Friday, August 29, 2014

Back to Reality

It's always a bit bumpy the first few days back to school. The air is changing, invisible bubbles filled with cool air pop as I move past them. I reminded myself of this, this morning while I walked on the road. It's always a bit bumpy the first few days back. Visiting summer guests have left, laundry is folded. Only bird voices on the deck. Nuts dropping on the garage roof.

I took this photo at Golden Ears Provincial Park. There are old growth stumps in these woods as big as cars. I stood there and tried to imagine what it must have looked like. The trees were monsters and much farther apart in contrast to these 3rd growth Fir that seem to be packed tight, barely any light coming through the canopy. I am reminded of Emily Carr of course. She got to see the old growth forests firsthand. As I mentioned in an earlier post I have little interest in painting the woods but I like to take the odd picture if the light is just right. This is in keeping with my naturalist spirit.

I am feeling at sixes and sevens, not quite here, not quite there. I need to get back to work of course, break the summertime habits of broken up time and late starts. Make some fucking money! With 10 empty hours stretched out ahead of me I felt a bit directionless and on edge this week. I've let a lot of things slide over the summer and the danger is to think about them all at once. I decide to be kind and take a few days to adjust to what is coming next.

I decide to mow the lawn. 

Running the lawnmower means you have to be aware of your extremities and the grasses extremities and all the plants too. So it gave me some time to think about various things while performing a physical task which seems to help the brain make sense of things. Change is always a bit startling and I think it's important to sort of sit with things sometimes.

There is no point in arguing with my inertia when it comes to certain work. It's an ugly road to go down so I think it's reasonable to surrender and do something else rather than grouse and do nothing.  As far as art goes. I have no answers. I'm thinking. I'm reading. All I know is when I slip into making something time passes and I feel productive. Those questions, why? Why do it? Why this? are quick to appear though and honestly I am baffled about it all. I try to carry on.

Even now, blogging with the pressure of a client deadline looming over me, I am having a hard time feeling committed to the activity of writing but I also can't stop myself because the longer I write the more I sink into it the more is revealed. Sorry to constantly repeat that metaphor for doing creative work, but that is how it feels to me, falling in, being overcome by, and I never know what I can reasonably put off while I take the time to explore this world of artmaking, whatever that means. Painting, sewing, felting, god forbid writing.

Today I spent time painting the big barn doors on my rental. It's a job that has been needing attention for two years. It took 3 hours. And I enjoyed doing it. Fuck! So the point is to do something and in between think about the projects I am working on and don't feel like I have to be at my desk to do this work, necessarily. The point is to accomplish something everyday and enjoy the process. Everyday could be rainbows and unicorns! The point is I have to work at all this stuff all the time and I can't stop because I want to find out what I have to say.

My dad at VAG with Douglas Coupland

I saw the Douglas Coupland show with my dad. We went spontaneously one Sunday afternoon in late July. We flew through it like a couple of maniacs, but it almost seemed like it was set up that way, the ideas were very clear, the pieces were well executed, it felt familiar, based on furnishings, pop art and everyday products. It was interesting. Smart and stylish with a narrative I could relate to. My dad was a bit skeptical, but it's no wonder. They are of different generations and DC has always been about a very generational specific viewpoint. My dad had trouble with the idea that a writer was making paintings. I can relate to the work, he is organizing the things he likes and understands and that is a damn good exercise and what I guess I am doing here.

P.S. My dad is fine. We've seen him a few times over the summer. I probably have a lot more to say on that topic but seeing this show with him was like exercising a long practiced ritual. My dad took me to the VAG at about age 10 when I first saw a work by Ed Ruscha.

It's starting to rain now. The cloud cover makes it darker than it really is. I did see the last gasp of the suns rays on the tops of the cedars to the east. The rain stops and starts, rattles the leaves, cools the air, breaks the tension.

