NOPE. My little patch of paradise

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I went for a long, hot, humid run today.  Not my favorite weather in which to hit the roads, but I have been a bit of an anxious mess lately, and running indoors would only have exacerbated that sensation.  You see, my neighborhood, and many others near ours and like ours (some of which I’ve resided in in the past) is under assault by the big bully energy company who is supposed to be providing ‘service’ to our community.

Last Wednesday I skipped the churchlike regularity of my weekly Irish music session to attend a community forum…

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At this meeting, light was shed upon the whispers of a tragic injustice potentially headed our way, courtesy of the fracking movement and spearheaded by the very company which is supposed to bring us ‘service’, Duke Energy.

I sat at this meeting, horrified, filled with dread, my ears fairly bursting with the news of this plan to bring an industrial strength, highly pressurized ‘natural’ gas pipeline straight through our back yards.  I’ll fess up that I thought I was headed to this meeting for a bit of ‘not in my back yard’ tete-a-tete, and just to see what was up.  This isn’t about my back yard.  This is about all of our back yards.

For the first time,  a pipeline of this magnitude is being considered for a path straight through the middle of a densely populated neighborhood area.  A path that navigates it’s way not only through quiet suburban backyards with mature trees and woodlands such as ours, but also through neighborhoods with houses whose closer fence lines provide much more day to day contact.  And right by schools where our neighborhood kids learn and play and live their little lives.  And just near nursing homes, day care centers, hospitals and houses of worship.

This is no ordinary pipeline, I learned at last week’s forum.  This is not about service to us from our local energy provider.  This pipeline is a highway.  A 30″ transmission pipe headed south to make money for Duke Energy.  This pipeline has nothing to do with us, if I understood the information I gleaned from the meeting.   Sure, it might be part of the overall ‘system’  ‘needed’ to be in place for us to get the natural gas we use so thoughtlessly utilize on a regular basis.  I do not know.  I am still in the process of researching it all.   But I am no Erin Brockovich .  I am just a quiet artist, trying to lead a good life.  Trying to stay one step ahead of my anxieties about the world.

And so we went to our local forum.  We sat riveted and horrified.  And we came home to think about it all for a day or so.  And now, we have written heartfelt letters to our local politicians, and to our local utility company (which feels laughable, considering their confidence in making this pipeline a reality).  And today, I knit socks in my little patch of paradise while no one else was up besides me and the dogs and our last, lone chicken.  And I pondered the kids and older folks by whom this pipeline would pass.   And I thought about how vulnerable they all are.  How vulnerable we all are.

When something goes wrong on one of these lines, there is no warning.  No evacuation.  Folks are just in the blast line.  Or they are not.  Currently, for at least one path this line is considering, we are in a fairly direct path of a potential blast.  I don’t want anyone to be in this blast line.  A line of this caliber belongs in industrial areas and along interstate routes.  For in the long run, what is traffic and re-routing, if countless lives are potentially saved?

I sat in a state of endless anxiety for a good while.  And then I went on that run.  Due to the heat and humidity, I had to stop here and there.   I chatted with a dear neighbor who has a new (to me) dog named Rocket.  I wandered my streets filled with love for this place.  This isn’t necessarily my perfect place.  That might be nearer to the ocean perhaps.  But for now, this is our place.  And I am fiercely committed to it.  I ran and ran and ran.  Just one step ahead of the elephant that loves to take up residence upon my chest so often.

and then I saw it.

A little wild rabbit.

The morning sunshine was slanted just so that the creature’s ears were lit up like little rose petals.  I stopped.  Caught my breath.  And got an idea.

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I almost can’t handle the idea of older folks, school children, and my own home being in an explosion caused by a highly pressurized natural gas pipeline in a densely populated area.  But I can escape to my imaginary sphere.  And wonder what the animals might think of it all.

After all, regardless of property values potentially falling due to this pipeline, or dangerous safety concerns for our most vulnerable citizens, the environmental issues surrounding this project are absolutely staggering.  Changes to storm run-off patterns in place for generations,  construction run-off into the millcreek watershed, mature trees and woodlands decimated.  I could go on and on.

But here was this rabbit.  And here was myself, in a state of agitated anxiety.  So for the afternoon I escaped into my imagination.  Where the woodland animals were banding together with their own social media campaign.

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And I made a little drawing.

Because besides chatting up my neighbors on both sides of the party line, and sending letters to my governmental representatives, this is all I know to do.  I mustn’t cave to endless fear and anxiety over this notion.  I must act.  And today I acted.  And I will continue to do so when I can.  There have been stories of communities able to stand in the face of these environmental atrocities and make change.  And lord knows there are others with a less happy ending.

But we are at the beginning of this struggle.  There is a core group of citizens comprised of a variety of affected communities who have banded together to make some trouble and spread the word of this project so very inappropriate for this area.  It seems the energy corporations are getting more and more desperate to make a dollar (or billions) and they are putting the very communities they are supposed to be ‘serving’ at risk.  I really expected better community stewardship and responsibility from a company I, until now, trusted.

NOPE Cincy is a group online providing the latest updates on this tragic idea in the hope that we can get things rerouted.  At the rally they put on which I attended, many local representatives were on hand ready to speak for their constituents.  (shout out to Todd Portune whom I last heard speak at my friend Tina’s mural opening last fall.  He is a politician who shows up.  I find that tremendously admirable).  In the current political climate so often filled with vitriolic mayhem, this all feels like a breath of grass-rooted fresh air, in spite of the horrific issue at hand.  And it is just this notion of neighbors working together from ‘both sides of the podium’ as they say that gives me some real hope for where we are headed.

