Sunday: no day of rest. Three-hour drive home. Two+ hours of work. Two hours of catch-up email, photograph download, blogging. Four hours and fifteen minutes of work. The Academy Awards. Bed. Please. Soon. It's all become a bit blurred.
Ballet with the Greats dancing followed by a dinner/movie date (Miss Dots fried chicken [but the collard greens win the day] and the movie Hachi [a throat-catching film about loyalty and love]) with the nephew and two Greats (one human, one canine).
For some it might seem tutu much of a good thing, but not for me.
Home is where the heart always is, and that home is filled with it.
with the nephew means brew (Trimtab's Zero Dark Thirty is five stars, no matter what the nephew in the mob cap says), barbecue (Dreamland's ribs are still the best), and Birmingham (a visit to The Club for the view at my request, proving the nephew's mettle [despite his complaining about the cold wind and low temperature]) makes for a highly satisfactory occasion.
A visit to the College bookstore this morning found me lingering at the adult coloring book display.
In childhood, I spent many happy hours (perhaps too many, but I made good grades in school with minimal effort, so why calculate how many?) coloring and completing paint-by-numbers sets. Why shouldn't adults do the same? There are the pleasures of movement of the hand, of smelling the crayon or sharpening the colored pencil or washing to watercolor, of emerging color on an otherwise white page, of clear black lines -- all creating a mindlessness I enjoy when taking pictures and walking or used to enjoy when practicing transcendental meditation or playing the piano. (I've read prayer can have the same effect for religious people.) I was charmed by several of the books, especially those by Joanna Batsford, whose beautiful graphic work started the current craze (I think), and one called Parisian Street Style, which reminds me In and Out of the Garden, South of France, and A Bowl of Olives (do choose "Look Inside") by Sara Midda. Perhaps, when my high photography season ends late in the fall, I shall buy one or more coloring books to get my through the gray days of winter.
Whatever you do, do not, under any circumstances whatsoever, go for a walk under such a cloudy sky because -- even though every weather site promises clouds only without rain -- "if it can happen, it will." Good thing the digital camera holster had a rain cover (which I couldn't quite figure out how to use) and a generous person downtown gave me two plastic grocery bags. Sometimes I feel just about as out of it as this bumper alongside the trail.
Many years ago, when I was perhaps 14, my neighbors entertained a Pennsylvania family, whose daughter was my age. They were Swedenborgians, as remote and foreign and exotic a religion as anything I can imagine even today. After leaving, she and I kept up a brief correspondence, and as a gift she sent me an official book of her religion. I read it, with great interest, and thought about the book and Swedenborg for many years after.
I didn't realize it at the time, but my initial interest in mysticism and spiritualism met its physical match in my passion for folk art, especially the kind of art made by religious folks like Sister Gertrude Morgan, Lonnie Holley, and Ben F. Perkins. I found in their obsessive compulsion to make art influenced by some form of divine inspiration so attractive, so compelling that I visited such artists and bought their work often (at their homes or in galleries), read about them and their work, and sought more and more information.
Yesterday, reading The Guardian, I happened upon an article titled "Hilma af Klint: A Painter Possessed" and felt the same rush of excitement I had experienced previously. Here was a woman painting beyond her gender and generation, creating works of astounding beauty and grace, of whom I had never heard (and should have, I thought, in art history courses or through other reading). How, for example, had I missed this?
So this post is as much for me as for the casual reader of my blog. I want to know more and am determined to find more.
Dear F, I have of late felt housebound, probably because of the weather and cold, gray skies. Today, to break the spell, I took a drive to Stevenson, AL, hoping to see lots of birds. I wanted especially to see cranes (Sandhills in particular). Alas, just diving ducks and gulls and one Great Blue Heron floated and dove stood and flew. So I drove home the long way, up through Bridgeport and South Pittsburg, along Jumpoff Mountain Road, and even then I was still restless. So I went down to Abbo's Alley on the campus. And there I saw flowers starting in earnest: snowdrops of the kind you wrote "These make me happy" on Facebook, Lenten Roses, the first crocus (yellow and white), and tiny white blossoms (whose identity I forget every year) clinging to the stones marking the path. So many daffodil and bluebell leaves are pushing u, promising a good bloom this spring. When three fraternity boys wandered down toward me, one holding a beer (it's Friday afternoon after all, the temp is warm, the sun strong), they asked, "Have you got some good pictures?" And I shared them. The boys, like you, were complimentary and wanted to know the flowers' names and where to look for them. I wish you could see them live and in situ, but since you can't, I hope you'll enjoy these photos. (By the way, they'll improve when I have figured out my new camera and even better when I can afford a macro lens.) Enjoy! Best, R
in the weather brings folks out: plenty of flitting white bugs all along lake's shore; symphonic crows, chickadees, blue birds (so many bluebirds!), and cranes (sandhill, I think, beyond the woods); bikers; students and a professor armed with binoculars (bird watchers?); two dog walkers with three dogs; a hammocked individual slumped on the opposite shore.
It is as if the brilliant colors of blood and cara cara oranges leaked out, tasting like the promise of spring.
