Thursday, November 30

working, progressing

[more travel wallets in progress]

[new mini pochettes à la française]

[african printed fabric + velvet ribbon for a shirt]
[yarn brian sent me for my birthday]

* * *

Special love out to eye-on-the-sparrow Lisa today for the TWO Tord garlands (and Tord giftcard thing, too! and the lovely card) I found in my mailbox. I haven't opened the other package yet; I'm saving it for Christmas, if that is all right with you. But I was smiling all afternoon because of you, so thank you.

* * *

Wednesday, November 29

what ten minutes in fresh air will do

These days the light is going down, and the basilica I live behind blocks it. Inside my apartment it is almost always a winter 4 o'clock. Makes work happen more slowly, because I am sleepy without the sun. So I went out to get groceries and now I feel refreshed and ready to work again. This is actually me yesterday, and I was very happy with this outfit--I tend to wear a lot of black and grey and it was nice to put on that yellow silk petticoat and feel a little sunny.
Finished another travel wallet. These things take me forever--but tonight I want to finish another I am about 1/3 done with, and also do some new bags I had an idea for. With little Frenchinesses! So on to that, I suppose.

I've seen fabric around lately with rulers or measuring tapes on it. Where's it from? Is it Japanese? Available online? I'm hankering for it something awful.


And--this is a bit gothic to leave off with, but this is a public housing building here that burned down a while ago. I have to walk by it to go to the Social Security office, and it haunts me. Not scarily. I mean I feel attracted to it. Holding something like this in my mind while I walk along the cobblestone streets here keeps me tied to the half of the world that isn't picturesque, but is still beautiful.

ps: No-Coast in 3 days! Go see boiled art, UNIFORMstudio, and milkypop, along with loads of other handmakers!

pps: lately, I have really been enjoying the elegant, spare, and precise entries over at smallhands. Also love the fact that she quotes e.e. cummings in her banner.

Tuesday, November 28


[making paper cranes with my students]
[plastic star lights from IKEA in dijon]

* * *

[pretty passementarie from strasbourg]
[feeling like christmas is coming]

* * *

[inspiration + straw ornament]
[weekly magazine swap]

* * *

[having thanksgiving with the other english teachers tonight]
[making tiny pumpkin pies in my toaster oven]
[feeling closer to home by the sweet words of you all]

* * *

[happy plans for my shop re-opening]
[emails + letters from my friends + family]
[watching the last of the no-coast preparations take place]

x.o. x.o.

Sunday, November 26

still got it.

I thought maybe I had lost the touch, that I'd forgotten how to make things, or, worse, how to take pleasure in making them. I was wrong. Luckily. 'Lucky' seems to be the word of my life these days. I do feel really, really lucky.
This is a travel wallet like mine for my dear friend Anne, who has left France for a month to work in Spain. It is her first time living away from home and away from her boyfriend, so she was feeling apprehensive. How well I understand that apprehension! So I made her this, because pretty things always make it easier for me to be away from home.

So much to say. So much to do. I went to Strasbourg this weekend, to a marché de noël (Christmas Market) that has been there since the 12th century! I found the most wonderful things. Can't wait to show you.

And--I'm opening my shop up again! Just for a little bit, and beginning on 12/2, so orders will ship in time for Christmas. Hoping to have two or three travel wallets in there. See you soon.


Thursday, November 23

for dappled things

Lucky Life

Gerald Stern

Lucky life isn't one long string of horrors
and there are moments of peace, and pleasure, as I lie in between the blows.
Lucky I don't have to wake up in Phillipsburg, New Jersey,
on the hill overlooking Union Square or the hill overlooking
Kuebler Brewery or the hill overlooking SS. Philip and James
but have my own hills and my own vistas to come back to.

Each year I go down to the island I add
one more year to the darkness;
and though I sit up with my dear friends
trying to separate the one year from the other,
this one from the last, that one from the former,
another from another,
after a while they all get lumped together,
the year we walked to Holgate,
the year our shoes got washed away,
the year it rained,
the year my tooth brought misery to us all.

This year was a crisis. I knew it when we pulled
the car onto the sand and looked for the key.
I knew it when we walked up the outside steps
and opened the hot icebox and began the struggle
with swollen drawers and I knew it when we laid out
the sheets and separated the clothes into piles
and I knew it when we made our first rush onto
the beach and I knew it when we finally sat
on the porch with coffee cups shaking in our hands.

My dream is I'm walking through Phillipsburg, New Jersey,
and I'm lost on South Main Street. I am trying to tell,
by memory, which statue of Christopher Columbus
I have to look for, the one with him slumped over
and lost in weariness or the one with him
vaguely guiding the way with a cross and globe in
one hand and a compass in the other.
My dream is I'm in the Eagle Hotel on Chamber Street
sitting at the oak bar, listening to two
obese veterans discussing Hawaii in 1942,
and reading the funny signs over the bottles.

My dream is I sleep upstairs over the honey locust
and sit on the side porch overlooking the stone culvert
with a whole new set of friends, mostly old and humorless.

Dear waves, what will you do for me this year?
Will you drown out my scream?
Will you let me rise through the fog?
Will you fill me with that old salt feeling?
Will you let me take my long steps in the cold sand?
Will you let me lie on the white bedspread and study
the black clouds with the blue holes in them?
Will you let me see the rusty trees and the old monoplanes one more year?
Will you still let me draw my sacred figures
and move the kites and the birds around with my dark mind?

Lucky life is like this. Lucky there is an ocean to come to.
Lucky you can judge yourself in this water.
Lucky you can be purified over and over again.
Lucky there is the same cleanliness for everyone.
Lucky life is like that. Lucky life. Oh lucky life.
Oh lucky lucky life. Lucky life.



