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  • Writer's pictureBetsy Grace

Hand On My Stupid Heart

Updated: Nov 30, 2023



 

The last few months have been a wild season, saturated with transitions of a few kinds. Floating through summer adventures in the wilderness my spirit high and body strong, throwing my energy toward healing and strengthening organizations in my community, and as life pounds on us all, occasionally finding myself flattened into the ground by darkness and grief. But I am alive and doing my best to live like it. I am so grateful to know and love my people with such profound joy, to re-center myself and others in sacred space week after week, to read and stitch with fervor, to watch some movies here and there. Life is so sweet.


Also, J and I just recently met our sweet little Dottie, the now 5-month old puppy who moved in and turned our lives upside-down. Her face makes my heart flip every day.



Making


Playa Alegria - the ambitious beach-scene-inspired quilt that is my primary commission project this year - is coming along. I've finished all the traditional blocks in various sizes and am moving on to piecing it together in sections, filling in the gaps with fabric pixels of various sizes as I go.



It's starting to come together. Lots more sunshiney-passionfruit gold to add to this one yet.

 

I have also been keeping my longarmer warm, quilting these two wall-hangings of my Mom's (meaning I did the stitching - the piecing/assembly is her work!):


 

My dearest friends also found themselves in a T-shirt quilt-making scramble, as their father-in-law, who was at the end of his life, wanted to give his wife a cozy quilt made from his clothing . So we gathered and, together, created what turned out to be a very cozy flannel-backed T-shirt quilt. We did the assembly together, though I was so pleased to get to quilt it.

 

And of course, there are always a few experiments and side quests percolating around the studio... I'm particularly inspired by this cathedral quilt section design (top left). I'd love to turn this into a throw!




Reading


 

Reading Sarah J. Maas' Throne of Glass series will undoubtedly be a highlight of this year, and possibly - my life. I have VERY strong feelings about this series - it is one of the most heartbreaking, courageous, inspiring, epic experiences I've had with any kind of storytelling and I doubt I will experience anything like it again soon (well, until I read it again). Tattoo it on my heart!!


I also finished the two released books in Maas' Crescent City series, which I devoured whole, and am now sitting on my hands eagerly waiting for the next book coming out in January, alongside many, many other Maas superfans.


As a diversion in the meantime, I started reading J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series (20+ books and counting!). In the beginning, this was just some fun mid-aughts urban vampire smut (which I'm totally ok with) - complete with truly cringey character names (like Wrath and Rhage). But then the third book hit. This one was a heartbreakingly complex, dark, truly unpredictable romance with multiple kinds of life-changing love and characters I will carry with me for a long time - including a top 3 book boyfriend who totally nails that tortured, self-loathing, heart of gold underneath the scary badass with a scarred face thing and a clear-eyed, resilient heroine with the most open-hearted, life-changing love. The minute I finished, I wanted to read the book again from the beginning. So basically, I am hooked now. Which is great! Because there are tons of books to read.


 

And as is my annual tradition, as the dark season descended earlier this month, I revisited Jeannette Winterson's essay, "Why I Adore the Night," in which she reminds us to relish the unique gifts of long, cold, dark nights.


"City or country, that sundown hour is strange and exhilarating, as ordinary spatial relations are altered: trees rear up in their own shadows, buildings bulk out, pavements stretch forward, the red wrapper of brake lights turns a road into a lava flow.


Inside, the lights are going on. Outside, it's getting dark. You, as a dark shape in a darkening world, want to hold that intimacy, just for one night. Go home. Leave the lights off.


We have all experienced negative darkness – those long stretches of the night when we can't sleep, and worry about everything, and so we know that "dark time" can seem interminably long, compared with daytime. Yet this slowing of time can be the most relaxing and beautiful experience. Spending the evening in candlelight, and maybe by the fire – with no TV – talking, telling stories, letting the lit-up world go by without us, expands the hours, and alters the thoughts and conversations we have.


I have noticed that when all the lights are on, people tend to talk about what they are doing – their outer lives. Sitting round in candlelight or firelight, people start to talk about how they are feeling – their inner lives. They speak subjectively, they argue less, there are longer pauses.


To sit alone without any electric light is curiously creative. I have my best ideas at dawn or at nightfall, but not if I switch on the lights – then I start thinking about projects, deadlines, demands, and the shadows and shapes of the house become objects, not suggestions, things that need to done, not a background to thought.


The famous "sleep on it" when we have a dilemma we can't solve is an indication of how important dream time is to human wellbeing. The night allows this dream time, and the heavier, thicker dark of winter gives us a chance to dream a little while we are awake – a kind of reverie or meditation, the constellation of slowness, silence and darkness that sits under the winter stars.."




Watching


I've been watching some stuff! I just finished my third watch-through of Rachel Bloom's extraordinary series Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Both Oppenheimer and Barbie were highlights of the summer in completely different ways. Pieces was the wildest horror movie we watched during this year's spooky season.


And of course, I always squeeze in lots of comfort food films and favorites.




Also


Oh my goodness, my favorite and everyone's favorite hard-working American sweetheart Sepp Kuss won the Vuelta a Espana!



And closer to home, there has been so much beautiful life.




Holy Time - Wild and Soft


We have had many beautiful Holy Time gatherings over the last several months, but slides from last week's experience--with words from Sharif S. Elmusa, Naomi Shihab Nye, Mary Oliver, Hannah Ro, and Pablo Neruda and music from Warren Ellis--are available here.


Holy Time is a weekly online gathering - Thursdays, 8:45pm CT on zoom (https://zoom.us/j/94849428936).


All are welcome.


Contact me at bgmatheson@gmail.com with questions or for more information.


Soundtrack

 

What you are making and reading and writing and doing? What is inspiring you? I'd love to hear from you in the comments.


Love,


Betsy

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