Thursday, January 7, 2016

Old Rocks

Happy Old Rock Day. I picked the granite at the Devonian Gardens to sketch this morning. The challenge of sketching rocks used to confound me. Their irregular shapes and shadows are deceptively simple, but difficult to get just right. But get in to the rock, and I get a sense of what it is. Which I suspect Japanese gardeners have known for a lot longer than I have. Rocks represent immense age and experience. Age and experience is something I do hope this society learns to revere, before we bury it.

As I drew this morning in my sketchbook, this is what I saw with our Devonian rock, carefully selected and placed by a master gardener,

Rocks just sit there, so it is easy to pass them by. They don't charm, entertain, or amuse like a lively pet. The rock has no need of us, so it's message is a whisper in the fountain of life. One must take time to sit and listen. First I am impressed with how massive it is, and how life has settled in to it's nooks and crannies. There's a heavy fall of orange pine needles, and several lichens; green, grey, and white, creep across it's surface. How long does it take an inch of soil to form on the surface of bare rock? Five hundred years! Imagine how many years drift by on our prairie winds.

Underneath the lichens is the rock itself, heavily striated. The surface is nearly uniformly smooth; hostile to new life. The edges, roughed out but still showing the striations of it's early development. How many years do those lines represent? Impossibly older than I will ever be.

I am in the presence of a thing that has outlasted me, and will endure well beyond my spark.

The framing plants are tightly pruned, their winter twigs forming dense globes on either side of the granit. All things are for a reason in a Japanese garden, so I wonder.

The rock was in charcoal, but I could not dismiss it's dressings, so out came pastels and chalk for the orange and green, and finally white acrylic for the brightest lichens.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Minimalist Recap

Well, that was quite a trip. 496 items and more liberated from our home throughout the month of December. I can relate to many of the feelings expressed by Fish Griwkowsky as I followed him on his journey of purgement (Edmonton Journal one last goodbye). I had fun throughout re-purposing old things for new uses.

My son got a photo album I've been saving for him for over fifteen years. I re-covered the harvest gold cover and stenciled his name on it. He loved it and he and his fiancee pored over the pages.

Naomi raved over her penny collection.

My niece gets a "something old" vintage necklace for her upcoming nuptials from her great grandmother.

My stepmom got a rock (she likes rocks) from me and a Blue Jays pin from hubby.

Dad, a Johnny Cash CD.

My daughter was awed that I finished a book I've been writing for her for the last two and a half years. This was a byproduct of the release, so I'll also count it as a re-purpose.

I started painting again.
I cleaned out my e-mail stash since 2013. Only 75 left unread.
I joined a meetup.
Registered for Coursera (R). That might have been a bit too much.
Downloaded an e-book.
Got twitter-hooked and collected a bunch of likes.
There is a tangible release from letting go of clutter. It's hard to explain, but the evidence is inescapable. I'm also using the experience to encourage office staff to release their work clutter, too.

There are collections I did not let go like my brag board, the grandma toy bin, and memory board. I'll tell their stories another time.