A woman said to the universe:

“Sir, I exist!”

“However,” replied the universe,

“The fact has not created in me

“A sense of obligation.”

By Steven Crane

November 8, ‘13

A few weeks ago I was asked to do 2 calligraphy jobs.  One of the jobs was small and easy, the other large and difficult.

When I accepted the work I was told that the small and easy job needed to be done right away and that I could take my time with the large and difficult piece. 

I altered my plan to finish the *&^%%#)^  Floorcloths, set them aside and got to work on the small and easy calligraphy piece.  It was small and it was easy which was a good thing because I had to do it twice. 

I had the body of the lettering complete and, using a smaller nibbed pen, completed the bottom line.

The last thing to do was to find a larger nib than the one I used for the body of the lettering and add the title line.  I found the nib, attached it to the pen, loaded it with ink and held it hovering over the work while, with my left hand,  I moved the paper I was using as a shield up the page and covered all the body lettering except the top line….

Right hand poised over paper, ready to zoom in and finish that title…. 

How it happened, I don’t know; a blob of ink dropped on the space where I aimed to begin lettering….

I made a repair but the paper was too flimsy for anything more than what I did which was to absorb as much ink as possible with a blotter, wait for it to dry and then paint over the faint blob-mark with white latex ceiling paint.  When the paint dried, the blob showed gray.  The paper I used was too flimsy for scraping out or sanding the blob so, with nothing else to be done, I did the entire poem over.

I delivered the completed poem to the woman who hired me, well before deadline.   She was very pleased with the work I’d done and all was going well until she told me that she needed the larger and more difficult job done in 3 weeks. 

I’ve been experiencing a sense of well-being over the fact that I have work to do this winter.  That sense of well-being was rapidly deflated by this latest news.  The woman, also a calligrapher, had the work hanging over her for months, which was why she gave it to me.    She told me the client had told her that there was no hurry, which was why I felt so good about having work this winter.  Not only was it a challenge but it was also good money. 

But, it seems that the client has been putting much pressure on my colleague this past week — to get the job done asap,  quick, quick…!    I know deep down in my heart of hearts that for me to try to do that amount of work in 3 weeks would lead to a heaping mound of unbearable tension and stress in my life.  I turned the job back over to her, albeit reluctantly.

I’m hoping that the Universe has paying & challenging work for me this winter.


When I got out of bed this morning I was pleased that the sun was shining and that the air didn’t feel as bitter cold as it has been the last ten or so days.  My colleague picked up all the pieces of the big job that I had and was gone by 9:15.  I helped carry some of the things to her car.  What a splendid November day it was.  Sun shining, deep blue sky, a hint of warmth in the air and in the scent of the air…. 

Within an hour, the skies were gray and the air was taking on a cutting and bitter edge, the kind of cold that presages snow.  A FB friend who lives across town reported that she saw particles in the air that, to her,  looked a great deal like the ESS word….  Another friend, in a town close by but at a higher elevation than my town, has also reported &^##$now!

Oh, NO!


Here’s a copy of the first poem I lettered, Blackberries by Richard Wilbur.  See the blob?  Me either, but at a certain light, it looks hideous.




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One Response to

  1. beetleypete says:

    I am envious of your calligraphy talents Gretchen. I don’t have a very nice ‘hand’, and I love to see italic script like your poem. The picture of the trees and cemetery is very good too!
    Regards from England as always, Pete.

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