Who was your first childhood crush? What would you say to that person if you saw him/her again?
This man was not just my first crush, he was one of the great loves of my life. If I saw him again, I’d know there was a Heaven because he’d be there (with all my dogs, but Cody O’Dog would be right beside him).
What is the one thing that drives you to wake up in the morning and do whatever it is you do? Is it writing, family, friends, or something else entirely?
“Yeah, me too. I love coffee.”
“But is that what ‘drives you to wake up in the morning’?”
“Nature’s call, I think, but it would be tasteless to write that on the blog.”
“Spurious minds want to know.”
“Don’t you mean ‘curious’ minds?”
“Did you read the news today? Global warming is melting ancient ice in Yellowstone and the archeologists are in a frenzy trying to pick up all the old shit left behind. It’s enjoyable to imagine frenzied archeologists…”
“It’s not ‘old shit’ Dude; it’s artifacts, unless it is old shit then you should call them coprologists.”
“I think they found our stuff.”
“How do you know it’s ours?”
“Well, it’s tools, spears, baskets. We had those.”
“We had those hundreds of times. Do you remember being in Wyoming? Of course it wasn’t Wyoming, but… Do you remember geysers, I mean besides last year when we went up there for vacation? I’m not sure. I mean there was all the moving back and forth. Lots of stuff fell out of those travois…”
“So you’re saying it might not be our stuff.”
“But it might be.”
“What are you going to do with spear heads and stuff now? I don’t even have an atl-atl any more, do you?”
“No, no, you’re right…”
Some beautiful new work in the co-op gallery and shop…
Originally posted on Valley Art Co-op:
Two new artists are displaying work in the Valley Art Co-op Gallery and Shop. They are Peg Collins, who does quilt wall hangings, and Amity Nicholson who does bead work inspired by Native American designs. Here are some examples of their work.
Of her quilting, Peg Collins says,
“The word ‘quilt’ usually evokes an image of Grandma’s bed quilts. The quilts I make are Contemporary Art Quilts, and are meant to be displayed on a wall. My art quilts are made from commercial batiks and my own hand-dyed fabrics. I am inspired by the beauty of nature; especially the colors of Colorado.
I enjoy fabric as a medium for the texture and wide variation of color. Dyeing my own fabrics is magical because I don’t know what color combinations and texture…
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Strangely enough, the number one song the day I was born, “Cry,” by Johnny Ray, has some resonance for my life, though probably for everyone’s life. Johnny Ray’s advice is sound.
When my dad died there was a gap of time before the funeral — we had a service in Colorado Springs for friends and my dad’s co-workers there, and then we all flew to Montana (casket in baggage) where he would be interred in Billings near his dad’s grave and where his mom (and my mom) would be buried. I’d done everything I could to be strong for my mom and myself, but when it was over and the casket was lowered into the ground, I broke down and cried.
My mom gave me a nasty look and my cowboy aunts appeared embarrassed, but my grandmother — my dad’s mom — took me with her back to the limousine. We sat together a while and shared our feelings about all that had happened. My grandmother first said it was OK to cry. Then she said it was wrong for her to lose her son, that it was backwards. She then said that it was wrong for me to be without my dad when I needed him so much. She said it was better to honestly show your feelings, to cry when you’re sad, and so we both sat and cried together, holding hands, facing each other on the limousine seats. After a little while we stopped crying and shared my grandmother’s handkerchief. Then we went back out and joined the family, still holding hands.
As time passed, and the healing began, I pulled through more cleanly than did my brother or mom. I believe it is because I felt my feelings at that moment when they should have been felt and I had my wonderful, understanding grandmother to share them with. We cried together for the loss of a person we both loved. So, yeah. I’ll take Johnny Ray’s song, “Cry.”
Daily Prompt Golden Age If you had to live forever as either a child, an adolescent, or an adult, which would you choose — and why?
