Word and Image

Basket

A destination

A sheep is a sheep – all the same to me, just different colors, with or without horn. A spinning wheel? A loom? Venerable. Costly. Slow (to make clothes by hand). I get my clothes for sale $10 a shirt. That is simply sinful thought. To not appreciate the process is to ignore history and how we got to this point in time; this is narrow minded thinking. Shearing, washing, carding, spinning, weaving… yarn to cloth to clothes.

The Golding wheel is the Bentley of spinning wheels. Art. It is not how you get there as much as how you look getting there. Any car goes when you add gas. Eh? Computerized looms? It has a niche, though, it’s oddly out of place with hand craft. You go to the sheep and wool festival to – meet Golding and son, see the sights, see sheeps, and to see people. I get photo ops. Sheepishly, I have newfound respect for the handicraft. No, Colleen, (I get it now) a sheep is not a sheep. There are differences beyond appearance. And, no, a Golding wheel is not in our future. Hey! You don’t have to spend $10k for a Golding! Maybe I should not have checked $ on the internet. Price increase! – $30k for a stained glass Golding wheel!! I still cannot differentiate sheep breeds. (A sheep 🙂 is still a sheep.)


Party

Basket class. The running joke: who made which basket? Guess? The kids are always right. How do they know?? We had a good time. it has been a while since our last class because of Covid restrictions. Ok! This was largely unplanned. We made baskets of our own creations. Wow! Colleen added beads. It’s really a great looking basket! Me? Party! It made us both giggle to look at the party colors. The added frills were fun. Hey! We can make baskets ad lib. But, I still like the classes. It’s a social thing.


Exuberant

Colleen is tired of me for apologizing for our cozy home. We are definitely not minimalist. Our tendency toward exuberance is everywhere in the beer steins we collect to the refrigerator magnets. We have eight cats. I will add the Willow’s picture is a reminder of wide angle distortion, once more! I took old bobbins and made them into pens, not once but, as you see, many times over. Baskets? Ditto. One detail I will note: Colleen can weave! This cloth is being woven on a barn loom that dates back to the Revolutionary war. Wow! She can weave!! I like living large!


Details

Home is a catalog of your life. In this case we had separate lives and have a joint life. It’s quite a mish mash of stuff. In making up for lost decades we have collected a lot in a hurry – old typewriters, old sewing machines, old spinning wheels… old beer steins. Colleen weaves. That shuttle is sitting on a Revolutionary war era barn loom. Yes, we basket. And, I built/constructed the bobbin display rack to hold spun skeins. We got old art and new art. The old wheel is our TP holder in the half bath. The master bath has too many cosmetics. I hid them in a nearby backpack. Yes, it’s all jokes in self-defense – we are out of room for stuff. Ditto, my pantry sits partially on the counter. We did not start out this way. They have shows about hoarders.

Us? We? Nah!!


It was a good year

I’m a ‘datahead’ a nerd of sorts. It was but a moment ago, Noa was a baby; Colleen and I were in Scotland; my cats doubled in numbers. I have been keeping track of my slides and later digital images from nearly the beginning. First it was index cards and later on a computer. I now use an independent redundant array of external hard drives. It ain’t perfect. About once a year now, I update my yearly database summary. Do you care? … wanna hear?

Digital for me began in 2003. I number 701, 000 digital images in storage now. (Typing “701k” does not look nearly as impressive.) 2021 saw a high of 102k images shot– for the ‘freakin’ year! This spans (over the years) about 15 or more devices (cameras) including iPhone. As I asked, “Who cares?” Well, I do keep track. So, now you know. I shudder to think of how it might be without some “order” to the madness.

Life’s journey has taken me high and low – figuratively as well as literally – from love (lost to found) and to the depths of the Red Sea. Along the way I even took up basket making (#27) – See! Data! Gee!


