“We work in the dark – we do what we can- we give what we have. Our doubt is our passion, and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art.”
Henry JamesI must have A LOT of passion.
I have been absent from posting for a time, and I blame the season. (okay, that’s a lame excuse) As I had mentioned in a previous post, when I again had been absent a few weeks, that summer seems to be a busy time with gardening, and happy distractions with family visits, dog training; my mind ill equipped to simmer down and nestle into my writing corner. But that being the case I do have an update coming this week of what I’ve been up to of late. Nothing stupendous or earth shattering, just the bit of goings on in my studio, a proud moment in a local bar, ( proud and bar, words that normally should never be uttered together in a sentence but take an exception here), and I’ll share the view from 250 meters in the sky marking a thirty year celebration.
My regular postings have lagged, yes I know, busy days are whizzing by and the hours within them seem like mere minutes. I tell myself I will write and post in the evening, but by then I’m done and in bed by nine. Currently I’m nursing a knee injury that I hope won’t incapacitate me for too long, but it slowed me down enough to allow me to get my WP post done because I have to sit! Previous to injury I have been getting some work done on the wheel, but I’ve done no writing on any of my stories. Finding that quiet, reflective time has been elusive to me lately but I am consciously moving to reinstate a set block of time each morning for planting myself at my desk and committing three hours to the page as I was doing not so long ago. Songwriting I suppose has been filling the “writing” quotient the last three months, taking the place of my other writing, but even songwriting has dropped out over the last three weeks; again it’s finding that reflective stretch of time. I do however have a song I’ve started working on, began writing two days ago and expect to post on Sunday. (Hmmm, maybe knee nursing is just the thing, I can’t do anything else right now but sit and write, play guitar!)
Last week in the studio I decided to make some large bowls. I had previously made some small bowls; I hadn’t gotten my new wheel or throwing bats yet, and I had some challenges removing my little bowls from the wheel head, but still managed to without causing much damage. Now that I have my new wheel, and removable bats, I knew the first thing I wanted to try out was to see if I could make a larger bowl since I now wouldn’t have to sweat over trying to slide the finished piece off the wheel head, or have to leave the bowl on the wheel to set up until the following day before removing it, tying up my wheel for hours.
So I weighed out and wedged nine balls of clay ( I have 9 Bats) at three pounds each. I would test myself to see if I could actually make something larger than a mug or cereal bowl. I had never thrown anything on the wheel over one pound, and if I may indulge for a brief second, I am happy to say each large bowl came out rather good- well, a true professional potter could likely squeeze out even bigger bowls with three pounds of clay, but mine came out well proportioned, not too thick, not too thin. Usually in a throwing session I’ll have a couple of pieces that go awry and need to be tossed back out on the board. This session however, all nine bowls were brought straight to satisfying completion. I popped out the bat and bowl off the wheel head, set them aside on the table overnight and the following afternoon removed them from their bats easily without warping the bowls. So, I was kinda thrilled. And I am loving my new wheel.
Next I thought I’d try marbling my red, and buff white clay after watching a youtube video on it. I combined the two clay bodies and wedged out six, one pound balls, and started throwing. Very soon I was having difficulties. I had been careful when wedging the clay because I was attempting to not over blend the clay too much and lose the distinct white/red marble, but it meant I still had air bubbles in my clay, so after I scraped the two failed pieces off the wheel (see, I told you!) and tossed them back on the table I re-wedged the remaining four balls, hoping there will still be enough marbling running through. Not the case. The clay did become more on the homogeneous end of the marbling spectrum after more wedging, and the ones that I scraped off the wheel, after re wedging them they was no marbling at all in them, just a pale shade of red by the time they became mugs. But there was some marbling clearly coming through on two of the mugs which made me happy.
The shape and size of the mugs came out nicely I think; I just finished putting the handles on a couple of days ago. I have been pulling handles for all the mugs I’ve been making, but this time I rolled out a slab of buff clay and cut strips for handles. Next step is bisque fire and glaze and I’m debating if I should use underglaze again because I’m concerned as to how they may turn out due to the issues I’ve been having with the final clear glaze with my previous pieces. I do have a new clear glaze to try out that comes premixed, which should eliminate any clouding, or opaqueness problems I’ve been having; but, I’m still hesitant to commit this last body of work to a possibility of it failing again, so maybe I’ll just do some test tiles instead! I do have “regular” glazes I could use too, which are predictable in their outcome, more or less.
