Pythian Games

put on your track shoes and write the miles

Archive for the ‘Baskets’ Category

Coils and Twists

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There’s a mystery to baskets for those of us who admire them but think we don’t have the skills to make our own. Made of woven materials, coils and twists they’re tactile objects, yet robust enough to do duty for fetching and carrying. Baskets are vessels that nurture and protect the things we love, when full the cup running over with plenty, when empty a container we can fill to overflowing with good things of all sorts.

I’ve always owned and admired baskets. I love them as receptacles for precious items that can be left around my house. They’re far more beautiful than plastic boxes and just as functional. My varied collection is made from willow, cane, sea grass, reed and wire. One of my favourites is a small African basket brought home by a friend from South Africa made from recycled telephone wires closely woven to form a simple pattern.

I’ve always been a stitcher; over the years I’ve used baskets as places to stash my project and materials. My embroidery threads and scraps of fabric only make sense to me if they’re in a basket I can reach into, dig deep and find the perfect colour. I love the feel of the fibres and the textures as I reach into the depths. After a bad day at work being able to feel my treasures and run my hands through them makes my heart sing.

The basket to hold my culture, thoughts and art will one I create for myself. I can see what I want to do already in my mind’s eye, coils of fabric, scraps left over from projects I’ve completed over the years, from clothes I’ve loved and no longer wear, from fabric that has always been too beautiful to cut, and fabric I’ve hand dyed and decorated. The fabrics I’ll be using will represent things that are important to me as a stitcher and evocative of the creative culture that goes with the arts and crafts that I love. I’m going to enjoy twisting and tying the fabrics together, letting the raw edges and loose threads mingle and become enmeshed as I work. I’m planning to stitch the surface with threads I’ve treasured and haven’t yet found had the right project for, using stitches I’ve learnt over the years. I’m not sure that I’ll plan the size and shape, I’m just going to coil my fabrics into rings, building up the base and sides, stitching them together letting the twists and coils drive the shape and size. I may craft a handle on either side to pick my basket up by. As I stitch, I’ll be stitching my hopes for the protection that my basket will give to my thoughts into the base, asking it to nurture them and help them germinate into realities. As I coil my fabrics I will be twisting my wishes for the ability to complete a creative endeavour each and every day into the sides of the basket.

There’s no time like the present for making a start twisting and coiling my ideas, thoughts and materials into a basket.

Written by Claire

July 1, 2008 at 9:23 pm

Posted in Baskets

Hecate at the Crossroads

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Hecate

Hecate stands at the crossroads with dog and stoat
Waiting
to fill baskets
with words of wisdom.

Heather Blakey June 2008

Written by Heather Blakey

June 29, 2008 at 11:29 am

Papa’s Mushrooms

with 8 comments

This is an excerpt from a manuscript titled the Christmas Eve Shop. The character of Sophia is named after my grandmother and it is her story of the mushrooms that my mother told often over the years. I thought perhaps the baskets of mushrooms would fit the cultural theme of this prompt and decided to extend the piece to the end of the book’s chapter.

* * * * * *

“Why Don’t you rest for awhile, Sophia? Sharon offered. “I’ll stir for you.”
“Stir, but don’t steal too many. Already I have only half. Mel is helping, too.” Mel shrugged and smiled his broad smile.
“Your tree has some brown leaves,” Sharon noticed, pushing aside the embroidered curtain and looking out the kitchen window. “Autumn’s going to be early this year.”
She returned to her task as the couple sat and discussed the pros and cons of her observation. A few minutes later she informed Sophia, “The mushrooms seem about done. Shall I put them in the kapusta?”
The older woman got up and joined her at the stove. “They are ready. Not so good like Polish mushrooms, but what can you do? In my country, always we would go to pick mushrooms, Mama, Papa, my sisters and me. Each one carried a little basket, and when we came home Mama would check, make sure all the mushrooms were safe. Even Papa’s basket. Papa would watch her closely.” Sophia’s eyes sparkled at the memory, and her lips twitched as she suppressed a smile. “He was always sure his mushrooms were perfect. But Mama would look carefully at every one and then she would make a sigh, and take two or three little ones out and throw them away.
“One day just before I leave for America, I see Mam go to the garbage and take back Papa’s mushrooms. ‘Your papa,’ she says, ‘is a good man, but when I married him I saw one thing I did not like. Always your papa is so sure he is right. This is no good. So every time I throw away some mushrooms.’”
As Sophia ended her story she began mashing the potatoes. Mel put out the butter and cut the homemade bread into fat slices; Sharon stacked the plates and arranged the mismatched knives and forks. Each worked in contented silence. Even the sparrows had stopped their chattering and were perched, puffed up and drowsy, on their branches. The late-day sun shining through the leaves of Sophia’s tree sent dappled patterns of light and shadow over the walls, floor, and ceiling of the old-fashioned kitchen until the plain wooden furniture glowed.

