Thursday, December 31, 2009
It's been ages since I did an oil painting, and I just couldn't let the last of the year slip away without slapping away at a canvas. Now, this is rough, but the idea is there, and next comes some decisions about where to refine, where to keep it rough, local or non-local colors, all that stuff. So far, so good. Not terribly unhappy, not terribly thrilled yet, either. Artists are such tender little souls, you know. We are easily wounded by a look or word, and just as easily buoyed by a soupcon of praise. Always more to do. Maybe I'll start a second one. It seems like a good idea to keep two working, so that when one seems stale, the other one can be approached with new eyes. I like that idea.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
On occasion, I am just kind of bouncing along, doing the day, the moment, trying to be present as the witness of my emotions and actions, feeling the inner body that Eckhart speaks of, that pulsing, vibrant lifeforce that lives within, and I remember. Death is coming. For this human, death is coming not so far around the bend. There are a few years ahead, but who knows if they will be good years. Makes me run to the gym with new fervor, keep what I have humming and working at full capacity. And yet, there is no exit here. And here's the challenge; I think that if I cannot conquer my fear of the unknown, if I don't enter the portal into the immortality of the Universe, let go of my ego and body and tiny self, I will have to come back to this big dirt ball and do it all over again. And who wants to do that? Not this being. This life has been painful as hell, not only the physical stuff, squeezing out a couple of human beings, enduring numerous supposedly necessary medical and dental procedures, but also emotionally, as in three divorces and a few breakups and other slights, real or imagined. And that doesn't even take into account a childhood spent tiptoeing around the emotional minefield of my FOO (family of origin). And in many ways, this time around was blessed. I have never known want of food or shelter. I have always been surrounded with many creature comforts. Next time, I could be born into an untouchable caste in a backwater slum of the Middle East. Or an urban ghetto. Lord knows what indignities await! So, I am working like a longshoreman here, mastering that dreaded thing called FEAR. Every day, in every way. Yes.
Monday, December 28, 2009
The holiday is history. I have such baggage around Christmas. It is a time of high drama, all of which I make myself. How much does everyone love me? Will they show up for me? Am I OKAY here? Today, I am realizing that, though I am better, I am still not well. So, a few reflections. Love is not measured in dollar signs. Time spent together is the most precious gift. It will not be long before my FOO (family of origin) is fragmented by the Great Beloved, which makes this time even more precious. It doesn't help that Christmas comes at the darkest time of the year, either. It took getting sober to see how much that affected me. Now, armed with foreknowledge, I can work through it without being bowled over. And yet, here I am, sitting in a stew I brewed up overnight. It helps to remember that after the dark sacred night comes the bright blessed day.
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Funnily enough, as fast as the years zip by these days, it always feels like forever until my sobriety birthday comes around. It is today, December 26, otherwise known as Boxing Day in other countries on earth, and this is number 20. That seems so very momentous, but it is really just 7,305 days, one at a time. And 4,000-5,000 meetings, because I do at least four a week, and often as many as seven. People ask "are you STILL going to those meetings?", and I say, gee, if I were a diabetic, would you ask me if I was still taking my insulin? To an alcoholic, meetings are what keeps the disease at bay, because it never goes away, it is incurable and chronic and deadly if it gets out of hand. I have seen many people who once had meaningful sobriety die once they started drinking again. And those who make it back to start over ALWAYS say that they stopped going to meetings. This is not a self-help program. Hundreds of other recovering alcoholics have stood beside me, showed me by their example how to do this work (and some showed me how NOT to do it, too, remember, if you can't be a good example, you'll have to be a horrible warning). And I used to think I was sitting in a folding chair at a meeting to save my own ass, but it turns out I have saved some others, just by showing up over and over and over again. Imagine that. So, WOW! 20 Years!
