Day Ten A collage of my United States of America
The gorgeous cards in this post are the artwork of my gifted Cuban friend Lazaro Iglesias. You can find more of his artwork on FB under the name of La Vie Boheme. He currently lives in Santa Fe. His art always speaks to me, but especially now.
This pandemic experience feels to me as if we are all trapped in a big crystal globe – really pretty to look at – ethereal – the kind you shake to make snowfall – only it has a more sinister trick up its sleeve. I have never in my life felt more vulnerable and I am sure you feel the same.
Every day something happens that is weirder than the day before. We must remain learners now – not knowers who cannot be enlightened about anything at all. There will be many discoveries ahead and we need to remain open and aware, living in the moment and not losing our places in the plot that continues to unfold by the minute.
Concentration is key, but my mind pings around from one subject to the next like a pinball machine and I cannot come in for a landing on any one thing longer than a mosquito bite at twilight.
I decide I want to use my time to re-read the Constitution. No – maybe the entire Mueller report. Or do I want to search on Pinterest for that recipe for gooey sticky buns. I do manage to read an entire book that I absolutely could not put down titled AMERICAN DIRT by Jeanine Cummins. I have not read such a gripping book in 30 years, I guess because it is so real and relevant to our current world. It is beautifully written, expertly researched and so very uplifting in the bravery its characters display. Please check it out on Amazon and please read it. It is a true page turner.
Maybe I can make myself paint today, I think. While I decide whether or not I can find that illusive creative spark I will have my second Cadbury egg and keep my eye on the third…while I play some older CD’s I have almost forgotten about. John Mayer – I grab for anything of his and wind up with WAITING ON THE WORLD TO CHANGE. Couple minutes later SLOW DANCING IN A BURNING ROOM comes on and he croons “we going down….” I look for something more mindless.
The phone rings a lot. One friend who wants me to read a couple Bible verses that she thinks are pertinent. A second friend who wants to gossip….really? How do you know anything about anyone right now? A third friend, a decade older than I am who wants to talk about the good old days, at this sharp point in time when I am all too aware of how old I am in the time of the world pandemic. Each friend is dear to me and holds a place in my overall scheme of things, but I am not in the mood for the wrong friend at the wrong time.
My brother has a couple drinks every evening and two is enough to jolt out his playful side from the darkness of the day, and he wants me to kid around with him on the phone. I live alone, and I hate to drink alone. It does not take me to a happy place. So I am busy doing other things when he calls and starts his silly routine. Because I appreciate the effort, I endure…..and I do love him. Oh ha ha.
Both my kids now live at altitude, after being raised at altitude in Conifer and Evergreen, CO just up the mountains from Denver. I talk to my son or my daughter, who always make me laugh. Kelly and her husband Jay live at Lake Tahoe – I mean they really live AT IT, on the water. Looking out at the Big Blue all day long in its changing light and seasons will keep anyone stable, I think to myself. That scenery is restorative and cleansing. We have good talks and she does keep me just sane enough, but not toooo sane that I completely lose my characteristic craziness. It’s a fine balance.
My outdoorsy, “wolf boy,” mountain climbing, 14’er gobbling son always has a new adventure on the horizon and must have the lungs of a Japanese pearl diver. Every weekend he is Up There climbing something. He must be clean and deep and fine when it comes to lungs. We make a date for him to visit with me next week in the greenbelt space outside my condo. I will order a pizza and have it delivered there, half to him and half to me, 20 feet apart.
The days blend into one long ordeal of time, grinding along and revealing new information every day about what we are up against. I have had some bleak moments, some dismal periods of time that are based in much more than a mere pandemic. There was plenty going on even before the pandemic arrived at my door. But I do see good in each day and spring is coming and the sun continues to rise and set and shine down upon us. Let’s make every effort to keep our chins up, ok?
NOVEL www.acanaryfliesthecanyon.com – Amazon
NON-FICTION Your Miraculous, Timeless Creativity and The Creative Epiphany – Amazon
FB Jo Ann (Rossiter) Brown-Scott
Instagram at The Creative Epiphany
With life as short as a half-taken breath, don’t plant anything but Love. – Rumi
At this very moment in time I am at home with an unimaginably agonizing afternoon ahead of me. My dear brother Ross, my baby brother who is now in his fifties, is in ICU on life support after an epic and heroic two year battle with a monster Sarcoma that took over his abdomen and gradually attempted to kill him. He is a fighter, a strong and determined adversary for cancer, and yet after many months of suffering and a successful surgery that filled us with hope he is now on life support. Deadly side effects have been the final determination of his ultimate failing. The decision is to end that support for him this evening.