I ran faster than anyone. I played ball better than anyone. I could read anything. I had no job, no onerous responsibilities. My dad was doing pretty good and my mom and I hadn’t started fighting yet. My brother was a happy kid of 11. I thought Nebraska was great. I had a bike. The forest was nearby. I had a great best friend who had a horse. I wasn’t interested in boys yet, not really. My school — Brownell Hall/Talbot School in Omaha — was wonderful.
But I’m OK with things as they are because my mom would never let me keep a dog.
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Decisions, Decisions.”
“Hey Lamont, how are you more likely to make an important decision — by reasoning through it, or by going with your gut?”
“Are you reading another one of those dumb magazines?”
“Just answer the question, Lamont. Which? Gut or reasoning?”
“Doesn’t it really depend on WHAT you’re deciding? When the meteor was on its way down did you reason or go with your gut?”
“Any sensible creature wouldn’t need to think about it, would they? Wouldn’t anyone know what to do?”
“That’s why this is a false dichotomy. It’s not as if the visceral response were disengaged completely from reason or that the mind ignores what the visceral radar is screaming. It’s all about survival and every being is equipped with information gathering tools. Any creature who doesn’t use everything to make it through those meteor moments is a fool.”
“But we didn’t make it, Lamont.”
“Not so, Dude. Some of us made it or evolution would not lead back to us as it does. There’d be no birds, particularly turkeys.”
“How did they make it?”
“They weren’t giant like we were. How in hell is a multi-ton velociraptor going to get away? Those flying creatures had a chance. That’s my whole point.”
“How is that your whole point?”
“We beings can ‘decide’ all we want but it isn’t necessarily going to change anything. A meteor is a meteor is a meteor. It’s emblematic of our time and place that we can sit around here and yammer about how we make decisions. God help us if we’re still yammering when the next meteor hits.”
Valley Art Co-op’s featured artists for September!
Originally posted on Valley Art Co-op:
Valley Art Co-op Gallery and Shop is proud to announce the first two of our monthly featured artists — Albert Kahan, a photographer who makes useful items from his lovely photographs, tempered glass cutting boards with scenes of the San Luis Valley and other places of his travels, and coffee mugs with Valley scenes. Donna Batzer’s work as a potter and jeweler is also featured in September.
Albert, a photographer and retired physicist, says about himself and his work:
In my previous life, I was a physicist who worked for DuPont in the design and manufacture of films for the printing industry. Photography was a hobby resulting in the thousands of slides. After retirement and the introduction of digital photography, I decided to display my work. I use Photoshop™ to alter, sometimes severely, images to…
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In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Forever Young.”
“Wasn’t that a pop song back in the day?”
“Which day, Dude?”
“Yeah, right, right?”
“They want to know whether if there were a Fountain of Youth we’d drink from it. That’s funny because I have a friend whose cat is named Pounce de Leon.”
“I remember him. But back then everyone was looking for the elixir of life or something.”
“Such little faith. Of course, we all get old — if we’re lucky — but we get to die and come back, and that’s ENDLESSLY (it seems) interesting.”
“Not when you come back a newt.”
“Good point, Lamont, but there’s worse than being a newt. There’s being a slug.”
“Shudder. I hear you, man, but the good part is no one’s a slug for long.”
“Did you like the song when it came out?”
“Yeah, I did, so here it is.”
On August 28, 1999, I returned to San Diego State University. This time I would not be teaching English as a Second Language at an attached international school, but really teaching university classes in composition to native speakers. I’d worked hard to make this career transition; it had taken me five years of a rather challenging apprenticeship in three local community colleges, but I was there. I had honestly never imagined I’d make it. I was over the moon that day with happiness and excitement. I would have ten very, very happy years there before the serious problems with California’s economy and the maturation of No Child Left Behind changed my world.
It was one of the happiest days of my life and it was even better because I began teaching on Goethe’s 350th birthday. I taught my two classes. Both were interesting with very lively and bright young people. Afterwards, I went up the hill to the library. As I walked the carillons called out from the beautiful bell tower in Hepner Hall and I took it as a sign that the whole world was sharing my happiness on this day.