Some cousins kept cows, but my suburban neighborhood saw none, not even at the zoo where more exotic animals, crowded in cages, paced and stank. I have eaten cow, I have drunk cow milk, consumed cow cheese, used cow cream to top my raspberries and make scones. I have even skimmed cream from the top of a milk bottle, watched my mother stir it into iced coffee, making liquid marble. But until I moved (again) to Tennessee a bit more than a decade ago, I had never really looked at a cow, noticed its size -- its startling heft and height, admired its steady gaze and protection of calf, its gathering into groups, following a leader, its seemingly placid nature, endurance in storm, and habit of standing in stomach-high water on a hot hot day. I like them, and I have been eating less and less beef because I think about their faces, their eyes, the trust of their encounter, like this afternoon, when, on taking the long way home from a necessary errand, I saw this dozen in an Alto field, not for the first time, but this time stopping my car in the middle of the road, backing up, parking, grabbing my camera, getting out, and standing for a long while, looking. At first, I heard one and then two lowing or mooing in the distance, then more loudly, until finally they had approached me, each of us on our own side of the fence. They stared and stared at me as I did at them.
Dinner time, I imagine, they thought; someone coming to see to our needs. And then I felt a bit sad that I wasn't the one who would touch them and feed them today, and also that I was the one who had needlessly brought them forward. I thought these things as I drove off, watching them in the rear view, watching me still.
When I went to sleep, there was rain.
When I woke, there was rain.
When I worked, there was rain.
When I ate, there was rain.
When I looked outside, there was rain.
When night fell, there was rain.
Today, I have had enough of rain.
I Two luscious fruits in one day: ripe raspberries and blood oranges.
Standing at my buggy, puzzled about which aisle to take, I witnessed: Spiky-haired Man: Hey, I like your hair! Spiky-haired Stranger Woman: Thanks! Spiky-haired Stranger Woman pointing to Spiky-haired Man's hair and laughing Spiky-haired Man, on passing Spiky-haired Stranger Woman, turning back, smiling widely: I really like your hair! Spiky-haired Stranger Woman smiled and turned into the aisle in front me. II A man and his daughter (maybe 5?) looked and looked and looked and looked at the flower-filled display till she exclaimed, "These!" He lifted the child and she chose a bunch of red roses. IV Low flying gulls in the parking lot, nesting, jostling, riding the air.
In the homily, A, a priest beloved by the deceased, said: "G made things. Out of any material at hand. All the time. Habitually." She added, "G could make something beautiful out of nothing."
At that moment, I was reminded of Lonnie Holley, folk artist and long-ago friend, and his compulsion to make things. Out of anything. All the time. Habitually.
But while he talked about his making, compulsively, in a spiritual or political context, G didn't. And while her husband went to church every Sunday, she stayed home. Despite the angels she created and sold and the angels she acquired from others to sell, she was, as A said, "On the fence about God."
A few years ago, when G and her husband went to Paris, where they liked to spend time, she sent me photos of their rented apartment, excited to share our mutual interest in folk art. Works by artists in her and my collection covered the white walls, and her favorite, a bent wire face, was Lonnie Holley's.
I sent her a photo of my own Holley wire sculpture, and on her return I showed it to her. She wanted to buy it, and I promised if I were ever ready, I'd let her know first. But I was never ready.
Today, as the community walked to the cemetery, preceded by a New Orleans style brass band, followed by her family, some of whom held their decorated umbrellas high in a celebratory funeral second line, I felt so many strands of my life converge that I felt a bit dizzy.
Now, I find myself wishing I had at least lent her the sculpture she loved as much as I.
Einstein did. That's who. For years, I taught Hamlet, itself a sublime human achievement, in which Hamlet opines, "What a piece of work is man! How noble in reason! how infinite in faculty!" I thought of that speech (without Hamlet's cynicism) this morning when I read that the LIGO team had heard what the New York Timescalled "a cosmic chirp [that] vindicates Einstein."
Elsewhere in today's paper, Lawrence M. Krauss wrote, "Too often people ask, what's the use of science like this, if it doesn't produced faster cars or better toasters. But people rarely ask the same question about a Picasso painting or a Mozart symphony. Such pinnacles of human creativity change our perspective of our place in the universe. Science, like art, music and literature, has the capacity to amaze and excite, dazzle and bewilder. I would argue that it is that aspect of science -- it cultural contribution, its humanity -- that is perhaps its most important feature."
Count me among those who doesn't ask the use. Science is amazing, and this "music" is dazzling.
She asked me to open the door. I knew better. It's cold and windy with wet snow. She doesn't know snow. Doesn't go out doesn't even try, content with inside and inside things. Like her sister whom she sometimes torments, sometimes licks and cuddles. Like cold water swirled in a metal bowl wide enough to accommodate her generous whiskers. Like the Taj Mahal of a litter box big enough for her to recline or insist upon entering where her sister the littler one already pees. But sometimes she asks and today I offered I opened the door to snow and cold and wind and dampness. And for a long time she cowered; behind the trash bin she peeked outside and finally took one step, looked long, sniffed the base plate, then scampered to the living room, lay under brass lamps, groomed and slept. BigAssCat's over it, the snow and the whole wide world beyond her womb-house.