The snow has fallen.

The snow has fallen. Outside it’s freezing i suppose.

And I too am frozen. Not knowing how to go on.

Feeling completely and utterly vulnerable.

DSC02637

Snowed In, Locked In

But in the cold, the snow also shows so much beauty still.

How do I make something beautiful,

from all that is frozen, feeling ill?

I’ll sit inside and wait for the light to come

and I’ll put the kettle on, and look outside

looking from the inside. looking at the snow

from here it looks not cold and freezing but

simply beautiful.

 

Advertisements

Abstract rhythms//cross stitch

What a word. rhythms. Perhaps one of the words that have the least a,e,o,u, i or y’s. yes, I do not know the word for these subdivisions of letters. In dutch they are called klinkers or medeklinkers: basically sounds or added sounds (probably a terrible translation but these words are really confusing dutch to me). Anyways, a new blog post. Yet another one about cross-stitch. Why? Because I found myself making more patterns and projects, and I find myself in uncharted territory. Or at least, that’s how I feel about it now. I wouldn’t say that I am a truly original artist, but the history of cross-stitch and how I use it in my work is quite interesting to look at (I think). So how do we know cross-stitch? it seems to be everywhere nowadays. Of course, some of the traditional applications are the samplers: in dutch the ‘letterlappen or merklappen’ the sometimes huge textiles on which often very young children learned to stitch the letters of the alphabet to be able to mark their (future) linens to mark them as their own. In addition to letters, there were numbers, borders and some images such as trees, humans, and animals.

The other kind of cross-stitch you might now is now easily explained as an enlarged computer image: the image is build up out of pixels, or in this case crosses, cross-stitched. A third option is the more traditional more abstract ways of applying cross stitch: for instance, the folklore patterns that were used in traditional garments which often are symbols for things important to man and that particular culture. In these certain colors are often required, or the lack of it as in traditional blackwork.

Now I must confess: Growing up I thought samples and the pixel images to be very very boring. Basically, I thought: why would you first go to the trouble of making a sampler if you could just make an actual project, such as stitch a little poem (the lazy fox jumped over the sleeping dog, anyone?). Neither was I, or am I very interested in making ‘realistic’ images of things and objects via cross-stitch: I think it is loads of work and the medium does not add enough to justify this work. Personally, I am mostly drawn to the more traditional folklore patterns and blackwork.These ancient patterns are good at what I called in the title the post ‘abstract’ rhythms. Nevertheless, they are very static, these patterns repeat them selfs, and even though I find them very pleasing to the eye, they do not leave very much room for creative expression.

I love the cross-stitch medium, for the same reason I find the images made by cross-stitch very boring: you only have crosses and a grid, on which you have little freedom. However, as in most creative endeavors restrictions give unknown opportunities. In my cross-stitches, I like to explore the idea of abstract rhythms. As seen in the previous post with cross-stitch you can repeat a pattern, you can turn it, copy it wholly or half, you can add an extra color, or take one away. In that way, you create some kind of living creation. You still start with a ‘fixed’ pattern, but you don’t have to keep it that way. You can ‘abuse’ the basic principles of cross-stitch: rhythm and abstraction.

 

To the bone

For a long time I listened to the band skillet a lot- My brother had one of their albums, and some days I have to go back to that beauty of an album ‘Collide’.

There’s something deep inside
That keeps my faith alive
When all you can do
Is hide from the fear
That’s deep inside of you

The Same

The chaos of discovery

I choose this picture because I wanted to show water. Only then I saw the poetry: I Shall Not Feel What I Should Feel. By Laser 3.14

I need to read the same words

to disregard them but still feel their worth.

Their beauty and the dissonance that they cause

I need to say the same things. To tell the same

stories, to once again begin telling new ones.

I need the chaos and comfort of discovery

of detective work, recovery.

The cheesiness

of rhyming rhythm.

The slow-motion of

the water,

the words,

The silence.

I need the same.

The new.

To regognise myself.

Growing on apart – together

 

DSC01422

I don’t like cats. But because my friend likes cats and pink, this picture was taken. 

 

‘Growing on’ is not really a well known expression. When thinking of the title Iwas doubting between growing up and moving on. Yet, growing up has a lot of connotation to childhood, and though my argument for today has as well, I thought it to be too narrow of an expression. In another way, moving on sounded quite loaded to me- often when we are talking about moving on, we talk about moving beyond something negative. What I want to talk about today is about growing beyond something, and for that reason I choose the words growing on. This brings be to the second part of the title apart- together. Recently I connected with several ‘old friends’ from different parts of my life. For an afternoon or even a weekend I connected to people I do not connect to on a daily basis. We, in a way grew apart- no longer in the same classes or school, towns and cities have seperate places where we grow. Yet, all stuck in time we moved on, developing ourselves along the way.

 

DSC01646

Photographs are like old friends- you forget what happens but regognise yourself again. 

