In other news here on this lowly old blog, I have engaged the tech services of a new person to help keep this place safe and ongoing. Welcome John! To Mary Beth, my long time, cheerful tech helper of all years in recent memory, I thank you for your patience and kindness. You’ll be missed.
I am still working out what needs to be “blog” and what needs to be “patreon”. But suffice it to say, it’s important to me that this ‘place’ here on the internet be maintained, that the kettle is always on and warm and that you are always welcome. We all need a little place to get away from the world now and then.
The new year dawns amidst heavy rains, as if the tears of 2020 continue to overflow. There is a relief in this new day, this new year, even if in reality, it is just another day.
In years past I might have greeted the day a little weary from an overnight of music at Arthur’s house with many of my most treasured musical mates. Alas, our tradition like so many this dark and difficult season, was simply not to be. And so we had some curry and watched When Harry Met Sally. I of course would rather have been playing music. But that said, it was not a bad way to spend the turning of the year. I am grateful for that.
So here we are. A new chapter. At least according to the calendars. This feeling of a new beginning is refreshing after the sense of doomed Groundhog Days of the past several months. The early half of this day I refreshed my studio chalkboard with a new focus word to contemplate for the year and some reminders to keep in mind of goals and plans for the months ahead. Not so much “resolutions” really, rather ‘things to keep in mind’.
This year’s word is EMBRACE. It is fitting on so many levels. At the basest level, I just need more hugs in my life. I’ve read that hugging more releases the hormone oxytocin into the body, creating happiness. I am keen to try this as I’ve been a little blue of late. But haven’t we all?
Embrace also is a challenge to myself to take more seriously all of the gifts that I have, specifically in my working life. I don’t take my art work for granted and I have worked hard over the years to improve my craft and get my work out into the world. But that said, there is always more I can be doing to put the work forward. I am considering setting up a Patreon page to ask my subscribers if they might like to pay a small patronage toward the making of my art work in exchange for patron only content and thank you rewards. A bit like kickstarter and other funding platforms, but ongoing and not necessarily project specific. I have heard wonderful things about the relationship that develops between artists and their patrons. Money is a difficult concept for artists some of the time, but Patreon allows for people to throw a few coins into the proverbial hat so that artists can do what they do. So we shall see. I am still researching it all. Don’t worry though, the blog will always be here in some form or other. For free. I promise.
With 2020 came so much change and grief and anxiety and a necessary re-thinking of the world in general. The final tenet of my notion of Embrace, is to take what comes -to embrace the challenges of our time right along side with the small joys and achievements. It is a time of ‘yes, and’. It is an era when we must learn to carry sadness and hope together in the same basket a lot of the time. My goal is to embrace this concept and it’s inherent yin-yang quality and see where it takes me. It feels like a good, multilevel word I can chew on for a good year or so.
The latter half of the day we met our daughter and her dog for a beautiful winter hike at a place called Glen Helen Nature Preserve. It was magical with patches of fog and melting snow on bright green mosses. There were streams and springs there filled with iron-oxide and the rocks at some of these waterfalls dripped a bright orange-red.
There was an Adena burial mound just in the woods off the trail and it occurred to me that perhaps this place was sacred to early people in our area. I am glad it is still treated well now.
Philomena continues to grow and change. She has ‘divil dog’ moments when she is all wild instinct and needled teeth and it is difficult not to lose patience with her. But we are all learning together. As I type this, Charlie and I have escaped upstairs to the studio and Tony has taken over puppy duty. When she is awake, we have to keep a close eye on her.
When she rests, one of her favorite things is to shuffle herself under her bed in the kitchen where there are radiant floors. We think it might feel a bit like a weighted blanket to her. She came up with this funny concept on her own.
Sometimes when she is all the way under, and merely a lump under a dog bed, she reminds me of a passage from The Little Prince…
A favorite of mine.
As we attempt to bring our shoulders down out of our anxious ears, and gain an even footing in the world again in the next few months, I wish you a brave new year. A year where the good will outweigh the heartache perhaps. A year of mending what has come undone and weaving together all of the lessons of the past 10 months or so.
