I have never been a morning person. I've tried - truly, I have. Back when I used to actually work out, I tried getting up early and working out then, but usually ended up just tripping over stuff - like my feet. I've tried getting up early to meditate, and that just makes me go back to sleep. I've tried to make time for working on art in the mornings, and that actually succeeds when I wake up full of ideas & energy & relaxation from a great night's sleep, but that means weekends only, and not every weekend. And then the other morning I read this wonderful, wonderful post by Jaime over at A Map of My Planet. She talked about this incredible mountain she climbs almost every morning (that sounds kind of like a life lesson in itself, doesn't it?) & posted gorgeous photos & she can even see the sea at a certain point (I assume the top - the end of the trail, if in fact there is an end of the trail; I like to think it just wanders around & goes on & on) and I was just enchanted! I don't have anything like that near me - the anklet shown above is the closest I get to an ocean during the day, although it now occurs to me that freshwater pearls don't come from the ocean - :( - and there are certainly no mountains near here, but surely I can get out & move, can't I? Surely, I'm thinking, I can do something to start the day off easier. The first step, I'm sure, is to not turn on the t.v., but even that idea sounds troublesome. (Not because I'd miss the news or the latest HGTV decorating fiascos, but because it actually helps me wake up.) But I'm gonna try. We'll see how it goes. I'd like to not be late every morning.
Although . . . when I look at this photo, it occurs to me that it could be worse. I have a job that allows me to wear flip-flops & rolled up jeans & a t-shirt. I have a cat who says good-bye to me at home & another who is thrilled to see me when I get to work. I have a neighborhood coffee shop where I can buy muffins & cokes ( no coffee for me, thank you). I have no one waiting for me when I do unlock the door & open the business, and no other co-workers for an hour or two. It's quiet. It's peaceful.
But still, we'll see. More quiet & more peacefulness would not be a bad thing.
Are they flip-flops? Is that 2 words or really just 1 word? I think the hyphen makes it 1 word, so that means that the 2 best words in the world today are "Maggie's Okay!" She does not have cancer, but she does have the very beginnings of kidney disease, which means I will have to learn to give her Kitty Dialysis 2ce a week. It's not as bad as it sounds, and I'm hoping I can do this, because otherwise she has to go back to the vet 2ce a week, which would be not only more expensive, but SO stressful for her. I am changing vets for this (with Dr. Alexander's blessings) because this vet office deals with just small animals (Dr. Alexander's office deals with everything - I once sat next to a black baby goat with a ring of pink around his mouth from the Pepto-Bismol his owner had been giving him) and they are much closer to my house, so it will be easier when I do have to take Maggie for a visit. The good news is also that she's at the VERY beginning stages of this & in fact her blood tests showed her to be quite healthy all in all, so hopefully she will be with me for a good while longer.
I feel good about all of this, even the vet change, although Dr. Alexander will still be my vet of choice for Lily. Yesterday, to keep Maggie from stressing too terribly (she's just like me & the ever-wonderful Michael constantly reminds me that I raised her), the new people lowered the lights in the room, and while she was laying in this little cradle thing they use for the sonogram procedure, I rubbed her little head & talked to her, one tech/nurse rubbed & massaged her front feet while holding her still, and another rubbed & massaged her back feet while holding them. I know I felt calmer - Maggie seemed quite dazed with all the calming attention. Anyway, we go back tomorrow for another "dialysis" (it only takes 2 or 3 minutes & is just injected under the skin) & they'll begin to teach me how to do this.
THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU to all of y'all. You may not think it makes a difference to send out prayers & thoughts, but it did. In fact I kept repeating y'all's names like a little mantra - out loud. Ostensibly to let Maggie know people were pulling for her, but really it was for me. It helped tremendously. I have such a near-phobia about medical stuff, and it truly helped me stay focused. I know that sounds goofy & crazy & neurotic - I admit to being all 3. So tomorrow I'll be using that mantra as I learn to give a shot!!! This year has just been full of surprises & new experiences.
