“I’m hoping the AG isn’t just trying to pass this off without taking it seriously,” he said. “If this doesn’t work, I’ll take it down to the federal courthouse and see what the hell they’re going to do. We can’t have any lunatic handing out guns to get votes. I’m not anti-gun, but this is just crazy.”
Posts Tagged ‘community’
Posted in Birds, ECONOMY, Essays, family, Flora and Fauna, Food, Human Nature, The Human Condition, True Stories, Wildlife, tagged children, community, ECONOMY, family, Hermes, Hestia, human nature, mortality, parenting, passages, Seniors, winter on June 25, 2012| Leave a Comment »
BACK HOME TO HESTIA
Seniors have plateaus just as growing children do, only in reverse. They grow smaller, blinder, deafer, more forgetful and then they begin walking not so well.
They have been depending on the Social Security system to keep them through the downward spiral and tuck them in at the end in some sort of respectable way— not a mass grave or dumpster.
That’s pretty blunt, isn’t it?
Well, blunt is the blow, I am telling you from my current viewpoint, being at the flat part of a new lower ledge of the series of plateaus.
When beautiful winter makes you stiff and exhausted and unable to keep your own fire stoked, it IS a blow. Instead of inviting folks to come by and warm themselves, you find yourself hunkering as close as you can to a frail little lightbulb, and if you are lucky, your grown children recognize that you need a REAL fire, since you have nearly totally lost your own.
My travels (the other side of the story–did you click the link in the title?) have taken me on journeys rewarding and then other journeys that were clearly designed to be instructional, often with a large discomfort factor.
“Well, it’s how I am,” I explain to the kids. “I just TRY things.”
The counterpart to Hestia , the stay-by- the-fire goddess, was Hermes the traveler-adventurer god, strikingly different from Hestia, but a very close friend and neighbor to her.they were a duo who were the best of friends who did not marry and likely would never have been compatible mates, so different were they.
I think I’ve got some humanoid (sub-godly) traits of each of these opposites and I am now traveling from Hermes-mode back into Hestia-mode for the preservation of body and soul.
I am not alone. The economy, you know has yanked the rug out from under many hard-working retirees. And the cruel winter just past, and the inability of this 74 year old body to spring back in the expected way it always has — it’s a rude surprise that happened in one winter’s time.
Mortality is a subject that comes into stunning focus maybe once or twice during most folks’ lives, especially when a “close call” happens or when a dear one dies. Most of the time we let the matter of death simmer quietly on the back burner to be dealt with “later.” It’s not number one on our list of favorite things to plan for. Once we have the matter of soul settled, we relax.
A winter like the once we just had in 2011-2012 brings the motality matter into sharp focus. When one has no way out of the cabin but to stumble down the moutainside a quarter mile in ice covered snow up to the knee caps, and one has a trick knee that will not operate properly on the downhill slope. It’s cllimbing down a steep slope so you can get to your car parked in a plowed area below. Then you dig out your car, and go to the store and get supplies. Then you park your car where it was before and get to carry the packages of supplies back up the mountain, and you have to stop every five steps to catch your breath.
This is not ordinary outdoor fun, it’s a real test of your physical plant, and my body did not pass it well at all. I really did feel as if I might die. I actually imagined that the local mountain lion might be considering me likely prey (wounded small mammal), and be planning his attack. I tried to make myself look big while bending over to catch my breath. I dragged my groceries rather than carry them, and I said loud things in all kinds of voices, mostly gruff. I tried to sound as big as God.
“Mom, we have to get you OUTTA there,” the kids said. And they were right.
So my primeval wonderland is standing out there looking in my big windows, looking at me with sad leaves and the birds are gone because I have weaned them away from regular feedings. The intimacy I have enjoyed with the forest spirits– plants and animals– is being stressed now with the reality that I am having to pack up my belongings and journey away from them.
I do remember that comforting hearth, and the groaning board, and the laughter and pranks of my dear ones around the room. And now my young are strong and seem to have endless energy to fix, and do, and make. Yes, I will, as they suggest, come there and stay a while.
The love has changed hands so often between me and my children, and has been so thoroughly tested by fire and has come through stronger because of it, that I am secure in the bond, and content to lay aside my traveling cases and rest at their hearth and learn their new foods and teach their new generation the old stories.
They can afford me, they say, and I can come and rest there until my strength returns so that I can at least do the things I do well. They will do the things that are too much for me now. And it is with honor that they receive me at their table.
“Mom, you did the same for us for such a long time. You taught us how.”
