I’m not including a photo of the picture I started painting last night. You’ll just have to use your imagination. But I’m including a few photos of old artwork, to give this post some color.

A mood, a place, objects that may inspire . . .

A mood, a place, objects that may inspire . . .

This was a totally new experience for me. Last night I sat down to make a “midnight sketch”–something I’ve done three nights in a row now. I started sketching a little landscape scene, but my imagination got going and I found myself drawing a possible location for the story I’m working on with my writing partner, Heather.

Random landscape photo.

Random landscape photo.

Soon this imaginary place started suggesting stuff that could be in our story: maybe the people live up in the mountains, maybe there’s a lake, maybe . . . maybe . . . maybe . . . Don’t want to get too specific because it’s all a big secret at this point.

All you writers might want to give this a try. Draw a picture and see where it takes you. You might create a setting, an event, a character, or a mood for your next or current project.

WatercolorGirl_Enhanced_Colors_withYellow

This morning on, our walk, my dog Maggie and I walked by our neighbor Tom Martin’s yard. He’s the kind of neighbor who wins City Beautification awards. (I’m not.)

Tom has a new young Japanese maple planted in his yard.

You know that feeling you get when you see a little puppy? I had that feeling upon seeing his new plant. Japanese maples are my favorite shrubs. I’ve planted five and have six at my home.

A-few-years-old Japanese maple growing in my yard.

A-few-years-old Japanese maple growing in my yard.

As Maggie and I completed our walk, I reflected on how pretty young things are. And I almost wished I could keep them that way–saplings, puppies, me. But I thought of the majesty of my other Japanese maples.

Japanese maple over twenty years old.

Japanese maple over twenty years old.

Japanese maple around 18 years old.

Japanese maple around 18 years old.

The red one has been pruned several times, but the green one hasn’t. They’re gorgeous, if you like that sort of thing (which I do).

And I thought about how enjoyable an older dog is–less work, more companiable. Puppies are delightful in all their stages of life, but there’s nothing like an older dog.

12-year-old Maggie.

12-year-old Maggie.

I also thought about President Uchtdorf’s talk entitled “The Gift of Grace.”

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2015/04/the-gift-of-grace?lang=eng

President Uchtdorf says we weren’t meant to stay in or return to Eden. We’re meant to progress. And we’re going to get pruned.

Years ago, Elder Nelson gave a talk on aging. He said, “The aging process is also a gift from God, as is death. The eventual death of your mortal body is essential to God’s great plan of happiness.”

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/10/decisions-for-eternity?lang=eng

What I remember most about it was that he said, or implied, that if we didn’t age we wouldn’t want to die.

I’m aging. Sad truth. I don’t like some of it, but there are things I appreciate about being older. I can’t say I’m more beautiful, but I’m kinder. Like the Japanese maples in the photos, I’m more apt to give shelter than censure. My interests, abilities, and influence spread farther than I realize. And I would never consent to return to the state of ignorance I once enjoyed (ignorance was bliss).

However, I feel old. I feel big. My body is yet capable of more movement than my current girth allows. My hip joints hurt and I have to move carefully. Part of me remembers physical youth–even as recently as a few years ago’s youth–and misses it.

Why does this tell me there is a God? Because there’s no logical reason why we shouldn’t go on and on and on. Our bodies are capable of rejuvenation. They renew themselves within a seven-year period. I’m a reasonably healthy, fairly uninjured person. I’m clever, accomplished, and eager to do more. Why can’t I go on living as a youngster? Because God says no.

I’m OK with that. As painful and uncomfortable and unattractive as aging is, I trust God. I know He’s trustworthy. I know it. And I know He’s got the whole world in His hands. We’re safe with Him.

Me test-driving a Lendrum Original--the wheel I decided to buy.

Me test-driving a Lendrum Original–the wheel I decided to buy.

1) INSTINCT–Ultimately I bought the wheel I wanted. Don’t ignore your leanings. If you favor one brand, or one type, over another, pay attention.

2) EXPERIENCE–I listened to people who said, “Try as many as you can,” but I only tried two different wheels. (I liked both the wheels I tried.) However, I saw several in action at a retreat I attended, and talked to their owners–beginners through experienced spinners. (Note: EVERYONE was happy with the wheel they purchased and I saw almost all the wheels I was considering.) One gal tried three wheels at the retreat and saw no significant difference between them. I was reluctant to ask people to let me use their wheels–I would hesitate to let someone else use mine, for one thing, but also, they had work in progress on their wheels and after class we all wanted to pack up and go back to our hotel rooms. So . . .

