....today, recovering from a brief bout with some kind of stomach ailment, I ran across this wonderful photograph of Ellen Minand, the immensely skilled proprietor of Ellen's Half-Pint Farm in Vermont, standing in front of her hanks of hand-dyed yarn. We have many, many big balls of that yarn, each skein gorgeously priced and enough for a woman's large sweater. SHE DYES IT IN HER KITCHEN!!!!!
....and of course as I thought about her, I remembered her sister Carol Buskey. Carol stood at Ellen's side for years and years; she accompanied Ellen to our old studio location some years ago when Ellen taught a great, great dyeing class (Carol showed people how to make polymer buttons to match their yarn). Carol died this past year of incurable cancer -- I still see the pain in Ellen's eyes, hear the mixture of anger and grief in her voice.
Today, my dear, dear friend Elaine told me that one of her colleagues, Sid, is now in hospice. I knew him slightly, but not well enough to feel the kind of pain and exhibit the kind of helplessness I saw today in Elaine's eyes, in her deportment. It reminded me, of course, of Ellen. It reminded me of myself when I lost that lovely man, Edward, in 2000, and when I lost my truly beloved Mother. In the end, it reminds me of all of us at that moment of exquisite confrontation with the contingent place we occupy on this earth. Sometime, find a copy of Elizabeth Cady Stanton's "The Solitude of Self," which is one of the most eloquent and true statements ever written about all of this, which makes moee and more sense, the older I get.
What are we to do with these reminders, these evidences, of frailty and mortality? We could collapse. We could knit or crochet or sew or tat ourselves into oblivion, never coming up for air. We could buy a mountain and carve some kind of updated Mount Rushmore. I could finish the book I'm trying to finish once and for all so that something of substance could survive me, beyond the stuff already on the shelf (I like this one the best of all). We could all vow, as I did six months ago, to try to do something unexpected for someone else every day -- a kind of homage to my mother who actually practiced this old-fashioned thing until the day she gave up on life (that resourceful, proud woman never got over the humiliation of wearing a diaper).
I don't know what will come of these sensations, this contemplative mood. Maybe nothing. I hope not. We should all have days that stop us in our tracks.