Sunday, November 29, 2009

Holiday Rehab

Thanksgiving here is mingled with Birthdays so it is a busy time. It is a wonderful time. Since we have moved away from extended family it is just the three of us now. The sound and the fury of a large family gathering is often missed. Through the years we have developed our own traditions, celebrated with friends, and celebrated alone but mostly we just celebrate each other. Lives are always shifting in some way or other making time the enemy of familiarity. We are immersed in social networking, hectic schedules, cell phones and computers. We Blog, we Twitter and Facebook. We email, Instant Message and text. We are connected by satellite and cable, tracking devices, wireless remote and streaming live feed with up to the minute coverage. In this day and age of unbelievable technology, communication is at an absolute zenith. And yet we rarely just talk.
On our family holidays, our Nacho Night or Middle of the week day off holiday, we talk. We unplug, wire down and disconnect. We sit at the kitchen table or on the living room floor and we talk until the morning sun shames us into sleeping. We talk of the world, philosophy, religion, politics and history. We talk of physics and God. We talk about acting, writing and art. Rarely does the conversation have anything to do with what any of us are doing in our lives. We already know all that, we stay connected. Instead we talk about what we think about and what we question. Sometimes it gets heated along the fault lines of opinion, sometimes we just glide into deeper BS about why we think our opinion trumps all. Mostly we just share what makes us who we are, our thoughts.
Then just as any respectable family would do, we badger one another until someone fesses up about just what they plan to do with all those lofty thoughts and high-faluting opinions. No sense doing all that thinking and jawboning if there isn’t an action plan forthcoming. This is the part we all love—like eating a slice of Aunt Ethel’s five year old fruitcake. Basically we use these planned excuses to get together as a time to touch base with who we are and who we want to be; to find out what our loved ones want most how we can help them achieve it.

Sure we do all the traditional American Thanksgiving fare. Clean the house like the Queen is dropping by, slave in the kitchen pretending to be Julia Child and then eat like total swine all day long. When dinner is served we ooh and ah over the same dishes we have prepared for every Thanksgiving dinner and then by candlelight we toast our good fortune and give thanks for it all. Not so different from most other families around the world who come together for a special event to share in each other’s lives. It’s how we continue the bonding tradition of being truly connected.
Part of our tradition at this time is also birthdays so Thanksgiving around here ends up looking a little more like a pre-Christmas warm up. Over the years I have even taken to setting up the Christmas village in time for the big turkey roast. The village like most good intentioned impulses has grown completely out of control. It threatens all who come near. A new piece or two is bought ever year culminating in something that looks a little more like an alien invasion by a race of miniature Victorians. The whole production is a tad time consuming and soon we will need to knock out a wall or move to a coliseum to accommodate the whole affair. I’ll post a picture the little aliens a bit closer to Christmas...or at least decently in the month of December.

Since today was the first day that it wasn’t raining nor was I stuck inside prepping food, building alien villages, shampooing carpets or fluffing fake snow I decided I was finally going to clean out the annual pond plants. Those babies have been clinging to denial like a teenage girl watching the phone on prom night. I just had to break it to them. It’s November-- Everybody out of the pool!
In June we bought three water hyacinth and two water lettuce. When I pulled them out today I had four wheel barrels full of them. Holy cow. Washington state has mild summers and these plants are warm weather lovers. They are well behaved up here but in more Southern areas they are banned as aggressive…much like those little Christmas villages should be. I going to need rehab.
The water plants seasonal delusion infiltrating my brain convinced me that I would have time to do some cutting back in the garden. Maybe get some of that compost and mulch out of the hay bale pile and onto some flower beds where it belongs. Four wheel barrel loads and a blister later the light was beginning to fade as quickly as my will. I decided instead to take a quick cruise of the garden before heading in. I found that there was still a nice bit of color left out there. It was soggy as all daylights but it was color doggone it and at the end of November! This garden and I are still newlyweds so I don’t really know what to expect yet and like most innocent newlyweds I am surprised and delighted at everything it does. I suppose next year I may find some of those endearing habits like reseeding and spreading far too annoying to bear but for now I am just happy to see something—anything growing. I took photos of what I suspect will be the last of my garden’s colors for a few months, at least until spring. Last year in December we had a lot of snow, of course this is exactly when I plan to plant the seven hundred plus bulbs I bought. I'm sure it should work out just perfectly.
Will you take a look at this last picture? No, a good close look. Those are bulbs starting to come up! This garden is in serious denial.
Great. My garden is in denial and I need Christmas village rehab. Talk about dysfunctional.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving and Sarah Palin

Or my pants don’t fit because of those greedy pilgrims.
Thanksgiving themes have been done and redone much like the week old remains of that gluttonous meal we like to call a holiday. Holiday from what I am not entirely sure but holiday none the less. Perhaps it is a holiday from all reasonable and sane behavior. How else can you explain so many deep fried turkey injuries on this one day alone? Not to mention the fact that in a single act of group think rivaling only that of Jones Town an entire country incapacitates itself with one of the most insidious weapon of mass destruction ever dreamed of by Saddam Hussein. Copious amounts of food. With a single innocuous and even heartwarming word, Thanksgiving, households across America will actively begin preparing their demise. They will spend hours slaving over hot stoves and ovens with a few random deep fryers thrown in for splashy special effects. They will play fast and loose with Sal and Monella, those two low life cousins from the wrong side of the lower intestinal track. They will throw caution to the wind leaving deviled eggs unattended in overheated rooms for long hours to be manhandled by the unwashed hands of Uncle Harry with the lingering cough and those wild savage animals someone calls their "little darlings."

On this day nearly an entire nation will forget the good sense they were born with and eat everything and anything laid before them and a good deal that's just lying around. It won’t matter one bit that they have never eaten gravy on green beans before. Nor will it matter that Aunt Ethel’s fruit cake originally served as a foot rest for General Ulysses S Grant in the Civil war, they won’t even bother with the politic of which side their great, great somebody fought on. Nope. They will just shove another bite in while Aunt Ethel flashes her lipstick stained smile and slyly tries to straighten her dentures…again. There will be enough food to feed an entire third world nation twice and yet someone will call out “Hey, where’s the cranberry sauce? Didn’t anybody bring cranberry sauce? You can’t call this a meal without cranberry sauce.” Followed by “Hellmann’s? I thought we all agreed last year that Miracle Whip was the best? You don’t expect me to eat this stuff do you?”

Then there is Uncle Larry who bears a striking resemblance to absolutely no one in the family but is never questioned because he always helps with the dishes. You can usually find him wearing some unexplainable kid concoction and being chased by a pack of vicious sugar crazed hooligans in what resembles an excerpt from the Lord of the Flies with the sounds of “After all we aren’t savages, really” echoing behind him. They will race past men sitting on overstuffed sofas whose eyes are fixed on a game they care little to nothing about. Too fat and full to even consider getting up to pour their own beer they are quite happy to yell at the fat lazy dumbass who missed the pass in a blinding blizzard of sub zero temperatures.
“Is that pumpkin pie ready yet? We’re starving in here!” The women will roll their eyes and pour themselves another glass of wine.

All across America in homes full of mini dramas, familial slights and exuberant acts of forgiveness. We will eat too much and moan about our good fortune. We will sit in the lap of luxury and ask for a softer pillow. And we will sit around our dining room tables basking in the glow of those we love and who love us back even when we both know better.

Not everyone however will have that special warm fuzzy holiday experience. Some will struggle under great adversity while others struggle simply to live life. Somewhere in between a great many of us will secretly wonder why we never quite seem to fit in. The media will sell us glowing images of golden roast turkey and picture perfect families who wouldn’t recognize a care or worry if it sat at the head of the table and carved the roast beast itself. And some of us will wonder. We will wonder why our lives don’t look quite like those airbrushed, glossy, color fantasies.

Last year right around this time, many of us were unwitting witnesses to a colossal collision as this picture perfect imagery slammed head-on into ugly reality. It occurred when
Sara Palin gave a television interview at a turkey processing plant. She stood outside in her fashionable Alaskan outdoor gear with a latte’ firmly gripped in one dainty gloved hand. The cameras were centered in on her while clearly visible in the background a ghastly scene stealing moment played out. It came in the form of a hard working employee of the turkey processing plant. Possibly a few drumsticks short of a full IQ test this fellow was not so easily distracted by the glamour of a live television interview though he looked on with rapt attention as the cameras rolled. He did not waver from his assigned task which apparently was feeding turkeys into the grinder. He never missed a beat. Sara too was clearly not distracted by the graphic scene that played out behind her. She never skipped a beat as well, continuing to answer questions and smiling for the cameras. While the shock of seeing this awkward moment on national television was nearly overwhelming in so many ways I did take away an invaluable lesson about Thanksgiving.

No matter what your opinion of the woman may be and everyone does seem to have a strong opinion about her, I have to give her this; she is entirely comfortable in her own skin. She was never once distracted nor did she look the least bit uncomfortable about what she fully knew to be going on directly behind her. All political commentary aside what finally dawned on me as the shock began to wear off was that she wasn’t making any apologies to anyone. Now I understand that it is a little hard to peal away the political emotions surrounding this woman but in that moment that is exactly what I did. I was filled with gratitude for the country that I live in. Not because of her or any other politician but rather for the fact that in this day and age of glossy coated dreams and techno color promises where everything is airbrushed and crafted for presentation there are still people with the chutzpah to thumb their nose at it all and say “This is who I am and I’m OK with that.”

I am grateful for the people who accept their imperfections and failings and lovingly accept them in others. I am grateful that my biggest concern on this day is how much rich food I will overeat and whether this outfit really does make my butt look fat. I am grateful for the phone book that props up the broken table leg or the scruffy uncle that snores on the couch and for all the messy families and friendships. I am grateful for knowing that somewhere out there is my opportunity to keep trying for that glossy coated dream. I am deeply grateful for all the people that have sacrificed and died so that I may have the luxury to fret and worry that my life isn’t picture perfect. Grateful that someone out there has provided me with the fortune to be thankful for how great life is while still imagining how much better it can be. I am grateful that I have the liberty to create an opportunity of my choosing. I am especially thankful for the people who love and support me. And I thank all of you for letting me be there for you while you reach for your glossy coated dreams and techno colored promises.
Happy Thanksgiving

Or Happy Thursday for those of you not doing the whole festive turkey thing.

Monday, November 23, 2009

This Red Carpet Needs Shampooing

Word Origin & History -blog
1998, short for weblog (which is attested from 1994, though not in the sense 'online journal'), from (World Wide)
Web + log. Joe Bloggs (c.1969) was British slang for "any hypothetical person" (cf. U.S. equivalent Joe Blow).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2001 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source

Any hypothetical person? I like that. Sort of like taking the anonymity of the internet and giving it an alias. I feel all warm and fuzzy now that we’re sharing a vague moment together. It’s special in an unspecific sort of way.

Today in my Blotanicals mail box I received a note from Anna at Green tapestry informing me that she had awarded me the Best Blog Award. Wow! Now that’s pretty doggone flattering and I am quite honored by her opinion. Green tapestry is a delightful blog with an engaging writing style and she actually talks about plants, if you can believe that!

Now while I was exceedingly pleased that Anna would even consider giving me Best Blog Award I did have some questions. First of all is blog even a real word? Doesn’t something have to be a thing before it can qualify for an award. Will there be those little bald headed gold guys or maybe MTV’s golden bag of popcorn. Should I dress up for this maybe get my hair done. I just don’t know how to act in light of such an honor. It became clear that I did not have a red carpet action plan. I believe that if I did have such a plan I would not have spent the day of my award ceremony shampooing the carpet, nor would I have been sweeping the garage or clearing spider webs. I should have been at a fitting or getting my nails done in the latest shade of self importance by someone who couldn’t care less if I’m late for my hair appointment. But because I did not have an “I’m getting an award, but really I’ll just be happy to be nominated” plan I spent the evening attempting to decipher the latest health insurance benefits plan written in Latin by drunken Irishmen at a wake.

I carefully pondered which little boxes to check so that my medical insurance might more precisely insure me for the things that I am least likely to experience.
For instance since I am more likely to suffer a broken bone while dropping a large boulder on my foot rather than need a cleft palette surgery I made sure to check the appropriate box. I now have peace of mind knowing that the insurance will fully cover the cleft palette surgery and my broken foot will also be fully covered by the all inclusive Blood out of Turnip plan.

I’ll tell you what, it isn’t universal health care that we need or even health care reform what we need are flipping translators for this stuff. Maybe that’s who all those people are with their blissfully smiling faces plastered all over the glossy benefits brochure. They all look so carefree, as if they are enjoying perfect peace of mind knowing that at any minute a life altering catastrophe might occur. Either that or they really up-graded their RX coverage. With all the happy peaceful state of mind drugs being fully covered under their superior health care plans the Latin speaking thoroughly soused Irishmen and their little boxes to check are making a whole lot more sense. Maybe I should look into that plan as it seems the only people capable of understanding this stuff are fully loaded on happy pills. Or Latin speaking thoroughly soused Irishmen.

But I digress and once again fail to talk plants or the Best Blog EVER Award. Yeah, I added that last bit. It’s a blog. Who’s gonna check? Consider it part of my acceptance speech and bleep it out in the time delay.

The award comes with strings attached and I would be remiss if I ignored those. Since I very recently tagged a number of people with an award, one that required some confessing I might add, I have devised an alternate tagging plan. I would simply like to share a few blogs with you that I enjoy and you may or may not have visited on your blogging rounds. There are so many wonderful blogs out there and I know that I am leaving out so many that I could and should put in here. I tried to stay focused on ones that I have not mentioned before and blogs that I thought some of you may not have visited.

Edward B.Gordon he produces a beautiful and stunning painting each day. He also produces great envy and admiration in me every day.

All A Dither she is a wonderful writer and I enjoy her reflective exploration of life and the hopes and dreams we nurture or neglect along the way. She also is writing an intriguing dramatic novel and waiting for the next installment is like a little soap opera for us blog junkies.

Barbara Muir paints And she does paint! This lady is the epitome of happy. She also produces a painting a day and somehow manages to always find a genuine reason to rejoice in life. She shares her thoughts and her life along with paintings that reflect her joy and exuberance for life.

Patchwork Garden I don’t know if I can accurately describe Linda’s blog except to say that she has a uniquely Texas voice. She has lovely gardens which she is always at work in but there is something rich and sonorous in the way she shares it. She seems to be in rhythm with the land there and I truly enjoy stopping by for a friendly visit and cool glass of ice tea.

Flower Hill Farm Carol’s blog is the essence of peace and beauty. Her photographs of her incredibly landscape and flowers never fail to bring a deep calm to my soul. Her words are like psalms to the land she stewards.

Natures Scenic View this is from the creator of Hocking Hills Garden which is also a fantastic blog. I love Natures Scenic View however because it is just pure eye candy and I love the sweets she puts in this blog. The photographs are amazing. I find myself going back to them many times just to gaze and enjoy.

The Galloping Gardener It is hard to imagine anyone missing this blog but if you have, do yourself a favor and take a look. She travels to some of the most wonderful fairy tale gardens and shares such wonderful pictures. I am often transported to my girlhood fantasies of castles and magical talking trees and wildlife. Of course the grown up in me still has fantasies but these include winning the lottery and buying my own castle complete with talking trees and wildlife.

My Secret Garden
I am sure you all know Tatyana’s blog and she also has already been awarded the Best Blog Award but I just had to include her on this list. Of course she has a beautiful garden but this woman knows how to blog like a pro! Her photos are gorgeous and her posts always interesting. I think her energy and enthusiasm come through with vibrant full color in every post she makes.

My Nice Garden by Autumn Belle is as lovely as she is and a pleasure to visit. She delights me with flowers that are wonderfully exotic to this Northwestern American. She shows me a world I have never seen and I would love to have her as my tour guide if I was ever fortunate enough to travel to her corner of the world.

Destination: Where the F is Ron This blog has absolutely nothing to do with gardening or even painting for that matter. Ron is journalistic reporter who travels the world often to the most dangerous and beautiful places you can imagine. He draws you into that world with his photographs and writing but above all with his soul. Ron has seen the worst that the world has to offer but he always seems to know where the heart of humanity lies and he shares that with us.

This post has gone a bit longer than I planned and I still have not talked about a single plant or flower. I actually haven’t been out in the garden because the scuba gear I ordered from Noah’s Ark and Garden Supplies has not arrived yet. The Have You Lost Your Minds daisies are still standing tall, green and sporting a few cheery white flowers. The nasturtium refuses to give up the field and continues to bloom. The water hyacinth and lettuces are stubbornly hanging on. They seem to have forgotten that they are warm weather annuals here. The black eye Susans are blooming right along and I have one very stubborn gladiola thumbing her nose at this constant downpour. I could go on about the plants that simply won’t pack it in but that would actually be a long list. Yesterday on my way to the car I noticed that my lavender rose bush was flush with buds again!
It is now completely clear to me that the 750 spring bulbs I bought are going to make a spectacular garage show come spring…because that is exactly where they are going to stay unless this rain lets up and those idiot plants pack it in.
Yes, that is a honeysuckle in the middle of November in Washington State.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


This painting is of a man on the edge of his life. And he is wondering. There is a question before him, it comes as reliably as the seasons and it is always the same. “Do you have the courage?” He doesn’t look out of the window, it isn’t there. He is looking out of his now. He isn’t thinking of how he hates his job though he is often certain he does. He doesn’t think of his tiny apartment though he can feel its walls surround him. They close in on him like the uneasy feeling that chokes his dreams in the lonely hours before dawn. He doesn’t think of those things. Instead he thinks of the road ahead, the one out there. Feeling the winds of change blowing through his mind and the eternal warmth of possibility upon his face. He remembers a time when he believed he could be something, someone. And he wonders. He wonders if this time he will be brave enough, if there enough strength or imagination left in him to take that step into a new future.
This is the story of a man who has not yet begun. It is the story of a man on the edge.
What mysteries await his discovery?

Many people ask me what I paint. They wonder what medium I paint in but mostly they want to know what style and subject I paint. Not surprisingly I am pretty well stumped for an answer. I have put together plenty of bios, résumé’s, descriptions and introductions but have never believed in a single one. I don’t paint from life and my painting buddies have stopped asking where my reference photo is. They know by now that there isn’t one. Of course it might seriously help if I used one once in awhile. Often artists refer to painting the truth of what they see. I try to paint the truth of what I feel. The rest of it is just the vehicle. My work is easily grouped into cohesive shows but to say that I paint a certain subject matter or in a particular style never quite seems to fit. It would be more accurate to say that I paint with a particular voice.
Thank you for listening.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Gardens of My Mind

Earlier this evening I was trying to recall something from my distant past. There were only glimmers of the memory and they were as slippery as minnows.
I thought of the electrical energy that gives the brain life and illuminates our thoughts and memory. I began to consider light, how it reveals itself to us and how we reveal ourselves to it. The way we express what we really are by the things that catch our eye or stay in our memory. As I struggled with this I began to consider the physical makings of a memory. Of the neurons that hold them and the dendrites that connect them so that they resemble the most amazing system to ever exist. They are often referred to as resembling a tree but in truth the appearance I think is more that of roots. It is incredible to truly consider the elements which create who we and that they so closely resemble the same system of life used by the very plants that many of us cultivate in our gardens. Of course I don’t know what these little babies look like in the raw. I have only seen them through our technically advanced method of smoke and mirrors but with or without the fancy gear the structure remains the same. The trunk or neuron and the many dendrites forming the root system create the “plants” that populate the garden of our minds.

This evening I was searching for a particular plant that I knew was in the garden but it had been overgrown by other plants over the years which had spread out to block the sun and hog the nutrients. I knew it was still there because like a strongly scented plant I could still smell it wafting through the garden when the breeze was just right. Its growth was stunted and it lacked vitality but it was still alive.

I followed the scent of this memory back into the depths of the garden, carefully stepping aside the many flowers and heirloom plants that had found homes in the fertile soil. The deeper I went the more crowded the garden became. The scent of other memories began to distract me from the one that I sought. Soon the garden began to turn wild and overgrown with long neglected growth. There were the climbing roses that reminded me of my mother now tangled with ivies that represented my grief. The wild irises of my solitude spread deep and wide to create a barrier against the Shasta daisies of my trusting nature.

The light grew dim beneath a quiet fog of forgetfulness. Thick moss cushioned my steps as I approached an old and forgotten stone wall. It had been built years ago for reasons I can no longer remember and it was still strong and sturdy. The light filtered down through drafts of fog illuminating an ancient garden long forgotten. There along the heavy stones of the wall were bits and pieces of tiny plants long ago planted with the passion of a child only to be abandoned as the days grew long. Tiny plants which held so much promise, so much magic. Little markers with names once written in crayon now faded and illegible. I bent to my hands and knees for a closer look.

I could smell the rich earth of childhood and the tears that had once watered this bed. Here was one that had been hastily planted, not quite all the way in. There was another that was still in the pot, yet another that had been a gift and still wore the yellow ribbon it came with. Over near the corner stone of the wall lay several pots never planted. They had grown out of the bottoms and over the sides in spite of the neglect. There was a loose stone in the wall where a steady flow of water seeped out trickling down to the soil beneath. I saw a vile green bug there, from a time I’d rather not recall. I crushed it beneath my shoe. I knew there was another. Something large was growing behind the wall. There were gnarled branches that peaked over the top. I hadn’t come for that though. I was still looking for the plant whose scent I had followed all this way.

I walked along the length of the wall pausing here and there to visit the tiny forgotten plants. The light continued to battle the fog in that ancient garden as the plants fought to reach it. The fragrance I was seeking grew stronger and I began to push aside the detritus of so many years. The aroma of rich loamy earth began to give way to the cool mineral scent of lake water and minnows. I had found it.

The plant was small. It was undernourished and the root system was severely stunted. It didn’t seem to have grown since the day it was planted. It had not interacted with the rest of the eco system. It appeared to have never grown past the original dirt in its pot. It was exactly the same as it had been when it was planted except that it was weak from neglect. I would have to nurture this little watery neuron back to health if I was ever to see it blossom into its promise.

And this is where I began to think of neurons and dendrites. If our memories, our thoughts and feelings are made up of these elements that are so much like plants and trees then how do we become good gardeners? How do we stimulate the growth of the plants that we choose for the garden our mind? I ask myself if it is enough to simply allow the winds to seed my garden or do I take an active role selecting and nurturing a garden of my choosing. While I may have a gravel pit to work with I choose rearrange those rocks into a pleasing design to nurture the best versions of the plants that I have. I will nourish those plants until they have grown strong healthy roots. And I will wait patiently because I planted these plants once and I would like to see the flowers of promise that I believe they can produce.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Survivor - Extreme Home Edition episode 6

On this weeks episode we have a special musical guest Banjos, performing not live, Dueling Banjos. These fellows are a bit more lively than our usual fare so you may want to adjust your volume...or not. Jed Clampett could not be reached for comment. Probably out back swimming in the cement pond. (Post, posting note: the Dueling Banjos song has been moved down to the bottom of the playlist if you would like to listen to it. It is particularly appropriate for this post and just plain funny)

Once again we find our heroine deep in the bowels of the medical profession where she continues to wage her great battle against the most unholy eeviill ROCK. She was last seen flat on her back with a little mask muffling her enraged cries of “FISHES!” In the distance the mocking laughter of the Unholy Evil ROCK was heard. Which oddly sounded just like the charming anesthesiologist’s voice but this was no time to complicate things with questions. The Evil ROCK would soon know the full extent of its folly when those slippery little fins swished by. “Ha! Victory will be mine.”

Of course there was this one little setback. I was in the hospital again. Why? Oh not the evil little gnome that was living inside me, no. This time it was something else entirely. Something unexpected, like the Spanish Inquisition. And like the Inquisition it was just as stupid and as I was quite sure, it was just as painful. Do you recall the caveman diet I was on to help build up those lonely little blood vessels? Do you also recall the cute little jars full of iron packing pumpkin seeds that I had all over the place to snack and nibble on? Not so much? Me either.

Well as it turns out pumpkin seeds are not quite like sunflower seeds. The shells are not puffed out away from the seed like sunflower seeds. They don’t split and crack as easily but they do happen to be a lot softer and almost chewy. Of course there is that one little bit about the outer edge that is pretty tough but that can be got around if your in a hurry and really don’t mind so much. I was and I didn’t so I chewed the little buggers without a second thought. You can never really say enough about the second thought. We should all have them a lot more often. I wish I had.

One of those little hard sharp outer edges had put up a most gallant fight in his final moments and had managed to land a final savage stab at his oppressor. At first the wound went unnoticed but soon the damage grew to unimaginable proportions and my rock slinging days were numbered. They were actually numbered at zero because the only rock I could think of was the one they were going to use for my headstone. It was a happy thought and I thought it often. Eventually I went to the ER and I shared my happy thought with those fine people. Maybe I was delirious with pain but someone said something about things that sounded oddly like the Spanish Inquisition and I actually thought it sounded like a good idea. Well they did have drugs this time and that was a big improvement. My inquisitors wheeled me off to some mysterious chamber and I was relieved that they had finally given up on that dreary sack cloth fashion. The fluffy cloud and sheep pants were so much more cheery.