So, with a hobble and a hitch I’ll see about finishing that song next. Cheers to all ~
“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.” Martha Graham
Ok. No pressure there.
I love this quote because it dispels the acquiescence we (I) can slide into. This quote tells me I have an obligation to fulfill my creativity, to whatever the outcome. There is some gravitas to this quote.
There is debate on “uniqueness” and “individuality” that argues these lofty attributes are false, they don’t exist but in our minds; we are told we are all the same, and to believe what we have to express is unique from any other is delusional thinking. You’ve heard the saying; Be unique, like everyone else. Yet when I consider a flower for instance, I can say to you, reader, I’m holding a flower, you would perhaps have a certain image of a flower in your mind you have seen somewhere, a favourite flower perhaps; a flower is a flower after all, you think. Then if I show you the flower, you will discover it most likely isn’t the one you imagined, because there are billions of diverse expressions of “flower.” And without that diversity the gardens would be a dreary place to dwell indeed.
Be a flower.
As per the weekly songwriting challenge this one is late to posting. I didn’t approach writing this song until two days ago, because I didn’t know how to distill down what I wanted to say into a few stanzas. I wish you to know these are personal opinions I’ve long held. I don’t wish to be inflammatory to the reader. It’s not this particular blog’s format to voice political/racial topics, but as it relates to expression through art, in this instance, music, I feel compelled to share the thrust behind the song I wrote.
With recent events concerning the Kamloops Residential School and watching the documentary Exterminate All the Brutes, by Raoul Peck earlier last week, my heart was (is) awash in a consuming sadness for the lack humanity we can inflict on others. I never will understand what it is that makes any one group subjugate another, and it’s sickening we build on this heinous legacy still today.
Why do we give our logic, reason and compassion over to charismatic individuals (dictators and religious leaders) believing we must do their will, follow their orders? What goes through the mind of someone under the influence of those characters? They surrender autonomy to their so called “greater cause;” they no longer think for themselves, falling under a kind of herd insanity perpetuated by delusional individuals in positions of authority. Fear plays the largest part in this scenario most certainly; fear of retribution by torture and death under a dictatorship (pressure from a physical presence, but one they could have, at the least, a slim chance to fight against) and fear of eternal damnation and suffering under religion (something invisible and deemed all powerful); both entities steeped in fear and control. What recourse does an individual feel they have within an existence of assumed hopelessness and incapability to rebuke their “authorities;” to think/believe it’s out of their hands because it comes from a “higher order,” which they interpret as exemption from all responsibility of any wrong doing. It’s easier to believe, to go along, than think critically.
Awareness, and courage to stand up and recognize social, religious and political madness when it presents itself, in all its guises, is lacking in us. I don’t have an answer. I wish I did.
We are ONE RACE. ONE SPIRIT. ONE HOME.
Believe D. Brint June 8, 2021
Before you did what can’t be undone, before the smoke blocked out the sun
What were you thinking just then, when you shut the doors and sealed them in
Did you question how this came to be or did you think, better them than me
It’s easier to believe
It’s easy when it’s out of our hands
Kneel beside that fresh running stream
The pure water washes them so clean
When you took that oath of love and light, what made you believe you had the right
To lay claim to all land and life, then chain the hands and force the knife
Believing your acts were sanctified, is this how your god is gratified
Its easier to believe
It’s easy when its out of our hands
Kneel beside that fresh running stream
The holy waters wash them so clean
Centuries long trail of blood and tears, carved under the boots of greed and fear
This merciless lust for domain over people, land and souls is profane
But we can find our crimes redeemed, cleansed in that pure water stream
It’s easier to believe
It’s easy when it’s not in our hands
Kneel beside that fresh running stream
The pure water washes them so clean
Time for a fresh blog-site look, like a new spring wardrobe, a makeover, spring cleaning of sorts. Open the windows let the breeze in and sweep away the musty fustiness.
I spent the week under-glazing mugs, and still working to finish them, and also took a drive up island, to Coombs market to buy corn tortillas. Yes, it’s a thirty minute drive, perhaps too long for a tortilla. But they make them fresh and plentiful stacked in a bag. And it was as good excuse as any to get out on a fine day for a drive. Like a vacation, something we see little of these days, but I’ll take it- humble as it is.
And visual stimulation is key. I need it. I am surrounded by trees on a tiny island and sometimes a long drive to anywhere sets things right. A long drive is like an “Artists Date” for me. An opportunity to reload with a bit of new stimulus. Images and sensations flood my visual field, my mind can wonder, yes even while behind the wheel. You know that sensation, the hum of the road, your eyes can stretch in all directions as can your mind, you’re on automatic pilot. Many people get their best ideas while driving.