I see things where they don't exist. Or do they? If I see them, are they not there? The top photo is what it was - peeling paint on a sidewalk. The bottom photo is what I saw when I glanced down. I saw a landscape - the tree was so obvious. And now part of the new Emma Tree header, because it suggests such possiblities, because it symbolizes seeing. There's a tulip hidden in the tiles of the bathroom here at work, there's an arrow in concrete pointing the way into my house, saying "you are here". There used to be a dog tree in my neighbor's back yard - I would lay in the hammock on summer nights & watch the top of his tree, shaped exactly like a dog, move with the breeze. Many nights he held the moon in his mouth. I have an old collage I made of that. Swallow the moon, I said.
This is a personal post. I guess they all are, really, but this one is for myself. Just as the flowers above are flowers I bought for myself. I am in curled into myself this weekend, taking care of myself, feeling intruded upon by others - even those whose arms are open to give me a hug. Even the act of reading feels invasive, the sound of music too loud. I need these days for me and Maggie.
Maggie the cat is sick again, and it appears that it may be serious. I spent yesterday morning at the vet's (again, thank you Dr. Alexander!), and she is scheduled for a sonogram Tuesday afternoon. She was 16 on May 4, and has spent her entire life with me, if you start counting from Independence Day, 1992. The ever-wonderful Michael brought her to me - she was born in the country, at his sister's house, on the day my cat Stella had died, and she looks just like Stella did. It was a very karmic thing, but no two cats could be more different. Stella never met a stranger - Maggie loves only me. (And Michael a little, and the lovely Katie a little.) Maggie doesn't even love other animals - as a matter of fact, she doesn't even like other animals. I'm it. It's just me & her, as far as she's concerned. She's been my best friend all this time - she knows when I'll be home from work, and waits for me in the middle of the driveway. Robert & Katie, who have a bird's-eye view of the yard, have told me that at a certain time every day, she meanders out there & sits & waits. (It's very touching, and it makes me feel quite guilty whenever I'm late.) She's always been a sitter. Even as a baby, she would just sit at the foot of the bed & look at me. Not bug me, not meow, not anything, Just sit. Just sit - how very Buddhist of her. She still does. In the kitchen, in front of a window, next to the tub when I'm taking a shower. She can sit for hours.
I'm writing these things NOW because I don't want to wait until she's gone to say them. In the hope that I can play a reverse karma game with God & the Universe. In the hope that she'll be okay & I won't be put into the situation to even think them, much less say them. It feels like almost more than I can bear. Yes, I know - she's just a cat. But like I said, she's my best friend. We've been living together all these years - she knows all my secrets. And I cannot bring myself to say these things out loud. I am just drawing a circle around the two of us & writing these magic words to ward off evil spirits. Once, when my niece Emma was very young, she asked me to draw a picture for her. I drew a cat & wrote "Maggie" at the top. Emma was just learning to read & she said "OH! Magic, the cat!"
She was right.
I've tried & tried to think of something inspirational or deep to say about this photograph, but I think the photo says it all. What I can add, however, is that I've lived with this plant for so many years - 15? 16? - and it's been in this same spot for the last 10 years or so, and I've never seen this before. I find it unlikely that it's never occurred before, so that means I've just never really looked at it in the morning light, when I'm all hustle & bustle to get ready for the day, or half awake preparing to hustle & bustle. So a gift for this morning. I'm learning to see.
I saw this sign today and it so PERFECTLY described the way I feel right now that I turned around & drove back & stood in knee-high wildflowers to take this shot, from which I then so cleverly deleted the sky & trees. Because I'm in a bad mood & feeling sorry for myself & want no part of blue skies & green trees & wonderful days. I need to wallow in my pity for bit.
Yesterday was quite a wonderful day, spent at the lake - a birthday party for Kenny & Lynne, barge rides with no particular place to go, a surprise rainstorm that sent everyone scurrying for cover & yes, someone left the cake out in the rain, but never mind - no real harm done, candles were lit & wishes were wished.
