Monday, April 4, 2011

astonishment--thoughts on elephants, whales and my blog

Yesterday I heard on the NPR radio show--On Being--a great quote from Annie Dillard:

We are made to give voice to our astonishment.

Just listen to that again--voice to our astonishment. So wonderful and succinct. That word astonishment--think of that--shock, dumbfound, stun. From the Gallo-Latin for thunder. What a powerful word. It takes a wordsmith such as Annie Dillard to use the word with the care that it deserves. Have you read her books? A Pilgrim at Tinker's Creek. Compelling. Sacred. But I digress.

Back to the quote--doesn't that allow for the sense of awe at the world? In this case, Krista was interviewing Katie Payne--a Quaker biologist who studies whale songs and elephant loves. Fascinating interviews. Whales teach themselves new songs constantly because--and I paraphrase--the females like originality. Isn't that cool.

And elephants can remember the distinct sound of a departed matriarch for years. When a calf dies, the other elephants--even those not related to it--mourn its passing, try to revive it--lifting it with their tusks. making sounds of disturbance. Amazing what happens in the world. You can hear the complete interview here.

Recently I realized that my blog is more than a year old. I had actually forgotten until my internet friend Jeanne Yocum posted that her blog is celebrating its first birthday.  Congratulations Jeanne--nice blog. You can read her post here.

And I started to think about my blog. I confess that I find blogging the most rewarding of the social media. It allows me to think about issues that matter to me--what is art, what is craft, what awes me, what underwhelms me--yes, that really is a word. It is my personal journal to the world--my personal cry for what I believe in.

When I started blogging,  I was scared that I could not attract an audience. What did I have to say and how would I say it? It took me a few months to find my voice. To get over the fear of showing my astonishment at life. Again that word.  But soon I no longer had to think to find topics. They just  flow out of me. As Anne Truitt said, the problem is not in creating designs for new art--the problem is in choosing which ones to make.

In doing so I have celebrated the seasons, art that I love, great places to visit. I have questioned what is art, what is craft--perhaps more than some of my readers are interested in.  I have analyzed, probed, listened.  Shown my readers what astonishes me. Occasionally perhaps been a bit too intemperate.  I have mourned the passing of too many friends and relatives. I have shown quilts that don't work. My booth. My excitement at selling my work and my agony when it doesn't sell.  I have questioned the direction of my work. And sometimes simply had fun.

Is it sometimes self-centered? Of course. So am I. Do I have opinions? Of course.  Can I be a snob? Sure. Aren't we all? I have debated and discussed, probed and analyzed and showed my astonishment and wonder at the world. Met some wonderful friends. Had some great and positive reactions. And learned far more than I ever thought possible while still trying as best I can to have my opinions well-reasoned and thought out. After all, isn't this what life is about? And in the end I think it is this vision of what astonishes each of us that matters most.

To celebrate the anniversary--although a bit late, I changed the header on my blog--check it out. I hope it comes through. Maybe I will do even more changes. And  I made a quilt--another rolling hills in the wonderful spring colors--lovely blues and purples. Happy flowing colors. Now I am planning many more years of interacting with my wonderful fans and showing my astonishment at the beauty of the world and the joy of life in all its complexities. This is too much fun.

And you--oh reader whom I depend on. What do you think? Have I succeeded? Where can I do better?
What issues should I tackle? What interests you? And what do you think of my new header? 


  1. I love the new header! It actually reminds me of one being underwater and exploring the depths of your art and the world around you. Perfect for your blog... don't you think?

  2. the first thing I noticed was your blog makeover. It's lovely.

    Congratulations on a year's worth of blogging. I only "found" you a few months ago, so I'm glad I didn't miss too much.

    Looking forward to the years ahead. :)

  3. I LOVE your new header!! Beautiful!
    Yes - looks lie rays of sun through the water. So pretty.

    and Happy Blog-birthday. ; )
    ~Monika in Canada

  4. I just found your blog today (on my birthday/ nice present for my artist spirit)I just made some polymer clay beads in this color scheme of blue, green, & purple so these "happy flowing colors" must be on my radar. Love your colors, textures, and words! Look forward to following along. Was happy to see you use Networked Blogs as it brought your post to my attention first thing this morn on facebook.

  5. Thanks everyone for your great words. The new header comes from the quilt moonlight--which was meant as a study of light reflecting on the ocean. And Nancy I wanted to extend a sincere welcome to you. I think my blog had a great Blog-birthday.