Delphi

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After a long, trying, kinda sad day (would have been my parents’ anniversary), another artist on Fine Art America paid me a real compliment. I went to check out her work and came across a photo she had taken of an abandoned ampitheatre. Immediately, this reminded me of one of my favorite poems written by my grandmother, Beatrice Allen Page. I know it’s not Mondays with Muddy, and it’s a good possibility that I’ve posted it before, but I’m going to share it now anyway because it’s my blog and I win. When you’re done reading the poem, be sure to check out the photo I linked to above and “like” her image to boost its visibility on Fine Art America:

DELPHI

Emptiness broods on the ampitheatre.

Time has gnawed at the stone tiers.

Weeds and moss grow in the chinks.

Furtive salamanders scribble

cryptograms in ancient dust.

Throngs no longer gather here

to have their heartstrings played upon

by Attic tragedies.

 

Yet a sombre chorus of women

circles mutely in time’s shadow,

their invisible hands linked in common woe.

The scuffle of their worn sandals

makes a sound like autumn wind

sighing through age-old memory.

Masks conceal their faces.

 

Grief is more durable than stone.

Long before the theatre was built,

the moving choir had begun in hollows of cypress-dotted hills,

on wind-swept plains, inside walls

and towns. And still goes on

down through the ages, throughout the earth

an ever-widening circle of women

mourning the death of the warriors:

fathers…brothers…husbands…sons.

And children not yet born.

Let the Lames Begin

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It’s that time of year, people, when my depression tends to take hold and turn me into this:

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This years seems to be no different. Partly, I’m sad. I just had my first birthday without my dad. Today is my parents’ anniversary. Next month will be his birthday followed by the holidays. So some of my inertia is grief related, but I need to be honest that some of what I’m feeling is my crankypants brain being crankypants for the sake of crankypantsness. Fun fun fun for everyone!

While I do need to be careful to take steps to stop the negative cyclical thinking so that it doesn’t turn into another long term depression, I’m also going to be a little more gentle on myself this year. When the mental fog hits, the funny doesn’t come as easily. The creative goes into hiding. The social takes a vacation. This year, I accept that. I will be kinder to myself. I will not beat myself up for slacking off a little. So I’m still going to make an effort to post semi-regularly, I’m going to make myself keep painting, I’m going to try to see friends, but I’m also going to let myself take some down time. So please forgive me if the posts are a little less frequent over the next couple months until I emerge from the cycle. If you’re a blogging buddy, please forgive me for not reading as many of your posts as I usually do. I promise that I still love you and wish you were here to hang out eating junk food on the sofa with me. If you feel like stopping by with some bourbon, I won’t stop you.

And Still More Bathroom Antics

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The fun never stops around here, folks. People are up to their good old fashioned bizarre bathroom behavior again. After my last class, I discovered that someone had pulled a butterfly off of the wall and put it in the rock garden, then placed one of the rocks on the candle. Sure, why not? They also managed to get blue paint all over the sink and the bathroom floor, which was pretty interesting since we weren’t using blue paint. Still scratching my head on that one. Was able to clean most of it up.

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I’m calling this installation art and have titled it “Death of a Butterfly, or Why I’ll Never Have Children.”

Mondays With Muddy

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As a reminder, every Monday, I post an excerpt Landscape with Figures, an unpublished manuscript by my grandmother, Beatrice Allen Page, who I called Muddy. We’re nearing the end of it with only another 35 pages to go. I do have other unpublished works of hers (along with her published works), but none in the style of a journal, so not as easy to break up for weekly posts, so I’m still figuring out if and how to continue with our Mondays With Muddy. I’ll keep you posted, of course. Anyway, here is the next excerpt from the current manuscript:

‘Over at the hairdresser’s I picked up one of the expensive, sophisticated women’s magazines and while sitting under the dryer, I read my horoscope for the month. The prevalence of horoscopes in magazines is another indication of the widespread interest today in the occult and the esoteric, in everything from witchcraft to I Ching.

Why are so many people ‘looking for a sign?’ Are they unwilling to take responsibility for their own lives and decisions? Are they caught in a hopeless bewilderment that makes them grasp at any straw? I suspect most of them would indignantly reject such a suggestion. They probably feel they are seeking not escape from life but greater intensity of life. Instead, however, of searching out the mysteries of existence with patience, humility and awe in the way of previous generations, so many people today see to be looking for a quick and easy road to heaven. Unfortunately a lot of the shortcuts apparently lead to hell.

To dabble in the occult has always been recognized as dangerous. You may stir up demons that get out of hand and take over control. I begin to sound like Mr. Hollis despite the fact the demons to which I’m referring are born and lurk in the dark hollows of the human mind. (As a matter of fact, if I truly believed in a creative, just and loving God, instead of being one of those who are ‘lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot,’ I think the Lucifer myth would offer as plausible an explanation as any other I’ve ever heard for the presence of evil in the world.)