How do you spend an afternoon like this?
My other brother and sister and I did not grow up with Ross in our lives…he was born to my father’s second wife and we knew Ross only as an adorable baby boy who fleetingly came and went for a window of time in our lives. Then when Ross’s mother and my father were divorced we lost track of Ross and nobody ever acknowledged that we three had lost the fourth – it was overlooked and sadly neglected, during a ridiculously stupid set of circumstances when no one realized he was still our brother. I always felt the loss – all three of us did. No one made any attempts to hold us all together; almost as if they really did not want to.
I don’t remember the year it happened, exactly, but it was probably mid-1995 or so. I was at work sitting at my marketing job desk with internet access and it was a slow day on the computer. I decided to find him if I could. It took just three phone calls and I had his number. So easy. He was emotionally stunned when I called and told him who I was – he said he had always missed us and wanted to have us in his life but had no idea how to find us. He had been about two years old when I had last seen him. WOW! What followed was a reunion of epic proportions that involved Ross flying to Denver to see me and my brother and then another set of circumstances that took Ross and I on a road trip to Scottsdale so that he could meet his long lost other sister. (Ross had a third sister from his mom’s first marriage.) When all this happened it had been a lifetime since I had last seen baby Ross. He was all grown up with three children and a lovely wife, living on the east coast of Florida in the Ft. Lauderdale area.
After that life-changing phone call Ross sent my sister Vicki and I each a dozen roses that said – “For all the birthdays I have missed. Love you, mean it. Ross”
I admire Ross on all fronts. He is a wonderful, adoring husband and father and the most loyal of friends. He is a fine man, one of the best to walk this earth. Of his many noble attributes and his exemplary character traits I choose here and now to celebrate his…..crazy sense of humor…..Ha!
Ross is one of the funniest people I ever met in my life. The Rossiter clan – well – we are story tellers and we have always had enough stories to last a lifetime because we all seem to attract experiences that are outrageous and scary but hysterical in retrospect. It’s that sad/funny thing. You know – the stories where something goes terribly wrong and you are in tears and then the ending turns out to be that sort of spurting, silent-laughing-cannot-make-a-sound-laughing-so-hard-sooo-funny it hurts laughing. We all have this character trait. Every single one of us. Our dad, the common tree from which all we nuts have fallen, was a funny accident waiting to happen, all the damn time. He flew off of galloping horses and broke bones right before my eyes as I rode alongside him on my pony, he fell out of trees hitting limbs on the way down fracturing his back as he landed in a rocky dry creek bed, he was bounced out of careening horse-drawn buggies, he tripped over logs and rocks with the perfect body-roll or face plant of a circus clown and eventually he fell right out of my mother’s life. Looking back and recalling some of his more hellacious accidents for which I was present, which now flow through my memory in slow motion involving danger and blood, well, they still seem like slapstick comedy. Laurel and Hardy, Abbot and Costello type stuff. Dad could tell all of his stories to perfection, recounting one after another after another on the back terrace over a BBQ fire around dusk and into the wee hours.
Ross however took this humor in a slightly different direction, although he was definitely the showman that his father was. Ross loved a good costume party. He liked pulling jokes on people. All of that combined nicely with being a trained chef and wine connoisseur. That man could COOK. He can cook lamb chops to perfection, like an angel. He works for Strauss Foods (grass fed lamb, mostly) and he often did food demos at big food shows around the midwest and the south. He would keep a running commentary going as he seared the meat and artfully presented it for tasting, entertaining the crowds with funny quips and stories. A true Rock Star Chef, a good-looking, charismatic show biz performer whose kitchen help sets everything up for him and he breezes in at the last minute and commands his stage, wows and fascinates the crowd for an hour or so and then leaves. He was a different kind of performer – he was Mr Fabulous Foodie/Stand Up Comedian with a wicked sense of humor that was seldom censored who would serve you delicious food.
A mountain keeps an echo deep inside itself. That is how I hold your voice. – Rumi
I loved it whenever he called me, because I knew that I was going to hear some brilliant and memorable stuff about something or another that was happening to him, and then he would always want to hear what crazy stuff was happening to me. Ask me what is happening to me and you will get a narration complete with sound effects and details and song as if I am the color commentator at a sporting event of some kind. We talked well together. I felt that he truly “got me” and I certainly got him. I spent some of my most hilarious “moments in time” on Planet Earth with my brother Ross. We had a long and winding 24 hour caper together one time when I just flat ran away from a guy I had been seeing for several years, leaving Denver in the darkness of early morning, to move to Arizona where our sister Vicki and her husband Tom lived, awaiting my arrival with a soft place for me to land. Since Ross had just flown into Denver for Part One of our long awaited reunion with my other brother Fred and me, Ross offered to drive the truck for me, full of all my furniture and most cherished possessions, while I led the way in my red Acura to Arizona. Sounded like a great plan to me, a very generous offer, plus Ross wanted to meet his sister Vicki again and use it as an opportunity to see the scenery of the southwest.