I made this little drawing today.  This is all I know how to do besides writing letters and talking to my neighbors.  It is putting my head in the sand where I feel safe, while not truly doing so.  It is my form of activism.

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Enlightened

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It seemed like it would never stop raining.  This gorgeous, flower-filled spring time of ours has lingered on and on in its misty, fog-filled mornings and cold temperatures.  I actually really love cool temps and soft rain showers.  A part of myself could probably even live in a place like Ireland.  But here in Ohio, folks have done planted their tomatoes and are wonderin’, ‘when will we get some predictable sunshine and finally dry out???’

The past day or so we have had not only dryness, but sunshine.  Sunshine worthy of summer’s glory.  This sunshine has put me in mind for New Mexico, which for me and my intrepid sketch journalers, is just around the bend!  I am grateful to be warm (but not yet sweltering, thank heavens!), and grateful that travel season is only a matter of weeks away.  I am grateful for work that takes me to beautiful places to spend time with interesting people.  And I am grateful for friends, family and ‘faminals’ who welcome me home when that work is done.  Today, I am grateful for sunshine, a full day in the studio (with a couple hours off to paint some walls at our local art center) and the sense that the real work of summer is upon me.  Looking forward to getting back to Taos, drawing and painting all I can capture!

Be sure and follow my adventures on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter in the coming months.  I’ll be sure to share lots of images, and will blog when I can!

At One

We are down to one hen, having lost the family favorite, mischievous, curious, moxie-laden Bernadine.  Her personality here on our little acre of land will be sorely missed.  11295616_10206664562194990_1017598909952787150_n

That leaves us with Elvyra, who was kind of the extra one from the beginning.  We went to the little farm in Kentucky to get four chicks, and came home with 5.  The farmer suggesting ‘that little easter-egger over there’ might be a good one to have if we wanted a pretty flock.

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And pretty she is.

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Of all of the flock, this one has been the quiet one.  Part of the flock enough to be safe, but not overly keen on human attention or affection.  Having read that lone hens are prone to depression and rapid decline, I have been keeping a close eye on Elvyra, but so far, she seems ok.

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She preens her feathers regularly and scritches around the garden and woods for bugs and fresh spring green things.  She’s still laying daily and roosts  predictably at night.  She is eager to de-coop in the morning and join me for a cup of coffee and some treats on the back stoop.  It’s become a bit of a thing for me lately amidst this crazy time of year.

There is just something so soothing about watching a hen peck around the yard for a bit each day.

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Even if it is just the one.

 

I’m gearing up for the Taos trip here in a few weeks and so have ramped up my yoga practice and running routine to get my head on straight, to be the best I can be for my incoming students.  Spring can be a frenetic season with graduations and birthdays to be celebrated, chores to be caught up on and of course the usual day to day work to be done.  Busy.  a word I loathe, but to which I must occasionally succumb.  I am woefully behind in my own sketchbook, but have instead been at the easel a bit each week in a painting course I decided to take from Manifest Drawing Center here in town.  I am learning  a lot in this class about color and painting in oil paints, some of which I hope to apply to my own teaching out west.  It’s important to me not to rest on laurels and to always be finding new things to share in my classes.  I am keenly aware that to do this work is a great gift.  I do not take it for granted.

While we are down in numbers in the avian world, our canine sphere is fit to burst since last year.  It’s nearly a year since we took over the stewardship of my Mama-in-law’s little dog Charlie.

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She was not as little as she really should be when she first joined us.  But with some exercise and the company of other dogs, she has trimmed out a good bit and her more boisterous personality has begun to shine (read, bark).

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Charlie seems quite happy here with us and still makes regular visits back home to Mom as well, which is good for everyone.

And so, on this very average day, I must get back to work.  Attempting the task of getting ahead of myself a bit before the summer travels begin in earnest; pondering the One-ness of all things via the simple avenues of home – ‘fanimals’ and family.

Til next time….

May the Fourth Be With You

Kevin Necessary's poster for the Star Wars tribute show
Kevin Necessary’s poster for the Star Wars tribute show

Tomorrow evening, a bunch of us Cincinnati based artists and illustrators will be gathering to celebrate what has turned out to be a fantastic group show featuring all things Star Wars.

I have two small works in this show featuring two of my favorite characters from the original trilogy of my childhood, Master Yoda, and R2D2.  These two are part of my daily life and even serve as dashboard saints on my treks ’round town….

(note that Yoda wields a crystal wand AND a paint brush. Talented, he is)
(note that Yoda wields a crystal wand AND a paint brush. Talented, he is)

Per my obsession with all things embroidery in recent months, when the opportunity came to whip up a little something for this show, I dove into the thread basket to see who might be lurking in there.

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Yoda came first.  He’s turned out quite nicely and is at the ready with a lovely complement.  Who couldn’t use a dose of Yoda by the mirror on the way out the door for the day, yes?

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At the last minute, I added some fluffy frizz of hair to this work which really makes it, but I didn’t get a proper photo so you’ll just have to come and see him in person!

Next, R2D2 decided to get in on the fun.  Though he opted for really miniature form.  He started with a drawing and a few stitches.

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He came together quite nicely.

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And eventually was placed into a wearable silver hoop, just his size.

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He’s in a frame for the art show itself, but he is ready for your silver chain, should you choose to make him your own.

Do stop by Wednesday if you are in the area.  All food and drink proceeds from the evening will benefit the Force for Change charity. This should be a fun time!

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