“Do you know," Peter asked, "why swallows build in the eaves of houses? It is to listen to the stories.” ~ J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan



She won't come in, so I went out.

And rediscovered the night.
And why she won't come in.

I have been full of tears for her, full of sorry-for-myself, full of grieving for an event that has yet to occur, full of prayers, full of everything but seeing this gift of time I still have. Sunday night I went to bed and cried, knowing she will never hop up in that bed next to me again - she is no longer interested; she has found places outside where she'd rather spend her time, and although she wants me near her, she doesn't want it enough to waste what precious moments she has left. If I step outside, she will come to me, wanting her ears rubbed, her back rubbed, wanting to stand next to me, but she seldom follows me in, and when she does, it is usually a short visit.

So Sunday night. In the midst of my tears, I thought she is just outside this wall, and yes, it is midnight, but she is just outside this wall, she is laying in the grass behind Katie's car. Join her. So I did. I took a towel and joined her in the night, made a square pallet on which to sit and joined her, next to the grass, on the driveway. She was up and circling me, rubbing against me, happy, happy that I was out there with her, ending up standing next to me, just standing, touching. Side by side. And I rediscovered the night, the coolness after a daytime of 100+ degrees, the deafening sound of cicadas and what I assume to be tree frogs; I will have to ask. The moonlight. The darkness. The breezes. It was magnificent. When I at last went to bed, I slept like a baby.

Last night I dug out my white & blue striped beach chair, one of those that squoosh together like an umbrella, that hold you cocooned inches off the ground, and found the night again with her. She was perched on the wall of the footbridge that crosses the creek; I nestled as close as I could, and she was down from her spot, circling me again, finding her spot next to my right hand, purring loudly. Again the serenade of seemingly thousands of cicadas, breezes that whispered of yesterday's shower, a half moon bright in the sky behind us. I watched a neighbor across the street switching channels on his tv - impatiently flipping from one station to the next, then, finding nothing, switching the thing off; darkness. A man turned the corner, walking who knows where, talking on his cell phone, totally unaware we were there. Maggie moved closer, and I remembered a photograph taken by the ever-wonderful Michael 4 years ago. I was sick, but I didn't really know it yet - it was springtime, before Easter. Feeling feverish & chilled, I abandoned the couch for the hammock in the back yard, needing the sunshine on my skin, needing the warmth. Maggie was outside & came to me, as she always did when I lay in the hammock, and took her usual spot on the grass below me. When I fell asleep, Michael took a picture of the two of us - I'd forgotten that picture existed; my mother has a copy on her refrigerator. When I see it, I always remember how sick I became, a fever that lasted a month, a couple of stays in the hospital, and I turn away. But now I see Maggie. Coming to me, to be near.

I look back on this blog that was to be about art, and I re-read posts, and it seems that it has been about loss, about letting go, almost from the very beginning. I wonder if I sensed all that when Emmatree was born - if I knew I would need this space to gather myself together. Or is loss just a constant? If I look back, that seems more likely - that life is about birth & beginnings, but just as surely about endings & goodbyes. I feel empty of poetry when I talk about Maggie; it feels as if I used it all up with Mary. I put my fingers over my heart and feel this pain again. Still. This heartache. And I feel I should apologize, should say I'm sorry that there are no flowers here lately - but there is life here. And that means there is also death, and I hate just saying that word, I want to pretty it up, I want to say there are endings, there are passings, I want to say anything but that word, but death is what it is.

This summer will be about Maggie.
I will hold her near.
I will sit with her in the night and watch the stars.


Hi Everyone! (Just in case you're reading this.)

Leo works next door.
Someone left him a message this weekend.

Hi Leo!
(Just in case he's reading this.)

There was a time I would say no way was anyone over there reading me - little old me - but yesterday evening changed my perception. A knock on the door revealed Rodney, my next-door neighbor at home. Hi Rodney! (Just in case you're reading this.) He wanted to know if there was a particular evening that would be bad for me or good for me for him to resume a noisy piece of construction work at his house; said he read my blog and sometimes felt like the big bad monster next door - me complaining about all the noise & construction, and even mentioning that I'd stopped him a couple of weeks ago, unable to take any more loudness. He didn't say all that, he just said the part about reading my blog & feeling like a monster, but I knew what he meant, and when he left I had to rush & see if I'd said anything bad about him personally - I didn't think I had, because I don't think anything bad about him personally, but you know, noise & all may have made me crazy-crazy - I couldn't remember, but no, in fact, I'd said they were all quite wonderful people , all those noisy folks around us, which just made his asking even nicer. The surprise was that he read my blog. I knew he & his wife - Hi Amber! (just in case you're reading this) - had looked here; what I didn't know was that they actually had looked here more than once, had in fact read it recently.

