A Walk with People!!??!!

Today (Tuesday) my friends wanted to go out to the Refuge with me for a walk. That almost never happens. Wow! No dogs, either. Just people…

This is truly THE quietest time of year out there. It’s the lull before the ponds are filled, the waterbirds return, and the people come to look at them. I love it, I love the silence and the solitude though a few hopeful crane tourists are already coming through to see if they get an early glimpse.

I pointed out muskrat nests and stuff and pretty soon my friends were each doing their things that they do. It struck me how we’ve been sharing outings — adventures — for 8 years and we know each other. It’s wonderful and we had a really good time. The beauty, the space, the silence all soothe people and before long they were standing there looking out at whatever it is we stand and look out at.

People walk differently than dogs, faster and with more consistency and this time of year my asthma is kind of a problem so I had some problems keeping up and the need to stop from time to time to control my breathing. I have a rescue inhaler but I don’t like to use it much. I will if I need rescue, but if I just need to stop it makes more sense just to stop. My friends are tolerant. The fact that I’m somewhat physically “less” doesn’t bother me any more. The way I see it it doesn’t matter; what matters is that I’m out there nearly every day in every kind of weather — even rain and Deer Flies, both of which I’m not crazy about. Thunderstorms are another thing. I’ve been known to retreat. Anyone would. It happens out there that even at my elevated stature of 5’1″ (154 cm) I might be the tallest thing around.

I felt very happy seeing that what I get at the Refuge, my friends were getting. After our walk I took them out to see “the tree” — a huge cottonwood we thought was dead but isn’t. I did a painting of it in 2020. Then I took them to see a new area the Refuge people have built up for the crane tours. Last year they planted sunflowers as a cover crop for the barley. It was beautiful and the dried sunflowers still stand over the barley which isn’t cut but is left for the cranes to fuel them on their long journey north.

A couple weeks ago I saw a beautiful white feather., but when I went back to pick it up, I didn’t find it. I thought the wind had caught it or? I found it today. It seems to be a tail feather from a Sandhill Crane though there are a couple of other less likely possibilities, one is a Snow Goose. They do pass through here from time to time, but not commonly.

Here’s a song by one of my favorite singers from the time I was a kid and even still. I got to hear him a couple of times live in San Diego. Frankie Laine lived in San Diego and sometimes he would perform in some not-particularly-fancy place like the Starlight Bowl in Balboa Park which is right under the flight path for planes landing at Lindbergh Field.

This song still gives me chills.

More Quotedium Musing…

After a night of pretty much no sleep (why?) here I am again with the coffee, the dogs, the rawhide pencils and the word for today is recharge. Boy, that hit a chord, but I have no idea how to effect that — though I could definitely use it. (Another gulp of coffee.)

A few days ago I woke up and realized that the long covid had finally gone. It was a very strange feeling. Little by little over the past six months — that monster has finally completely wandered off.

But now what? I feel a little disoriented, awakening in a different world.

I started cleaning out/up the studio. Not with anything particular in mind. I have no inspiration and the paints are very very very cold, sort of like cold butter or margarine. My studio isn’t heated and it really is as cold as a refrigerator in there. I have a glimmer of a painting in the back of my mind and I think it will probably happen. It will be a landscape, of course. I sense it will have a backstory, though. It won’t be “just” a landscape. I think it’s going to be a picture of my life from last July to, well, more or less, now.

I keep wondering why I paint at all since everything just ends up packed carefully in boxes in the garage, but whatever. I like to paint. I could either work harder to find a gallery or accept that I’m painting things to box up and put in the garage. To be fair, though, a couple are wrapped carefully and kept in the spare bedroom.:-) My house is small; the walls are old-school lath and plaster. Hanging something is complicated AND the walls a pretty full anyway. One of the paintings needs a frame. That will happen when I’m paid for reading the books sometime this spring.

ChatGPT would say (of itself) that it’s designed to do what it does, so it does it. I guess I can look at painting the same way. It’s what I do; maybe I was designed to paint. 😀

Yesterday my neighbors and I met at E’s house for a tea party that turned out to be a birthday party for me. E made cheesecake for the event and gave me a pair of beautiful handmade wool socks. I haven’t really hung out with anyone for the past several weeks other than interviewing people. I’ve been reading books and writing an article oh yeah and getting sucked into ChatGPT. For various other reasons, the three of us haven’t been able to get together since before Christmas.

