Sunday, September 27, 2009

Spiritual Practice

Every single morning we do The Morning Pages.  3 of them.  Write. Writewritewrite.  And, write some more.  Sometimes it is exhausting.
Then, we read.  Uplifting, spiritual stuff.  Then we move into meditation and prayer... 
our favorite part.
Sometimes The Morning Pages take us on unexpected journeys.
This is a great way to start our (&your) day.  Gets us centered.  Grounded.  Ready for Everything.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Rings, circles, music

Plop!  Something out of the clear blue hits the water a moment before a slight pressure releases the mechanisms of the camera.  Concentric rings immediately take off on their journey from an epicenter, like earth-quakes and music.  Not like a spiral.  Yet, are these rings any less connected?
A song, written by Kaitlyn.  It appears to be a drum piece, until she sings her composition, "This one I wrote for my whole family."
The composer-ess.  Yes, we are related.  She makes a mean cup of tea, and can climb to the highest corner of the kitchen cupboard to find Nonnie the Magic Markers, which are up there because otherwise Kai(the little brother) would get them.  She offered me black tea, like I requested, and when I showed her the empty box she peered into shadows with a scowl, "We have a serious mouse problem."  
These little people are profound.  Of course they are adorable, and I love the names people have for their grand babies:  "The Slimers" one friend calls hers, always with a delighted laugh ringing through the syllables.  Within the circles I travel the babies are treasures.  My nieces and nephews have babies, my daughters all do, my close friends are adding two new ones in the coming months.  

Babies.  Brave babies.  Courageous parents.  The rings vibrating out from the center.  The surface of the pond reflecting blue.

Out at the lake this morning, a young couple was unloading their boat and piles of stuff out of the back of their small truck onto the ramp.  Two dogs romped around.  Luna and I were at the farthest point of the beach away from them.  One of their dogs, a Shepard X, tall with a blond tail arching over his back started toward us.  Oh no, this does not look good, and I threw the Luna's new-best toy as far out as I could.  I watched the young man vault down the rocks, and the dog strut-prancing closer.  I threw the toy out again, and LunaDog went after it.  All the while, as we set this rhythm, I failed to notice Dog #2 coming at us.

All components came together at once:  Big Dog, Young Man, Luna, the Toy, and the Surprise. Dog #2 was a two-ton English Bull Terrier, a girl.  She head-butted me away from Luna's toy, and dove into the water after it.  She used her considerable girth to position herself between the toy and Luna.  She took the toy!  She ran up the beach with it, certain of ownership.  "Oh no," the Young Man muttered to no one in particular, "good thing it's not a tennis ball." Quickly I realized that if it were a ball, it would disappear completely into that face, as he wrestled with her to retrieve the toy.

I have to say here, LunaDog stayed with me, sat when told, didn't even raise hackles!  (The Best Dog!) (of the moment)

I still want a puppy.  Three paintings are started.  The small quilt nears completion.  Figs ripen, purple-black, warm and heavy, more than I can use to make jam or 'Newtons.   Life is circle. Music is Life.  And while I have never heard of a mouse making off with all the tea bags, I am sure it's possible.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Wake-up yellow

This morning I fall into a pool of yellow.  The sun splashes over the rooftop, the sunflowers are awake and ready.  As observer I breathe warm yellow, taste musky pollen, dream chocolate centers, remember how I got here.
Opulent.  Luxurious.  Full skirts.  Jewels.  Emerge.  Celebrate.  Tempt.  Reward.  Expect. Receive.  Enjoy.  Repeat.
Good Morning!  I love you!  
Letting my eye drift up and out the window I see this evening's light, another shade of yellow, dancing around in the cottonwood outside.  There was a fire this afternoon, East and between the sunflowers and the cottonwood, in the mountains.  Sunset will be wild, vivid.  

Noticing the Honeybees, their industry and social structure, their communication dances, how this morning they were in and about every sunflower stuffing their legs with pollen. Imagine a work environment of this sort, even if it isn't idealized or romanticized, the colors are stunning, the air fresh, the pattern centering the sunflower is nothing short of magical.  

If I were to write or draw into this pervasive yearning, it's quite probable that yellow would be found.  