It's kind of funny. I've been thinking this area needs a blog, and not one of the typical Tyler/East Texas social-scene silliness things. We have a couple of magazines here, and I won't name them because the people who run them are perfectly nice people - maybe wonderful people; I don't know them, I just know people who do - but one is just pictures of all the "society" parties & events, people posing, the same people over & over in all the pictures, at all the events, and there are articles about people with money, their houses, etc. The other magazine has articles, but it's much the same, featuring the same people, the same events, although they do have a new feature about unknown Tyler treasures - I noticed an article about a place I mentioned here last spring. There is also a newsletter/newspaper geared to the black population here (over 25% of the total population), and no doubt there is one I've not noticed for the Hispanic population (over 15%). It makes me crazy. We are such a diverse group of people & you'd never know it by these publications. Never. So I've been thinking of blogging about that, blogging about how funny I think it is when women show up in fur coats for a Lyle Lovett concert, blogging about the absurdness of this area and the wonderfulness of this area, and including everybody. What a concept. So. Am I prepared to do that? Am I prepared to have more people around me actually read what I say?

I'm thinking I may be.
Stay tuned.
i think i can, i think i can, i think i can


Yes, I got no picture today

I keep saying I just want to write.
Let's see how it goes.

Cause I got nothin'. Nothin'. Well, I got this summertime hot Texas heat, thermometers reading anywhere from 102 to 109, depending on when & where you are. I got a Pema Chodron book - The Places that Scare You - upside down on a stack of books, blue cover shimmering at me, opened to pages 6 & 7, which was as far as I got before deciding on something lighter, and I like Pema Chodron. I got a short in my kitchen's ceiling light, causing bulbs to blow, and breakers to throw. I got a suspicion that the antique silver-glittered Christmas ornament bird I've had forever & which I keep out all the time, has figured out how to turn itself to face south, because it's facing south & I swear it used to face north towards the front door. I got half a dozen blackened shrimp on a skewer in the fridge which I need to eat today or else throw out, but I got no appetite. I got a cat who insisted I sit next to her in the kitchen, on an old white milking stool, she having jumped on it to keep my feet company when I changed light bulbs, and I got a sore behind for doing so for an hour, although I admit to putting a rug under said behind for the last ten minutes. I got pleasure for keeping her company, though, and making her purr. I got a quiet neighborhood this afternoon, no one about, no extra vehicles blocking the driveway, no hammering, no sawing, no nothing. I got a fan on the floor, helping the air conditioning along, the air just skimming the soles of my pink-toenailed feet propped up here on the couch. I got a white couch. I got on a white flirty cotton skirt and sage green tshirt, and a pair of brown sparkly-beaded flip flops are next to me on the floor. I got a house that needs cleaning, floors that need desperately to be mopped - which I discovered during that hour long sit in the kitchen with Maggie - and cabinet doors that need repainted. I got to make a decision about moving - should I stay or should I go? I got a friend who told me earlier this week she cannot imagine me in any other neighborhood. I got a smile just now from the lovely lovely Katie as she walked by the doors, arms full of packages, wearing a skirt that looks like orange & raspberry sorbet. I got a pint of tequila lime sorbet in the freezer. I got a stomach that just gurgled at the thought of that. I got shoes everywhere in this house - not just next to me - there are 3 additional pair right across the room. I got a boyfriend who once said if we ever got married that would have to change, but the years have gone by, and now he is as bad as I am, although his many pairs of cowboy boots are in a straight row in his bedroom, lined up perfectly under a string of Tibetan prayer flags. I got to take a picture of that.

I got nothin'.
And I feel fine.
i got what i need



If I get to work early enough in the summer, I get to see this.

It seldom happens.

This empty planter holds such possibilities, does it not?
And there are two others,
the most beautiful greenish blue.
I see white flowers overhanging the edges.


A moment: me & maggie

Inspired by Tangobaby.
This wonderful post,
about photography & art & relationships
these posts: Patti & Ginny,
from Tango's other blog.
And from the wonderful images taken for that blog,
these posts.
Look at that.
6 links for one woman.

But back to the inspiration.
I was privy to a couple of these images
before they were posted
(a little name-dropping,
a little bragging),
and was knocked out by them.
Then I saw the whole shebang,
the whole production,
the whole story,
and it occurred to me
that I had not one picture of myself with Maggie.
Not one.
And she is fading away.

