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Thoughts on Faltering

These poor Japanese anemones can’t even stand up. They just lay there on the walk way. I think they are exhausted from living up to the expectations of being constantly full of life, constantly putting on a good show, never wanting to be less, always more, more, more…..

Honestly I think they are looking forward to winter and dying back to months of waiting in the dark and not being looked at. Not having to perform and maybe not even returning in Spring just to avoid the inevitable collapse.

I get that. Sometimes I am just too tired, too sad, too something. And I falter.

This morning at the gym someone asked how I was doing because I was a few minutes later than usual getting in the door. It felt good that she noticed and that she watched me that much to know. I told her I did not know why I was late but I did know that I suddenly wanted to be fifty years old….not seventy-five. She laughed and told me she never wanted to be younger….she had already done that time and was in the “now”.

I thought, maybe sixty then. If sixty I could live all those good times over again and be more intentional about it…remember to tell myself that when I was seventy-five, life would be different. At seventy-five you start having to practice saying good bye to people and things and you think you should have been better prepared for those good byes.

I am holding onto the sad things from last week. Tears sit on the edge just waiting to race down my face and encourage others to follow. The simplest thing will start the flow. A friend sent a message that simply said, “Thinking of you, us, and sending love.” I looked at her tiny quarter inch photo next to the message and let the tears fall. If I was sixty I would have that experience of meeting her all over again and squeeze even more out of our time together.

It is better if friends do not say nice things and ask kind questions, better if they just use me to talk about themselves. It is easier to listen than to speak. I don’t have to worry about words getting stuck and I can make noises instead that sound like I am paying attention. All they want is someone to listen and all I want is to keep my feelings from becoming words.

Lee is napping so I can get this done. Put feelings on paper so to speak. My handwriting has gotten so bad that writing in a journal seems like too much work. But I should try it. I should also try drawing in a journal. Since a group of friends and I are going to spend next month doing a drawing a day, just for the month, maybe I can write some words to go with the drawings. It will help get those thoughts away from those tears.

I must say that my tears have no where else to go but down my face because my eye doctor put plugs in the tear ducts to help prevent “dry eye.” And suddenly that seems funny. I always fought to keep myself and my feeling private and now they just spill out. I would love to think that I could collect those tears and add a pigment so I could write with them. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful thing to do!

But this will pass. It has to. I need to get on with things.

Yesterday a man came who fixed our pond so it would not leak any more. A person who knows how to fix things is rare here the area. I used to count on Lee to do things like that. Today I showed Lee how to use the vacuum to suck up leaves on the porch. The last time he “cleaned” the porch he brought in his leaf blower and sent everything flying about. It’s funny now but wasn’t then.

Sorry there are not more pictures. Today was a day for words that needed this space.

More later.

 

A Really Up and Down Few Days

Turkey buzzards were very concentrated at the dam yesterday morning. The wind was perfect for them to ride the thermals across the  walkway. I often think of them as not only a pretty ugly bird but harbingers of not so good news. And so it was.

One bad news came via email from a friend who has a rare form of cancer in the linings of abdominal organs. He must stay abroad until they can find a way for him to manage. We were looking forward to the visit to his Brasstown home in just a couple of months but now that is quite unlikely.

The other sad news came by way of a phone call from a very good friend telling me that her husband that I have also know since the eighties has a cancer of the bladder. When I hear her voice I see her broad smile, twinkly eyes and the most amazing laugh. We hung up before those tears that choke your throat into uncontrollable sobs could surface.

Yesterday was not the best of days.

 

But the day before was really good. I actually had a student in the studio all day. He came bearing gifts of beautiful powdered pigments.

A lovely Cyprus green from Maiwa, an indigo and Maya blue pigment from his wife who is an amazing textile artist and knew how much I would appreciate these non-earth blue pigments. They are beautiful and I will find a good use for them soon.

And the student will be back to learn more about white line printmaking from me. Another day in late October. Maybe by then I will have something worked up using his gifts. The next day his wife emailed me about the blue pigments and how they came to be. She also told me that her husband had stopped at the Craft Shop at John C Campbell on the way home and purchased one of my stitched prints to take home. Lovely.

Here is the latest one I have been experimenting with.

Might have over-stitched a bit on this one but Lee and I were engrossed in a cop show series that kept saying “to be continued”, so we had to stay tuned for a few hours to see everything sorted out.

And I have one more picture from the dam on buzzard day. These pillars marching off toward the woods. They are there to protect against cars driving around past the gate and going across the pedestrian only dam. I think of them as old friends in a row. They are always going to be there and just as solid as ever. We need to remember that.