Our couple nights in Denver before we left was spent with Fred and his wife Susan mostly in the kitchen watching Ross cook as we all told, and compared, stories of our illustrious family. Ross had arrived lugging a large cooler of all varieties of exotic meats packed in dry ice. As I recall we tasted alligator, lamb, beef, pork and it was all beautifully prepared by our personal chef. We bonded in the stories of our lives and our laughter and our tears. Nothing was sacred – we covered it all. We were all well aware that it was inexcusable to have been apart all the years since Ross was so young. We had been given little information about each other that might have led us to any kind of reunion.
We left under cover of darkness the next morning with a 14+ hour trip ahead of us. Directly south to Albuquerque, hang a right and take it straight into Scottsdale. If you see anything weird, swerve to avoid it. I had made the drive dozens of times. So we set out with me in the lead, but we switched off sometimes so that my new baby brother could be ahead. OH! I forget to mention one detail. Ross had only one good eye – his other eye had been shot out by a kid with a pop gun when he was two years old or less. The other three of us were informed when that accident happened and we could not believe it and were extremely upset by it. Ross grew up with a beautiful convincing glass eye and no one would ever have know if he had chosen not to tell them.
We had no cell phones of course so we had to resort to hand signals out the window or flashing headlights to communicate with each other. That was how we rolled as we leap-frogged our way south and west. By the time we were in New Mexico my snack jar of M&M’s (what was I thinking?) were melted in to a colorful gooey blob of fondue chocolate. Ross was sunburned and and unshaven, hair stiff and spiked straight up from the strong dusty wind coming in the truck window. Ross was a riot – screaming and pointing for me to notice certain bluffs and rock formations – wanting to stop at every roadside stand that displayed coyotes baying at the moon, rubber snakes and lizards for the kids, silver jewelry for Pam and strings of bright red chili peppers. I would see him in my rearview mirror gesturing wildly at me and mouthing “pull over!” “pull over!” “pull over!” as we barreled along at 85 miles per hour. Sometimes I could and sometimes I could not…and if I could not he would go rogue on me and pull over anyway, swerving impulsively off road in this big tilting truck, at the last possible minute into some Indian souvenir stand so I had to make a fast u-turn and head back to him. We laughed so hard at each other. When we stopped at some greasy dump for lunch we talked frankly and long, and I told him my life history with men in a not-so-brief salty and sarcastic nutshell. He told me that he thought the guy – the reason for my escape from Denver – was crazy to let me get away and did not deserve me. I agreed. And I was so gone. A little sad, but funny.
I asked him at one stop how his one good eye was doing, cause both of mine were tired and crusted with red dirt dust, with still a long stretch to go.
“Need a siesta?” I asked.
“Hell no. I’m great! I love this shit! I may only have one eye honey but it’s a muthah fuckah of an eye! It never gets tired! I do better than most two-eyed people do!” And so we continued racing along like bats out of hell.
We arrived in Scottsdale well after dark, not even resembling our former selves. We were red-faced, wind-whipped and sweaty, beat from the incessant heat, stiff and sore but Vicki and Tom revived us and my daughter Kelly was there too. Of course we partied most of the night away as Ross became acquainted with his sister again. That 14-16 hour roadtrip was a great crash course in knowing Ross.
Fast forward to one particular day about a year and a half ago when Ross was in the hospital on one of his 3-day mega doses of chemo, passing time there as it dripped into his system. He called me. We would talk about many things, cabbages and kings, as the walrus said. There was nothing we would shy away from discussing if the mood took us. His illness gave him a burning need, an urgency to discuss life, death, religion, sex, our kids, art, food, jokes, our mom and dad, spirituality and of course the event of dying.
He told me that he would be so fucking bored, with the drip drip dripping and he was supposed to get some exercise every day so he would walk down the hallway, dragging his medical paraphernalia along with him, to the sunny waiting room that looked down on a highway. He would then proceed to press his entire body, nose to ankles, arms widespread and legs apart, a tangle of tubes hanging off of him, against the huge window looking down on the speeding traffic and mouth the words, “HELP ME!” He did it frequently, daily I do believe, and no one ever acknowledged him by honking or altering their direction in even one small waiver from their lane. He thought that was sad. He also thought it was extremely funny. Sad/funny….