Sweet dreams everyone. Tomorrow is another day.
Start Close In
by David Whyte
Start close in,
don’t take the second step
or the third,
start with the first
you don’t want to take.
the pale ground
beneath your feet,
way to begin
Start with your own
give up on other
don’t let them
your own voice,
Start right now
take a small step
you can call your own
heroics, be humble
start close in,
for your own.
Start close in,
the second step
or the third,
start with the first
you don’t want to take.
A David Whyte poem from
River Flow: New & Selected Poems
Many Rivers Press
Philomena is a very busy young dog. We are all about redirection around here as well as making sure our new puppy gets enough exercise to keep her energy at a reasonable level. While it is tiring, as she still wakes a time or two for a tinkle in the middle of the night, we are also having a tremendous amount of fun. Philomena makes us laugh. A lot. (ps. a frozen wet washcloth is great for teething. Better than toes, frozen or otherwise.)
Philomena is engaging and curious and quite a quick learner. Last night at bed time, she didn’t even whine when she was placed in her kennel den for the night. She then awoke once at 530 am to go outside, only to go back to sleep in her den until we were ready to get up for the day. She’s figuring out her routine amidst our lives here, and trying her best to make friends with Charlie.
Charlie is having none of it. We respect her in this regard.
After all, Charlie did not choose to get a puppy.
Yesterday Philly walked all the way around a neighborhood block here. It took some coaxing with small bits of chicken to get her to come along, but in the end I think she was glad she did. She is getting to know the neighborhood a bit.
After her walk, which required her walking with the leash, she was given a bit more freedom. Philomena used her free time to chew on a stick. It’s life’s little pleasures, isn’t it?
Today, a work day, Philly donned her leash once more for a neighborhood jaunt. On this walk, colder and more windy, she was carried a bit of the way. But there were still bits of chicken for paying attention to me and for listening when I call her name, and all in all this too was a fine walk indeed.
In a time which seems like a lifetime ago, I used to run marathons as a sort of side hobby. I ran the weekdays with babies in a stroller and managed a long run on the weekends. In the end I took on 7 of these races and while I was no Olympian, I managed to place now and then. More importantly I made some friends and kept in touch with the self in me that had nothing to do with early motherhood. Raising small children, while undoubtedly a most rewarding and important job, is lonesome and occasionally mind-numbingly dull work. Marathoning gave me a balance amidst it all and enabled me to be a bit of a better mom. Essentially, I ran marathons to survive early motherhood.
Now it would seem that coin is flipped. The pandemic we are experiencing in the world is no sprint. It is definitely more of a marathon. I heard from friends in the UK that lockdowns are in place once more there. There are no lockdowns here, though we are experiencing a difficult season indeed. . The United States is once again acting like the lawless wild west of old, relying on people to make up their own rules along the way. As a result, we are dying in droves. While the vaccine roll-out does bring some hope, there is no end in sight to this pandemic. As Kristin Wigg of SNL fame put it the other day, “the trouble with a light at the end of the tunnel is that finally we can see how bad the tunnel really is.” I agree with her. And so we trudge along this marathon route, step by step, day by day, best we can. And to weather this marathon, we got a puppy.
Something about the structure that raising a new puppy requires, as well as the constant navigation of a fairly steep learning curve (each dog is a new universe in and of itself, is it not?), takes us outside of the panic in the world at large. Much like the structure of marathon running helped me deal with the panic of being a clueless young mother so long ago. I am so grateful for this.
And so here we are. A week in. Already in love. Registered for puppy kindergarten in January. This may or may not lead to some agility work for this little pup who is, indeed, a handful as we expected her to be. But while she is a handful at times, she is also the sweetest little thing.
When she settles down I enjoy doing a sketch of her.
There is no better way to get to know a dog than to draw them.
Ever moving, growing like a weed, it is hard to keep up.
We begin a new chapter in recent days. One filled with the sweetness of a puppy’s young breath while haunted and hunted by the pandemic. The weekend saw us driving northward a bit to collect a new dog whom we now call Philomena Amaryllis. A big name for a big personality. We are still getting to know her.