Monday, September 14, 2009

Early Fall Evenings with A Touch of Melancholy

My favorite colors.  Over and over and over again.
There were a bunch of bats zipping all over the place.
Looks like a galaxy in the bushes.
It has been eight and a half months since our Labrador, Meat Pie, died.  I have been very busy with my art; the painting and the writing.  I have gone North to Whidbey Island.  I pick tomatoes and fruit.  I make small delicious batches of jam using blackberries I have picked, plums, and figs.  Luna and I go to the Lake to swim and play.  Today we stopped along the back roads at a small county park where we hiked into the brush and went "off leash!"  Luna swam in the Russian River and we climbed back into the car and headed home with our groceries, books and papers.  She started whining, whined all the way to our driveway.  What is with that?  Can she read my mind?

My current obsession is with dogs.  Well, one type of dog in particular:  Labrador Retriever. Saturday as I approached the 'summer bridge' on the way into town, two Labs loped up and over the gravel embankment.  Followed by two young men.  Another Lab burst over the top of the gravel, followed by another.  Wow.  Four of them; two Yellows, a chocolate and a happy Black one.  One of the young men walks over to my window, since I have stopped and am considering getting into his truck.  His young yellow Lab jumped high enough on the door of my car to come on through.  "No!" he said.  I noticed tattooed biceps, strong arms.  "Oh, that's alright..."  It is?

Saving some face (mine, I hope) I drive off like I am going somewhere, watching them load up in my rear view mirror.  The Chocolate doesn't want to jump that high, so she sits.  The handsome young man bends to scoop her... whoa!  I almost drove over that same gravel embankment, or I should say, into it.

That really happened.

And I have been lurking online at Labrador Retriever sites.  On utube, watching puppy videos. Today the checkout girl said, "Oh, we have a Dalmation and a Lab!"  I seem to be just outside of my own reality, kind of wondering where it went.

There may be a few excellent reasons to wait on getting a new Labbie.  Right now I do not believe one of them, none of them.  I just want a puppy.  I want to cave and just go with this yearning.

I don't want to take my yearning on an artist's date.  I don't want to take her  vacuuming.  I don't want to feed her chocolate and whipped cream.  I don't want to buy her new shoes.

I want to cuddle, roll in the grass, slip in the mud, and laugh until I hurt.  Then, I want to play chase.  And last, I want to cuddle some more. 

And that's that.


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Seasonal Celebration

The garden is quickly, it seems, going by.  Fading into autumn, sunflowers have toppled over in the afternoon wind, bright petals dried.  The light is yellow, casting a golden hue that paints, is thick with vibration. This in-between time is magical with color, with fruit hidden in the tangle of summer's growth, with surprise scents and sounds.

Funny how things pile up like clouds up against a mountain range.  Remember planting the garden in the spring?  The little plants set out look small and lonely, they never could grow and entwine with their neighbors!  Ha!  Or the seeds sprinkled in carefully prepared beds, pop out of the soil with tiny twin leaves; who can imagine them growing into a vine that winds around and through the garden plot growing big gray winter squashes, even hanging them as huge ornaments in the tomato row?

And the weeds!  They too, are beautiful in their tenacity.  Perhaps the weeds are the poets and writers?  They come up where ever the water touches the soil, root deep, grow fast and bloom, throw seeds all over for next year!  I have always loved the weeds; something in their persistence intrigues me.  I for one, have never thought of a weed as a bad thing, hence I can claim my own weed-dom, or weedness, like I claim my poet and writer and artist.

Funny what happens when one sits down for a moment and lets the golden evening breeze in the front door!


Saturday, September 5, 2009

Opinions, Onions and Georgia O'Keeffe

She teaches one to look; really really reeeeealy LOOK at a flower... and all of Life.

Something deep in my bones is thoroughly satisfied when I stand in front of a Georgia O'Keeffe painting.  As a rebellious and often misbehaving adolescent, I was periodically on the verge of being removed from various classes or even, sent home. One day my high school art teacher, Mr. Sams, sat me down  in front of and facing, his file cabinet.  "Open the bottom drawer, Paine."

