Saturday, January 30, 2010

Epic Project Completed!

Epic Blanket Project Completed in Time for Birth of Twins

Chapel Hill based Tarr Twins "Baby A" and "Baby B" still wait in the womb while the world bustles around them preparing for their birth. The nursery is painted, the car seats are properly placed, and the birth plan has been carefully constructed. Anticipating mother, Julia Tarr, continues to eat small snacks about 700 times per day to nourish the demanding needs of the growing babies. Proud father, Jeremy Tarr, studies hard at the Law School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, hoping to "be the best he can be" for his children.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the state, long term friend and associate Dana Nagle, scurries to complete the blankets she and her mother Karen have crafted for the twins. The two blankets, each with their own unique color combination, have been lovingly created with a variety of techniques, including knitting, crocheting and sewing. The yarn selected for the project was a cotton/wool blend (85%/15%), and the blanketes were constructed by hand in both North Carolina and China, where the Nagle family spent several months in late 2009.

Neither Nagle can quite believe the project has finally reached an end.
"I just can't quite believe it's finally reached an end," the younger Nagle comments. All Karen can do is nodd in agreement.

"Sometimes you just get it in your mind to do something and you just have to do what it takes," explains Dana.

Friend and associate Frau Robinson shares the disbelief in the completion of the project, "Dane, I mean, I just can't believe you are finished!"
"Yeah, well..." replies Nagle.

The blankets are considered by the artists to be a "mosaic of colors and textures." While some of the squares utilize simple combinations of knit and pearl stitches, some of the square dapples in the arts of "cabling," "eyelets," and "faggotry," (knitting lace-like textures).

Blankets are currently washed and blocked and are drying in the loft of the elder Nagle's guest cottage. Both Nagles anxiously await the birth of the recipients of the blankets, which could occur any day now.

knit and pearl triangle pattern

basic cable

the Turkish faggot stitch

photographs fail to accurately display vibrancy of colors

"A Real Special Situation"

This is a little collage-y-poo I made in honor of the awesome work day out at my place last weekend. Many thanks to Mom, Dad, Laura, Eduard, Todd, Susie, Mecho, Fred, Liz, James, Illiana, Deanna, Isaiah, and Stacey!!! Yall got me really excited and I am very grateful for your work and kindness. Stay tuned- you are all getting your very own hard copy of the collage!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Awesome Work Party inspires young lady to contemplate "sense of place"

I think I have always been really affected by place. When I was either 12 or 14, my parents announced that we were moving from the house I lived in all my life to a bigger house in a different neighborhood. They drove us the 5 miles to "Foxcroft," to the house which would soon be ours. It was almost twice the size of our old house and had an acre of woods behind it. My sister was ecstatic. She went exploring and dreamed about all the fun we would have there. I got out of the car and froze. I cried for days. This wasn't home. This was a strange place that smelled funny, and there was so much space between each house. I deeply mourned for the home I would be leaving behind- not just the house, whose attic fan droned me to sleep every hot summer piedmont night. Not just the "creek" (aka run-off ditch), to whom I composed and whole-heartedly sang songs of devotion all spring, summer and fall. Not just the huge and gorgeous holly in the front yard or the protective oak tree or the play house in the back that Dad built. Not just the fact that I knew every crack in the sidewalk for blocks from so much bike riding and every inch of every back, side and front yard on the whole block. Not just the sweetness of the candies that Marie and Charlie, our ancient back neighbors, would give Jenna and me when we pretended to go over to their pickly smelling house just to "say hi." Not just the block parties every summer where the children would run races on foot, bike and pogo stick while the grownups got drunk on cheap beer. Not just the memories of sleepless summer evenings spent whispering with Jenna in our bedroom, trying to stay cool and not get caught being awake. Or the maypole celebrations my mom would host in our front yard every May Day. Or riding my bike to Kerry's and then riding another 2 blocks to school. It was no one thing or even a compilation of a bunch of single experiences that every cell in my teenage body would grieve. It was the very essence of the place, and how much of the place was me and my identity in the world. I didn't realize it at the time, but the place where I grew up was probably as much a part of me as my very family.
I think place is not just where you are. There are qualities to every place that seem to demand expressions of those qualities from its inhabitants. As an adult I know that our first neighborhood in Charlotte was a very safe and community oriented place. It drew neighborliness out of the souls of its residents, and those that refused were either inclined to leave or they stuck out like a sore thumb. What makes a place who and what it is remains a mystery to me. Like why was our second Charlotte neighborhood, which was so close in location, so very different?

It is quite monumental that I have finally bought land here. Shelton Laurel. Who would have ever thought it? The first time I ever drove through Shelton Laurel I was in absolute awe. It seemed so remote and removed from the rest of the world. I wondered who on earth lived there and what did they possibly do all the way out there. I am tickled that I have chosen a place that awed me as a first reaction.