Meanwhile back at the ranch… the Saint had been sent home once again. “Long surgery, she’ll be out for hours, blah, blah, blah.” Been there, done that. A quick stop by Blockbuster and the couch was his new best friend. Everything was going fine. The movie was stupid, lots of stuff got blown up and there was no stupid plot to get in the way. And then the phone rang. It was the hospital. Panic raced through his veins like a souped up ’67 Camero in a get away scene. It was the doctor, the surgeon to be exact. “Aren’t you supposed to be in there operating?” “um yeah, we’ve got her in there right now and we were wondering uh…what the hell was she eating?”
Five pounds of tire rubber turning to smoke on the asphalt and my reaction= Screeeech!
Are you kidding me? Is there no end to my humiliation?
No. Apparently not.
A pumpkin seed nearly killed me. They are evil and diabolical and that is exactly why they are used at Halloween. I know they sure scare the he** out of me.

In a day or two I was back on the ranch. Though I had a new found enemy in the squash family it was time to get back to my first sworn enemy, the ROCK. I shoveled more gravel, slung more rocks and generally kept chipping away at that unholy alliance of gravel and stone. In between outburst befitting the offspring of a truck driver and a sailor I helped the Sainted one haul up fallen trees from around the property for future firewood. OK fine. Some of them were for my bird roosts but mostly the trees were his.

We were bringing up a series of small trees from down the hill and I felt my lower back give a little protest but that was to be expected when lugging a flipping tree up a hill. We got them situated against the barn when we heard a horrendous noise coming from somewhere. It sounded like a semi truck and a freight train in a slow motion collision. To confused to panic properly we just stared into space as our brains sorted through every known explanation only to come up with semi truck, freight train, slow motion collision.
At the top of the driveway we see a boulder the size of a VW Bug coming toward us. It is being pushed by a track hoe which is being driven by our very friendly neighbor wearing overalls and a big sloppy grin. From up on high and over the unimaginable din he shouts “Hey, I thought you all could use a rock! I seen you been collecting them and I had this one just laying around over at our place so I thought I’d bring it over. Where do you want it?”

What! Where do I want it? You just brought me a giant boulder the size of a car right out of the blue and you want to know where I want it? You know, I didn’t exactly have that mapped out in my garden plan. I thought all these things but didn’t say them of course. I was to busy trying to think of what I was going to do with this “gift.” With the little bit I did know of this guy I was pretty sure that where ever that rock went right then was exactly where it was going to stay for the rest of eternity so I had better think of something fast. “There” I said pointing “put it over there.” It was the farthest edge of the evil ROCK. It would eventually become the second waterfall.

Apparently our happy and generous overall wearing neighbor took our shocked and incredulous expressions to mean “please bring us more” because that is exactly what he did over the next several days. I would be lying in bed passed out like the dead when suddenly a freight train would be barreling down on me. It was just my friendly neighbor at six AM bringing me another gift he was sure I needed because “ You sure seem to like rocks.”

On one particular fine day after another unexpected rock delivery and between pick axing the Evil ROCK and hauling up more trees my lower back did finally give me my final warning. And I ignored it. Sure it was stiff that night but it was always stiff and that seemed fair considering the situation. The heating pad and I had become close friends. We were more than close. We were sleeping together. But like all heated relationships it would soon end in disappointment and betrayal.

I awoke to greet another day of forced labor and began to roll out of bed when my nightmare began. Overnight my hot slender bed buddy had betrayed me and left me with a colossal case of STD. Stupendously Terrible…Oh forget the acronyms my back was in the worst spasm imaginable and the pain was excruciating. After maneuvers more careful than an astronaut’s space walk I managed to make it to the bathroom. It was now confirmed that I had just completed my highest achievement for the day. The day and night wore on in a hideous blaze of pain. The next day was amazingly worse as the spasm intensified. I wanted to call an ambulance myself this time but we live on a mile of rough unpaved private road and I had to know how good the shocks were on the ambulance before committing to one. I began to think about an airlift. I wondered if they would let me throw that deceitful heating pad out the window when we passed over the manure patch at the dairy farm.

Just as I was planning my escape and subsequent revenge a horrible thing happened. Actually a horrible mind numbing thing happened… to the air. The septic system began to back up into the house! It was coming up through all the drains like some toxic throw back to a 1950s teen horror movie. “It Came From Below” “The Bowels of Hell” “The Toxic Avenger” and other such titles of popcorn and Jujube beans fame. Surely this day could not get worse. Surely.

