Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Gift Of Loneliness ~ Allowing Space For Your Cup To Be Filled... Thougts on a Sunday morning...

 "Loneliness is the poverty of self; solitude is the richness of self."

~ May Sarton ~

Dear Ones...

I have been thinking a lot about loneliness of late. It has been a presence in my life the last few months and I begin to examine why. Part of it has come, I believe, with the passing of my mother in December which affected me not only due to the loss of her but also because it was a sea change that had a kind of domino effect in my life. With my mother's passing a great many other changes came, a number of other things faded away like spent flower petals falling softly to the ground. It is part of the cycle of life and, for a time, can cut very deep, but it also opens a place deep inside of us, allows more room for new things to come in.

If we sit with our loneliness and appreciate it for the gift that it is it can be a beautiful thing, even amidst the sharp edge of emptiness, fear, and often the subsequent depression that follows. I once wrote in a book I was working on, "Loneliness has eaten so many holes in me I feel like a piece of swiss cheese." And so it felt. But it can also be a time filled with deep teachings, a chance to be still and silent, to revel in the solitude that surrounds us, and to contemplate all that our life is and holds. This is the way I am approaching it in a time that is filled with change, uncertainty, and still in all many blessings, if I open my heart to recognizing them, that can begin to fill my cup once more once I have noted and remembered them and given thanks for their many gifts.


When I feel lonely I go out into the
garden with the dogs and pick tiny
flowers for my kitchen windowsill
garden. Nasturtiums are one of my
favorite flowers and I plant every
variety I can find...

"There's nothing terribly wrong with feeling lost, so long as that feeling precedes some plan on your part to actually do something about it. Too often a person grows complacent with their disillusionment, perpetually wearing their "discomfort" like a favorite shirt."

~ Jhonen Vasquez ~

I read the above quote with a shock of recognition. Many were the days and times I would go through such long cycles of depression that if I hadn't had the animals to care for I might not have gotten out of bed at all. Today when I feel lost or lonely or sad I allow the feeling long enough to really look at it, to examine it, to try to see why I am feeling this way, and then look to ways that I might move out of that space. I bless the loneliness for the revelatory moments it has brought, and then I move on. For some reason Saturday nights have been particularly lonely. I think it's because I used to spend the time with the one whom I love who is far away working now, but I allow feelings of love for her to fill this empty void and I look for something productive to do. Last night I brought boxes and bags of fiber and sat them next to my chair and worked at hand-spinning a new art yarn while I watched a movie. I was moved out of loneliness into a place of peace and joy. I am finding that loneliness only takes up a place in my life if I allow it...


Piles of fiber...


My velcro pug and fiber helper, Sampson...


The "Pug Fun Art Yarn" I am spinning...

My Saturday night was transformed by spinning fibers into yarn with a pug sleeping against my shoulder and completely engrossed in the movie I was watching. I went to bed feeling content and yes, even happy. 

Loneliness, the clearest of crystal insight into your own soul, it's the fear of one's own self that haunts the lonely. 

~ Keith Haynie ~

I read the above quote and felt a murmur of recognition. Thoughts tumbled over one another like a brook bubbling over stones. What part of myself haunts the hours of loneliness? And, too, I thought that I always want to remember this quote, to see lonely times as a time to have crystal insight into my soul. There are far too few times that we are awake and aware enough to have these clear insights. Perhaps the sharp edge of loneliness cuts the dross away so that we can see our world and our life.

I am not lonely now. I am listening to Garrison Keillor on NPR, about to take up my spindle and get back to spinning the yarn above. It is an enormous spindle and a delight to work with, a gift from a spinner friend long ago. Though friends fade from our lives as well rather than mourning their passing we can remember the love and happy times and revel in the gifts the friendship has left us with. I cannot use this spindle without smiling remembering the dear friend who gave it to me and wishing her well on her journey, wherever she is.

And so in a room filled with snoring pugs, and a big black silent dog, and parrots chirping and talking in the next room, I thank God for this day, I feel grateful for my life, and I bow to those moments of loneliness that have taught me so much.