We encountered her through a local heeler group as I’ve been keen to get an Australian Cattle Dog mix of some sort. A dog who can keep up with my miles in the morning, Hub’s miles in the evening, and everything in between. They called her number 9 and something in her eyes reminded me of our wild and wise Iris Rose whom we lost last winter. We still grieve, but life goes on in spite of that.
We inquired about this young pup in particular and I enjoyed getting to know the young woman who would bring her to us once she was ready. Along the way she sent us routine photos of the pups and their parents, apparently from a farm home. I didn’t ask too many questions. Puppies are puppies and they provide us with a blank slate of possibility. They were clean and well cared for, what more could we want?
We made our decision to adopt number 9.
And so we brought her home a couple of days ago and things are fairly puppy centered in our home just now. I’m feeling a bit sleep-deprived and depleted with night-time puppy scheduling on top of some recent health challenges. But we are really happy with our new puppy. At least most of us are…..
Charlie, our sweet “canine house-cat” is not too keen on Phil’s addition to the family. But they occasionally find a peaceful moment.
We remain diligent in making sure Charlie’s quality of life and personal boundaries are respected and maintained, even with the addition of a rambunctious new pup. We give Phil plenty of time and space to run. I find her enchanting and engaging.
Phil was in a motley way when me met her, smelling of regurgitated puppy food as her brother had gotten a bit car sick on the drive down to us for the hand off. So much for her pre-trip bath!
We got her cleaned up and wrapped up and headed for home. She hardly moved a muscle the whole drive. Except when she was nursing in her dreams.
Arriving home we are already figuring out our schedule again as a household. We’ve dealt with the changing landscape of early puppyhood in the past and know that nothing lasts long. We simply spend time observing and correcting, training and treating. It’s a fun and fleeting time.
This week our talented builder, who’s been singlehandedly rebuilding our back room, tested positive for Covid-19. We have not had much indoor contact with him, and when we have it was always masked, but this is nevertheless quite worrisome. And so now we quarantine here with our new puppy. Socialization with neighbors and friends outdoors will have to wait until we make sure we are all healthy and well. Soon the spectre of the coronavirus will be made slightly less grim by the arrival of a vaccine. We merely bide our time in the meantime and try to keep hopes high.
This is not difficult to do with a new puppy in the house.
Today we are walking out in the yard more, allowing Phil to explore while teaching her that we are the source of all good treats and pats. We learn that she is really into traipsing through dried plant life in the garden and this brings her endless pleasure.
It is my sincerest hope that this activity will make for a restful night. But we shall see. This is puppyhood after all. We remain patient and diligent in equal measure.
You’ll be seeing a lot of Phil on this blog in due time. Drawings, paintings and the like. Dogs are my muse after all. Such a close tie to Nature itself. They remind us of our wild selves, all the while weaving themselves into our domestic lives and reminding us to root down into a settled life in the moment. We needed more of this concept in our lives after this devastating year.
Yesterday evening I took a break from breaking news. (not news at all really, more like a collective zoom-based anxiety rave bent on driving us all insane as we wait, feigning a patience we do not feel.) In the darkness, (’tis the season, what with the time change) Charlie and I ambled quietly up the drive after her evening meal.
“Ciúin” (Irish for ‘quiet’)
It was quiet, but for a couple of owls hooting to one another in the trees.
Any bit of true quiet feels like a miracle these days, noise of current events occupying mind and even heart of late. I find my little doses of quiet in these small moments – an evening meander with the dog, a morning wander around the village to put the moon to bed. I’ve come to treasure these times.
Why I Wake Early
Hello, sun in my face.
Hello, you who make the morning
and spread it over the fields
and into the faces of the tulips
and the nodding morning glories,
and into the windows of, even, the
miserable and crotchety–
best preacher that ever was,
dear star, that just happens
to be where you are in the universe
to keep us from ever-darkness,
to ease us with warm touching,
to hold us in the great hands of light–
good morning, good morning, good morning.
Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness.
Friends, it’s okay to say Hello.
It will likely help us, and we do not do so alone. I also believe God greets us as we greet our days.
Neither I nor the poets I love have found the keys to the kingdom of prayer,
And we cannot force God to stumble over us where we sit,
I know that it’s a good idea to sit anyway.
So every morning, I sit, I kneel, waiting,
making friends with the habit of listening,
hoping that I am being listened to. . .
There, I greet God and my own disorder.
I say Hello
to my chaos,
my unmade decisions,
my unmade bed,
my desire and my trouble.
I say Hello
to distraction and privilege.
I recognize and greet
my controlled and uncontrollable story.
my untold stories,
my unfolding story,
my unloved body,
my own love,
my own body.
the things I think will happen,
and I say Hello to everything I do not know about the day.
my own small world,
and I hope that I can meet the bigger world that day.
and hope that I can forget my story during the day,
and hope that I can hear some stories,
and greet some surprising stories during the long day ahead.
I greet God,
and I greet the God Who is More God than the God I greet,
Hello to you all, I say,
as the sun rises above the chimneys of North Belfast.
~Pádraig Ó Tuama
As I write this little missive, the democratic process continues to play out and unfold here in this country. The other day I awoke especially early to play my small part in that unfolding, volunteering at the polls to hand out democratic slate cards on some shifts, and refreshments to all voters on other shifts. The goodness of donuts and hot cocoa are something both sides of the political equation can agree on.
It was a hopeful day. A day of feeling like, no matter the outcome, I was doing my part (and had been for much of this election cycle, I should tell you).
One of my shifts happened to coincide with pick-up day at a local food pantry held at the same location as this particular voting precinct. It was very interesting to me that the very outcome of this election would hold sway on whether people would or would not have to rely on community support merely to have food to eat. One woman, both voting AND picking up food, said she relies on the food pantry because between food and her prescription medicines, she has to choose the medicines. My heart broke. Another lovely fella stopped in, also to vote as well as to pick up supplies. He had a large roller bag suitcase with him to carry what he needed. He had recently become homeless.
I offered him a donut.
When my sister and I were kids and my mom was a newly divorced single mom struggling to make ends meet, we were, for a time, on food stamps. I was young and don’t remember too much about the specifics but I tell you this as a snapshot of explanation for my left-leaning, take care of folks when they can’t take care of themselves, kindness-driven view on government. People struggle. This is a great truth of humanity.
Life is short, though I keep this from my children.
Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine
in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,
a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways
I’ll keep from my children. The world is at least
fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative
estimate, though I keep this from my children.
For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird.
For every loved child, a child broken, bagged,
sunk in a lake. Life is short and the world
is at least half terrible, and for every kind
stranger, there is one who would break you,
though I keep this from my children. I am trying
to sell them the world. Any decent realtor,
walking you through a real shithole, chirps on
about good bones: This place could be beautiful,
right? You could make this place beautiful.
I’d be lying if I said I was thrilled about the outcome of this election over all. I had hoped that more people would see through the chaos of the last four years and would see that the Grand Old Party is simply not there for the regular citizen of the good ol’ U. S. of A. Instead, I am disappointed that nearly half the country is willing to witness an experience another Trump term. This is where we stand. In all likelihood, we will see a Biden presidency presiding over a minority rule. It’s not a total loss, of course it’s not. There is much to celebrate!
How to move forward? A big issue for me is climate change and I am figuring out how to be of service to bring this concept into the collective light more fully. After all, these changes will affect EVERYTHING in the very near future, in fact have already begun to do so. We have a lot of work to do.
But first, for now, should things play out as they seem to be headed…..
We take a deep breath. We drink medicinal teas complete with tinctures (and possibly some bourbon this evening) to ease our anxieties. We shed some long over due stress tears. We listen with hope to someone who might be able to provide unity in our divided land. Democrats should waste no time in appointing Stacey Abrams as their new leader to forge a new path – a path that speaks for everyone. We as a country must learn to slow down and really see each other, person to person. We must do some difficult soul searching and come to a reckoning with ourselves and with one another. It is my hope we get this opportunity.
