Archive for June, 2007
This is the scene that Rachel and I painted out in Carmel Valley. That first day, when we were cleaning out my workroom, we went out into the valley to pick up a bunch of my boxes for packing away my stuff. I took her out by the “airport” area, which is now a wide-open space. I had a very hard month in May, and every day, I took an opportunity to get out into that space to nestle myself amongst the purple flowers and look at the view and get my strength from that big happy looming place. I would just stare and stare, loving those curves up there. I’d walk a lot at lunch, and I would think about how much I wanted to paint that view and take it home with me.
I showed that area to Rachel, and showed her the exact spot I would sit, though it was disappointedly mowed over. We spontaneously decided, why not? Let’s paint it. She’s definitely Let’s Do It! kind of gal. So we went over to Home Depot, got a big sheet of birch plywood, and cut it down into the sizes we wanted, brushed on gesso, and the next day went out in the van with Cholla and some new paints.
It was soooo windy! The easels were blowing over, the sun was too bright, Cholla was even ducking out of it all. Both Rachel and I were just slopping paint around, mostly on ourselves as it blew back on us. It’s acrylic, so the paint was drying practically instantly in the sun. And wouldn’t you know it? So much a metaphor of life. At that point of “Oh, well, accept it. This thing isn’t working out. Let’s wrap it up,” I don’t know. One of us mixed a good color, the other one used it, and suddenly, we’re having fun, and it’s working, and we’re so happy with what we have, complete with Cholla walking on it. (Yay! Acrylics dry fast, so no paw prints) We had giddy talk the whole way home about our perseverance, and poor baby, I have to be the wise aunt and tell her about metaphors of life in everything. We discuss where to hang them, and about two hours before she leaves, we settle on their home on the wall…and there they are, my precious view that heals me, right on my wall, looking at me right now. I painted the middle one, and Rachel the two sides.
I just got back from a bike ride. Cholla insisted on going. She gave me that warm don’t leave me alone brown eyed look, so I attached the trailer to the bike and rode her out to Asilomar. It’s fun to do; people always make comments, and I have her company to look back on as I ride. I take her out in the kayak, too. She likes to bark at sea lions. Will she ever rid herself of her street dog days in Mexico? I don’t think so. Where most dogs are happy to romp, play with other dogs, chase sticks, she gets into her business like mode of looking for dead stuff. She’s very focused about it. So I pried open her mouth to dump out some item she was gnawing on, put on her leash and parked both of us in the sand to watch the waves for a bit. So beautiful.
Once home, I started pulling my dinner together. I didn’t have much in the refrigerator, so I started pulling things out of the freezer, and then, there it was! Two remaining filbert nut cookies! Round and brown and familiar and wonderful, there in a zip lock bag, probably dating back from approximately Christmas time when Lita ate almost the whole box that was sent to me.
So filbert nut cookies. My brother in law Dave makes them, and my sister sends them to me. They arrive at each juncture of big struggles in my life, when I am no longer eating, can’t think of eating, and then there they are—hand made, with nuts and cinnamon, full of love and support, and then, the cycle is broken; I open the box and start eating. I try freezing them, but they are good frozen, too. They are exactly the size of the middle of the palm of my hand, and three fit in there nicely. By the third, that one mostly defrosts, though I confess I eat them pretty quickly.
Dave insists on using real filberts. I think they are native to Oregon. He cracks them, chops them up, adds in his sensitive touches to make them perfect. He rolls the dough into a cylinder, slices them, cooks them in these ¼ inch rounds, all neat and tidy on the cookie sheet. Perfect.
So, so many times these cookies have shown up exactly when I’ve needed that surprise of family comfort and love. They have arrived for break-ups in relationships, illnesses, job struggles, Russ’ illness, my grief…they come with a hand of caring and love and sweetness (and cinnamon!). The surprise and my reaction of joy in seeing (then eating) the two forgotten ones in the freezer, with just a bit of freezer burn, came to me just as I needed them once again, and didn’t clearly know I needed them. Though not especially overt, the grief continues its journey within me. Though it sounds trite, it’s true; we don’t “get over it.”
Filbert nut cookies. They’re the best cookies on this planet. Handmade by Dave in Oregon. They help you get through life’s challenging events, AND, they, mmmm, taste wonderful.
Christmas morning 1965. I run down the stairs in my pink full bodied pajamas, complete with plastic feet (ick– and I SLEPT in those awful things?). I go down those stairs, full of that Christmas joy, that wondering of what Santa left for me, and then I see IT up against the wall, away from the tree… this house, this house…and it takes my breath away. I sat in front of it, quiet, in awe, maybe as I do now as an adult when I see a particularily rich colored sunset or a startling artwork in a museum far away–that sense of need to experience deeply as the moment is fleeting. It had a red roof, and sets of everything, even red cushions for the family room set, mirrors for the walls, a lamp. It’s funny; I don’t remember any dolls for it. I sat there transfixed, not even thinking of touching anything. I even forget who told me that it actually belonged to me, and I remember someone telling me to open up other gifts. I just wanted to sit there and visually depart to within that cut away shape of that house. As time went on, I personalized it with drawing in pencil on the outdoor lawn section, and installing mini animal posters over the doorways. Then lots more time passed, and things disappeared; I think the lamp went away pretty quickly. I went to college, new children showed up in my parent’s house, and then the furniture went off piece by piece. More time went away, the house went up in the rafters of the garage. I rescued it and used it to hold CDs and computer items.
June, 2007. My niece comes to see me. Perhaps she is a past culprit of the missing furniture. She decides that I need to go after dreams that she knows I’ve been talking about for at least as long as she has known me. She’s on a mission; her mother has to go after being an artist. Her aunt has to be a writer. So we take everything out of what I claimed was my creative workshop room (ugh, it’s been a place to dump things and leave quickly), we get rid of a desk, we painted amazing panels of paintings for one wall (I’ll write about THOSE later), and then, that dollhouse…we give it a place against the wall across from my table, where I can see it. It’s empty of furniture, empty of anything. I look at the turqouise blue rooms, the fake rock wall paper, the personalized mini animal posters, the pencil drawings, and I still feel somewhat transfixed. I look hard, and I can remember me, that girl, that little girl who could depart so easily into a place of a fantasy imagining, a place to practice being in a moment but away at the same time. I look at that house now, and I can almost SEE me there, and can almost smile at that little girl, so happy in the simplicity of moving furniture about over and over. How would she ever know what would come as the years progress? So I look at her, me, my spirit; I am stunned with the spirit of my niece (my new Santa Claus) who gently and glowingly prods me to sit, transfixed, to move words about like the furniture of that house. She is the one who signed me up for this blog, this new medium of my adult musings, my virtual dollhouse. Welcome.
(I wrote this maybe six years ago while on a kayaking trip in Baja. I was so impressed with the beautiful white bones I found on the desert, that I reflected on my death, and I wrote this poem)
When I die
Don’t bury my body underground
in a box
to be hidden in shadow
eaten by worms
Don’t burn my skin
so that I disappear
a vapor to rise and float away
Better, so better
leave me in the desert
under a cardon
the vultures can pick at me
the ants could eat me
And when all are done feasting
my bones can soak up sun
and turn white with joy
of warmth and brilliance.
Then, when the moon shines,
I’ll reflect and leave
shadows on the dirt
soaking sun, giving light
soaking sun, giving light