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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson

The word "lyrical" is over-used in book reviews; every time there is an even slightly pretty sentence, it seems, the word is plastered all over reviews and and dust jackets and those "praise" quotations publishers love to pepper the book with. The result is that the word becomes meaningless.

Which is a shame, because every once in a while an author really does merit its use. Reading Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson, I could not think of a better word to describe her writing.

And every evening would bring its familiar strangeness, and crickets would sing the whole night long, under her windows and in every part of the black wilderness that stretched away from Fingerbone on either side. And she would feel that sharp loneliness she had felt every long evening since she was a child. It was the kind of loneliness that made clocks seem slow and loud and made voices sound like voices across water. Old women she had known, first her grandmother and then her mother, rocked on their porches in the evenings and sang sad songs, and did not wish to be spoken to.
Her sentences are absolutely gorgeous. Reading them feels like cold liquid washing over me.

Loneliness is an absolute discovery. When one looks from inside at a lighted window, or looks from above at the lake, one sees the image of oneself in a lighted room, the image of oneself among trees and sky -- the deception is obvious, but flattering all the same. When one looks from the darkness into the light, however, ones sees all the difference between here and there, this and that. Perhaps all unsheltered people are angry in their hearts, and would like to break the rook, spine, and ribs, and smash the windows and flood the floor and spindle the curtains and bloat the couch.

What is thought, after all, what is dreaming, but swim and flow, and the images they seem to animate? The images are the worst of it. It would be terrible to stand outside in the dark and watch a woman in a lighted room studying her face in a window, and to throw a stone at her, shattering the glass, and then to watch the window knit itself up again and the bright bits of lip and throat and hair piece themselves seamlessly again into that unknown, indifferent woman. . . . And here we find our great affinity with water, for like reflections on water our thoughts will suffer no changing shock, no permanent displacement. . . . I think it must have been my mother's plan to rupture this bright surface, to sail beneath it into very blackness, but here she was, wherever my eyes fell, and behind my eyes, whole and in fragments, a thousand images of one gesture, never dispelled but rising always, inevitably, like a drowned woman.

Friday, September 11, 2009

A Lazy Post

I've made little progress on my books or crafts in the last month because of houseguests, temper tantrums, new schools, doctors' appointments, forms (so sick of forms), and bad news (it's amazing I was able to finish the quilts below). I don't think the next 6 weeks will be much better, either, because I am starting a 6 week class with tons of required reading. So to avoid completely neglecting my blog, I decided to take pictures of some embroidery I did years ago. I had lots of little bits of floral embroidery with no idea what to do with them, until I found a frame at Target with multiple openings.

(The lighting wasn't great.)

My favorite:

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Things I Learned Making the Very Hungry Caterpillar Quilt

1. While cutting up a panel allows for more creativity and interest in the layout of the quilt, it requires a lot of math to put together blocks with measurements like 3.75 by 21.5 and 19.25 by 22.

2. Appliqueing shapes onto blocks is a lot harder when you've already sewn all the blocks together.

3. I need a design wall.

4. A quilt this size is too big for me to meander-quilt well. Even with the excess quilt rolled up tightly, my hands were simply too small to grip the quilt securely enough and still be able to move it around.

5. It is quite tricky finding the proper balance between the speed of the needle and the speed with which I move the quilt around.

6. Quilt stitches which vary from a millimeter to a quarter of an inch are not good.

7. Meander quilting is scary.

8. Five-year-olds do not care about nos. 1-7.