What also works for me is walking around a downtown, an urban centre. In fact that is my favourite way to load up on stimulus, ideas, material. My downtown of Nanaimo isn’t much, although we have a population of nearly one hundred thousand, we have one old quarter street of any interest. (oops, I’m not being a good ambassador). The rest of the city’s development flows north in a series of malls along a four lane highway. Not lovely. But there is Victoria, an hour and a half away, and of course Vancover, a ferry ride away. These cities I love to wonder through.
Back to Coombs and the market. They didn’t have any tortillas. Next week the sales girl said. Deflated, but undeterred because next to the market in a rustic wooden a-frame is Billy G’s fresh gourmet donuts. Talking small batch.Totally not what we came for but it took the pout off our lips. Fresh donuts are magic. We bought six, which you can’t see in the photo because they are stacked, and in reality was four too many, but how can you not want to try dulce yum-yum or pineapple coconut rum, or strawberry delight, or that one with salted caramel inside?
A side note: The Coombs market is known for their goats that graze on the roof shown behind the box of Yumminess. Unfortunately, it’s too early in the season, so no goats on the roof in this shot. And not many people either. That will change when the weather warms up. Masked and social distanced of course!
“Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things.”
I think this is one of my favourite quotes, and what I struggle with constantly. Being self- conscious, over-thinking, when I really want abandon. Abandon at the canvas, abandon at the page, abandon in singing. I recognize when I’m hesitating, when self consciousness tightens its strangle hold. And I recognize the antidote: To act! No matter the outcome! Have the courage to suck, and suck some more! Dare to be lousy!
But then I get self conscious. Sigh.
Had an interesting connection with another blogger this week regarding my short story Pocket Watch. MerileeWein.com Doublegeneologytheadoptionwitness found my story and communicated to me that the man I wrote about, Robert McArthur, the owner of the pocketwatch, was her great-grand father. She knew only a little about the 1918 Protection Island mining accident and was happy to have a narrative to flesh out the incident. She told me Robert’s son, her grand father became Chief Mining Inspector for B.C. Obviously he had been deeply motivated after losing his father in such a tragic way. And though I made an attempt to personalize the men in the incident, to make Robert McArthur and the others real and not just names and statistics, that they had lives, and families, and worries, to hear from Merilee further made Robert flesh and blood, with a lineage; I don’t know, I was really moved when she notified me.
I’ve been working over another short story to get it ready for submission to the CBC Non-Fiction Competition. I should say a different story because I had originally began with a story about a sailing trip I crewed on but decided it wasn’t really right for this submission. The story I’m going with now is titled Sue, taken from an event from my childhood that may, or more likely my not, be interesting as an entry or as worthy material; but this isn’t the point. Having a deadline, in this case the end of February, and putting stuff out there is the point. To submit. And I found when I resuscitated the story- I had written the rough draft last year- I heard a “voice” in the narrative that I hadn’t heard initially that I want to expand on. I want to see if I can carry that through, as an exercise.
I still have all my pottery to underglaze over the next couple of days. And I haven’t yet made a mark in my Sketchbook Project. My resolve to “art” every day feels like Dis-solve lately. But all is well, spirit is high and life is good, and we had snow for a few days, so that was fun! (I’m serious, I LOVE when it snows here)
“Great things are not done by impulse, but a series of small things brought together.” Vincent Van Gogh
Those lightening bolts of inspiration, the creative energy that can burst out like a broken water main to land on a page, or a canvas, or an instrument has had its long formation from a series of tiny elements of thoughts, and experience and observations collected; steeped and layered over a time.
I’ve had a productive week. Sixteen mugs, three small bowls, and a vase thrown on the wheel. I ran the risk of not getting handles attached to five of the white mugs and getting their bottoms trimmed up; I had left them to stiffen a day too long on the shelf, so it was a scramble in getting them trimmed, pulling handles and getting them on. As I was working I knew there would be cracks at the joins, and I really thought I’d missed the window, but with a good roughing and lots of slip I hoped for the best. Then I went on to work with red clay.
Sure enough the next day when I checked the white mugs they had indeed formed cracks where the handles joined the mug. I set to work with a paint brush, vinegar and a flat, wood tool and mended the fissures. I had to do this every day until all the pieces were completely dry. Why Vinegar? It moistens the semi dry clay without adding extra water to the clay because it quickly evaporates. So it gives me enough time to manipulate the softened clay to make minor mends.
