25 March 2010

surrender to joy

An interesting couple of days since my last post.  Tuesday was the day to rise early, dash to the bank to transfer funds, dash back home and purchase plane tickets.  Turns out our new account at the credit union works differently from our, now closed, BofA account.  They put a 7 day hold on the funds.  Now I'm really glad that we were able to leave the evil BofA empire for the p.c. state employees credit union, but we had developed a nice relationship with the local branch and I'm pretty sure they would have waived a hold.  Not so with the new guys.  So I leave the credit union, utterly deflated, trying to figure out my next step.  Turns out there really isn't a next step ... at least not for 7 business days.  We have credit cards with enormous credit limits and could easily charge the tickets.  But you see, that's where it all begins ... that's how it all starts and that's how we've gotten into heavy credit card debt multiple times over the last 30 years - multiple times ... deep debt.  Right now we are, except for a relatively low mortgage, debt free.  And that cannot change.  I went through this whole panic thing trying to rationalize how it would be okay to use the card and finally came to knowing that wasn't an option.

So I get home, bumming heavily, and go about trying to salvage the day and reclaim the exuberant mood from the day before.  What to do, what to do, what to do?  Ah, yes - put on my Talisman.  But I've been wanting to change the message that's lashed to the chain.  What is my new message, what's my new mantra?  It needs to change, but to what?  Putzing around my studio, I go from computer to worktable, to the kitchen to make some more tea, back to the computer, back to my table.  Rounding the corner to the table, a phrase pops into my head, "surrender to joy".  I've heard this phrase before, I know it's not original, but it feels profound and appropriate and very timely.  I have my new mantra.

So I set about to rededicate my Talisman.  This time I used a small swatch of my own moss green silk ribbon, very mindfully inscribed my new mantra and lashed it to the talisman with bronze silk instead of the unbleached linen.  To the fenugreek seed tucked into the silk, I added a mustard seed for faith.  The silk is less bulky and the profile of the seeds is more pronounced, but right now I prefer the color and look of the silk.  Here's me and the new wrap.  I'm trying out Nina's call for more self-portraits on blogs.  Guess this one's 'self-portrait Thursday'.  Harder than it looks, for sure.

The rest of Tuesday did improve.  The 'surrender to joy' message inspired me to work on some variations of my Talismans.  I've been wanting to make a series of more low-key pendants.  Maybe just nice pieces of jewelry, but with the silk wrap.  I had this one almost done and adding the message was the perfect finish.

After finishing this pendant, I wanted to do one that was the 'nice necklace with a little something extra' concept.  I decided to use some of the Tunduru sapphires (the colors are just so beautiful) on a simple silk braid.  Earlier, I had been rifling through some components that were tucked away.  I pulled out a bunch, ran them through the tumbler to brighten them up and then took a fresh look to see what I had.  These are some of my favorite components - made from reclaimed lumpy pmc slip - seriously crunchy organic - classic kvk.  Add to the older pieces, some new copperclay beads I made during a somewhat recent visit with Cynthia and Andrew and a couple of my newer beads.  The final touch, the lashed silk message.  I'm quite pleased with the results.

So here I am on Thursday and I'm still trying to figure out just what "surrender to joy" means to me and how do I apply it.  The easiest thing for now is applying it to the plane ticket (one week and counting).  It would be so easy to give in to the credit card or succumb to my low-grade panic and spend the next week fretting over changes in airfare and what-if's.  Let's just say, it's a work in progress.

Along with my travel challenges and mantra revelations, I've been getting some timely Notes From the Universe.  On the same day I got this one, "One of the greatest paradoxes of your physical senses, is that your eyes actually show you what you believe, not what you see.", I found this Goethe quote, "A person hears only what they understand."  Then I came back to another phrase and potential mantra I had written before Christmas, "Dream It, Believe It, Live It".  This I know, everything begins with thought and I am the creator of my reality.  My beliefs and perceptions are variable; the essence of who I am will not change.  Bottom line, I really do believe that things happen for a reason and the week ahead should be an interesting exercise.

