Saturday, December 31, 2005

Last Day of 2005

Well, this year ranks up there with the single worst year in the life of Jessie. However-- it is the New Year and therefore, a time to celebrate. Rather than obsess over what went wrong or what I wish was different about myself or my life--it's a good time to think about what did go right and to recognize the things I actually did accomplish.

So in the spirit of a tradition I started 9 years ago...

My List of Accomplishments in 2005:
  1. Survived teaching the research paper last spring and gained confidence in knowing that I can do it again.
  2. Had an incredibly talented class of writers this fall--and was inspired by them all.
  3. Realized that no matter how bad everything else was--I love teaching, every minute of it.
  4. Sold my house.
  5. Paid off 7 years worth of debt.
  6. Moved...found a place where all of us--Vinny, myself, Anu, and the cats are all happy. And it is exactly the type of place I imagined living in.
  7. Got settled in the new place--almost completely.
  8. Acquired some of the best neighbors I've ever had.
  9. Got active again--perpetual walking. Living in town allows me this.
  10. Finally wrote my thesis proposal.
  11. Had a painting exhibition in the big city of Minneapolis.
  12. Currently have a show hanging in the BCAC.
  13. Attempted (with some success) abstract landscapes. Loosened up my painting style and became more expressive in the process.
  14. Sold a painting for a nice sum of $$.
  15. Wrote several essays and a few poems that I feel good about.
  16. Traveled to Texas to spend time with my grandparents last spring.
  17. Went to Mexico for the first time.
  18. Traveled parts of Canada I had never seen before.
  19. Spend time with my sister's family.
  20. Made artist's books for the first time.
  21. Celebrated 2 years of marriage with my husband.
  22. Gained a few new friends.
  23. Painted my new writing room lime green.
  24. After a year of thinking about it, finally sat down to write my old painting instructor a long letter. I miss her dearly.
  25. Filled a couple journals.
  26. Started spending more time with friends.
  27. Decided to take a year off from school next year--I'm folllowing my heart--something I haven't done in too long.
And in the next couple days maybe I'll think of more to add. But what I'm realizing in making this list is that even some of the hardest aspects of this past year have led to some of the best rewards. Things are funny that way.

Friends and family--Happy New Year to all of you! May you find happiness and creative inspiration in every day.

Here's to a new year and new beginnings!

Friday, December 30, 2005

Another lake walk and more dream houses...

Although I do not fish--I could live here. I grew up in a too large, too fancy house and have ever since been attracted to small, simple, lived-in spaces--yep, even ice-houses.



I heard on the radio a couple years ago of an artists' community that took up residency in the middle of the lake. When the artists converted their ice-houses into studios and started working and living out there the police tried to get rid of them--but the town wanted them to stay. The artists would get visitors from all over--there to see their art and to watch them make it. One guy did paintings on large sheets of ice. It looked like watercolor. He did ice-house landscapes and odd still lives of found items--fish, boots, lures, garbage. Eventually they'd melt (or break)--but he'd make more. There were potters, painters, sculptors...and yes, even people fishing.

Polar Expeditions...

Hangover or not, it turned out to be a pretty good day. I peeled myself off of the floor by late morning and suited up for the outdoors for a long walk with Anu. I was determined to work off any remaining alcohol in my system with physical activity regardless of the drumming in my head. I don't know if it worked or not, but the wind and white was enough to keep me happily occupied. We walked the long way to Diamond Point, then headed out onto the lake. And although I'm a Northern Minnesotan, I was surprised to realize that it had been a long time since I had been on any major (or minor) ice excursions. All the nothingness was refreshing--and did wonders to clear my ever-rattling head. I found an ice cave formed by buckled ice and drifted snow along the shore and decided that it would make a perfect fort for reading. Anu and I crawled in and took a rest inside where it was amazingly silent and warm. If only I had brought a book.

Eventually we resumed forward motion on our polar expedition. Conditions were perfect. The snow was hard and crusted over with enough glare ice to keep us entertained. Runnnn....slide....walk a little...runnnn....slide. I thought of my old dog Abe and about how much fun he would have had. His favorite thing in the whole world (besides tuna fish) was ice. Anu and I stopped for a moment to miss him and honor his spirit before moving on to another patch of ice. I thought about how much I would like to live in a fish house--and spent a good deal of our walk daydreaming how I'd make it work. I figured 4 months of rent free living, close enough to campus to walk and shower at the Rec. Center, a computer lab nearby--what more could I want? I imagined a bed to one side with lots of comforters, a propane tank outside hooked up to an indoor heater to keep the place toasty and warm, oil lamps, cups of hot chocolate, good books, and nothing but wide open sky above us. Oh, to be so connected to my surroundings! I thought about how good the stars look at night in the middle of a frozen lake. I imaged having lawn chairs positioned outside for soaking up sun during the day. Students would look out Hagg-Sauer windows wondering: Is someone living out there??? The whole idea started looking pretty comical--but desirable nonetheless!

We came home hot and tired. But happy. Very happy.
And tomorrow--I think we'll do it again. :)

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Dear Writing,

In order to make contact with you I have hereby resorted to the Higher Power of Bloody Marys.
May peace be with you.

Love,
Jessie

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Self Portrait Tuesday: Dog Face



December's theme for Self Portrait Tuesday is (still) reflective surfaces. The last couple Tuesdays I've posted reflections of myself in mirrors and glass...

But there's one thing that reflects who I am more than anything-- and that is the dogs I love most in my life-- because it is them that reflect my best side.

Happy Dogs...

Ahh...that romp in the woods is what all of us needed.

Anu running at breakneck speeds...so happy to run free!


Coca's (my dad's dog) happy to roll in the snow. Mmmmm--yeah.


My beautiful wolfie--actually standing still.


And Coca...fat is beautiful too! :)


Action shots: snow dogs playing in the snow!


Could life get any better???

Let's start over.

wow--so that last post is a little more depressing than I had anticipated. I should delete it, but as a general rule of thumb I don't allow myself such mass editing with this blog. If I did I'm pretty sure my entries would be nearly nonexistant.

Anyway, it's another grey day. For some reason it's quiet outside. I have a fresh cup of coffee in front of me from a place I do not know how to spell. This morning I'll write in my paper journal while curled up on the couch with the cats. Then take a quick shower and drive out to the woods with Anu. She needs a good run. And so do I. This afternoon (I promise myself) I'm going to sit down and begin work on my India stories. Vinny will be at work and the distractions few.

This is the day I begin.

Monday, December 26, 2005

I've always been a dreamer...

...so where's my big dream for what's next?

Lately I've been thinking a lot about what we'll do and where we'll go this summer when our lease runs out. Since putting the house up for sale I've been saying over and over "because we have to move away...for school...for jobs....we have to move away...." Occasionally I'll be walking down the street with wolfie and we'll see someone I know, but haven't talked to in awhile. Every time they are surprised to see me in town with my dog. So I explain, "Well, we sold our house. I live in town now..." Then I get a slightly shocked/confused/disappointed look and I revert back to the explanation that "we're moving next year...school...jobs..." Every time I walk away feeling like shit. I walk away, Anu pulling me down the street, thinking, mumbling under my breath...I had to sell it because I'm a fucking loser and no one's filling my bank account with magic money you fucking idiot. Basically, I walk away feeling a whole lot more depressed than I did the moment before I ran into them and was barraged with questions.

So the thought has been on my mind: Where will we be next year?

After this last year, neither of us is ready to tackle an MFA or PhD. We decided to take a year off from school and collect ourselves. We need to reenergize. We need to: a lot of things.

What we want to do is have mental space to work on our writing. But we all know how easily "life" gets in the way--so we've talked about doing a few writing workshops together or separately to keep us on track and actively writing. We want to use the year to work on getting published. And we also need to work. After graduating I would also like to return to India--and if I have the time, I have a good chance of getting grants to get me there.