In closing I want to share with you a thought that just passed through my mind as I finish this blog entry. I was thinking about the Zen kōan, "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" It is one of the great puzzlers taught by Zen Masters. I just marveled over the thought that a blog entry is the answer to that kōan. I write this entry and send it out into the world not knowing who might read it or how it will be received, and in the end it doesn't really matter. I am one hand, and you, dear reader, are the other. Together we make joyful clapping sounds. Keeping a blog means you are never lonely...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

When Your Only Help Is Eldery Pugs, Things Move Slowly + Redecorating (Blogwise) + New Fiber Blog...


Well, first of all may I say that I spoke a little too soon yesterday. Yes, yes, yes the batts are trudging forward into the shop but the only help I have is 4 elderly pugs and well, as the saying goes, good help is hard to find. This is what I have to put up with...

Babs: "I'm blind. I don't have to help. I just
have to sit here and look cute..."

Well fer cryin' out loud, what can you say to that?


Sampson: "If this requires me getting out of bed
you can count me out. I'm not a morning person.
Or an afternoon person. Come to think of it I'm
not much of an evening person either. Go ask

Harvey: "I had (sniff), such a hard life (sniff)
before I came here, I'm way too fragile (sniff)
to help because I don't have all of my (sniff)
issues worked out yet (sob). Go ask Coco...

Yes, Harvey actually sobs and sounds like a baby crying if I am 3' away and he can't see me.

Coco: "I don't do anything without treats. Lots
and lots of treats. Show me a treat and I might
help out. For a minute. Give me three treats
and maybe I won't piddle on the batt before
it gets to the shop."

I think I'm doomed.  I'm going to have to do the whole thing myself and I'm still finishing the 10th batt and I have two huge spindles here next to me to spin up two new kinds of yarn which will be my "Pug Fun Yarns." These are art yarns which are handspun on a spindle and are a bit of a free for all, and with the pugs not helping and me realizing that the business side of things also has to be worked out (shipping and payment policies, and so on) it's taking a little bit longer to get the shop opened than I'd hoped. Maybe another day or two.


I have had this template for quite awhile now and I really don't want to change it, however it was a free template that is not flexible and no longer meets my needs so if you hear banging about and the sloshing of paint, rude language as I stub my toe or dump paint on a pug, just bear with me as I: 

A.) Create a new template for this blog

B.) Create one of the new "pages" you can now create for an existing blog here at Blogger for my new fiber blog. When I started "Maitri's Heart" is was meant to be a blog about my inner life or life here at Dragonfly Cottage. It was not meant to be overrun with store-talk, things for sale, or entry after entry showing my fiber art. I have been very displeased with this so I am going to create a blog page connected to the main blog where my art, life as an artist, and information about the etsy shop can be located. 
Again, I am juggling more than a few things here at once and how it all comes out in the wash is anybody's guess. There are so many things to do I am googly-eyed and standing on my head trying to figure the whole thing out...

Wish me luck. I'm going to need it. And if you have a few spare treats for the dogs to help get them moving, send them to this address:

The Pokey Little Pugs
Dragonfly Cottage
Old Pug Lane
Coastal North Carolina
Trust me, you don't need more than that. We have a peculiar reputation in this town. It will get here. 

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Etsy Shop Opening Tomorrow! First of the new "Fairy Fleece Art Yarns" Spun, and Spinning Yarn and "Yarns" and Life Itself...

Dear Ones, 

It has been a very, very busy time between working on my fiber art for my Pug Love Fiber Art etsy shop (Click on the link to go to the shop. It is empty in this moment but will be filling up tomorrow.), working on my new book, and balancing art and animals and, well, Life. I am so excited about the shop opening. I have had to wait for the digital scale that I ordered to arrive because the batts are priced by the ounce hence they need to be weighed very accurately. Tomorrow I will begin weighing them and getting them up in the shop. Here are some of the newly finished batts that will be going up in the "Pug Love Batts" section... 

