brave bags

Happy new year, math people! I’ve been recovering from my little nervous breakdown by enjoying the unparalleled luxury that is Ultra-Hermit Time. I stockpiled food, turned off my phone, and hung out in my internet-free apartment (Yes, I do not have internet at home. I’ve been doing that for 3 years, yeah. Yes, that’s weird, but if I can’t disconnect from the world I get twitchy). I’ve been reading all the books about WWI and making multimedia soft sculptures of nifflers and having a generally lovely time. I really love war history (because aviation history is so! d*rn! interesting! and) because it reminds me of how much humanity has been through and that it has proven itself extraordinarily resilient in each case. The end result of the this introspection is a very healthy, happy Riley. This will be the tone for 2017, my resolutions, if you will:

  • Self-care and kind, gentle treatment of this brave, thinking little bag of water, who set out to do something really difficult and persisted and succeeded. 
  • Attention to detail. A higher level of excellence in the things I create out respect for myself as a craftsman, a greater degree of sincerity in my desire to understand out of respect for the thing I wish to better know. 
  • Allowing myself quiet places in which each note of my unceasing and restless brain may be heard. Staying put so that my mind may be free to go all the places it goes.
  • Understanding that it is really, truly okay to rest now and then. 

I hope you are all being kind to yourselves this New Year’s Eve. 2016 was a battle, and we are the survivors. We’ve earned our rest, but it is the dubious privilege of the survivors to fight again when the next call to battle sounds. I do believe we have a fightin’ 2017 ahead of us, and we will be faced with unique challenges, in particular a significant need to stand up for ourselves and others, for discerning right from wrong and having the strength to act on that discernment. I am afraid, but only a little. You have all, each and every one of you, taught me to expect that everything will be okay. Your refusal to be silent through injustice this year, your kindness to each other, your mindfulness of the world as a whole, and the sheer number of all you wonderful creatures the world over, has brought me more comfort than I can express. I sincerely believe we will answer the call to be better individually than our world has been collectively, and that we will lay the foundations for a more tolerant and progressive future. 

That is what starts tomorrow. It is a big task, and so I hope you will agree that there is no more important thing we can do today, no more well-deserved reward, than to rest. 

Using trash bags, unused grocery bags and plastic sheets, Pakistani artist Khalil Chishtee creates life-sized figures wracked with emotion. He uses these materials as a metaphor for “recycling our identities” or braving the problems of life.


Muffins accompanied me to the bookstore the other day. He was thirsty for some adventure, so we grabbed his messenger bag, braved the New England winter and went out.

Muffins had a great time waddling amongst the shelves of books. A few times he asked me to lift him up to check out a book. Finally he settled on “Witches: Exploring the Iconography of the Sorceress and Enchantress” and made his way to the couch for some light reading. We both recommend this book, it’s very interesting and has loads of great old woodcuts and art in it!

On our way out, Muffins wanted to get a drink so we split a hot chocolate with a shot of espresso. Luckily there was a mug just his size! I have to say though, if you give your mandrake any caffeine be prepared for lots of excited chatter afterwards. A lot of it. And very high-pitched renditions of Jenny Lewis songs. Although maybe that last part is just Muffins.

Tune in for more Muffins adventures soon!