 

It always marveles me how little we change. To say it with the great words of the poets of coldplay ‘We Never Change, Do We?’. At the same time, we do grow on. In their video about ‘old friends‘ The School of Life suggest that even though we might not truly be friends with our old friends any more, or wouldn’t be again, we can still benefit of our contact with them because they remind us about previous versions of ourselves. Although intresting and relatable, I found the last few encounters with old friends, and one in the years before much more valuable and hopeful. Moving on and developing our intrests, skills and experiences I now had more in common with these people than before. It strikes me as truly marvelous that despite not having spend time with people that much, the reasons of connection turn out to be more eleborate than previously expected. Appearantly we intuitively connect to like-minded people, so that when we grow although we are apart, we grow towards the same direction.

 

DSC01893

Stuff are like old friends- although you lose and add some, move to a new house, they stay familiar. 

 

This road is my life. – The way home

DSC01459When we talk about roads in our life we often talk about the decisions we made, the paths we have chosen in our convictions, relationships or careers. ‘Road’ or ‘Path’ are two short words that as metaphors can easily describe the complexity of our lives. These words suggest a direction, movement, a restricted area where we move along that is surrounded by things that are not the road itself, but rather the things we discover alongside our path. At the same time, the word road and path can mean something very specific: a particular road or path, or ‘our road’ compromised of many different paths along the journey. Even though the words path and roads are wonderful metaphors, today I want to talk about a more practical side of these words.

DSC01632

Throughout different stages of my life, I have walked many roads and paths, and not just the metaphorical ones. The path to my elementary school, ‘the chestnut lane’, my road to the bus and the bus ride to my high school. The different road to a different bus stop when we moved house. From that time on I remember for the first time describing a certain journey as ‘this is my life’. Being a child from a broken home ‘a.k.a. cycling from one part of town to the other with lots of stuff’ I felt that these moments on my bike from one house to another were a practical and metaphorical image of what my life was like. Yet not only the way from my moms to my dad’s house and the other way around, but as well the usual route with our dog felt like ‘my life’. I thought of how sharing this particular walk, a line on a map would be a very intimate activity- sharing a road where I had so many different thoughts.

DSC01653

As life moved on, I have as well moved houses, no longer in a small town but a big city, the roads have changed, but the concept has not. Every place where I move I have journeys that I take every day. Small pilgrimages from home to work, home to school, home to a church. No matter how often I take these roads, every time they evoke something similar and new to me. I find myself thinking of a certain song when I pass a certain part of my way to high school because I listened to it often there. Or I think of a conversation I had. It is curious how physical roads can bring your mind to things that you would not think of when you wouldn’t be there. The same stories, the same words drift in my mind.

DSC02257

Truth be told I still walk most of these roads alone, like a pilgrimage I might meet people on the way, and we might walk together, yet I do not truly share my path. The feeling that has been build up from the walking the same path over and over again cannot be transferred by walking the road together once. One of my philosophy teachers once told about Heidegger’s concept that language was like the home in which we live. A powerful and beautiful metaphor,  I think. I would like to suggest something else: Our life is the road that we take.

 

The Bigger Pictures- Lost in the details

 

DSC02535

Lost- one of my favorite lyrics incorporating the word ‘lost’ is from Newton Faulkners ‘Lullaby’, From his first album of which he made a 45 minutes video where he plays all the songs in his house- lullaby is the last one. The lyrics tell ‘If you’re not lost, I guess that makes you found. The last few weeks with shortening days and no clear goals I must say I felt a little lost.  At a point, I actually watched part of the first episode of lost- because I did not know what to do with myself. This week is a first of very structured weeks- work early in the morning- afternoon and evening off- though I must say these evenings are easily filled.

DSC02534

Today, however, I do not feel lost- inspired by a roommate who spends her last days before work starts again with improving the house, I finally also executed some of my plans. cleaning out my room and throwing out things makes it possible once again to see some order in the chaos. I even re-arranged some of my work on the wall, and to keep this blog visually interesting I took some photos.

DSC02537

Everything might still seem a little bit chaotic, but lots of things, including me, are no longer lost. I guess that makes me found.

DSC02538

 

Taking care of kids as tool for becoming an adult

I haven’t written on this blog for a long time- somehow through everything, I thought about writing but did not actually do any of it. However, as I asked a friend who wanted to write some years ago if he was writing he said- if thinking is writing, then yes. Interestingly enough being a weird kind of extrovert who thinks while talking, for me, I have been writing, not even in thoughts but in conversations. Conversations with like-minded and different people, people from my age, older and younger much younger.

kids

Abandoned kids stuff makes for great compostions 🙂

These days I spend my morning babysitting some wonderful kids. It is so interesting to see the parallels between grown-ups and children, and how your role as a person changes when you are the designated adult. Spending my time with the kids both makes me feel younger and more grown up, which is an interesting dynamic. As the designated adult I monitor and coach the children- and at the same time, I think of games or lego constructions more playful than some of the kids. Oh, the joy.