And so now we are here. There is nothing to do with a day like this, waiting for the end. It is the most profoundly sad experience I have ever had.
Jo Ann Brown-Scott, Artist and Author
In my second book titled THE CREATIVE EPIPHANY, published in 2008, Ross and I wrote Chapter 14 together titled “Harleys and Old Lace” which touched upon the experience of all of us finding each other again.
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there. – Rumi
This selection of people (including one shot of the rooftop across from our room, which I could not stop watching as the days unfolded) reveal Cuba – and yet of course, they only scratch the surface. The people are genuine, generous, resourceful and inventive, sad below and funny on top, hopeful yet discouraged but always determined, forever musical and artistic as you might find (almost) anywhere in the world under a dictatorship. Whatever is squashed in people will find its way out, somehow and some way. Spirit and energy seize the day because everywhere people are always people. But Cubans are heartbreakingly suppressed, crushed and pounded into obedience, held captive on an island 100 miles from our coast, where every boat owner is under constant surveillance. Whatever your beliefs are in regard to immigration, anywhere in the world, on any shore and in any border town, you should visit Cuba. It is a country with an old soul that is dying to be set free. The people will enchant and surprise you with their indomitable spirit. You need to go to Cuba. Stay in Casa Particulars with Cuban families who are trying to make an extra buck by opening their homes to tourists and where you can eat a home-cooked meal in their immaculate kitchen and you are able to have a real conversation. You do need to go to Cuba.
My next post will be about Ernest Hemingway; his home and his legend, and his love affair with Cuba.
Jo Ann Brown-Scott – Author, Artist, Photographer
New novel – A Canary Flies the Canyon, Amazon & Kindle
Non-Fiction – The Creative Epiphany, Amazon & Kindle
Photos taken are from the Denver area and Conifer, Colorado
Here we are in late December about to celebrate Christmas and fortunate to be living in the United States of America at a particularly daunting time in history. The world around us churns with random chaos and mayhem, and yet, for the most part, we are able to enjoy our holidays in comfort and joy. This year, as always, my family is all over the world map visiting exotic places where both work and play summon them. Their passports are getting full; one had to be replaced with a new one this year. We are a close family that keeps in almost daily touch with each other, but we are seldom together as a group during the holidays. Christmas is a difficult occasion for me, the older I get, but I am so very thankful that we all live lives rich in unique experiences that includes acquaintances and friends from all over the globe.
Many of our favorite blogs involve travel, and travel in these precarious times is both a luxury and a risk, whether or not you are going out of the country. My family and I have learned volumes from our travels. My two grown children in particular have been shining examples – respectful and constantly fascinated travelers/ambassadors for the United States of America wherever they go, and they go to some especially unusual places – Yemen, Madagascar, the Arctic Circle, Myanmar and Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Gabon, Irag, Kurdistan, Singapore, Japan, Thailand, Viet nam and the list goes on. You would have to know them and hear their stories to realize that they make friends of every person they encounter, and my family does indeed know that for sure, having heard their tales ranging from the hair-raising to the miraculous for many years now. They have gone to places where Americans might not be welcomed, maintaining their dignity and compassion, knowing that government does not always represent people. They have made lasting friends in all walks of life and with people quite eager to meet Americans and ask questions of them despite the official tone of the location.
My son happened to be in Poland on business when 9/11 occurred, and received the warmest comfort and the most profound sympathy and understanding during his stay there, as his home country was brought to its knees. People are people everywhere.
Christmas always leaves me sentimental and missing my nearest and dearest, but what our family has gained by being away far outweighs my temporary sadness. I am partly responsible for all this distance, instilling in my children a sense of adventure and discovery from the time they could walk. The wonders of their traveling lives are instantly revealed to me via Instagram and text messages until I can see them again, and I find myself wondering how people ever endured such distance without the constant ability to be in touch. We are so fortunate.
I wish all of you around the world a loving and meaningful holiday season in a safe place with the ones you love the most!
Mixed media Collage titled EMERGENCE, by Jo Ann Brown-Scott – copyright 2014
I would like to thank you all for visiting the blog and keeping up with the progress on the YEAR LONG CANVAS. I appreciate it very much!
I often get requests for more information about my art and requests to see a larger selection of my recent paintings.. Therefor I am offering a brief background and bio and some links. My website http://www.epiphanysfriends.com is the best place to visit for more images and updated news.
