Etched in stone

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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.

Good times

I’m making this pillow top up as I go …

Which is to say, what else is new? Or more like “same old, same old,” as these were inspired by ancient petroglyphs from New Mexico …

In other news, we got to see Parker and her best friend in their first recital …

Last, but not least: G’s latest baseball win and P’s latest painting (which PopPop deemed worthy of framing) …

So yeah, it’s all good.

Always we begin again

I wanted to do another pillow cover, this time with something I don’t usually use: all new cloth from Stitch in Dye, gifted by Meg last Christmas. The colors were reminiscent of New Mexico, so I tore strips and patches and began to baste them down with thoughts of the petroglyphs at La Cieneguilla in Santa Fe …

But it looked too orderly compared to the real thing …

So I started over …

And will see where it takes me …