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  • Writer's pictureBetsy Grace

its Fervency, its Shining (Week 15-16)

One discovers the light in darkness, that is what darkness is for... It is necessary, while in darkness, to know there is a light somewhere, to know that in oneself, waiting to be found, there is a light.

(James Baldwin)


Making


This week, I finished the quilt top for this baby quilt! Which is very exciting, and involved many steps including:

  • Finishing up the blocks for the core design (60 total)

  • Re-making the foundation-paper-pieced de-centerpiece

  • Stitching the blocks into rows/sections

  • Stitching the rows/sections together

  • Scattering some pinwheels around and making a border to nestle them in

  • Deciding that I needed a second border between the quilt and the pinwheel border to set it off, which serves the handy double-purpose of echoing the de-centerpiece design

  • Stitching all those borders on

For a chosen few, that description might be interesting... but for everyone else, pictures are more fun! Here we go:


Making a new de-centerpiece one quadrant at a time, using the foundation paper piecing method


Stitching rows... I swear by pins to keep those intersections neat

Ooooh those corners are so tight I love it

Definitely need borders, at least on two sides (top and left) - maybe I should throw some pinwheels in there?

Loving the pinwheels, but I think I might need two borders....

Ironing the finished top is my favorite

Oooh look at that prettiness

Hello gorgeous


Writing


I'm excited to share my Most Influential Films of 2022 list with you all! Honestly, it feels like I've been working on this forever. I swear it's almost done. Here are a couple more previews:


I admit it - I've been kind of suspicious of how unabashedly cute this looks. Like: why are you so impressed with yourself with your little googly eye and your little voice and your little shoes? You're not even real! Stupid shell. But apparently, Marcel the Shell With Shoes On stays on the funny/sad/"life is a miracle" side of the line, not veering into overly saccharine / precious / embarrassing territory. According to the overwhelming majority of reviewers across all platforms, this film is an absolute treasure. So put your cynicism away, bust out your kleenex, and start thawing out your cold cold heart. Marcel is going on an adventure and you're invited! Available to rent.




Drawing from the same ancient Viking lore that inspired Hamlet, Robert Eggers' The Northman is a violent, visually stunning slow-burn revenge horror-fantasy starring Alexander Skarsgaard in full beast mode. I was ready to dismiss this movie for whatever reason, but it was so much more engaging and a lot weirder than I expected... just way more goth, way more feral, way more myth-meets-fantasy kind of stuff. For example, a major part of the movie is a magic sword that 1) craves blood, 2) can only be drawn at night or at the gates of hell and 3) can only be won through one-on-one combate with the ancient zombie that wields it. (Ok!) I liked it a lot. Streaming on Amazon Prime.



Ruben Ostlund's surreal, dry humor is the perfect vehicle for mercilessly poking holes in his characters' inflated sense of importance or self-delusion - a talent that he uses skillfully for great comedic effect. Though with an Ostlund film, you can never laugh too hard because is is always slyly pointing at you too, at your own sense of importance, your own self-delusion. He's been on a real tear for the last few years, with 2014's ruthlessly excellent Force Majeure and 2017's very funny send-up of the art world, The Square. Triangle of Sadness takes on the absurdity of the super rich and the industries that cater to them - blending high brow and low brow comedy in a fun, wild careening adventure. Go in as blind as possible and enjoy the ride. Available to rent.



Watching


Good Luck to You, Leo Grande (2022) - A gloriously complicated film in a simple package. I've never seen sex, shame, pleasure, and desire - especially for women - examined so honestly and with such kindness. And we really don't deserve Emma Thompson right now - she's so stunning in this film.


 

Decision to Leave (2022): Park Chan-wook's detective thriller is gorgeous and the most romantic movie I've seen in awhile. Though it gives you all the information you are craving about the murder case(s) and the film isn't obtuse in any way, its sense of haunting mystery leaves a trail through your consciousness, through your heart. Seriously what is the thing between these two!? Love is so mysterious.







 

Also on-screen at our place:





Reading


I can't ever get enough Mary Oliver - this poem of hers has been rumbling through my mind this week (listen here - beware, my nose is stuffy b/c COVID):

Of Love - Mary Oliver I have been in love more times than one, thank the Lord. Sometimes it was lasting whether active or not. Sometimes it was all but ephemeral, maybe only an afternoon, but not less real for that. They stay in my mind, these beautiful people, or anyway beautiful people to me, of which there are so many. You, and you, and you, whom I had the fortune to meet, or maybe missed. Love, love, love, it was the core of my life, from which, of course, comes the word for the heart. And, oh, have I mentioned that some of them were men and some were women and some—now carry my revelation with you— were trees. Or places. Or music flying above the names of their makers. Or clouds, or the sun which was the first, and the best, the most loyal for certain, who looked so faithfully into my eyes, every morning. So I imagine such love of the world—its fervency, its shining, its innocence and hunger to give of itself—I imagine this is how it began.
 

The big reading news in our house is that I finished both A Court of Mists and Fury and A Court of Wings and Ruin, the 2nd and 3rd books in the series by Sarah J. Maas. I can't put them down! I am pretty much live-tweeting my readthrough via text to Molly at this point; I even make Justin listen to me talk about them (which he very patiently does - nodding and occasionally saying something like "you're so cute").


Of course I love the epic adventures, the lovable characters, the humor, the imaginative world-building, the heroics... and the David vs. Goliath war against faerie Nazis was riveting, but the real hook for me is always going to be the love story, and the love story at the center of these first three novels is EPIC AF.


Something I've been thinking about is how even though inside the dynamic of the protagonists' love affair is this tender selflessness, this self-doubt, this struggle they both have with unworthiness... they both see and take responsibility for their power to shape the world. They insist on doing the right thing, even if it means they will be hurt, they will hurt others, or will be hated by the rest of the world. They wield others' hatred and fear like a weapon to protect the real good, to fight the bigger and more destructive evil, drawing the courage to act from their experience of the holiness of beauty - worth protecting and fighting for - and the love of their friends.


And in all the books' most dramatic moments, the core conflict always comes back to them facing themselves - accepting themselves, seeing their own fear, their own self-rejection, their own heartbreak - and choosing to not hold it alone, to not let it control them, to be the best of themselves. It's just so beautiful, so strong... and it's inspiring me! There are just 2 published books in the series left and I can feel myself trying to slow down, so I can linger in this world as long as possible.



Also


Sure, it snowed 15" and I got COVID in the last couple weeks, but I also went to Florida. I came home with hundreds of no-see-um bites and a very full heart.



 

I came across this video by Kerala Dust yesterday and it lit something up in my spirit, sparked my imagination:



Holy Time - Leave the Light On


Slides from this week's experience--with words from James Baldwin, Rumi, Mary Oliver, Joy Harjo, CAConrad, and Anais Nin; video from Maggie Rogers and music from Grinderman--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

  • All I want to listen to right now are Power Ballads (think epic, soaring, synthy mostly 80s stadium rock love songs), so I made this playlist. Enjoy (and turn it UP!).

 

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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