But even if I can’t quite accept Mr. Hollis’s belief in demon-possession, I find it is not at all hard for me to believe that hatred is a force that can erupt in some event that has no apparent relationship to the hater. Sometimes when I read about some cold-blooded murder or ghastly accident, the uneasy thought creeps into my mind that I myself may have had something to do with that bloodshed even though it took place thousands of miles away and is utterly abhorrent to me. It is as if some of the rancor, the meanness, the callousness in my own heart and mind seeped through the body of humankind like a poison in the blood and broken out eventually in violence. Not because my personal thoughts and feelings are working some kind of sorcery akin to casting the evil eye on someone, but because we are all more closely related than we realize. I’m not talking about what people mean by ‘collective guilt’ when they blame society for a crime that has been committed by an individual. I mean something much less obvious, something hidden like a malignant cell that proliferates and spreads to another part of the body before it becomes manifest.

If this were true –  and apparently I have almost persuaded myself that it is – then there is a positive as well as a negative side to it: my good will as well as my malice, my joy as well as my despair, could have an influence on some person or some event either near at hand or far away.

I remember now what B. said to me once when her son was in Vietnam: ‘I pray that Bill’s life will be saved. I can’t conceive of a God who would save one boy’s life because he had a mother praying for him  but would let another boy be killed because he didn’t happen to have anyone pray for him. But I do feel an obligation to keep my spirits up as much as possible, not only for Bill’s sake but for all the other boys involved.’ She groped around for words, trying to explain what she meant. ‘I have a conviction that minds touch one another, that moods may set up waves or vibrations that travel great distances in space and time and affect the thoughts and moods of others.’ She smiled a little wryly, I recall. ‘Call it superstition if you like. I’ve no doubt the psychiatrists have an even less flattering word for it.’ And then catching the look on my face, she added, ‘I suppose you, too, think it’s a crazy notion.’

When I assured her that I found some of the evidence for ESP very convincing, she shook her head and said: ‘I mean something more than that. It’s as if all the people in the world were roped together by an invisible rope, climbing a mountain. Each one has to exert all possible effort not to slip, not just for his own sake but because if he loses his footing, it’s going to pull down the next man who’s roped to him, and then the combined weight of the two falling will exert even more of a pull on those on either side of them, and so on. Of course, people will slip from time to time, people who are in more dangerous spots or who may have less strength. That’s all the more reason for those with a firmer footing or more strength to hold tight and keep climbing.’

Her analogy doesn’t answer the age-old question as to why some of us should have ‘a firmer footing,’ i.e., the opportunity to lead lives of freedom and security while others never have a chance to know anything but war and horror, of deprivation and grief. >That question is as unanswerable as ‘Why is that dog for?’

More Bathroom Antics

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For my long time readers, you’ll no doubt recall that the public has chosen to do some weirdass shit in the studio bathroom. A couple nights ago, we got to add this little doozy to the list. Sorry, no pics this time, but you’ll understand why in a second:

A couple came in and chose their seats, then asked where the restroom was. Both headed back to our one room, unisex bathroom and went in together. They came out a few moments later and proceeded to get wasted during class. At one point, my husband went into the back room to retrieve something only to discover that the guy from the couple was peeing in the bathroom with the door open for the whole world to see.

On second thought, I kind of wish we had been able to get a picture of it.

Hanging Bottles

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New painting, everyone!! I forgot to bring my good camera home with me, so I don’t have a great final photo of it yet (and there’s still a serious shine on it because it needs a few days to dry), but I’m too excited about it to wait any longer to post it. I’ve taken pics along the way so you can watch the progression:

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“Hanging Bottles” 11″ x 14″ oil on board

All The Muches

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As you may have guessed from yesterday’s post, it was my birthday, or, as I like to call it, my bourbon day. Normally, I’m am ALL about birthdays. Love them. Mine or yours, doesn’t matter because CAKE. But this was the first one without my dad. Not that he was exactly “present” for the last few, but this year I couldn’t even get the bittersweet call from my mom with him sitting next to her and her prompting him into the happy birthday song. I felt his absence so completely. I spent most of the night before and most of the day of bawling my eyes out and pulling cat hairs off of my face because I kept burrowing into my cats for comfort with a wet face. Smart. But last night, I put on my big girl pants and went to dinner with friends. I love my tribe, y’all, even more than I love my bourbon. And it’s growing, which makes me happy. I like accumulating people to love even more than accumulating cat hair on every piece of clothing I own. And say what you will about social media, you have to admit that it’s fun getting all those birthday wishes and love from friends near and far.