This morning I was awakened at 7:30 (Sunday morning! And I'm not a good morning person even when I have to be!) by the telephone ringing. The caller ID listed a local hospital - nothing quite gets your heart rate going like reading that. It was my mother, calling to tell me she'd driven herself over to the hospital last night, feeling an minor attack of tachycardia and/or heart arrhythmia. She was okay, but needed me to feed her cat, Skye, and open the cat door. To do that, I needed to go to the hospital & get my mother's garage door opener & house keys. Now I have a key to get in her front door, unless she has it barricaded, as she usually does, but I do not have a key to the back door - only accessible through the garage. (I have complained about this to no avail many, many, many, many, many times - I won't even mention the time firemen had to scale her 8 ft. tall back fence to get to her during a medical emergency; I won't mention a couple of weeks ago when the ever-wonderful, ever-agile Michael had to scale that same fence to unlock the gate so she could get back in after accidentally locking herself out. I won't mention she had her hair in curlers at that time.) So after a normal hospital visit, which entailed trying to find out why her breakfast was 2 hours late, without getting angry at the nurse who explained it was because of computers - everything is computerized now & that just slows thing down, you see (a point here: While this may be true, things were plenty slowed down before the new computer programs began to be used - I've been taking my mom to the hospital for years) - I managed to get away. But not so fast. As I was paying to get out of the parking garage, my purse strap grabbed the garage door opener & flipped it to a secret hidden place somewhere inside my car. It took 15 minutes - I am not exaggerating - and a phone call to the ever-patient Michael to calm me down - before I could locate it. Stuck between the driver's side seat back & the console - quite hidden. By then I was wishing I'd taken more Lorazepam - hey, by then I realized I hadn't taken ANY Lorazepam, and quickly made up for lost time. Good thing, too, because once I got to the back door, I found it to be quite barricaded, also. It took several minutes to find a key to fit the deadbolt, but I could NOT get the key that fit the door handle to work. I jiggled, I wiggled, I swore, I swore some more. No luck. Because this is the door the above-mentioned firemen had to break through when they had to rescue her that time & she's never quite gotten around to having all the locks fixed - just an additional deadbolt installed. So I called one of my brothers - the one who'd installed the deadbolt, and he informed me that hey! Just because I had a key that fit into that handle didn't mean it was the right key! No sirree bob! It's just a fluke - he didn't know why it fit, because that lock uses the exact same key as her front door! Yes, isn't that convenient? So I finally got in. Only took 1/2 an hour. No biggie.
So then I decided to drive over to Blue Moon & just enjoy the flowers & the owner oh-so-kindly let me take some pictures & I bought myself a tin bird that hangs from a blue ribbon & a beautiful votive holder. Pictures of the rest of my day will come later.
What we're reading out loud right now. I kept looking at it in the bookstore because it has such a wonderful title, and drawings of hummingbirds all over the cover, and finally couldn't resist. So far I'm really crazy about it. Y'all may already know all about hummingbirds, but I don't. Although I do know they like "pink water", as Dorothy Albertson once stood up & told a meeting of bird-watchers here. Yes, I know y'all have no clue who Ms. Albertson was (perhaps I'll do a little story about her sometime), but Robert knew her - in fact, one of my most prized possessions came from the estate sale of her belongings. A black rock with white stripes - on one side she wrote Mexico, and on the other side she wrote the date. I think 1917 or 1918. Anyway, that's about all I knew about hummingbirds. My old cat Stella (named Stella so that I could go outside & call "Stellaaaa . . . Stellaaaaa . . .") once caught one, and I managed to get it away from her before she killed it, but it was unconscious & I didn't know what to do with it, so I put it in the car to take to my mother (who can work magic on ill or injured birds & beasts) & it came to in the car & began flying all around me as I drove & well, that was pretty cool!
