The current cross stitch project is a fractal–more colorful in real life than in either of these photos. The pattern is complicated and intriguing and is trying to teach me to become a more disciplined stitcher. I stitch in a combination of techniques: “cross country” (working across the piece with one color at a time) and “parking” (working in one or two grids with multiple colors). I tend to skip around. If I’m going to finish this, I need to stop skipping. I like pieces that require me to learn something new–in this case, better parking. If you want to take a look at my learning curve, glance through the gallery.
Almost spring. I thought so, anyway–February was warm and March started off that way. But we’ve had a late freeze here in the Hill Country, so I guess spring is still around the corner. The daffodils are as ready as I am, blooming cheerfully along the rim of the woodlot. I’m doing much less gardening these days (chronic bad back), so I take a special pleasure in the wild flowers. The redbud is blooming by the creek, the Texas mountain laurel is putting out a few buds, and the bluebonnets and paintbrush will be along in the next few weeks. All I need is a little patience.
On the writing desk. I feel the same way about writing projects as I do about stitchery. If a piece doesn’t teach me something new, it’s not worth doing. The current project (a biographical novel about the friendship of Georgia O’Keeffe and Maria Chabot) requires me to write about a character I’m not liking very much. In fact, the longer I work with her, the less I like. (I wrote something about that last month,) And the less I like, the harder it is to represent her fully.
O’Keeffe’s art is one thing, and stands on its own, an admiraable achievement in a time when women artists were rarely allowed membership in the male-dominated art world. Her relationships with the people who worked for her, admired her, and tried to be her friends–that’s something else entirely. (“If only people were trees,” she once wrote to a friend, “I might like them better.”) And that’s what I find both intriguing and difficult. Why does this woman feel and behave as she does toward others? How can I represent her both accurately and with sympathy?
But I persist. I’m blessed to have the Chabot/O’Keeffe letters to work from, a trove of unpublished Chabot materials from the O’Keeffe archive in Santa Fe, and six excellent O’Keeffe biographies to work from, each very strong in a different way. The story is in their intersections. Currently: I’m almost finished with a draft of the fiction and looking forward to writing the biographical epilogue. There’s a lot of revision to be done, because my understanding of both the main characters has changed as I’ve worked with their stories. You’re not going to have this book very soon, I’m afraid.
Books and politics. A contagion of book-banning is sweeping across Texas and many other states. The Texas Library Association has formed a coalition to ensure that librarians “will be entrusted to continue to do their jobs and serve the needs of ALL students and communities.” A book that doesn’t fit one young reader may be just what another reader needs. What young readers need: a wide variety of books representing a wide variety of dreams and ideas, freely available to all who want to read. You can learn about the Texas coalition here: RightToReadTexas.com Your state library association may have such a coalition, too.
Reading note. Yes, books are dangerous. They should be dangerous – they contain ideas.―