Thursday, December 24, 2009
You know how it is - hurry up and get there, sit and wait and wait. And fill out the same forms I did last time, because they didn't get them into their "system". Sigh. So I picked up a Time magazine, and had a happy half hour to read the whole article about scientists who are studying dog behavior. There is this age old rivalry between cats and dogs, which is smarter. Dog people think dogs (duh), because they learn commands and perform on demand. Cat people think cats because they don't. Well, it's actually more interesting than that. Dogs were domesticated (from wolves, originally) because of trash. Yep. Smart wolves followed nomadic packs of humans to scarf up their leftovers. Smarter ones ingratiated themselves, and formed a symbiotic relationship. It was easier than hunting. And, of course, humans took their furry pals and bred them to their special interests. Oh, and that face licking thing? Think that is a show of affection? Think again. Pack members would lick the mouths of returning hunters to see if they had been successful, and the returning ones would obligingly throw up to share their kill with the pack. And it seems that dogs are so fixated on their masters, they can be taught behaviors that chimpanzees cannot. Even babies won't learn things dogs will. Perhaps we were meant to be, dogs and humans, a love affair for the ages. Now these researchers are seeking among the myriad of breeds for the most intelligent of the species. You have to agree, when it comes to expedience, dogs rule. Cats, on the other hand, never lost their hunting instinct, are capable of faring for themselves, and need you only peripherally, at best. Dogs like their creature comforts. Which is why you probably won't find packs of feral Pekingeses any time soon.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
For some reason, I got up grateful this morning. Probably it was about tripping over the pile of shoes by the side of the bed. I seldom wear the same pair twice in a row. I also seldom put them away at the end of the day. Now, I don't consider myself a shoe person. My aim is comfort. No more stiletto heels with witchy points. Two inches is as high as I go these days, stacked heels or wedges. These here are the shoes du jour, my Bass distressed leather wooden-heeled clogs that I imortalized in oil painting class a while ago, ala prima (all at one sitting, about 2 hours), and with palette knife, which was a new way to do things at the time, too. I framed this and put it up here in the office/library/music/meditation/computer room in the little yellow house. I love this painting. Okay, the photo is a tad fuzzy, but the painting is as well. These are my favorite shoes. I have had them about 15 years now, and they held up admirably. I can slip into them, with a pair of my joyous socks on my tootsies, and head out in any kind of California weather, even rain. Another grateful moment; how wonderful are hands, that can pick up the Sketchers Maryjanes, the witch boots and the schlepp-around walking shoes all at the same time and hurl them into the closet? Pretty wonderful. Grateful days are the best.
Monday, December 21, 2009
I just framed and wrapped this painting to give to a dear friend. It was done on campus, one of six I did that day, very quickly, very gestural, just on instincts. The paint did its thing, as it is wont to do, and the result was surprising, to say the least. And, on later perusal, rather magical. We were learning about mark-making, one of the techniques real painters use in their work. I liked it ever so much more than washes, and painting negative space, and painting skies, which was all I had done up to this moment in time. That day, I got on paper some of the most astonishing images. I look back at it now, and I am in wonder - of the process and of the end product. Surely, God painted this picture. I just happened to be holding the brush.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
I think Christmas should be suspended for those over 10 years of age, around the time most kids have decided Santa Claus is just another action hero. Okay, I believed a lot longer than most, but I stand on my estimate of 10 years. The rest of us should just order Chinese takeout and crawl under the covers for the day, watch It's a Wonderful Life for the 50th time, and pop See's orange and raspberry creams into our mouths. Let the kids caroom around like Dr. Suess characters in Whoville. Then call Maids R Us for a quick cleanup the day after, and forget about the whole thing for another year. And if you are like me, and the kids are off on their own, well, no clean up! Hell, it's winter! It's dark! It's cold! An even better idea: let's all hibernate! Oh, I like that. On a more serious note, it is the winter solstice, which marks the return of the light, a deeply holy time of year. Okay, I can celebrate that, light a candle, say a prayer for world peace and another year of life on the Big Blue Ball. Namaste.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Okay, another semester bites the dust. This was the big final project for drawing class, a drawing of my living room (drastically picked-up and somewhat simplified living room). That's Days of Our Lives on the TV, of course, and Boo and Pickle are there, as they usually are anywhere I am. The elephant lives there, too, a small, tidy, easy-to-live-with elephant these days, but he has never really moved out, though he is considerably smaller. I had buckets of fun doing this drawing, and learned a lot. Like, I have improved my skills a lot in this one semester. I have become much braver than I have ever been before. And I actually got an IDEA (!) and worked it through to its consummation. That is probably the biggest thrill I have had in a really long time. Which means I really have to get out more often!