Posted in Art, Paintings, Sculpture and Carving, The Human Condition, True Stories, tagged Carolyn Henderson and her python, carving, community, injuries, painting, passages, The Muse, workshop on November 15, 2011| Leave a Comment »
Carolyn Henderson says this in her blog today:
“As your own middle manager, you wrestle with an orderly, recognizable work schedule wrapped like a python around the insurgent screaming soul of your Muse. “
You nailed it again, Carolyn! I checked with Robert Genn, too, and he thinks this way too. So if two faves think alike on this one I will forgive myself for being in my yesterday’s jeans and last night’s jammie tops with a fleece vest on and a heater at my back. And for having at least eight in-process works sitting around in various states of drying- one which I brought in a while ago from a place on the porch where it was out-gassing from a late night session.
The phone already has taken its slice out of today’s morning. In an hour or so it will be time for my daytime sleep. Not called a nap anymore, since it can run into the evening hours when I get up and start all over again, but without the long phone call interruptions. The housemate upstairs knows I clank around in the kitchen at night getting my second breakfast and second lunch while I intermittently work on various things and catch up on the internet news. (I don’t own a TV.)
Last night I used a dremel tool, sandpaper, watercolors, oil paints, damar varnish (the one that needed to out-gas), carving tools, glue, leather, spot remover, and brushes, gravity, chemical reactions, and a lot of cleaning up tools in the efforts at these various art items. A good part of painting is the time between strokes. Waiting until it is just right to add the next part.
With wood items it often has to do with rolling liquid color around on the object, making it drip unimpeded at just the right speed to make the mark I have in mind. Then waiting until it is sufficiently dry to drop another color or medium into the bowl and work it in a different manner or direction. Last night I used a tool to scrape the color multiple times to make a directional texture. And I tried white as an edge, rather than the black or near black edging I like to use on some of the ridges between planes.
There is a painting that sits looking at me and I do some thinking about it while I work on other things. It’s a watercolor of what I call Elephant Ankles, of trees standing in a flooded lagoon. Last night I took a very sparse brush to it and laid in some defining darks that I am pleased with. I’ll keep an eye on it today to see what my Muse suggests next. Might be a week before she speaks.
That python Carolyn speaks of wraps itself in the most insidious ways some days. Two days ago I was up an old wood tripod ladder purposefully and conscientiously reattaching the rain tarp from the eaves over my workshop door. A huge wind gust had taken apart an elaborate visquine setup to shunt rainwater away from my door and into the driveway. It was important to replace it before the next rain.
But the ladder failed. The tired metal struts that held it apart just decided to bend and collapse, dropping me about four feet onto the concrete apron which had “stuff” lying on it: parts of the ladderthat dropped ahead of me. I have ” python marks” on my thigh, rear, elbow and arm of my right side to show for this fall. Happily my bones are intact; I didn’t fracture my pelvis or get a pulmonary embolism or any of that stuff my brain wanted to worry about while I was saying a mild oath and regarding my arms and legs all spread out on the concrete. The bruises ache, but I am able to do the work I mentioned above during last night’s session, and I was also able to revisit my tarp project with a garden rake and a garden umbrella to good avail. Not pretty, but not uglier than the original arrangement, and it will work.
The adventure is frustrating, but it will stitch itself into the tapestry that is my routine, and become, one way or another, part of my output, whether it’s just this blog entry, or maybe even a painting.
A painting in my archives comes to mind. It’s called His Stuff, and it is a densely busy oil painting of the garage once used and fully occupied by a guy I was married to who collected art supplies and machines. I am certain that at least 60% of the objects in that garage weighed over 200 pounds each! Cauldrons of brass keys, two giant photo enlargers, stacks of metal, precious exotic hardwood chunks, sculpture maquettes large enough to fill a bathroom. Generators and Oxy/Acetylene equipment, car motors and old gears and propellers. A mirror too large to move without a dolly.
I loved that painting. It’s one of my best, and it was the chosen subject for a lively discussion group at a close-in art show with mensa-type folks. EVERYONE related to it somehow, and one of them really related, saying “what’s that dummy there in the middle?”
My Muse and I had audaciously decided to add to the garage collection a blow-up female figure, somewhat deflated and hanging from the ceiling. The inflatable figure was symbolic of me, part of his collection of useful objects! I thought that the discussion group reviewer really had a point. That object was a dummy!
But there you are! The big frustrated sigh became art that others could relate to. An artist’s life is not mainly the paints or chips. It’s the output. And when the output reaches well to others, it is successful art. That’s what keeps me happily up at night.