But, like so many – around the world even – I wait.
Just be quiet and patient.
Let evil and unpleasantness pass quietly over you.
Do not try to avoid them.
On the contrary, observe them carefully.
Let active understanding take the place of reflex irritation, and you will grow out of your trouble. People can achieve greatness only by surmounting their own littleness.
The main thing is not to hurry.
Nothing good gets away.
Patience is the master key to every situation.
One must have sympathy for everything, surrender to everything, but at the same time remain patient and forbearing…
There is no such thing as bending or breaking.
It’s a question only of overcoming, which begins with overcoming oneself.
That cannot be avoided.
To abandon that path is always to break in pieces.
One must patiently accept everything and let it grow within oneself.
The barriers of the fear-ridden can only be broken by love.
One must, in the dead leaves that rustle around one, already see the young fresh green of spring, compose oneself in patience, and wait.
Patience is the only true foundation on which to make one’s dreams come true.
— Franz Kafka
Meanwhile, like so many things during this strange era in which we find ourselves, there is a juxtaposing personal angle to this concept of waiting and patience. We are officially looking for a new dog to welcome home to us. I’ve put some heeler-feelers out and have filled out some forms to local rescues. We have a bit of house work and building beginning next week here and the pup will hopefully arrive as that process ends sometime in December. We shall see. We don’t have an actual, specific dog in mind. But we have narrowed to a blue heeler girl dog if we can find one. I can just about picture her in my mind….
As we navigate these uncertain times, may we find moments of stillness, moments of joy amidst the seemingly overwhelming largesse of the world just now. Yes, things are hard. But there are dogs in the world.
And maybe, just maybe………..eventually…………..a new path forward.
“My fashion philosophy is, if you’re not covered in dog hair, your life is empty.” – Elayne Boosler
My grandparents had been married for 64 years when they died less than three days apart from one another. Something about this closeness in the timing of their passing brought us a small semblance of comfort in a time of great chaos and grief. I look to that phenomenon to help us through the latest news here in this dark winter of doom (as honestly, it’s beginning to feel like lately).
Alas, this morning our dear old dog, our Wild Iris Rose, finally succumbed to her recent illness and is now at home in the stars with River, the accidental and constant companion of her lifetime. I think dogs are more like people than most folks give them credit for. Iris especially, with her wise eyes and knowing look.
“I love my dog as much as I love you
But you may fade, my dog will always come through”
Perhaps she simply couldn’t be on this plane without River. I do not know, as this is the depth of mystery, this ‘why’ of everything. I have always thought Iris knew more about the ‘why’ of everything, and perhaps now she does.
So much of the content in this lowly old blog has been devoted to the dogs in my life over the years. The puppies came along shortly after I began this online diarizing, and they fit right into it all with their antics and photogenic, sketchable qualities.
Even with all the complexities having multiple dogs brings to a household, I wouldn’t trade any of it. Even these final, messy weeks. Dogs remind us of our own innate physicality and, of course, our mortality. They are constant reminders of the following:
We mustn’t take ourselves too seriously.
Time is of the essence. The moment is now.
To be joyful is a gift, and it’s ours for the taking at any moment.
Love with abandon.
When you rest, just give into it, like it’s your job.
Give your keen attention to anything you find interesting.
Take a walk. Everyday. Twice if possible.
Love your fellow beings. Even when you find them to be curiosities quite unlike yourself.
“Because of the dog’s joyfulness, our own is increased. It is no small gift. It is not the least reason why we should honor as love the dog of our own life, and the dog down the street, and all the dogs not yet born”.