For those of you in the Colorado area there is a show titled WATERMEDIA at the Evergreen Center for the Arts beginning this month; opening night is June 27th, 2014 from 4-7pm. You are most welcome to attend. Three of my paintings have been accepted for that event.
Returning to the Denver area in mid-2013 after seven years in northern California has been motivating and renewing. I am reconnecting with old friends, painting with a fresh, spontaneous energy and becoming active in the Denver art scene once again.
The art began with watercolor and developed a life of its own; it has evolved, grown wider horizons and added depth through the chapters of my life, almost without my assistance. Painting with acrylic provided new possibilities. I offer different takes or viewpoints now, while still using my same recognizable style as the common thread over time. Color, pattern and texture are my passion, the message in the art, my secret; yet there for all to interpret. I am motivated by the goodness of most people, my basic wonder at our existence, and the stunning beauty of earth.
Art Themes – Abstract Expressions Indicative of Universal Themes
Recent fascinations and preoccupations that scroll through my thoughts and spill their subtle messages from paintbrush onto canvas include the concept of times passage, ethnic cultures across the globe and the basic, primal simplicity of the days and nights we all share. In a world of chaos and random events, the spirituality of certain humble rituals common to all of our lives captures my attention. I celebrate the rituals that unite us, the hearts and minds that hold us together.
I grew up in a large country home on eight acres of green hillside and dale in southern Ohio, outside of Dayton. During those early years it became apparent that art was my passion and I came west to the University of Colorado in Boulder to study art and never went back. I emphasized painting and sculpture along with English Literature and psychology. I have been painting professionally ever since.
“I began professionally marketing my art at the suggestion of a much-admired instructor after college was over and I had begun living in Evergreen, Colorado. In 1984 I was personally invited by the Evergreen Chamber of Commerce to create an original painting – a snowy winter scene, reminiscent of Evergreen and the Christmas season – from which the very first Christmas in Evergreen Limited Edition Posters and Christmas Cards were printed and sold. That year began the tradition of the Evergreen Christmas Poster which in subsequent years became a contest open to local artists. It also became a pivotal moment in launching my own career to a higher degree.”
In addition to painting I have taught interior design, published two books about life-changing epiphanies and taught mixed media collage to adults for three years in California and held positions in sales, marketing and gallery management, to name just a few of my other incarnations. Currently I am concentrating solely on my painting, enjoying the exhilaration of fresh inspiration, less driven by the demands of others and more in tune with my own priorities. My art is wiser in character, weathered by time, and unapologetically relaxed. The art reveals all, as it always has, and is better with some years on it.
NEWS AND LINKS
ADDITIONAL RECENT WORK can be seen at www.artspan.com – Jo is listed under ARTISTS, then MIXED MEDIA. When you find her name click on it and several of her paintings will appear -select any one of them to be taken directly to her artspan website.
THE OFFICIAL WEBSITE for author and artist Jo Ann Brown-Scott is http://www.epiphanysfriends.com
JO’S CREATIVE EPIPHANY BLOG – If you would like to follow Jo’s Blog, go to: www.thecreativeepiphany.wordpress.com
On this blog site you will find archives of all previous posts, including many posts about the noteworthy YEAR LONG CANVAS challenge – nicknamed the YLC – about working on one particular canvas for an entire year. Photos included of course.
SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT – Jo is proud to announce that for the second time in the past few years she has been selected to contribute a painted violin to the annual Painted Violin Fundraising Event for the Denver Youth Artists Orchestra.
For more information go to – www.paintedviolin.com or www.dyao.org
Pictured below is Jo’s previous violin from the 8th Annual Fundraiser for the DYAO titled SCHEHERAZADE. There is more information about this event any my first violin in Jo’s blog archives.
In my previous post I talked about beginning my first art class in decades at Denver Art Students League, and what it felt like to me, finding myself in a bare bones classroom again filled with people dedicated to the pursuit of creating abstract expressionist paintings. Let me just say that it was a thrill. To put it mildly. It was an indication, a life-marker in fact, that I was again going to take my art career seriously. Oh I have taken it seriously long before this, but there has recently been an interval of time when I was teaching art and not progressing much in the level of my own art. I did that for 3 years. Oh yes you do learn from teaching – you learn from your students and you stretch yourself as well because you are always searching for great new techniques to demonstrate. But as for me, I did not paint privately as much as I should have, for juried shows and galleries. I turned out a steady stream of art but none of it was critiqued and judged by anyone who was truly qualified, which is a mistake because an artist needs feedback and constructive criticism.
I also mentioned, in the previous post, the project I was offered – and challenged with – on the first day of class by my instructor. It is the challenge of making a commitment to work on one particular painting for a solid year, not to the exclusion of all other paintings but in addition to them – in other words I begin to do a painting and give it my thoughts and intermittent attention for a year’s worth of my time. I walk up to it, I work on it for however long it feels right, I put it down for a while, giving both me and the painting a refreshing rest to catch our breath. Of course most every artist works on some paintings over a long period of time during which the he/she artist might purposely ignore the piece, leaving it still alive but in a dormant coma in the closet, and then one day the he/she artist decides to pull it out of the closet and look at it again to actually “see it again for the first time”. That practice is highly beneficial, and usually in an instant, the he/she artist has new ideas popping into mind and the painting is conscious again, gasping for oxygen as its life gets moving in a second-chance new direction. I love saving the lives of forgotten canvases. It is frugal and quite satisfying and it makes the art Buddha happy. The practice has proved effective time and again for me and many others. But not for a solid year…..and not while leaving it out in the studio where it takes up space for a 365 day period of time…. staring at you, screaming for attention, often driving you crazy I would assume. I am sure I will get sick & tired of looking at it sometimes. But I also assume that many learning opportunities will be associated with this challenge, which of course I immediately accepted. It has to be an exercise in patience, perseverance, dedication, determination, love/hate relationships, keeping an open mind, not being discouraged, striving consistently for excellence and not settling for the easiest and most obvious solutions, to name just a few of the ways to learn and mature as an artist from the experience.
Sounds a lot like life, don’t you think? Wow. Art imitates life all the damn time, in case you had not noticed.
I will be blogging about this, from time to time, with pictures of the work in progress. I have already had a small but significant wake-up call observation. This painting must be large. I could not work on a 24×36 for a long and winding, roller-coaster year….I need SPACE for a whole year. But guess what – I can’t fit a huge painting in my car, and I will have to be taking the canvas into my classroom from time to time for critiques. I have worked on very large canvases before but I had a different car then.
One option would be to do a diptych, each piece as large as my car could accommodate. Maybe that will work. I’ll figure it out I am sure.
So how large is your life canvas? Does it fit in your vehicle or are you living large?
A selection of sunsets for your viewing pleasure, Kona HI
So during my recent stay on the Big Island, drinking sunset wine on the western deck at 1000 ft elevation, with the Specific Ocean spread out before us like glass, and well into the prime time viewing portion of a dazzling, colorful display in shades of pewter, silver, steel blue and iridescent gold underneath the warm colors of sister sun…we are feeling no pain and talking about birds.
Birds are plentiful there – squawking and screeching and calling to eachother for answers to the big bird questions. It begins about 4:30 or 5 am and continues with different groups and choruses all day long until dusk. Since lots of chickens roam the island in the epitome of the much sought after free-range chicken life, you are liable to have roosters nearby who of course signal the dawn in big COCKA DOODLE DAMN DOOOOO (I am awake now and so are you) announcements every single morning – the good news is the free-range part because eventually they move on to greener pastures and bigger bugs to eat.
And there are crows. Remember that all these birds first breezed into the island at some point in a very ancient time, either purposely or riding involuntarily on the prevailing winds or perhaps a storm that they could not get out of, like being in a giant washing machine headed somewhere. I am fascinated – glued – to James Michener’s thick, almost 1000 page classic book “Hawaii”. I got it when I came back to the mainland and can’t put it down. Well sometimes I have to put it down because it weighs too much to carry around all day. At the time of the Roman Empire and Christ the islands were still being formed by volcanic activity and did not yet exist as a habitable location….they were forming, becoming a potential paradise, but still without edible food and clear water. The Big Island of Hawaii and her smaller sisters had not even come close to being discovered or habituated by a human person. Think about that, and think about the first people arriving and how amazed they were….but I digress.
Birds are usually found in groups which are not always called flocks, and while sitting on the deck we googled bird info and the names of various bird groups. Here is what we found, and we could not stop reading, while opening another bottle of wine.
A bunch of Crows is actually called a MURDER. Then we also have : Teams of Ducks. A Mob of Emus. An Ostentation of Peacocks! A Pitying of Turtledoves…. A Cast of Hawks. A Wedge of Geese (while they are flying). A Siege of Cranes. A Herd od Swans. A Charm of Hummingbirds. A Company of Parrots. A Conspiracy of Ravens. An Exaltation of Larks. A Parliament of Owls. A Tiding of Magpies. A Scold of Jays.
Well it got funnier and funnier. You had to be there ( we wish for you that you were…). We also made up some of our own – well of course we did. It was sunset in paradise and we had the time.