So to everyone who helped keep me afloat when I just wanted to sink in the swamp of sadness, thank you. I love you so much. In fact, I love you all the muches. You can even have some of my cake if you want…and, I suppose, some of my bourbon.

We Three Things

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Three things:

  1. Birthday cake for breakfast? Yes, that totally happened today.
  2. Birthday cake for lunch? Yep.
  3. Birthday cake for dinner? Yes, if someone will please hurry up and invent bourbon ice cream cake.
  4. There isn’t a fourth thing because, as stated in the first line of this post, there are only three things.

Mondays With Muddy

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Here is the next installment from Beatrice Allen Page’s unpublished manuscript, Landscape with Figures:

“I brought home from the library C. S. Lewis’s autobiographical book, Surprised by Joy, simply because my eye chanced to fall on it and I have enjoyed other books of his. I read most of the night and my astonishment kept me awake the rest of it, for there I found described far more vividly than I could ever do, the strange, haunting sensation associated with both ‘The Magic’ and ‘the northern mood.’

The magic was always evoked for him, I gathered, by something with a northern connotation. They belonged together as one experience which he calls ‘Joy’ even though, as he says, it might almost equally well be called a kind of grief: ‘an unsatisfied desire which is in itself more desirable than any other satisfaction.’ In each instance it only lasted a moment but it seemed to him of tremendous significance, something quite different from ordinary experiences, ‘something, as they would now say, ‘in another dimension.’ He speaks of it as a ‘stab,’ a ‘pang,’ an ‘inconsolable longing.’ ‘All Joy reminds,’ he writes. ‘It is never a possession, always a desire for something longer ago or further away or still ‘about to be.’

He caught his first glimpse as a child of whatever-it-might-be through nature. His second glimpse of it came through Beatrix Potter’s Squirrel Nutkin, which aroused in him an intense desire for what he calls the ‘idea of Autumn.’ He went back to the book again and again, not to gratify the desire because it was manifestly impossible to possess a season, but to reawaken the desire.

His third glimpse came some years later when, leafing through a volume of Longfellow, he came upon the lines from Tegner’s Drapa:

I heard a voice that cried

Baldur the Beautiful

Is dead, is dead –

(A ‘northern’ shiver runs down my spine as I copy the words.)

Lewis had no notion of who Baldur was but he was ‘instantly uplifted into huge regions of northern sky.’ He ‘desired with almost sickening intensity something never to be described (except that it is cold, spacious, severe, pale and remote).’

Later on he came to call whatever gave him this sensation, ‘Northernness.’ It might be a landscape or Norse mythology or Wagnerian music. The last surprises me: Wagner’s operas seems too flamboyant, too crushing to be northern, even though they deal with Norse mythology. He speaks of being engulfed in pure Northernness: ‘a vision of huge, clear space hanging above the Atlantic in the endless twilight of Northern summer.’

He wondered for awhile if the bittersweet longing he felt was a disguise for sexual desire – a possibility I, too, have speculated on – and came to the conclusion that sex might sometimes be a substitute for Joy, but no more than a temporary expedient. ‘You might as well offer a mutton chop to a man who is dying of thirst as offer sexual pleasure to the desire I am speaking of.’ (I doubt if he meant to imply there was any resemblance between a mutton chop and sex.)

He learned, even as I, that to focus on the sensation was only to frighten it away, and that it could not be sought for its own sake, for the ‘thrill’ of it. It came to him when he was least conscious of himself and his own feelings or state of mind. Eventually, after his conversion to Christianity, he came to believe that the experience itself was of no importance. ‘It was valuable only as a pointer to something other and outer.’ Since my recent glimpse of The Magic a couple weeks ago, I could almost go along with him in accepting it as evidence of ‘something other and outer’ – not just some momentary psychological state – but I wonder if I shall ever find the explanation or the word for that other and outer.”

My Ghetto Palette

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This is a little embarrassing to admit, but my palette is not your standard palette. I don’t use one of those round wooden palettes with the hole in it for your thumb. I don’t use a piece of glass or even plexi-glass with brown paper under it. Don’t get me wrong. I have those things, I just don’t use them. “Why?” you ask. “Because,” I reply, “as has been established in past posts, I’m a lazy git, and I prefer to not have to clean anything other than my brushes.” What do I use, then? Here’s where I cringe and admit that I use a piece of aluminum foil wrapped over a paper plate. Yes, you read that correctly. When there’s no more room to mix paint, I just take off the foil and toss it.

Now here’s the other embarrassing bit. I do not use a dust-free rag or cloth for wiping my brush on. Nope, I use old socks or pieces of shirts that have too many holes in them to wear anymore. I also don’t use one of those fancy brush cleaners with the wire rack at the bottom. I go straight for a baby food jar with a little turpenoid in it.

I’m running a classy, high end studio here, people. Be amazed:

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