Art Journal · Artists · Dreams · Knitting · Musings · Strong Woman · Uncategorized

Ravelation

The gift of used knitting needles, is gratefully received; many offered but I take only the wooden ones and a pair of size 0 lace needles.  I offer to make a sweater for my sister and check my gauge.  But I cannot bear the odor of another person on the needles.  I have to put it down before the swatch is done.  I have hankies from an estate sale I cannot use because they carry some residue (in my mind) of another.  I suds up the needles in Dr. Bronners peppermint soap, and contemplate why I stopped.  Knitting, that is.

I stopped painting again, feeling like a hack, it all comes down to self esteem right?  A normal person would carry on, I suffer instead, with why bother syndrome.

Disdain then is what stops me, whether from myself or another.

I leave myself open like a sweater that has not been bound off.  Unraveled by the slightest tug.  Stitches getting dropped, or twisted.

Confession of your deepest feelings, met with combative response.  A frond of hair touched in an off hand manner, I have met this knot before.

I used to dream that when I tried to ride the elevator, the doors would not work, either too fast and dangerous, or it drops out or it doesn’t go to the right floor.  And then I realized in a dream that this elevator is not under my control.  And it is dangerous.  And I am just a passenger.

Unraveling.

I pick up my knitting and as the needles click together and my tossed line stitching moves rapidly, even, clean stitches.  Of my own design.IMG_0148

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Artists · Magic · weak woman

Mending that Old Wound

 

 

Before
Before

 

 

photo 3
Throw Pillow After
Throw Pillow After
Throw Pillow After

 

When my daughter moved into her own place, I gave her my old furniture.  When I moved into my new place, I bought a small inexpensive sectional, I won’t spend too much on furniture that dogs vomit on.  Because dogs do like to puke on the furniture sometimes.  I like to be able to wash whatever is covering the cushions, for now I have two old throw quilts covering the seats, and the horrendous, ugly throw pillows that came with it have been sitting in my studio since I put in the couch.  Each time I have moved in these last two years, I have weeded out some possessions that I just had been holding onto for no real reason.  I had these pieces though that I kept during both moves, and when my mom came to visit this week, I showed them to her.

I had been experimenting with a quilting technique that to me seemed like painting with fabric.  These two panels were my only attempts.  I was looking at them after I had pulled them out of the dryer, and my then husband came in the room and looked at them too.  He told me that they were not very good, he did not like the technique and I should not be making these any more.  I thought they were awesome but was devastated by his critique.

I am always devastated by critique.

I folded them up and put them away.  But I held on to them, I guess in some way I knew he was wrong.

I showed them to my mom, should I throw these out or?  But she loved them, and today we spent the day making them into pillow covers for the two ugly cushions.

I absolutely love them.  They are gorgeous.  Tomorrow we are going to use an old piece of crazy quilt to do the seat cushions.  I love this, this house, what I am doing here.  It is like I am new and fresh and whole, where I was always before, but now I am just putting the last pieces of the puzzle together.

It feels good to heal old wounds.

Artists · Energy work · Great Quotes · Herbal Medicine · Musings · Small Joys · Strong Woman · Treasure

Inside My World

 

 

“We’re so engaged in doing things to achieve purposes of outer value that we forget the inner value, the rapture that is associated with being alive, is what it is all about.” ~JOSEPH CAMPBELL

island duckies beach3 beach2 beach

My inner world, this place inside me that is sometimes filled with self loathing and angst, finds peace, finds a serene place to rest in which the warm winds blow and the sun is warm, and the moon rises over quiet small lakes, and streams flow over broken rock, dragon flies dive float at eye level, inspecting me and finding me worthy.  These moments of quiet, these days of learning, this life of self discovery, I am held aloft by the arms of angels, how lovely I am here, in this place where no one else’s love, or absence seems to matter.

