Leave me alone for a minute and I'm back communing with Bears. Here's one in acrylic on mixed media paperboard.
This one was inspired by a moment in the recent Planet Earth II series. Bears skritching on trees. Aaah. That's the spot.
Leave me alone for a minute and I'm back communing with Bears. Here's one in acrylic on mixed media paperboard.
This one was inspired by a moment in the recent Planet Earth II series. Bears skritching on trees. Aaah. That's the spot.
My business cards say "Paint on Canvas. Words on Paper." If you ask me my medium, I will probably say oil paints because that is the majority of my output. However, like most artists, I have yet to rule out a medium. Somewhere tucked in my studio corner you can find:
I haven't quite found a use for the coffee filters yet, but I bought the wrong size once and didn't have the ecological heart to throw them away, so stay tuned. If you see me turn out some particularly bumpy collage work, you might wonder if a shopping error played a part in its creation.
Here is a watercolor that I did a while ago. A friend of mine bought an oil painting of Pilot Butte, so I threw this one in as a bonus because I know her daughter, who has just graduated high school, is an enthusiastic and talented horsewoman.
Today in my studio, I am working on a bear in acrylic. Remind me to show her to you in a week or so. Then maybe on to glitter paint. Never say never.
Ouch. That hurt. Another art jury rejection. It’s like cutting yourself in the kitchen. At first, you look down and see the skin opened and the blood start to seep, but there’s a delay before the pain starts to register. Then there’s more pain, then it reaches another level, then you have to sit down with a bloody towel wrapped around your finger and wait it out for a bit.
I’m at the sitting down part. I'm sitting in it and wondering what it means and what it can tell me. Luckily there's no blood.
Does it mean I’m a bad artist? I hope not. It helps that I know other, really great artists who have been rejected by this particular jury. It hurts because I'm pretty sure it means I’m a mediocre artist. No one aspires to mediocrity. I’m hoping that it means I’m just not quite cooked yet. On the verge of 55 years of age (the last 20 of which include any art experience), I still have work to do. That I can swallow and use.
Not one hour after I read the email with that rejection, I got news of a sale of another one of my pieces – the fifth sale this month (if you count prints).
Art is subjective, you guys. The Chief tells me art is a glass cage of emotion because he likes to quote Anchorman. And who doesn’t? Time to bring out the Band-Aids and get back in the studio.
I finished the above painting this last week. The fact that I mounted it on a wooden cradle board means that I like it. Abstract painting is even more subjective than representational art. It tends to get "my kid can paint that" remarks, but I've learned that good abstract or expressionist painting can be just as difficult to get right. To me, this piece depicts an attempt at creating a peaceful, ordered balance within a messy world.
Peace be with you.
So things never turn out as we imagine or wish.
When I was 18, I wanted to be a psychologist. When I was 20, I learned what a psychologist could and could not do and what they did and did not know. Then I had to figure out what else I could do with a psychology degree.
The first thing I found that I could do with a psychology degree was to work as a sales clerk at a Motherhood maternity shop.
The next thirty years brought more experiments in what I could and could not do. What I was good at (writing) was not lucrative. What I was competent at (analytical thinking and grammar) was valuable but not fulfilling (“fulfilling” = crap word that means fun). What I found fun (art) I was not yet particularly competent at. So I quit trying for a rewarding career and settled on a fun one.
So I don’t have a life’s work. Just a house hung with art in varying degrees of competency and a website I saddled with a ridiculous name.
What should I have done differently? It doesn’t matter. All that matters is the time ahead of me. And I want nothing more than to paint.
Here’s a picture of a forest fire.
I bought a shirt when I was in college that I miss to this day. It was mint green, the color of institutional walls. It didn’t fit. The shoulder seams went way past my shoulders and the sleeves petered out long after my arms did. It was of the kind of material that the disco era was made of – polyester and dreams, Baby. But it was soft and satiny and cool to the touch, and made me feel small and lithe and full of talent. I wore it to dances, class, and dance class. I don’t remember what happened to it. I suppose I wore it until it was no longer made of matter but memories, because I don’t think I had it in me to dispose of it.