Tim Talks--about the Kromski Sonata

Tim Talks–about the Kromski Sonata

3) INTERNET VIDEOS and ARTICLES–I watched lots of videos and read articles and books. The more I learned about spinning wheels, the more I understood. The biggest consideration seemed to be single-drive or double-drive. (I knew I wanted two treadles.) One lady who bought the double-drive Schacht Matchless (price is about $1100) said she bought it because she wanted options–the Matchless can be used as a single-drive as well. When she said she always uses it as a single-drive it seemed pointless to me to have paid all that money.

The Schacht Matchless

The Schacht Matchless


4) Does it come assembled?
5) Can you travel with it?
6) Is there support available?
7) Can you easily get parts?
If you want to make your own bobbins, can you buy the necessary inserts for the wheel you're considering? This was one of the deciding factors for me.

If you want to make your own bobbins, can you buy the necessary inserts for the wheel you’re considering? This was one of the deciding factors for me.

I felt weirdly pressured to buy the Schacht Matchless, but I didn’t want to. It was the first (and third) wheel I tried. I don’t understand the double-drive difference yet–I’m a beginner and I want to get started practicing. Besides, to be honest, I don’t like the name Schacht. When I first saw it I had no idea how to pronounce it, and kept saying it wrong. (It sounds exactly like “shacked.”) While Kromski Sonata is a lovely name, its price kicked it out of the running (although the carrying bag was definitely enticing).

I decided to go with the Lendrum Original. When I used it, I felt like a warm knife in cool butter. I felt relaxed and comfortable when I used it.

Can you sit aback and relax? Can you actually look away while spinning with your chosen wheel?

Can you sit back and relax? Can you actually look away while spinning with your chosen wheel?

The look of the tilted wheel put me off at first, but it didn’t affect performance and I decided to like its unconventionality. It’s easy to fold down and travel with, though one of the heavier, larger travel models. It comes assembled and finished, so I don’t have to think about doing it myself and forever being sorry I got one that needs finishing. It’s easy to find online help and parts for. And the name reminds me of a word from Watership Down (though, sadly, the lendri are enemies of the rabbits).

I ordered mine last night, at 11:00 P.M. MDT, from The Woolery because they offered me a $25 gift certificate and I was making other purchases from them that Paradise Fibers didn’t have. Today I received this email notice:

Wonder how long I can hold my breath . . .

Wonder how long I can hold my breath . . .

I ran across some things I wrote in a notebook last month and, these things pleasing me, decided to write them here.

bird in cage

bird in cage


Bird
to fly
you must quickly grow wings
grow feathers
be strong
the moment to soar is here
and you are still polishing the bars of your cage
Beating heart
naked wings
wild eyes
and fear
Now the cage is closed again
Take up your work again
And calm and close your eyes
Waiting
Another chance may come
Will you be ready
or busy?

***********************

After all this time and getting experience–AKA wisdom–
Peace of mind, sunny autumn
Yet comes winter and the lonely, icy, comfortless chill of despondency
Where are my accomplishments?
How can I go on? I’m stopped by all all all I would like to do.
I’d have wanted to have a name, a genius
And discontent is what I seem to have two hands full
George says it isn’t what it seemed it would be
Doesn’t satisfy
And, anyway, I have a name, THE name, and have no need of genius–
What would I do with it?
Don’t have it but can detect it,
Like a dog watching a human dance, or use her hands.
Oh, why don’t I feel a little marvelous?

Does God? Does He feel content? Is He amazed at what He does? Or does He still shake His head and say, “I wish I could do more”?

******************************

I watched two biographical movies: one about Thomas Merton and the other about George Harrison. These are my notes.

Moments of despair are renewals. Funny–Thomas Merton originally wanted to be a famous writer. Later he reluctantly became one, only to find it was not what he wanted. His readers wanted to keep him as he was–an eager, discovering monk; they wanted all problems solved for him because he became a monk. (No doubt he did too.) But entering Eden with eyes open reveals one’s imperfections.

Faith is overcoming doubt, not not-experiencing it. Overcoming the world is overcoming our deepest self. We have to develop a stronger ego in order to overcome it.

The gate of heaven is all around you. The world is your book (outside the monastery).

Thomas Merton

Thomas Merton


One thing I’ve learned from these films about Thomas Merton and George Harrison is that what I’m going through is NOT UNIQUE! They went through it too. Those who lead contemplative lives will find that life does get harder. Even the things we thought were easy now, we think we’re “over that,” can come roaring back fiercer and stronger than we ourselves are. Perhaps it is so, as Thomas Merton suggested, that overcoming the world means we must overcome the deepest aspects of ourselves–EXPERIENCING our doubts and difficulties with faith. The temptation (maybe even the need) to completely withdraw screams at one, shrieks loud and clear. It is one more thorny field to traverse, supported, sustained, and carried by the Word of God.

George Harrison from Martin Scorsese film

George Harrison from Martin Scorsese film