So… here’s hoping we all get the recharge we need so we can…

Oh God…

❄️ It’s Snowing for REAL!!! ❄️


My friend Sally was always up for deep conversations and was known to start them. One of the strangest was on a Christmas Eve. She’d read a blog post on my old Blogger site, and as soon as I sat down at the table in the Chinese restaurant she said, “I finally understand your understanding of God.” I’ve since learned this Chinese restaurant thing wasn’t just Sally’s odd tradition — a lot of people do it, maybe because of a movie? Maybe because once upon a time only Chinese restaurants were open on Christmas Eve? No idea.

I think I said, “Merry Christmas, Sal!” in response. Who’s ready to hear about their understanding of God first thing sitting down at a restaurant with a few friends and a few strangers? Most people need a little time to settle in. Sally was 12 years older than I. She had been the real 60s person back in the, uh, 60s, traveling North Africa with her husband, two blond daughters, and a VW van. She remained philosophically a hippy all her life, and these cosmic questions always interested her.

“I read your blog post. I get it. Immanent. Immanence.” Wow. She’d actually WONDERED about my spiritual orientation?

“Huh?” I’m not thinking about God at that moment. I’m thinking of mapo tofu. We get menus. I look through the pages for mapo tofu.

I tried to get what she was saying, but it sounded like mumbo-jumbo to me. The idea that there are philosophies of God? I get that on a theoretical level, and that people have killed each other over these philosophies and will probably always kill each other over them. That they argue about the supremacy of their religious philosophy and, like Sally, think about it, name it, talk about it, and I’m talking about it now because of the prompt this morning, but I felt strange. Everyone at the table was listening.

“I don’t understand, Sal. ‘Immanent’ to me means ‘about to happen’.”

“No. That word is ‘imminent‘. ImmANent means part of something, intrinsic to something, part of its nature. There’s no someday with your understanding of God. God’s not ‘transcendent,’ outside somewhere, but right here, right now.”

I was happy to know what the word means, and I felt stupid for not knowing that there were two words; imminent and immanent since I’m the god of language, but otherwise, I was confused. Why would Sally have wondered about my understanding of God? I ordered mapo tofu. It wasn’t great. I don’t like it with fried tofu.

“Where did you get that, Sal?”

“From that blog post you wrote about your grandmother and Christmas and the blind guy and ‘It Came Upon a Midnight Clear’. Am I right?”

“Well, I guess, but…” I had never thought about it, but Sally was right.

P.S. I don’t have a problem with the word God. It’s a word for the inexplicable. I’m not going to go around saying, “Well, I was talking to the Inexplicable the other day when I was out at the Refuge with Bear…”

Shoveling is imminent… Maybe Langlauf is imminent (never know, doubtful, but maybe)… Maybe a dog walk (a little more sure of that)… There’s no picture of joy greater than that of two happy, furry dogs racing each other in new snow. For every three steps Teddy takes, Bear takes one, but he’s still ahead of her. I think she LETS him win.

Synchronicity

 

You just don’t know. I got the news that John Patterson — the “Farm Art” guy about whom I wrote an article published last month — died this morning. I want to close the book on this for now so I’m writing this post.

When I saw John at the Potato Festival on September 8, I was sure he recognized me as a person he kind of knew but not really. I mentioned this to my friend Lois who’d just bought something from him and she used my name, “Martha something something.” Then John knew who I was. We chatted — not small talk though still the usual thing about how I ended up here. Everyone is curious about that. I told him that I felt I’d been put here somehow. I told about having painted the area that is the Refuge before I’d seen the San Luis Valley. He said he thought that kind synchronicity happened a lot but people weren’t aware of it. As we were walking back to my house, I thought, “I’ll see if the magazine wants an article about John.” It seemed very important.

As we know, I’m afraid of men at a certain level of my being, and I was a little leery that John might think something that wasn’t the case. I was actually nervous about that when I went out to interview him. He had a strong and magnetic personality that most people felt. I felt it. But ever onward… Still, I couldn’t explain why I felt I MUST write about John. It was a feeling propelled by a kind of urgency.

Our interview lasted two hours and we had a lot of fun talking. He was just that kind of guy who probably never met a stranger. The article wasn’t hard to write even though I had nearly 2 hours of verbiage to condense into about 1000 words. I didn’t make that and the editor asked me to cut 400 but I kind of made her meet me in the middle and it ended up 1200 words.

And so, John, who was in a terrible car crash on November 12, and who has been in the hospital most of this time, died today. The cause of death is not known. I suspect his heart might have given out resulting from the challenges he’s had getting enough oxygen, but I don’t know. And now my article is a eulogy. It’s creepy, like a giant mind — the one that brought me here — reached out and said, “This person has only a couple months left, but he needs his story told BY YOU.” The story helped raise some money for what will now be final expenses. Is that why?

The world is full of good people who are loved by others, most of whom no one ever knows about. They’re not famous except maybe locally. They’re not empty fucks like Elon Musk or the younger royals or the Kardashians. People like John are legitimate human beings, good people, who work, and love, and create from the lovely vision of their minds and eyes. They are part and parcel of their community, home and family. Brilliant, thinking people who aren’t jonesing for empty notoriety. Some call them “ordinary people,” but there’s nothing ordinary about them. There was a moment — after I had written a novel that is actually fucking brilliant, complex, meaningful, inspiring, and beautiful — that I knew that I was one of THESE people. I knew that there were millions of us all across the generations and I was proud — AM proud — to take my place among them. As a young person, I maybe had different ideas, but 38 years in the classroom taught me some important lessons.

A lot of people will miss John. I will. His family is planning stuff like the now popular Life Celebration somewhere down the road (literally). As for me, I’m stunned by the inscrutable power of what John called “Synchronicity” that drove me (and my car) down the road to spend a couple hours with him just two months before he died. Crazy, but that I’m here in this place is also a little crazy.

Here’s the article I wrote about him and shared here on WordPress not long ago. 

To find a little solace, the dogs and I headed out to the Refuge. As we were leaving I was struck by the changing light over the San Juans. I stopped Bella — my Jeep — to watch it, and Cheech and Chong’s silly Santa bit from the olden days came on the radio. I put the Bella in park and took photos of the changing light through my windshield while I listened to that antediluvian silliness and laughed. 

That helped more than anyone would expect.

 

_

O Fortuna…

Last night I learned that a friend was in a terrible car accident a couple weeks ago — his car vs. a truck — on the highway that runs north and south through Colorado, but only a few blocks from me. The victim is the junk sculptor I interviewed last month. I’ve always liked him, but didn’t know him until I got the idea of interviewing him for Colorado Central Magazine. That led me to a two hour chat with him in his work shop last month. We had a blast. As I left — thanking him — he thanked me for the interesting conversation. 😮

I tried to keep the interview focused, but he and his workshop made that difficult. Neither of us is very linear and the interview was 2/3 interview and 1/3 random discussion and discovery. I sent him the draft of the article. He liked it and wrote back, “Thank you so much for feeling the spirit of my Art!” Anyway, I contacted the magazine last night and told them. They’re going to put the article up online with the GoFundMe link.

John’s going to make it, but his care and rehab will be incredibly expensive and slow. And, as he said, “I only have 3 circles.” He works on a potato and barley farm and that’s his portion. John is kind, authentic, friendly — a whole lot of good adjectives. A lot of things in his body were broken and repair was touch and go. Godnose how rehab will be. I hope he’ll be able to come back to his shop and put more things together as he loves to do.

I don’t really want to say the same old thing, “We never know,” because we all KNOW we never know.

OTHERWISE, to my immense surprise, Bear wanted to go with me and Teddy yesterday. It was balmy for late November and the light was beautiful. As we were on our return, I saw two people approaching — a very tall man and a very petite woman. These are the only two other walkers I ever see out there. They are very nice and the love the dogs and the dogs love them, so there was much petting of dogs and chatting and “I always love to see you out here!” Apparently last time Teddy scratched the woman’s arm and that led to an infection. We agreed it was Teddy’s nails, the dirt from the road, and his overweening enthusiasm. The critical moment for socializing Teddy was 2020. He never jumps on me, never, ever, ever, but he doesn’t generalize from “Martha” to “human beings” I think because I was more or less a unique entity during that important juncture in the development of his hyper-active Aussie brain. I felt really bad about the scratch and infection, but the woman felt bad about my feeling bad, so… I held Teddy down so she could pet him because she really wanted to.

Then we were on our way. It’s an interesting thing that they — and I — go out there for the quiet and solitude and are very happy to meet, and chat with, others who are out there for quiet and solitude.

There isn’t much snow left and, of course, what’s there isn’t real snow but what snow evolves into after a week of deep cold, heavy frost, and sun, but Bear was happy when it was her turn to smell and wander. My fitness app (grrrrrr) tells me that when it’s Teddy’s turn, we walk 3 mph (and he’s pulling). When it’s Bear’s turn, we walk 1.2 mph and, for some reason, Teddy isn’t pulling. I think he understands. Here’s the snow angel Bear made in what’s left. No, not the shadow. That’s me.

Candide?

I woke up this morning laughing and I’m still laughing. It’s not that dreams never come true but…

Here’s what made me laugh. My friend Michael has long dreamed of going to the Grand Canyon and one thing after another has stopped him — sometimes literally, like the time he and Lois were ALMOST THERE and their little RV broke down and they were truly stuck on the side of the road. Once rescued from THAT by a tow truck, they holed up in a little motel in an obscure desert town until they could drive home. No Grand Canyon. There were a couple other misadventures on other attempts. We were all going one December but when we finally priced the whole trip we were planning — which included a train ride and a nice hotel — we were all priced out. THAT was Karma. We were trying to run away from Christmas. Anyone knows you can never run away from Christmas. Well, Michael finally made it to the Grand Canyon, but not before he had lost his vision. Somehow he was still happy about it. ❤️

Lois just bought the most beautiful horse in the world, a life’s dream, really. But how she got there involved the death of the great friend of her youth with whom she used to ride horses. It’s a long story, and not mine to tell, except the upshot was that when her friend died almost a decade ago Lois decided to get back on the horse. Since then she’s taken an inspiring journey to becoming a real horsewoman. I have been acquainted with Lois’ horse since the horse was little more than a colt, and she’s not just beautiful, she’s friendly, intelligent, and bonded to Lois. Not all that prone to spooking, either. 🐎

And me. My one of my life’s dreams was to be an international news correspondent. It looks like the magazine is paying for me to go to Del Norte to cover the fancy benefit dinner for the restoration of the log cabin that was the Barlow and Sanderson Stagecoach Station. And I’m thrilled. 😀

That’s how things go in this best of all possible worlds.


Today’s Facebook memories brought me something from the goodle days of teaching. Too good not to share.

Featured photo: Where the elk passed through?

Quotidian Update 9 x 10 to the umpteenth power.4.ix

Another quiet morning in the Back of Beyond. Cloudy (huh?) and soft all around. Yesterday in the morning the dogs and I went out for a ramble (calm down, calm down, I know it’s surprising, but really, take it easy). It was a crisp and lovely morning. I saw cranes grazing in a field as I was driving to the Refuge and my heart gave a little spring. “Maybe???”

I can act blasé, but I’m not. I hoped to see and hear them on our walk and we did. Right now the wooly bears are crossing the road all over the place. I had to tell them, “Little guys, you’re way too small for anyone in a car to see, so BE CAREFUL.” They didn’t pay any attention. The dogs are VERY interested in them. Halfway on our adventure ( relative term, Sir Richard Francis Burton) I heard the cranes and soon after I saw them. I think Bear noticed them before I did because she stopped in front of me. It was great.

On our way home, my phone rang (meaning my watch) and my friend Lois and her husband were on their way back from the Grand Canyon and wondered if I could meet for lunch in Del Norte. I had just enough time to get the dogs home, clean up a little and drive to Del Norte to meet them. What a great surprise! Lois’ husband, Michael, has long wanted to see the Grand Canyon, but every time they tried to go, some misadventure befell them. Now, he can’t see due to macular degeneration, but they went, they got there and within his range of abilities — known only to Michael — he finally saw the Grand Canyon.

