This poem is from Kay Ryan, the new US poet laureate.
I kept on thinking about it this weekend while we were stitching our beautiful Alabama Chanin clothing. I kept thinking that our strong stitches were going to hold tight as we made our deep tracks.
Thank you for including me in such a special experience.
The poem reminds me of my great-grandmother – Granny Lou – moving around her house at Burcham Creek:
THINGS SHOULDN’T BE SO HARD
A life should leave
ruts where she
went out and back
to get the mail
or move the hose
around the yard;
where she used to
stand before the sink,
a worn-out place;
beneath her hand
the china knobs
rubbed down to
the switch she
used to feel for
in the dark
Her things should
keep her marks.
of a life should show;
it should abrade.
And when life stops,
a certain space—
however small —
should be left scarred
by the grand and
be so hard.
Our weekend workshop was a beautiful mixture of women from all walks of life. It was wonderful to hear our studio filled with laughter, chatter and, from time to time, the quiet hum of concentrated fingers at work. All of the projects are lovely and I am certain that the participants will be showing off their garments over the course of the next months.
Our Sunday morning was enchanted by a serenade of Alabama Song by singer, songwriter, and designer, Allison Moorer. Allison is an amazing woman and I was inspired by her fearless choice to make our 16-Panel Swing Dress with all-over rose reverse applique.
I cannot wait to see her on stage in the piece and feel grateful to have found a new stitching sister so close to home as Nashville is just a hop, a skip and a jump up the Natchez Trace from Florence.
I would give (just about) anything to have Carl Kasell’s voice on my home answering machine; however, I have an extreme case of incurable radio fright and break out in hives at the thought of speaking personally with Peter Sagal. For this reason, I would like to be considered for Not My Job.
Being included would make my year and would also save me from having to reveal my true ignorance (and thick southern accent).
Imagine my surprise when Butch called to tell me that my name was announced on Saturday and that film historian, director and actor Peter Bogdanovich would be playing for me! Well, after much screaming, excitement and dancing around our studio, I realized that Peter did not win. I have to say that the questions were very hard and that Peter is forgiven.
Perhaps I will have to get over my fear of the perfect wit of Peter Sagal and try to play myself!
I’m sending photos from summertime in our yard. The Luna moth was drying itself off; it had just peeled out of its cocoon. They don’t live very long because they don’t eat. As a matter of fact, they don’t even have mouths. As beautiful as they are, I’d hate to be a luna moth.
I received the email below from friend Sarah Lewis after she visited the Photography on Photography: Reflections on the Medium since 1960(through October 19, 2008 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City). And while I am not in New York myself to see the exhibition, my entire body of work has been very influenced by the photographs of Walker Evans (along with others from this era) and particularly his work with John Agee in Let Us Now Praise Famous Men.
I love the text below. Here is Sarah’s email:
I am sure you heard of the photographer Walker Evans…!?
“Watching Allie Mae Burroughs work with a simple broom kept in the kitchen corner, Agee mused that everything in the house might be licked with the tongue and made scarcely cleaner.
Evans photographs of the tenant farmers’ tidy kitchen are distilled essences of domesticity. “
From the MET photo exhibit,
“Kitchen Corner, Tenant Farmhouse, Hale County, Alabama, 1936.”
And his predecessor, Sherrie Levine, “After Walker Evans.”
…I think of you no less than every other day…
Learn more about the exhibition here and start your own discussion about the role of the historical in contemporary work:
I had actually forgotten that I had a subscription to The (New) Oxford American.I had not received a copy in some time and then miraculously the “Best of the South 2008” was in our post box last week.
I have heard rumors of complaints about the magazine but I have to say that while the new design does not appeal to me in the same way as my old archived copies, I always find a good story, quote or picture in the magazine. (Well, when it arrives, I suppose. I mean who cannot just love Roy Blount, Jr.?)
This issue is no exception and I was delighted to read “The Collector of the Everyday” about Joseph Mitchell by Sam Stephenson.
I think of myself as a very well read person and developed a love (obsession) with books when just a little girl. I have read everything from the entire works of Milan Kundera to Nancy Drew and am constantly on the lookout for a new author that will feed my desire for knowledge. So, how could it be that I never heard of Joseph Mitchell?
Not only was Mitchell a journalist and novelist but also a collector of everyday objects. The photographs of his meticulously collected and documented objects are spectacular and stir a feeling in my stomach that I have known this person intimately.
After investigation, I found that Granta 88: Mothers contains an extensive piece with the photographs. I ordered the issue immediately. The images are rich, moving and everything but everyday.
You are a gift to our lives and cake for our souls. I will forever think of you with a pair of pink “granny panties” stuck to your back! I was thinking this week that after 40 (some odd) years, I am just now learning to stand in my own shoes (a miracle, that). And I am sure that if I went to the mirror right now, I will have a pair of granny panties (or worse) on my own back.
(I once crossed the entire dining room of a very chic New York restaurant with a stream of toilet paper at least 8 foot long attached to my heel. My bridal train.)
Thank you for coming to Atlanta, for bravely threading your needle, for standing there in your own shoes and then for writing about it. We love you dearly…
Confessions of a Sewing Basket Case
After attempting to sew at the “Feeding Desire” workshop in Atlanta, I more than ever respect those who are nimble with needle and thread.
To several confident attendees, I explained how I once cross-stitched a stuffed doll to an art project canvas, and although I was proud of the initial outcome, I was mortified when I discovered that in my stitching process, I had stupidly sewn the backside of the canvas to my skirt. I stood up and the entire contents of my lap were attached: canvas, stuffed doll, and cute not-bought-on-sale linen skirt. I had to unzip, violently shimmy, and toss the whole tangled affair into the trash. Over the years, my sewing has demonstrated zero improvement. If Natalie had awarded whipstitch badges at the end of the workshop, I would have left the presentation as one empty-handed little Girl Scout.
Okay. If you live in the South (and perhaps everywhere else for that matter), summertime is filled with anonymous gifts left on your porch.
Martha Foose writes, “When it is not possible to eat all the squash that comes out of the backyard garden quickly enough, the Kornegays have admitted to leaving anonymous gifts on neighbors’ doorsteps under the cover of darkness. They, too, have been on the receiving end of this generous gesture.”
Well, let me attest to the fact that this has been “one particularly prolific summer” for crooknecked squash.
When I lived in Vienna, I visited a restaurant called “Panigl” just about every (other) night of the week. (Is my name still scrawled under the table at my seat?) Well, I used to love an antipasti dish of slow-roasted vegetables that seemed to melt in your mouth. My dear friend, Agatha Whitechapel, once told me how to make the dish and I have approximated her instructions here: