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Friday, May 29, 2009

Snapshot

Today on the way home a car in the oncoming lane violently pulled off the road onto the shoulder, still under construction, throwing up dust. Lights red the drivers foot pressed hard to the floor. As I pass he is irate yelling at his female passenger, shaking his finger leaning toward her. In the rear view mirror I see her getting out on the curb where there is no sidewalk, she is wearing shorts and flip flops. I keep moving looking back, he pulls away. I wonder if this is the first time this has happened, has he abandoned her before on a stretch of road, leaving her to fend for herself. Did he come back moments later and get her realizing the absurdity of the act or did he just keep driving, bitch would not shut up. Maybe it was the best thing to happen to her in a long time, the opportunity to get away, to reclaim her sense of self. Maybe she really loves him even though he is a prick and cannot manage his anger, lashing out, hurting her deeply, all she wants is to love him and be loved by him but broken people can't love. Even I know that. I wonder if I should go back, pick her up, insinuate myself into her life, help her see the light about assholes. I keep driving, it's the second time this week that I have witnessed in public, this level of domestic despair confirming that more people than I would care to count live lives of quiet desperation.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Ceaseless Light

I started writing the blog about a year and a half ago. When I started I thought it would be a daily chart of my activities, a record of the weather, mood, menstrual cycle, humidity, moon phase and other pertinent (ha) details. I saw it as one of those charts that Edward Tufte makes. Clearly I was not that detailed but it has served to be a reasonable document of my life. On the outside looking in that is what it is but on the inside looking out it feels quite different. For many years I had a deep compulsion to write but never did, I had no forum. I wrote a few things but never shared them with anyone. The blogging thing has given me a place to write that is more public than my journal so there is a tendency to think twice about what I am writing about, and to try and keep it compelling or at least useful and authentic. The private journal is a no holds barred, all out whine fest which I will hopefully burn moments before I die. The blog on the other hand invites others to read and to occasionally comment and this is really good for a person like me who needs a bit of recognition and encouragement. Additionally, the morning pages I have been writing, have again revolutionized my thinking about writing and my creative process. I realized the other morning as I walked back from the hen house at 6:30am in my bathrobe, that I have made progress with my writing and it feels really good. I have lost that hungry feeling of needing to get started. I am not really into patting myself on the back but this is one thing that I feel quite proud of. I can say that for the last several months writing has become part of my daily routine and it is nourishing me in ways that I never would have expected. One day I will share some of the other stuff I have been working on. Generally I feel better than I have felt in years and I owe it all to the act of writing it all down everyday.

Monday, May 25, 2009

I am calling him Piku



It's been about 3 weeks since the Peacock showed up at Rancho Relaxo and I have decided to call him Piku. He is a lovely specimen and is growing friendlier by the day. He hangs out on the roof of my house where he can survey the yard well. He flies down when there is something interesting to investigate. If we are in the house he lingers near the doors to keep an eye on us. He no longer shrieks when the dog gets too close to him. I think he is a bit miffed when I disappear for days but he will adapt to that too overtime.

I am just really struck by the significance of this beautiful creature who has appeared as if from nowhere and now seems duty bound to keep an eye on me, a beautiful eye at that. What good luck is this.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

How to Get what we Need


Many years back when my first marriage was falling apart I found myself at home alone cleaning out my shed. My mother had been dead for about 5 years and I still had many of her things stored there. Amazingly while moving one of those basket type carry bags which contained some miscellaneous weaving and spinning tools I came across a small spiral bound notebook. It surprised me that I had never seen it before and that it seemed to be in such an obvious open place, not tucked away in the least. I took this as a sign that perhaps my mothers ghost had placed it there so I would see it. It was the type of notebook you would find in a University Bookstore, it was stamped "University of Edinburgh" which is where both my parents went. It was not dogeared in the least in fact it was well preserved considering the dates indicated she had used it during the mid 1950's. I found it in 2001, 45 or so years later.

She and my dad had made notes about their wedding, who was present and the gifts they had received. They had a pretty simple wedding but people sent them some nice things. I even have a bit of their Edinburgh Crystal left, when Madge and I are good we drink our Gins out of them.

Beyond all the wedding details my mother had written down her feelings about being married and this is what really rocked my world. She and my dad had a pretty good marriage, at least on the outside it looked good. I realize now that she really suffered in the confines of the role. She wrote at one point that she questioned her entire existence when Denis (my dad) was not there. Somehow her job was to wait to live until he got home from the office. I found this symbolic at the time but now looking back at it I wish there had been a way for us to have a dialogue about it when she was living. I got two letters back from her college roommate at Christmas and in those she also questions the whole institution of marriage. The idea that one woman and one man bound together could get everything they need from each other seemed to her neither realistic nor desirable. It was such a gift to read that from her because I believe that she must have imprinted some of it on me and Madge, we both have pretty unconventional marriages.