My friend’s photos made me want to go. Like Lois and Michael, my attempts to see the Grand Canyon have been met with frustrations. It could happen… If it does, it will probably be one of life’s superlative experiences. No, I don’t have any expectations… 😉

All this made me think of the mystery of love in our lives, and I thought again of a passage in a book by Jack Kerouac where he describes what he felt driving away from his friends — this time they happened to be William S. Burroughs and his family — somewhere in Texas. He wrote that as he drove away they became smaller and smaller until they were swallowed by the immense sky of the American West. I’ve spent all but one year of my life in that very American West and the sky IS vast. I remembered thinking — soon after I moved to Southern California — that we were all trapped there between the desert and the ocean, and all we could do was parade up and down, north and south, on one freeway or another, but the skies were still pretty big, though not really vast. In time I got a more accurate view of So Cal and that perception changed, but here? From the first, the immense and changing sky of the San Luis Valley won my heart. I paint it, I photograph it, I look at it, I live under it.


We finished lunch and said our good-byes. There was something I wanted to see in Del Norte so I went one way and they went another, to cross the valley and be swallowed by a mountain pass that would disgorge them into the vastness of the American prairie.

Lois photo of what greeted them when they cross the mountains

I drove around the very small town of Del Norte until I found what I was looking for. Del Norte’s back streets (many of its streets) are dirt roads and some of the houses and garages back there are log cabins, a few log covered with adobe. I haven’t driven around back there before, and I saw a lot of things to paint if I wanted to, but at the moment I don’t know what I’m doing as an artist.

I was looking for the city hall across from which is a park. In that park is the original station for the Barlow and Sanderson Stagecoach. Once on the main drag (my street) it was moved to make way for a Family Dollar store. I imagined a time when friends passing through Del Norte would have to spend the night on their way to cross the same pass. Their journey home from here would take weeks back in the “olden” days. There would be no phone call on a Dick Tracy watch, either, alerting me of their arrival.

Potato Festival and THEN…

Yesterday was a hugely busy day for three people who pretty much got no sleep the night before. Morning took us to the San Luis Valley Potato Festival of Song and Story. It was fun. For me the amazing thing was being recognized by people who’d come to hear me read at various times over the last few years. That’s something I never expected. We talked to lots of people. Lois had her sweet dog, Satchmo, so we got to experience dog meetings as well. Lois and Adriano celebrated with free baked potatoes but I don’t really like potatoes so I saved them seats under the cover of the picnic area.

After that, we came home and I think we took naps. I did, anyway, then we headed out again for scenic (it actually is) Del Norte. From there we took a short road trip north a few miles to Elephant Rocks. I hadn’t been there but had long wanted to go. I want to go back when it’s cold, so we made plans for December. Most of the Elephant Rock photos are courtesy of Lois.

Then we went to Three Barrels Brewery and Pizza and had, uh, pizza. On the way home we saw an amazing phenomenon: a Lenticular Cloud building above a thunderhead. It was the meeting of fall and summer.

Back at home, Lois and I leashed dogs (I got Bear) and we headed out to the Refuge for a sunset walk and it was spectacular. Pictures are worth a thousand words and in this case, maybe more, even, than that.

THEN on the way home from the Refuge, Lois spied a herd of elk grazing in the pasture, another sign of fall.

Teddy had a challenge adjusting to Satchmo whom he really didn’t know, and spent the early interval attempting to herd Satchmo somewhere. But Teddy remembered Frosty well from staying at his house last year, and they were glad to see each other. It didn’t take long for them all to be pals. Here they are, a lot like the Three Stooges… Hmmm…

Teddy, Satchmo and Frosty. Teddy is winking. No one knows why.

My friend Adriano really loves Teddy, so Teddy got all the pats, snuggles and kissing opportunity he could ever want. Satchmo is a very low-key, friendly, easy-going, perceptive, sweet dog. One of the coolest things he ever did was, long ago, 2014, when Lily, Dusty, Mindy and I were visiting Lois, blind and deaf Lily got trapped under a patio chair and couldn’t find her way out. Satchmo came and got me. After that he stayed near Lily during our stay. And Frosty? One of the sweetest dogs ever to walk the planet.

Bear was pretty over it yesterday and spent a lot of time deep in her masterpiece (hole).

“I’m over it.”