I wanted to see what works of Goethe were held within the walls of SDSU’s Love Library (a library I DID love, by the way). I got up to the fourth floor and saw what I would say was about 100 square feet of Goethe, most of it in German.
My eyes filled with tears. I couldn’t read most of it, and I doubted (correctly) that I would ever be able to.
Later that day, I met a friend at Pacific Beach and as the sun set, we walked along the beach. Someone had made an immense sand castle and lit the windows with candles. We watched as the waves slowly undermined the castle and put the candles out.
It was Goethe’s birthday cake.
At that time in my life, Goethe was my best friend. I know that sounds odd, but I’ve never been so narrow minded that I have limited friendships to the living. Now I know that Goethe’s mind that went easily from art to science, resounded with my own. Perhaps it was the time in which he lived, at the beginning of thoughtful and systematic scientific inquiry, a moment that coincided with the development of the novel in the west. Goethe loved Tristram Shandy and The Vicar of Wakefield. Whatever the cause, Goethe’s way of seeing the world was instructive to me, particularly because he, himself, had to learn it — and he wrote about his process of learning it.
Even today (and I despise it) there is a tug between “heart” and “mind” or art vs. science, intuition vs. reason, etc. etc. etc. as if it were not completely obvious that they both exist in the same world at the same time and therefore it would seem that, uh, they both exist in the same world at the same time? Goethe had realized (slowly) that the so-called intuition/heart/sentiment could hold him back from life, from seeing reality (ie. his current crush, Frau von Stein, was just stringing him along for her own entertainment — it was unrequited love), from creating new work, from forming real relationships. He could be caught in the veil of illusion woven by desire and hope. Finally, he went out into the world — ran away from his job and social ties — in his 30s with the question (a good question) “What’s REAL, anyway?”
I’d asked that question, too, in my early 40s. It’s a dangerous question for anyone who really asks it because it has the power to up-end a person’s world. I met Goethe toward the end of that moment in my life. He was a good landing spot.
Fortunately for me, Goethe examined his life through writing and he wrote a lot. In reading I found many wonderful treasures. One of my favorites is the letters between Thomas Carlyle and Goethe — Carlyle was a young man, a young thinker, who had just found Goethe. By then, Goethe was an elderly man. The two struck up a friendship that included baskets of gifts and visits to Weimar. For me, personally, the letters formed a bridge showing me something about my own thinking and upbringing. My maternal grandfather loved Carlyle more than any writer or thinker, and I was lucky to have seen his worn and well-read volume of Sartor Resartus.
I began this year reading a small, paper bound volume of some chapters of Italian Journey that I found in an Etsy shop. It was sold by a book collector in Spain. The small book, printed in the 1920s, was published in English in Italy, a cheap edition, the type that would have been sold from open air stands at train stations (I think).
A little back story; Goethe had tried painting when he was in Italy. His idea was to paint his journey (no cameras, right?) and he also wondered (since he had not written much of anything since the comet that set the world ablaze, The Sorrows of Young Werther, whether he was a writer or not. He wandered around Italy, particularly in Rome, and spent time with a group of artists and tried to paint. The watercolor at the top of this post is a painting by Goethe of a scene in either Northern Italy, perhaps Lago di Garda, or of a lake in Switzerland. Of his sojourn into the visual arts he said:
“The artists are ready enough with their hints and instructions, for I am quick in apprehending them. But then the lesson, so quickly learnt and understood, is not so easily put in practice. To apprehend quickly is, forsooth, the attribute of the mind, but correctly to execute that, requires practice of a life.”
It’s easy, often, to understand what we need to do using our reason and mental muscle, but in many things that is only the beginning. Practice alone leads to mastery, and I believe that is true not only of painting but of life itself.
Happy Birthday, Goethe.
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