Luckily I managed to save all the white mugs. The red clay pieces were carefully monitored as they set up. Then I spent a day trimming the bottoms and pulling handles and attaching them. But checking them the next day I spotted a few of them had small cracks, so out with the brush and vinegar.
I have been making a lot of mugs, trying to get them right. When I first started making them they came out of the kiln so small, not taking into account how much shrinkage happens. Then, when I think I have a good size mug and glaze them, I’m unhappy with the end product after the final firing. In the last firing for example the clear glaze applied over top of the underglaze, was too thick and caused some lumpy and cloudy areas in the final fire. So, trial and error, and practice, practice, practice.
I think I’m getting closer to the size I’ve been after, and the thinness. Tomorrow I’ll be under glazing. I’ve stumbled upon some designs I was quite happy with on my last batch and I’m excited to get to work. Fingers crossed this batch is the charm!
Then I made a mini-Apple Pie and Orange-Fennel Ice Cream, because- balance.
“Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.”
This Monday prompt is a quote from Erich Fromm, a social psychologist, a psychoanalyst and philosopher.
Why do I feel apprehensive when faced with a blank page in a sketchbook, or a blank canvas, but have no such apprehension when facing a blank page waiting to be written on?
Not letting go and to allow myself to make a mark on a fresh surface feels different than writing. I can write with abandon, but the other I hesitate. Do I worry that I’ll waste material? There’s an issue right there- the word worry. Not conducive to creative endeavours.
In writing on a laptop I can delete and begin again without concern about the paper I’d be going through. But paint, canvas, brushes and good drawing paper is expensive. Can I be exploratory and playful with the medium; can I justify the cost when I can’t be certain anything will come of the work? So I become tentative.
Last week I had a long conversation call with someone who is very close to me. She is a mother of two, an accomplished designer, an entrepreneur, and not yet forty. She shared with me that she was experiencing a powerful push to express creatively, but didn’t know what to do or how to start. This surprised me a bit, knowing her background and her work. I knew her as a creative person. The question she asked me was; what do you do when you feel blocked? In general my response was to say that there is no “one way” to open up creative channels. I said sometimes we need to do something else, step away and do some other activity that’s even unassociated with what ever work we are feeling blocked on. To be stimulated by outside observations; a market, a walk somewhere new, taking some photographs. Another way, I said, is to just plunge head first into the work. If it’s a blank canvas staring you down, make a mark- any mark. If it’s an intimidating blank page, write something- anything. Just mark the surface, if it’s music, make a noise-any noise. Break the spell, disarm the preciousness.
She said she had a guitar and a piano in the house and she felt a strong compulsion to learn at least one of the instruments. She asked me which I thought would be the best to start with. I said either, although the piano has all the notes laid out, perhaps easier to pick out melodies, and to learn to read musical notations. The guitar can be a challenge at first, the physical act of contorting your hand to make the different chord structures, and getting blisters on your fingertips. She said she was leaning more towards guitar.
She asked if she should sign up and take classes or go to YouTube? I said, either one. If she scheduled lessons for the guitar she may find it could set up a discipline to practice regularly because someone will be expecting to hear what she had practiced. On the other hand, she is a busy mom and business woman, and covid restrictions, using YouTube might be more accessible to get things moving.
Then our conversation got deeper, and to the heart of her question. And because I’ve known her from childhood I had sensed she was grappling with a bigger issue in her intense desire to learn the guitar. Her father was a musician, and he played guitar. She was very close to him but lost him to cancer when she was thirteen. Over the years, and perhaps especially now watching her own little girl go to piano lessons each week, I believed she was feeling another layer of grief. She is not only still in mourning for her dad, as expected, but there is the regret of a missed opportunity to have had bonded with her dad through music. That is what is stirring her now. She said, with emotion in her voice, I never asked him to teach me to play, why didn’t I? If she had expressed a desire to play the guitar then, she felt there could have been something more shared between them, something that would link them on a profound level. But when we are so young, we don’t think of these things, there is always time. Until there isn’t.
Then she said something that I found so bittersweet and beautiful; “I’m afraid of what will come out of me if I do learn to express through music.” She has so much love; and sadness, and regret, and gratitude, and grief, and longing- all so big and deep, that there was a kind of fear that she could be overwhelmed and unprepared for how that would manifest for her. And so rather than move towards picking up the instrument and begin to learn how to play, and risk opening a seam in the tender garment that holds her grief, she holds still. She feels blocked. But she understands where it’s coming from.