She no longer spends much time in the house,
instead preferring the summer heat,
the being-alone.
A combination of her usual summer behavior
and her disease as it worsens.
I don't believe we will snuggle anymore.
She is restless,
wanting out of the house,
but also wanting to be near me.
A dilemma we work at.
I put my blue green child's chair in the doorway,
half in the house,
half outside,
and she will stand in my lap.
She is uncomfortable finding a sitting position,
so standing it is.
I pick her up & walk about the yard a bit,
she gets extra petting when she's fed,
and, of course, the daily fluid injections.
We are close then,
she over my shoulder
while Michael gives the injection.
A few minutes of stillness,
and lately purring.
Then treats.
The only real picture time.

So I handed the camera to the ever-wonderful Michael,
and of course he turned on the flash.
No, I said, no flash.
So little light in the room,
underexposed images,
but I can do something with them,
I told him.
They are all pictures of the 2 of us,
but right now, I like this crop.
The me part of this image
has no business being shown in public.
But this works.

I know what I wanted,
more Tango-like stuff,
even though I knew they would not be as wonderful,
but Michael is a studio portrait photographer:
both of us need to be looking at him,
He is the first to tell you is not an artist,
and I am terrible at expressing my vision,
which, in this case,
was really mostly copy Tango.

But this works.
From a badly exposed image.
we got a moment.

Thank you Tango,
Michael, Patti & Ginny.
we are working on more

In which I admit : I am not a peachy girl

The view from my bedroom window has always been blue.

A gray-blue, sometimes a blue-gray, but it has been there for all the years I have been here. A pleasant out-of-focus pale blueness below the sky, a background for the white dogwood & white azaleas peeping at me over the vine covered fence. But nothing is permanent, and it is changing, that house soon to be pink, in fact already halfway there, brick by brick shedding her blue dress for this new pink frock, and if it were a pink I liked- if it were a baby-girl pale pink or a pink with blues lurking as undertones - how much happier I would feel. But it is a peach pink, a light orangey pink, and it feels like yet another change to my neighborhood, another shift in the energy, and I am unsure about this, about this color so near, the back of that garage only 10 feet from one of my bedroom windows. It will change the color of the light in my house, reflecting warm peachiness back towards me, and it will mean that the window I see from this very couch will soon be a pinky-peach rectangle demanding my attention instead of a neutral grayness blending with the outdoors. It is a perfectly fine color, and I apologize to those of you who may have homes the very same shade of pink, but I wonder why-oh-why it couldn't be a cooler pink. I tell myself it is the color of a Creamsicle or Dreamsicle or an orange push-up - and it is - and I am trying to think of it as such, but so far I am failing. I like my windows open, the light of the day pouring in, but now my house - yes, it is a small place, quite open, so yes, my entire house will clash with this rectangle soon to appear, and I am a person who searches stores for white toothbrushes, and complains about the colors of razors (why only colors for teenagers, why no colors to "match" the bathroom of a grown woman?). I am the person who cries when shopping for a new hairdryer because the colors are hideous, and even when I find a white one, it inevitably will have a black cord, which is quite horrible actually, and you can't just put it away - you have to wait until it cools, and if, like me, you use it a lot, it means it's always out, and oh, I know I'm neurotic about all this, and thank God the ever-wonderful Michael will change cords out for me rather than put up with my tears, but this peachiness just seems like yet another sign from the Universe telling me to move. The painter said the color is coral something or other, then added but really it is peach, and I asked him if he could conjure up some magic and make the back of the garage more bluey-pink. He just laughed and will no doubt tell the house's owner, who I really like but am not close to, and I feel uncomfortable about that, but it is what it is, and this color is just not me. And so. Peach. I will have to get used to it, and who knows (she says hopefully but with great doubt) - perhaps I will learn to like it.

It is the color of the desert at the end of the day;
I will try to remember that.
sigh, she says, but not the color i want


The almost end of yesterday

The almost-end of a pretty perfect day.
Saturday. Yesterday.

Maggie enjoying the cool air of evening stealing in,
me doing nothing.
That doing-of-nothing pretty wonderful.

Nowhere to go, not really,
no one calling except my mother,
only once,
and one other call for a painting,
finding its way to a new home.
Sleeping late again in the morning,
early in the evening,
in the meantime just reading.
Just reading.
What luxury.
No thinking about art,
no thinking about anything if I kept the tv off.
It's been a long time coming.