So to finish up and for something completely different, a couple of music videos from the Jools Holland show.  The older shows are on the Ovation network.  You have to give the guy a lot of credit.  He puts really young up and comers on the same stage as rock icons and it usually makes for pretty interesting viewing.  A couple of recent segments ...  The first one is the 'completely different' segment.  When Joanna Newsom first came on, we went "what the hell is that?" and not in a particularly good way.  As we got into it, we were saying "okay, that's pretty strange, but for some reason I really like it" and headed straight to YouTube to look her up and bookmark the video.

This one is just a really great video.  I was a late comer to Pink Floyd, but grew to be a big fan.  David Gilmour has held up really well and this song with lots of P.F. atmosphere and the superb backup duo of Nash and Crosby ... well, it's just really excellent.  (p.s. remind me to tell you about meeting David Crosby)

Well, that's it for now.  The new goodies are available on Etsy along with a couple of spring lovelies.  Wish me luck as I endeavor to "surrender to joy".

with gratitude and many blessings - kvk

22 March 2010


Oh I am about to bust!
I just secured our gite for our 30th anniversary trip to Provence.  It's the courtyard studio in a 16th century house in the village of Lourmarin.

The village of Lourmarin
The entrance to the studio

The kitchen - this is my dream kitchen.  I wanted this gite just for that sink!

The courtyard - a big plus is no plastic furniture.  I couldn't believe how many gites had nasty white plastic outdoor furniture. 
So now I'm working on flights and a car.  We'll fly into Marseille and rent a car.  Lourmarin is about an hour north.  It's within easy driving distance to the beach at Cassis, bigger cities Aix en Provence, Avignon, and Arles.  Oh my I'm hyperventilating......

We've been talking about going to Europe for most of our 30 years together.  We decided that for our 30th anniversary we were finally going to get our back sides in gear and actually GO.  Trouble is, where to start?  If you've never traveled, never been to Europe, where do you start?  We've been waffling back and forth for - well it seems like forever.  It was going to be Paris, for sure.  Then we thought, gosh the Scottish highlands would be really amazing ... standing stones and old abbeys and castles.  Then, no it should be Paris.  Then we thought maybe our first time we should head to an English speaking country ... London it is.  

Thing is, our anniversary is in July - high season for just about everywhere and I do mean high.  So I was cruising around looking at flights and looking at the British Airways site.  They had a lovely and very enlightening graph of flight prices over the coming months.  Turns out if we could travel in April or May, our flights would be about 1/3 less.  So that got me to thinking again.  Dave's semester ends in mid-May so maybe we could just shift our trip forward a couple of months - yes! 

We were still thinking London when we saw a travel show on PBS.  We've watched Rudy Maxa's Smart Travels and have rarely been the least bit inspired.  Then last week, there was an episode on Provence, et voila' ... we found our destination.  (noticing a bit of synchronicity here?)  I fell into a full on spell of OCD and spent the next couple of days glued to the computer looking for a perfect place to land.  At first I was thinking little stone cottage out a bit from a town.  Let me just say that there's hundreds of possibilities - I know.  Thursday, Dave brought home some guidebooks from the library.  Then Friday I absolutely needed to buy a couple of Provence specific guides (OCD still in full swing).  Not my favorite thing, but I dashed over to Barnes & Noble (5 minutes away rather than dealing with downtown parking and crowds to go to the preferred independent bookseller) and came home with two - Rick Steves' Provence and Frommer's Provence & Riviera Day-by-Day.

From my on-line searches, I had bookmarked several possibilities in a rather far-flung area and had found a couple of beautiful in-town studio rentals.  Friday afternoon was just lovely and, come evening, we headed to the porch for a pint and some guidebook perusing.  That's when we hit on Lourmarin.  Turns out one of my favorite gites was there.  Also turns out it's where Peter Mayle (Year in Provence) lives and where part of A Good Year was filmed and lord knows what else - short translation - heaven on earth (for us anyway).