It did teach me to feel clothes before buying them. I have many shirts that feel better than they look. I also have way too many velvet things. Velvet is not a day-to-day fabric. I’ve found that if you show up to a casual thing in velvet, people assume you have misjudged the import of the occasion when actually I have just misjudged people’s sense of humor.
Do you know about Tencel? I love Tencel. It’s a fabric made of wood fiber (!) that is supposed to be environmentally friendly. What I like about it is that it is soft and heavy at the same time. Like a blanket that you couldn’t give up when you stopped sucking your thumb. I used to have a pair of pants made of Tencel. Tencel is so drape-y that the pants ended up looking kind of creepily saggy, but that didn’t stop me from wearing them like ALL THE TIME. I would still be wearing them, still rocking that 00’s cargo pants look, if I hadn’t gained that last five pounds.
I have a workout shirt in highlighter yellow, not because I am worried about being seen in the dark or because the Oregon Ducks sometimes enjoy visually shocking their opponents, but because it is so soft. Unfortunately, soft things don’t last, and that shirt might have one more season in it at best.
Soft and strong is a myth, at least where toilet paper is concerned.
I guess I'm telling you this because I'm feeling sad about losing an extremely deep pile fluffy jacket that died in the washing machine this week. It was like wearing a teddy bear. It's in the bottom of the garbage can and I keep planning rescue attempts that I know are doomed to failure.
I don’t know if I have a point, so I will think of some and you can choose: (1) The disco era was helpful in shaping my fashion destiny. (2) If you see me wearing something odd looking, you can safely think to yourself, "I bet that's soft." (3) Always wash your hands after using the restroom.
Hello. I understand that I am entering my grandmotherly years, and to many I may already resemble a grandmother, whether because of my chubby cheeks, or my jolly demeanor. However, I feel it incumbent upon me to lay down some ground rules as to how grandmotherly I am able to act vis à vis your small human offspring.
1. I WILL be polite to your baby. I will refrain from deploying swear words in my speech and will not bring up the subjects of procreation activities or the theories regarding the existence of either Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny (FAKE), Sasquatch, or the Tooth Fairy.
2. I MAY greet your baby. If it seems socially contracted, I may greet your baby with one of the following standard greetings:
a. How do you do.
b. Hello, Baby.
c. Good afternoon, Baby (as appropriate)
d. Fancy meeting you here.
3. I MAY compliment your baby’s attire, knowing full well that it had little, perhaps nothing, to do with either its procurement or its donning.
4. I MAY carry on a short conversation with your baby, if asked a PERTINENT question by said baby.
5. I WILL NOT engage in undignified gibberish with your baby.
6. I WILL NOT touch your baby unless circumstances require it, such as the existence of smudges, soil, or rodents on its face. Or to free myself of its grip.
7. I WILL NOT pick up your baby unless it is blocking an emergency exit.
8. I WILL rock your baby IF the baby appears fatigued, I am near a rocking chair, and I am fatigued as well. At such an occasion, I MAY smell your baby’s head. Do not be alarmed. I am merely checking for rodents.
They paved a dairy farm and put up a McMansionland.
My daily walks have taken me past this dairy farm, tucked onto a bluff overlooking the Columbia river and surrounding lowlands, since we moved here in 2005. It was a two-lane road with often no shoulder, but the traffic was light and courteous.
Once I made the turn in the road by the dairy farm, I could continue north, where there was a little orchard on the left and the border of McMansionland on the right. I would eventually turn back and head home through the McMansionland where there were some nice rolling hills (less conducive for farming, perfect for 4,000 square foot, split-level, architectural nightmares).
I enjoyed the peek through the dairy and orchard, to the river and lowlands below. Like a cat (or a short person), I like to peer down from heights onto smaller, less better things below me. It was a highlight of my walks. I could often see red-tail hawks trolling the pastures for field mice.
Then this happened.
I say "this happened" like it was an act of God or something, but it was an act of change. The old farmer died, the kids were not interested in dairy farming, they found out how much the land was now worth, and an eager developer made them an offer they couldn't refuse.
I get it. I don't want to milk cows either. But it's still sad. And you know the houses aren't going to be as cute as those cows. And I won't be able to look through the fence and through all the houses. The river will be a secret for those few, super-rich ones who can pay, not only for a new McMansion, but one with a primo view.