Plants were beginning to wilt, trees were starting to droop. This monster had to be put back into its swamp before it took over the county and soon the entire world. A call for help was made. The horror of it all was, well, horrible. My back felt like it was broken everything was filling with phenomenal skank when finally my saviors arrived. A big tank truck with the words Sweet Swirl Septic Systems emblazoned on the side pulled up out front and I suddenly realized just how those guys from the movie Deliverance pad their incomes between big movie deals. I didn’t catch their names, I was too busy counting teeth and wondering if that was a raccoon or opossum stuck to the grill. Well Hollywood must have taught these boys how to network with the best of them because the whole while they were working on, dare I say in, the problem they kept up a witty banter with each other and to my absolute humiliation, me. They were well versed in all the appropriate genre related jokes and had a particular penchant for jokes that required victim participation. Every time I tried to make my hobbled escape Two Tooth would suddenly need to ask me where something was and then start another joke. One Tooth would just grin and hitch up his trousers again. Apparently it could get worse.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

So Now What?

It has been raining here for about 1,600 weeks now. Daylight Savings time came along and stole one entire precious hour of sunlight or perhaps I should say one slightly less dark grey hour of the day. It is now solidly dark by the hour of five PM and if you make the mistake of sleeping in or worse yet, having a day job, you might mistake yourself for a Morlock. Of course they did do some pretty shabby things to those poor Eloi and the worst we did was to inflict Starbucks and Grunge fashion on the rest of the world. Don't get me wrong I am a big fan of Starbucks and have pledged my first grandchild in exchange for daily infusions, though I am a tad less enthusiastic about the whole grunge thing. I suppose under certain comparisons Morlock and Seattleite could be interchangeable. Well, at least in the rainy season anyway.
But really, it’s not our fault! You can see what we’re dealing with here. These things are bound to happen when the only daylight you see is in the snapshot you carry around in your wallet reminding you of that one glorious hour last summer just after the Fourth of July when the rain finally stopped.

Oh fine. I’ll stop whining. But it has been raining pretty darn steady for some time now and I’m feeling like a kid home from school with a slight cold. The dogs don’t want to wear the cute little outfits I made for them and hide when they see me coming. I’m not even trying with the cats after that last doctor bill. Sheesh, what an attitude. So with all this time indoors I’m starting to get a little batty and goodness knows I do not need any help in that direction.

Which brings me to the point of today’s post. Deep breath in, now let it out slowly…

It is time for me to get back to work. I have been stalling and making false starts for months now and so it appears that another approach is needed. I have got to kick myself in the behind and what better place to do that than in public? I am an artist and I haven’t seriously painted or sculpted for longer than I should have. I paint in oil, pastel, watercolor and sculpt with stainless steel mesh. Wow. I feel like I’m at a twelve step meeting and that was a lot tougher than I wanted it to be.
I have been watching a few artists who participate in the “Painting a Day” blogs hoping that it would inspire me to get back to work. Unfortunately I proved to be immune to that therapy. I did start several paintings only to get to the “hump” part and stop. I had plenty of reasons for my distraction and the garden proved a pretty handy excuse most times. Soon blogging was also a handy scapegoat. Now if I keep this up it will be the holidays as an excuse and then it’s spring tulips leading to summer and still no painting. I am ready to admit I have a problem and in that vein I am giving myself an intervention of sorts.

I am showing you a couple pieces of my work today. Then I am going to paint another painting and put it up here again, and so on. I am not a painting a day kind of artist. That just isn’t my creative cycle so there’s no need to worry about that. I am really just hoping that if I can feel that pleasant obligation to stay connected with you through this blog and that it might extend to my art which could be just the jolt I need to get back in the palette again. Did you notice that clever little twist on the old “back in the saddle again?” That’s what staying up past your bedtime and no sunlight for two weeks will do to you. You’d think with all that talent Microsoft would come up with a program called “Stupid Check.” Now there’s a world changing invention just waiting to happen.

And so to conclude this rambling little post I will leave you with this. I have no flowers and no sun and I need to find something to blog about soon. I have no idea what you real gardeners do with your blogs over the winter months. I haven’t been around long enough to find out so I kind of imagine you talking about house plants and stuff like that. I’m a little low on house plants right now so I thought maybe I could paint instead.

I should probably tell you what these pieces are before I close out.
Blue poppies are pastel on sanded paper, 22x30”
Koi are watercolor 22x30” on 300lb hot press
Red poppies are pastel on sanded paper 30x36”
The sculpture is stainless steel mesh hand formed and prized for the shadows it creates

I’m going to fix a bowl of popcorn, put in a stupid movie and forget I posted. The good thing is, I’ve ordered a sun lamp so incidents like this should be less frequent.