I turned down an offer for another art show,
early in September,
and some of you will think that foolish,
but September is busy, busy, busy
for me in the non-art part of my life,
and I need this summer to relax,
to spend time with Maggie,
and I have no doubts it was the right decision.
Remember me when you book for next year,
I told her,
and I hope she will.

It is hot - mid to upper 90s,
humidity making it feel even hotter,
and I am grateful now
for the grays & cool colors
of my home,
for air conditioning which works,
for fans
and breezes.

A stop by the business to feed Lily
earlier today
found the a/c there not working,
the kids scheduled to spend the day with us tomorrow.
Fans turned on for Lily,
a voice mail left for the ever-wonderful Michael,
on his way back from Oklahoma,
and I was home again,
here in this coolness
and almost quiet.


Almost Summer - Red Dragonfly

A little more summer.

Finding the magic again - step 3.

A day off from work today. I fell asleep on the couch last night, beginning as a drowse after reading, the air from the fan absolutely pleasant as it barely touched me, in one of those sleep positions that is so perfect you dare not move, and I slept late into this Friday morning, waking only once to see Maggie through the glass of the front door, sound asleep sitting up, facing the door, waiting for me to feed her. In she came when the door opened - she must think I am magical to be able to accomplish such a feat as opening doors - and back out after her quick breakfast, and back to the couch and sleep I went. Finally awake later in the morning, I read - the first book that has held my attention for months, nothing deep, a novel about India & romance & 1928 - a slang term used by the characters making me laugh; it's so balloon, they say, when something is cool. So balloon. The heat is piling in on us now, so inside with a book felt absolutely decadent, but a red dragonfly sneakily beckoned me outside, soaring by my door, stopping in mid-air to peer in at me, and I could not resist. I grabbed my camera and stepped outside as he flew over my shoulder, surprising me from behind, chasing a female, never stopping, never stopping, or so it seemed until I stopped thinking and just fell into their rhythm, finally finding his new rest stop, and finding myself climbing partially into the creek, following him, watching for grass snakes, and yes, I managed a few shots, but not what I really wanted. This dragonfly was found lounging on a car antenna across the street, no creek-climbing-into necessary. It's not the best shot - there's one I love with N's house in the background - but this one just feels right when I look at it. It feels hot & summery & shimmery & a little magical & humid, and made me think about Robin's post of yesterday, asking what - besides the image - one is looking for when one takes a photograph. I am always looking for a story. This one is summer.

Now back to my book.
it's so balloon!


"I Have an Owl on My Hand", he said

She was in good hands, whether she knew it or not.

My cell phone awakened me this morning, in the other room, me stumbling for it, not a morning time gal, a message from Robert "I have an owl on my hand", a glance out the door and I see him across the street, so pjs & all, I am there too, with 6 other adults, all ooohing & aaahing at this baby. Fallen from her tree, and almost breakfast for Charlie the cat, but rescued, Robert climbing trees to try to find a place she would stay, but she kept falling, kept trying her wings & falling. Finally Robert placed her on the garage, among the overgrowth and low limbs. Safe.

Finding the magic again - step 2.
charlie in the house


Finding the Magic Again - Step 1

baby sit kids even when you're in a bad mood,
a sad mood,
and you close your office doors against their noise.

they will find their way in anyway ~
to pet the cat & tell you she is too fat,
that she needs a puppy to play with,
to tear pieces of tape from your dispenser,
to use your electric stapler.

and then they will disappear again,
and left to their own devices,
they will find their creative hearts.

she will make a book,
and borrow the stapler again,
stapling too far in on the page,
but never mind.

and she will draw a picture,
make a delivery package requiring more tape,
a surprise gift,
and he, of course, will copy that idea,
and will require even more tape,
and announce special delivery when presenting his gift,
and the staples in his book
will be at the far corners of the pages,
and when their father arrives to take them home,
she will give you her book,
your picture drawn inside,
an award presented,
and you will feel regretful
that you were so not there for them for those 2 hours,
and you will be reminded of where the magic lives,
where it is born.
You are the best intrenet web page writer ever
and you better not forget it.
not ever


Looking Past the Magic

Sometimes in the early evening I hear the owls.

It's back
, I think to myself, that magic that used to be here, that magic that used to lure me out into the night, that magic I could just inhale, could just feel as it entered my soul, shooing away all the work-a-day tiredness, the everyday frustrations. But it flies on past on silent wings and is gone.

