Category Archives: Works in progress

Being Happy

I don’t write much about my relationship with the Divine, not for public consumption at least, because it’s heretical in about 40 different ways (I suspect), I don’t want to horrify my friends and family,  I don’t want to get into arguments with people about religion. As the “No Solicitors” sign on my door says, don’t evangelize me and I won’t evangelize you.

But I think that what I’m about to write is useful in lots of different philosophic and religious world views. At any rate, I need to write it out to get it straight in my own head. As good a thing to do on a blog as anything else.

When I was an impressionable teenager, I read the book Illusions by Richard Bach. [Let’s also not waste time discussing the quality of his “revelations” or whether he walks what he talks. Doesn’t matter.] Here’s the passage that has always stayed with me:

26. And [the Messiah] said unto them, “If a man told God that he wanted most of all to help the suffering world, no matter the price to himself, and God answered and told him what he must do, should the man do as he is told?”

27. “Of course, Master!” cried the many. “It should be pleasure for him to suffer the tortures of hell itself, should God ask it!”

28. “No matter what those tortures, no matter how difficult the task?”

29. “Honor to be hanged, glory to be nailed to a tree and burned, if so be that God has asked,” said they.

30. “And what would you do,” the Master said unto the multitude, “if God spoke directly to your face and said, ‘I COMMAND THAT YOU BE HAPPY IN THE WORLD, AS LONG AS YOU LIVE.’ What would you do then?”

31. And the multitude was silent, not a voice, not a sound was heard upon the hillsides, across the valleys where they stood.

Can you answer that question? There are a lot of days when I can’t.

A few weeks ago I discovered this video by George Harrison:

The video is painful in places — in case the 70s leisure suit and the giant rubber duck didn’t give it away — although if you can hang on to the first chorus he makes a silly face that’s worth seeing.

The chorus is the key part. Once the Beatles broke up, George was free to write music that reflected the spirituality that he’d been discovering. Many of his songs can be applied just as well to Krishna (his ishta devata, his personal deity within the Hindu pantheon) as to any human relationship, and this is one of them.

All I’ve got to do is to love You

All I’ve got to be is to be happy.

That “happy” is not a request for happiness to be bestowed upon him, and it’s certainly not any superficial kind of happy. It echos Mr. Bach, who was echoing (from a far far distance, admittedly) the ancient philosophers. What is a good life? How am I to be happy in this imperfect world of pain and loss and lack? How am I to be happy within the constraints of whatever ethical system I have been born into, or chosen for myself?

What if all the religious promises of happiness — in this world or the next — are not promises, but instructions? Or even, maybe, commands?

Yeesh. God’s not going to give me happiness, in fact God is going to expect me to use whatever I’ve been given to get through all the drama, tragedy, etc of worldly life and still be able to say that life is good.

I don’t think the Divine wants martyrs. [One more thing religious persecutors throughout history have gotten wrong. Don’t tell the Inquisition.] I think we’re here to increase the amount of Love in the universe. Our talents and our flaws and our passions are indivisible — maybe our journey to “happiness in this world” is the gift of our souls back to the Divine, when this life ends.

Do you know what happiness is  to you? I’m still trying to figure it out.

WeaveWith Week 3: Maybe I should have made a bracelet

My week has been filled with much activity and very little progress. [There was a technology problem developing which gets a chunk of blame but the other half is/was me fiddling with the pattern. See below.]

I have set up my own palette for Bead Creator Pro that avoids the issues I had with too many shiny beads. Since then it’s gotten a lot closer to plug-and-play, at least (and it’s an important qualification) if I’m designing large patterns. Say 8×8″ on up.

When you’re creating a smaller pattern — one that will fit on a Lani, let’s say — you don’t have enough beads to cram in all the details. BCP can’t tell the difference between an important detail and a distracting detail, so it crams them all in there.

Squib as rendered by BCPIt is literally true that there are that many different colors going on in Squib’s fur, but the software can’t account for the fact that the human eye perceives her as a mostly black cat. (Happens all the time when you use the flash on your camera – your picture has more detail than you can see. Makes telescopes work, too. Not so good for portraits.)

Hence my restart before, where I revised the pattern to get a better balance between detail and perception. Worked great until I got to the whiskers.