The holler where my land is is a really special place. I have been visiting Susie and Todd there for years, and I realized the other day, ever since the first time I went down there, it was one of my favorite places to go visit. The feeling I got there was so good. Now I "own" 20 acres there, and it's making think a lot about place. I wonder what the spirit of this place is going to demand of me as a resident. So far I know (from living in the holler as a squatter for 2 years) that the place demands that I attune myself to its pace, which seems slower and deeper than the society at large. I am required to give utmost respect to the elements because they have demonstrated their power in the form of floods, trees falling and hailstorms. I am also demanded by this place to marvel at the wonder of creation.

I had my first big work day on the land last Saturday. You would not believe the awesomeness of the day. Fourteen friends and neighbors came, all giving generously of their time and energy all day to help me clear around my house site and saw up some trees that came down in the snow storm. I was utterly amazed that people came in the morning and worked hard all morning and then STAYED and worked hard all afternoon. We had so much fun and got so much work done. At a few moments in the day I looked around me and almost tripped out to really realize what was happening. I was experiencing a really beautiful aspect of the spirit of my new place- the spirit of helping and community. Shelton Laurel, being so separated from the surrounding towns and areas by mountains, has a long history of a place that takes care of itself and its own. Even though the people who came to help me Saturday are relatively new in that place, I think the place has already made them adopt the quality of taking care of each other. I am so happy to be in a place that demands that quality of its residents. As I write this, I realize that in some ways my first neighborhood in Charlotte and the neighborhood of my new land couldn't be more different. But in some ways, the qualities of place are more similar than I would think.

PS. Pictures of awesome work day and fantastic neighbors coming soon...

Monday, January 25, 2010


I met Dusti in high school at West Charlotte. She had a bit of an edge and at times she utilized rather "bold" language, so I must admit I kept my distance at first. But then we got paired together in gym class as bowling partners (of all god forsaken things- I think it was something like a 3 week bowling unit). We got to talking about all manners of meaningful things, and I found out she liked to come up to the mountains and do ceremonies like getting naked and sweating it out while praying with a bunch of women in a pitch black domb that had hot rocks and steam. That pretty much did it for me- Dusti had won me over. I journeyed to the mountains with her for one of these ceremonial weekends and it changed my life, opening me up to ways of spirituality that were earth based and right up my urban little teenage alley.
Dusti was more of a country girl than I probably ever will aspire to be. You know that kind of girl who is most natural on a horse in the woods? Yeah, you know the kind. Dusti and her sister Brandy were like that. Their dad has a farm out in Marshville, home of Randy Travis, that is a tomb-boy's paradise- woods and water and wildlife and horses. Her dad was rad. He stayed out there in a cabin and was real chill and nice and played blues on his guitar. Dusti's beloved horse was called Whiskey.
On a few special occasions, I got to go out and spend the weekend out at the farm with Dusti. We would sleep in the woods and have a fire and ride horses and listen to her dad play the blues.
This one occasion I am thinking about, Dusti invited a group of friends from school to come out to the farm for the weekend. I don't remember how many came, maybe 6 or so. When we got out there, we decided we would all go for an evening horseback ride. We rode double and bareback through the terrain of the farm. It was lovely, except the person who rode with me ( a guy who I will spare embarrassment by using the psuedonym "Frank") was a scaredy cat (not the word Dusti used to describe him) on the horse and caused our horse to be spooked and jumpy the whole time. It kind of sucked, and because of that and other annoying things he did that day, we decided that the typical ragging on him wasn't enough. He was on our nerves and we needed to get it out.
That night we stayed in Dusti's dad's cabin. Maybe it was raining or something. We were all getting ready for bed, and one of us came up with a prank that we felt would suffice to get "Frank" back for his annoyingness. We replaced the toothpaste in the bathroom with a tube of Gynolotromin (female anti-fungal ointment of some sort), and turned the tube upside down so you couldn't really tell what it was at a glance. We removed the toothpaste from the bathroom and put some toothbrushes next to the female ointment. Then we told "Frank" that it was his turn to wash up. Us gals gathered around the closed bathroom door and laughed until we turned blue when we heard "Frank" in there cussing and spitting the stuff out. He came out and swore up and down he didn't actually fall for the trick, but we knew better.
I think he tried to get us back by putting ice in our sleeping bags, but we knew we had the "V" for victory on that one.

PS Stayed tuned tonight or tomorrow for a report on the most fantastic work party last weekend!