But with all of these things we want to spend our energy on...where does moving fit into the picture? Does it help? Or hinder? Will it help us get better jobs? Or will a move just cost money? I feel like I've backed myself into a corner by telling everyone we're moving next year. I like it here, but damnit!...(unsorted thoughts go here)...

I don't know--and this is too complicated to blog about. (confusing thoughts go here)

I think I need to learn how to dream again. I used to listen to my dreams--and follow them. I have lived a good life that way--but somewhere along the lines it seems that I lost that talent. I want it back.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

bloggerville updates

I've been keeping an eye on this painter's blog for about a year now. What most impresses me is that he never misses a day! Now that's dedication. I've added his link to my sidebar and in doing so started thinking that my own blog needs some updates. What--I'm not sure.

First day of Christmas vacation.

It's been a slow unwinding, but today marks the first "official" day of break: revised thesis proposal turned in, student grades turned in, evaluations turned in, no more meetings, no more anything until I'm ready for it.

Lastnight, after (honestly) the best meal I have ever had, my husband and I came home; I walked the dog, then laid in bed reading (for enjoyment!) until I fell asleep. It felt like the best sleep of my life. This morning I woke up feeling rested and with a smile on my face. I feel relaxed and satisfied. It's warm out, almost 30 degrees above zero. Later I'll take Anu and Coca, my dad's husky-chow-mutt, for a long romp in the woods. The relaxed pace of the day feels like good nutrition--and every pore of my body is thankful for it.

The things I want to do during break:
  • Since moving I've really wanted to get my sewing machine out. Mostly I want to sew curtains for the living room and my writing room. Something simple and inexpensive. Something colorful. I'd also like to sew a duvet for the bedroom and a couple pillows.
  • A couple months ago my husband picked out a 48"x 48" canvas for me to paint something on for his room. I've been wanting to work on that since the day he got it.
  • Read, Read, Read! Oh, I can't wait to read! Right now I'm working on Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake. My reading list also includes: Anne Tyler's Celestial Navigations; A Sense of Place: Great Travel Writers Talk About their Craft, their Lives, and Inspiration, edited by Michael Shapiro; An Area of Darkness by V.S. Naipaul; Karma Cola by Gita Mehta... list continues on forever (how many books can I read in one break?) . I want to read books in preparation for my thesis (books about travel, India or by Indian authors), but mostly I want to read books that inspire my own writing!
  • Unpack the few remaining boxes from the move. Maybe even accomplish a little bit of reorganization.
  • Paint the bedroom dresser (it's a purple dresser in sage, white, and butterscotch room--ugh!)
  • Hang out in my studio doing nothing demanding...just creating--doodles, book making, doing whatever and nothing in particular. :)
  • Enjoy relaxed and extended morning cups of coffee while blogging or journal writing.
And while these are all things I want to do...there is one thing that I really must do: begin work on my thesis. Luckily this is also something I want to do. Somewhere along the line--after moving, after getting settled, after the opening of my art show--writing mind returned. I once again find myself thinking in terms of words, not just colors. There wasn't room for writing before. But now a space has opened. I am--finally--ready to start this project.

I'm looking forward to the the coming winter weeks of break. I think I need it. Don't we all.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Little Viscosa

My little cat, Vico, crawled up into my lap and is now stretched out in my arms causing me to type one handed because she looks up at me with such love and trust--purring, purring, purring. I still have to rewrite my thesis proposal and comment on 2 student essays...but she makes me so very, very sleepy. I can feel her heart beating next to mine.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

A good day to make journals...


(sorry-- poor image quality)

Tonight's project included making journals for my brother and his girlfriend. I painted big sheets of nice, thick paper; collaged on some. After tearing the large sheets to size and to give them rough edges I ended up with enough material to make 2 smaller journals as well (a 100 pages each!). They are a lot of work--but will go to good homes. Not to mention, it feels good to get "crafty." Tomorrow I'll bind them and make hardcovers for them. My fingers still have smudges of glue and turquoise blue--hence, it's been a good day.

If you could only see me...

Well, actually, it's a good thing that you can't cuz I look a little like this except I have more energy and the room I sit in is filled with sun (ahh!). My hair, now a good 5 inches long at the top, has somehow morphed into a mohawk during the course of the night with a nice rat's nest at the back. I'm wearing a knee-length flannel nightgown with cardinals and birdhouses at the bottom (a gift from my mom several years ago) and, underneath, a pair of thick fleece pants that I sewed myself (and not very well). I wear poofy, black Hello Kitty slippers and a fuzzy blanket around my shoulders. My eyeliner is slightly smudged, but I have brushed my teeth. My nose is a little runny from playing outside with Anu in -10 degree weather. I think I'm gonna sneeze.
If you could see me now...you could say that you truly know me. Anyone want to come over for coffee? haha.

hmmm--I love Sundays.

You know you live in Northern Minnesota when:

snowmobiles driving past your house in the middle of town are a daily occurrence.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

in this new home

Today, after an hour of hacking at ice and shoveling the sidewalk, I looked up to an orange/blue/yellow/grey/pink sky and realized that I am happy here.
I guess today is the first day that I've had the peace of mind to realize that.

Yes, I like this place.

I'm done, I did it.

No longer enough energy for enthusiasm, but I accomplished the goal of finishing my thesis proposal. I sent it off as an attachment in an e-mail at midnight exactly. Now I'll just wait and see if I need to make any revisions. I can handle that.

It's weird that so much time and energy can go into a measly 5 pages. But those 5 pages are going to be my life for the next 5 months.

The only thing left to do now is to grade essays--and then Christmas break is mine!

Friday, December 16, 2005

still working on the thesis proposal...

I have a cup of fresh coffee sitting directly in front of me. I've just returned from a walk in the snow with wolfie. I have not one, but two paragraphs of my thesis proposal written.

I want to write something here--but I have dedicated myself to finishing a draft of my proposal today. It doesn't need to be this difficult. I wrote 2 paragraphs in 2 days. Let's hope the rest comes easier.

On the bright side, I feel good about what I'm writing. No matter how hard it might be or become. It's time to write this story.

(...need more coffee)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Self Portrait Tuesday: (oops--it's Wednesday--no, it's Thursday!)

Tuesday's come and gone, a few minutes ago it was Wednesday, and now it's Thursday. Who needs sleep when there's so much living to do?

When I was little people would ask what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wanted to be lots of things, but mostly I wanted to be either a piano teacher or a Solid Gold Dancer. ha! I will never become either.

But sometimes, secretly, I sill wish I was a ballerina.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Thoughts on Comfort and Inspiration...

Midnight, and finally I am starting to relax. I feel the tension in my back, in my neck, in my jaw loosening--bit by bit. I still have a thesis proposal to write and one more round of essays to grade, but at this point it is beginning to feel manageable. Ah--*deep breath*--a momentary break in the storm.

Speaking of storms--it is beautiful outside. I just returned from a late night walk with wolfie. The wind is warm enough that the snow has turned into a slight drizzle. By morning it might create more hazardous conditions, but for now, it feels heavenly. It's amazing how anything above 10 degrees starts to feel warm this time of year. We walked slow. Anu stopped often to sniff the air. I stopped along with her because I was in no hurry.

Last week I read a post that's had me thinking all week. And I've been waiting for a short break from the grind to post some of my own musings...

1. What brings you comfort?

scratchy cat kisses, the smell of fresh ground coffee, the taste of fresh brewed coffee, snuggling with Anu, the sound of wind in pine trees, long walks, occasional grey days, puddles of sunshine, the smell of oil paints, carnations, and books; potato chips, quiet mornings with a journal, the sound of 25 students with pen to paper, flannel sheets, new socks, warm water, rain, snow, green olive soup, burning candles and incense, the time to lay around with a good book, slow dancing with V., the smell of sage, deep vibrant colors, sheepskin, the sound of the heat turning on, watching my cats sleep, connecting with friends, samosas, old journals, my red coffee cup, listening to Jackson Browne (don't ask me why), making art, skyscapes, mist, frost, getting my hands dirty, my old red and black flannel, ravens...