Finally the meal was ready. Plates were heaped with mounds of mashed potatoes covered with the Polish cabbage and its chunks of pink ham and slivers of brown and black mushrooms. Bread and butter were passed back and forth, and still the spell of silence held.
As the golden afternoon began to melt away, bright patches of sunlight dimmed and faded into shadows. Outside, the first cricket began to chirp, and far in the distance, a lonely cicada whirred.
Evening entered by degrees, tiptoeing into corners, ducking under the table and chairs, layering tone on tone of gray until the darkness was nearly complete.
At last, when Sophia could avoid it no longer, she turned on a brass table lamp whose yellow shade seemed to have caught and imprisoned the setting sun. The three friends talked in hushed tones of times past, the people they’d loved, and the joys that would never be relived. Sophia talked the most, about her childhood in Poland, about her first years un America, but most of all about her husband.
When Sharon and Mel had gone, she stood alone, fingering the embroidered flowers that were still vivid after so many years. Moonlight filtered through branches and leaves, illuminating the threads like embellishments on a vellum manuscript. Why hadn’t she told them about the curtains?
People had been poor in her little mountain village. When Stanislaus gave her the fine material and colored silk in order to sew a beautiful dress for festivals, she’d burst into tears. Asking how he’d offended her, he’d tried kissing her tears away until she’d shyly pointed to the bare windows in the little farmhouse and begged to make curtains instead. He’d laughed and kissed her again, promising to make every day a festival. Fifty years earlier on her wedding day.

Written by porchsitter

June 29, 2008 at 12:05 am

Posted in Baskets

Tagged with , ,

Basket of Herbs

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Note:This image is not of my grandmother – alas,no photos remain of her.

My grandmother Bridget Kavanagh gathered herbs in a basket, a creel woven from the flexible willow. She knew the Irish landscape intimately,what it could provide, what should be avoided. Her sons laughingly called her `the witch’, but they knew her poultices and potions could heal.

Her boys were the hunters, going out looking for scrap metal, busking on the streets with banjo and old ballads, bringing home fresh caught hare, rabbit or fish. She was the gatherer – she knew where the wild thyme grew.

The basket was an essential piece of equipment for a Traveller woman. On the one hand, they could be made to be sold. On the other hand, those that were kept had many uses, and hung from the caravans filled with pegs, herbs or dry kindling.

A larger basket could be used for a baby, wrapped in a cosy shawl. A life in a basket – it was concept traveller women knew well.

When I was young,I carried a basket rather than a handbag. A handbag simply wasn’t big enough for the things i hauled around with me – my life in a basket. There was my wooden flute, and the latest piece of music I was learning to play. There was always a drawing pad and notebook, ready for whichever muse struck me. A small box of Windsor and Newton water colours and a screw topped jar of water. The latest book I was reading. Plus bits and pieces picked up along the way – shells and driftwood from a walk on the beach, gum nuts and leaves from a walk in the woods, pebbles, flowers pressed between the leaves of my book, and, yes, herbs – although it was their aromatic scents that attracted me rather than their medicinal properties.

In my basket today you will still find these things. I still play old airs on the flute occasionally, I still carry notebooks and drawing pads around (although a digital camera has been added and there are watercolour pencils instead of the paintbox), and I still gather shells, seeds and driftwood. I’m a compulsive beachcomber. But now other things have been added – small gifts for grandchildren, a book one of my daughters would love to read, an extra pair of mittens and a woolly hat for my youngest grandchild. My life, and my basket, have grown much richer.

Written by Gail Kavanagh

June 28, 2008 at 11:58 pm

Posted in Baskets

the basket of possibility

with 6 comments

Bristol, a city of famous seafarers, travelers and adventurers, was my birthplace. It is also home to the first hot air balloon factory of Don Cameron . In keeping with the traveler within me, it is therefore fitting that my culture basket should the basket of a hot air balloon. I never thought I would ever get the chance to fly in a hot air balloon – symbol of my dreams – but I have, 3 times. Each flight was magical. The silence of the early morning, the quality of the light and, above all the silence – except for the roar of the flames holding the balloon above.

culture basket

hot air balloon

hot air balloon

hot air balloons

All those qualities of the early adventurers are my cultural heritage: invention, imagination, creativity, dreams, inspiration and the thirst for knowledge.