So here's a bit from the book, quoting a Colonel Higginson: "In Cuba there is a blossoming shrub whose multitudinous crimson flowers are so seductive to the humming-birds that they hover all day around it, buried in the blossoms until petal and wing seem one. At first upright, the gorgeous bells droop downward, and fall unwithered to the ground, and are thence called by the Creoles "Cupid's Tears." Fredrika Bremer relates that daily she brought home handfuls of these blossoms to her chamber, and nightly they all disappeared. One morning she looked toward the wall of the apartment, and there, in a long crimson line, the delicate flowers went ascending one by one to the ceiling, and passed from sight. She found that each was borne laboriously onward by a little colorless ant much smaller than itself: the bearer was invisible, but the lovely burdens festooned the wall with beauty." How gorgeous is that? Doesn't it just make you want to start painting hummingbirds & red flowers? Higginson called it "The Procession of the Flowers".
I am spending my not-painting time soaking up luscious words. Wonderful images are just everywhere. I am quite partial to books that read like a painting - plot plays a distant second for me. Summertime is coming, which means reading about India (a summer ritual), and perhaps some Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and the books about Tuscany by Frances Mayes. In The Artist's Way, Julia Cameron says we must have dates for our inner artist - our artist self. I'm using this alone, silent reading time as just that. I'm already feeling better, more inspired, kinder to myself.
What do y'all do?
I am exhausted with work & the silly, self-imposed agony of attempting to make art. Therefore, just photos for a day or two - finding the right words to say something seems impossible.
The above amarylis shows what happens when you just leave stuff alone, either intentionally or otherwise. These bulbs were just placed on the back porch after their Christmas blooms had withered away, and I meant to plant them in the yard, but just forgot. (You can imagine what the porch looks like.) Doesn't matter - they took matters into their own hands & performed a little magic. How arrogant I was to think they needed me.
Lots of trees have been coming down in our neighborhood lately. Some have been due to storms, an act of God. Others have been due to Rodney, our next door neighbor. And as much as it breaks my heart to see gone the 50 year old oak that once stood guard at the foot of the driveway (the dividing line between Rodney's property & ours), I know that it will eventually be okay - there will be dogwoods planted in its place (as flowers on the oak tree's grave?) & our front yard is receiving lots more sunlight, so I can foresee more flowers next year. This past weekend Rodney scaled the hackberry trees to trim branches (the trees he left standing) & I see more light on the already existing dogwoods, and Katie is contemplating white azaleas surrounding them.
An oddity we discovered was a sign in another neighbor's back yard. Once branches were removed, Katie & I spied a sign pointing the way to Post Oak Cemetery, except that it was pointing the way to our house. I'm assuming the sign was being used as a makeshift barrier to prevent the dogs, Chloe & Teddy, from escaping from the yard - especially Teddy, who the ever-wonderful Michael & I once saw accidentally leap over monkey grass into the creek (Teddy being such a small dog he couldn't see over the monkey grass: he had no way to know there was nothing by a long drop on the other side) while chasing a squirrel. His eye was on the squirrel - he would make a great shortstop. ANYWAY, I looked at Katie - "Is that good feng-shui?" I asked, referring to the cemetery sign pointing our way. "Well", replies the lovely Katie, "I'm not afraid of dead people, but . . . " "It can't be good", I say. Whereupon she decides to just scooch her fingers through the fence & turn the sign around so that the arrow points back at her (the neighbor's) house. Easier said than done, and kind of mean to boot, so we decided that the arrow should point to Heaven. I would've gotten closer to take a picture of the whole sign, but a copperhead was discovered in that neighbor's yard a few weeks ago, and I was wearing flip-flops. That would be bad feng-shui.
This weekend Lyndi-Linda surprised me at breakfast with a rose for Mother's Day,
even though I have no children.
She had another for the lovely, lovely Katie,
saying that even though neither of us had children,
we were all Mary's "moms".
An incredibly sweet, thoughtful gesture.
The rose reminds me of a post by Sarah over at Rich Inner Life -
she decribed her little sedum plants as applying their lipstick, which I just loved.
This rose, however, looks as if it is in the act of full-blown seduction,
a come-hither look on its face.