“But then I looked in your eyes
And I was no more a failure
You looked so wacky and wise
And I said, lord I’m happy
’cause I’m just a walkin’ my dog
Singin’ my song
It’s just me and my dog
Catchin’ some sun
We can’t go wrong
’cause I don’t care ’bout your hatin’ and your doubt
And I don’t care what the politicians spout
If you need a companion
Well just go right to the pound
And find yourself a hound
And make that doggie proud
’cause that’s what it’s all about”
You can imagine the quiet state of things around here. I honestly don’t know quite what to do with myself. So here I am, writing, which strangely, is what I do in times of crisis. There is a nap of escape in my future. I’ll take Charlie with me, and maybe the cat too (but that’s up to him). Beyond that, I am doing my best to simply make space for this grief. A grief that feels bigger than a couple of good dogs gone too soon. I’m giving it space, and hoping it doesn’t move in permanently in a darker, blacker form.
“The bond with a true dog is as lasting as the ties of this earth will ever be.”
Here’s to you, my wild Iris Rose. Long may you run.
PS~ As heartbroken as I am, I want to just say thank you to the vets and techs at Cincinnati Animal Medical Center. They have seen us through many a beloved pet and this time was no different. They treat us like family and I know they grieve along with us. If you are local to the Cincinnati area, I can’t recommend them enough.
This time last week I was in Austin, Texas, visiting artful friends, meeting new trees and dogs. A good time was had by all and I was (and always am) deeply inspired by time spent with these women and their loved ones.
One can read countless articles about the food in Austin, or the music in Austin. But honestly, I really loved the trees.
There were two in particular which captivated my imagination. The first being the famed Treaty Tree – an old, intrepid Council Oak utilized by Native Americans long before our misguided United States was even a glimmer on the horizon. You can read the full story here about how this poor tree was poisoned back in the 80’s and nearly died. But it survives to this day and is loved and protected and shored up and supported in its growth.
The day we visited it, there happened to be officials on hand, measuring and taking stock of the tree and I asked permission to come inside the fence and place my hand upon its trunk. I was permitted and nearly cried when I touched it. Trees are truly miraculous beings and I have a bit of a thing for them.
A second tree which I befriended just happened to be in the back yard of the very friends we were visiting. This tree, now called Bonnie, was a primary reason my friends chose this of all houses and they brought in an arborist to make sure they could care for her properly in the coming years. I think they are glad to know Bonnie. And perhaps Bonnie is glad to know them.
I am guessing there will be more paintings of Bonnie. I spent a bit of time just watching how the evening light played upon her stately form. She’s lovely indeed.
But Austin is not all trees, there are the dogs. One dog especially seemed to sum up all of Austin’s playfulness. Mr. Pickles.
One cannot NOT sketch a spectacle such as Mr. Pickles. Apparently his mom works in the mobile dog grooming world, hence the painted on color. I think Mr. Pickles knows how cute he is as he greeted us with enthusiasm on our visit to the Contemporary Austin art museum.
There was much more to tell of Austin. A beer garden in a grove of trees in the hill country, cocktails made of a desert plant….
Vintage finds in the second hand shops. But mostly we merely enjoyed one another’s company. And this was enough. Even in a city as cool as Austin.
And now I am home. Nursing a cold…..
And deeply worried over our own pup Iris. Our Wild Iris Rose has been unwell of late. Deer poo is nasty stuff and we can only guess that she may have sampled some in the yard leading to intestinal distress. We got her sorted out last week and were in the clear, but this week, among everything else, she was overcome again.
Tonight she is hospitalized and getting fluids. We are hopeful for the best, but it’s up to her. And so tonight we wait.
I’m finding it difficult to concentrate on anything, tea is helpful, yes.
And good books to pass the time…
But it’s worrying, to put it mildly. She has been greatly weakened by this latest illness and we are giving her the best care we know how. And only time will tell. Of all the dogs, Iris is really my girl and I miss her presence here in the studio tonight as I write this. Hoping she’s back home resting comfortably tomorrow perhaps. But we shall take it all as it comes.
“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”
― Anatole France
We’ve been wandering a bit close to the proverbial bone in these parts of late.
We always think we have more time…..
Once upon a time, we went for one puppy, and came home with two.
We didn’t really intend to, it just happened. And it was perfect.
River was the unexpected one. And he lived a life of such heart….
“If you’ve been thinking you’re all that you’ve got,
Then don’t feel alone anymore.