Its been a couple of years now since I began this business. I went from a wonky little donated canopy that needed a stick inserted to keep it from sagging to double Swiss Gear canopies (yes two!). There were some disappointing others in between. These are working out fine, but I am taking a LOT of care to keep them in shape– not forcing anything when putting them up or down.
You learn every week. You find out that people don’t like to enter a booth that doesn’t have an easy exit. Well, they will enter if they are VERY attracted by what you are selling, but most people will not make the venture if they are worried about getting trapped by efforts at salesmanship or by geography.
Sociological studies abound, and so do nuts and bolts wisdom. Yes, you should always use weights on your booth (even if the sponsors don’t mandate it.) Booths have been known to suddenly take off like Mary Poppins and wreck a lot of things..including other booths and PEOPLE! I figured out that putting a nice fresh folded burlap blanket over my bottles of water made the booth look a little less po-dunk. It took me until last week to figure that one out! Why so long???
Why two booths? I had the opportunity to show in two places at once. My previous booth had died a sudden death (yes, I forced it and bent it, and plastic parts broke…don’t get a booth with plastic parts..) and I had just ordered one when the opportunity came up, so I ordered a twin! It turned out fine, since I did nearly sell out at the new venue. Gobbled up my earnings, but it was good because now I can either spread out at the Farmer’s Market on Saturdays, or send a helper out with the extra booth to another venue.
Sunny weather is great– you can move things out where people will want to touch them. With wood product, this is particularly helpful…the wood people are often tactile people, and they come in with hands feeling as well as with eyes looking. A fellow vendor made me a great stand for a featured item, as you can see. I gave him a free shopping trip through my booth so he could choose something in return. This does happen in fairs and Farmer’s Markets. It’s an informal swap meet…or gifts between friends.
There is a community that happens in a regular market. You find friends among your fellow vendors who are really extra wonderful… being in a venture together makes good bonds, usually. Also you see “regulars” who come and watch you grow and change. I get wood people coming in who want me to come drag their burls from their yards. They want to know if I will carve them a horse. And they come back and buy things now and then. They bring their friends. We have a nice chat–an extension on our last chat. “How’s your husband?” “When is your wedding date?” “Did you have a good time in Coeur d’Alene?”
I take all this stuff to the market in the back of my Odyssey. I have no idea how such a nice spread gets into a sleek mini-van. But it does. Like a jigsaw puzzle. Every week it gets a little more sophisticated…the packing technique. Not only how do you get it in there, but how do you want it to unload next time you have to unload it? Which items go on top?
It’s a long day, but even though it takes this old swimmer a day or so to recover from the effort, it’s very rewarding in terms of human interaction, and the learning curve is about right for a senior citizen to stave off Alzheimer’s or other kinds of dementia.
A knock on the door and it’s my smallest housemate (just six, an Eloise style sprite with lots of irridescently red hair and a bright mind and endless curiosity and no shyness at all.)
She is saying “It’s a coyote!” in the most excited terms and she is anxious to come in and look out my east facing window where she knows she can see this elusive creature. Yes, she is pointing to a dusky presence near where I put our collapsed jack o’lanterns earlier in the day.
But now the coyote is standing still looking in alarm at the house, and then just evaporates. It sees my visitor’s mother and the border collie mix they call Maya. The coyote knows Maya, surely, having seen her patrolling the property in days past, and Maya is now on its tail in the most dedicated way.
We are glad for Maya’s vigilence, and especially because there are two indoor/outdoor cats who live downstairs which the coyote would make quick work of if they ventured off very far from the house.
Today we greet two more housemates. One is moving in and another is visiting with her college age son so she can plan her move-in in two weeks. There is yet another woman coming to look at a small room that is coming up for rent in January.
We will wander through the old farmhouse together and look at all the possibilities. The mover-in woman will take a deserved nap in her new room, and the visitor will use her room-to-be to stay overnight a few nights and get used to us. The prospective small room renter will stay in the den on a day bed there. Full house.
I’ve got soup and will be making lasagna. Water. Coffee. No booze served here, except very rarely on a special occasion. One smokes and will use the smoking porch.
We will sit around the table in the dining room and talk about the possibilities, the limitations, and just whatever we think is important.
I will have to remember to do a lot of listening, and not a whole lot of talking. They know me– I’ve been emailing them for some time now, and we like each other’s cyberselves.
Real life is different than virtual. A new dog enters the scene today. My dogs will worry about that, and so will Maya, probably.
The coyotes will too. That’s ok with me.