2. What is one quote that has left a profound impact on your life?

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived." ~Henry David Thoreau

3. What are 3 things on your life-list?

-to (continue) teaching writing
-to win the Pulitzer (ha!) ok--how about to write (and publish) at least one book
-to return to India

4. What inspires you?

all of the above, people that follow their heart (even when it's difficult or risky), travel, color, good teachers, good music, fresh air, the energy of fellow writers and artists, honesty, determination, my students, coffee!

Ahh--that little break felt good.

Goodnight, and sweet dreams.


The Green Machine

Powering me through the home stretch:


Spirulina, Chlorella, Green Tea, Broccoli, Spinach, Blue Green Algae, Garlic, Echinacea, Barley Grass, Wheat Grass, Apples, Kiwi, Banana, Pineapple, and Mango.

Want some?

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Random thought instead of writing...

Had the house sold just a little earlier, I would have been on a plane to India this week.

Had I been on a plane to India, I would have finished my work already. As it is, I am neither on a plane or finished with my work.

Damn.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Feeling At Home

Yesterday was good. And I've decided that it feels pretty good being 31. When I woke up the first thought to go through my conscious mind was that I've reached a plateau in life, a level place--those non-years between the age of 31 and oh, 39. It's those years that you never hear much about. The years that people just work hard, do what needs to be done, struggle, question their lives, work more, start aging, blah, blah, blah.

I imagined this plateau to look like somewhere that I've driven through, somewhere dry and in- the-distance; somewhere that I wished I could climb to the top of and see forever, dissolve into the vastness. But it's also somewhere dusty and beige. It's a nondescript place that looks good in the distance, but is boring once you get there.

However, being fond of open places, I've decided that having reached a level place isn't all bad. A couple years ago I took a cross country bike trip from my driveway in Becida to the Rockies. It required pedaling through hundreds of miles of plains--those open places that stretch out forever and we think of being flat, flat, flat. But what I remember most from the trip is the rolling hills, unexpected contours, the beauty of the landscape. And if the 30's are like North Dakota, then I think I'll take the road less traveled. The one that runs, not straight, but diagonally across the state.

Yesterday V. spoiled me, he spoiled me, he spoiled me. We spent the day bumming around town, ate lunch at the Wild Hare, bummed around some more, decorated the Christmas tree, went out for dinner and then a movie. After midnight we stood outside under a dark sky of fat snowflakes. They drifted down slow. The tree glowed through the window. There was quiet. And for the first time in a long while--I felt comfortable in my own skin. Nothing's changed overnight but, surprisingly, I am enjoying my view from the plateau.


A sense of community

Something I've been thinking about for a few days now is how and why and to what extent we use blogs as a way to communicate. I've also been thinking about community--in the classroom, in my neighborhood, in cyber-world... Oh, if only I had more time to write. We live in a world where we (wisely) keep ourselves guarded--but in the end, how cut off do we become? It is a world filled with strangers, but through blogs I am (recently) enjoying the evolution of community. And I'll admit--I like the change.

Friday, December 09, 2005

All work for the day: CANCELLED

Today ranks right up there with the first day of snow. But for now it's time to get out of my pajamas. Afternoon just started for chrissakes. I love it. Loud music, hot shower, strong coffee. Then maybe go out for a late lunch? Yes.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Yesterday's Fortune

"Stop searching
happiness is inside of you."

Today, on the other hand, I haven't been looking for anything except to get things done. Luckily there is enough to do that it is an easily self-satisfying goal. Am I talking in English? Last night I dreamt that a strange woman slipped two hits of acid in my coffee. I've been feeling the effects all day--but I think it's actually a cold that I've been fighting all week. Although it is important to mention that I do not get sick. No, never. There's an intricate mind game I play with myself to keep illness at bay and it usually works. This time, however, I feel like I am fighting an uphill battle. Or maybe there's a small part of me that wants it this time--that heaviness, the calm, the excuse to lay down and not feel guilty about it. Oh yeah, but that's the other reason I never let myself get sick. I have an incredible guilt complex that does not allow me to "do nothing." I think I acquired it from my parents a long, long time ago. Chronic workaholics. Nature or nurture? I don't know. All I do know is that my dad never let me sleep in and my mom never sat still. So here I am, at 31 (tomorrow--hint, hint), a horrible, guilt-ridden product of my parents and their parents and their parents...

Good god. Am I floating?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Self Portrait Tuesday: (please sing along) ho-ho-ho-home depot is a rip off...



Geez, is it Tuesday again already? Ok, so December's "challenge" is a self-portrait in a reflective surface. So here it is--the Christmas tree! The one we spent way too much money for at Home Depot because we have legitimately become "city folk" and no longer have the swamp to tromp around in to find free "Charlie Brown" trees. Oh, but she's a beauty. And one of these days we might even get her decorated!

Tonight big, fat snowflakes fall slowly, slowly from the sky. Woodsmoke drifts into the yard like incense from someone else's chimney. And the tree...well, she waits very impatiently--and so do I!

Monday, December 05, 2005

I think I might have even missed my office.

It feels like a long time since I've been here. But that's not true. It's just that it's been a long time since I've been in here, not for office hours, but with the intention of getting something done. The door is shut, I have a latte at my side, a nice hot bowl of chili for when I get hungry, a stack of books, papers to grade. This place feels like the most organized and least distracting space available--so here I am.

Until now I've been avoiding my office except for when I needed to be here. I think I over used and abused the space last year with all those 12 even 14 hour days. Looking back I can honestly say: Last year sucked. Maybe all that horrible stressed out energy has finally dissipated from these windowless walls. It actually, I'll admit, feels good to be back.

I spent almost the entire morning outside taking care of my sick pooch and searching for a Christmas tree. And at the moment I am content to sit in this warm, dark office listening to a Christmas CD made by my husband (an early present).

Life feels fine. Things are about to get done.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

art folk photos

my mom and i in the "Fragmented Forest." (er--can you say metaphor?)















fellow art makers











and ashleigh and i at our opening!

Today I'm going to get a lot done.

This is a promise to myself.

This morning I got up (not as early as I would have liked) and took wolfie for a long walk. We went as far as the art's center then back along the lake trail. The snow was deep, but it felt good to trudge through it. I've learned to, like Anu, keep an eye out for squirrels. It makes her happy when I play along. By the time we got home my scarf and eyelashes were thickly frosted over. Anu's chin had icicles hanging from it. After feeding her and playing some more I came inside and made coffee. Oh--the aroma of coffee on a cold winter morning. Perfect. Outside every window, my world is covered in snow.

I find myself wanting to decorate for Christmas more than doing much of anything else. We got lights last night and today we'll get a tree. Whether or not we decorate it today, I'm not sure. There is too much to do. And once we have the tree set up, then damnit, I want to lay on the couch reading books, sipping hot chocolate, and enjoying it. Either way--we're almost to the end. Even though it feels absolutely, 100% impossible to accomplish it all. Miracles DO happen.

Since finishing the show, hanging it, and living (happily) through the opening...I feel a deep sense of calm. It is strange. Even though there's still a lot of stress in finishing out the semester, I have that "going-with-the-flow" feeling. I still miss Abe, and my grandpa, and my home in Becida...but now it's time to move on. Now if I cry it doesn't have to be about something I lost, but about something I was lucky enough to experience.

The rest, well-- the rest will fall into place.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

You're Invited!!!...

OPEN SPACES

"Somewhere in Canada"
Oil on Canvas
60"x 48"x 2"
...to an opening reception at the BCAC (old Carnegie Library on 5th and Bemdiji Ave.)
Friday, December 2nd 5-7pm.

Main Gallery: Vivianne Morgan, Marlon Davidson, and Terry Garret
X2: Ashleigh Buck
X3: Me!

Hope to see you!!