A cheap way out (with good reason)

On account of today being my one week deadline for my experimental writing assignment, I hereby write the following post:

Something unexpected came up this week. I have reconnected with an old friend through the virtual world of BLOG. As a principle, I do not believe in internet communication being a subsitute for real live face to face. That being said, I am still ridin high with gladness to reconnect with Ms Dusti(n) Marie Pearson Harlan, aka Lusti Dusti, even if we have not had any face to face in a long while (one little quickie a few years ago). Dusti is my only friend from Charlotte I have regretted not being more in touch with, and it just tickles me pink to be able to read her blog- she is the Halloweenstress.

So, getting back to my writing assignment, I have decided to do quickie little cheap one liners to address all of the requests from my generous readers, and then I am going to tell a Dusti story from the archives.

For Eduard, who requested foreigners in America: The best one liner I can come up with for foreigners in America is: "Good luck, pals!"

For Rachel, who requested a story about my favorite pair of shoes of all times: (Let's see if I can fit this into one sentence...) My favorite pair of shoes of all times was a brand spankin new pair of white Keds, about size 7, worn by a very still woman in a stall next to me in the restroom of Borders Books where I had the absolute loudest fart of my whole life and laughed or 10 solid minutes while watching the Keds next to me not move a milimeter.

For Jordana, who requested a tale of Cumberland Island: Once upon a rainy January, two friends, while camping in January on a lovely island off the coast of south Georgia, were inspired by wildlife to invent a line of erotic gear with names such as: the Armadildo, and Wild Stallion condoms; they laughed until they ached.

For Simon: Food, furniture, and finances are some of the "f's" in my future; others are farting, fishing and a fine, fine fellow.

For Meg, who requested a story about Tupac: Breaking news!!!! Tupac is among the departed, along with "so-called" rival Biggy Smalls. It appears the world just "wasn't ready" for their "rapping."

And for Anonymous and Beth: Even though I walk through the valley of death, I will fear no evil for thou art with me, and there are heights to be conquered; when the blood and the fire shall storm down from the heights, my savior will lift me up to the highest heights of the conquering lion of Tupac...

Please forgive me the one liners, but really my inspiration for the day comes from this memory I have of Dusti.

Monday, January 18, 2010


I don't want to kick myself later, but I want to try an experiment. I want you readers to suggest a topic for me to do a post about. I just want to practice writing. Leave your suggestions in the comment box, and I will select one to write about. Give me a week or so to follow through. Thanks for participating.

ps Today was glorious and comfortable. Golden rays of long awaited sunlight warmly and boldly shone sideways through the midwinter horizon. I drank clean, clear water straight from the spring which flows freely from the ground at the spot of earth I will soon call home. Everything felt in good place. It was Martin Luther King Day.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A question answered (warning:graphic material)

Sometimes questions just get answered without much effort from the asker. This past weekend, I was having a conversation with my friend Jeremy about placentas. He asked me if animals eat their placentas and cut their babies umbilical cords. I remember our miniature dacshound, Bachi, eating placenta after birthing her 3 miniscule puppies, but I didn't know about other animals, like say, deer, goats or cows. I told him I could find out. The next day I was walking out by the Mecho's house, and the lady Mechos came out to tell me about their new calf, Leslie Patience, who had been born hours before. I was invited by Mama Mecho to go out to the barn to see the tiny calf, and this is what I walked into...

Well, that answers that.
(To be fair, it has been made known to me that a cow does not always choose to eat her placenta.)
After an exciting photo session with Maude and Leslie Patience (complete with the dynamic and slurpy soundtrack of a large animal without opposable digits snarfing down a steaming placenta), I went for a most lovely walk in the snow up to my new homeplace. The late afternoon light across the sky and snow cast a most peaceful aura over the old cemetery up there, and the woods were silent and still. Snow everwhere (except the site I am considering for my house.) I walked until twilight began its blue midwinter descent over the mountains. It is quite beautiful in these parts.

Monday, January 11, 2010

My dear friend with a very sizable protrusion (Ode to Julie)

It is a great honor to witness the life and path of a dear friend unfold over many years.