"Little Black Babs With A Cherry On Top"

"Sparkling Puggerinis"

(Note: In our house all the boys are referred to as Puggeroos and the girls Puggerinis. So this is for all the Sparkling Girls out there who bring so much happiness to our lives with their joyful, loving, sparkly hearts...)

"Younger Than Springtime"

This batt is an ode to all of the seniors that I, and so many others, love so well. As I now spend about the first hour of my day caring for all of my eleven animal companions and dispensing anywhere from 2-4 meds per pug, it is a bit like a nursing home here, but one where we do more than play checkers and sit in rocking chairs. We ROCK! even if just in our hearts and wide eyes full of love!

There is one more batt on the carder that will go up but I have not yet photographed it. It is in multitudes of purples and wine colors and is called, "She Aged Like A Fine Wine Over Time." All nine of these batts will be up, as I said earlier, between today and tomorrow.

The Spinning Has Begun...

One thing that I realized is that the handspun yarns that I am creating will fall into three different categories. First are the yarns I call "Pug Love Fairy Fleece Yarns." I named these yarns so because they are a very special type of yarn. When you are creating batts each time you clean the first roller that moves the fiber on the batts ( some of the material you are carding always remains on that first roller and has to be continually cleaned as you card the many fibers yet to come) you end up with what I call "Fairy Fleece." They are great handfuls of tufts of the leftovers from the carding process and are lighter than air and chock-full of all of the amazing "ingredients" that went into the batt itself. These may be many different kinds of wools, llama, alpaca, bamboo fiber, ingeo (from corn), silks (silk noil, soy silk, sari silk), and a wide variety of magical materials that make the batts sparkle, glitter and shine like Angelina, Flash, and Firestar, and so much more. Some of my batts have up to 17 elements in them, they are huge over-sized batts, super airy, fluffy, lofty and a dream to spin!

The first Fairy Fleece Yarn I spun yesterday came from the fairy fleece from the first 9 batts so there is such a long list of elements in this yarn it was am amazing joy to spin. These yarns will be spun on hand-spindles, which has always been my mode of spinning, and because the fairy fleece is very delicate before it is spun, and, being hand-done, comes from a very deep heart-to-hand place that embues the yarn with a very loving, gentle spirit and is wonderful to work with. Here, then, is the fairy fleece before being spun, just barely starting to go onto the spindle, and the finished yarn. This will be a week or so before going up because it has to "cure" on the spindle for a week before it is ready to be taken off and prepared to sell. 

First Fairy Fleece Yarn spun still
on the spindle and a closeup for a
better view. However, sadly, these
photos don't half show how colorful
and sparkly the yarn is. You will see
it soon off the spindle and coiled. It
will be a much better picture.

 The other two types of handspun yarns I will have in the shop are called "Batty For Pugs Handspun Yarn" which will also be spindle spun and come from batts that I make for myself to spin. There is nothing like spinning carded fiber because it is so super soft, lofty, and you can add unlimited elements into the carded fiber so it is ready to spin. I still add more elements when spinning these yarns, blending them with the carded fiber as all of my handspun is considered "Art Yarn," though the Batty For Pugs Yarn as well as the third type of yarn, "Big Bertha's Puggy Yarn," will be much wilder than the Fairy Fleece yarn in content and design.

Big Bertha's Puggy Yarn will be spun on my new Babe Bulky Spinner tabletop electric wheel. This will enable me to spin larger quantities of yarn more quickly as I have a garage full of fiber and both the Rescue pugs as well as my own need the funds for care and support. The more yarn I can produce the better! Also, my one-of-a-kind fiber art pieces are made from many different types of yarn I have handspun myself. Here is a picture of a 6' serpent that I made using 30 different handspun yarns, antique and vintage buttons and beads and using Free-Form crochet as the basic technique, with a few others thrown in for good measure! Her name is Beatrix, and she is a magical, shamanic piece of wearable art. She can also be draped over a piece of furniture or hung on a wall. She sold before I could even get her in the shop, as did the next serpent, so I will likely be making more as time goes along...