I had also suggested The Artists Way book and by doing morning pages the clarity I was able to derive from doing the exercises.
This is how important a creative practice is to us. It has a place, serving us through spontaneously frivolous and joyful abandon, but also serves as the vehicle for what is abstract to us; those big, nebulous emotions and subconscious whispers, an outlet for our questions that cannot or will ever have a definitive answer; questions that will never fit into any category, but that must somehow be reckoned. It facilitates our journey. It can clarify our understanding. It can link us together through our constant search for ourselves and who we are. That’s what Creative Expression Outlets do for us.
Ok, I have found that I am not keeping my promise in making weekly posts. It’s not as though I’ve been unable to. The weeks seem to float by, like ‘sweet little days,’ to clip a lyric from John Prine; so unassuming that I’m caught unaware. And the next thing I know is- I haven’t posted anything.
In my last post I mentioned that I will be involved in the Nanowrimo (National November Writing Month) and that is precicley what I have been up to. The goal is to write about 1700 words a day to a total of 50,000 by the end of November. I started the month with a story I had already in progress, with 25,000 words already written. My goal is to have a written draft completed by the end of the month. The challenge too that I’m trying to overcome is the need to edit as I write. Having a stiff timeline like the Nanowrimo to work under pushes me to power through and not over think. To “fix it later.”
I compare it to the cooking competition show Chopped. The chefs are given a black box containing crazy mismatched ingredients and must create a delicious plate of food, within a sharply limited time frame, that is then put before the judging panel. In this situation, the chef cannot spend moments thinking; it’s Go- NOW!
Except I have thirty days to put something together, the chefs have twenty minutes.
Anyway, I’ve been tapping away on a historical creative non fiction, rather ambitious for a first novel; go big or go home and all that, and I’m making good strides. I think I am. That’s the thing with writing a book. You sequester away for days, months, years, as nearly a hermit, with no guarantee anything will come of it.
I’ve begun a little practice of waking early, before dawn, and heading out on a walk. It’s early enough that no one is out, and I feel like I have the island to myself. As the sky lightens I find images to photograph on my walk, so it becomes an Artist date ( The Artist’s Way ) and exercise at the same time, win-win!
I’m loving starting my day like that. When I get back home, some yoga, then breakfast, then feel I can sit down to write for a few hours- sometimes more than a few hours.
I’ve recently gotten my pottery out of the kiln, a big bin of mugs, some vases, and a couple of bowls, and I’m happy with how they came out. Almost. Still having issues with the clear glaze I apply over the underglaze; coming out on the opaque side rather than crystal clear on some of the pots. And my mugs could be slightly bigger- I’m surprised how much shrinkage happens in the bisque fire.
So that about catches me up. I can’t accept that I haven’t played any music for two months, so that is an issue in need of rectifying.
Cheers and stay well ~
Songwriting, I have been doing a bit of that. I, along with most of humanity one could correctly assume, feel tossed and battered in a hurricane of emotional turmoil at this time. I don’t know about you but some days I feel on the cusp of tears. With not only the pandemic, but now the violence and hate that is dominating over people’s efforts to do the right things. Specifically south of the border. So, I try to distill all that into brief lyrics.
RIP, George Floyd, if peace can even be found anymore, and the too many others who innocently fell under a needlessly aggressive, violent end.
Oh mama, you picked a good time to go
You packed your things and floated out the door
We never saw this coming, what laid us down so low
Did I hear you say it’s the wicked seeds we sow
Oh mama seems the sky’s cracked open
Hearts are torn, there’s only darkness showing
The -light- has- left- our- eyes
Seems too late for redemption
But shouldn’t we try?
Can it ever be sweet again
Looking down from those high places
You’ve nothing left to defend
But I’ll take any love you send, down on me
Oh mama you don’t worry anymore
It’s not like this hasn’t happened before
Take the blows, bite back the pain
Mend the wounds, wipe the stain, do it all over again
Oh mama will you hold a place for me
When it comes the time my soul’s set free
By then I think I’ll have had enough
Of this crazy world that’s left me worn and scuffed
Will it ever be sweet again
Looking down from those high places
You’ve nothing left to defend
But I’ll take any love you send, down on me
And it will be sweet again
When we’re looking down from those high places
We’ve nothing left to defend
There’s only love, there’s only to send
Have you seen the memes being circulated that show an artist before, during, and then after the Coronavirus self isolation period? In each phase the artist is doing exactly the same thing- creating. Another meme shows a gardener in each phase of isolation who also continues as usual in working in the garden.