Mary's wisteria did not bloom this year, back in the back of her sideyard - usually a 15 foot flowerfall of lavender encircling the birdhouse - and it seemed to signal this unwanted change that has settled over our little block. Perhaps I have been too busy, I tell myself, perhaps I've just been looking past it, perhaps the magic is still there, but I know the truth - I feel the difference in the air. Perhaps it's because Mary's usually empty driveway is now occupied by at least one car. Blocking the energy flow - bad feng shui; the energy that was once able to flow around her house, through the azaleas & cannas & camellias & red Turkish caps, the Rose of Sharon, the hydrangeas, the sweet olive, the yellow roses, through the unnamed blue flowers, the daffodils, the paperwhites - that energy that would then whoosh across her back yard and fly out the driveway, across the street, spilling its goodies into our yard - that energy is stopped. Blocked. It doubles back on itself, smashing into those sad wisteria vines, and back again, nowhere to go. Perhaps that's it, I think, but if true, I know of no way to free it, no way to lure it back. Or perhaps it's the neverending construction, the ongoing noise, the street full of vehicles - perhaps it's only that, which will mostly come to an end, the house next door to my right having never been without some ongoing project, and most of the vehicles belonging to the house next door to Mary's, meaning they will stay. Perhaps it's the loss of Mary, perhaps it's the knowledge of Maggie's weakening - perhaps all of that. Perhaps none. All I know is that it is. I know not why.

I try to look forward, I try to move forward, I try to see past all the obstacles, all the reasons, and find the time when it will be back, when I will walk out into a darkened yard and see the stars and hear the owls and feel a breeze laden with the scent of sweet olive blossoms, but I find myself stunned that we are halfway through this year, my year of unfurling, 4 months past Mary's leavetaking, and I am still searching.

I am impatient, perhaps.
Looking past my own magic perhaps.
No doubt.
I remind myself the red dragonflies have returned,
that there are more cardinals this year than last,
that the owls moved to our yard.
Perhaps the cure is blue flowers
for my neglected back porch.
This weekend then - a trip to Blue Moon
for blue flowers.
Another day in the summer heat.
till then . . . .


Blue Sidewalk, Heart Shadow

There were moments to love about this past weekend.

There were the first crepe myrtle blossoms of the year, magenta-purple and white, Saturday morning early, waving to me as I passed them on the side of the road, pointing out their cousins blooming at the tops of trees, dark pink flowers just beginning to awaken. (By this morning, more were up and about, my very favorite baby-pink tree also blossoming.) There was the return of the red dragonflies to their yearly roost atop the orange daylilies next to the creek outside my front door - making sure I knew they were back, they sent a messenger to hover for a moment outside that door, attracting attention to their homecoming, then rushing back off with the others, down fast fast fast into the creek and swooping up suddenly, across the street, flirting with the catawba leaves, around the wisteria vines, back into the creek - hot fun in the summertime, their red/orange wings almost pulsing with their vibrancy. There was the easing of muscles, the joy of knowing I could do nothing, which perversely made me feel like painting, but I restrained, and instead wrote a few lines of debi-poetry, which is really not poetry at all, but words to help me along when I next pick up a brush. There was an impromptu visit yesterday to Joe & Lisa's Howling Wolf Creek home, accompanied by the lovely, lovely Katie, and there was Lisa's apple pie in the oven, and sitting outside in the shade, but really no getting away from the heat & the humidity, surrounded by 3 dogs, plumbago, hydrangeas, roses, a wonderful, wonderful Mexican plant (petunia?) covered with lavender flowers - a perfectly magical plant; the flowers fall off during the day, to be replaced by new ones the next morning. We sat in the ever growing heat, discussing politics, gun rights, art, Billy the Kid, photography & crazy relatives and watched the blossoms drop and skitter in the wind across the lawn, and truly, truly, how wonderful, and the afternoon slipped away, and there was a moment that Katie pronounced perfect, right now, and we decided, she & I, that we need to lease a lake lot - just a small one, enough for a motor home, enough to give us lake access, the heat of the day making us believe anything possible.
anything is


Art Show - Caffe Tazza

Look at those hands.

Dear Lord, they drive my mother crazy. Big old farm girl hands. I learned early the trick of holding my hands over my head, letting the blood rush down into my arms and then and only then lowering my hands, letting my picture be taken, but I've grown old & care less. At least at the time the picture is being taken - when I see the final image, I am appalled at those big veins. However, because they exist on the other side of my hands also, and up into my forearms, I am always grateful for them when I have blood tests at my doctors - I am easy. And so I let them stay here in this picture, where I admit to photoshopping a few wrinkles away from my eyes. These hands of mine deserve some appreciation from me. I thank them for their ability to draw, for their ability to write, for their ability to transfer to paper or canvas or computer screen what I see in my head.