Goodness, I am really just prattling on here.  Did I mention I was excited?  Okay, I'll stop with a couple more pictures ....

The village at night

A daytime look down one of the streets

I would love to hear if anyone has travel advise or words of wisdom or anything you'd like to share to a virgin traveler.  Finally, my passport is going to get stamped!  I've got two months to work on my French and plan my wardrobe and dream and visualize. 

I'm just trying to remember to breathe. 

so many blessings ... kvk

15 March 2010

losing sight, coming back round

Round and round and round and round and ...........
I seem to be caught in an epic spin cycle.  Looking back, it probably got started when we decided to leave Port Townsend in the summer of '08.  It gained and has been maintaining a frightening momentum ever since.  In this cycle I experience moments of clarity, days of crystal clear awareness and maybe a week here and there of inspired creative expression.  The nasty thing is, I haven't found my way to sustain those cherished glimpses.

Mostly it's a day-to-day thing.  It's hard to know if part of the challenge is the extenuating circumstances ... still adjusting to city living, the noise and traffic, the death metal garage band two doors down and their Saturday night jam sessions; maybe menopausal hormones, maybe the dark intensity of this winter ... probably all of the above.

Along the way, I'm trying as hard as I can to not wallow, to accept it all as a part of the process, to remember that behind or within my fears and anxieties is a wealth of information.  Thing is, it still feels like I'm spinning.  I woke this morning kind of bleary (I DETEST daylight saving time), but relatively positive, my morning's plan of attack loosely formed in my little ol' head.  Then something happens, something shifts and I spiral down for a couple of hours, surfing the internet, feeling lost.  Then I find a bit of sparkle, slowing the plunge ... Danielle's post today was timely (so many of them are) with a wonderful (and free) link to this, "What is Dying to be Born?", a sweet little e-book, which I promptly downloaded and printed out with a quick perusal.

The plunge slowed, I stop for lunch and paused to read a bit in another sweet little find from yesterday's jaunt to the news stand.  The images in this little publication hit me the same way each issue of my treasured Selvedge magazine hits me.  It's a visceral reaction.
Some of the most compelling images in the journal are from the interview with Tanya Marcuse about her series, Undergarments and Armor, this one especially, an Italian Brigandine from 1540.   The Fashion Projects site looks like it will provide a good bit of eye candy and interesting diversions, fuel for my creative spark.
It's finding these little bits that help me move into the upside of my spin cycle.  There's something about the paper, the muted warmth of the colors, the visual textures that immediately triggers my 'onward and up' switch.  Pia's blog does this as does the on-line TOAST catalog.  Another bit of an upswing came in the mail, the new Eileen Fisher flier.  I look at her clothes and, straight away, I'm brought back to my motivation for designing jewelry.  These are the clothes my work is meant to accompany.  These fabrics, these colors, these simple luxurious clothes.
So now I'm heading back up, sort of.  The gray, cold drizzly day isn't helping.  Ultimately, I know I will stop my dreadful spin cycle.  This has been a particularly long stretch, but I'm determined to come back round and emerge newly inspired and driven ... driven and energized by a deep seated passion for what I do, what I make and what I create.

deep breath .........
with gratitude and blessings - kvk

08 March 2010

of stones and moving water

That's what I've figured out is the missing link, living smack in the middle of a neighborhood in a city - there just aren't any large stones, there's no moving water.  For the better part of the last 30 years, we've lived within either sight or hearing distance or very close proximity to either an ocean or a fast moving river or Puget Sound or a creek with piles of rocks natural or 'enhanced' or assisted, big ones and little ones, flat ones and jagged and, in this part of the world, densely wooded acreage.

In Davenport, Ca we were between the Pacific Ocean and the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains, surrounded by hundreds of acres of brussel sprouts and on occasion could see the spouts of gray whales migrating north from the kitchen window.  Idyllic until that blasted earthquake.  How's this for 80's bad hair - oof, poodle top.