The message is obvious. Creatives, and artists can isolate like champs. Happy in our own little world.
And I’m grateful to be living in a good place while this nasty pandemic is ruling our lives. Not seeing my kids and grandkids is my only heartache.
Of course in the beginning of our Sheltering in Place period, there was quite a bit of anxious focus and energy given to thinking how to retool our lives to fit our New Normal. Like, how are we shopping now? Is it okay to even go to town to shop for food? Do we set up sanitization stations at our front doors? Do we wear gloves? Masks ? Are we suppose to strip off all our clothes before entering our homes after being in town? Do we wash all our groceries and packaging before putting them away? What happened to all the toilet paper? The flour, the yeast?
Because I live in a tiny island community, one kilometre from the main big island of Vancouver, many here don’t have their own boat and rely on the private little passenger ferry to get to town. When the ferry had to implement a severely limited ferry schedule and cut the passenger count from 32 to 14 per run to adhere to health distancing protocol this brought a surge of near panic and mayhem amongst my neighbours.
I’m fortunate (logically practical?) to have always had my own boat. And right about now many of my neighbours are considering hard in buying their own boats too.
Those of us with boats were requested to be available for emergency rides if needed. Our community email feed each day became filled not only with discussions about the virus but also with; who needs a ride in, and is anyone going to town and could they pick up a grocery item, or asking if anyone is going to Costco, or to pick up a package at the post office, or a prescription at the pharmacy. Often times when a neighbour is in town they would post on our community fb page asking if anybody needs anything. We came together and we help where possible. Benefits of a small tight knit community.
There are the daily morning updates from our Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and our community discussions over particular protocols to be followed, with the latest agreement that visitors would be disallowed coming to our island. In fact all of the gulf Islands have banned visitors form coming. Signs saying this were posted at dock heads, and at the ferry waiting area in town. Next was to close the kids playground area and our off leash dog park when the government mandated to close all recreation parks.
There was simply a lot to digest in those first few weeks. And it can take a bit of time to disseminate all of this new information.
Now we have seemingly settled into our respective routines. The community email feed has levelled out. Requests for town item pickups have lessened. We’re tentatively acquainted with how things are to be done. We put on a courteous face, although there is a hum of cautious nervousness just under the surface when in town and interacting with a cashier at the grocery store, or waiting in line outside the pharmacy. We can’t ignore the profound feeling that this is truly a surreal experience/existence.
Being an artist while living through this is a saving grace. Creatives enjoy their solitary time, given there is coffee and snacks within reach. We may not be in the company of others, but we don’t mind because we are in the constant, engaging company of our artist self. We can never feel bored, lonely, or at a loss in what to do. We are constantly inspired by even the quietest muse.
And, what I’m really enjoying right now is seeing the videos of the music, the dances, the skits, the art from all those out there who are embracing this forced opportunity to be creative too.
Give people enough space and time from the daily grind and see what good things can happen.
I hope you are finding your muse to help you get through this time and are staying well ~
Interesting times we are all sharing. We are all hunkered down for the long haul here on Vancouver Island. It truly feels real now that the BC ferries, our connection to the mainland, has been severely curtailed. They have cut 50% of runs at two Vancouver Island terminals – allowing only four runs a day for commercial traffic- our supply goods traffic, and four runs for regular passengers. The terminal in my downtown, Departure Bay to Horseshoe Bay, has been discontinued for the next two months.
I give a major shout out to FaceTime and Skype and Zoom. Our saving grace is our technology at this time. We can still keep in close enough contact with family and friends. Our kids can still easily keep up with their studies from school. Adults and kids alike can take up a new interest, do research on the internet, download books and reading material, and music. Along with all the virtual tours online of parks and art galleries.
People are getting acquainted, or reacquainting themselves, with actual cooking meals from scratch, and baking their own bread- how empowering is that!? Many are seriously considering starting a vegetable garden or at least growing some kind of food in pots on a patio or balcony.
People are digging deep into themselves through all this chaos; reawakening dormant, or once lost talents and skills. We are thinking and rethinking. We are reinventing ourselves.
This event may stretch in to the fall, some authorities are saying. How profoundly will we all be changed?