We walk each morning up the climbing hill, and down again.  He panting old and reluctant behind me, but never really leaving my side, loyal friend, best friend, I could never leave you, you with your salt flavored fur, you with your joyful smile upon my return, you with your charming hugs upon my knee, I could never leave you, just as you would never leave me for long, not for long.  The other dogs thunder up to me, the scouting dog cutting in front of me and him repeatedly, you dogs whose DNA is so similar to his.  The other, shyly approaches, shy affection, and I can see, a degree of loyalty, which I will have to work hard to continue to earn, when I rise you are the most excited as you leap in the air and spin in circles.  And she, the scout, chasing turkeys cutting back around to me, but on the way home, my own stands by me, she goes ahead, and he  peeks around curves to make sure I am there, before journeying forward.

And this is all a salve, an ointment, made of air, and abiding friendship, of laughter, of years of loyalty, of going away, but coming back because we must, because the love is too strong to leave behind.  It smells of rosemary, for truth, of rose geranium for mental clarity, of citrus lemon, or grapefruit for refreshing quality, and juniper berry for some unnamed spiritual purpose, something akin to being deeply ones self in this increasingly homogeneous culture, a salve to sooth all the broken places, to replace all the empty places or perhaps to make the emptiness bearable.

A moment of quiet here, with its rustic gardens, its mountainous vista, its island of cool, its balm of loving loyalty, friendship, acceptance, its quietude of spirit and centrality of purpose.

I am not an artist in residence so much as a spirit in flight.

Gift.

Gift.

Gift.

Endless gift.

Artists · Buddhism · Musings · Strong Woman · Treasure · Zen Buddhism

Guest blog by my daughter, Morgan, titled “An Open Letter to the People Who are Invading my Home”

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An Open Letter to the People Who Are Invading my Home:

You may not know who I am – well, no. Let me rephrase that. You don’t. See, that’s the thing about houses. They form such an intimate part of our lives, and then someone else you’ve never met just charges right in, cooking food in the kitchen, sleeping the bedrooms, not knowing or caring about who came before. Hence the reason I am writing to you. Because I want, perhaps need, to tell you that I was there, and that it meant something to me.

I did my final walk through my house today. Alone. It seemed appropriate. I say my house, because even though it has become yours to call home, and I have a house of my own, a part of me will always be there. I’d like to say I’ve lost a lot in my twenty-one years, but we’re being honest here. I’ve always had food to eat, a roof over my head. Not many people I know have died; I’m no victim of some great tragedy. My family is actually, quite loving, if sometimes oppressively so. I don’t have a lot of friends, but the ones I do have are people I’ve held on to because they’re good and worthwhile people. Despite all that, I find that I feel quite apathetic about people in general. I don’t see much humanity in humanity, if you understand my meaning. I have a tendency to get attached to places and things, and the memories that they hold.

I find it – wrenching – how empty it is here. To you, I’m sure it says “possibility”. You can look at the bare rooms and see yourself there. Do you have a family to fill up all the empty space? But all I can see is where we held Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas and Easter with people we don’t know anymore, family who are not with us anymore. The kitchen is quite nice, don’t you think? I bet it was a big selling point. I can see it now as it was before. You wouldn’t know it was the same room, the same house, if you saw a picture of it fifteen years ago. The old green fridge, the linoleum floor that our puppy did us, and, trust me here, you, the favor of tearing up so that we could put down new tile. We finished the remodeling the day before Thanksgiving. We didn’t know it then, but it was our last Thanksgiving as a family.

We had to paint all the walls in drab colors for you. The house has no personality anymore. My mother’s paintings used to hang in every room. I wonder what you think about the downstairs bathroom, and how the ceiling is painted dark purple, with stars and galaxies. In fact, the whole room used to be like that. It was painful to paint it white, and we felt compelled to leave a little bit of its old glory. When we moved in, there was this horrible beige wallpaper, with brown flowers and polka dots. (How the realtor decided the galaxies were worse than this is beyond me, but they’re both gone now in any case.) My mother left a bottle of hand soap in the bathroom. English lavender. She only likes the smell because she says it reminds her of her grandmother.