Monday: whiskers. First three colors I tried completely vanished into the background. Next couple of colors contrasted nicely, but I couldn’t tell the difference between facial-detail-I’d-left-on-in-first-revision and whisker. After much testing, much unweaving and much frustration, I used the hex version of DB507. It’s an odd color for me — pink with 24kt gold iris — but it’s not overwhelmingly pink, and the differences due to the slight changes in color and cut work nicely. That gets me to Monday night.

I spent the rest of the week – ugh – weaving and unweaving to try to get Squib’s face right. I have been steadily reducing the amount of detail and darkening the bead colors, but I finally decided last night that I needed to go back and mostly-manually redraw Squib’s face the way I did below her chin.

Here’s the last revision before I decided to completely redraw her face – that appalling orange color is how BCP displays DB507 — no clue why.

Sphinx v5[Revision 1 worked great for the body but wasn’t strict enough for the face.] I’m still working on that today.

The tech problem: my monitor was dying, and I didn’t know it until it was totally dead. Until Thursday, it was pushing everything it displayed to the red end of the spectrum, so what I was seeing in the software and what the software thought it was showing were much much different than usual (which is saying a lot). Thursday night the monitor gave it up and David let me use one of his (computer artists have lots of monitors), so it wasn’t truly until Friday that I was able to work on the design and get consistent results.

I think I’ve figured out how to revamp the facial detail. Once that’s done it will only take a day or two to finish the portrait, and then I can get back to the Christmas present I’m working on, and “Hope” (the cardinal).

Word for the week: argh!

Two new bead tapestries in progress

I am so fixated on writing helpful posts that I forget one other use of a blog: to keep track of what I’m working on. Duh. Here goes:

A couple of weeks ago I started working on one of the Christmas presents I’m weaving. The pattern is based on an old black-and-white portrait of ******** (in the unlikely event that he/she/they read this before Christmas 2014). The process of getting from an old photo to a new pattern was trickier than I expected, and I will post a separate article about what I did. Soon.

The second piece is for the “WeaveWith” event hosted by Mirrix Looms. It’s a riff on an Internet favorite, the *-along, where * could be knitting, crochet, weaving, etc. In their traditional form, the *-alongs involve a group of people all working on the same design at the same time. I have a great time with them because there’s always someone to talk to about what I’m doing (or where I’m at, or what I can’t figure out), and because there’s so many ways to interpret any given design.

Mirrix has sponsored a number of weave-alongs but I’ve never participated in one, mostly because I’m completely focused on whatever design I’m doing (which hasn’t been and isn’t likely to be what the group is working on). But a couple of weeks ago, Sara Figal (a member of the Mirrix Facebook group) posted pictures of her in-progress tapestry, which was inspired by a Robert Frost poem. The tapestry is gorgeous, and the combination of the two art forms works really really well.

The odds of getting a group of weavers to agree on a single poem didn’t seem very good. This led to the WeaveWith concept, in which the organizer picks a general theme, and participants then pick their own design to play along.

[As it turns out, a couple of participants are using the same poem — Joyce Kilmer’s Trees, and there’s a lot of Emily Dickinson.]

Overkill being my middle name, I have patterns for three different poems now, but I’m guessing I’ll only get one or two of them done (see “Christmas Present” above). First up on the list is another portrait of Squib, set to a poem called “The Cat,” by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, from The Great Cat: poems about cats, edited by Emily Fragos for Everyman’s Library Pocket Poets.

This is the photo I chose:

The Sphinx….from which this pattern was designed:

Sphinx Pattern…to illustrate this poem:

—–

The Cat

The cat
licks its paw and
lies down in
the bookshelf nook
She
can lie in a
sphinx position
without moving for so
many hours
and then turn her head
to me and
rise and stretch
and turn
her back to me and
lick her paw again as if
no real time had passed
It hasn’t
and she is the sphinx with
all the time in the world
in the desert of her time
The cat
knows where flies die
sees ghosts in motes of air
and shadows in sunbeams
She hears
the music of the spheres and
the hum in the wires of houses
and the hum of the universe
in interstellar spaces
but
prefers domestic places
and the hum of the heater.

—–

The tapestry will be 4-ish inches by 6-ish inches. I passed the 25% mark last night — here’s where it’s at now:

The first quarter of the Sphinx bead tapestryI’ve got two additional poems and patterns worked up, but as this post is now ridiculously long, I will introduce them when I start working on them.