A year ago

3/11/21 – this year, designated the “one year anniversary”

57 million vaccinated – have had one shot or more

Vaccine – an actual one was developed in less than a year

Speech – a national address by our (real) leader on the 1st anniversary. trump???? who????

Covid relief American rescue package – it passed. Not a single republican voted for it. Traitors.

Eve of 2nd shot – I got mine the next day.

“If somebody said ‘N95’ to you one year ago, you’d think they were a bingo caller.” — JIMMY KIMMEL

They talk about a year ago. 3/11/20. Anniversary of corona. Where were you? Memorable? No, it just came and went as an ordinary day. I can note it/did note it, because I have a photo diary. The news and late night shows were full of the “anniversary.” The “event” (last year) was marked by the shutdown of Delaware by the governor. For us it was the evening/night of 3/16/20. All business was shut. A year later, the library opened for the first time. We did a little victory dance. Anniversary Day +1 is my second shot. I’m old. For most the first shot is months away. For others, they will be foolish, ignore the science, and decline the vaccine. What a world? What a time? The “former guy” is out of office. Sanity, truth, and science have returned. If you commit a crime, you do not get a free pass – see Gov Cuomo. Yeah, it’s been a hell of a f’n year!

What were/where were you? We learned to make Nantucket baskets and ate Thai as they announced all business was closed. The flowers were in bloom. (Not yet this year.) I was in my fake flowers/vases phase. Colleen made a “Giovanni” burger for me. The groceries were suddenly without TP! Toilet paper!?!? Patch was sleeping soundly through it all on our bed. It’s not an anniversary. That would impart more of a celebration. This was more like – “yeah, I was there. Ain’t it amazing when you look back?” Life, as we knew it, changed right afterward.


Staff

Our cats consider us “staff.” We made another basket. Yes, we take classes. I have my kids guess which of us made which basket. Hint: Colleen hates red. The shapes and sizes vary by the weaver. Ha ha! I think Colleen’s shape is better/nicer. For sure! After all that, Nutley hopped right in and went to sleep. Who’s basket is he in? Ha ha!


Counting

I have made 30 Nantucket baskets and counting. They are not yet entirely complete but are done enough to appreciate. Defects? Plenty! I’m not striving for perfection. I just want to gain efficiency and make as many msikates in order to learn the limits. It’s been interesting. Now, they are like my children. Can I gift them away? Certainly, there is plenty of potential. They really do look great! Who’s your favorite child? 30 favorite children??


Limit

During covid I am down to two chief subjects, my cats and flowers. Boring is good. It means we are safe and sound. I have joined Colleen in obsessing over weather. I have four different weather apps open and one beach cam. And we cook and eat. …repeat. Colleen asked me to photograph her handicraft and mine. We completed these projects among others. Spinning fiber to yarn; weaving yarn to material, scarves; weaving Nantucket baskets. I’m not bragging; the girl’s got talent. Me? I’m better than I was but not as good as I’m gonna be.


Argh!!!!

Bored. Yes, dammit! Bored! Remember, this post was composed two – three – months ago. Arghhhh! Yes, pirates say argh. I’m confined. I take pictures of baskets – that I made (Nantucket). I arrange artificial flowers. I take picture of flowers I planted. I cook. I take pictures of my cats. There! Colleen actually reads my blog faithfully. She’s not listed as a follower. Ha! She’s laughing out loud right about now. Call it support from home. If she doesn’t then who will? Arghhh!!!


What’s on your phone?

I use a camera. On my iPhone it’s an odd potpourri of images. It’s rarely of great import. I just don’t think that dinky lens is better than real glass. Snob! Right! I document things that I need to remember. I take a pic that I can send instantly to someone. I photo things I plan to buy. I photograph recipes. It is a portable walking memory for me to remember items like a book to borrow. Otherwise, I have a camera on me nearly every time I carry my phone. It’s my system and my thinking. It works for me.