But, after she got her walk last evening, she was much more social. I enjoyed having my friends here very, very, very much 🙂

Trivia (?) The San Luis Valley expects to harvest 1.6 billion pounds of potatoes this year. Mexico is now a big market for our potatoes, bigger than Idaho, because we’re a LOT closer to Mexico than is Idaho.

R-e-s-p-e-c-t

Just now I was packing up a painting I just framed — not one of my favorite paintings but it has some merit and some people like it very much. So, if I get a chance to exhibit, I will exhibit it. As I packed it — knowing I’m not crazy about it — I thought of how I honored it anyway. I tried something and had joy in the attempt. That’s a WHOLE lot, and, out of my not-very-large income I provided materials for it to exist.

Then my mind wandered to an open show I hung a few pieces in last year. I respect my work very much and I respect the work of other people. I can’t judge what goes into their work, but I can’t imagine it’s anything less than goes into mine. This is irrespective of whether I like what they’ve done or not. As I struggled with the painting to get bubble wrap between it and the sides of the box it hit me.

I really hate being disrespected. Doesn’t everyone?

Last summer when I went to pick up the paintings from the show (a three hour drive each way) the people who ran the museum/gallery/school whatever it was said, “Oh yeah go get your stuff.” I had carefully boxed each piece and left the boxes there assuming that they’d take the show down and put the work into the boxes and get ID from the artists coming in to claim their work. None of that happened. I would have done that, at the very least brought the boxes into the gallery for the artists — but maybe I was the only one with a long drive? I don’t know. I certainly would have ID’d the people who came in to be sure the paintings they were taking belonged to them or they were representing the artist? Maybe I would’ve thought the work was shit, but that would have been irrelevant. I would have felt that the facility owed the artists respect if for no other reason than that for 6 weeks they’d had a show with no effort on their part.

I was angry.

I thought today also about my “friend” Perla, the talented fabric artist. Sometime in the next couple of weeks Colorado Central Magazine is going to run an article about her and her work. The article was my idea and I thought, “This is great. Perla will get publicity and I’ll get to write an article. The timing is perfect; right before a fiber art festival in the town of Salida where the magazine is published. Perla participates in that show.” I queried the article, got an OK, interviewed Perla, wrote it, sent it to Perla to review, and I submitted it. It was sent back for “more personal” stuff.

Then…

I got Covid and my brain hurt a lot; I suspected I was contagious and my ability to focus was registering in the negative numbers — if that’s ever measured. I texted Perla and told her what the magazine wanted but also said I wasn’t up to another interview. I asked if we could do it in writing. Sure no problem. I sent her questions (6 or 7) three weeks before I needed the responses. She immediately answered, “Good questions. OK.” I never heard anything back. I thought, “Well, she said she liked the questions and would get back to me. I’ve already put at least 8 hours of my life into this. This is for her benefit. Why should I chase her down?” I didn’t care much at that point (as I was still sick) if the article ran or not.

Then, the magazine wrote and said, “We really want that article.” I pondered contacting Perla again about it and decided not to. Why?

I felt totally disrespected. Because I want the byline, and I hate leaving things unfinished, I did research and a rewrite. All is well, and Perla will get the publicity, but she’s lost a friend.

But respect. I’m a ridiculously gullible person, and I don’t notice these things quickly, but when I do? How do you deal with this kind of thing if it happens to you? I won’t deal with the gallery, but a friend?

I’ve also realized (today) that what has disturbed — disgusted — me most about Old 45 and all of that still going on is his and his followers’ total lack of respect for our government, for the people in this nation, for institutions that have made this the world’s oldest continuous government (it is — our government existed before anything anyone would call American culture), disrespect for education — everything. It’s personal to me just as the disrespect shown my work by that “gallery” and my “friend.” I realized today that the reason I used to beat up the kids who beat up my brother was that; they did not respect him. Wow. 70 years old and now I know the Red Button of Martha Ann Kennedy.

Hanging Out with a Friend

Yesterday my friend Perla came to Monte Vista (from Alamosa) to see the eye doc who is two blocks away from my house. We spent three hours talking. It was great. She’s an artist and a thinking person so the conversation was wonderful, wonderful, wonderful and even included a little time spent in my frowzy studio where I introduced her to lapis lazuli ultramarine. She is extremely talented and skillful in a wide, wide, wide variety of things, so I was surprised when I could show her something new. She understood totally when I explained that the paint is like a person to me, a person who wants to help me paint. She laughed, but she got it. I told her about my dream of owning lapis ultramarine with lapis from Afghanistan, and that I’d tried to buy some with my Christmas present money, but the upheaval in Afghanistan meant no one had it. “Don’t feel bad,” I said, “but all I could get is lapis ultramarine with lapis from Argentina.” She’s from Buenos Aires.

