when i drove into the driveway from running errands yesterday, i wasn't really surprised to find a wild goose in the backyard. these things just seem to happen to us, i guess. it was on john's back patio by the slough james said. john thought it was one of our ducks. and when i kneeled down to it, it came right into my arms. the goose was nonchalant in our backyard. it was sleek, the color of wet gravel, long-necked and gracefully slow in its movements. i observed: much bigger than pato and gonzo, more defined features, with a pointy razor-edged beak for gnawing on grass or what-have-you. strong, the bird was yanking the shit out of weeds. pato and gonzo, flustered by the goose's presence, made some fruitless attempts at defending their territory, valiant running beak jabs over the goose's back, but that goose remained cool and calm, gently cooing around the yard. we hopped to a bird identification book to confirm that the bird was an immature snow goose. right part of the world, but wrong season. the bird was obviously confused. we hung around for a while, reveling in how tame it was, speculating, watching it eat and drink and mingle about, seemingly enjoying our company.
all i ever wanted to do for my birthday was go on a little vacation. so it was the perfect ulterior motive for scheduling a recording session out on orcas island to land on that day. the weeks leading up to it, i could tell we were all a little nervous...nervous to leave home, performance anxiety, so many unknowns. but as soon as we got on the road, saddled up to an early morning breakfast and hit the ferry landing, our spirits were high. there at the landing, in front of us in line, a family with out of state plates tended to their child who was screaming with shit barf and pee soaked pants. we gave them a towel for cleanup in lieu of their tissues, the same towel that our dear old dog passed away on, and told them not to worry, you'll see the ferry coming long before it's time to load, we said.
once we landed, we drove the winding perimeter of the island to bruce's studio, olgabowl, nestled into the deer laden forests above olga. the olgabowl's shiny metal was reminiscent of a space station. inside, instrument upon instrument lined the walls. the recording board, the multi-colored cords, more knobs than you could ever possibly turn in one day, the ribbed foam ceiling, and all of the machinery made it feel even more like we were about to launch some kind of shuttle. appropriately so, i guess....we unloaded gear, bruce set up all the mics, and we got our shaky nerves out on a few scratch tracks. we decided to resume in the morning, and headed to the harlow farm.
at the harlow's, we were greeted jollily by ian. erika is out picking strawberries. she'll be home soon, he said. he showed us around the place...the duck pond, the chickens, the goats, the building he chainsawed into thirds and moved by trailer to his property.....everything had evolved since we'd been there last. miles, a teenager by now, was stoically excited to find us in his driveway. and when erika arrived home with a flat of berries, it was as if she expected us. james and i tried our hands at the nightly chore of goat milking, narrowly avoiding a hoof to the bucket several times. we watched as erica gracefully milked each goat in sequential order, soothing them with her presence and her rhythmic pulls. afterwards, we dined on a feast all from the farm, fresh beets and potatoes and collards and slow-cooked roast and goat cheese. we ate by the fire, laughing while miles did card tricks, sometimes messing them up, sometimes stumping us all. after dinner, we lined the pond, the boys and erica trying their hands clumsily at fishing in the waning light.
the next morning was my birthday. the last couple of years since mom passed, my birthday has been really hard. this year, things were different. i was met with coffee, strawberry waffles, and a tarot reading from erica. the reading said everything i wanted it to say, and i felt empowered. it was the perfect morning, so perfect i could barely handle it, so perfect i cried a little. we packed up and headed to the olgabowl.
what ensued next was fourteen straight hours in the studio. it was intense, it was work, and it was loooong. by the end, all of us were completely fried. but the first time i listened to a song, to what we made, the first time i listened to one of our recordings, chills ran up my spine. it was music. it was art. it was a celebration of life and love and friendship and beauty. and it was the best present i could have ever asked for.
i can't wait to share it with you all.
tomorrow, i'm orcas island bound to record an album with the daffodils. you'll have to go on without me here in cyberworld for a few. i'll catch you up on all the news when i get home. for the time being, another list.
twenty things i would like to do before i die:
1. get a passport
2. leave the country for a spell
3. see a whale up close
4. learn how to use a weaving loom
5. visit a psychic
6. go on a pilgrimage to joshua tree
7. publish a book of my mother's artwork
8. rescue a donkey that will be my pet
9. adopt a child who needs a mom
10. eat a mango, avocado, and coconut off of a tree
11. get rid of my cell phone and computer
12. see all of my favorite paintings in person and visit all the best museums
13. play a concert in front of a thousand people
14. have a big art show at a prestigious place
15. save the lives of many animals
16. be married to my husband for the whole time
17. own and drive a "beater-classic" car
18. master the drums
19. own a dog that fits in my purse
20. reach enlightenment
a list of twenty things i notice regularly but neglect to address:
-dead flies on the windowsills
-cobwebs in hard to reach places
-dreadlocks in max's hair
-chachie needs her ears cleaned
-morning glory swallowing the compost bins
-spiders nests in various places
-time for an oil change
-my fingernails and toenails are too long
-rotten leftovers in the fridge
-the compost is full and it stinks
-the toilet needs to be cleaned
-the gas tank is empty
-out of groceries
-haven't gone to the dentist in a long long time
-piles of random paper to be sorted
-need to take out the recycling and garbage
-my purse is full of receipts
-boxes full of crap that need unpacking
-pile for goodwill
-dust. everywhere. everything needs a wet rag over it.
i'm sure there's something i'm forgetting
sometimes i'll talk to my dad on the phone after he's read a few of my blog entries. he'll get a concerned tone to his voice and ask are you ok? or he'll say something a little tongue in cheek, like geez, i didn't know you were so deep, or gosh, you're so emo. but he wants to know the full story. i know that sometimes, in my writing, i let it all hang out. my dad and i are really close, but sometimes, i can tell my writing catches him off guard. and i love to illicit any response, especially an honest one, because it opens the flood gates of communication. i may have to take the time explain it all out so he doesn't worry too much, whether my writing be about trials with alcohol or my journey through grief, but it's worth it. true, i may be guilty of over-dramatizing things sometimes. but i lead with my heart, not my rationality, and so my writing does the same.
still, there are many stories i haven't told. i guess you could call them my secrets...my privacy, my mystery. my grandma once told me: never be an open book. being the crazy little ukrainian god loving cat lady she is, i never really took her advice seriously. but those words ring true. there are stories too private to tell, stories that would incriminate the people i love. there are the blacknesses in life hidden deep in my pockets, mine and mine alone to keep, too dark to relive and recount. there are the joys and beauties so profound that words could not even begin to do them wonders. there are these things that i keep mostly to myself. mostly.
it's like i'm on the last leg of a marathon. james keeps saying finish strong, but all i want to do is throw in the towel, walk to the nearest watering hole, and wash it all away. i tell him, exasperated, while we're driving home tonight: i've written all there is to write. i can't think of anything else to say. and again, he says with conviction: finish strong. looking back, you won't regret it. i know he's right. he usually is. so i will try. if not for me, for you.
you see, the problem is: there are so many distractions. there are the moments in life that beg to be lived...not in here, in the studio, nose to a painting, or on this machine, this illusory companion we call the computer, but out there. out there are the walks at dusk to places where feet seldom go, walks with good friends, walks through tall thickets, through gnarls of silver driftwood cemeteries, through swampy wetlands and bull thistle forests, all along that magical river. there, you can imagine and even sense the traces, natives fishing or coyote bedding down. there, the energy of the land pulses so hard you can feel it in your veins too. and you can imagine dropping everything, dropping it all just to lie in the sun dappled grass, between those trees, becoming feral, making a home, nestled in among the wilderness.
and then there's everything else that begs attention. there are the dinners yet to be cooked, full of fish yet to be caught and vegetables yet to be grown. there are the boxes yet to be sorted, and the home yet to be created. in my head, i've begun making my master list, the list of everything i might just have time for when my one-a-day is finished, in just nineteen days.
oh boy, is that list long.
eight days without alcohol. it may seem like nothing to you, but to me, it's a lot. it's a lot of work, and tenacity. it's a lot of willpower. because drinking is easy. hell, when you're bored and restless and the sun goes down and you live in the middle of nowhere except for the two bars on either end of town, drinking is easy. but not drinking, well, let's be honest here: i guess i'm out of practice. for all those times when life gets too stressful and i'm used to unwinding with a glass of wine or a hot toddy, now i can't. what do i do, then, to unwind? what tools do i have? these are questions i'm beginning to ask myself. thirty days without alcohol. well it doesn't seem like a long time, when you say it aloud. but i'm a daily drinker. i don't get tanked every day, so it may not seem like a problem. but a habit is a habit: hard to break. alcohol doesn't really solve any problems. it just dumbs down the senses. so james and i, we're hopping on the wagon for thirty days. i think it's safe to say, thirty days seems like an eternity. and it's just the beginning.
