Tag Archives: Art

Life and Depression

I considered writing a piece about the appalling elitist attitudes and ingrained racism I have witnessed recently but to be honest, I’m tired. I’m tired of the anger. I’m tired of the widespread elitism. I’m tired of being depressed and broke. In general I just needed a break from it. My birthday is this week and I still want things to change but for this week I am admitting that there isn’t much I can do. So, art is happening and thoughts for future words percolate in my brain As I play escapism games.

Literature and Modern Teaching

Literature is on my mind this week. I have had a lot of time on my hands with little else to do but sort books on Goodreads. As I add books I have read over several decades and rate them, date them, sort them, and check for similar titles I have though of recent conversations about historical pieces of literature and entertainment such as plays. I studied a fair amount of literature and language over the years and read a lot on my own. As someone that enjoys reading of all types and the development of language I am interested in more than just the story in what I read.
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A book is a product of the time leading up to it and of the cultures that impacted the author. It is also a product of the language and history of the author. I write in the English forms I learned. I learned to read in Old English with books like the King James Bible, then authors like Rudyard Kipling opened my mind to other perspectives on the cultures of the people I knew. I read everything I was allowed until I left my parents house, then I just read everything that struck my fancy. When I took literature classes we read the classics in a way that feels a little like the way churches teach scriptures.
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Classic and historic literature is presented as the shining example of how to write and what literature is as opposed to modern books. But literature is writing with enduring merit not just any historic piece that survives and not automatically discarding anything new. Some pieces are worthy of study because of their historic significance. Others are prime examples of the language of the time (as far as we know.) Some showcase the culture at the time and others protest the culture at the time. The difference can grow confused the greater the distance from present.
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What I see however is that classic literature does not mean better. I do not mean because the language is old and hard for many modern readers, that just takes the time and willingness to adapt. I refer to the continuous development of culture, language, writing forms, and moral understanding. In the same way that I grow and change over time, giving up attitudes and behaviors when I learn better; I expect culture to grow and art forms to grow. As artists we develop our skills on the knowledge and examples of the past. The masters of the past are our foundation. We strive not just to be different and new but to grow and develop, to reach people with a well developed understanding of our craft.
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I do not accept the attitudes of the past as acceptable because they were common at the time. Some authors were opposed to them even then. Yes, reading the pieces is important. Understanding them in the context they existed is vastly more important. However, I do not want to emulate them. Language has changed. Culture has changed. I am a product of a mixed tapestry of cultures, languages, people, and teachings and am not as much a product of the mass culture around me as a touchstone of oddities from our time. My writing shows the perspective of one observing the culture and interacting with it as not quite a part of it. I see this same phenomena in some classic literature.
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We can appreciate the skill of a writer that opened a genre or questioned their culture but we do not need to feel they are an example of what to be. They are a signpost of change, a piece of history to be understood, appreciated, and improved upon. Dismissing modern writing as less than because it uses modern language, modern concepts, experimental forms, new genres, or is in electronic form only does us personally and all of society a disservice it shows a blindness to the purpose of writing. Those methods, thoughts, and examples from the past developed the communication tools. Those are the tools of improving culture and writing. History and experience are the foundations of new literature to be. Shakespeare is held up as a shining example now but was written for the masses entertainment. It was the soap opera of the time not the high brow art. Sherlock Holmes stories were a newspaper serial and are a favorite sample from the time.
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Literature can come from any genre or culture and in any form. Quality writing is not limited to the past or to what publishers approve of. This is a topic I love to explore and discuss and as it keeps coming up I may well return to it again soon. But for now, I leave you with the thought that we should read broadly and consider each piece in it’s context and with it’s purpose. Remember the story behind each author and think how does it touch the audience. If it does not reach a broad audience it will only survive in a limited circle. So a piece that is considered a literary achievement by the university but that people just aren’t drawn to has no place in the world of literature. It did not achieve the goal of communication and connection and cannot endure. Quality writing is in the tone and reach not in the approved words and form.

