Friday, December 30, 2011

Sew glad you asked

Dear Blog Followers, all nine of you,

You have not heard from me for weeks now, though there have been several blog worthy events. There was the snowy morning I taught eleven kids at Tesuque Pueblo day school when their teacher, Elisabeth, told me one boy wrote, "I used to be an Indian, but now I am an Ipod." Elisabeth Keller took a class of mine at age 17 and does wonderful poetry with her bright eyed kids.  I always feel that when a teacher really has poetry in the curriculum an angel gets bifocals, or an Ipad in this case. We had a brisk and brilliant poetry morning.

Then there was going to Indian dances at both Tesuque on Christmas, with my friend Tobie, here on sabbatical, and by myself to the Turtle Dance at Okay Owingeh which I do almost every single year.
I look down the row of 130 men and it just seems to stretch into another time zone, say 500 years ago.
A friend was saying she at first felt like a voyeur at the dances and now feels comfortable.  I know what she means, I used to feel outside, and now I don't feel separate.  I am in my role as a white haired woman in a black coat, hands in pocket, looking up for an eagle because there was one last year or the one before.  I fit in the picture, am at home, not that I am part of another culture, but that I populate this place after nearly 38 years standing here on December 26th, year by year. Like the Chanukah candles I light, the Charlie Brown tree I decorated that makes my family laugh, and the applesauce I make for the latkes every year, it's my holiday tradition.

I did lots of great things this season, made me glad to be alive here, every day, glad.  But why you didn't hear from me is another story.  It's sew so.  It's so sew.  I almost hear the word cute forming on your lips.
What captured my creative energy this year was sewing.  I had to make two quilt squares for the twins, Jessica Knight's third and fourth child.  Jessica who I have known since she was 8 months.  Jessica whose kids have the hippiest names of all of us, Zen, Rain, Zia, and Rey. And, and, and, she lives on an army base in Florida, and her husband is in Afghanistan. I ask, any Jews on the base, and she shakes her head.  So I make her two quilt squares for our fabulous Chimayo Baby Quilt tradition,  36 years at least and as many baby quilts deep.

And then I couldn't stop sewing.  I still can't,  My table is never clear enough to eat breakfast, especially when Michael was gone eight days, and I was in a sewing frenzy.  I wanted to leave my Mayor, David Coss, and my Santa Fe Arts Commission folks, Sabrina, Debra, Julie, and Rod with a Poet Laureate gift they wouldn't forget.  So I had the idea of poem holders, a poem typed into a potholder.  It has long been my idea to merge poetry with daily life, make it the bread and hot soup poet Etheridge Knight says it is.

One thing leads to another.  I have a lot of friends.  I lived here so long and I am what they call in my home-town of Pittsburgh, "a people person."  In other circles they may call it a best friend slut, co-dependent, desperate, driven, a can't say no sort of people person.  I keep thinking of another person I love and haul out the sewing machine.  I was keeping track up to about 35, then I lost count. Do I get to write off fabric as a business expense?  Does the fabric store know that I am using their wares for poetic purposes?  Dare I tell them?  It's a tricky business and please don't ask for one, I am running out of my good nerves into some other sort of nerves.  I love you, I swear I do.  I just haven't written a blog, or a poem, or a thank-you note to my family. Forget cooking.  I have been sewing.  Anything that comes between me and my potholders is a great inconvenience and annoyance.  I must get a grip.

So yesterday was the culmination of sewing when we made two quilts with a cast of I don't want to count how many.  It went well. The kids didn't melt down until about eight hours in.  I bet this is our 38th and 39th quilt all in all.  Potholders, at least that many.  But I didn't count the row of Turtle dancers, trying not to be so OCD, and I am not counting my potholders, quilts, best friends, second best friends, poems, or days left as poet laureate.  I am not counting the 167 more PL days, you may be, but who is counting? Not I.  I am too busy sewing.

Sample poem for  Poem Holder:

How was the holy born?
Inside my place, part heart
and part angel. Air then air
then time. Watched bread and
shadows fell from winged ones,
over the clothesline, whip, whip.
I stayed even-keeled a day
or so. That was the holy.