And of course, there’s the next room. You may wonder why something sold to you as an “upstairs laundry room” has the distinct odor of Gesso and turpentine. Or maybe you don’t, because you don’t know what those things smell like. My mother’s studio. It was always kind of wondrous to me – I could never capture her skill with a paintbrush. Or with pen or marker or modeling clay, for that matter. I’ve always had this image of her – young, before I was born, when she still wore her hair long, with that artsy, disheveled look, smoking, creating beautiful images with paint and canvas. And I always felt this emptiness, because I could never dream of being that person (whether or not this image is close to or far from the truth is wholly irrelevant). Recently I had this revelation that maybe my grace is in words rather than pictures, but somewhere in my mind I’ve cultivated this theory that writing is something that anyone can do, so it doesn’t really count. In any case, I find that my reality is far from the romantic possibilities I imagine for an artist.

As I walk up the stairs, the sound of my footsteps echoes through the house. It’s such an empty sound that the word “empty” doesn’t capture it. It’s a cacophony of silence, vast, infinite, destitute, vacuous. Upstairs, I start with my mother’s room. It still smells like her – it’s not something I can describe, not a perfume or a candle. Just something warm and safe. She left the walls painted sage green, as an act of defiance. Even this color defines her, and it strikes me now that I’m not the only one leaving a piece of myself behind here. My grandmother made the curtains that are still here – they define her as well. A batik, ubiquitous in the many quilts that she makes and gives to family, friends, charities, people she knows of who are in need of a small comfort.

In the smallest bedroom, I’m ambivalent. We housed two people here who had no place else to go. Two people whom I love in that deep down kind of way that you love family you don’t see very often, not an active love, but an eternal fondness. But it was also my mother’s ex-husband’s office, where he would hole up for hours, and rage if you dared crack the door to retrieve an item or ask a question.

My final stop is my bedroom. It’s difficult to even look at. But I sit down, between the two windows that face the street, where my bed used to stand. Here is where I lost my virginity with the man who is now my husband. And here, I consider for a long time how many hours I spent in this room. With friends, alone, learning, growing, it’s all very cliché. There’s a mural on one wall. My mother painted it when I was going through a Zen phase, which, to some extent, has stuck with me. I hope you don’t paint over it. We already painted over the other three walls for you. They were this wonderful, bright, spring green that I chose when I was finally allowed to dispose of the cold ice blue that had been chosen for me. It – the green – was so warm and sunny. You can still see a little bit of it in the crack between the wall and frame of the closet.

The longer I sit, the more ghosts I count, and you are inheriting all of them. I’m happy to pass them off to you. Some may seem insignificant. Two cats died here. One, we couldn’t bear to euthanize until she was too weak to stand, a selfish cruelty I’ve since regretted. When she died, that was the first in a long series of more serious troubles. After that, little bits of our family broke off piece by piece. Where there were seven, four remain, and in four, maybe five years, it will be down to two. The other cat – this isn’t really relevant, but it breaks my heart, my mother and I couldn’t – or wouldn’t – take in. You see, in her old age, she had lost her fondness for doing her business where it belonged. So, when we left, she stayed in the empty house, all alone, deaf, going blind. I feel this terrible ache of guilt whenever I think of her now.

Then, of course, there’s the front steps. This is where my mother’s husband sat and told her that he was leaving her. No trying, no second chances, it was over. And here is the part of my story where I started down the road to adulthood. A road that I hate and resent. Here, where my bed used to be, is where I lay, listening to my mother cry half the night away for months, too tired and frustrated to try to comfort her. I felt overwhelmed by her grief, inadequate for not having the answers she was looking for, helpless in the face of her anger, unworthy for not meeting all her expectations, for not easing her worries in the wake of what had happened, responsible for keeping life moving, for protecting her, and finally, ashamed and childish, because while she was devastated, I had found love, and wanted most to focus on myself.

Now, I’m lying on the floor and the light from the setting sun is shining through the windows. The house creaks and thuds and settles. For one electrifying moment, it’s so loud, I think that somehow someone has entered the house, but as I listen carefully, I realize that the normal sounds of this old house are amplified by the stillness. In truth, I didn’t live here for a long time before you showed up. My things were here, but I spent maybe one night a week in my old room. This filled me with guilt and loneliness, thinking of my mother alone here, in a house brimming with the past. It sounds silly to say, but the ghosts drove me out; the memories that I didn’t like thinking of. Now I’m clinging to those memories, because they’re all I have left.