Julie called me at the beginning of the school year when I was in 11th grade and asked me if she could ride home with me in my 1979 doo doo brown Pontiac Catalina. We were both new at West Charlotte High School, a place where it seemed we would be swallowed by the large and colorful sea of students. She confessed later that she had to lock herself in the bathroom and force herself to call me because she was so shy and scared. She was tiny and timid back then, weighing a grand sum of about 95 pounds. We rode home from school together every afternoon, making polite chit chat on the freeway. I had a habit of waiting until the last moment to change lanes once we were off our exit and in a spot where the lane ended. One afternoon, she abruptly demanded: "Why don't you just change lanes sooner!!!" It shocked me so much that I just laughed and laughed. After that we were inseparable friends. I think she spent more time at my house than hers for the rest of high school. We rocked our own straight edge scene, not giving a fart what anyone thought. Our adolescent humors evolved side by side in a rather twisted fashion (which, come to think of it maybe hasn't changed much...) Our houses were a 12 1/2 minute walk from each other (if you cut through the Bill Minor Memorial Walkway to cross neighborhoods- which we did 'cuz William Minor was her grandpa.) Many a morning and night we met halfway at the cul de sac and took it from there. One evening we met at the cul de sac at dusk, and, lacking anything better to do, we waited quietly for the cockroaches to come out of the sewer and by the light of the street lamp we threw rocks at the critters. We could make fun out of anything. Literally. Anything. When it came time for me to go to college, we sat at my house and cried and cried and cried. Julie had made me a really special helmet with all sorts of wacky shit (shit as in things) and she embroidered "deez nuts" on the back. I wore it as we sobbed.
That was in 1994. We have seen each other through everything since then. This blog is not the place to tell the details of our lives and friendship, but I will say that to have a true friend must be one of the greatest things about being human.
As I sat with Julie and Jeremy (her husband and my friend) this past weekend, it hit me hard how precious a friendship is. It was the last time I would ever spend with Julie without kids. I thought back on our rides home from West Charlotte that year and everything that has happened since.
So much has happened.
We have both witnessed so much. I would have never ever ever thought that she would be a mother to twins. And here it is unfolding.

There must be so much more to come that we don't know about. It is such a deep comfort to know that as long as we both walk this crazy planet, we will be friends. And continue to witness each other move through our lives.

Here's to my dear friend and the health of her soon to be born babies!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A Real Sweet Situation

There is a real sweet situation going on over at a certain house on a certain road in a certain part of a certain local city. A certain "Jude" and a certain "Paul" have brought home a certain baby named "Sylvia Sparrow." I paid these people a visit yesterday and thoroughly enjoyed holding the baby and marvelling at her sweetness, quietly chit chatting with a very calm and glowing Jude, and piling on the bed with all of the aforementioned plus "Blackie." There was room on the cozy bed for: napping, knitting, nursing, pooping, burping, talking pretty, diaper changing, laughing, and chilling.

I asked Paul if I could display this picture of him having "just a wink" of a little "cat nap" in the chair (with a tiny little wink of sunlight warming his situation), and he said yes but that he looked like "some guy who got stuck in the airport." I'm glad he can still be funny when he was just awakened from his little nappy. It reminds me of a time I ran into Paul one night at a certain local music club. He was happy and drunk and gregariously chatting with some annoying and cocky young business man in slacks. I was wondering who was this dude and why was Paul talking to him so happily. (I found out later that Paul had just met the guy and was just being his friendly self.) During conversation Paul told the guy that I was the funniest lady he knew. I got all competitive real quick and starting thinking, "well what kind of gentleman does he think is so much funnier?" so I demanded as much: Who is the funniest MAN you know, Paul? (probably with a poorly hidden glare). Paul looked at me real slow and happy. A twinkly grin spread over his face as he slowly lifted a pointer finger and turned it around to himself. I just laughed and laughed.
'I see...'

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Family sentiment (take it while you can)

I'm at Jenna's house now. It is January 2nd, and I am warm inside on a very cold day. I am listening to Jenna's breathing as she sleeps during a little nappy. It is peaceful and quiet, a precious still moment that seems to be rare these days. I am calculating that I have been with family pretty non stop for around 6 1/2 weeks now. Mom, Dad, Sally and I shared the 2 bedroom apartment in China and spent days with Jenna in her hospital room (which was large)- close quarters for a gal who has acclimated herself to living alone in the woods... Then we came home from China and had two days before the electricity was knocked out for most of Christmas week by a snow storm. Then it was Mom, Dad, Jenna, Nauni (my grandmother) and I trying to stay warm and fed while recovering from jetlag. Now my brother and sister in law and nephews (ages 3 1/2 and 1 and cuter than a bucket of buttons) are here so it is all of us and an occasional Nauni trying to stay warm and fed. I am living in Mom and Dad's guest house right next door to them, which is awesome and convenient and warm and cozy and right in the middle of the big family mix. It feels like it has been a 6 week long family visiting marathon. Last night after a loud and crazy dinner, I laid my tired new years party bones down to bed early and thought- even though the noise and the constant family dynamics make me tired and sometimes crazy, there is something really comforting about having everyone together and in each other's lives. I know my place within the world of my family, something I cannot say for my relationship to the world at large. The way we live so close to each other and are up in each other's space and business (on a daily basis- especially lately) is not all that common for a lot of modern Americans. And I cannot say that I aspire to live next door to my parents long term (heaven help me), but I will say it is great (and I dare say a blessing) to be part of a clan. And it seems like no matter how bad we drive each other nuts, deeper is the relentless unspoken commitment to take care of each other.
Time to sign off- Jenna woke up while I was on the toilet doing my business. She cheered me on, "Go, Dana, go!"
Gotta love family...