School always starts on the Wednesday before Labor Day so that it takes 2 weeks before the kids have a full 5 day week. I appreciate this humane build up to full operating speed. After a two month break it takes time to get back to the routine of working long days. Practice, practice, practice, get back to the practice.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The First Quilt I Ever Made

The first quilt I ever made took me 10 years to finish. The large squares were chosen from my mother's leftover clothing. She often made our clothes growing up and certainly made her own. All these examples show her simple lifestyle and earthy practicality as well a hint of Asian minimalism. The clothes she made for herself in her early womanhood were practical and sturdy based on her descriptions of them in a letter to her mother around the time she got engaged to my dad, but she made much fancier things as well. I recall a hostess outfit she made in the late 60's that was satin with a high Nehru collar and tiny red buttons down the front that closed with tiny loops. There must have been a hundred sets of loops and buttons. I often wonder where that particular dress ended up. It was long gone by the time she died and I started making this quilt. I am getting ready to make a second quilt for my husband which I hope to complete in less time than this one took. A friend encouraged me recently to make one thing everyday. I think I can do this. I think I can slow my brain down and turn off the chatter and just cut and sew. My mother managed to make things well and often while raising the 4 of us and all the while keeping the chaos of daily life at bay. A fine role model she was.

Friday, August 15, 2014


3 flower heads of the same Hydrangea. Each globe at a different phase. Fantastic! 

The light has been almost ominous lately. Our hot days have ended for now. The sky is pale gray, the light feels flat but it's good for photographs. I popped out and took these pictures of the Hydrangea at the corner of my office,  I pass by it on my way to my desk everyday. I rush past things so often, there is so much to do. I feel like I never scratch the surface. Today I stopped and captured these before the brilliance drains right out of them. 

I took my bike out for a ride the other night and thought about Robin Williams in his final hours. I stayed out too long and rode home in the darkness and was thankful I didn't crash despite how disorienting the absence of the light was. I'm so sorry Robin was beyond the point that a good ride on one of his beloved bikes couldn't sort him out. 

We're all down here in the trenches, doing what it takes. Summer is divine even if the news and rain has changed our moods a little, it's still all so beautiful.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

June Blog

So what happened in June was I had the second surgery to remove my thyroid. The good part. The bad part went in January. It took a long time to get over in the winter. I felt profoundly wounded. I had had a huge scare at the discovery of the tumor  and then it took quite awhile after the surgery to get the results. So then I know something that I didn't want to know, but the good news is that part of me was in a trash heap somewhere. The nut sized cancer stopped dead.

The second surgery was easier. I had an idea of what to expect but the process of healing is still a job. The first 3 days were okay and then I was on my own for a few days which was not ideal. I should have asked for or demanded more help. After 10 days they took the bloodied bandage off and pulled out the sutures. The surgeon exclaimed "this looks great!" patting himself on the back for my benefit.  Somehow the incision site is less painful than the first time and I am grateful for that. In January I did not touch my neck near where they cut into me for over a month, despite knowing that gently manipulating the scar helps to soften the healing tissue. I felt apart from my body. 3 months after the first surgery I could feel connections being remade deep in my neck. Just around the time of the second surgery I was finally feeling normal. So I was more prepared for the second offense but the healing was still work that had to be done. In all it took about 3 weeks to feel okay again. There were real highs and lows during that time but then it all just dissolves little by little and before you know it you're getting up, getting dressed and going about your business like nothing happened. I was fortunate too that two other friends underwent surgery around the same time as me so I was able to help them and also have some really helpful discussions about healing. The surgeon only presents the landscape of the surgery they don't ever discuss in depth the after effects of the anesthesia on memory, the bowel, general outlook. In addition to the aftermath of the surgery I was also getting used to taking daily 2 or 3 Thyroid pills. At first 3 was too many and I felt horrible and jittery and I wasn't sleeping. The surgeon suggested backing off to 2 and that was a miracle.

14 days after the second surgery I awoke one evening, after a good weekend of playing tennis 2 days in a row and I felt so profoundly sad it was alarming. I climbed into bed with my husband and he rubbed my back as I drifted back into sleep. I felt badly about the damage to my body, the irreversible-ness of it all. The news came back, the pathology report was clear. No cancer in the side of the Thyroid they had removed but it was hard not to think, why couldn't I have kept it and used it rather than taking pills for the rest of my life. I felt again like an insignificant wounded animal up against a force much larger than myself and while I was grateful for the care I received it's hard not to feel like a statistic and a board recommended course of action. Am I out of the woods? I think so but the treatment continues, there will be another major test I will have to undergo in September involving Radioactive Iodine and 2 week diet beforehand. I will comply, what other choice do I have?

So all this is to say why I never blogged in June and maybe why the blog has been sparse all year so far. I am fine. I am here. I will prevail.
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