Even though I don't enjoy painting buildings, I thought it was important for me to paint that barn, especially since I had captured that photo, and it begged to be recaptured in paint. So I've been poking at it all fall (and now winter). It's close to being done, in that there is little more that I can do that will improve it. I'm sure I'm not the only one in Felida (my neighborhood's feline name - another story) who feels as instantly nostalgic about this barn.
Here is my attempt at a barn. The Pleasant View Dairy barn. I may try it again with a little more style, but this one is what it is. And it will live on while the original is gone. Like a bad rock music lyric.
Hey everybody! Here's some of the work displayed for sale yesterday during First Friday. The Society of Washington Artists held a special Christmas-centered Art for Under $100 sale at the Artist Loft in the old Academy building in downtown Vancouver. It was OFF THE CHAIN.
THAT IS ALL.
If you like, you can visit my Zazzle store, where you can buy my art printed on all kinds of stuff (the list grows every day) for a paltry, paltry fee. Much cheaper than what I can make it from scratch for. Here is an example: my first t-shirt. A vintage-style shirt with my new band, Haystack Rocks! on it. (Well, it would be my new band if I played any instrument besides classical flute.)
It’s Friday! It’s time to go to your favorite grocery store and report to your cashier about your plans for the weekend! Don’t tell me you go to one of those rogue grocery stores that isn’t on board with the new trend of instructing all their cashiers to poll each and every customer about their plans. Then you really need to switch stores! Because it’s fun!
Look, you could tell them the truth. They hear truth all day long and it is slowly sucking the soul right out of them. Look into their eyes. They do not want to hear about your errands, your in-law visit, your soccer games. They are up to here with soccer games. It’s time to brighten their day.
I will give you some pointers. You can use these, or make up your own.
I hope that's enough to get you started. Report back to me with your plans.
I’m sitting the fall SWA show. That means I’m part security guard, part cashier, part museum docent and mostly bored. When art guilds like the Society of Washington Artists puts on a public art show, especially one open to the public during all business hours, someone has to pay attention so that the art doesn’t walk away under its own power (or through the power of art thieves, the most criminal kind of thief). In addition, the art is for sale, so someone must be on guard in the event of art purchasers (the most admired and sought-after kind of art lover). But most of the time, we sit. Hence the name.
As I sit, I am keeping my hands busy by typing away. That way the people who are using this public building for something other than art-gazing (which is most of them – there are a lot of business tenants in this building) do not feel obligated to acknowledge my odd existence here at a table set up at the entrance to a public building, as if I were about to ask them if they are happy with their cell carrier.
I face the walkway with my laptop screen in front of me. This way, it’s easy to tell those who wish to engage me in conversation about the art from those who just want to escape the building without an awkward encounter.
Other jobs I have had in the past 24 hours are: database coordinator, art work recorder, art panel mover, printer, printer loaner, secretary, art judge wrangler, and winner’s certificate creator.
Art shows like those put on by the SWA do a valuable service to a whole range of artists, from seasoned professionals to those who may be beginning to find where they fit in the art community. There is nothing like seeing your art displayed alongside art of a completely different caliber or style to make you aware of your strengths and your many, many weaknesses. Many. Many.
There are always moments of panic for those of us who put on art shows. (Listen to me: “those of us.” I’ve been doing this for [watch check] six months.) This time around, the hinge bits that allow the panels to stand upright disappeared when they we needed them and reappeared in front of us as soon as someone made a 12-mile round-trip to re-check the storage space. Nobody remembered to print out extra registration forms for the organizationally challenged who always come unprepared. (Luckily I found one extra with which I copied ten more.) We ended up with too many boxes of panels from storage and no dolly to help get them out of the hallway. (We managed to heave them out of the way with a minimum of hernias.) And we just looked at the prize ribbon box and found only half the ribbons we will need tomorrow. This one is a little more difficult to solve. Our prize ribbons are normally custom printed with the name of our organization, so whatever we end up doing will be half-assed. Ah well. Admittance is cheap. You get what you pay for.
What do I get out of it? Today isn’t the best day to ask me. I ate a granola bar for dinner last night and again for lunch today and I was up late last night creating show programs with the name of each artist, their works, and their purchase price. This morning I printed labels to hang next to each piece. Tonight I will add the names of the winners to the programs and print them. Then I will create fancy certificates with gold seals.