Today the constant ‘I understand, but these are the rules’ and ‘lets now do this because this is what we need to do’, seeped into my unorganized grown-up life. I found myself in the first hour of being home talking to myself as I do to the kids- exhausted as I was -I’d rather just not do anything, but I nudged myself in the right direction like I would the kids.  ‘I understand, but lets just now put everything in the washing machine, and then later in a bit, you can have some tea, and some sweets’, but first, do your chores. Perhaps, after a few months of making sure the kids do and don’t do the right and wrong things, I might even find myself being  a mature grown up 🙂 🙂 .

You should do Death well.

It is always a little strange to credit or quote yourself. To claim something as your own idea or philosophy. I will do it now though. One of my ideas and philosophies in life is “that you should do death well”.

 

vlag westertoren

A colleague took a photo of the Flag on the West Tower

 

Yesterday morning it became clear that the mayor of Amsterdam had passed away. We had known that he’d been sick for months, and he also recently announced he abdicated. The death was no surprise. Yesterday morning I learned the news because a friend posted: ‘An Amsterdammer has passed away’. The rest of the day was quite emotional, even though I didn’t really know a lot about the man, it was touching to see, every hour that I would climb up the tower where I work that more flags where hanging half post, acknowledging the loss. Soon people would come into the tower almost angry demanding to know why we did not have a flag yet. And soon there was someone to indeed put a flag on the tower. What does one do when someone passes away? With public figures like our mayor, loved like our mayor, the memories are recounted. The documentaries shown again, the friends interviewed, and I, who knew little of the men except for his name, and his illness, investigated. It is strange how when celebrities die you all the sudden get to know them more than you did when they are alive. Honestly, since it is such a tradition to show an elaborate documentary on television when someone passes away I once wrongly assumed that a person in a documentary had died.

Going trough the material to be found online about this man it is almost strange to think he has passed. Getting to know the things he did and said, and being so insprired by them, gives more a feeling of making a new friend than saying goodbye. In my personal life, with different losses, I have also experienced this, although different as well. Death for me causes a clear vision on the life of the one who has passed. And, how I loved them. Death, as final as it is has taken another persons life, and at the same time, I feel, I should do death well. There is no better moment than death to say to life: “You know what, let’s just look for a second what you brought us”. The emotional rollercoaster, however unexpected, is something I unapoligatically step into. Life might have a tendency to get in the way, but death breaks open the road, to truly look at what it means to be alive. Doing death well means taking all time for all what’s going on- the love, the despereration, the crying.  the writing. The watching, the looking and the thankfulness for life- the hope that the life and the vitality of this person brings beyond death. The strange solemness of grief.

The being set back and eyes opened and filled with tears, a heart with a crack so the lights comes through. There is not such a thing as no grief- and with grief I mean any emotion inspired by death and loss- there is only post-phoned grief. One of the things i greatly apriciate in life is being emotionally sabotaged, lack of sleep, for instance, sometimes helps me connect to feelings that i could otherwise not reach. Death is the ultimate emotional sabotage- the very essence of life unhinged- you might as well take advantage of it. You might as well do death well.

The being set back and eyes opened and filled with tears, a heart with a crack so the light comes through. There is not such a thing as no grief- and with grief, I mean any emotion inspired by death and loss, there is only postponed grief. One of the things I greatly appreciate in life is being emotionally sabotaged, lack of sleep, for instance, sometimes helps me connect to feelings that I could otherwise not reach. Death is the ultimate emotional sabotage- the very essence of life unhinged- you might as well take advantage of it. You might as well do death well.

Beyond Imagination.

DSC02182

Every once in a while, a day is so full of inexplicable wonderous moments, that you have to stand still record it, so you can save it for later.  a little bit of sunshine for a later day. The wondrous moment when you find yourself trying to climb out of your room over strangers stuff and have a dear fictional character lend you the hand to climb into your house that you agreed could be confiscated by strangers for a day. The moment that you stand next to a stranger, both locking your bike, feeling strangely connected though there is no conversation and never will be…

The moment a colleague guesses wildly and guesses right about who was in your house that day-  The moment that you realise that the ultimate safe and scary childhood figure, men with white beard and red dress is looking at you- silently. Seeing and hearing someone you have been listening to for ten years, realising it is all you love (shout out to Newton Faulkner :)). The empowering feeling of going somewhere alone.

Being cut off from wifi which allows you to do in an hour what you haven’t been able to do for more than a week. The moment you are reminiscing and travelling on auto-pilot realising you are somewhere you haven’t been before, not entirely sure how you got there. the moment you find a note on your laptop, realising a guy that you kind of liked went into your bedroom, and wrote his number name and that he will probably be back next week. the moment you write your reality as were it fiction, realising how deliciously creepy some of the statements sound.

Now. Time for bed. Off you go!