Artist Statement:
We are all affected by color and my recent work is an attempt to express emotional experience through color. I read somewhere, “Look for a long time at what pleases you, and for a longer time at what pains you.” In many ways this has been the hardest year of my life. Within two weeks both my best friend and my grandfather passed away. Shortly after, I put my house up for sale and moved. It became important for me to communicate the deep sense of loss I was experiencing. When I began the project I thought that, for the first time, my work might become tremendously dark. But darkness, each time, was interrupted by light—and, as often, the feeling of loss was replaced by hope.


Working intuitively, I allowed my subconscious to be the primary motivation for artistic vision and I found myself returning to the open spaces of land and skyscapes for healing and inspiration. My paintings are meditations on thoughts and memories that have been transformed into associations and articulated through color. For me, painting is a form of writing when words are not enough. In using color as a narrative tool, it is my hope that the personal experiences of viewers will merge with my own, thereby creating a dialogue, a shared moment—one that goes beyond words—and is felt deeply.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

snow shovels and ice scrapers...

Today winter sounds like "sshhh-ssshhhk-ssshhh" and "chop-cchhk-chhop!" It's rather peaceful.

Self Portrait Tuesday: I should really get something done.

I've been doing more math because it's the end of the semester and I've lost my equilibrium as well as my sense of time and place. What it breaks down to is 15 days + 8 if you include finals week. My life has deteriorated into a mathematical equation.

I like this self portrait that I took early this morning, not because I actually feel as bad as I look, but because it captures my utter sense of exasperation and some of the dread of feel towards writing (and the passage of time). It looks like me every night at about midnight when I'm still looking at a blank computer screen and checking blogs too often. Don't get me wrong--I love writing. In a sick and twisted way, I do always look forward to it.

Happy Snow Dog

Monday, November 28, 2005

poems for a stormy night...

"A Single Seed Reveals Them"
An apple on the table
hides its seeds
so neatly
under seamless skin.

But we talk and talk and talk
to let somebody
in.

~Naomi Shihab Nye from 19 Varieties of Gazelle


Or how about:

"Jerusalem Headlines 2000"
HOLY LAND EXPERIENCES BIGGEST SNOWFALL IN 50 YEARS

If someone's lemon tree
disappears under a drift

If your auto with the blue license plates
your goat or my aged donkey
If the clay jar in which your mother
hauled water for sixty years

If the snow piles up past everyone's windows
all of the windows

PALESTINIANS AND ISRAELIS WORKED TOGETHER
IN THE WEST BANK TO RESCUE...


a sweeter sentence than baklava

than all the oranges of Jericho
offered up to God!

~Naomi Shihab Nye from 19 Varieties of Gazelle

ICE

This morning I did not "walk" Anu, I "skated" her. Glare ice. The best part was when she saw a squirrel. I held on to the leash, knees bent, and got pulled till we hit an incline. Good sled dog. (I wonder if the people in my neighborhood think I'm wierd???)

Today's a good day to stay home and eat leftover mushroom rissotto (my new favorite comfort food). I think I might even get back into my pajamas--cuz I'm not going anywhere.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

doing the math...

If I write approximately a half a page a day (or 3.75 pages a week) for the next 16 weeks I will have generated enough material for my thesis by late March (leaving me time for revision). I don't mean a half a page of junk, but of USABLE material.

.5 pages a day including 3 solid weeks of X-mas vacation time. Yes--I can do this. I think I might even be looking forward to it.

writing as art according to ernest

I was trying to write then and I found the greatest difficulty was to put down what really happened in action; what the actual things were which produced the emotion that you experienced…the real thing, the sequence of motion and fact which made the emotion and which would be as valid in a year or ten years or, with luck and if you stated it purely enough, always.

-Ernest Hemingway

Not that I need anything more to do, but...

Self Portrait Tuesday looks pretty cool. Oh to have just one, small creative endeavor every day of the week. And Wednesday-Monday?...so many possibilities.

You know, I'm really looking forward to break this year. There are so many thing I want to do!!!

Today the freezing lake water sounds like rain...

...a nice, soft, gentle rain. I pretended that I was in an Asian, tropical place. Across the street bamboo chimes rattled in the wind. But it only lasted a moment because I returned to pretending that I was in the cold, white tundra of Alaska (but that's only cuz I was wearing V's parka). I was returned to reality when I saw a turquoise blue flip flop tangled in a tree with bittersweet. Otherwise a fairly uneventful morning walk.

Anu is still happy from yesterday's hike in the woods. By late afternoon I was ready to do nothing, but forced myself to go. We're both glad. It felt good to return to our element. Deer crashed through the woods in front of us. We spooked at least a dozen grouse. Anu got to snack on a few gut piles :(- The air was cold. There were leaves and snow and ice and winter wheat that crunched under our feet. Needless to say, we went home happy.

Today is Thanksgiving #2. This time with V's parents and my dad and his girlfriend. I made the curried squash soup. The professional is in charge of the rest: Cornish hens stuffed with mushroom risotto and wrapped in grape leaves, string beans with roasted red peppers, sweet potatoes, fresh bread, pecan pie, and an antipasto platter. And I'd like to make a announcement: I like being married to an Italian! Ok, so they're crabby and unpredictable--but they are really good cooks!

My contribution is to clean the house (today I am living in Vinny's shadow).

Oh yeah-- and last night I dreamed I went to India...or at least I was trying to...except my passport had expired! And for real--it is. I think I better get that thing renewed. But for now what I really need--is coffee.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

firework finale and a peaceful Saturday...life is good.

I can tell by the temperature of the floorboards by the door that it's cold outside. I have slippers on and am drinking a cup of French roast in my favorite cup with cream and sugar. I've given up the blanket I had around my shoulders to the kitten who isn't really a kitten at all, but a cat who is treated like a baby. My generosity of warmth is paid back in loud purring that would last all morning if I had time to remain sitting here.

But alas, I don't. Instead, shortly, I will head down to the gallery for the afternoon. I almost forgot it's Saturday. I planned on writing all day with maybe an intermission for the hunterless woods with Anu. She hasn't been off her leash since we moved. Nor, I feel, have I. Ok, but first the gallery.

It doesn't matter--because today I feel relaxed. Last night I finished my show. Yes, finished. There was a lot of activity outside my studio windows because of the parade. I sat painting and wished Vinny would show up. Just as I put the last brush strokes on my last painting I heard a rap-rap-rap on the glass. It was my mind-reading husband! I let him in, showed him my work, and two seconds later... BOOM-BOOM-BOOM!!! Yes!! What an excellent finale to finishing this show--FIREWORKS! Perfect timing. I aM DoNE!

These past several weeks my life has been absolutely committed to my painting. It felt good and I can only compare it to the amount of focus I had in preparing for my Senior show. I will admit that I don't care that I fell behind in my other work--because I needed to do this. And now--ahh--sigh of relief--I feel good. I feel like, finally, I can focus on everything else that needs to get done. And mostly, I'm relieved and excited to give my energy to writing. I'm ready now to express myself in words (slow, creaky start).

But I'm thankful for paint--because without it I think I would still be floundering.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

thanksgiving @ grandma's

at least a dozen appetizers
bloody marys
wine
wild rice
homemade stuffing
mashed potatoes and gravy
wild cranberries (picked from the bog)
homemade bread
a variety of vegetables
marshmallow salad of some sort (what's a holiday without it?)
ham
turkey
fruit
coffee
pumpkin pie
berry pie
cheesecake

needless to say, i'm stuffed, but satisfied. completely. my sister's strolling the beaches of the atlantic in 70 degree weather...i'd say she's missing out.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

ok, point taken...

a paraphrase: you've gotta be able to create your own energy, not rely on others for it.

yes, it's true--and good to be reminded. anyway, today some writers blew yesterday's complaint out of the water. i need to quit complaining and start creating. 'nuf said.

Monday, November 21, 2005

little landscapes, mail, and other rambling thoughts...

After several months of thinking big (48"x 60" oil on canvas) I took an exciting detour and painted a little-iddy-biddy 6"x 6" landscape with acyrlic. It was wonderful. I painted sitting on a stool holding the canvas in my hand. I was rough with it and painted quickly. Normally I hate painting small. It makes me feel constricted. But not today. Today's painting felt a little like hiding out. I shut the door to the studio (something I never do), listened to music, drank coffee from a to-go cup, and indulged myself in a miniaturized world.

Afterwards I went to Nina's Senior show in the Talley, "On the Line," where I chatted with friends and began to notice that the more I paint and am surrounded by interesting people, the more alive I feel.

Which leads to my next thought: mail. Today I received a package of sorts. Package meaning it was big, flat, rigid, and didn't fit in the mailbox. It was a packet from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (ooh--that's a mouthful!) on their MFA in Writing. I've gotten stuff from them before, but today it especially pleased me because I have been thinking a lot about what the hell I want to do with myself next. Art or writing? Art or writing? Art? Writing? artwritingartwritingartwriting???? I've also been thinking a lot about the defunct energy that seems to be pervading the English department lately. No matter where you go there are highs and there are lows. As an undergrad I was surrounded by some extremely talented writers who were serious about their art. And I still am. But where's the energy? I know I don't have it. Nor am I getting it from others (generally speaking). I'm trying not to step on toes here because I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. There are truly incredible people here. But man, I feel a deep need to move on. Actually, I don't even want to. In many ways I love it here. But it's hard to grow in (what feels like) a stagnant environment.

After long deliberation--I'm taking next year off. It's been an intense year and a half both in my personal and academic life. I need a break and I'm going to take one-- a year to work on my writing as an art form rather than an expectation, to experiment and travel and to work without the usual pressures.

Oh yeah, so back to getting mail...a program that allows me to write and to paint at the same time. Good god, could there be anything better? I've looked into interdisciplinary programs before and some seem a little hokey, but this one, not half bad. The problem lately is that I feel caught in a box. A big, fat, lethargic, dumb box.

And damnit--I want out.

roofers next door

ugh.

hi roofers!! i think i need to rig up some curtains.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

and then on sunday...

I feel a little bit like I could sleep forever. Living in town, I've gotten in the habit of staying up all night, then sleeping late. This morning it felt good to sleep in, with sunshine spread across the bedroom. I'm still tired, or rather, exhausted. But today fits in with my definition of a good morning: sleeping in, drinking coffee, the pool of sunshine covering my desk, time to write, blue sky, a walk with not one dog but 2, a visit from my mom and brother, "brunch" with my husband and the neighbors. Yes, the definition of a good morning is when morning stretches all the way into evening.

This is the way Sundays should always be.

the life of a delirious painter on a saturday night...

i should be at a party right now celebrating nina's opening for her senior show in the talley gallery this coming monday. but i just can't bring myself to be around any more people right now. tonight when i got home from the studio i laid on the kitchen floor with my hands over my eyes and waited for water to boil. i desired nothing but darkness, quiet, and solitude. it's been an overwhelming weekend filled with many hours of painting and many, many people. wonderful people actually. a weekend full of artists. but ever since i've moved to town i feel overwhelmed easily. over stimulated always.

i ate supper and went back to the studio, finished another painting, and considered where i'm going with the next one. afterwards (late), i came home, laid on the couch, and numbed out with the tv. which is when it happened. nothing noticeable on the outside, but first a sinking feeling, then a tidal wave on the inside. i realized that i am almost done with putting this show together. i realized that in the past week i have painted myself inside out. i'm almost done expressing what has been the most difficult time of my life. and fuck-- i feel dry on the inside. raw. it's time to move on. but man, i think i could use just one last cry. a good one.

i feel a little bit like a bird that's just been given her freedom. i'm not sure what to do with it. caught in a strong wind, evenly, between sadness and starting over.

Friday, November 18, 2005

the small details...

so many things to write about lately. but it's 3am and i just returned from a bout of midnight painting. i want to write about walking home through a deserted town, everything silent except for the swish of perfectly powdered snow; i want to write about the lake water freezing at 6am this morning, the way it sounded like whale songs or dolphins, and how anu and i stood absolutely still with ears cocked for several minutes, just listening; i want to write about the sky and painting and and all the life that has returned to the studio.

i want to write about a lot of things... but man, i'm tired.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Ladies, if you're looking for a man, try shopping at Fleet n' Farm

In search of weather stripping, boots, an outdoor extention cord and a dog house door I was showered by more looks from men than I have in quite some time. I thought of my single women friends and how easy it would be for them to pick up guys at Fleet n' Farm. Yeah, except that every time I turned around I heard a husband talking to a wife like she was an idiot. I guess the deals aren't so hot after all.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Woodsmoke {and other thoughts}

ice...wind...frozen dog fur...coffee...latte...tea...warm smelling lotion...television...sideways snow out window...drafts...rattles...snow in shoe...frozen car doors...accomplished homework...brittle branches...introspection...cheese...breaks go tap/tap/tap...curled up on couch with 2 cats and husband...heater vents blowing...words...candles...hibernation...wish i were a bear.

{p.s. i love you winter.}

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Yesterday...




...the sky was so blue that it turned into an ocean





...and dolphins fell to the earth.














Even the humans started acting strange. Go figure.

Because it's dark outside...

I want to go home and curl up with the cats on our big, fat couch. These dark days make for introspective times. Good also, for accomplishing what really needs to get done:
  • Write Artist's Statement
  • Continue work on "Breath" painting and start another.
Too bad I didn't get my bike tires aired up in time. I wanted to ride, but now it's raining. I think the weather might be turning into winter soon.

But this is not the post I intended. My thoughts are flimsy and quiet... I sit in silence.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

22 degrees Fahrenheit...

today i walked the dog thinking that it is a coffee with cream, sugar and cinnamon day. 2 pots of coffee later and now even the windows are rattling. last night the wind brought down branches in our yard and neighborhood. it kicked open two windows that were formally painted shut. crash-bang. ghosts in the house and cats meowing. i ended up un-peacefully sleeping in the basement with round black balls of fur purring and pressed deep into the curves of my belly and legs.

and now it's already afternoon. i'v accomplished little-to-nothing. my feet are cold. there's a draft. but still, i love days like this. they give me an excuse to drink more coffee with cream, to light a few more candles, and to snuggle into the only chair in the house and start grading papers--before it gets dark.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

"Blue Story" continued...

After workshopping a short piece I wrote last night and this morning about Mexico, I'm embarrassed to say that I was only vaguely aware of the Juarez murders--400 women kidnapped, raped, and killed. Indra and Pol wondered if this had been on my mind while I wrote. No, it wasn't. But tonight, after reading more about it, I realize that I now have more to say--much more.



Gloria Rivas, victimJuana Sandoval Reyna & Esmaralda Juarez Alarcon, victims



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Blue Story

In Mexico men dress in jeans and dirty polo shirts. They wait on street corners clutching business cards in their cracked hands—hands held out to slow my progress from one curb to the other, “Ay, SeƱorita…Dentist? Do you need a dentist? Low prices…this way. Por favor.” I practice blindness, but am caught off guard by an inadvertent brush of an arm—I hesitate, blink to the street, then slip forward, back into the crowd.

It’s now been many months, but still, Mexico reminds me of dentists—and the color blue. Azure, the sky presses down on me. Morning sinks into the white of my winter skin in shifting patterns of coolness and warmth—sinking into bone and blood until even the dogs become blue—mangy and ragged, with sagging tits; they trot down alleyways with garbage in their mouths. The alleys, stinking of shit, stretch out like paths behind houses saddled side by side, stuck one to the other. But in my memory it is the dusty, thin-aired quality of light and a profusion of color that prevails. The blue dogs shine beneath a soft sun where everything is made brighter. I think to myself, to the dogs, to the men, and the women too, “I want you forever.” I feel Mexico low in my belly where blue turns to red and then back again. Children chant and women tease, their smooth necks exposed. Ay, puta,” an old man yells from across the street. Not so innocent, not even the girls—except for one naive, but budding seductress—standing alone in a blue dress like the virgin robes of La Virgen de Guadalupe. Nuestra madre, saint, protectress of purity—standing in the dark, candle lit shadow of a doorway. But she’s not safe, not any of us—not even through marriage or faith—because in Mexico, sometimes, even the devil wears blue—swallowing women like water—leaving them covered in only blankets of stars.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Monday, November 07, 2005

life is good.

living in town aint so bad when the neighbor comes over with a plate of freshly made fudge. and, oh man, it tastes sooooo goooooood!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

paintable nature



autumn: when walking the dog becomes a hallucinogenic experience.

landscapes numero 2 and 3

last night I started another large painting, 60"x 48". This morning when I returned, it still wasn't dry (not even close)... so I started another, 24"x 24". They are going well--and I am quickly beginning to realize that these abstracts do not require the same amount of nitpicking that portraits do. That doesn't mean they're easier. In one sense, I have to trust my instincts more--they're easy to screw up. Anyway, they're not pure abstractions since they are landscapes--most existing only in my memory. I work with my fingers crossed and hope that, in the end, it will all hang well together.

This morning I walked to the studio and painted in a sun filled room with coffee and music. Bliss. At the moment the only thing I'm waiting for are these layers to dry so I can move onto the next. I'm impatient--but glad that things are progressing smoothly.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

good medicine

lots of ibrueprophen and fettucinni alfredo with artichoke hearts made the migraine go away. hurray. hurray. now i can look forward to a late night of painting.

at the moment i'm listening to the velvet underground and drinking strong, black coffee. remembering long afternoons spent at mildred's--a cafe in madison that i frequented because i liked their sandwhiches and coffee served in old-school greasy diner white cups. i could have sat there drinking, eating, writing--forever. the velvet underground playing--forever. i would walk the 7 blocks home afterwards in the cold, along the way stopping at the liquor store for wine or sake. at midnight i'd take my old black dog japhy with me down to skate at the park, on the pond, in the dark. japhy--named after japhy rider in dharma bums by jack kerouac. i miss japhy and cold walks and dark nights and mildred's, sake, and white coffee cups.

it makes me sad to think: life here in bemidji is boring. or is it me?

extended blog thoughts...

Last night I updated my sidebar links and in doing so spent more time than usual checking out the links of others. I found J*me's links especially interesting. I enjoy finding and reading blogs that are intelligent, thoughtful, and well written. This one I especially like. Lately I've been feeling like my blog could be so much more than it is. What it boils down to is that I don't give enough time to writing in my life. Funny, considering that is exactly what my life is supposed to be about right now. Still, I am grateful for inspiration--where ever it is to be found.

Last night, I laid in bed reading student essays. For once I decided not to grade but just read. I ended up in fits of laughter and then nearly in tears. This time around they got to write about whatever they wanted. They are turning out to be some of their most powerful pieces of writing so far. One essay in particular made me stop. It made me want to get up right then and there--and write. Instead I sat there for probably a half hour in awe of my students' abililty to get ideas and thinking about how I've changed as a writer since my Freshman year in college. I found myself wishing that I could once again be a beginning writer--without all the worries I've gained along the way. I sat there asking myself, "what is holding me back?"; "why is it so much harder to come up with ideas?" I think the answer is fear of failure. I've somewhere along the lines acquired a fear of producing "minor" writing and, in the end, it's keeping me from producing any writing at all.

I told my class that I would be doing the writing right along with them. And some of it I have. But the essays I haven't written-- I feel like I'm not only letting them down, I'm letting myself down. This semester I have a group of incredibly inspiring students. I don't want to miss my opportunity to write along with such an remarkable group. Lately I've been finding inspiration in many places. But I keep waiting for the dam to burst. Until it does, I guess there's only one thing left to do: write. I think I've heard myself say that before.

Friday, November 04, 2005

things to do:

Today:
drink lots of coffee (did that)
go for a long, long walk with wolfie (did that)
then go for another (did that)
clean up the mess i've already made of my writing room (not gonna do that)
grade essays (nope, not yet)
read advanced writing essays (not that either)
go to alicia's art opening @ the BCAC (ouch. got cancelled. long story.)
drink wine (drinking more coffee instead)
write (i wish)
listen to good music (the best of carly simon. ha!)

Things I did instead:
hauled canvases
cleaned and rearranged studio
ran errands
watched tv
took a really long shower
where the hell did today go??? (oohhhh...it's only 6pm. but so dark!)

Tomorrow. Sunday. Monday:
paint
paint
paint
paint
paint
paint
paint
paint
and write.

(oh, i suppose there's plenty of other things i should be doing too. if i ignore it will it go away? yeah right.)

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Road Trip!

A beautiful cold, grey, almost winter day to put on my big black turtle neck sweater, go through the coffee shop drive thru... and hit the road!

A short trip to the cities for over-sized art materials (and maybe some greek food!). There are a few things I really love. Cold weather, travel, and art supplies are definately towards the top of the list.

Monday, October 31, 2005

"fall back"

take anu for a walk... or go back to bed? grey day. so hard to decide.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

news from a small world

3 bombs exploded on Saturday in Delhi--one of them in Paharganj--where I stayed each time in Delhi. I'm reminded, once again, that this world is not only fragile, but small.

Today, from my journal:
Paharganj. The street outside has been breathing with motion all day. Not like the antiseptic and methodical business I know of home. No, the movements of Paharganj are filled with dust, and life, and color. Coming home from the market, I was swept away by the tide--a swell of pressing, human current that brought me to the heels of a small woman wrapped in a python. Its cold strength close enough to murder me. Nothing like the charmed cobra that entranced me earlier today. A tide of sensation--—assaulted by life and death, beauty and apprehension in each step. This is Paharganj, where the soft sounds of mixing flour and water for chapatis fill the air and drift through windows, delicately, before being dissolved by the commotion of a city filled with eight and a half million people...

(interesting what a tense shift will do to the mind.)

And a painting, so big I don't know what to do with it:



It is a culture that has changed very little, yet tremendously, in the last several thousand years. I wonder-- what will be different when I return?

my "writing room"

So here I am--
starting over with a less complicated life. It is my first time sitting down, in this new room, to write.

Outside my window grey skies filter through the green of pine needles; sporadic sunshine catches what is left of maple leaves. There is the occasional whir or rumble of traffic outside, but mostly it is only quiet. The bright red trim of Lauren and Sean's house is, for some reason, alive and comforting. And beyond their rooftop, another pine reaches farther into the sky. This is "city" life. But it aint all bad. In this room I feel surrounded not only by nature, but by India. I return to writing life--this time, without reluctance.

I have my candles and tea and a new journal for the new direction my life is about to take. On the inside cover it reads:

"Inspirations. In her dreamtime she found inspiration. She savored her sleep for the wealth of ideas, images and solutions that waited for her there."

In this place I will return to the dreamtime, long walks, lingering thoughts. Life has made me tired. Sometimes when I look in the mirror I am amazed by how much I've aged-- not just in the last couple years, but in the past several weeks. Exhausted-- there are times I barely recognize myself.

But this pine tree and all the walking--I do, believe it or not, feel myself returning to me. May life never run away from me again.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Saying goodbye.

Thank you to the South--for the brilliant colors and change of seasons.
Thank you to the West--for the most incredible sunsets I have ever seen.
Thank you to the North--for enough northern lights to fill a lifetime.
Thank you to the East--for an ocean of leaves, the sunrise... and new beginnings.

Thank you Anu--for teaching me adaptability.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

The moving has seriously begun...

...considering the only thing we have left at our (old) house are the rugs, 2 cats, 1 dog, a refrigerator full of food, and 10 bags of garbage...ok, and a few misl. items as well (where the hell does all this misl. keep coming from???).

Anyway... no computer at (either) home for a couple of days. Life in a box is strange. I figure if I keep working hard, without too much rest, I'll exhaust myself enough that I won't bawl my head off the last time I close that door. Selling this place is probably the stupidest thing I have ever done. Necessary, but stupid.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Earthquake in India...