But next week I’ll have an answer for you. It will probably have to do with the benefits of friends with similar interests. Also, artists talk a lot about perspective as a quality of a painting that makes the 2-dimensional seem to have depth. There’s also the perspective gained from interacting with other artists working just as hard and gaining just as much from it (happiness: yes; wealth: no). But mostly what I get are the health benefits of pats on the back. That’s enough.
I'm taking an art class through the local community college taught by a respected colleague and friend. It is a class called "Mixed Media and Painting Abstractly." Mixing media is not a challenge, but I have never been good at painting abstractly. I always end up seeing things in my shapes and then teasing them out until the shapes are no longer abstract, but are actually meerkats. Or turtles.
In fact, if my first assignment is any indication, I might fail at this class, but I totally blame The Chief. I brought home a colorful underpainting, an abstract start to a painting achieved through artistic secrets and trickery. The Chief said it looked like a prehistoric scene with volcanoes. I am too suggestible for a comment like that and this happened:
I've started a new underpainting and have an idea of what my next move is. It's not quite as representational as a couple of frolicking velociraptors, but it's not exactly abstract.
If you are what you eat, then I really am sugar and spice and everything, well, sweet, if not nice, as nice seems a little judge-y. Especially when we are talking about my poor eating habits.
Over the past two years, the Chief has had a more standard, 40-hour-a-week schedule, as opposed to our usual firefighter routine, which consists of 24-hour shifts at the fire station, flanked by more-or-less 48 hours of downtime, spent in part napping to catch up on sleep. This has meant that for the past two years, I have been planning and cooking evening meals seven days a week. This is not a hardship, but was a challenge to my waistline, as I was used to skipping evening meals to make up for the sorry-ass way I snacked during the day.
Now the Chief is back on 24-hour shifts and I’m back baby, allowed to be left to my own kitchen devises (so to speak) for at least one day out of three. As you can imagine, the rubber band, stretched over the last two years of healthy eating, has snapped back a little hard, and kitchen cams (if we had any) might have caught me eating meals consisting entirely of (1) chips and salsa, (2) a few tablespoons of smoked salmon, and/or (3) a few handfuls of popcorn. These less-than-square meals are what’s left of my appetite after an afternoon spent eating candy and/or cookies, and/or chocolate protein bars and/or, in the event of an emergency, chocolate chips.
Okay, now I’m judging me.
The pendulum will swing back and I will resume a somewhat healthier daily diet. I have already begun to sentence myself to remedial training. Last Saturday, while the Chief was at work, I decided to give my appetite a little Time Out and spent the day fasting, drinking tea, water and a little chicken bouillon. It didn’t feel good, but it was completely doable and I did not feel the need to overeat the next day. It made me remember that hunger is not something to fear. Hunger may be a better alternative than the pain of too-tight pants.
I may try to fit a 24-hour fast in my weekly or monthly schedule, when I have a day here and there with no plans that call for a lot of effort or proximity to good food. Also, as long as I am writing or otherwise producing content, it is hard to use my hands for eating. And I do not own a feedbag. YET.
Check the tires on your trailer as well as your tow vehicle. If they look like maybe you should change them before next season, change them this season.
If your tow vehicle is heavily sound insulated, perhaps because it’s a diesel truck, maybe stick your head out of the window every once in a while to listen for the screeching sound of naked wheels dragging on pavement.
A diesel truck can be so insulated to sound that you can’t hear naked wheels being dragged along rough pavement.
No matter how good your trailer mirrors are, you can’t see the back set of trailer wheels.
Cranky cowboys can get extra cranky and shouty when you unknowingly throw sparks along the highway with your naked trailer wheel during fire season.
Blowing a tire at 65 miles an hour can do dreadful things to propane lines that run under a trailer, oddly close to the wheels.
If you’re lucky, the blown tire will just clamp the copper propane line shut and not blow a hole in it, causing even more disastrous things to happen, especially while you are throwing sparks off a naked wheel.
One blown tire can mean no working stove, furnace or refrigerator and one limping air conditioner.