Blue sky after days of heavy rain. Packages from friends and strangers. My mom, dad, brothers, and this guy. For the understanding that the days here are dappled with dark and light but they are numbered and valuable. The new friends I've found, so far from home. The ones who write to me often, keep me from feeling homesick. All this sweetness. Thankful for all of it, even without the turkey.

Sunday, November 19

emily and charlotte (and jane)

I do love Jane Austen. I love her wit, her way with language. I am sure that we would have been friends, spending afternoons pretending to embroider but really swooning over Colin Firth and talking about all the blogs we read, the books we love, the neighbors we can hear through the walls.
Then there are days like this, when it is grey and threatening and clouds roll over what I like to think of as The Moors, but which my dictionary informs me are actually 'des fermes' or 'des champs.' And not Elysian ones. These are fields where anything could happen: a long-lost lover wandering over them, calling your name, could stumble to your hearth with a blazing fever. Or there could be a mysterious house fire in the middle of the night, wherein a certain Mr. R. loses an arm (but gains the hand of the girl in marriage). I like the adolescent possibility in the books by the Brontë sisters. I think Charlotte and Emily would sit and knit with me a while, but then stand up and grab my hand and make me run outside with them to look at the stars.
But eventually I'd like to come back in, and have something like this, a place that is warm and steady, with my books, and my dear friends around me. Listening to these guys. With my sewing machine and all the pretty things. Thank goodness there is room for Emily, Charlotte and Jane on my shelves.

Thursday, November 16

the roses, and how they are coming up all over

Probably it would have embarrassed the man from Orange who came today, totally unexpected, and, after forty minutes of tinkering, "c'est pas bon," and "je reviens, a tout à l'heure," created the miracle of internet in my apartment, if I had kissed him.

He did smell kind of meaty, though, so maybe better for both of us. Plus--large moustache. But I did tell him he is my favorite person in France. And he laughed.

And I found a desk, and set up my sewing machine. And found fruit crates for shelves. And talked about poetry with a class of girls who also advised me on where to find a bag I liked.

Some days the beautiful things are just behind the buildings, and then they appear, right when you need them. Thank goodness.

Monday, November 13

but then again

you know what this is
As Alison said, when I leave, I'll miss it here, too. And I will: it's already hard to imagine going a day without talking to the new friends I've made, and it's strange to think that I will be a fuzzy memory to the children of my friends. I will miss the way fog comes over the Doubs and fills up the town as though tucking it in for the night. I know I will miss the trains. And Paris, where I went for the day, the other day, how everything is near everything here. I walk everywhere. Today I walked through town and walked through the country to find a cycling shop. The air smelled like fires in fireplaces and rain, and it did rain a little, but I had my umbrella.
this is what it looked like today
And um, yes, I do indeed think I will miss thrift shopping here. I know it's not quite the same as, well, a river or my friends, but I have to say--I went with friends to EMMAUS in Dijon yesterday, and it was so, so neat. Found old buttons--mother of pearl, bakelite, plastic, metal, leather, wood, glass-- and embroidery floss and tiny rosettes for military wear, still on their card. And a patch that says FRANCE. And a blouse that fits perfectly, in soft cotton with embroidery and ribbons, from the 1920s, and a pair of PANTALOONS!! I couldn't believe my eyes. I'll wash them and then take a real photo.

yes, there is a lining; yes, it is apparently silver
So, silver linings everywhere. Internet in the apartment? Not so much. But soon.


Saturday, November 11

miss (+ing)

Finally finished the mitts for Zach, and a pair for Anne, too. Next: a knitted cushion cover in stripes. But knitting doesn't feel like making to me; it is what I do while I read or watch movies or talk on the phone or listen to music.

I miss being part of the blogging community. Miss reading + commenting, being read, receiving your comments. Miss making; feel like if I cannot make something soon I will explode. Rather. Miss Martha. Miss Sally. Miss Mulysa and Brian. Miss all of all y'all. Miss the way fabric feels in my hands. Also the smell of my city, and the way I can walk all of it without my eyes open. The university. My students. Miss teaching poetry. Miss the smell of the printshop, the print professor's gruff ways, the printmaking grad students. Miss poetry, really. How to do it, this living in the world thing? Because I know when I leave here, it will be the same, only on the other side.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, November 8


kitchen again

Moving to France has been one of the most difficult experiences of my life.

I didn't anticipate the differences in culture; I knew it would be different, but I hadn't been able to realize what this would mean. I was worried most before I left that people would think I was incapable of sophisticated thought, because I can't speak elegantly and fluently in French as I can in my native language. And although this has sometimes been the case, it hasn't be language that has made me work the hardest; it's been adapting (and I still am) to a new timetable, a new worldview. Things happen more slowly. People are more skeptical. I have a newfound respect and empathy for immigrants, NNS students, and foreign workers, because I couldn't have imagined what the tension of being between two places would feel like. Between one home and another. Between one set of rules and expectations and another. This has been one of the most educational periods of my life.

kitchen table

I have been lucky to find--well, to be dropped in the laps of, really--some wonderfully kind people, including a teacher at school (who, along with his wife and two children, received me for dinner one night, talked to me about adapting to life here, and offered to take me to Dijon to the big thrift store) and a young woman, her boyfriend, and her family, who have supported and helped me time after time. I can't imagine having gone it alone.

My apartment is making progress. I will eventually have internet. I have been receiving mail with some regularity, and that is a huge deal, so thank you. And soon, a sewing machine. And soon after, much sewing. And soon after that, maybe, all's right with the world. Or close.

kitchen window