The Burning Bowl and the Dead Bird

We had a burning bowl ceremony the last church service of 2013, writing things to be rid of in the New Year on slips of paper and burning them. Afterwards I told the minister, “I think I wrote the same thing last year.”

My paper said “Struggling with time.”

Starting my fifth year of retirement, I’m finding a rhythm. Despite wanting to sleep late every day at first, now I find I’m more productive waking to soft classical music at a reasonable 7:30 (I rose at 5 when I was working). It’s nice to putter around making coffee, writing morning pages or meditating, rather than racing to make up for time spent in bed.

But there never will be enough hours in the day, and I’m still frustrated by my lack of focus. In addition to all I’m already doing—poetry, writing, knitting, time with grandchildren, household projects—there are other pursuits I want to try.

Quilting has long attracted me, but sitting at a sewing machine seems too much like work. I considered hand quilting, which has more appeal. But one day I was trying to figure a way to repurpose a pair of guest towels given to me years ago, and realized I want to try hand appliqué! Found one book at the library but have only flipped through it.

Would they make tiny pillows?

Would they make tiny pillows?

One day on a walk I was puzzling through this dilemma of too many interests and too little time. Encountering a dead bird—or its parts, the head being separated from the body—


Bird head

Already works of art

Already works of art

I thought about an artist who paints dead animals, tiny bird bones and the like. That reminded me of a blogger who highlights cutting-edge embroiderers, one of whom stitches birds.

Embroidery by Chloe Giordano from The Smallest Forest blog.

Embroidery by Chloe Giordano from The Smallest Forest blog.

All this came together in my mind, saying “Go back to the beginning. Go back to drawing. Just draw for a while, and don’t plan what to do after that.” I took many drawing classes toward my art degree. The teachers said “Draw every day.”

When I cleaned up my studio/office in last month I joked that someone in this house ought to take up art, because we have supplies: pencil, charcoal, pastel, oil pastel, markers, water-color pencils, paint, ink, and appropriate paper. My husband gave me a book, “The Yoga of Drawing,” that I’ve barely cracked. That would be a start, maybe with the dead bird.

So that is my “plan.” But: there are knitting and sewing projects pending; always newspapers, books and magazines to read; a Netflix movie growing mold; poems needing revision, and I should be submitting poems for publication. A stack of old family albums to scan and return to my niece. Book ideas. Recipes to try. Most important, grand-kid time.

An elderly friend once said, when I told her I was overwhelmed during a move, “Be thankful you have too much to do.” She is gone now.


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