I didn't take a camera to the art show last night - it was sitting on my desk here in this cluttered office, but it wouldn't have mattered. I wouldn't've taken any photos. This image of me was taken by Joe - our photographer here at work - and I quickly covered my face. No, no, I said, I am famous for not showing all of me at once; he took another shot that looks remarkably like The Scream, and there is absolutely no way I will publish that.

It was a wonderful show. We were late getting there, getting pieces hung - I am always late, always running. Always. My mother showed up before we were done - she is always early. Always. But the pieces were finally hung - Michael & Joe doing the hard work, me doing the supervising, and hanging the stories next to each - and by then several of my relatives were there, and then more people showed up, and after that, the evening flew by. The very first person to speak to me - the first person I didn't know, that is, was Starla (how great a name is that?) who is a reader of this blog, who found me in Somerset Life and couldn't believe someone from our little town would be in those pages. And, as it works out, I later discovered from my niece that she & Starla's daughter played basketball on the same team - I knew her name was familiar - earlier this year. There were sales made, new friends made, connections made - a woman new here in town, opening a gallery just a couple of blocks from our business this fall; the 2nd show will be a juried show of East Texas artists, and she liked my stuff, and I was invited to submit pieces for the show. Good for my heart. :)

People bought things - they laid out hard earned cash & bought things - and people wanted things they couldn't afford, and all in all, I felt like an artist. Really. But funnily enough, Relyn was right when she told me to put the stories next to the paintings - people loved those stories. I cannot tell you how many people told me to write, write, write, and keep writing. Good for my heart also.

I got home exhausted, worn out, happy. It was the first time in years - probably 20 years, truth be told - that it was all about me. And you know what? I liked it. I don't have birthday parties, I am seldom, seldom the center of attention, and while that's usually the way I like it, last night it was nice to be the star. :) It was nice to feel validated, it was nice to have people like my stuff, it was nice to package up a painting and send it off to a new home, it was nice that people showed up for me. I admit it. I admit it. Oh, I am awful!

This morning I woke late, of course, aching all over. I have been so tense, so anxious about this little show, that I have been holding myself tight, and as my muscles start to relax, they complain to me. I have been letting Maggie stay out all night, as she loves to do in the summer, and when I let her in this morning, she looked so old and pitiful that I just began to cry. I fed her, got in the shower, and just cried. For Maggie, for the success of the show, for my achiness, for all of you who have been so, so wonderful in believing in me, for everything.

Last night I told Katie
to read the story
the crow on a bench painting.
It will make you cry,
I said to her -
It's about Mary.
Nothing makes me cry, she replied.
And mostly, she's right.
But this morning I remembered one thing that did.
Robert's bookshelves.
It's an inside joke,
and only the three of us will get it,
but I am posting it anyway.
I am tired,
I am happy.

Thank you all!
next project - an online store


. . . & Chairs - Oh MY!

More chairs.
More blue.
More teal.
More white space.

They just make me happy.
I have no idea why.

They're old chairs - both for children.
Chair # 2 was a high chair in its day,
now missing its arms,
now sitting in the corner of my bedroom,
holding a pillow & a candle in a blue bowl.
Chair #1 sits in the living room.
Usually Maggie's chair,
but I sit in it when drying my hair,
and friends have been known to use it
while watching football
or television politics.

I like to think about all the little ones
who've sat in them in the past.
How much baby food was refused from that high chair,
I wonder,
how much crying,
how much stubbornness on display?
So I left all that texture,
all that energy on display.
The bigger chair?
Oh, I think the children who sat there
were seated at tables,
crayolas in hand,
imagination at work,
paying attention to themselves,
inventing their worlds.

I hope they all came true.


I Complain about Noise

This morning the noise came late,
and I dreamed further into the morning.