When we’re together, then you’ve got alot,
‘Cause I am the river and you are the shore.”
“Winding and swirling and dancing along,
We pass by the old willow tree”
“And it goes on and on, watching the river run,
Further and further from things that we’ve done,
Leaving them one by one.
And we have just begun watching the river run.
Listening and learning and yearning.
Run, river, run.”
Iris and River have been together from the beginning. Though not litter mates, they came home to us as a pair and have been inseparable. We will have to keep an eye on our old girl now, and give her some extra love and attention and patience. Tonight, before River left us, she crawled into bed with him, as she’d done a thousand times before…..
Within an hour or so after that, he was gone. He had had a stroke in the afternoon, but seemed ok. Sure we are used to seizures in Iris and maybe with a little rest he’d be fine. But alas, he slipped away peacefully. For this peaceful passing we are deeply grateful, but it will be a long while yet until his presence has truly left our home.
We are met in Guatemala City by our trusty driver Pablo and are whisked away from the big city to Antigua where Posada San Sebastian awaits us as our home away from home. We stash our things and wander for a cup of coffee (first of many) as our lodging isn’t quite ready for our weary heads. We wander the quiet town as it awakens to an average work day- shops opening, my favorite coffee place too, Bella Vista, and we some how make it until our room is ready and we can nap .
The Posada is bustling but calm and we sleep soundly until well after lunch hour. This is the price we pay for an overnight flight. With more awake minds and bodies we spend some time with our sketchbooks . I’m well over due for it and feeling rusty but I manage.
After a while we are famished for a late lunch/early dinner so we head out to town for some local fare.
It’s delicious and there is even a strolling minstrel who sings to the diners. It is a magical meal. One of many to be sure .
We wander a bit more, acclimating, looking into the shops, greeting the greeters outside of all of the establishments .
Upon our return, the sun is setting with much fanfare.
We are delighted by this, and even Fuego itself gives us a small (non-catostrophic) belching light show of lava in the distance .
Though We are weary, we eagerly await the arrival of our fellow travelers with whom we will share the coming days .
More soon, provided we have continued connectivity.
This is a world gone mad. Too many things to take in, too much heartache for a body to navigate really. The things I love which carry me into the gentle places of my soul and self and which keep me grounded when the winds do blow have suffered for lack of care. I look at this little home of mine here on the interwebs and realize that it’s been since August that I’ve written. It is not as if I have not written, or drawn, or painted in general. Just not here, where even when no one is reading, it matters most.
Today I took to the woods with one of our trusty dogs, the one and only wild Iris Rose, to ponder a plan of how to negotiate the dangerous waters of our time in a sustainable balanced manner. It is October, my most favorite month of the year. I adore autumn and all it has to offer in the way of cooler temperatures, misty mornings and the desire to get the knitting needles clicking once more….
We admired the colors signaling a late but welcome change of season….
I played a bit with my fancy camera which, like this blog space, has grown a bit dusty with disuse.
The pace of things in the world has me feeling a bit weary. All this running and seemingly little to show for it. The season and my soul alike beg for a backing off, a swing toward the internal to come once more to the still point of my personal center. This country, and the world at large could stand the same I believe.
With the dark season ahead, one often fraught with personal mental health challenges, I am looking back with pride on a few months of wondrous productivity and activity whilst simultaneously crafting a structure of future quietude to keep the wolves at bay in the months ahead.
The Resistance, as it stands, is in full swing and its toiling does take up space and energy. I quite mindfully make the space necessary to be of service in these dark times but must balance that of course. There is canvassing and volunteering and much reading to stay informed. The news is too much to keep up with and it can drag a soul down to low places, but I do my best. I am careful to turn it all off and hit the paints or the road when I need a break.
The flurry of work and words in the past couple of months have been exciting to birth forth. Here I share a few things that have been occupying my eye, my keyboard and notebook, my interest and my heart. It is my hope that I take to engaging more here in this space in the coming months as it forces me, in the best way possible, to slow down. To think about what I am writing and the images I share. Social media channels are wondrous in their own way, and I certainly find myself lurking in the more creative corners of their hallowed halls. There is so much to inspire. But here, in my own designated space, I can think through my fingers….
“Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.”
….and maybe go a little deeper.
So, last I left you dear reader, it was August, and so very hot. September came along and while the heat gave no break, I encountered a small challenge to make a drawing a day in 1″ square scale. This painterly adventure, combined with a whirlwind trip to Taos, NM was balm indeed to a tired soul….
I completed the challenge and made 30 of these little works.
Even when the news did say there were magnificent displays of ill will and malevolence.
Toward the end of the month of September, my long time, dear friend Kristin (whom you may remember from this post) and I somehow managed to make our way from Ohio (me) and Vermont (she) to Chicago for a seamless meet-up at O’Hare and on to a quick flight out to New Mexico. The opportunity to introduce a dear one to one’s soul home is a gift indeed and we savored every second. Not much was catalogued of our time there, but we did manage some image captures…..
“It’s the most wonderful place you can imagine. It’s so beautiful there. It’s ridiculous.” ~Georgia O’Keeffe
We timed our visit with the Feast of San Geronimo at Taos Pueblo (every year on September 30th, you should go) which enabled me to see and visit with some dear friends there at a very sacred time. It was a gift and blessing to share these folks and this place who are so dear to me, with an old friend from the way back, equally as dear. Kristin said to me at one point, “You’ve built a whole world here, Ames.” I do believe I have. I am deeply grateful.
Our journey was far too short for a proper catch up. To be honest, in spite of the splendor we encountered, we spent a good deal of time in a state of deep grief over the recent goings on at the Supreme Court. There is a collective, primal scream of rage emanating from the women in my life over doing this all over again. How many times has this story been lived, eh? Though this time is was so public, and so top-level. I am still grieving.
But, and this is the thing, somehow we must keep going……..
And so, once home, early autumn life began with a focus toward music each weekend at the Riley School of Irish Music. Those of us who love the music aim to bring just a smidge of this video below to our own playing….
While we may never reach this level, we did manage to play our annual ceili dance once more and folks who attended seemed to enjoy it. Chatting with our caller, Éamonn de Cógáin after the dance, he remarked, “This is growing!!” And indeed it is.
The season brings with it, as mentioned before, a renewed commitment to new needle bound adventures. I’ve invested in some gorgeous wool from my local knit shop to attempt the crafting of a sweater. We shall see…. But in the meantime, it’s always fun to get to know the source of all things wool.
And maybe even attempt a sketch or two.
Perhaps you too are experiencing a bit of whiplash of the soul. One minute darkness and rage – the next minute, a shaft of light to pierce that darkness and provide a respite. We here are fortunate to have these moments of lightness. To make art and craft worlds with words is a privilege indeed, and one I do not take for granted. I believe to my core that it is an act of resistance to play music, and craft beauty with line, paint and words. I am fortunate to have the support of family and my day job that enable me to live this artful life. Not everyone can. Yet somehow, artists get the job done, one way or another. Here are just a few whom I support and so should you…..
And so where does this all leave me? As you can see, there’s been a great deal of output here in the form of energy and a good bit of intake as well which is wonderful. But my hope is that I can slow it all down a bit. To corral things to more depth and to a more manageable realm for me as an artist. I like to say that I am a crock pot in this world of microwaves.
My hub and I are running away a couple of days after the election to Guatemala to visit friends and make some art – to shore up our souls for what’s to come in our lives personally and collectively, good or ill.
We will get home just before Thanksgiving (yes, I’ve ordered the bird from our favorite market vendor.) I plan to write here on this blog-space from down there if I can connect, as it’s one of the most inspiring places. So do stay tuned.
Wherever this reading finds you, I hope you are finding some gentility in this rough world. We are at a crossroads as human beings and we have some decisions to make as to the path ahead. For me, it’s one of kindness and art making.
“Hang in there, make art, be kind.” ~Neil Gaiman in response to the news of Brazil’s election of a nationalist, right wing president. To my friends in Brazil, we are here for you.