eight days in, and already things are changing. i feel weird, like my body is recalibrating. a cleanse, of sorts. there's also some deep itchiness that i can't scratch. like maybe i'm having withdrawals. there is a certain moodiness. but the clouds are starting to lift, too. i can think clearly. i can get a lot done. i feel happy, and optimistic, and patient. i am more productive. i look healthier. and it's just the beginning.
to mark the occasion of my twenty-first birthday, which was exactly ten years plus ten days ago today, i went to a dive of a karaoke club in portland with my mom and my two cousins, melanie and chrissy. as i recall, it was bad in all the ways that every twenty-first birthday at a cheesy karaoke club is...spinning disco ball, flashing lights, outdated videos on the teleprompter, horrible off-key singing to all the wrong song choices, weak drinks....you know the scene. but then, as i recall, it was good for all those same reasons. my mom and i, in an attempt to bond over karaoke, gruesomely butchered our duet to"wayward wind", which was one of my mom's favorite songs. and oh man, did we slaughter it. remembering the way mom gripped the mic, feeling it, remembering the way she belted those words out of key, tossing her hair meaningfully at all the important parts, the wayward wiiiind that yearns to waaaander!...man that was special. and now, i can't hear that song without crying....and laughing. remembering how she sang from her heart, sang the words that meant so much to her....the memory is just unbelievably precious to me now, especially now that she's gone. that night, we sang, drinking not too much but just enough to get us up there performing...and man were we awful, laughing hard from the gut at how foreign our voices sounded coming through those speakers. we made fools of ourselves, it was total foolishness, the best of times, imagining we were the stars of the evening. and maybe, just maybe we were. remembering it now, it was the perfect way to celebrate twenty one years under my belt. remembering it now, ten years later, i fall to pieces, wishing i could press rewind and live it all over again.
going to the bar without drinking is like going to the movies without popcorn. in fact, i wouldn't recommend it. for all the things that are a little better, prettier, funner, smoother to roll off and easier to stomach with a couple of ice cold beverages in you, there are all the things that abrade, irritate, and consternate without that good old lubricating fluid. just one of the things i am discovering, as i take a little vacation from the stuff. so yeah, i'm basically straight-edge. which is difficult, but has it's merits too. i'm shooting for thirty days...three down. you may ask yourself, self, why would she go and do a crazy thing like that? well, the other night james and i had one too many. either that, or our bartender was extremely generous. either way, the next day was a disaster. we both felt like hell warmed over. me and james both. microwaved marshmallows. and i had a hasty realization while praying to the porcelain gods: i haven't taken much time off of the stuff since i started on it, nearly ten years ago. yes, this month i turn thirty-one, which marks the ten year anniversary of the fateful day that i was let loose in a bar. on that day, the party began. and i think it's safe to say, that party hasn't really stopped....i guess, until now. i guess it's safe to say, ten years later: it's time for a change. time to corral those wild horses.
there were so many baby birds in the yard today. they were awkward, flitting, barking at their moms and dads for food. they were falling upside-down on the pegs of the bird feeder, and gathering in lines on the fence. they were clumsy fliers. they were urgently needy. it was cacophonous. it was a party. it was a family reunion. and i loved every minute.
i've been neglecting my blog lately. maybe it's because i've already said all there is to say, written what i needed to write. maybe i've gotten something out of my system. maybe i've grown tired of looking at the computer screen, and can barely muster the desire to sit my butt down in a chair on a long summer day. maybe i'm too darn busy now that summer is in full swing and there is so much to do that i can barely squeeze it in. maybe it's all of that. or maybe i'm just darn tired of doing one painting a day, one painting a day, one painting a day, on and on like a skipping LP.
honestly, now that i'm a measly twenty seven days away from my landmark of one year on this project, i feel a bit like a kid trapped in elementary school the week before summer break: restless as hell, looking longingly out that window at the beckoning green grass field. don't get me wrong, i love my watercolors. i love how people love them. they have become me, and i have become them. i've learned a ton, and made tons of absolute breakthroughs with my work and my self. but enough is enough. i have ideas a'brewing, the kinds of ideas that will take me more than just one day.
like this piece, for instance. it took me three days, altogether, in bits and pieces. art-making is an evolution of ideas, with a few successes and a few failures every time. it takes time, and can't be rushed, or squeezed into a box. at it's best, it's not so formulaic, but born of discovery, tending to lead down a windy road full of surprises and revelations. to an artist, every piece is never finished, an incomplete picture, a fragment of the greater puzzle that will one day become your "life's work". as the saying goes, rome was not built in one day. so here's to future accomplishments.