Abecedarian Collection

This first one can also be seen on Writers digest in the forum https://www.writersdigest.com/prompts/abecedarian
Writing our Minds (A Poem in 27 Lines)
Abnormalities are the normal place for writers who
Began their path through experiences and stories.
Cars provide a private space to tell a story to yourself
Doing nothing but the composting of the writing process.
Eaters of experience we reach
Frankly for the reality of the world
Going inside our minds and stories to find the
Hero that can touch our heart and expand our world.
Indigo or blue we wonder as we debate our use of
Jargonistic phrases and obscure terms.
Kelp waves gently under the surface of the ocean like our stories.
Limbs on a tree reach for the sun and we see
Money and industry, life and lovers, history and future
Naively seeing the tree and all that happens under it like an
Orifice opening to show us glimpses of life with pains and
Paeans that ring out in our minds both loud and
Quiet in their passion.
Radicals and racists
Sadly showed their violence in those branches.
Tall in the night the tree remembers lovers sprawled
Under the sheltering canopy of leaves.
Vassals shared their meals under these branches.
Wind blew across teachers and students in the afternoon sun.
Xenophyles, we reach across the world through the leaves of a tree.
Yielding ourselves to the stories told in the wind and the bark we
Zone out of reality and into our pen.

The Bus to Work

Around 6 am I leave my room and catch a
Bus rattling and jerking its passengers to their jobs and homes.
Casual observers see people bored and irritated
Deep in their own spaces, phones, needs, and fears.
Examination shows otherwise.
Friendships are made on the bus.
Groups share space each day of their lives.
Haphazard groupings linked by shared routs.
Individuals that know the daily habits and patterns of the others.
Just as they know idiosyncrasies and dreams of their bus rout companions.
Kindness to strangers vies with the need for distance in confined space.
Languid tourists join the groups in passing and roll luggage down the aisle.
Mild mannered introverts read or watch the city pass.
Noisy extroverts converse across the aisle and over the seats.
Obvious homeless clutch their possession and warily watch
People passing too close for their comfort.
Quickly passing stops keep the flow of conversation new and fresh.
Respect for personal space varies by need as the bus fills.
Strangers stand shoulder to shoulder and smile awkwardly.
Tense individuals try for isolated seats and physical barriers.
Unnecessary anger surges when paranoia threatens.
Very patient strangers step in to sooth or eject ruffled emotions.
Wide gaps of experience and lives interact in a tourist city bus.
Xylocarp smells waft from lotions, lunches, drinks, and grocery bags.
Yes, the bus is a microcosm of society interacting and living together.
Zonal interactions confined to a movable space within society.
2019
Analysis
Becomes
Cultural
Dissonance.
Empty
Fabricated
Geoeconomics
Hurl
Intoxicating
Justifications.
Kneejerk
Lies
Manipulating
Nakedly
Opportunistic
People
Quickly
Retelling
Stories.
Tenuous
Unrelenting
Victimization
Worsens
Xenophobic
Yearning
Zealots.

Why do I Write ?

Today, another writing exercise. This is a sort of stream of consciousness based on what is around me and a question. It is unedited and random.

Why do I write? That is an interesting question, and one I
am not certain I can fully answer. I write to express myself. I write to get
the words out. I write to remember. I write to describe. I write to share. I
write to heal. I write because writing is part of who I am. I am not writing
but writing is and writing is happening. As Writing the Bones said “writing is
writing.
The sun is out. The ac is on. Heat wraps around you with a
wet blanket. It isn’t hot like I remember as a child. The stifling, heavy heat
that press on you and pushes tendrils into you sapping all your energy is
pervasive in Texas and Louisiana. The damp heavy air makes the heat oppressive
as it nears or passes 100 degrees. Mosquitoes and gnats swarm and bite causing
you to bleed and itch into your dripping sweat. Plants wilt in the sun and
often in the shade. You can’t water during the day or you burn them but you
have to water or many plants will die from the heat and dehydration. This same
dehydration will hit you if you spend to much time out in it when hiking,
working, camping, walking, or playing. People frequently fail to notice just how
dehydrated they are. In some areas the dry air draws the moisture out of you. In
others the heavy, wet humidity causes you to sweat it out.

