Monday, October 29

A Coming Storm

We're quietly waiting for a hurricane/nor'easter to hit. I went out shopping this afternoon for my daughter's birthday presents and the stores were mobbed with people fearing the end of the world. I don't have to work for the next two days since my college and my elementary school have both preemptively closed for an emergency. I'm seeing these 2 days as a blessing- time just to sit at home and stitch (as long as our roof doesn't blow away!) I have a lot to get done in a very short time.
The storm looks scary and we visualize the worst case scenarios. We just have to trust that things will turn out ok. I feel very lucky right now that my family is all home together for once and we'll weather the storm.

Sunday, October 21

Home Stretch

 This beautiful bundle of fabric is 8 months of  work and has become 100 feet in length! It transitions in color from black to gray to white to pastel to bright colors thanks to all the donations of precious fabric given to me by members of the Philadelphia Cathedral. I debated about whether it was complete or not as I stitched the last piece of bright fabric on the end.
 I'm a sucker for hard work, so I decided to add embroidered text to it... After looking through the Book of Common Prayer, I settled on the 23rd Psalm. Since it's a piece representing grief and mourning, it seemed appropriate to include the words that have given so many people comfort in their loss. As I go though, certain phrases from hymns and psalms keep popping in my head, so I'm adding them in smaller text between stanzas, under the main text.
Yesterday I bought the binding tape I'll need for the edges. It's hard to believe this piece is almost finished! It seems massive! It will be revealed at the 10:00 Sunday service at the Philadelphia Cathedral on November 4th in honor of All Soul's Day. It will connect us as we name those we've lost. The Dean has suggested I speak about the work in lieu of a sermon that day too, so I hope you'll join us for the culmination of this project.

Tuesday, October 2

Morris Arboretum: opening the senses

I had the luxury of a mid-week day off last week. I suppose I could have cleaned the house or finished some grading, but instead I decided to spend the day with my mother exploring a place neither of us had ever visited before. (the heart opens... how seldom do I spend time with my extended family anymore?)
 Morris Arboretum is on the far Northwestern edges of Philadelphia, a long drive out Germantown Avenue and past Chestnut Hill. The arboretum is run by the University of Pennsylvania, and it lies along the Wissahickon upstream from Fairmount Park. Near the visitor center is a fairly new treehouse installation. It extends the hilltop level out into the trees so suddenly you have the perspective of a bird or squirrel. A rope net invites children to climb like a squirrel, and two megaphones on pulleys can be brought to ear level to hear the sounds of the forest like an animal. (The body and the ears open.... to experience the environment in a totally new perspective.)
 We strolled along the paved paths, and I marvel at how many plant names my mother knows. We delighted in flowers still blooming at the end of September, bees and butterflies gathering the last bits of pollen and nectar. We stopped to stroke and smell fresh herbs- mint and rosemary. (The nose opens... appreciating the differences between plant varieties and how different forest air is from city air)
 A lawn opens up, sloping down hill. An arrangement of large steel sculptures stand at the top. Its negative spaces frame new views. (the eyes open... seeing different perspectives, noting contrasting colors and surfaces)
 Along an oak-lined lane the path becomes criss-crossed with painted lines radiating from one of the trees. An artist has illustrated how expansive the hidden parts of the tree are underground. The roots reach out far, far beyond the trunk and even farther than the canopy. (the mind opens.... what else is hidden from view?)
We ended up in the fernery greenhouse, almost passed by. It's an escape into a primordial tropical rainforest. The air was warm and moist, the sound of water dripping and trickling, and everywhere incredibly GREEN.
I love living in the city, but I think it dulls the senses. I need to get out into nature to enliven them again.