The first house we owned in North Carolina was 2 1/2 acres in the middle of a bunch more ...

This was our little log slice of heaven in Bryson City for seven years.  The ridge is Thomas Divide in the National park.  A small branch of Galbraith Creek curved around the house to the left.  So sad, the 150 acres up to the park is all developed now, so very sad.

It only just occurred to me - that moving water is the biggest thing that's been missing in my daily awareness.  I've been poring over the city map looking for parks or greenways for walking, places with the rocks and moving water and woodlands that I've been craving.  One thing I've had in the back of my mind ... the NC Arboretum.  Only thing, I thought it was quite a hike to get there, I thought I'd have to travel over the interstate and through hectic sections of town with tons of cars and traffic lights.  Looking at the map provided one of those gentle 'a-ha' moments.  Turns out the Blue Ridge Parkway runs almost a perfect diagonal from my east of town neighborhood to the far southwest Arboretum with only 5 traffic lights!  So with the forecast of a glorious day ahead, we set off Saturday morning for a hearty southern breakfast at our favorite restaurant and then to explore what is now our new favorite place.

We were smitten the moment we turned onto the property and decided to become members straight away with unlimited year round access and discounts and membership bennies on all kinds of things.  This time of year, walking through the formal gardens provides the tantalizing prospect of things to come.  There were just a few hints of spring ... the tiniest shoots of bulbs, minute buds on shrubs, ferns just barely showing their heads.  Piles of snow remain on the shadow sides of buildings and patches along the trails, but the day was crystal clear, still a bit brisk; a steady breeze kept the day from really warming.  Oh but such sweet relief, walking along the trails, admiring the Japanese rock gardens and winter-hardy bonsai, wandering the outer trails, resting on rock benches and listening to the rush of the French Broad River below us.  I felt my soul release a gentle sigh, what had felt like the death grip of this difficult winter give way just a bit.

In my excitement to head for the exhibits and trails, I left my camera in the car - sheesh.  When I remembered, I was far enough away to leave it be.  Ah, but the good weather continues.  This morning, I got a relatively early start and, with camera in hand, headed back to continue my explorations.  The walk started off with a good long uphill, relatively bare with slushy patches of snow along the way ...

Then the trail dropped down and I headed off to the footpath along Bent Creek - finally, rushing water ...

and thickets of mountain laurel and rhododendron!

And it just keeps getting better ... you might have guessed, I'm a bit of a rock fanatic.  For years and years, each time we moved I lugged boxes of treasured rocks from the old home to the new, suffering the teasing and grunts and complaints about me hauling boxes of rocks around - the phrase "dumber than a box of rocks" comes to mind.  Our log cabin had an enormous rock cairn to mark the driveway entrance and my own standing stones in the front flower bed (see the cabin pic above), our house in Port Townsend had two large flower beds with beach rock retaining walls.

 Okay, so the previous owners hauled all those rocks from the beach, but I moved every one several times and was quite proud of my results.

This hauling rocks obsession has been a problem for years ... Vintage KVK (early 90's), hauling slabs of slate from the quarry - I can't believe my hair was ever that short!

And cruising North Beach in Port Townsend ... how many hours did I spend on that beach?  Lord mercy, it was heaven.

Anyway, as I was saying, I'm a rock fanatic and it turns out I'll be taking a dry stack stone workshop at the Arboretum next week!  I need to get some new leather gloves and then I'll be set and counting the days.  I can't wait!  Rocks, heaven awaits, I'll be stacking rocks!

Amazing what a walk in the woods can do for one's spirit. 
Now I'm off to putz in the yard.  Got to start planning where to cut in paths and walkways and where those new dry stacked stone walls will be going.  Just visualize Kathy Van Kleeck ... human back hoe.
Renewed, energized and happy.

blessings - kvk