That’s when we went to my studio so I could show her the paint. She looked at the painting that’s on my easel drying, the painting of the storm — which she loved — and at the one that’s in progress. “That’s hard. I couldn’t do it.”

“I don’t know yet if I can,” I said. I was, at the time, showing her the lapis ultramarine by putting it on the canvas with my finger. She compared it to indigo which she’d seen growing — and which dye she had used — at her recent experience as an artist in residence at a farm in Arkansas, an experience she’d loved and that had given her great stories and much needed renewal. Jeans are died Indigo. It’s a great blue and in medieval times was used to replace lapis ultramarine for walls and manuscripts. Lapis ultramarine which was expensive and hard to get. There was even a FALSE Indigo, or woad Indigo, that came from a nasty plant that made the ground useless for anything else, it depleted the soil so completely and so rapidly. Still, it’s pretty amazing. Here’s a great explanation and visualization of the difference between real Indigo and Woad. I didn’t argue or “clarify.” There’s no way to know what another person sees when they look at a color AND we look for familiar shades and patterns all the time. The chart below is excellent. The top blue is synthetic ultramarine. They are all great blues. The featured photo of my work in progress is not color true because the underlying ground is not white, but this chart is.


The subject of representational vs. abstract art came up and Perla has always let me know what she wants me to do. I accept that — a push from a knowledgeable person can be helpful in defining direction and everyone’s free to reject it. But knowing her and her work, I listen. Yesterday she said, “You’re obsessed with reality.” That’s true. As a person who lives largely in my head, reality is an important question for me. I’m not a subjectivist; I believe there is an objective reality and that is why I love nature so much. It is what it is whether I recognize it or. not. I WANT to. But as we talked I realized that I don’t see a difference in my work between the stuff I do that’s representational and that which isn’t completely representational. Wanting a tree to look like a tree isn’t, to me, a bad goal because a living thing is only static until you start engaging with it. I quickly find there is more to it than what I recognize as a tree. I realized that I don’t think most of my “realistic” paintings are realistic.

We discussed another artist’s paintings — which are really beautiful nature paintings — and she said, “I don’t like them. Every little thing,” and she made as if she were painting with a tiny brush on a wall. I think his work is lovely, but not exactly what I would paint (obviously). I proclaimed my theory of art, that nothing in nature is what we see, but the life behind what we see. I didn’t add the rest of the idea which is that the life within everything inscrutable and answers to its own demands. The only response I have to THAT is gratitude to nature for letting me in on a little something from time to time.

But the point — to which we both agree — is that it’s all very personal, meaning to the person looking at the work, maybe buying it.

And, of course, we talked about what probably every two artists have spoken about together since the beginning of time. Which is why are we doing this? After looking at my paintings, she became a little frustrated with her work which is felted clothing. I listened while she worked that all out — she makes money from her work and I, obviously, don’t make money from mine. It isn’t that I don’t want to, it’s that no one sees it. So far in my life, when people see it, they buy it. We talked about marketing and promotion — she’s a good saleswoman and goes to shows and has her work in stores. But THAT? In any case if I want to sell at the Crane Festival next year (which I do) she’ll help me by loaning me panels so I can hang my work. Behind the conversation was the immense expense in even getting work out where people can see it and buy it.

It was great conversation, inspiring and fun. Then “What will you do if Trump is elected president again?”

“Perla, remember? We already have a plan. We’re going to Argentina.”

“That’s right Patagonia. Good. Good.” It was a wonderful, wonderful day. And THEN?

Wu Song appeared in the garden and this morning? Two more — Lao She and Pearl Buck. Three have emerged in the house this morning, as well. Looks like I’ll have beans after all. Thank you mysterious forces of the universe that combine a seed, dirt, water and light. They will be growing among several sunflowers who will help hold them up, attract bees and add general amazingness to the garden.