Within that drawer were fat manila folders stuffed with images of various artists from antiquity through modern.  It is probable that they were in alphabetical order, or perhaps arranged in a chronological order, a discernment lost on me at the time.  I flipped through them quickly, irreverently  at first and then more carefully.  At one particular folder I stopped altogether, stunned by images of flowers, desert mountains, bones and intense blue.

From that day forward I walked into the sanctuary of the art room.  I went directly to Mr. Sams desk, sat in his chair, pulled out the drawer, and I know now... meditated on the images of Georgia O'Keeffe.  Mr. Sams did not put names on the folders, he honored his students the freedom of absorbing the images.  It wasn't until I asked him, that I discovered the name of this artist.

Georgia O'Keeffe taught me about aesthetic, composition, color, form, hue, line.  She taught integrity and focus.  She taught the ancient lessons of immersing in one's passion, of following one's bliss, to continue on without the "permission" of status-quo or academic interpretation.  

Which makes me giggle!  How many of us could or would (and I may add... DO!) carry on, guided by whatever guides us, guided by heart,mind and soul to do what we need to do: allow Spirit full freedom to express through and as us?

I picked up the book Georgia O'Keeffe and Ansel Adams, Natural Affinities, this morning and dipped into Barbara Buhler Lynes' essay, "Georgia O'Keeffe and Ansel Adams: Subjects of Self."
Pardon me for saying it is not a remarkable essay.  Maybe I was grumpy.  I observed that there was too much space devoted to how O'Keeffe owes her success to Stieglitz, that O'Keeffe never mentions the "fact" that he set her up to be successful, and financially independent so that she could devote the rest of her life to her artwork.  Do we deduce from this that she was not grateful, and therefore....  who knows?  My opinion is that Stieglitz used his artists for his own gain, consciously or no; why is it so insulting that Georgia O'Keeffe went on to ignore him?

In my reading of the essay I do not find mention of the pain caused by Stieglitz's infidelities.  I do not notice mention of Ansel Adams infidelities, in fact, no one has linked Adams's sexuality or even gender, to his landscapes.  Seriously, this takes the apples & oranges adage to new heights.

And one last thing, here is a quote from Ms. Buhler Lynes, a final blow in describing a photograph from O'Keeffe's autobiography, "the single photograph of her... that is related to the text..." (ouch!)  "appears across from words describing her late-life interest in learning to work with clay.  What is not mentioned, however, is what she wanted kept secret at the time: that she had turned to this medium because, by the early 1970's, she was suffering from macular degeneration, which had compromised her vision and made it impossible for her to paint without assistance.  This photograph... shows her in the pottery studio of her Ghost Ranch house, handling a clay pot, rather like a wizened member of a monastic order handling a religious relic."

Now I would be seriously embarrassed if I had written that paragraph.  

Perhaps Ms. Buhler Lynes has never handled clay, or paint, or brushes.  Perhaps she has never struggled with what lies ahead as one's body ages.  Perhaps she has yet to investigate what we mean when we regard another as "famous" that we then have a patent claim on their work, their lives, their opinions of their lives.

My opinion is that a life, a person's body of work, is like an onion.  My life, my sex, my work, my everything-that-makes-me, Me... is like an onion.  And I peel and peel and peel, every day.

Thanks for hanging out with me!

Friday, September 4, 2009

3 P's

Passion, Prayer and PraiseGood Morning... take that thing out of my face, I don't really care if you have a new lens...
Did you bring treats?  I prefer dandelion greens with my cantaloupe rinds and seeds.
Ahh!  Pomegranates are turning red, the bees are busy.
Wandering around the yard and orchard, stopping to push the camera and lens into the trees laden with ripening fruit, I notice that I am moving with the trigger.  Oh.  Come back to this moment, right here, breathe in the fragrance, the hum of bumblebee and the bouncing morning light.  Then, and only then, press the button.

The time has come that the hen house needs to be constructed.  This is our project for the weekend, interspersed with a trip to the beach, a pot-luck, and general dawdling.  The pullets will be so happy to have more room, egg boxes and their own supply of grass and dirt in which to fluff.  I swear, I promise... in the future, I will be sure that the structure is complete before I bring home any more chicks.

And here is a poem by my teacher, David Wagoner.


