Monday, September 21, 2009

in which the studio is opened . . . and closed again

Luther has a blue spot on his left forearm. Right, as you're looking at him.

"A bruise?" I thought, involuntarily, before I collected my thoughts.

"A sunspot." I'd been peering out the french doors into a courtyard made brilliant by the early morning sun and then looked down at Luther, who was regally crouched at my feet in his best stone lion pose, mistress and hound in the wave-farewell-to-the-king ritual. Sunspot - do you know, those purpleish spots you see before your eyes when you glance away from a brightly lit object? - but this spot was stationary, not darting about with my eyes.

Oh. I remember. I guess it did leave a mark.

No, Luther does not have a bruise. I'm the one who gets bruises from him - bruises we can see, anyway - I guess Luther might get bruises underneath his fur from his own wild antics. . . . But this was not a bruise.

Yesterday, the sky was crisp and clear and achingly blue. The weekly visit to the king-mum had been accomplished and we celebrated with a glass of wine and an inspection of the garden before settling down at a small table in dappled shade. I had thrown open the studio to air it out and with renewed intentions to really get working in there! I've taken Cindy's advice and divided the space into 4 different zones of influence. Five, if you count the little four-poster bed, but I don't.

Walking in, there's art on the near left, gardening on the far, and music on the near right, with textiles and sewing beyond. The four-poster shares space with music, but gets involved in all the other spaces too, except perhaps for gardening. I like to recline. . . . but it's also handy for laying out new quilt designs, or for viewing new pictures, and yes, for gardening too, as I try to make sense of a workable plan for a garden next year. This year's garden had its moments, but there's no getting around it: I have to tackle the mess the builder left in the one reliably sunny spot I'd always planned for the garden. The soil there is multi-colored, white in some spots, yellow in others, and some cement gray. With rain, black sludge forms, followed by algae that starts bright green, but then rusts out. Several species of die-hard weeds and grasses have managed to set up modest colonies here and there. Well, if I've learned anything this year, it's to do the preparation work before you bring in plants. I now have a whole fall and long winter to do grueling preparations. The four-poster will figure heavily in the planning stages.

I digress.

That's what usually happens when I go into the studio. On any given day, I can fall into any number of transportations, be it flights of colour, line, sound. . . . texture. . . . word. Yesterday, it was still all about the garden, though, and the king and I discussed the prospects of the boxwood, given the unusually heavy rains in late summer, and wondered about the crape myrtles, only one of which has flowered, so far, fitfully.

Luther was being suspiciously quiet. That usually means he's up to no good. The one thing that is reliably capable of sending me into a rage is the sight of his having dug out and then shaken to death a plant I've been coaxing along in these inhospitable soils right around the house. I've got a small start on some ground cover on the far side of the studio which he's had his eye on, so I finally got up. As I walked around the studio, he was standing out in the middle of the worst of the toxic flats, just looking at me. I checked all the new plantings - all looked untouched - and I looked back at Luther. He looked guilty, but I didn't know what of.

"C'mon boy. You come over here and lie down with us and stay out of trouble!" He came over, and I guided him with my hands back towards our table. As I reached for my wine again, I noticed I had blue all over my hands.

"What in the world?!"

"He's probably gotten himself a pen out of the studio." the king said. Right. That sounded right, only I couldn't find it. The blue washed off readily, however, so maybe it wasn't ink. I returned to the table. One thing about Luther that I have learned to appreciate is that he is not usually secretive about his depredations. If he knows he's not supposed to get into something (or has serious doubts) he will usually drag the thing into view, drop it, and then stand there looking at you. If you don't say anything - or are not paying attention - he will proceed with the shredding. He is ignored at your peril.

As we sat at table, Luther disappeared again and then reappeared, this time in the front pasture, carrying something small and white.

"Drop it!" I yelled, and he complied, but started the beginnings of the conquered-foe-celebration dance, which involves lunges, stompings, snappings, and shaking the thing before throwing it into the air with rapid fire castenets-like snapping and then the final shredding.

"Leave it!" I warned, and moved towards him. He snapped at the object and flung it into the air, but then backed away. Great. It was one of my tubes of paint. Well, that explains the blue, doesn't it? I picked up the tube and closed up the studio. Then I scouted around until I found a blotch of blue on the earth where Luther had been standing earlier and scooped up the disemboweled tube for a decent burial.

Like the garden, I have a lot of preparation work to do in the studio before it'll be safe for anything else to flourish in that space. . . .

Meanwhile, poor Luther has been put out of the doghouse, which we'd taken to calling the studio, given his love of lounging there on his big-boy bed. I only hope that we don't see any more blue today, in other applications. The blue of the sky is, of course, always an exception.

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