A pounding echoes through the shop as the crew loads and
unloads materials and preps those that need pre-assembly or dismantling. Hearing
the sound outside the glass door my mind tries to picture what they are doing
and what equipment they are working with. I am uncertain what crew is here
today, although I have seen several of them coming in for equipment or paperwork.
Having taken the time to get a tour of the shop I know what equipment we supply
and assemble here. It helps me to follow the calls and conversations around me
if I know the materials we are working with. Having grown up on construction
sites and reading blueprints all the details make sense but the names are a
blur and a mystery. I don’t remember names. I remember the sounds of metal
alloys as they are worked or hammered. I remember the sounds or the specific
tools. I remember the smell of sawn wood and how the acrid touch of arsenic
touches the treated boards lending a different smell than the white pine or the
rich cedar smell.

Relationships

Relationships are a intricate part of life and communication. We have relationships of many types from casual friends, neighbors, close friends, parents, siblings, spouse, children, work, employer, and many more. How we interact, communicate, react, act, and view others depends on our relationship with them, ourselves, others our brain deems like them, and others around us at the time. Some people are more influenced by some factors than others. sometimes a close relationship can mask truly unacceptable behaviors or words because we have viewed it through a filter. But things can change those filters and that can change our relationships in every area. Every action, reaction, bias, interaction, decision, and communication we have is influenced by the others in our past. Our mind tries to predict what the outcome will be and triggers responses down to our emotional state that may or may not be appropriate from someone else’s perspective. Some people pay attention to those responses and make more active decisions about response and some are happy with that state.
Have you ever had a time when something happened that changed how you viewed a whole host of other things? Relationships are subject to this same thing. You can be is a long term relationship that has been a comfortable place you don’t want to leave for years but a major pain in another relationship can suddenly cause you to see the red flags you were ignoring before. A conflict in one situation can be the last straw that leaves you unwilling to accept similar behaviors from anyone. Sudden realization of ongoing trauma and abuse in one relationship can cause you to see it it in others. Our relationships are not vacuums and our lives are an intricate web of who we are and who we are around, and what we do and think. Just as what we say and repeat impacts what we think, so do relationships affect each other.
How does your family and your past with them impact your spousal relationship? Do you have certain behaviors that trigger responses because of childhood? Do you have tones of voice that cause you to respond in predictable ways? Do you accept behaviors or words that you don’t agree with because you feel it is how things always are? Do you expect a level of intimacy or closeness that is in some way related to what you knew from your family? Do you fear being alone more than bad relationships? Do you fear bad relationships more than being alone? Has your family changed how you give or accept trust or compassion? Have you ever looked at these things and decided to change them and be aware of them?
We spend a great deal of our time at work. In the US, we often spend the majority of our time at work. These are the people we interact with the most and they will impact our other relationships. A stressful environment at work not only changes what you need and want at home but it changes our level of patience and communication. When I go home angry at a coworker that in many ways reminds me of my husband then I am less tolerant of things I might otherwise accept in my husband. The question is sometimes should I accept those behaviors and this is just lowering my tolerance wrongly; or is it just highlighting things incompatible to a relationship I want to have? I’m not sure I can answer that even for myself.  Our work relationships may strengthen personal relationships like friends or they may strain them. I may leave with great relief to be out of there and with my friends or I may leave under too much stress to deal well with others. A happy work environment leaves you more able to have casual relationships that are not touched by work but how many of us have that?
So what about the other direction? When you fight with children or spouse in the morning do you enter the office affected by it? Maybe your commute is long enough to diffuse it or maybe it makes it worse. If you are having a long term issue with family does it change your mood at work? If it impacts your mood, it impacts your relationships. Returning to the we don’t live in a vacuum and our lives should be viewed as a whole picture not separate parts. When we try to be someone different for each hat we wear, we are straining all the others.  The cross impacts can be positive or not, both from trauma and pleasure. A terrible fight can open your eyes to things in many other areas. A peaceful and wonderful trip can highlight the unhappiness in areas of life. A depressing occurrence in one relationship can hurt other relationships or tie them closer. A new strong friendship can show flaws in other relationships or show you why you love them all.
Our work/life balance is important because it is part of how we live, how we interact, how we grow, how we connect. Change and growth is good and should remain part of our lives all our lives but we also need the stable parts that draw our core. Some people need a stable job and career. Some need a home they own and love. Some need family connections. Some need the little rituals they can do anywhere like my bedtime pot of tea. For some it is a place, others a person. For some it is a feeling or a state of being, and for others it is whole picture. But the state of that stable point impacts our relationships. Knowing what our stable point is allows us more freedom in other areas that we may not need to be as stable in as we thought in our fear of change.
Relationships are work and they require patience, acceptance of others, commitment from all involved, communication, and time. But how often do we fall into the trap of sunk costs? A marriage is a commitment we made and it should be honored and helped, worked for and treasured. However, the sunk costs of our time, commitment, work, emotional state, and years of tolerance do not equate to requiring us to keep sinking our value into it if it is a lost cause or should be ended. How far does tolerance extend? Just because we are at a fragile state and accepted things in the beginning we should not have accepted, does not mean we should continue doing so. You should grow together so if one person heals and grows and sees these issue and the other can’t join that then there is likely little to be done. If communication and passion is a one way street there is no relationship in the positive sense. that leaves you in an unequal and destructive relationship that drains one person to feed another. Instability or unequal states can be emotional, verbal, physical, economic, and any other area of the relationship. It is not wrong to reevaluate those commitments and consider that all parties must be keeping the commitments or it is not being held to value.
Friendships have the same issue of sunk costs. A close friend for many years that has drifted away on their side but you still hold in the same position can be just as much a drain on you and the pain is real when you realize it. There is no vow or legal commitment to a friendship and you can choose each day how you will continue to connect to them and nurture a friendship they no longer care about but you hold dear. In any relationship there must be balance and communication but you have to be able to see when the communication is one sided and it is not of value to try and show someone something they don’t care to be a part of. Honesty is important and they must be honest and open with you or there is no path forward.
Blindness to reality is a disservice to you, to others, and to your relationships. We need to be open and clear minded to aid our best emotional state and nurture the relationships that nurture us. We also need to build the strength in ourselves that allows us to deal appropriately with unpleasant and but inescapable relationships like often occur at work or in families.
How many drains can you allow in your life before there isn’t enough in you to live your life? What areas can you or will you change to address the overabundance of drains and add more inflow and balanced interactions?
The painting is Nemesis, acrylic on stretched canvas by me.