Listening to the radio as I drove home last night I heard about the earthquake in India. My hand flew to turn up the volume with "oh-my-god" speed. This is not the first time I've feared for the safety of my Ladakhi family. Nor will it probably be the last. While in India, I lived with a family in a remote village of the Himalayas. Over the course of a month and a half they became my real family. I love them and miss them. And am grateful beyond words that they are ok.

God I miss them!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

"BIG" dreams

While surfing for a good deal on canvas...look what I found! 160" aluminum and wood stretcher bars (that won't warp!!!).

THAT'S 13 AND A HALF FEET! Oh-- can you imagine?!?! That much stretched canvas is an artist's dream (well mine anyway)! I'm drooling. But (for now) I might have to settle for the 48"-60" range.

Once again, all is quiet on the gallery homefront.

Oh blessed Saturday, how I love thee.

But I am soooo tired...soooo stiff... I would like to crawl under this desk and sleep like a cat. But I remain upright in my attempt to remain (at least slightly) professional. Needless to say, there is some pretty good art up this month. If I actually owned a digital camera I would post pictures of my favorites...but I don't. I would link to the BCAC site...but why bother? It hasn't been updated since last May. I wish I would have actually remembered something from Web Design class. I would update it myself. But my mind is a technological sieve... and I don't have a camera... or permission. blahblahblah. Yeah- I told you I was tired!

This evening I will unload another van-load of stuff. Then I'll paint our bedroom. "Whale." That's blue-gray to you humans. In the meantime... I'm beginning to feel like I'm floating.

Over and out.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Tonight the sky is a Turner painting. Tidal waves of black clouds washing away a blue sky only to break apart and reform themselves in new configurations of light and dark.

I just returned from hiking with wolfie. Several hours of tromping in the wet woods behind my house. Dang, how many people can literaly hike for hours and not see a soul-- in their back yard? I can. I didn't want to turn back home, thinking that it might be my last opportunity to walk these woods. Very soon it will no longer be my back yard. I force myself to return to the present...

It was cold and wet and wonderful. I kept finding myself stopped and trying to memorize the trees and skies. I couldn't do it. I had to give up and just breath it in. Eventually Anu and I got "unlost" and returned home where I just finished the best bowl of Indian style lentil soup with fresh tomatoes in my life. Mmmm--cold day, long walk, warm soup. I could be happy this way.

SnowSnow! I saw snow!

At 6:58 this morning, as I rounded the corner between Bridgeman and Hagg-Sauer, floating gently from the dark sky into the orange glow of an outdoor light-- was snow!

Oh today is a good. The first snow fall--my favorite day of the year!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

aniversario numero dos

2 dozen apricot colored roses
dinner including:
candlelight,
champagne,
a shared meal,
and triple chocolate desert
the yearly photo
coffee
movie
and
dancing to our wedding song.

Life is good.

Happy Anniversary Vincenzo!
xoxoxo

Well, well--look what I found.

My first blog. Back when I went by the name of Iris Rain. I miss her.

and am reminded...
"Every time you don't follow your inner guidance, you feel a loss of energy, loss of power, a sense of spiritual deadness." -- Shakti Gawain

They're talking snow.


But I fear not.
We are as tough as last year's brussel sprouts.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Yellow Marigold and Oregano.

I've spent the last several days...uh... god, where to begin? I'm not sure it's interesting enough to recap.

The move has begun.

Friday involved moving the basement... or at least a load that reached from front to back, and top to bottom of the mini-van. That's only half of it and I'm amazed at the amount of stuff I have accumulated down there. But after reorganizing it is magically seeming to fit in 1/10 of the space. Plastic totes are a good thing (I suppose).

Saturday involved painting my new "Writing Room" Marigold Yellow. It took an entire day. I did the ceiling, the trim, the doors, the walls. And then when I was done I felt like I was going to have a heart attack from the intensity of the color. My eyes bugged out and I started talking faster and faster to all that visited. I went home that night and had nightmares... all involving Marigold Yellow. Bummer. It was such a beautiful color-- but it had to go.

Then came Sunday and V. and I spent half the day driving to Grand Rapids to sell a painting. I was hoping to come home with an $800.00 check, but instead only came home with a half a tank of gas and nothing to show for it except a beautiful new journal that I found (and should not have bought) from Brewed Awakenings. The guy that wanted to buy it is from the cities-- a professor of architecture at the U of M. He brought his art collector friend with to help him make the decision to buy or not-- and they decided that the brick color of his wall would not do my painting justice. I thought--fuck that-- $800 bucks would do my painting justice! But whatever. I was dealing with "the big guns"-- REAL art buffs. You know, the kind that know what they're talking about and know what they're looking at. The art collector told me that I was a good painter-- a really good painter-- and that is rare because there aren't many. Well thank you for the compliment. But I went home poor. The rich architect went on his merry way completely oblivious to our own busy schedule and the time we sacrificed just so he could "look" at the painting again. Argh. Ok... he's still interested. Who knows. Maybe I will still sell it. Geez, and we drove right through Deer River and couldn't even stop to say hi to Audrey cuz we didn't know her #. Damn. What a waste-- I tell you!

Instead, V. and I spent the drive home arguing about riduculous things--namely, my thesis. To be honest, I'm completely stressed and a little freaked out about the whole thing. So-- unable to cope with the complexites of graduating... after returning home I drove BACK into town and painted into the dark hours of the night a wonderful Oregano green. Oh yes-- this is the color of inspiration. I WILL write that thesis!

I slept not nearly enough and this morning rushed to town to deposit money to avoid impending bouncing of checks (reminder to self: balance your damn checkbook more often!). Then cleaned the new house with my mom for a few hours.

It smells like oranges now (verses old, spilled beer).

At the moment I should be grading papers... but instead I've just spent nearly a half hour filling you in on my oh so (not) interesting life! Oh----but the green is not boring!!!!

Did I mention that moving is a LOT of damn work?! Oh yeah, you all know that. And it will be a miracle if I graduate--but yes vinny, miracles DO happen-- so there.

By the way, tomorrow's our anniversary. :)

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

seeking words...

I think I'm trying to write about Mexico--about the colors, the smells, the sounds. But I was only there one day, last spring. Mexico holds magic over me. Spanish syllables weave a spell over my brain and body.

Trying to write about it, well, that just makes me incredibly sleepy. I wish I could capture, in words, the thoughts that sift through my head. But they are like water. Transluscent and evading capture. They become black muddles on paper... if even that.

Meanwhile, my little black Mexican cat, Viscosa, meows and nibbles at my toes wanting onto my lap to be pet and whispered to. Yes, she is my little Mexico. She makes me sleepy too.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Monday, September 26, 2005

daily soap operas...

sometimes i'm amazed by the number of psychotic people i know. is there anywhere to hide?

Sunday, September 25, 2005

today's work:



just a start... an underpainting. i've considered being secretive until the "unvieling"... but i can't help myself. this one i'll title: "Visiting Georgia."

Home Sweet Home



fuck it. who needs a house?

my sister FINALLY sent photos from our Canada trip. a punk rock couple pulled up in this humble abode. i envisioned one belonging to v. and me.

cuz scampis make good dream homes.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

on the 267th day of 2005 the sun rose at 7:08am. it was hidden behind rain clouds, but i was sleeping anyway.

It's another tired day where I sit beneath grey clouds. The triple shot mocha that I sip on is making me sleepy rather then caffeinated. I'm sitting in the gallery, which has become my favorite place on earth, listening to public radio, and otherwise dreaming.

V. and I are now the proud tenants of a little house with a fenced in yard and nice neighbors. It still sits empty, and will until our house closes in October. Until then, the transition can be made slowly. I am relieved to know where we'll be living next. And maybe this sleepiness has a little to do with the sense of relaxation that washed over me as I walked out of the front door of our new home with a new key added to my key-ring.

Having an obsession with color, this morning, I found myself browsing through paint-chips at the local paint shop. I could sit here all week looking at these little squares of color. Really--I'm obsessed.