My wonderful, magical, full of owls & pigs & cats & magnolia trees neighborhood has become a block of noise, of power saws beginning at 7:30 in the morning, of lawn mowers taking up the call at 8, of vehicles parked everywhere along the street, small concrete trucks, vans, bright orange street cones, trash cans almost in the middle of the road, empty buckets deposited at the foot of our driveway, no care given to our possible need of leaving the house. What was once a view of tulip trees bursting with pink blossoms, yellow roses, white popcorn flowers along the fence has become one of police cars - marked & unmarked - belonging to one neighbor, all the above mentioned construction vehicles belonging to another neighbor, and for a week, a giant U-Haul trailer parked in Mary's driveway, a huge orange billboard staring me in the face every morning. The U-Haul is gone, but the rest remain, the construction never ending, the ability to communicate with the laborers near impossible, though I speak a little Spanish - we communicate in scowls and polite hand gestures and sighs, indicating we need to back up, that we can't see around that van, that we wish they could park some of their stuff around the corner, on the other side of the house, but all they do is direct traffic for us, indicating when it's safe to back on out into the street, and then they return to their noise. The house next door to that one, around the corner, facing our back yard, is also undergoing renovation, and there is constant hammering, bright lights at night, constant conversation between the 2 houses, the 2 crews intermingling. Last week I stepped out at midnight to entice Maggie into the house, and they were still at it, still working on stuff, and from across the street in the darkness, I could hear the new tenants at Mary's, sitting on the front porch, talking loudly to each other and on a cell phone to someone else. It is quite maddening. Maddening! All these people are perfectly wonderful people, but it is so much at one time - too much at one time - and dear Lord, if I had enough money, I would pay them for a day of silence. My calendar this month has a beautiful picture of an empty beach - brown sand, gray ocean, possible rain moving in, and the month's quote is Today is a white seashell, hold it close & listen to the beauty of the hours. ~ unknown. If only I could. If I could be there, and listen to silence, to the ocean, to just the birds overhead. I go to bed and dream dreams of chaos, of saving Maggie from traffic, and I feel exhausted when I awake.

The paintings for this week's show are done. Done. I am finished. I am happy with 99% of them - in fact, there are only two I question, but I will show them anyway. We will print a few photographs today, and I will print the stories to accompany the paintings, and that is it. I am seriously thinking of keeping the boathouse painting for myself, but we will see.

The next painting will be of silence.
If I paint it, it will come.


A Tulip, an Owl, and a Cat

This was not going to be the one I talked about today.

But it pushed its way to the front of the line and here it is and I think it's because it's about growth. It wasn't at first - at first, it was just about a tulip, a white tulip, but somewhere along the way it pushed its way up out of the ground, just the way it's pushed it's way onto this page today. Kind of funny really, because I painted it & then ignored it for a bit, and then finished it up, and have kind of ignored it since then, but really, I guess it didn't need me anymore, which is very mature of it, and speaks very much about one kind of growth - the kind where we become self-sufficient and pay all our own bills and accept all our own responsibilities and admit when we're wrong - but it really doesn't speak very much about the other kind of growth, where we admit our frailties, our weaknesses, our needs, and come to terms with those, and learn to like ourselves despite of, or because of, them. Which I think this little tulip learned because it needed to be seen today, and it made sure it was. Maybe it thinks it will be sold at the art show this week, maybe it thinks we're close to saying goodbye. Maybe.

I dreamed of an owl last night. It was a huge owl, unlike anything I've ever seen, and in the dream, I knew it was rare. It was striped like a zebra - black & white feathers wound horizontally around its body, from the neck all the way to its claws. It was in my house, and it scared me, and I was afraid Maggie would be hurt by it, but there was no need for fear - I laid down in my bed, and Maggie laid behind me, her back to my back & the owl laid down next to her, facing her, and they touched paws to wings, playing for a bit, then settling down. I remember feeling so happy, so close, but when I awoke, I remembered that old "owls are a harbinger of death" belief. I remembered how they gathered around Mary's house, how I believed they were there to guard her, how that belief changed to realizing they were there as messengers, as guides to the afterlife. I remembered all this in just a millisecond - all the thoughts & images flashed through me, and my heart just broke. God, when did I become this way? Because I knew that dream was for Maggie, about Maggie, who grows a bit weaker daily, closer & closer to saying goodbye. How tight my chest becomes just typing those words, how hard this is.

Painting has been slow this weekend - tying up loose ends, finishing details, designing signs & printing stories to hang next to each piece. I ruined the Waiting painting - how appropriate - and will re-work it when this show is over. I think I am done. What I have is what I will have. I am overthinking, and overworrying.

This little tulip reminds me that I grow anyway.
That I shouldn't overwater.
Things come in their own time,
and they go in their own time.
I have cats named after flowers.
Magnolia & Lily.
I have this tulip.
None are really mine.
I have to let go.
This water lives in Mombasa.


3 Quiet Trees: Pear Trees/Surprise Snowstorm

mixed media w/acrylic on canvas: 24"x24"

I am almost there.