A very grownup kind of rose, if you will.
No one under 18 allowed to view without parental consent.
This painting is one I did when I began meditating, when I was trying to embrace the concept of non-judgmentalism (yeah, like that worked). (Actually, it worked quite a bit - you should've known me before!) (And actually, to be honest, I don't have a big problem with being judgmental - I mean with the idea of being judgmental; pretending that bad things aren't bad is bad karma as far as I'm concerned. Sometimes we need to stop the badness before it gets worse - I think we amass more bad karma for letting bad things continue to hurt people & animals, than we amass for actually doing something about those bad things. And I don't think it's wrong to want to enjoy good things. I mean, I do think if it's cold, it's cold, and to judge that as good or bad or comfortable or uncomfortable is useless, because it is what it is, but, oh, I don't know. Even thinking about it is hard, and anyway, I try to do my best to just let things be unless they need not to be let be. Huh?)
So, ANYWAY, I painted this thinking I was being very above-it-all - that none of these things mattered and that it was okay. I wasn't saying, or so I thought at the time, that they seemed to not matter to anyone but me, and that's what I told people, but looking back, and standing here now looking straight at it, I know that's not true. I know I was mad at people, that I was being hurt by those I thought should know better, that it was just a bad (am I being judgmental by using that word?) time. That I was feeling lonesome & sorry for myself. So I'm fessing up. It DID feel like none of this stuff mattered to anyone but me, and I thought it should matter. When the ever-wonderful Michael looked at this the first time, he said it broke his heart - he felt it was directed at him. But that wasn't the case. I was really just angry with everyone & everything & the universe & saddened by my mother's illnesses, and exhausted that I had no time to enjoy any of the things that made me happy. What I've discovered is that it's up to me to make that time, and when that proves impossible (as it just sometimes does in the real world), to step back & take a breath, don't be so negative, so judgmental (AHA!), to look around at that moment & see what's there. Because there will be something to make me smile.
This morning it's the wild pink roses I passed on my way to work, it's the surprise of an amaryllis ready to bloom in a pot I'd forgotten to clean out after Christmas, it's Lily rolling over & showing me her belly, it's a silly conversation with the guy at the coffee shop about The Rocky Horror Picture Show, it's Maggie finally (maybe) feeling better, it's how good this Coca-Cola tastes, it's the Henry Miller quote on my calendar ~ "Voyages are accomplished inwardly, and the most hazardous ones, needless to say, are made without moving from the spot."
Have gesso, will travel. I swear, I ought to just give up on the actual making art thing & just go into business gessoing stuff for real artists. (Y'all know who you are.) Because truly, that's the most fun for me. That not-thinking part is the best!
I was inspired to this bit of craziness by Paula at Molokai Girl & this post. (And, I suspect, secret telepathic messages she's sending my way.) I thought it would help me to loosen up - a constant battle. (Just ask the lovely, lovely Katie who struggles with me weekly during our Pilates sessions.) Anyway, I thought I could just do something silly, something very not-art, something I could have fun with, polka-dot up, maybe even (gasp!) butterfly up! Wouldn't that be FUN? And don't girls just wanna have fun? But as soon as the last coat of gesso was dry I began to agonize. Yes, I know that's hard to believe, but it's true! Now what, I thought? Polka-dots? "Are you crazy?", my inner cruel-spinster-teacher whispered. "It must be art - it must mean something, it must be stupendous, earth-shattering wonderful!" I tell her to shut up, but she continues to whisper, and it's her I blame for these tight shoulders & tense belly & short breaths. It couldn't possibly be me! So to thwart the stifling of my inner artist who just wants to dance with a paintbrush in her hand & let the drops of color fall where they may, I am hereby posting a photograph of these gessoed boots, in the hopes that that action will make me rush & finish them all up with the least pain possible. Feel free to ask about them - feel free to tell me to just get those babies painted! I need all the crazy/silly inspiration I can get.
And oh! Did y'all sing the title of this post to the tune of "A Day in the Life" by the Beatles? I did & now can't get the song out of my head. That's a good thing, I think.
