Just before joining the circle of Kindred Spirits at 9:00 am Texas time, I read Jude’s latest post with its ark-like house/boat.

The poignant strains of the Indigo Girls’ Wood Song filled my head, the words long ago committed to memory.

And I remembered.

In 1997 I had given two weeks notice to Colonial Williamsburg in order to accept a job as a middle school librarian.

To say it was a huge leap of faith would be an understatement. I was taking a 20% pay cut, leaving an 18-year career, a hard-earned title, and a newly-acquired corner office.

Each morning as I pointed the bow of my trusty Dodge Caravan into the rising sun, I queued up the Indigo Girls and cranked the volume. Singing at the top of my lungs, I played the Wood Song … over and over.

I had dared to trust my gut … the inner voice that led me to act … the fierce certainty that overcame my doubts about walking away from the security of the known.

The next twelve years were spent in a middle school, a high school, and an elementary school. They led to the Eastern Virginia Writing Project, through which I became an adjunct instructor at the College of William & Mary.

I never looked back.

If only it could be so easy now … to quit the chaos and dysfunction of this troubled world … to walk away, singing … and begin anew.

What is left to trust?

Simply this: love, family, community, truth, and hope … a righteous hope that goodness will ultimately prevail. And the realization that it has always been darkest before the dawn.

Good news, bad news

Bad news first: we played Travel Roulette one time too many and both came down with mild cases of Covid (thank goodness for being fully vaxxed and boosted).

Fortunately, it didn’t happen until after Logan’s graduation and our week at the beach … once we were safe in Missouri in the capable hands of our newly minted RN daughter, who passed her boards on the first try.

So we extended our stay in St Louis (thank you to Southwest for no-fee rescheduling), while quarantining in the guest room. And are now back in Texas, where I’m impatiently waiting for my sense of taste and smell to recover.

More good news: my daughters know how much I love books, especially books about stitch and dye …

And I’m glad I brought Deb cloth and threads to the beach, where I stitched patches of color …

in between seeking and finding inspiration on my beach walks …

More stitching and stories to come … soon.

Etched in stone

Please note: I don’t know why, but some comments have been landing in the WordPress spam folder recently. I usually check it each morning, but if you send a comment that does not immediately appear, feel free to email me and I’ll check for it right away.

Back in 2018, Don and I ventured out to the La Cieneguilla petroglyph site outside Santa Fe. It was (and likely still is), easy to miss. A scrabbled parking lot with a BLM sign (Bureau of Land Management) and a questionable path up to a jumble of rocks.

It wasn’t at all clear that we were in the right place, until it was. The markings on the rocks were at once both easy and hard to see. The figures chipped into rock varnish untold years ago … themselves overlaid by more rock varnish. There was no signage or explanatory text that I recall. It was silent under the intense sun and blue sky.

This cloth is a memento of that experience …

Stitched in good faith, the intended meanings of the motifs I found online were sometimes puzzling, others seemingly clear as day …

After the brief trial posted here, I pieced together the rest of the pillow top with Malka’s hand-dyed cloth and Deb’s hand-dyed thread during the harrowing week after the Uvalde shooting …

The simple repetition of Kantha stitches in the green border and mock herringbone along the raw edges of the rocky patches accompanied the endless news pouring out of the television.

In my mind, I revisited the two years from 1999-2001 that I spent as a high school librarian following the Columbine massacre. Two years feeling like I had a target painted on my chest.

Then the eight years following 9/11, spent in an elementary school library where we held annual intruder drills.

And finally the three years spent in a vast university library contemplating how to apply the active shooter drills to my corner of the endless maze of shelving, each of the seven floors the size of a football field. Not to mention the colleague who so disturbed me that I actually went to my boss, who sent me to the administration, who said there was nothing they could do for my foreboding sense that he could be a shooter.

Stitched the memory of unrealized fear into the cloth. Surely this is a form of trauma … one inflicted on every teacher, student and staff member every single time a drill is called. A trauma that underlies the lives of millions, hidden but no less real …

As the immediacy of Uvalde began to wane, I returned to the online petroglyph images and sketched them onto the cloth rock patches with water eraseable ink. Then chose to use the thread Deb calls “the devil’s whiskers” … a silk/cotton blend with a mind of its own that turns out to work much better as a single strand than it does doubled …

And so it went, in Jude’s split backstitch and thread beads, not letting myself undo any stitches, imagining how an errant mark on stone could not have been undone, wondering if some of the more inscrutable marks might have been figures in the making that were abandoned for want of an “eraser” …

adjusting to the ever-shifting lengths of thread, until all the motifs were wrought and the ink washed away …

It will be a while until I make a pillow back … it is enough as it is for now.