There are many more to be found if you follow this link to the Palomar Audubon Society page: http://palomaraudubon.org/collective.html
Open a bottle of wine and watch the sunset wherever you are.
Oh wow it feels good to stretch and move around and enter back into the world of sane people…well, you know. Almost sane. What do people do all day when they don’t have to be glued at the hip to their computers? I just noticed there is sun outside today and I heard a bird. I wonder what I have missed in the past 3 days. Where were we, you and I? I have missed you.
I have just spent 3 days of my life (that I will never be able to get back), barely eating or drinking, hunched over into a tight knot, a ball-like posture where my internal organs are all jammed up on top of each other groaning, my chin is nearly touching the desktop and my knees are up into my armpits as I sit beady-eyed in front of my PC and struggle with a website issue that was marketed as being so easy and fast that “your new blankety blank art website will be up and in working order in just 15 minutes!” After a day and a half with nothing much accomplished, I decided my old art website was not so bad after all, but I persevered. It took another day and half to see the light of day. Now I am not a stupid person. So that is just wrong.
For the past 2 nights I have poured myself into bed well after 10 pm after a full day of it, hallucinating instructions and website pages, and even then unable to sleep. I am like a pitbull when this kind of stuff happens – I become so frustrated and infuriated at the counter-intuitive instructions and the stupid names attached to certain actions and tabs and sections that I want to leave my home office and fly to the place where these fools work and scream into their ears up close and personal about how SIMPLE it could all be if they didn’t feel like they had to inflate their own job description with lofty, enigmatic words and phrases in place of common words giving common instructions. Doesn’t it make you wonder if they have a clue what the website is actually supposed to do for the client? Do they understand my needs? I have NEEDS. And why can’t a task with several steps that must be made in the correct order for a procedure all be grouped on the same page so that a person does not have to go back and forth between several different pages to look stuff up in order to enter it all and get it to function?
Do I even have to mention the fiasco of OBAMACARE? Do software computer geeks live in the real world with the rest of us? Aren’t these things given a trial-run before they are released to the innocents? Everybody else has been taught to check and recheck their work before they turn it in. I keep telling myself that I could have designed it better. But I get up from my desk in total, in white-knuckled frustration, stand straight up and spin around 3 times and sit down again hoping for illumination and progress and a new perspective. The HELP option does not even address my issues. There is no live person to speak with. At the end of one of my last and most time consuming tasks, I carefully, holding my breath, click on the exact thingie I have to click on to save my newly compiled list of contacts, which had to be entered by hand (well over 2 hours just for that) into the networking support section, and in a nano-second they fly off to MARS – they are gone – never to be found again.
I scream. Neighbors think I am being injured or robbed. They call. I explain that I am just in the outer ring of computer hell. Oh, they say. Glad you’re not hurt. Been there, done that. It was last week actually. You are not alone. Just chill, step slowly away from the desk, have a drink. Take a bath and shake it all off. Try again in the morning.
I realize that all these social networking venues are critical for a person who paints, who writes, and evidently for anyone who just breathes the same air as everyone else here in the 21st century on planet earth. But I am truly sick and tired of Facebook, not yet twittering at all and don’t want to have to twitter, don’t even know what instagram is or what it’s good for, not active on Linked In, and I very seldom care – about all I do is text and email and blog and paint and eat and sleep. Is there a life remaining out there for a person like me? Or should I just cave in to ignorance and become irrelevant?
Do you think people would still find me?
Oh and PS – I have passed my 100th blog post and hardly knew it. Whooo Hooo!
This is a very stressful and patience-testing time of year. So much to remember to do, so little time and money and endurance with which to do it. Everybody has their way of coping, and those who do not find one single coping mechanism that works are going to be nuts by January 1st. I am on my way to the loony bin.
The season started off with bitter freezing weather here in Colorado and I got a split in the skin on the tip of my thumb that looks like a bloody crevasse. How can something that small hurt so much? I would rather have childbirth with no painkiller than this thumb wound. I have used Vaseline, Neosporin, Chap Stick and Aveeno dry skin ream – tried each one of those remedies overnight with a Band-Aid over it and woke up all mended, but by the middle of the next afternoon it has split open again. It is now December 16th and it is still re-opening nearly every afternoon about 3 pm no matter what I am doing. I could even be motionless and it will flop open… Super Glue? This aggravation does cause crankiness – by the third week of it I was snarling and wishing bad things upon other people – hoping Miley Cyprus would not be able to think of another single attention getting stunt ever again because her creativity would dry up like a crack in the desert soil, and like my thumb. I was also wishing hard that Justin Bieber would lose his driver’s license – really, is that a mean thought? It might potentially save dozens of lives. He is so young – he’d get over it with no harm done. He needs to have a toy other than a speeding careening car. This is now almost the 4th week of the split thumb and I want to punch something.