A week in an RV park without a refrigerator and with a borrowed, leaky cooler is a small but annoying inconvenience.
Sometimes, when you call a tire store and they say they have the tires you ordered so you drive four hours one way, they don’t have the tires after all, and you have to drive all the way back and buy the crappy tires at the local place.
Sometimes what you think is an allergy flare-up is actually a cold that lasts all week.
No matter how big your ranch house is, it will feel small when it is filled with new in-laws.
When a house is full of relations and relations-to-be, clean towels and wine become more valuable than cigarettes in prison.
If you have a backyard wedding at a ranch house of hosts known for their love of dogs and forget to mention to guests not to bring their dogs, you will have a wedding with 20 dogs.
All those cute wedding decoration touches that you got from Pinterest? Nobody notices them.
Wedding planners are more important than I thought.
No one can plan for a summer wind storm.
Pinterest decorations all blow away in wind over 20 mph.
$1,000 worth of flowers will stay in boxes in the house in wind over 20 mph.
I’m glad I don't have to plan or execute a wedding.
Every bride is lovely, but some* are more lovely than others. *My daughter-in-law, nine years ago this month, and my niece, last Saturday.
My first pet was a long haired Chihuahua who had no powers of discernment at all, otherwise, she would not have insisted on imprinting on me, a college student who knew nothing about dogs and had a landlord who could not know anything about the existence of my dog if I wanted to stay. We made it work. (I’m sorry about lying to you, Old Landlord, and telling you (repeatedly) that it was a friend’s dog who was just stopping by to shoot the breeze.)
Like a lot of small dog owners, I didn’t consider it important to train my dog because they are so conveniently portable. One false move and they are up in the air, clinging for dear life to your hand, all thoughts of their previous disagreement lost in a bid to survive. Later I would learn that this is cruel and all sizes of dogs should be treated with the respect that they deserve, otherwise they go insane. There are a lot of insane small dogs out there with weird behavioral malfunctions, dangling from arms and purses, completely unable to live a dog’s life, or to even interact with another dog without popping a blood vessel.
Long after Twinkletoes the Chihuahua (Twinkie for short) had gone on to a better life and our vagabond lives had landed on some firm ground, I started to campaign for another dog. I really wanted another Chihuahua, but because of Twinkie’s lack of training, The Captain had come to hate Chihuahuas with a large man’s passion. So what’s kind of like a long haired Chihuahua but not Chihuahua sized?
Nothing, but the Central Oregon Humane Society had this sorry looking collie who needed a home.
At sixty-plus pounds, collies are considered large dogs. I might not have understood the need to train a Chihuahua, but I was sharp enough to know that nobody should have a large dog unless they know how to train them and have used that knowledge upon that dog. Large dogs are the opposite of good citizens if they have not had any training. So I learned and I taught. And Shelby, the sorry looking collie, learned to walk on a leash like a gentleman, sit, stay in the yard, and hold his head up high, knowing he was now an Educated Dog. And after a while, his hair started to grow in and he put on some weight, and he no longer looked so sorry.
Shelby taught me a lot and I’ve been learning about dog training and using that training on whatever dog I could get my hands on ever since. Dogs are much better students than people. Mostly because trigonometry is not in their course load.
A friend of mine (I’ll call him Dean) decided that for his first dog, he would do a good deed and adopt a retired greyhound. This seemed like a great match, because he was a bit of a greyhound himself, specializing in sprint-style bike races that lasted about the same length as a greyhound track. Both type of animal seemed to be both very fast and also have a tendency to dangerously overheat after a relatively short amount of high-intensity activity. Also, he knew a little about (or at least knew the importance of) training large dogs from hanging around me.
After a little matchmaking through Greyhound Pet Adoption Northwest, he came home with Cash. Cash had a longer racer name, but Cash would do for a pet’s name.
Straight from the track, Cash was one hundred pounds of pure lean fast-twitch muscle, topped with a tiny, streamlined head, outfitted with two huge brown eyes. I know I’m used to looking at a collie’s almond-shaped eyes, but even for greyhounds, Cash’s eyes were oversized. Bunny rabbit big. Big like those Margaret Keane big-eyed children paintings big.