I take one last look at the view out my windows. The street, the garden – always wild looking, filled to overflowing with flowers, berries, and herbs. I exit through the back door, to the covered stone patio where I spent so many rainy afternoons playing cards, and to the raspberry bush, but it’s too late in the season – too late for one last taste of summer.

There’s a circle of stone sunken into the ground near the back of the yard. I’m unsure of its purpose, if it had one, but it looks like once, perhaps, a well stood there. As a child, when I uncovered it, I hoped to find something there. I was probably a strange child, because, although I hoped of finding “treasure”, I was looking for artifacts, rather than gold or some other such silly notion. I wanted to find something someone buried there intentionally, a story of who had come before. I found nothing, but I buried my own time capsule there for you, or posterity, or future archaeologists who would of course be fascinated by the plastic Charizard figurine I’d buried there (ironically, I had a passionate hatred for Pokemon, but at the time it had been such a pop culture phenomenon among all the other eight year olds, I imagine I thought it was an important piece of prepubescent history). I may or may not have dug this “time capsule” back up a short while later. I planted my favorite flower over top of the spot. Forget-me-nots. Now, in early May, the backyard becomes a blanket of tiny blue flowers.  Thinking about it now, I wish that I had a piece of that blanket to bring home to my own backyard. But it’s too late in the season, and all traces of the flowers are gone. They must be turned over to you, to do with what you will.

As I pull out of the driveway for the last time, I hope that you will love this place as I have loved it, and as those who came before both of us did. I hope that fewer ghosts will haunt you here than have haunted me. And I hope that you will not forget that there were those who came first, and that little bits of us linger in the corners here. And finally, I hope that when you are gone, you will leave your mark too, because it will have meant something to you.

Artists · Magic · Musings · Small Joys · Strong Woman · Zen Buddhism

Outhouse Mind

The way is hard, the snow is packed, and deep, but also thawing so it is a difficult walk.  I come to the brook and it is flowing heavily with the melting snow.  The dog is irritated with being on leash, used after weeks of it, to being free more or less always.  I am feeling both lazy and not, and contemplate the shortest route, but find myself instead continuing on to and to a place where I am sure of being able to free him, at least for a short leg of it.  There is little life, no squirrels or birds, or maybe there is, but I am just completely oblivious to it.  My mind is chewing and chewing.  I am mostly looking at the ground, to make sure my footing is secure.  In fact, I take the whole walk more or less one step at a time.  Looking down until I emerge upon the open field, where I look up and feel a sense of space, and a starkness of beauty.

I find myself thinking about someone else’s poetry.  It is a good thing, this, to have their words in my mind their feeling of restlessness, their feelings of uncertainty, and self doubt.  It takes away the ugliness of my own thoughts, the outhouse of my own mind, and firmly plants some other seed in my head.  When did I stop daydreaming about some book, or some television show, and start daydreaming about the past?  When did philosophy get replaced by gossip and Facebook arguments?  In my day to day.  I like her words in my head.  Suddenly I no longer want my own words in my own head.  I want to be free of it.  It is like I am sitting, on the big hole, with my small body, and I have fallen into my own shit.  I need someone to come in and drag me out.  I think about hanging my paintings on the canvas wall of the studio and having 10 people standing around commenting on my work, and then turning around and commenting on theirs, how it made my own work better.  I remember how I felt jealousy of the girl whose fairies and gnomes lived in brown logs covered with moss, I still try to draw like that, but my magic lives in other artistic realms.  I remember how jealous I was of the girl, whose Italian marbles and expensive carving tools set her apart from my plaster and bins of recycled clay.

But this interaction, this was nutrient rich stuff.  It was manure.  It fertilized my mind, instead of just being my own stinking mess.

This must be, the purpose of sangha.  To fertilize growth.  To take your mind out of the sepsis of your own filth.

I stand on tiptoes, and look out the curve of the crescent moon.

