The Art of the Cairn

I learned to look for cairns when I began backpacking in the Sierra Nevada at a young age.  Cairns are little towers of stacked rocks to mark the way of a path or trail.  In the Sierras, they are especially helpful when traveling cross-country away from the main trail.  They are a welcome sight on the granite terrain, knowing you are headed in the right direction.

Since my backpacking days, it seems my entire life I’ve been looking for cairns, literal or metaphorical.  Now I build them, usually with my group three other women friends that I been adventuring with for going on over 25 years.  Usually, these are for more spiritual reasons, sometimes to mark the passage of a loved one.  It is a treasured ritual we have adopted.  Below are some of the cairns we have built or come upon.

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The Art of the Creative Blahs

thermometer-398735_1920It’s another hot smokey summer in Oregon.  It appears that temperatures of 90 and above and forest fires are the new normal.  Summer used to be my favorite season here but now that the jet stream has settled further south, spring and fall will get my vote.  Then air quality has been so poor you really don’t want to be outside doing much.

Motivation has been difficult.  My studio does not have air conditioning.  If I don’t get work done first thing in the morning, it doesn’t get done.  I think I’m getting summer cabin fever.  Who knew there was such a thing?

Rather than just push through it, my usual MO, maybe I should learn to roll with it and make this season the one to read, watch movies, and write more?  Maybe this is a good time to relax my expectations and go with the flow….

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Between Endings and Beginnings

Three weeks ago I finished a three piece commission that I labored over for over 2 months.  They are three 12 X12 acrylic paintings of the two dogs and one cat of my late Father’s wife, my dear “Ma Penny.”  I was pleased with them and so was she.

Completion is a good thing.  You’ve put in the time and effort and then you find yourself done!  After the initial feeling of euphoria and accomplishment, however, there you are.  What now?  It can all be a bit disorienting.  There is a favorite John Lennon saying I have “It’s better to travel hopefully than to arrive.” What next?  Where was I with my own personal trajectory?

Luckily I’ve been in this spot all too many times before.  Here is my recipe when you wind up in a “grey zone.”

  1. Don’t panic. Be still.
  2. Write in your journal
  3. img_0705-2.jpgDo some cleaning/tidying in the studio.
  4. Look for inspiration from the work of others.  Pinterest is my favorite source of visual inspiration.
  5. Do some warm-up exercises- no expectations. Scribble, splash, write lists of words that fascinate. Dedicate them to the gallery of the recycle bin or the collage box.

Eventually, the creative fairies take the bait.  Like seagulls when you throw a piece of food to one, another will come until you have a flock of them around you.

I finally came up with the following work (after cleaning out my paper files & filling up my garbage can full of warm-ups…….)

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Looking for the “It”

mandala-3166158I have been pondering what the “it” is after reading a post several weeks back from a fellow blogger.  We all wonder at times, what is life really about anyway?  I wrote the following poem with how I respond to that question…..

The “It”

She wanted to know what the “it” was

A fair question to be pondered on a blog

Several commenters responded “YES, YES, where is the It?

It escapes me!

 

I sigh

The same question dodged me in my younger years

But with six decades behind me, I know the It

For it is hard to recognize and often takes the passing of time

It can pass right under you like a tsunami in the open ocean

A lulling swell that will gently rock your boat

As it heads toward land to release its energy

 

Children know the It

It is in curiosity

In play

In friends and in family

In greeting each day like an adventure

 

It is in nature

And the spirit that resides there and within

It is in risk

And creative expression

Love, giving

 

It is in the individual footsteps one’s journey

Not the destination

Just remember

Look up from your feet

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Celebrating Rain and Earthworms

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It rains a lot in Western Oregon.  Until this weekend it has been a wet few weeks.  One can hear a good deal of whining about the weather by this time of year.  For me, I just roll with it.  Knowing we are having adequate rainfall and an average snowpack provides comfort to me in these times of “climate insecurity.”  The lakes will fill, the Salmon will have water to run in and a myriad of creatures and plants will be happy in the dry months yet to come.

Song of the Earthworms

The earthworms sing about rain

While we complain

Jolly songs as they move the soil

With their soft heads

Seeking the sweet aroma of decaying matter

Until they hear the drops fall

Turning to deluge

They turn their sleek, tubular bodies skyward

Toward the light

Emerging from their soil home

To languish in the freedom

Of puddled water laying on the earth

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Awakening My Inner Gardener

IMG_0433It seems like just yesterday I was pulling out spent tomato plants & putting the garden tools away for the winter.  But here we are again- Spring and my inner gardener is awakened again.

SEED CATALOGS
They arrive like expected guests
In the days after the New Year
A steady parade of seed catalogs
All shapes and sizes
From varying corners of the country
Filled with beckoning colored photographs
Of fruit, vegetable, & bloom waiting to fill the garden
Ready to awaken the winter-weary to a fresh frame of mind
The possibilities of the planting season.

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Daily Visitor

 

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The once elusive stray cat we had named “Phantom” that lives under our house has warmed to us.  Her nightly visits for food has turned to a several-times-a-day occurrence.  Yesterday she was following us around the yard.  As she has outlived her name we now call her “Lizzie.”  I find her a delight and a great subject for art pieces.  Someday I hope to pet her on my lap.  For more on our stray cats, see my Stray Cat post.

Purr

The stray cat cries pitifully at the door

waiting to be fed

a feast of canned food atop dry

with a tiny bowl of fresh cream.

As she eats hungrily

I feel bones protruding

from the soft fur of her small body.

She purrs