I am sitting here in the middle of paintings and almost complete paintings, the weather outside is wonderful, I have another 4 day weekend, Maggie is sleeping in her personal spot of sunshine outside the front door, the tv is on but the sound is off, and I am waiting for gel to dry on a rather large canvas. It will be a while. I could wait until everything is well & truly complete to ponder this turn of events, and I no doubt will ponder away when it is over, but how do I feel right now, in the midst of it, past the middle, almost done, almost ready? Past the angst, past the worrying, past the will they like me, will they like my stuff? I feel ready. I feel okay, let's do it. I have been in contact with a woman about a spot in a street art market in November (actually the weekend of my birthday), a juried show in a town about an hour from here, and although they usually want only those who are experienced with this street fair kind of event, she is hopeful I will participate, which is flattering & scary at the same time. It costs money, it requires a tax number, and it makes me think about all this art stuff more seriously. It's why I called myself an artist in yesterday's post. Am I or am I not? Do I want this or do I not? Am I up to 2 days of talking about my art with strangers? Yes to all, I think, but I will make no decision until I see how this first small show is over, until I see the response.

I need a little peace, a bit of a break, and this summer was to be spent looking for a place to move - a place with studio space. But I am unwilling to take Maggie away from her home right here, so here I will stay while she is still with me. Too many things to think about, too many decisions, too many thises & thats.

The above painting
is one of the largest I've done for this Thursday's show.
It was the painting with the too-green trees.
I knew they wouldn't stay green.
I needed them to be peaceful.
And I remembered the way the pear trees
looked last year in a late snowstorm.
I may call them The Quiet Trees.
It looks like a place for whispers,
and there is nothing to stop the wind.
No place to hide.
Hmmm . . . I hadn't thought of that.
A place of honesty.

A place to show your soul.
i like that - the soul trees


Texas Baby Grows Up to be an Artist

Texas baby grows up to be an artist.

And is influenced by children's drawings, where the sky is a line across the top of the paper, and most especially that one child's drawing of a stormy day - the sky was at the bottom, and the world sat still on the raining clouds. She is influenced by the color blue, and cannot for the life of her figure out why people give her red shirts for Christmas, or yellow shirts, or brown. She is influenced by her teenage years spent in southern Arizona, her love for the desert - influenced by all that space, by seeing the sky uncluttered by trees, by desert nights spent sprawled on the hood of a car, stars overhead mimicking the gleam of coyotes' eyes as they prowled nearby, by warmer desert nights spent inside the car, surrounded by 360 degrees of heat lightning. She is influenced by the silence and stillness those nights gave her, by the remembrance of herds of rabbits & herds of tarantulas. She is influenced by the sky everywhere, and is always looking up, but has learned lately to look down also, and she is enchanted & influenced by fallen flowers painting the ground at her feet. She is influenced by hints of people - an empty chair holds stories for her; empty houses, windows, fences. She is influenced by the flight of birds, the color of cats' eyes, the pattern of drying rain on pavement. She is influenced by lakes and the soft soft sound of the water, and she wonders why people feel the need for radios in their boats. She is influenced by stories not quite told, the endings not quite finished. She is influenced by words and keeps bowls of phrases & words around her house; by colors that are in between other colors, slightly dusty, slightly faded. Again, the stillness within those colors, the untold stories. A blue chair, faded from years of sunlit porches, chipped from rainstorms and hail, speaks more to her than a new one ever will. She dreams of more space in which to paint, more windows, a porch, a lake outside, and is influenced by those dreams. She is influenced by softness, by shadows, by darkness, by silence. When she paints, there is only the music in her head, in her hands; she paints to her own rhythm, her own song. When she was a child, she dreamed of becoming a florist - instead of playing house, she would play florist, and never knew the names of flowers. The blue ones were here, the ones with the lacy edges, the tall ones were over there, and she would arrange them in invisible vases, seeing them so clearly in her mind.

She still does.
But now the flowers are tubes of paint.
The vases are canvas and paper.
She still dreams.
more space more space more space more space


Empty Boathouse

This was originally a painting of a chair - well, at least the beginnings of a painting of a chair.
Yes, look hard under all the lathered on gesso & gel & you'll find a chair that just wasn't working.
Was not  working.
So off with its head, and my longing to be on the water took its place.
I could've painted a boat, but the water came first,
and that huge fish swimming around below the surface & then I noticed that huge fishhook,
and so,
the empty boathouse.
I am out there on the water somewhere, not fishing;
I am just laying back in the boat, or perhaps on a floatie near that boat,
but I am out there.
I've always liked subtle art - art that doesn't quite tell you the whole story.
I want you to be out there with me on that water, but I want you to find me, to figure it out.

When you get there,
we'll just take it easy.
It's in the low 90s this week.
The lake beckons.