I have been married to my husband Mark for 5 years now and we have never lived together. It's a novel situation that will one day change when Mark's dad Eddy leaves this mortal coil. I do look forward to living with Mark because I'm mad about him but in the meantime having this space is really pretty wonderful. I have a lot of time when I am on my own which suits me, Mark is very self possessed and is happy on his own as well. There is no jealousy, guilt, or resentment. I do my work, Mark does his, we keep in touch by email semi-constantly, we talk on the phone a bit. I love my place and Mark has done a ton of work there to make it more comfortable and to look better. I do little here at his place except cook occasionally and clean sometimes but even then Mark takes care of most everything, shopping, cooking, decorating. It's his domain and I respect and value that. He makes improvements here based on my suggestions and his own desires. We have two very comfortable homes to spend time together and apart in.

This marriage is such a gift to me. I get what I need from my partner, unconditional love and support, endless respect and admiration. I also have a ton of freedom to feed myself, to fill the gaps that a husband can't fill and because Mark is smart and secure, he understands that when I am happily doing my own thing—hiking with friends, going on art dates, spending time with my sister, being alone because that's what I need—when we get back together he cherishes his happy whole wife who is present and loving. I am really proud of this marriage not for the mere fact of it but because of the substance of it. I am quite sure my mother feels proud of how I have redefined this marriage to suit better who I am and what I need. I know Mark's mom is awfully proud of him. And most of all I hope that when Pearl grows up she has some good tools to help her pick a mate and create a partnership/marriage that nurtures her. I just hope she waits until she's at least 35 to do it.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

This May Be Significant

I don't have a great memory. At least this a thing I repeatedly tell myself which sort of makes its true. It occurred to me today, listening to a poet reading on the radio that one of the few things I do remember from early educational experiences is poetry. Hmmm I thought, this might be significant so I am writing it down here to hold it in my memory. Tweeting and Facebook updates are like little poems, I wonder what would happen if I strung a few of them together.

Poem #1

Feeling satisfied about
writing it down,
Being hit by waves of ideas
the tide is on the rise.
Wishing the snow could disappear more gracefully.
Switching tasks in the same genre.
Wondering what happened to the beautiful summer of my dreams,
floating in the sea.
Stumbling, trying not to fall.
Marvelling.
Just coming to.


This adequately sums up the process I am currently engaged in of reclaiming my creativity.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

This Day In History

Historic photo from 2004

1506

Christopher Columbus died in Spain.

1861

North Carolina voted to secede from the Union.

1927

Charles Lindbergh began the first solo nonstop transatlantic flight, departing from Long Island aboard the Spirit of Saint Louis.

1932

Amelia Earhart took off from Newfoundland to become the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic.

1978

Mavis Hutchinson, 53, became the first woman to run across America. The 3,000-mile trek took her 69 days. She ran an average of 45 miles each day.

2002

I met Mark Seifred for coffee in Vancouver, my life hasn't been the same since.

Corny I know, but true.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Filth

No picture for this post, just imagine the most disgusting toilet you have ever encountered in a long deserted roadside gas station. Now clean it.

My young male tenant has moved out and he left a substantial mess considering the short time he was here. He left a bunch of furniture, two easy chairs, a dresser, lamp, microwave and miscellaneous Turtle supplies. I found 4 abandoned socks behind the dresser, along with some seriously grimy dust bunnies under it. In the fridge/freezer he left frozen haddock, salsa, salad dressing and some mystery meat. He left his vacuum and broom, apparently he doesn't really use them anyway. I am hoping the poop I found on the counter was from his turtle and not from mice he may or may not have attracted.

I am left wondering why people abandon their shit. Don't they feel a twinge of guilt that someone else will have to clean up their residue or does it just not enter their limited realm of awareness. Needless to say he won't be getting his deposit back and as far as the stuff goes it may be dump city for those gems. I will spiff the place back up, bleach it from top to bottom and start again. Hopefully the next tenants will be better. Blah blah blah, hope springs eternal, thank god for that and Comet.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Pretty as a Peacock

About a week ago, the day Pearl's baby sister was born we were sitting eating dinner and Pearl spotted this Peacock in the yard. Since then he has been a constant presence here at Rowanville. To make the obvious understatement, he is beautiful. He is well, peacock blue but it's more than that. He is sort of iridescent greeny blue. His chest is big and full and his neck is sturdy to a point and then becomes frighteningly thin. His head is small compared to his body and he has a feather headress that looks like a space helmet. When he cries out at dawn it sounds like a kitten crossed with a duck.

He may in fact be the best pet ever. He's been hanging around now for about 10 days. I feed him catfood, sporadically. I read online that they can tolerate some catfood. I should also get him some crumble. He is afterall in the pheasant family. He's exotic and somehow tropical even though I am quite clear we are not in the tropics. Because he is wild I feel no responsibility towards him. I enjoy watching him, actually he watches me more often. The doors in my house are all glass so he can see in easily, he watches me as I work in the office, pecking on the glass. I can tell his curiousty is leading to more bravery, he is getting used to the dog and to us, lingering on the roof, sleeping in the shade of the chimney. The dog is growing bored with him, he's become a fixture. A beautiful fixture, like a glittering chandelier.