This morning I woke up crying from a dream I had about my old dog, Abe. I can't remember the dream. But I remember missing him, because I feel it now. Like I feel it everyday. The only thing our new place is missing, really, is him.

Friday, September 23, 2005

oh, the fertility of nature...

I never had allergies, but I'm afraid I have them now. It kinda feels like someone grabbed my ankles, swung me around, then bonked my head on the ground--repeatedly.

Anyway...
I feel the need to make a list of things to do this weekend.
  • Read thesis proposals/artist statements in hopes of coming up with one of my own.
  • Plan class for next week.
  • Work @ the gallery.
  • Finish another painting.
  • Look at graduate schools... try to find some direction for my future (hahaha). Take notes on what I find.
  • Repot dying plant.
  • Clean house.
  • Mow lawn.
  • Write a piece for class.
Uh, thank you. I feel better now. But I don't think I'll clean. blah.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Saturday, September 17, 2005

I want...

...a comfortable chair, peace and quiet, my laptop, and lots of time--
cuz my back hurts and my list of things to do is much too long.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Today I went in search of words...

...but what I found instead was painterly inspiration. I'm not surprised. Secretly I think that is what I was looking for. I've got a good start on the December show and, to by honest, I don't want to stop. But I've been searching for words for a long time. And I guess, maybe, I'm beginning to fear I have nothing to say... at least not with words.

Yesterday I asked V. to come to the studio to critque my latest painting. It is an abstract landscape. I wasn't sure if it was finished until I explained to him what it was about. Explaining it, I burst into tears...and that's when I knew it was complete, that I had expressed what needed expressing.

This series of paintings that I'm working on--they are about color, but also about emotion. They are about the communication of emotion through color. During the process of conceptualizing this project I began to notice how deeply the landscape is connected to my sense of being. I am perpetually amazed by the way nature combines color, the way those colors are effected by light, and in turn the way it effects me. The night that Abe died I remember, vividly, the colors of that night. The dark sky, the grass, the dew. I remember just as vividly the colors a day, a week, a month later. My world, these past months, has been filled with both death and loss. But, at odd moments, it also becomes filled with hope.

When I began I thought that, for the first time, my work might become truly dark. I was willing to let it if it needed to be. But the light keeps sneaking in. Deep yellows, rich blues, vibrant greens. I also thought I would paint pure abstractions... but my inspiration for using colors keeps coming from the same source over and over-- the landscape, the sky. And every time I notice it, everyday, it takes my breath away. I clear another corner of my brain to make room to remember it, attempting to hold onto it just long enough for it to reach the canvas-- those colors, holding emotion--emotion that I cannot seem to write about, but that I still search for ways to express.

This open space...

...It is like breathe...
...found in combinations of color...

...everywhere.

And although I am still searching for words--
the bare canvas awaits...

friday mornings with the Bonsai Master...

Thursday, September 15, 2005

yeah baaaby yeah...

check out my new ride...



oooh yeah, ain't she sweeeet...



I feel so sexxxy in my new mini van! I think I'll fill it up with babies.



uh-em... and there she is! baby #1 is making herself at home.
... ain't she sexxxy too!

yeah... we love our new mini van. (god help us). i feel so cool i can hardly stand it. oooh yeah...chic-a-chic-a-boom-boom!

note to self:

charcoal drawing. overexposed anu. large paper.

At age 30:


I find myself most interested in Mark Twain, Hans Christian Andersen, and Hank Williams.

Maybe there's still hope afterall.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

offer #2

We got another offer on the house today. That is what we were hoping for, but now that it's happened I think it's safe to say that it's all still a gamble. The first offer was from a girl that reminds me of myself and the second from a couple who have been looking for the last 3 years. By accepting an offer from couple #2, girl #1 has only 72 hours to come up with the financing. If she can't, then couple #2 gets it. But if their financing falls through they can still back out. If that happens we can start from scratch with girl #1, but who knows if she will still want it.

I like girl #1. I want her to live here. And I hope she knows that. But when it comes down to it, V. and I are in a bind. We need something to happen sooner than later. We need to sell. The sad part is that this selling of a house is a very impersonal thing. I want to give girl #1 a call and wish her luck and hope she hears the sincerity in my voice. As for couple #2... well, I just want whoever lives here next to be happy-- happy in love, happy in life. All of it. I want these walls to continue to be filled with love.

As for the rental, it looks like we're in competition with another group.

And so now something is happening...what is the question. I just want to know two things: 1) when is this going to happen? and 2) where will we be when it does??

oh, the world feels big and uncertain. One day, when I was walking down the driveway with girl #1, she looked at me and said, "It must be amazing not knowing where you're going next, knowing that you have so many options, so much freedom." She's right. But damn, it's scary.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Ok...

... I've taken a nap. Now I feel like painting.

But I also feel like seeing my husband, at least briefly, before I go. And I feel like sleeping more. Or drinking coffee. Mostly I just want to go to the studio so I can listen to music. For some reason, the night time acoustics are especially nice in there. Maybe it's the streetlights, the age of the building, or the fact that I'm there alone. I don't know.

But it's calling me.

I feel...

...like this is a lame blog title.
...like what comes out of my mouth sounds too harsh.
...brittle on the edges.
...like I'm not "a writer."
...like I don't know what I'm doing.
...like I'm too hard on myself.
...like going for a walk, but it's cold, wet, and raining.
...like drinking hot chocolate.
...like crying.
...like giving up.
...like starting over.
...like shit.

Maybe I need more vitamin B complex.

Or something.

Monday, September 12, 2005

After a trip to Fargo...

...my head is filled with deep yellows, rust, blue-grays, and greens. I try to hold the images of a shifting landscape in my mind long enough to get it onto canvas. But I know it's impossible--there's just too much.

Time moves quickly and steals the seasons. I want to paint outdoors because neither memory or photos can capture those subtle nuances of color. Perhaps I'll dedicate this week to words and paint--the merging of two projects. I'll load up the car and leave (no worry, I'll return for classes). I have nothing to lose. Except yes, I have everything to lose. Life needs to start somewhere.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

It's been a good day of painting when...

...you come home late with tired muscles and an energized mind. I think I may have just finished my first painting for the December show.

Feels good.

Day 11 broke my heart.

When you walk in the front door of the Uptown Cafe, at the end of the ledge, there is a stack of New York Times. Yesterday morning, while looking through them, I saw an image from the Katrina aftermath that affected me more than any other. Unfortunately I'm not able to post it, but the caption read, "Cherly Cook cried as she prepared to evactuate New Orleans and be separated from her dog, Trouble." The photograph, taken by Chang W. Lee of the New York Times, is of a middle aged woman bent with her arm around her dog's neck. A police officer stands in front of her telling her she must leave--without her dog. And the expression on the woman's face is of absolute pain. It is my face the day Abe died earlier this summer. The dog stands pressed against her leg-- a big, beautiful mix of brown and black. His fur is wet.

There was a week's worth of New York Times to look through while I waited for coffee, but it was that image that I kept returning to. I looked around for someone to show it to so I could say something like: "Can you imagine?!?." But really I didn't have words, only a welling of emotion for that woman and her dog... and all the women and their dogs...and for my dog. Because even the thought of leaving my own is enough to reduce me to tears.

I've been carrying that image around inside of me since. Day 12 (Saturday), the New York Times included images of dogs being rescued from New Orleans and being sent to Baton Rouge for treatment where they will also, hopefully, be reunited with their owners.

Today, while looking for more information on Cheryl Cook, I found that her story, in a way, has had a happy ending.


photo posted on www.post-gazette.com

Mona Reeder, The Dallas Morning News via AP
"Despite orders to vacate the city, Cheryl Cook says she won't leave her Desire Street home in the lower 9th Ward of New Orleans because she won't abandon her dog, Trouble, her two parakeets, Love and Joy, and her 10 fish. She said she sent her four children out of the area before the hurricane hit, but just couldn't leave her home and pets."

I wouldn't have left either.