My legs ache, from knee to buttocks, and my lower back, from the work of walking on this dense wet snow.  Calories in, calories out, if only it were that simple, body chemistry does not always follow logic.  I think of that Facebook argument, a little star in my mind says, but wait, boys are genetically different from girls, it is in their DNA.  Her argument is flawed.  I hate interacting with others though, it brings a desire to withdraw.  Ah.  I hear the brook babbling, I listen for it to tell me something, like saying the next song on the radio, it will be some message from the universe about ______.  Then I forget to listen.  The brook is not actually saying anything, and I realize it is like my thoughts, I should just notice them, be aware of any obstacle (is the path flooded from the height of the water, should I pre-empt the possibility by taking this other path?  Do I have it in me, sweating and breathing hard from the effort of this snow, to back track if the path is flooded) but nonetheless, not let it spoil the quietude of my mind.  The brook is beautiful, like a song, I tell someone else, you are not alone in your thoughts flooding your mind, and meditation doesn’t seek so much to quiet them, but to accept them, and the dichotomy, or is it irony, is that by accepting it, they become more quiet, more pure.

The path is not flooded.

I continue on, the sun is set, and the darkness is overtaking the light, but as I emerge from the path, and my feet are once again on solid ground, I feel invigorated.  Alive.

Best of all, is the moments of freedom, from the worn wood, and familiar odor, of my own mind.

 

 

 

Artists · Humor · Rants

Cube and Pubic Hair

She comes in my room and asks me if I enjoy going to galleries, my answer is like me, frank and upfront.  I have many issues with galleries.  First I hate the pinky finger pointing in the air as the wine or tea is sipped.  What kind of markers do you use.  Oh sharpies or some cheap marker they sell at X.  Oh well I use nothing but the best supplies.  Um okay. Congratulations.  Would you like some cucumber water?  Sure thing.  But I would rather have lemon water.  or water water.  Just drink your damn tea  the right way.  Pretentious ass.

You stand looking at a urinal or a bucket of piss, or some image of a teenager spying on a woman as she masturbates.  Or an anatomically correct drawing of a testicle.  Okay.  I cannot help but think somebody is in the green room laughing his or her ass off as I stand here using flowering language to describe how astonishing and avant garde and cutting edge and visionary it is.

I tell her about waiting in line for 45 minutes to see some installation in DC last year.  Once you got in it was literally a dark room with a white wall and a red light.  Cutting edge, and visionary.  I said in my super loud voice, are you kidding me, I waited in line for 45 minutes for THIS?  This is stupid and inane and like PT Barnum said there is a sucker born every minute and I am the one born for this minute.

And frankly that Eric Fischl that to this day I cannot even look at because it is so offensive to my eyes, the drawing is just porn, and not even porn that makes you feel a turned on, it makes you feel dirty.  It kept his name in my head though.  I didn’t even have to look it up.  The book is in my box of sell or throw out though, the rest of the book is great but that picture on the front cover skieves me bad.  Real bad.  Although technically it is a very good painting, if he didn’t shock you, you wouldn’t really give it a second glance.

And as for the Picasso that someone spray painted.  Okay have you actually looked at the painting?  It wasn’t even a very good one.  But because it has Picasso’s name on it is a masterpiece, it is priceless, it is a tragedy.  Even art magazines don’t feature new artists, Picasso and Matisse, the Impressionists, O’Keeffe, yes amazing art, but tired and old, and do we have to be shocked for it to catch our attention?

Yes I guess we do.

So she says to me, so the emperor walks by and you say oh look its just a cube with pubic hair.

Yep I say.

I am going to make it.

You should do it live she says.

I am gagging.

The critics will say it will just curl your senses.

I am laughing.

(Shit I just gave away an amazing idea.)

Maybe I will do spun sugar dripping from the ceiling with all the animal hair dust bunnies floating about the room so it sticks to the spun sugar.  It will be astonishing, cutting edge, such a profound message about the nature of humanity.

Or just me laughing my ass off in the back room.

LOOK that guy is NAKED.

Artists · Musings

The Prophet

The rain is pouring down, the car is laden with goods from the regional market and he sees a store, turn around he tells me with excitement in his voice, and we do.  He goes to the door that is locked, but as the proprietor comes to the glass, I stand in the rain, and he says come in, come in Ma, come in Man.