I think of all the brilliant innovation that is now being developed, the retooling, the radical new inventions being brainstormed. We will be changed by this, it’s inevitable. Travel will look different, our family connections too. Workplace environments will shift and re establish in a new way. Schools will definitely look and behave differently. Will there be an insurgence of home schooling? Smaller localized schools?
When this is over, we will all be a different humanity. I hold onto my trust of the 99.99 to infinity% of well intentioned, brilliant, humanitarian individuals in the world who have love and compassion for fellow inhabitants, and for those who are dedicated to working over the new ideas, the new thinking, and the new manner of living on the planet in our rebooted future.
I have been accused of possessing a “Polly Anna” attitude and outlook. And I have to agree. I’ve always been an optimist. But it doesn’t imply I am not aware of the underlying negativity that exists in the world. I acknowledge it, and voice it from time to time, but I don’t stay there with it. I see it, I understand what it is, and assess if there is some truth that needs to be retained from it, then I make the choice.
I turn the channel. I move on with new information with my innate optimism.
Interesting times. But fascinating too. Watch, observe; this is real time and we are all at the same time learning how to do this.
Our “Oneness” has never been so evident.
Stay well everyone and be a studious witness to all this unfolding. Be kind.
March is here and I’m happy about it! Time to start thinking about the veggie garden and other gardening activities, time for being out doors more than indoors, and soon time for swimming in the river and ocean.
Half of the month of February was taken up by a minor injury that required five stitches and two weeks to heal. I was pushing down on a large bag of my recycling bag to make room for yet a little more, and a can sliced into the fleshy part at the base of my right hand thumb. A nice fillet of palm.
I buy hardly any canned products, but that little can of evaporated milk got me. I clean all my recycling, because I’m an obedient citizen (insert sarcasm ), but it was still a can, and a deep slice. Off to the walk-in clinic and stitches, and a tetanus shot for good measure.
A note about the young resident doctor at the clinic. I chatted with him about where and how long he has trained, etc. He says UBC and eight years, then the residency. He put his rubber gloves on, got the tray of sewing gear ready, then he reached in his pocket and pulled out his cell phone- had a look, swiped it to read something, then slipped it back in his pocket. I said, “Would you mind changing your gloves.” (it wasn’t a question) which he promptly did; I think he realized his slip. I thought, Didn’t they teach you hygiene in med school? Cell phones are petri dishes!
The cut kept my right hand in limited use. I managed to get some more pottery under-glazed, but throwing on the wheel was out of the question, or hand building.
I got some writing done too, class work, but also concentrated on a non-fiction short story to submit for the CBC competition that ended yesterday, the 29th. I had changed my submission story three times. I started with a story from my childhood and a grade five bully. Wrote 2000 words on it, then thought who wants to read about an old woman’s little bullying episode from 1967?
So I started another story based on the life of a good friend of mine, someone I am close to and love like a brother, and who has overcome real hardship. 2000 words. Then thought- is this my story to tell? Then I started the third -and last story, because I was running out of time! I chose an event from a 1997 sailing trip from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas I was crew on. Some interesting things had happened on that voyage, so with one week left till deadline I wrote another 2000 word story and got it in last night.
Writing non-fiction is harder than writing fiction. More fun to create a world. Writing fiction is far more entertaining than trying to unearth anything interesting from my own mundane middle-aged life to write about!
I’ve submitted to this competition three other times in the past. Spoiler alert- I’ve never won, or was ever short listed. Never expected either, and still don’t. Right now I’m just working at getting comfortable with submitting! Of course my writing is garbage, that’s ok. Maybe it’ll improve, it’s why I’m taking a writing class. Each time I polish something for submission it’s good practice, working with a deadline, all that. I know I get better by increments. And that’s quite enough for the time being.
Happy March !
I’ve been a little preoccupied over the last few weeks. One, I’ve been getting some work done in my studio. It took me a while to get myself down in to the basement- my studio’s location-because I had to overcome a ridiculous hang up; where will I put the things I make? Where will I store them? True, there isn’t a lot of space down there, yet presumptuous of me to worry about stuff I haven’t even made yet.
So I gave myself a pep talk: just get in there, make stuff, then consider the logistics.
I can self sabotage like a champ.
And I know I’m not alone in this. Why do we self sabotage ? Especially when it’s something we love to do, or have always wanted to do? Self Sabotage is slithery, sometimes – many times- I don’t even realize I’m doing it. I don’t know about you but I can always come up with a justification for not doing something. I’m working on rectifying this, and recognizing when it’s happening is the first step.
There should be a Self Sabotage Anonymous Group.