(the photos were taken at the 11th world hot air balloon festival, Meysembourg, Luxembourg, in August 1993)

Written by traveller2006

June 28, 2008 at 12:30 pm

Posted in Art, Baskets

Dreams for Sale!

with 4 comments

The sleepy basket girl
walks through the pink Lemurian mist
each early morning,
singing out, in a sweet alto voice,
“Dreams for sale!
Look in my basket,
full of pretty dreams!
Pick any one you like!
Only cost you a quick kindness,
don’t cost nothin’ to look!
Old dreams, new dreams,
anything you can dream of!
Anything can happen today
in the City of Ladies!
Come on, now, my dears,
you beautiful Lemurian dreamers,
Try one of my fresh dreams right now –
today could be amazing! (Stay tuned…)”
And where she walks she leaves a magic trail
of pink and purple glittering pixie dust,
a few sand dollars, some pretty shells,
the heavy, sweet scent of longing
for what could have been,
and just a hint of what may yet be…
by Kerry Vincent (c) 2008

Written by kvwordsmith

June 25, 2008 at 11:30 am

The Blue Pot

with 9 comments

Maribeth Stumpft did not see the crack at first. She desultorily typed at her keyboard, translating the software designers’ notes into Help instructions that would be comprehensible by consumers.

A faint rattle and cricking sound caught her attention and she glanced over to the blue ceramic pot that served as her pen and pencil holder. She did not notice anything unusual. She returned to her typing.

Maribeth had worked at the software company for nearly 18 years as a technical writer. She had degrees in writing and at one time had won a number of prestigious writing awards. Fat lot of luck those awards had gotten her, she thought as she pounded just a little harder than usual on her keyboard.

Again, she heard a rattle and creaking sound. This time she saw the crack in the blue pot. How did that happen?, she wondered. Probably the cleaning crew had knocked it off her desk.

“Maribeth!” Dora Smither’s nasily whine cut through the air. “Are you going to have that section done by lunchtime? If not, you’ll have to work through the hour.”

“Yes, Dora, it’ll get done on time.” Dora was a thorn in Maribeth’s side. In spite of the positive feedback she got from various department heads and the vice-president, Maribeth rarely got the same from Dora, her supervisor. To the contrary, Dora had it in for Maribeth and found ways to remind her that the company was doing her a favor to keep her around for so many years.

My writing IS good, Maribeth fumed as she hit the enter key hard enough to make everything on her desk seem to jump and rattle.

Maribeth, in fact, loved to write and spent as much time as she could in that effort. However, quite often, she was so dog-tired at the end of the day, so emotional drained from being terrorized by Dora that she rarely had any good ideas and no energy to put the few she had on to paper. Maribeth sighed. She felt very old.

Suddenly, the blue pot hopped on her desk. Startled, Maribeth stared at it for a moment.

“Stupid mice! They’re into everything!” She reached over to the pot and pulled out all the pens, the ruler, the letter opener and pencils. As she rose to take the pot outside to release the mouse, she saw to her astonishment, that the pot was empty.

She slowly placed the pot back on the desk. It sat there for a moment, but just as Maribeth started to relax, the pot nearly jumped off her desk as it began to rattle again.

Maribeth pushed her chair away from the desk and slammed against the wall. “Dora! Dora, come here!” she shouted. There was no answer. “Angela? Fred? Anybody, come here!”

Silence.

As the pot continued to shake and hop on her desk, she noticed the crack in its side starting to widen.

“Dora! Anybody!” she shouted louder. Then she looked around and saw that she was completely alone in the office suite.

“Let me out!” hissed a voice. Maribeth froze and stared at the pot. It still gyrated wildly and the crack was nearly an inch apart. Maribeth gasped as she saw a pair of green eyes in the darkness of the crack. “Let me out now!,” came the voice again.

Maribeth scrambled to the nearest door. She pulled on the handle. The door would not open.

She began pounding on it. “DORA! This is not funny!! Angela? Fred? C’mon you guys!”

Maribeth looked back at her desk. The pot was beginning to disintegrate and an awful laughter pealed from the pot. “I’m almost free and I’m coming for you” said the voice.

Then with a loud crack the pot exploded.

Maribeth screamed and frantically pounded on the door. With a great bang, the door gave way and Maribeth fell through it onto the ground.

For a moment she laid there, stunned, her eyes closed. At first, silence enveloped her but then she began to hear the sound of chirping birds. She opened her eyes. Green leaves, dripping with dew surrounded her. She sat up and saw a sign nearby. It pointed up a hill and read: “To the Abbey.” She then looked at the ground.

Scattered all around her were enormous shards of blue ceramic.

Image and Story: L. Gloyd © 2006, Revised 2008

Written by Pelican1

June 25, 2008 at 3:53 am

Posted in Baskets