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Everyone should know how to knit. Women, of course, but men, too. They do it in England, you know. Men, I mean. There is nothing so comforting, so meditative, so productive as taking a piece of string and two sticks and making a garment. Okay, mostly I knit scarves. I have, in the past, knitted sweaters and baby blankets and hats, you know. And I am working on a hat right at the moment. Cannot wait to see how it turns out. But the outcome is not the main object in knitting. It is just the whipped cream on the whole scrumptious sundae. The doing is so restful all by itself. It is an exercise in being here now. Ram Dass would be proud of me, to say nothing of Deepak and Eckhart. So, that's my two cents for the day. Back to knit one, purl one.
Monday, December 14, 2009
I realize I have not kept up the Pickle Chronicles, so here goes. My Pickle is a year and a half old already. No, she shows no sign of being grown up. She still has ears that can suss out the tiniest disturbance in the sonic universe, and this little bark that is like a seal barfing. She is variously known as Pickle Fluffybutt, Pickle Wickle, Pickle Bigfoot, and Pickle Paininthebutt. Her habits are simultaneously irritating and endearing. Like, when I am here at the computer, oblivious to the world in general, suddenly there she is, with her big feet on my thigh, just wanting to be noticed. Like, right at this moment! Sometimes she has a toy in her mouth. Gee, I remember how cute I thought that was, the first time she did that. Throw my toy! I'll bring it back! Over and over and over and over and over again. Then there is the habit she has of taking paper things out on the back lawn and shredding them into tiny bits. I get lots of exercise picking them up, that's for sure. And sometimes, they are things I wanted to keep. She hasn't chewed up any books lately, library or otherwise. I know better than to leave them withing range of her sharp little teeth. Boo loves and hates her, and then humps her, which makes her presence tolerable for him. She hasn't sat on the doggie bed steps to keep him from getting up lately, or pushed them away, either. Maybe she is over that stage. Gee, I hope so, because Boo always calls me to mediate, in that whiney little way he has. All in all, Pickle is a perfectly wonderful little creature, well worth the time, energy and money. God knew what She was doing when She made my Pickle.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
It is not true that one needs other people to create drama. I, myself, am capable of stirring up a whole big bunch all by my lonesome. Eckhart says drama is resistance to what is. And that is what surrender is about, letting the present moment be whatever it is, without labeling it good or bad. It just is. Yeah. So, I am working on it. Already, I have had a little hissy fit about reloading my printer cartridges. Insanity led me to continue to put them in when reality was clearly showing me it wasn't working. A trip to hp.com/support helped me see what was wrong, and you don't push them down, you push the UP. They are all loaded, and working. Which was going to happen with or without the swearing, stomping of feet, gnashing of teeth and other histrionics. I can only believe that I am used to my drama, that I expect it to overwhelm me, and do nothing to move out of its way. It's like paddling upstream all the time. Tiring, yes, and doesn't get me very far, ever. Nice to know there is still work to do. Gives me a reason to get up every day.
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
My pseudo-Cezanne is almost finished. Debating putting a chair back behind the edge of the table. Cezanne would do it, but he's not around at the moment. Fun thing about this guy, don't need to worry if things are wonky. He did that a lot. Hopefully on purpose, because otherwise, he wasn't seeing too well. I did some things he didn't, like crop the flower arrangement. Actually, that wasn't really my plan, I just sort of ran out of room. Hey, that's a really big vase. I think it makes the painting, though, and Cezanne loved patterned china things. And I just adore the bowl of pears. It came out really sweet, I think. So, back to the great big drawing. It, too, is almost done. Have to put the dogs on the couch, or at my feet, or both. Another semester. More successful conclusions. It is all happy and satisfying.
