Today is Wednesday. In Vrindavan, many of the shops in the market are closed on Wednesdays. But of course, not all of them - nothing is neatly defined or organized like that. And on the 30th, there was no subzi bazaar (vegetable market) and random shops were closed, because it was the last day of the month. Nothing here opens until 10am, but 10 o'clock really means ten-ish, because that's not really a set-in-stone sort of thing either.
I've learned that when they say, "Your skirt will be ready on Thursday, ma'am" it may mean Thursday - although it can often mean Friday too - but it almost definitely won't be Thursday morning. Shops here are open until 9 or 10 at night, which is probably a necessity in a place where daytime temperatures in the summer can be as high as 120F/48C.
You can go to a shop and be an American or westerner - stand up, rifle through the shelves, and shop. Or you can sit on the floor, tell them what you're looking for, and they will pull out 30 pieces of cloth, unfold them all, and show you everything, turning the store into utter chaos while they wait on you. I learned last year that I can ask for a soda, and they'll send someone out to buy one - shopping is an event here, requiring refreshment and a comfortable seat.
All of this to say that the pace of everything here is unique. There's a sense of wandering, of flowing, through the day that is so completely and utterly different than New York. Very early mornings, before sunrise, are when things start to come alive - and early afternoon is most definitely rest-time. I'm not sure if there's a Hindi word for siesta but that's more or less what happens.
There always seems to be a pace, a mood, a rhythm to a new place. Vrindavan makes this stand out in high relief. I feel that being somewhere - truly being there - means adjusting and slowing down (or speeding up) to become part of the flow of that place. I suppose you can swim upstream, carry your old place with you - as armor, as a familiar friend - but I prefer to get lost, to lose myself in a place. I'veheard so many stories of people who can't stand India, who can't adjust to her otherness, to the world here. I love it, in ways I can't explain at all. Being here is a way for me to shed my NYness, my westerness, and to melt into a Vrindavan mood. To find myself, in a different place, at a different pace.
Quite simply, sometimes there's no choice. You either need to make something, or you need to give up.
Sometimes the urge to create comes out of happiness, sometimes it comes out of pain. Sometimes we choose to give away these outpourings of our souls to people, and sometimes we realize that we were never really understood.
And then, sometimes, we need to make it up to ourselves. Find that thing that we lost, reclaim what was given away in a moment of heedless generosity or unbridled enthusiasm.
I'm fairly happy with how things are going. I've been excited about working on the little quilts, progress is being made ... things are happening.
First up, the first one is DONE:
Little quilt, not overdone, not underdone. Quilted, bound, labeled:
And then the second one is nearly done as well - just needs the binding sewn down on the back, which is why its looking a bit sloppy around the outer edges right now.
(#2 needs to be bound and labeled, otherwise complete)
The second one is much better. Its more balanced, its more refined. It is, to be honest, a better quilt. Even on a mini-quilt scale, even though its "just" some border designs, it wins, hands down.
The good news is that this isn't a contest. And its actually kind of gratifying that there's improvement happening as I go forward. I can show the first one, proudly, and say it was the little quilt that got me going again.
Done. Except for the binding, the first one is DONE. I was going to try to tell you that I was out of grayish black (the color I plan to use for binding the entire series of quiltlettes) but - really - I'm not out of anything.
I have to admit, I'm tempted to add to this one. The empty spaces around the central circle look .... empty, to me. However, I'm trying really hard not to overdo these. I'm ready to move on.
But first, one more.
I realize I'm posting pictures of this as though it were finished. Basting threads everywhere, batting hanging out like some half-dressed floozy. There will be more pictures once I get the binding on it. I'm impatient to get to the second one.
I may be the only person in the universe who could get excited about something that looks like this.
I've been a little quiet, as you may - or may not - have noticed. Thinking about where to go, what to do, how to start.
Originally, I had one of those Ideas - the kind that stirs you in such a way that you think the thrill, the excitement of its power, will carry you forward all by itself. But I've been ... well, I've been in kind of a bady way, for a while. Not just jet lag, not just re-entry into life back here. Lack of inspiration, lack of creativity, all tied into larger, much more serious sorts of mailaise.
I was floundering, because my idea didn't make things happen on its own, all by itself. But fortunately, sometimes the universe sends your friends to stand by your side when you really need them. Or inspires them to send emails that actually jolt you creatively, and lift you up out of the quicksand you were sinking in.
Lene sent me an email and suggested that I try doing some small, simple projects. Things that didn't have to be anything at all in the end, just something to do, somewhere to go with my hands and my heart. She's been doing these amazing mini quilts in her "quilt a week" project, and she suggested I try something similar. I tried, at first, making a small appliqued mug. It was primitive, it was entirely freehand - and I didn't like it. It didn't express much for me, but it was something. I had a needle in my hand again.
It took a bit, days of marinating, stewing. But since applique wasn't going anywhere, wasn't starting things for me, I let that idea go rather than forcing it. I waited, and then it came to me ... quilting. It is my favorite part of the process of making a quilt, its where my heart is, what stirs me more than color, more than anything else.
Even though it turns out that the first step was the - often dreaded - basting part of things. I knew it was the right idea. I can handle basting together two fat quarters, no big deal. I can look at an 18" x 22" blank canvas and know that I can fill that space, start from nothing and make it come alive with texture.
The idea, as it stands at the start, is not for miniature quilts. I've done miniatures and I don't particularly enjoy them. I want to begin with small pieces, for now nothing bigger than a fat quarter - unless I decide to go bigger, I'm in charge here.
Honestly, I'm not shooting for a quilt-a-week. [Well, actually I was but then I decided to be a little bit easier on myself.] But I am making progress and it feels good - really, really good. I have more ideas - these can all be small, they don't have to be "complete" quilts in the traditional sense - although I'd like to make a bunch of small things I can bind, finish and hang. I got really excited when I thought about using non-traditional fabrics for them - but this is where I started:
I started where I'm comfortable, where I can fly - traditional Welsh patterns. For a start.