I bought a huge sack of white styrofoam peanuts ( we used to call it ghost poop when the kids were growing up) because I had to pack a big fragile thing for shipping. Temporarily I sat it up on the shelf in the walk-in closet, only to find the next morning that it had somehow popped open and had vomited those cheeto-like things all over the place – even behind stuff that I never even move. It practically filled up the entire closet. How could it do that? The bag that I had safely brought home from the shipping store had emptied itself out! I live by myself! Is it really ghost poop, I had to wonder? Do I have a ghost?
Putting away a large spray bottle of all-purpose cleaner with vinegar, on the high shelf above the washer & dryer, I missed my mark and dropped it, and heard it fall down behind the washer – which might as well be all the way to China, because I can’t move the washer and my arm is not long enough to get down behind it. I decide to wait until my son comes home for Christmas to retrieve it for me. In the meantime, the next morning, I do a load of laundry wondering vaguely, in the recesses of my cob-webby busy mind, why the laundry detergent smells different. After the load is done I pull clothes out of the washer, including a badly mangled spray bottle, in amazement that it landed THERE inside the washer rather than behind the washer, and find that the entire bottle of cleaning solution with vinegar has lost its contents on a load full of blacks. I could have sworn it went down behind, not inside. I am beginning to think I am crazy. The clothes smelled horrible and I had to wash them 3 more times.
I worked myself into a slow simmer when I heard on TV that a young punk kid, barely old enough to drive, who killed 4 people when he was driving a car at 3 times the acceptable limit for alcohol was given probation by a judge who said he was a victim of AFFLUENZA – and therefor not responsible for his actions – because he is from an affluent wealthy wealthy wealthy family who never taught him right from wrong and had him living in a mansion all by himself with no supervision whatsoever. So he was let off the hook. For 4 lives. Have we all gone insane? Where are the parents? Why are they not interviewing those people? Why can’t they be tried if the kid gets off?
I am out doing errands in the car, starting with the gas station. The guy in front of me is having a hard time with his credit card or something and so I decide to change lanes and back up to go to another pump. I look over my shoulder before I put it in reverse, I check the other side – all clear – I go backwards and instantly feel and hear a crunch as I hit the fender of a car. WHAT? HUH??? I jump out and run over to her and I say, “I am soooo sorry! I looked behind me but I didn’t see any car!!” She answers, very calmly, “Well I was just pulling in – I saw you moving toward me but I pulled in anyway!” HUH??? Who does that? Can you not wait for 3 more seconds when a car is moving toward you to avoid a collision? You can’t? What is the matter with you?
Home from my errands, I file an accidental fender bender report on the computer…instead of waiting to make myself a healthy dinner after I’m done with that, I grab a handful of “you can’t take just one” carmel and nut popcorn. I get a piece caught in my last molar on the left side, I reach in to loosen it with my finger, and a hunk of my tooth comes out with it. When I touch it with my tongue it feels like the Grand Canyon, and I see $$$ signs. Exactly the same amount of $$$ signs that my son’s Christmas gift will cost…am I being tested? Of course he will get his new ski helmet no matter what, I growl to no one in particular.
Have I uttered an expletive throughout all of these mishaps? NO. I have not, Santa.
It was not until the next afternoon when I went to a movie to see the film “12 Years A Slave”, thinking I could chill out a little bit and give myself a treat – but noooooo – I truly hit the tipping point and lost it. As I got up to the window to buy my ticket they informed me that they were having problems with correct movie listings on FANDANGO, which I had checked for times on my Iphone, and they were no longer offering “12 Years A Slave”. Dozens of people were waiting to see that film. The theater had posted no sign. no apology, no explanation – but instead just decided to inform dozens of waiting people, one by one as they got up to the window, that the film would not show at all anymore. Why don’t people think?
I backed slowly away from the counter, smiling that insane kind of smile that people are afraid to see on a person in a public place. The others cleared a path for me, gave me a wide berth, looked at me with caution and I walked quickly to my car, stepped inside, shut the door and screamed F**K at the top of my lungs about 15 times. It was not just the film – it was an accumulation of rotten stuff.
Am I being punished? Tested? Messed with? All of the above I am sure.
But I can endure – and so can you. Just figure out a way to register your anger with the universe and let it fly in a non-violent expression of some kind. Then get over it and start fresh in time for the 25th. You can do it – I know you can.