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About this Blog, or How to Begin Again (and Bring It all to Bear)

"Art consists of limitation. The most beautiful part of every picture is the frame."        
—G.K Chesterton

One morning after a time of great struggle, I opened my eyes and looked out the window. 

Planet Venus, Dean NimmerI was lying in my bed, a firm bed set within a simple metal frame. I was warm beneath a thick duvet embroidered with sparrows and reeds. My pillows were soft, my hair was clean. A pine-needle sachet wafted its dark fresh scent through the room. The chipped alabaster buddha sat on the side table as he always sat. Quietly.

As I lay there I knew but did not much care about the story that had framed my last few years.

At another time, I might have described it like this: After a lifetime of turmoil between us, my mother was (still) dead, and I (still) did not know if I missed her.

For years, I had mourned the loss of my marriage so deeply that I had slept on couches, unable to face the bed's acreage alone. But some mornings, this morning, I would wake up with something close to gratitude because I was lying in my bed with only myself for company and my daughter asleep across the hall.

Sometimes, for minutes at a time and only recently, I might find myself forgetting to be terrified about the next day and whether I would be able to hold my life and my child's life together, although I had not yet found my footing after losing husband, mother, country, income, lover, pets, fishes, health, and hope, in short order and none at all.

But there was no story running though my head that morning. I was just... looking out the window. For once, just looking out the window.

The bare trees as seen from my upper flat, their complication of branches tangled and tipped with ice crystals formed in the morning's bright freeze, gave me a sense of deep pleasure. They were all the sight I needed, and all the world to me right then. 

And suddenly I realized that this was so because they were beautiful yes, but also contained, framed and intensified by the three-foot high, six-foot long window with its gentle fall of opened drapes. A picture that only I could see.

It was in that moment that I also saw the connection between the great passions of my life.

The "serious" ones such as poetry, literature, art.  The "silly" ones like fashion, or designing rooms for aesthetic effect, not just livability and order. The simply necessary ones by which we come to know our daily worth, such as contributing to the greater good, cooking a nourishing meal,  keeping a functional house in which to raise our children or ourselves.

The connection between each, I saw, was the frame that each of these provides through which to view, or be viewed by, what is "other" than us.

As a frame for the individual, clothes hint at, emphasize, sometimes even scream the personality of the wearer.

As the frame for experience, the poem—impossibly, implausibly, but when right, inexorably—allows the reader to enter a moment only the writer knows first hand.

A frame of gilt, of wood, or glass, contains and sets apart the painting. But far more significantly, the frame that is the painting gestures by its inclusions and its excisions to something greater than itself.

I understood, and it was the beginning of a healing in what I'm not ashamed to call my soul, that without a frame the world both inside and outside us is too vast to comprehend or navigate.

But with the right frame—the one that, though necessarily selective and subjective, is also true, strong, beautiful, organic, responsive, malleable, magic, and brave—the world can be a place we live in, however imperfectly, by our own design.