Friends in Hobart will remember later this month when they go to the wake for someone we all miss, and recall how many good times we shared, and they will smile. Raise a glass of red for me.

Til later when I can come up with something better ….. take care.

 

Hard Truths In and Out of the Studio

I tried a collograph this week. Here is the start using a mat board backing and some textures of papers and cloth. Dried weeds from the dam walk and thick card stock for the rocks.

Added a bit and then covered with PVA glue.

Then gessoed to seal it all in while adding a bit more texture to the rocks.

A good coat of shellac.

Inked up and ready to go.

Pitiful print is the result.

The thing I learned here is that collographs take time, lots of time. Especially if you are using different colors. There is a finesse to the process that needs to be learned before you squash the plate completely flat.

And with Lee slipping a bit more this week I have no time to practice this. I have cleaned up the glass plate of mixed colors and am taking a really hard look at whether I really want to bother with this. What you see here is the third print…the first two just awful….one too wet….one too dry. And I think that to do it more precisely I need to use extra cushion between the roller and felts….more felts would be smart. Also a very lightly dampened paper might be another good idea.

The three I did get printed could get stitched into with cloth….if they don’t end up in the bin.

Things just are not looking like you think they should. For example my latest attempt at a new picture of myself.

It is a rather dull light when I look in the mirror each morning to “fix things up”. Then I step into the light. So today I decided to update my picture….my “selfie” so to speak. All I can say is no wonder my niece thought I looked like her grandmother, my own mother. I really thought I was younger….but seventy-five is beginning to show.

 

Or one without the bags under the eye.

And one more thing. We found this brand new 19 Crimes wine in the store while looking for the Hard Chard which by the way hits you a bit like battery acid if you drink it as cold as you think you should drink a chardonnay. …better when closer to room temperature.

But this new sauvignon blanc cleverly called “block” is very good. And the story of Mr. Michael Moore convict is nice as well….”I used to make chains in Ireland, in Australia I wore them…..”

Til later when I have something more exciting than a new wine.

The Gifts of Kind Letters and a New Artwork

This is such an interesting image. One of the girls I gave some of my own artwork to at the craft shop rather than take it back home gave me small framed work of her own as a gift the other day. It is graphite and charcoal.  Off to the side a little girl sits in a tub of water. I think she is me. I was bathed in a galvanized tub like this when I was about her age. She stares out at the viewer and waits for someone to come back and take care of her.

Actually I just love this image. The fact that it is tones of grey and a bit blurry make it all the more mysterious. I like how she looks capable of handling her needs all by herself if someone would just give her the soap, cloth and towel. She just sits there waiting with almost the enigmatic smile of Mona Lisa.

When I photographed it to write about I noticed that my own image is superimposed over the little girl. So now I love the photo even as much as the artwork. She hangs in the hall filling a space that always bothered me between two composite drawings I did of Lee and I….our life in all the parts of importance at the time…..maybe ten years ago.

I chose to draw pictures of all the things we felt were important to our identity at the time. Here I am with all the steps of making earth pigment paints, my favorite scotch and glass that Lee made me from a wine bottle, my tai chi and yoga practice, trees, the influences of Australia, weaving, actually twining with an emphasis on shaped first letters of my family’s names, dinner parties, writing, drawing.

And Lee.

His favorite cat, Spooky, his garden, stone work around his black bamboo, bee hives, cooking eggs Benedict, building shelves where needed, making his own beer, feeding the deer, wood turning, collecting honey.

These were fun to do. A way of saying, “Here we are!” Now they say to me, “There we were.” And aren’t we lucky to have done so much, so many things that have brought us so much joy. We still have many jars of his honey stashed in the storage room that I kept forgetting to give away. The art group was the main recipient of that honey and now even they have gone….but leaving some very good memories behind.

And as to the kind letters. My Australian friends have been so wonderful taking the time to keep in touch and lift me up with kindness. I will remember their words when I next have to heft a battery charger, clean out a scuzzy pond filter, retrace Lee’s steps to find a tool or his sunglasses. Their words come at an especially needed time as so many of us have had to say goodbye to a long time friend down under.

And the emails from friends here in the States who say they think I am doing a good job dealing with the changes that Lee and I are going through. Thank you.

And Adele is right, it is hard being “it” when there is no one else to talk to.

So I just talk here. Kind people are listening.

Now back to Lee who is short of weeder eater cord by now….and a cleaned studio waiting for that collograph plate to be put together.

Til later when I have something to show for those efforts.