The Peacock is the national bird of India. Sadly there are few of them left there due to the green revolution. They have been poisoned by overuse of fertilizers and pesticides. I'd like to give him a name but maybe that's too much, for now I just cluck at him so he gets used to my voice. He's really unbelievably beautiful and I am enjoying just looking at him. What good luck to have a beautiful creature befriend you.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Random Access Memory


I passed by this place today on my way home and sank into sentimental thoughts of what it would be like to run a little hamburger stand on a deserted road. I fell into some faraway memory of summer food stands at the edge of dusty roads under unforgiving sun. Heat rising up off Highway 16 heading south into the Fraser Canyon with my family on summer car trips. We drove past these places surrounded by dry hills and tumbleweed so foreign to home, and so exotic.

Soft serve ice cream at the Tastee-Freeze in the town I grew up in. I never ate the food just bought cones for myself and occasionally my Irish Setter who ate them willingly only to throw them up minutes later. These memories are filled with floor to ceiling glass windows and stainless outdoor counters, window service and everything had a thin layer of butter fat on it. There was a parking lot next door and then the New Roi Theater, not the old one that was originally on Main Street. I never worked at the Tatstee-Freeze I just remember going there on hot summer days on my own, on my bike, with my red-haired dog.

Later when I moved to Los Angeles I met a cuban boy, Oscar at Art School and he invited me to help him work a few Saturdays at his job in Glendale at a place called Pauls Great White Hut. We sold chilli burgers and hot dogs and tuna melts. It was hotter than hell and when the lunch rush was on it made my head spin. Oscar wore a t-shirt that was considered subversive to the locals and at the end of the day he sent me home with slices of oily cheese. The hut was tiny, in the corner of a smooth black top parking lot which attracted the intense valley heat. We had to be careful not to crash into eachother inside when it got busy. Paul also owned another concession in Scholl Canyon. Years later when I was married we played baseball there with friends, I learned that the whole place was built on a landfill but it was beautiful on the surface, in that hazy palm tree swaying way that LA and dreams are.

Friday, May 8, 2009

It's Alive!


Check it out! After months in the making the new improved Bellingham Farmers Market site is LIVE. Thanks to Market Director Caprice Teske who loved my design and to the godlike Syd Cole and her team of evil geniuses at Mindfly in Bellingham for making happen so efficiently. It's got some cool features, like the Flickr feed which allows us to easily update photos so the site always looks fresh. The Twitter feed allows Caprice to easily keep everyone up on what's happening up to the minute, gotta get those fresh veggies out to waiting customers. The vendor profile pages offer a mini-site option for those without websites, and there is even an opportunity for vendors to advertise within the site itself. All in all it is a great improvement and will be a good tool for all the Market members and customers alike. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Project of the Week


My associate Jackie Wolf of Urban Possibilities asked me to design some materials for an event they were hosting. In lieu of a handsome design fee I got to make what I wanted. The Downtown Theatre Workshop was created to change lives. The organizers bring the power of theatre to those without access. Here they tell their stories, become courageous performers and inspire us all. I used some old sign images I photographed in downtown LA in the 80's when I was at school there. I'd had letterpress plates made at the time so I proofed them and created a vertical landscape. I chose the gradient to suggest the yellow downtown haze and the blue LA sky and layered the silhouettes from small to large to indicate the transformative nature of the process. I photographed myself for the silhouettes, setting up a makeshift studio in my yard using a tripod and self timer on the digital camera. I shot a bunch of poses and selected the ones I liked best and then made vector drawings of them. The type shape came from the idea of the old cone shaped megaphone, I wanted it to feel like the title was being projected out from the bodies not just sitting as a layer of information over them. I am quite pleased with the outcome. Enjoy.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

A New Chapter

Here she is! The newest member to our crazy quilt of a family. She is the still unnamed daughter of Becky and Tom, Pearl's lovely birthmomma and her partner. We will make the the trip to see her in a few weeks and introduce her to her fabulous older sister Pearl. Can't help wondering what these two will talk about long after we are gone, what a life they will have together. What joy to have a sister.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

All A Whir

I feel like I am whirring. A few months back I could barely drag myself off the couch and away from the box of wine I keep next to the fridge. But right now I feel really happy, inspired and enthusiastic about everything. I have been gardening, writing, painting, reading, cooking, sewing. I walked 8 miles last Thursday afternoon because I wanted to and I had the time. I am setting goals, taking notes, making lists and sketches. I have been getting back in touch with people I have not spoken to in ages, I am replacing and fixing broken things in my house. I'm storing winter clothes and replacing them with summer ones. I bought new shoes. I am walking taller.

It's good and bad of course, where would we be without duality. I feel so excited about everything that I am having a little trouble focusing on one thing at a time. The worrier in me which I have been working hard at ignoring is making me wonder if this is the manic flip-side to my earlier malaise. Time will tell. Whatever the reason for this new exuberance, I am embracing it while it lasts. Getting things done and moving it all forward a few notches. Honestly though, I think I just reached another life plateau, an old layer has been discarded and this new fresh layer is fully exposed and ready to be realized. I wonder if snakes feel this way when they finally wriggle free of their old dead skin. I wonder if they hiss less and whir more as they shimmy free of their well worn past.
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