four days all wrapped into two pieces of paper
the cabin is a safe place to go. there, the sounds of the forest overwhelm your ears. the wind on the emerald green water laps at the silvery wooden edges of the dock. a bloom of mayflies lands on the water only to be slurped by trout hiding in the shadows. the mayflies land innocently on your arms and legs, while the tiniest spider traces the lines in your hand. you don't mind, you let them be, they don't bite, they just tickle like the wind as you lay bare skinned to sun the surfaces that haven't seen sun for years and years. you lay bare skinned because you know there isn't another human for miles upon miles, save the lone flying airplane, too far up to look down and see, or even care. a snake swims by, a hummingbird buzzes, a pair of osprey circle. at dusk, the handsome herd of elk whistle and chew the tender edges of greenery. you're quiet, quieter on the inside than you've been in a long time. and although it takes forever to unwind after a day of driving, once you're there, at that little cabin in the woods, it is a tonic, a calm after a storm, a new drug for all ailments. and you never want leave. you never want to go back to civilization.
what's great about independance day? not much, i used to think. just a bunch of pollution, loud noises and gratuitous money wasting and debauchery. but after living in edison a couple years, i've changed my tune. the fourth of july has become a spiritual experience.
last night, for instance. at rodney's party, the daffodils played a set to a diverse crowd. everyone was represented: there were good old boys, hillbillies, rednecks, couch potatoes, hippies, hipsters, rock-and-rollers, butt-rockers, artists, mamas and papas, oldies, outdoorsies, athletes, grown-ups, kids, grown-ups posing as kids and vice versa. yup, there was one of everything. the party-goers were just as diverse as the potluck table's offerings, which were a'plenty.
which is precisely what i like about valley parties. out here, we're not fronting, pretending like we don't see each other, like we aren't neighbors. we are neighbors, and we have no choice but to coexist, to eat together, to live artfully, to share space. out here we are anything but homogenous. the one thing we do all have in common is the land. we live here because we love the land, that fertile productive land, not to mention the ocean air, the big big sky, the softly lulling waves, and the view of those majestic mountains peeking over the hills. yes, i think it's safe to say, the land unifies us, brings us together in rare and magical ways. so sitting on a beached dock last night as the sun set across the water, soaking it all in with a collection of my favorite people, chatting drinking whiskey and passing a smoke around while the swimming kids coated themselves in seagrass, i wouldn't have traded my spot there with those people on that rocky beach for a million nights on the town. and tonight, after watching several delightfully creative and constructed pyrotechnic exploits, and while lighting my paper lantern in the dark open field and watching it float away until it disappeared, i cried a little. because i am so fortunate.
this independence day, i celebrate my inter-dependance.
colorful. flexible. stretchy. chaotic. cyclical. full-circled. well-rounded. light. strong. functional. useful. for closure. to keep from spilling. for openness. resilient. elastic. an innate ability to bounce back.
all qualities of a good life. my life. and this pile of rubber bands.
|one for today|
|one for yesterday|
i love the night life. i really do. the lights, the loud music, the energy.... i would consider myself nocturnal. or at least i used to be. i couldn't get enough of the city streets at night, veins coursing with light. but nowadays, i live where the sidewalk ends. i don't stay up much past eleven. have i outgrown that night life a little? or has it outgrown me? i don't know, but either way, we don't see each other all that often. maybe it's because i live in a distant land, at least a half hour drive in any direction to twenty-something bars full of uninhibited drunk dancers. it makes "going out" a bit more of a laborious endeavor. and so it keeps me home, reading books and nerding out to art docs.
every now and again, just so i don't feel all stuffy old and boring, i have to get my feet wet in the wild and crazy scene to feel balanced. like last night, for instance. pink sparkling wine with the ladies, that followed by pabst and a lemon (just to keep it classy), definitely one too many, lots of girl talk and greasy bar fodder, wearing the absolute wrong shoes for dancing, the wrong shoes for walking miles and miles across town, but doing it anyways...it was exhilarating, just like the old days, my twenties....until the buzz wore off and i had to get my ass home. at that point, there's just something weird about staying up so late that you watch the sky start to lighten, hear the birds, one and then two of them, wake up before you've even had a chance to shut your eyes.
so i made it home, got a few hours of sleep. and then today, well that was mostly a fog. i felt real out-of-sorts, in a comfortable, dazed way. but wholly unproductive. and that's probably why i'm not the party girl i used to be: for a self-made lady with a lot of responsibilities, it sucks to lose a day. there's always too much shit to do to cut loose completely.