I wander quiet in the store as my man speaks to him, the proprietor’s hair all bound in a knitted cap, wearing a button up khaki workshirt like my grandpa used to wear.  But as we wander the store, my eyes fall upon a face surrounded by wings, what is the meaning of this I ask, and that is when I see that he is a prophet, his voice speaks and I believe.

Ethiopian Angel

He says that 15% of the world controls all the rest of us, long ago a family gained power and they have kept it all this time, kept it from the rest of us.  I am nodding my head, he is correct, they do the devil’s own work he says, and they get us to help them, do you know how?  They divide us, he says, and he says, they help and encourage us to divide one another.  He says, they teach us Jews against the Muslims, Muslims against the Christians, Christians against the Jews, yet we all worship the same God.  They want all this petty fighting among us, it keeps us weak, it keeps them in power. He says, and they teach our men to disrespect our woman, teach our women how to tempt a man away from his family, the woman finds a weakness and takes the man away from that which he loves, it is all about dividing and that woman will destroy the man, she commits an act of evil and she will destroy the whole family.  That is divorce, that is destruction.  And that is how the powerful want us.

He looks to my man, and he says, do you know how to tell if a woman loves you?  She will bow to you and wash your feet, she will do anything to tell you how strong her love is for you.  Is it a sign of weakness that she submits to you, that she is willing to give all that she has to you?  No he says, it is a sign of love, not weakness.  I am standing facing my man, do you hear him I ask.  He is laughing.  Do you love this woman he asks, do you LOVE this woman, I look at his face his eyes are bright and shining, yes he answers, yes I do.  The prophet asks, then why do you give her such a hard time?  Do you know why?  Because you are afraid, because you are afraid of what she can do to you, she can destroy you, is that not true?  Yes he says, it is true.  But look at your woman, he says, look at her now, do you see her?  She LOVES you.  And you have to tell yourself, do not be afraid, anymore.  When I saw you two together, I saw love, I saw a love energy coming from you so strong, I knew you were good people.  For over one hour we are captured by his words.  I see who the prophet is, he tells his own story without shame, without concern for our judgement.  He tells us our stories, without being told, like a clairvoyant, like a seer.

Later as we sit together in the rain cleared, clouded night, and he chuckles at me, and shakes his head, I do not try to be cute for his sake, but I see I have him when all I am is myself.  And later when I feel my frustration rising, he looks at me, all cute and shining eyes and I see he has me when all he is, is himself.

We speak of the prophet, of the truth of his words.  But also I point out the truth he spoke, the war, the hospital, the life, I say the man is clinically insane you know?  But man he was right on too.  Right on.  His words were truth, though his mind is perhaps damaged, beyond repair.  Or is he in fact a prophet?  We do not know.  But some of the words he spoke cut straight through.

Later when we are both sweating with the exertion of our labors in the hot sun, he working on his things, and I working too, the occasional sprinkle of ice cold water as he scrubs the deck, it feels good but I gasp as the drops hit my sun soaked back.  We run over and jump in the pool, it is colder than we would like it, but compared to the heat the water feels good.  He comes up behind me and throws his arms around me and then picks me up and throws me in the water, giving me time to plug my nose as I go down, I shriek with joy, and his laughter is my echo.

And then sitting side by side, as we watch 12 balloons rise into the sky, I look over at him, and I see my very best friend.  I cannot imagine being anywhere else.  I have said it once, I will say it all again.  Sometimes when God closes a door he opens a window, and sometimes when he closes a window he throws open the double doors and rings the bells.  I love you I say to him, with all my heart.  Shut up, he says.  No, you don’t.

I know you love me too, I say and then I turn away an ear to ear grin on my face.

The prophet has spoken.

Later as I contemplate his words, I find myself asking, how did he differ from the prophets of the ages?  I find myself asking, are we serving the mentally illcorrectly?  I find myself drawing an Ethiopian Angel, and looking at images of  the church carved from the single block of stone.  And I find that no matter what, I am caught with inspiration.