Craft

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Someone once said to me that the sign of genius is a messy desk. Ha ha! I wish. Nantucket basket weaving takes space and material. It’s controlled chaos. I know where everything is. The tools of the trade are organized so I lay my hand on whatever is required quickly. Piles of material await use. Right!? Really! There is absolute organization. Rims take time and so I let them accumulate. Hence, there are a lot of baskets awaiting the finishing touch. Note: the background is Colleen’s big wheel (spinning, not tricycle) and one of the smaller looms. What else is in the background? …two more regular spinning wheels, finished baskets on the mantle and on the TV cabinet…. Sometimes the lines between worhshop and home blur. It’s ours, we’re fine.


Update

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The passion has cooled. One never knows. No no, I still love my (present) wife! (I was once married to someone who was never wrong.) Here, this is the single (to date) Nantucket basket she (Colleen) has woven. I just examined it again. It’s pretty near to perfect. In fact, it is really perfect to my eye. She is a bit (quite) compulsive and follows direction. How? Perfectly! It’s in her nature to always strive harder and to more perfect.

The body of my work by now is far greater in volume. Quality took a back seat to efficiency. I was seeking to hone my skill. Mistakes? Ok, you don’t make an omelet without breaking….  Experiment? Style? Pattern? Color? Yes! It’s a collection where nothing has been the same from the last. That would make it art not production. Imperfect, not too bad, not ready for prime time, but still the body of work is impressive if I don’t point too closely. I see cherry blossoms and don’t seek to find a single perfect bloom.

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Looking overall, I see Colleen’s single work in a different light today. It recalls a vascular surgeon named D.r Goetz whom imparted to a raw intern (me), “You can do an operation a hundred times and never know it. Or, you can do it once and it is yours. You choose.”


Miskates

I think each and every basket has a mistake. It goes with the territory. After you are done, there’s no back, of course. On this occasion I actually backtracked to the beginning. It was successful. Sometimes you gotta know when to give it up. Starting over is tedious and akin to a defeat. I hate losing. But who’s the loser? So, it was much better to start than to see this through to an unhappy end.


Patterns

After my initial spate of baskets, no two have been alike. And the pattern I can create from color… it’s limited by the lack of color weaving cane. But pattern is precise and appealing. I’m much better with pattern than free form creation that drawing or painting requires. No one ever accused me of being subtle. Contrast, bold contrast, that appeals to me.


Tight

I’ve been doing (weaving) baskets for a bit more than a year. Yes, they call it “weaving.” And each and every teacher has said to me, “pack, your weaving needs to be tighter.” Ha! Working with a mold, my second try was tight. And my third was so tight I couldn’t get the mold off. It’s a struggle. Darn! I have to back off. Who knew I was tight? Better? I’m getting better. I suppose I should put in a word about keeping your sh*t together? Nah!?


Start here

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Since I retired I have taken up spinning; yes, as in “Rapunzel.” I have begun basket making; yes, as in that “throw away/easy ‘A’ class in pre-med in college. I doubt my college ever offered basket making. And I apologize to all who make baskets. Indeed, there is a range of people of extraordinary skill down to amateurs (like me). But, on occasion, I can crank out something visually captivating. Mistakes? You bet! To the viewer’s eye, not so fast. It’s picky to look for mistakes. It’s equally hard for me not to see my own (mistakes). Colleen weaves (gifts). At this pace it’s gonna be hard to find display space, alas, (gifts too).


Second

Nantucket basket. They appeal. There’s a certain geometric architectural preciseness about them. I’m not there yet. And, I’m experimenting. I never met a rule I didn’t try to break. So, my baskets will be uniquely me. I’m not ready for prime time. Real crafted Nantucket baskets are expensive. And the Chinese made ones are mere dollars. Mass produce for cheap labor, but don’t denigrate the quality. It’s good. But the whole industry suffers for cheap product no matter how well made. Meanwhile, my second basket has a pattern. I’m totally lost as far as making and designing a pattern. It’s my first solo without instruction. Hey! Raw material to product, it’s quite a career change for me.