“Hello, my name is Debra and I am a self sabotager.”
The other preoccupation; I’ve enrolled in a Fiction Writing university class! It was hit and miss for a bit because I was on the waiting list. This happened mid January and I’ve got three weeks assignments in. There are reading assignments, then questions to answer in paragraph form. We submit our own short story piece every other week and give constructive critiques to each other. The instructor then does his final critique privately to each student at the end of each week.
Writing is a passion for me. I’ve been writing, privately, for many years, and have kept journals since the age of fourteen. Badly written pieces aside, I want to do this. These first few weeks have been illuminating, and I’m loving the process!
And let’s just add that I need this class.
The bonus is the class is conducted online, which is ultra convenient. If you don’t know, I live on a tiny gulf island and commute by boat. So when it’s a snowin’, blowin’, sleetin’ or a rainin’, I. don’t. care. I’m snug at home.
Enrolling in the class was a positive step in taking something I imagine I can do to the next level. It is also a sly method to seek some outside validation. In other words I can write till my fingers fall off and think it’s pretty good. But, in fact, like Schrodinger’s cat, I’m a great writer- in my eyes – in my house.
Now I’ll see which state collapses when observed by a third party.
I continue doing Morning Pages. I believe they have been instrumental in guiding me to dig down and mine the good stuff I had buried over the years. Focused journalling, is what I call it. Three pages every single day for nearly five months now.
Happy Creating ~
The elephant and the tether. That’s what reclaiming my “self” feels like after years of my self being claimed by work, duties and obligations.
The circus elephant, accustomed to a limited range of motion while their foot is tethered to the post for so long that when the tether is removed, the elephant still never ventures outside the range of the tether. Over time that range has been ingrained into their behaviour. They are trained to stay within a certain circumference.
Don’t we kind of do the same thing? We, the elephant; our daily grind to make a living, the circus.
And we stay tethered even if its no longer attached to us too. Is it because the tether can represent something familiar and predictable? That it circumscribes a safe area where we are comfortable, because we know what lies there in that length of rope between the post and our foot?
Never really noticed this until I no longer had to go to a job, but I am, slowly, learning how to reset the parameters, regain the lost horizon. I feel weightless, but in a disconcerting way. But I know it’s only temporary, that unsettled feeling. I can only think this must be what it’s like when, once bound, now boundless. Oooh, that sounds lovely. And terrifying.
The winter Solstice holds special significance to me personally. I gave birth to my only child, a daughter, on this day in 1980. She is the brightest light in the longest night, and I am ever grateful she chose me to be mom. To see her become the incredible woman she has grown into swells my heart to bursting.
The creation of life- all life- is the highest form of art for which we have no hand in.
I wish for anyone who is reading this warmth, light, laughter, with those you love.
Seems while digging up my buried artist self and needing pokes, and nudges to keep on digging till I see glitter my neighbour, a successful working musician for many years, happened to post this on his fb page today. It was a synchronistic moment when I read it. True, there are no secrets. It’s just obvious behaviour if an achievement wants to be attained!
But I felt I needed to preserve it here for constant reference.
10 Secrets to musical success: 1) never stop believing; 2) practice every day; 3)respect your gift; 4) practice every day; 5)love your listener; 6)practice every day; 7) stay straight til it’s over; 8)practice every day; 9) eat healthy on the road; 10) there are no secrets.
Part of what I noticed I let lapse over the years of not drawing on a regular basis is my weakened observation skills. I used to spend a lot of time looking at things. I would notice tiny details like the curve of someones lip, or the shape of a hand, the light as it fell across a room. I used to be able to remember scenes, notice certain details and later make a drawing based from that scene. Not implying I drew from a photographic memory of something I saw, but using elements and pertinent details that caught my attention and then make something out of it. Because I was paying attention, I was noticing things, images were saying something to me. Over time, I seemed to have not been so observant. Well, maybe my focus had simply moved.
I pursued a culinary career which requires hard work, working fast, and long hours, product driven, and rush-rush -rush; I recognize that I’ve been rushing around and overly occupied for so many years in contrast to how I once was when I was an art student. Of course there was only me to think about then. Job and family, there is no sitting and looking long at anything except the back of your eyelids after a long day.
The human figure has always been my favourite subject, challenging with its shape and line. As an exercise I did some quick pen sketches of some of the News guys the other night. Because their images flicked back and forth and their positions changed quickly I had to be quick. Good practice to train my eye hand coordination, and observation skills.