Cash was like if an alien had landed on earth, but it looked like a dog, so everybody just assumed it was a dog. He had no – zero – experience at being a pet dog, so everything about it was new. People were great – he liked this world of people who cooed at him and petted him. What a great idea! Although he had spent four years of his life penned up alongside dozens of them, he did not know how to interact with dogs. Most of the time he tried to ignore them in the hopes that they would wander away. He did not know what to do with toys, but he knew they were gifts from humans, so he loved them. He was puzzled at this “dog food” that was not the raw meat deemed inedible to serve to humans (or to sell to dog food makers) that he had been eating at the dog track, but he got the hang of it.
And the fact that he took all this new information in with wide eyes and a happy heart was mind boggling. If people were treated the way they treat dog track greyhounds they would have to be institutionalized for the rest of their lives, but these dogs bounce back like champs.
Dean took Cash everywhere he could. He was gentle and well-behaved (Cash, not Dean). He learned slowly but eagerly, and followed the rules as he understood them. Sitting was next to impossible with his greyhound structure and over-developed musculature – he never sat on his own accord – but he learned to lie down when asked, and he was an enthusiastic walker and car rider.
I got to dog-sit him a couple times, and he fit right in with Scotty the collie. He learned my strict walking rules and mostly followed them. He followed Scotty’s lead around the house and learned the routine quickly. Neither dog was much into games like fetch or tug-of-war, so they were content to just hang out together.
Dean has been having the Summer From Hell. Among other life disturbances, he and his wife had to scramble to find a new house when their landlord decided to move back to town. During the move, Dean's work truck broke down. He scrambled to find the money to fix the truck, but as soon as he got it home from the garage, it started to make another death-rattle noise. This one was beyond his capability to fix, so he had to scramble to find the financing to buy a new work truck. Boy, he sure hoped that was the last misfortune this summer.
Soon after, as he was enjoying a beer at the local establishment, there was a commotion outside. It was his motorcycle, parked at the curb. The motorcycle on which he had just restored the engine. Except that it looked a little brighter because it was on fire. Between the fire department and a nearby shopkeeper with a fire extinguisher, the fire got put out, but not before the electrical parts burnt into a charred, melted mass of black tar. There was apparently a problem with the wiring. Now there’s a much bigger problem with the wiring. He walked the bike to an indulgent friend’s house and joked about putting it on Craigslist. “Ran when parked, may need a tuneup.”
It would have just been a bad summer if Cash had not then had a grand mal seizure while walking in the park on a Sunday. Full, lying on the ground, running at full speed, going nowhere while all other systems malfunctioned at once, seizure. The vet told him that it could be one of many things, from nothing to brain tumors. Only time and expensive tests would tell. First thing to do is wait and see. If he did not have another seizure within twelve hours, the chance that it is something dire goes down quite a bit.
He got through that twelve hours, but he did not make it through the week. By Wednesday, the seizures started again, and they continued through the night. By Thursday morning, even the vet’s anti-seizure medication could not fully stop them. There was no way to overcome the damage to his brain from the constant seizures. They said goodbye while he was still seizing.
Was it the four years of rotting food and heavy workload that he suffered as a racer that made his brain and body shut down? Or the overbreeding for speed? Or just dumb bad luck? No telling. We do know that he got to love the last two years of his life. Probably got enough smooches in those brief years to last a lifetime. Everybody knew him and loved him.
Dean was devastated, as you can imagine, but in the thick of that ugly day, he did send me this text: “Wanna buy a gently used greyhound? Ran when parked, may need a tuneup.”
POSTSCRIPT: Dean and Jenny's lives are still in a bit of an uproar with new jobs on the horizon and unpacking still to do, but that didn't stop them from looking for another needy greyhound to pour their love into.
It turned out that there was, indeed, a greyhound who needed them. One who was running out of options fast. Within 24 hours of notifying Greyhound Pet Adoption Northwest of their situation, Raider was on their couch.
Raider thinks Dean and Jenny are pretty nice. But he is really in love with their couch. That's okay. He's only two and already has signs of neglect - ground-down teeth from chewing on wire kennels, patchy hair, and ribs and backbone showing from being raced at a Tijuana track. Dean and Jenny (and their couch) will take care of that.