Monday, December 07, 2009
Rough draft of my drawing final, where I am supposed to show my expertise in things like perspective and values and volume drawing. Gee, think this will do? Okay, I am a little, well, little, but I needed to be able to lean on my elephant. And my elephant isn't as big as he used to be any more. I've done a lot of work on my elephant. I'm doing most of the work standing at my kitchen counter looking down into the room. The light keeps changing, and cast shadows are going to be interesting. Probably need to do them all at once. So far, I'm pretty happy with it. And it could be much better. As always.
Sunday, December 06, 2009
You know I have been wallowing in the muck of self lately, and that I have sucessfully extricated myself, once again. One thing I know how to do well is bounce. Of course, if I stopped hitting walls that would not be necessary at all. Sigh. And that is not likely to happen in the near future, so, yay, I have risen from my bed of (self-inflicted) pain. I did it by connecting to Spirit again, and becoming a conduit for Its power to bring me peace and fulfillment. It is the only thing that can really. Cannot rely on people, places, things, or situations to do that. All that is external, and in the world of form. What I needed was some substance, and that lives within. And, in keeping with the usual routine, my heat dish died. Now, last time I was doing this work, it was my iron that bit the dust. No big problem as I use it as seldom as possible. But, folks, it is very cold here at the moment (okay, if you live in Minnesota, we are basking in balminess, but, then, you live in Minnesota, what do you know, anyway), and I find it difficult to be truly spiritual when my feet are cold. My bedroom has no built-in heat source. I need my heat dish! As luck would have it, I am prosperous enough at the moment to buy a new one, so I did. Except it is a much improved appliance. It is a tower, which brings the heat up to where I am, stretched out and propped up in bed. It has a fan, to waft the heat over me. It oscillates, so I can be warm from nose to toes. It has a thermostat so I can set it and it will turn itself off when the desired temperature is reached, and back on if it dips down. It has a REMOTE! Every so often last night, as I lay there in my little bubble of warmth, I told it how much I loved it, my new heater. It was the best thing that could happen to me, the demise of my heat dish. Except that, after assembling my new one and disengaging the old one from its extension cord, I found that the heat dish was miraculously resurrected. It was the cord that got fried. So now, I have a spare and portable heater to take with me wherever I am in the little yellow house, and save me beaucoup bucks in PG&E bills. Definitely an act of God. Pure grace.
Friday, December 04, 2009
Wouldn't life be so much more simple if we all looked at it out of the same eyes, with the same attitude, the same experience, and a desire to understand one another? Okay, that's not about to happen. Nevertheless, I just have to expound on my lack of ability to step into another person's shoes, or head. Some people live in such different reality bubbles, I could not begin to fathom their processes. And yet, this statement is as true for them as it is for me. Whatever I think of the situation, it is what it is. Rather, it is what I think it is, because, heaven knows, it could be something entirely different. If I decided differently. Oh, hell, now I'm so confused, I can't remember the main point at all. If I even had one. It's cold, folks, and my brain is all frosty around the edges. Not that it works all that well when thawed. Working on becoming enlightened can be such a screwed up process. Actually, confusion is a good thing. It begs for clarity. Lay it on me!
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
Confession: I have been all bound up in my painbody, again. It seems like I have spent my life looking in at it, not a part of anyone else's happiness, like Stella Dallas standing in the crowd, a forlorn baglady watching her daughter marry into high society. Ouch. It has never been okay to just be who I am. It was easier to be a victim, an sack of past pain. Now, I have worked hard to crawl up out of that hole. The 12 Steps have helped a whole bunch. But, every so often, I fall back into the hole. Now, crawling up out of it, again. I am not a victim of the ants that keep creeping into my kitchen every night. And I am not a pile of past pain. I am listening to Eckhart, again. I may have to do this for the rest of this human existence. So much for hubris, that idea that I knew something others did not. The holidaze have blown my cover. Nuts. Cashews would be nice.
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
Oh, save me from another Cezanne! This is my fourth, in a series of six. At least one has to be of my own composition. Can barely wait to see that one, that's for sure. When this is over, this interminably looooonnnnng semester, I look forward to getting out the oils and painting some cows. And some birds. Of my own choosing. School is wonderful. You learn so many things. One of them is what you don't like to do. Imagine that.