Stand still.  The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost.  Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes.  Listen.  It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost.  Stand still.  The forest knows
Where you are.  You must let it find you.

Thank you, David.
Thank you, garden
Bee and sky.


Thursday, September 3, 2009

late afternoon summer river

A phrase like "cat skinner" sends my mind for a run:  "There's more than one way to skin a cat," Mom used to say, encouraging me, I suppose, to try a different approach to solving a dilemma. Until this morning, I'd always thought of that "wise old saying" as being mean, cruel to cats.  And now, putting "cat skinner" in close proximity I see something different.  Yesterday I took a photo of the enormous Caterpillar sitting in a bucolic field.  My son in law commented on FB:  "Beautiful yellow iron when do I get to drive it and tear some things up.  Put some fire in front of it and we'll really have some fun."

Growing up in the backwoods of Humboldt County, quite a while before it was a dope capital, my uncles and neighbors all either were ranchers, or they "worked in the woods."  They were fallers, cat skinners, choker setters, log truck drivers and made Redwood shakes and posts on the side.  My involvement with them at work was bringing copious amounts of food to them with Aunts and Mom.  Of course we were never very close to the logging operation, as the country was incredibly rugged and dangerous.  The mere mention of "The Cat" brought shivers to one, as it was such a dangerous occupation.  Now and then the skinner would lose control of the yellow iron which always spelled disaster.

Wayne's dad, a timber faller, was killed in the woods two months before Wayne was born.  His mother, like the deforested land, was left to fend for herself and raise her family.  And that, is another story entirely.

Then there is this little river, The Russian River.  It slides, at this time of year, slowly toward the Pacific Ocean.  "Old Timers" around here always say that the river used to dry up, you know.  Every summer.   That was before human intervention, and the long and complicated practice of selling and stealing water.  Now, the Russian River shares a lake and a dam and tunnel with the Eel River.  Both rivers suffer.  Neither has salmon runs anymore.  The Eel River has no eels in it.  Strange varieties of "invasive" fish shadow the bottoms of swimming holes. Water is pumped from the Russian River, day and night, by big diesel engine powered pumps onto acres and acres and acres of vineyards.  Zinfandel.  Merlot.  Pinot.  Chardonnay.  Fume.  Viognier.  Syrah.  Wine country thirsty.

Oh, another thing "Old Timers" have told me:  the really old timers dry farmed the grapes.  And the Native Californians picked the wild grapes which grew up into the Cottonwood trees along the banks of the streams and creeks.  Quite a different picture than of modern living.

Well.  I love to go to the River, no matter how small.  The smells of Cottonwood, willow, mint, wild grasses, the rocks and the slow river always spark a riot of memories.  The colors and wildlife never fail to lift my spirits, to remind me that even at this brink-of-disaster time renewal is at hand.

Let's go swimming.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

random, new lens experiments and rambling

This is a drive-by photo, taken from the car.  This enormous Caterpillar sits in a field.   Its size defies logic.  And in its own way, it is beautiful.  I imagine I am about as tall as the scoop, or whatever that is called.  Blade.  I think it's called a blade.  I am impressed with how the lens & camera grabbed the image!  Maybe now I can go whale watching and have the whale show up larger than 1/2 inch.
Forever fascinated with insects and flowers:  Imagine gathering in such fantastical environments!
Eggs.  Yes, one of my favorite subjects.  Mmmmm.  And they are gorgeous.
This is the first photo with the new lens.  Will I ever, ever, ever? figure out "order" of MY choosing on this format????    I did love the beans in the foreground, and the giant "Mammoth" sunflower in the background.  Of course, deciding on which to focus is always a good thing.  Hahaha.

It is hot and muggy today.  My intention is to get lots of painting done this morning, well, afternoon, now.  I am having "buyers freak-out" over my new lens.  Apparently, I need to go on a longer rambling photo shoot to allow inspiration and excitement to completely take over the apprehension.  I am back to carrying the camera with me.

Wish I could zap myself back to Deception Pass so I could re-walk the path into the forest and take shots of the bridge and the tidal currents beneath, and the clouds above.

And I know that this path only goes forward, a step or a leap or two at a time.  This all feels a little out of sync.  Entering my world again with a different viewpoint...

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