Beatrix in all her glory! 

So now you've had a little taste of what's to come. The pugs and I are so excited. Sampson, however, just wishes I would get out of the studio and come back to our big, oversized cozy chair to cuddle. He lies on my feet under the table in the studio and looks forelorn as if I will never go back to our chair where I belong. Poor boy, having an artist as a mother!

Well, I'm off to work in the studio, not to mention finding time here and there to work on my book which will also help support pug rescue. Seems I'm always "spinning yarns" (including stories) one way or the other! So much to do, so little time. I'd better get to it!
Blessings and Puggy Kisses to one and all!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Gone Batty For Pugs...

The reason I do what I do and why 20% of all sales in my fiber shop will go directly to Mid-Atlantic Pug Rescue, the incredible rescue where my four much loved senior pugs came from, is in the picture below! The rest of the proceeds from the shop will go to caring for my elderly pugs whose vet bills can get a little steep but I would not have it any other way. I will always have the sweet old ones that often are not adopted because they are not cute little puppies or youngsters with a longer expected life span. It will be heartbreaking when I lose my precious ones, but I will always adopt more seniors or disabled pugs that need a loving home. People don't know what they are missing with these older pugs. They are more settled and calm, old souls who are pure love and the greatest companions. To them, and to MAPR, I dedicate my fiber work, and will be changing the name of my etsy shop, before it opens, to Pug Love Fiber Art. I am in the process of making a new banner for the shop now...

From left to right: Sampson (12), Coco (14, deaf),
and Harvey (11).

Wee little Babs, my precious tiny girl, first of
the pugs to come to Dragonfly Cottage, now
15, blind, and deaf, and a more precious tiny
girl never existed in her Mama's mind!
next batt I make is going to be black and red
and I call it, "Tiny Black Babs With A Cherry
On Top." And she is that sweet!

These woven pieces I call "Fluffy Pug Weaves"
which are finger woven with a multitude of
fibers, not yarn, and will be felted, and of
many different sizes and shapes.

Sunday's newest "Pug Love Batt" called "Pugs Like Purple Sweaters." There is nothing cuter than a dressed up pug, but I have never dressed my seniors up except for Babs who is actually wearing a freeform hat I made for a handmade art doll in the picture below. And no, the photo is not photo-shopped, she is actually wearing it, though I think I took about a dozen photos to get a quick picture! But oh, this violet, purple, and wine colored batt would make wonderful yarn to knit a puggy sweater, and it is a HUGE batt!

Doesn't she look thrilled? This
picture was taken about 2 years
ago before she was completely
blind. I wouldn't put her through
it today but she sure looked cute!

Choosing fibers for today's batt, and on the drum carder...

The batt just off the carder. I had to lay it out in the couch because it is well over 3' long so I had to take the close-up shots in sections. Also, these aren't the best pictures as the batts are really sparkly and luminescent, but they will be re-photographed for the shop. I have an 8 megapixel camera in my cell phone which I used here, but my 12 megapixel Nikon will be used for the shop...

The batt being rolled...

Top of batt...

The first five batts ready to go. When there are 10 the shop will open, and then will come the "Pug Love Handspun Yarns" and the "Fluffy Pug Weaves." The next two batts are already planned. They are the black and red one dedicated to Babs, and one called "Pugs Love Pretty Dresses" which actually looks like a bowl of fruit salad! I have a vast number of hand-spindles and you can see some of them here behind the batts. I have 2 wheels which are in storage and there is a new one soon to come. I have a garage full of fiber and plan to do a lot of batts, handspun yarns, woven pieces, and many other fiber art pieces for the shop. The pugs need the help and Lord knows I've got to work my way through this fiber!

So that's my Sunday in the studio. Now I'm going to clean up all of the purple wools, silks, rayon and more that went in today's batt, and get the black and red set up for wee little Babsie's batt. And then I shall meditate on this gorgeous purple mum. There is no shortage of beauty and love here at the cottage...