Saturday, February 25, 2012

a couple nights at the museum

Luna's Sea, got picked up by the American Museum of Natural History. You know, the one in New York City with the giant blue whale. Really! We have 4 shows on May 12 and 13 you can buy tickets to here.

I took a few fuzzy iPhone photos on a tech trip. Their displays are unbelievable works of art themselves.

Friday, February 24, 2012


I've mentioned Rumi plenty on this blog already, and favored translations of his poetry for my Bookcrossing adventures, and quoted him over and over and over.

It's not many things that keep my mercurial attention for so long, but Rumi has been a constant companion, in the form of any one of the many books of his poetry stuffed into my bag at all times, and a personality that is always at hand-- a teacher, best friend, and kindred spirit. Humorous, full of joy and anguish at the same time, exuding the kind of reckless enthusiasm that gets you into trouble with everyone. Like me, but he really ran with it. And he can use words like nobody's business, while I'm most often unable to say a syllable about the things that really move me.

Rumi lead me on a wild goose chase that brought me to the doorstep of the whirling dervishes, the dancers of the dance he started centuries ago. When I put my foot in place the very first time, I crossed a threshold, I met Rumi on his home turf. The others I found there with their feet on the same path had the same feeling, that Rumi is a companion, and his is a call to dance they couldn't not answer.

Top photo: a dervish in the doorway after the Ithaca sema in December. Second: initiated dervishes in traditional dress in Ithaca. Below: my first class at Kripalu in January a year before.

Sometimes you hear a voice through
the door calling you, as fish out of

water hear the waves, or a hunting
falcon hears the drum's come back.

This turning toward what you deeply
love saves you. Children fill their

shirts with rocks and carry them
around. We're not children anymore.

Read the book of your life which has
been given you. A voice comes to

your soul saying, Lift your foot;
cross over, move into the emptiness

of question and answer and question.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012


I made a video from some blurry iPhone footage I took while rehabbing a sprained ankle at my weekly roller skating fitness class we call RollerDurance. When I was editing it in iMovie I realized how much I love the people I skate with, and how lucky I am to have had every Monday night with them for almost 5 years now.

Two friends and I started RollerDurance a month after my second hand surgery in April 2007 when I realized I wouldn't be going back to roller derby. I was deeply sad, and didn't want to lose the training or camaraderie of derby practice. So Jayne Bondage, Wender Bender and I called a roller rink and began running our own weekly non-contact derby practice that didn't require belonging to the league and scrimmaging.

Over the years we've helped train hundreds of people to skate, most of whom were headed for roller derby, and many of whom ended up back with us when they became injured or retired. There are not many things I've done consistently for 5 years, but RollerDurance is a fixture in my life. Whatever is going on, good or bad, when I get to the rink and put on skates, I know the next 90 minutes are going to be about nothing but the joy of hard skating, and great friends. Everything else disappears.

This video turned out to be a Valentine's Day love note to them.

Monday, February 13, 2012

the turn

Since 2002 I've been reading with endless enthusiasm about the whirling dervishes of Turkey, practitioners of an 800 year old form of sufism started by Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi, the famous 13th century poet I quote incessantly here. I first heard about them when a dear friend of mine called me a whirling dervish because of my obsession with spinning in ice skating. When I looked them up and found Rumi's poetry, I felt right away that somehow, someday, I needed to try the dance, called the turn. But as you can imagine teachers of this tradition don't come by the dozen in New England, USA. Finally in January of 2011 I found out one very rare teacher would be holding a week long workshop on meditation and whirling at the Kripalu yoga center in the Berkshires. And, by chance, I just happened to find out the day before the scholarship application was due, and I won it. It felt like the stars were aligning.

Though I've been taking classes in practical applications of meditation for 9 years, and done some yoga, and studied world religion, and been an on and off church goer of several denominations my whole life, I've never tried anything like a spiritual workshop of any sort, and had no idea what to expect. What I definitely did not expect was that the drive up to the mountains of Massachusetts was the first leg of a year long journey that would take me to many places, including India 10 months later. But those first 6 days spent at the dreamy snow covered nirvana of Kripalu, with a most extraordinary woman named Sheikha Khadija Radin and 7 other new whirling students, were magic. I took to the dance and the accompanying teaching like a fish that had been stranded on land all its life and finally thrown in the ocean. I couldn't get enough, and I followed Sheikha Khadija to every workshop and silent retreat she held, which summed up to 34 days by December when I was so fortunate to be invited to participate in a sema, the beautiful ceremonial whirling dance of the dervishes. What a year! I am still trying to recover my over-filled senses and process everything I saw and learned. It hasn't been easy to articulate it to myself or anyone else. I just know that I love to whirl, and I mean: I really really love to whirl.

The top photo is my friend Karen at the sema in December, with me and Joseph behind her, both who also started at that first class at Kripalu. When I met Karen there, just two weeks before she had technically died from complications from a traumatic brain and neck injury. She weighed 80 pounds and could barely eat, but she would come to class and whirl, very slowly and carefully, for a few minutes at a time. We spent the year together following Sheikha Khadija, while she got stronger. By December she was able to dance for the entire hour of the sema. She is quite extraordinary. Below is a video I took of her before the sema, of a dance she made for her equally extraordinary husband John.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


For Illustration Friday's theme this week, popularity. A scan, instead of a photograph below. Sharper, but without the nice shadows of paper sculpture. I have to get with my photography skills.

Saturday, February 11, 2012


I've had an Emily Post book of Etiquette on my pile of nice looking old books for a long time. I started actually reading it this weekend. There are some truly bizarre gems, from so many generations ago the meaning is lost. But mostly, it's solid advice on how to be a considerate person, which we'd all be the better for taking to heart.

Then I cut a paragraph and some tentacular shapes up out of a few pages, and stuck them in my sketchbook. A proper octolady occurred.