I found this while letting Lily outside to enjoy the absolutely wonderful day. And that's what I need to keep in mind. It's an absolutely wonderful day. Ths sun is shining, it's about 80 degrees, I can hear birds singing. It's absolutely wonderful.
I spent the morning working on a painting that may be finished - when I get home I'll check on it & see if it's done, or if it needs a bit more time in my artistic oven. I'm trying to keep it simple, and that seems impossible for me, especially lately. I seem to just be staring at half finished canvases (half, she says! ha!) & walking away from them. I don't know what that's all about - I thought I'd broken free of that, I thought this blogging habit had cured me, I thought I'd evolved past all that. Apparently not. Lulu phoned this morning, and during our conversation she said that apparently she didn't like things easy. I told her that was a great book title (meaning for her), but I think I'm stealing it, and will use it for myself. Apparently I Don't Like Things Easy.
Actually I like things very easy. Like my phone bill. I should've known when Lulu called me at my cell number that something was odd, and momentarily I did, but then I got involved in gossiping & complaining & I forgot - until I picked up my land-line phone to call El Charro for a Pepper Chicken Delight & discovered I had no phone service. Cause they cut it off it off if you don't pay the bill. Since January. This is twice in the last 6 months! I'd gone my entire adult life never having anything cut off for non-payment, until this past January - that's right; I haven't paid my phone bill since I paid them to re-connect me after the first time I forgot to pay! No excuses - I just haven't paid it. I don't get my bill in the mail because I so smartly, so 21st century-ish, decided it would be easier if if I just had my bill e-mailed. It's a bad idea because apparently they send you cut-off notices via e-mail also. And when I see the subject line "Your ATT bill is ready for viewing" I just figure that, hey, I'll pay it later, and I delete it. And out of sight, out of mind.
But this is TWICE! Is this what getting older is all about? Is it hormonal? (Unlike some women who are offended if their hormones get blamed for certain wacky behaviours, I am more than willing, even enthusiastic, to lay the responsibility at the little rascals' feet.) What is up?
I still want the easy road. I'm gonna see if ATT will just automatically deduct the amount from my bank each month (as I already do with water & cable & car insurance). I'm sure they will be more than pleased to do so, although they will be missing out on my twice-a-year re-connect fee.
I've been tagged by Bridgette. I have to tell y'all 7 random things about myself & then tag 7 of Y'ALL to do the same. If you're on my list (what power!) you're supposed to tell all, then list 7 people to do the same - link to them & also link back to me. Post the rules & let those people know they've been tagged, then sit back & relax.
I tag: 1. Jaime 2. Lily 3. Margo 4. Kerstin 5. Valaine 6. Jessica 7. Katherine
I tag: 1. Jaime 2. Lily 3. Margo 4. Kerstin 5. Valaine 6. Jessica 7. Katherine
This is a photograph of another side of that wonderful yard we found in Jefferson. My thought/plan is to incorporate these images into a painting, but I'm so enjoying manipulating the photos that I may not. (Of course, the images are in my head, so no doubt they'll work their way onto a canvas in some way or another.) When I was in school, drawing classes always required keeping a sketchbook, and showing that book to the teacher, and while that was perfectly fine in anatomy & life drawing, I always had a huge problem doing that with other classes. I tend to work things out in my head - which is weird because you'd think I'd never get stuck on a painting & would finish everything quickly & easily, but I don't. I guess I work out the idea in my head & then let the details figure themselves out , which, yes, does make sense, because that explains the sketchbook problem. Once I began the sketch & then kept going, it would cease being a sketch & become the drawing. Which I then couldn't duplicate. In fact, I had such a problem with it that my very favorite teacher stopped requiring me to keep a sketchbook - he knew that I wasn't slacking, that I just approached a piece in a different way. And, bless his heart, he didn't fight that. He just accepted it, understood it, let me know it was okay, and graded me on the finished work. (All A's, if I do say so myself.)