auld lang syne

“For the sake of old times!”  As close as I can get to a translation that makes sense to me of the words “auld lang syne.”

“Should Old Acquaintance be forgot,
and never thought upon” 

A slight variation of the Robert Berns words, but the words that sang out to me this morning.  Yes, I admit to wanting to not cast too many glances back.  It has been a hard year.  It has been a brutal almost two years, and all my heart wants to do is to turn and face the winds of the new, hoping and praying that the new will be much, much more pleasant than the old.  As a friend wrote as a wish to another friend, a wish for a more cooperative new year.


A cooperative 2022 would be divine!

Some of the brutal times remain, at least for the moment.  We are back to more precautions for Julia’s program reintroducing last spring’s school rules. Church resumes virtually and regular choir rehearsals have been cancelled.  HILR promised some in-person classes for the spring and I expect those will be cancelled when the office opens on Monday.  I’ve resisted KN95’s assuming like so many that the cloth masks of last year will do until Covid is behind us, but I have a pack of KN-95’s coming in the mail, as well as test kits. We have been wearing masks and keeping our distance regularly but I know of an ever increasing number of people who have Covid. 

I am not scared of getting sick.  I’ve read some virus deniers make fun of those taking the precautions of masks, distances and limited socializing. I felt truly daring going to the MFA two days ago. No, I am not scared of being sick but I need to be cautious to keep our lives moving along without another trauma.  The chance that I could be seriously sick could tip our careful balance. I will try my best not to do that.

The museum visit was wonderful!  We were there during the summer, but just once, and there is a quilt show that closes in the middle of January that I’ve wanted to see.  I expect that the last weekends of the quilt exhibit will be crowded and that would be the only time I could take Julia if we did not go during the vacation week.  And if we wind up getting sick from our visit, it feels, at least for the moment, like a good risk to have taken.

Somewhere inscribed on the walls of the exhibit, was information about the 1971 Whitney Museum’s exhibit of antique quilts. Named Abstract Design in American Quilts, that exhibit 50 years ago was groundbreaking.  Quilts and quilt making was recognized as art, even though it was still an art mostly executed by women in their homes, possibly with their communities.  I remember that exhibit.  I remember that those quilts, lovely as they were, were simply quilts.  The kind of quilts that you could see on someone’s bed, that someone’s grandma made.  And then in 1971, they were art.

Just the thought of the Whitney exhibit brings on a smile, brings on a giggle.  Didn’t we always know that grandma’s quilts were art?

The MFA’s show presents quilts of our time—political turmoil, racism, gun culture and stories of hard won lives made by a hugely diverse array of artists. I felt proud of the diversity, of the claiming of the diversity, even to the extent that it included a few men. 

Julia’s favorite quilt in the show was a relatively small black and white quilt of a lynching tree with four KKK ghosts at the bottom.  Julia did not understand everything that was going on in the piece and after staring for awhile, asked who and what and why.  I was at first shy about explaining in a room full of people, no doubt some heard what I said. 

“What did they do?”  

Julia does not understand nuance but I have always explained what she asks about. When we were in Italy, she would ask about the gruesome paintings of martyrs in churches and museums and I would tell her what I knew.  It turned out I knew a lot, it was not difficult to dig up the lives of saints from 12 years of Catholic education buried deep in my bones.  So many of those stories are of humanity’s cruelty, of power gone wild in the worst ways, of humanity’s inhumanity.  

It was easier to explain the cruelty that made martyrs during middle ages than it is to explain Americans in the not too distant past who felt they had a right to kill their countrymen because their skin color was different.  I worried my words but only for a moment.  Then, I told her the stories I knew. 

Our other favorite piece was the quilt ball.  Oh, it is wrong to call that our other favorite—so many of those pieces were extraordinary!  (Go to the web site which offers information and some pictures. Or better yet, the show!) The quilt ball, however, struck me as a piece that I could never in my wildest imagining that thought up.  I feel that way about a lot of art—I am not such a thinker—but every so often something jumps out at me.  Making a huge ball covered with patch quilt pieces is such a work.  It makes me happy!  It grows my mind and heart. And I am grateful to share the earth with minds that come up with such ideas!

It is a day for resolutions and I am usually right there with the best of resolution makers. This year, this shiny new calendar of possibilities cannot tempt me to set out any goals that are optimistic wishes and dreams. I made a few resolutions disguised as intentions about my writing in my last post and those are what I will try to live up into.  That’s mostly all.

A friend who I exchanged New Year’s wishes with wrote that she was starting as she means to go on.  That is as close to other resolutions as I will go.  It is such a. good idea. 

And so today, Julia and Cheshire and Justin and I had our Christmas morning, we ate a good brunch that Julia and I finished off for supper.  We drew, I wrote and we watched a movie.  I wish for more days like this—just throw in a few walks and perhaps a visit to the gym!

I bought new charcoal pencils yesterday and this is what came out of one today.  Drawing and using color have become a warm up and a new creative endeavor to play with and make a practice of.  I have been inspired and schooled by Julia’s art mentor, Deb Putnoi.  She is part of 2021 that I happily carry into this new year!

May this 2022 be gentle.  Kind and cooperative.  Generous and exciting.

One thought on “auld lang syne

  1. That ball quilt has so much energy – I can see why it inspires you. Wonderful exhibit!

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