Dog track racing is slowly declining in the US (the Arizona track where Cash was raced just recently closed), but it persists in five states and around the world. Luckily there are big-hearted people out there helping the industry's castoff dogs find empty couches. If you have a couch that could use a pile of bony love, you could do the same. Here's a link to Greyhound Pet Adoption Northwest.
Remember when we were all “2015! Ugh! Good Riddance! Bring on the new year!”?
NOW what do we say? We’re halfway through 2016 and we are making a bigger cock-up of it than the last try. I hate to boil all our jumbled fury and helplessness down to bullet points, but we have all been trained by our own internet habits to comprehend things best this way, so here goes:
All the actions below make a difference in large and small ways. Please do one or more.
Please pass it on. More praying. More meditation. More kindness. That’s the least and most we can do.
Although I’m a fan of alternative music (which I would define as hipster music or maybe rock music for aging punks), I’m not a big fan of the alternative band The Hold Steady. Big fans of The Hold Steady wear band t-shirts and have Hold Steady tattoos and go to Hold Steady concerts. I just have one album. It's not even the latest one.
This album has two songs that I especially like. One is called “Sequestered in Memphis” and it’s a song about the consequences of a night gone horribly wrong, but the reason I like it is because it is a word salad that feels particularly crunchy in my mouth. If I found it on a list of karaoke songs, I might choose it. It’s easy to sing because the lead singer of The Hold Steady is known more for his verbal range than his vocal range. (I’ve never sung karaoke, but I’d like to think that I might if pressed.)
The other is a song called “Constructive Summer.” It’s a song about a mill town with mill folk, who are feeling a little disillusioned and forgotten, but still have a little rowdy hope. So maybe they should get out their hammers and ladders and build something. The words of the bridge are, “Let this be my annual reminder/That we could all be something bigger.”
My summer so far could be called “Sequestered in Summer.” The Captain had a bulging disc his back that was causing damage to his spinal and sciatic nerves, so on June 1, a neurosurgeon went in there and excavated some of that disc. We are in the stage of our lives when we have a neurosurgeon. After the surgery, the neurosurgeon ordered him to sit still for most of the summer. The Captain is a bike and motorcycle riding fire fighter who doesn’t take lying down lying down. But in the interest of having a working back for the rest of his life, he has behaved himself – loudly. I have tried to work around him without making him feel like a piece of furniture, but sometimes I’ve had to fight the instinct to dust his head.
You would think that such a lull in our daily lives would have given me the chance to really spend some quality time in my studio, but life and family has a way of filling the moments of your day unless you carve out time and hang a big DO NOT DISTURB sign on your nose.
Now, the end of June/beginning of July, we have been somewhat de-sequestered. The Captain (who is no longer a captain, but The Battalion Chief doesn’t have the same ring to it) and I have decamped to a camping spot on the southern Oregon coast.
His physical therapist has given him some exercises and ordered (okayed) him to ride his bike (on a stationary trainer) for a while each day, which he does outside the travel trailer at our camp site, so his mood is improving.
Personally, I’m taking some photos that may turn into paintings this fall and I’m thinking about climbing Humbug Mountain. It’s easier than actually climbing it, and I recommend it. I’m doing it while wearing hiking boots, so I’m pretty sure, if we are working on a system whereby the one who scores a majority of votes wins, that I have thereby climbed the mountain.
I ought to build something this summer. I’m going to start with a fancy DO NOT DISTURB sign.
Then, I’m going to work on my first real portrait. I specialize in landscapes. The reason I specialize in landscapes is because that’s what I feel comfortable doing. I have occasionally painted humans in profile and backlit, but never “full frontal.” Since it is my first, the garbage can will probably see it before you do, but 10,000 hours starts with one. Then I will paint some meerkats I once saw huddled for warmth at a zoo in Colorado Springs. Then for a return to form, some landscapes from photos I took a while back in Central Oregon.
The Captain has been researching ways to use solar and gas generators to provide power while camping off the grid, so he’s got a constructive project.
Let this be my annual reminder that we could all be something bigger, which I am currently achieving by eating brownies in a lawn chair.
I helped put on an art show in May. It took a lot of time in preparation and a lot of time in recovery. Here are some thoughts I had about art shows in general that you can now have for free: