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Author Archives: Arlinda Johnson

My creative life has died. Health problems, family problems work load have gotten in the way and are taking up my time, my world. I find myself unable to have even one creative thought most of the time. Instead I procrastinate in my personal life, I find myself mindlessly watching tv or just sitting doing nothing.

This morning the word “why” came into focus. Specifically, why do politicians now use the word homeland instead of saying United States when talking about our country. I find the use of homeland distasteful, bordering on offensive. It reminds me of fascism though I am not sure WHY.

The first time I came across a politician using the word homeland was when George Bush, the younger, was president. I was working as an executive assistant to an emergency management planner for fourteen counties and a form letter was sent out describing evil among us and threats to the homeland. It reminded me of being taught about Hitler. I am not comparing former President Bush to Hitler, but the wording caught my attention. I found it unsettling.

Unfortunately, it seems to have caught on. Politicians have latched onto it, the media uses it, and even the people I work with have incorporated it. What is wrong with saying United States? It has such a warm sounding, unifying ring to it. Maybe the reason why we don’t say United States is because we don’t seem to be very unified in this country these days. We emphasize our differences instead of recognizing our similarities, we seem unwilling to be this United States. Why?

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Sometimes life just seems to get in the way of what you want to do with your time. I am there. Health issues I have been dealing with for a very long time have reared their ugly head. Being resentful isn’t really working for me but not working on my art isn’t either.

Like most people I define myself by achievement. For me that entails coming up with ideas I want to explore and executing them. It is totally frustrating to feel drained and tired. I am trying to tell myself “just spend 20 minutes a day” but even those 20 minutes seem undoable lately. How can you lose the ability to enjoy working at something you have enjoyed all your life?

After working all day on my day job, my sick body protests doing any more. If someone else is dealing with these issues I would like to hear what solutions you have found.

   In June I wrote about a piece I had made and gave to my daughter as a housewarming present. This piece now hangs in her dining room and when I go over to visit I catch myself staring at it as if I am willing it to give me some answers to questions I have in my life. It hangs there silent and I look at the chaotic design of it and recognize it for what it is: a reflection of the confusion I sometimes feel a bit overwhelmed by. It seems to me it is all about struggling to find your spot, where you fit. You take many dead end paths searching for your spot. If you are lucky, you find it.

   When I started this piece many conflicting thoughts and emotions were going through my mind. My mother had recently passed, I felt too old for my job and I was adrift. I had pieces of wool and silk I had cut from used clothing and I loved the colors. Before you know it My design wall was telling me where to cut and how to place all those marvelous colors. But I also noticed how chaotic and confusing it all was and kept thinking I have got to find my spot. 

   My daughter came to visit and informed me I was making this piece for her. I have often wondered if she saw her emotional lost mother in this work. I am not sure I like this piece, it reminds me of places I do not want to go. It hangs in the dining room and it is silent. I wonder what it ever says.2014-08-16 16.52.16 

I am inching my way painfully back into my studio. The last month has been difficult: busy at work, helping my daughter move. Now, on to bigger and better things!

I’ve been reading other artists discussing what they call themselves. It is a personal choice. For me, I remember telling people apologetically I make quilts. I knew they were picturing their or someone else’s grandmother making quilts that were used on the bed until threadbare. I would wait for the blank stare and the total loss of interest and feel frustrated by my inability to make them understand.

Slowly over the years, the general public have been catching on. There are still those moments when I run into the old comments and dismissive attitudes, but more and more people look at me expectantly, waiting to hear more. I am a quilter even when my quilts do not look like quilts. Whether I am an artist or not is for the viewer to decide.

I remember when Autumn’s Glory won a blue ribbon in my local guild show for art. The piece was heavily threadpainted and I had wanted a painterly effect for the small landscape quilt. I watched a couple walking in the area near my quilt. I saw the wife stop to look and her husband impatiently pushing her forward saying, “That’s not a quilt, it’s a painting.” Made me laugh. Sort of damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

I love fabric. The feel of it beneath my fingers gets my imagination running wild. I know many others in this field hate the “q” word, I love the word quilt. My family produced many quilters and I am one of them. My quilts are very different than theirs but that is as it should be. After all, I am unique and I am a quilter.

My daughter has been staying with me while transitioning into a new job. This weekend we start the process of moving her into her new apartment. My housewarming present to her is a wall hanging: “Finding my Spot in the Midst of Chaos.” Strange name?

My theory is everyone has their own spot. Sometimes the finding of that spot is very difficult. I suffered from depression until 2003. I haven’t had a depressive episode since. In the depths of that depression I would feel that if only I could find my spot, where I fit, I could find sanctuary. The trouble was I was entangled in a riotous mass of confusion and chaos.

This piece is my attempt to explore that confusion. My daughter who has watched my progression over the years wants this piece. So, out of the confusion a housewarming present for my daughter. 

For about two years now I have been reading about tiny houses. I want one soooo badly. My siblings(3) and I grew up in a 32′ travel trailer. The freedom of that house on wheels. You couldn’t have very many possessions but you were rich in experiences. It was a great way to grow up, unfettered and free.

I can remember my dad getting up of a morning and announcing we were moving. Everybody would get excited, scurrying around to pick up toys and bikes and getting them stored in the back of the carry-all so they wouldn’t get left behind. We’d all pile into the seat of my dad’s pride and joy, a Chevy carry-all, and away we’d go singing “The Bear Went Over the Mountain.” My  dad would be grinning, my mother would laugh at the silliest things, and us kids would play the alphabet game reading all the billboards. Those were happy days!

I don’t buy into the popular myth of whoever ends up with the most toys wins. To my way of thinking that is LOSING. Living life, not being a slave to modern conventions, now that is living. All those things everyone is buying don’t make me happy. Sunrises on a beach, walks among desert rocks, swimming in a clear lake: those are the things that make me happy.

 Anyway, tiny houses are all over the internet now. I want to buy an old travel trailer (very small) and gut the inside and make my own tiny house. I want to visit every national park and seashore in this country. It would be the best way to live out the rest of my life, the way I began it, in a house on wheels meeting life with a smile on my face.