovely Sandy Bernat shepherded me to the ferry back to my car, parked in Falmouth, MA. I drove till I was tired, then pulled off to find a motel. That happened to be in Corning, NY: I slept long and deeply, and then spent a nice few hours at the Corning Museum of Glass. It was much better than I anticipated, fascinating with live glassblowing and flameworking demos (they do these on cruise ships as well!) by articulate, precise craftspeople with nicely miked headsets and a good broadcast system: I could actually hear them! And featuring some rather amazing innovations in glass, as well as its history, chemistry and stories, and a huge collection all housed (of course) in a very glass-y building, below. It was a most interesting, relaxing stop before the final two legs of the trip.

CorningMuseum

ChurchEntry

The Church Entryway

The last but never, ever the least stop, was with Kathy and Steven Smith: they call their place (wherever they are) the Church Of Not Quite So Much Pain And Suffering; that is, actually, not a joke. The calm, relaxed and peaceful – yet always intellectually vibrant – energy of the home they’ve so willingly shared with me so many times let me do the final Cleveland-to-Chicago run carrying that peace they create within me.  Once again with their encouragement, I stopped for an extra night, stretched, relaxed, and renewed my body and brain. A thirty-year-plus friendship through wild and sometimes rough times and now this ripening: riches.

And through it all, behind it all, at however far the physical distance: Paul. Missing me but encouraging and supporting me, happy knowing that I am happy, having my discoveries and adventures.  When I arrived, there was even a welcome-home gift: these handmade fiber-beaters, beautifully balanced for my hands, turned from hard maple.

beatersticks

One thing I don’t need to process: I know that I am a fortunate, grateful and wealthy woman.

churchOf

Receiving blessings at the Church Of Not Quite So Much Pan and Suffering 

Was in Wonderland (with Wonky Wireless)

RaininMaine

Hello!  At last, we have contact!  I’ve missed you. A few hours ago, I arrived on Martha’s Vineyard, my second island of the summer, after a nine-plus hour drive and a boat ride, and am being treated extremely well by my lovely hostess and her daughter.  Haystack was Stupendously Good.  Unbelievably so!  It was an incomparable, unique, exciting residency – with just one tiny drawback: the wireless hated me.  I was not able to log in to the Blahg via laptop nor phone, and e-mail went totally haywire, too.

I have SO MUCH to tell and show you!  But the next few days will be packed with even more great things, so there is going to have to be a massive time-travel blog series when I get back to Chicago – or maybe even along the way. For now, I will just say hello again, and go sleep (and sleep, and sleep).  See you soon!

HaystackSeaFoto

 

Segue: on the Vineyard

When Sandy and I were discussing the upcoming workshop, she said I must take time to spend on the island. I’m very grateful to her for that, because Martha’s Vineyard is a place I’ve always wanted to visit, not only because I love being on islands, Atlantic islands (on both sides of the pond) in particular. I also love – and even have a need – to physically experience places that are steeped in human history. The Vineyard holds fascinating, uplifting history that resonates at my core.

MVbook

I borrowed and read this excellent book about twelve years ago. In anticipation of my upcoming visit, I recently acquired my own copy. Re-reading it now, not so long after experiencing first-hand how ridiculously easy it is for corporations to blatantly, casually flout ADA laws, is proving to be an emotional event.

For about 300 years on Martha’s Vineyard, due to hereditary factors, there was an unusually high percentage of deaf people (one in 155, as opposed to one in nearly 6000 on the mainland). As the title of the book states, hearing and deaf alike learned sign language along with English as a matter of course in early childhood. Hearing people used sign language among themselves, whether or not deaf people were present; it was simply second nature. As a result, deaf people were full participants in every aspect of island life: like their hearing neighbors, they were farmers, fishermen, shop owners, churchgoers, members of local government and fully present at every social occasion. ‘The deaf’ were not though of as a group, but were remembered as individuals, according to their accomplishments, personalities, professions, and relationships first. To be deaf was simply not perceived as being unusual in any way. “It was taken for granted…as if somebody had brown eyes and somebody else had blue…They were just like anybody else.” Perhaps the most telling of many such quotes in the book is this, a reply by an island woman in her 80s when asked about neighbors who were ‘handicapped by deafness’: ‘“Oh,” she said emphatically, “those people weren’t handicapped. They were just deaf.”’

The history of Martha’s Vineyard definitively points out that the notion of ‘disability’ is something a culture creates by tacit agreement (as discrimination often is practiced as well). Perhaps walking the land and breathing the air of an island imbued with such beautiful history will provide my own last bit of healing, finally obliterating the remaining scars left by sanctioned bigotry. I felt a bit guarded about writing of this, until I read the jacket notes by no less a personage than Oliver Sacks: “ I was so moved by Groce’s book that the moment I finished it I jumped in the car, with only a toothbrush, a tape recorder, and a camera – I had to see this enchanted island for myself.”

its_here

Spring is here! And I’m in the studio, making books (but out every day, basking).