Hats!

As of this evening, I will be able to use my new laptop for my shop for the first time.

My first work will be to list a new hat for sale. I have been making hats!

I have been continuing to get photography in the garden and of my art several times a week, although I have not been sharing them here. I do share them on our work Facebook and in some private groups.

See my new hats! https://www.etsy.com/artsfolly/listing/537074237

I have also been working on clothes, seat belt covers, and yoga bags but those are not listed yet. Woodwork has been slower but I am starting a line of wood burned keychains and have expanded my necklaces but they are also not all listed yet. I divided my shop into separate shops so there was more clarity between my items. I may shut the painting one down, for now, all of them are in local shops or I kinda want to keep them. My focus lately has been in my sewing shop and on my woodwork, my photography has all been in Peckerwood Garden and mostly for work recently.

Goodbye to My Father

Today I am talking a break from showing my photography or paintings, jewelry or woodworking. Saturday past was my father’s funeral. I was unable to prepare something or speak then so I am working on this now. I needed to see everyone, walk in my parents home, touch their lives, dig through the pictures and memories with the family; I needed to process.

When mom died, I knew what I felt. We were close, she was my support, my friend, my mother. We had talked about it and worked through it before. After, I couldn’t deal with my family. Mom told me before that she thought I would have that problem and that it was okay. Now dad, how do you respond to his death.

Our family lost my sister first of the immediate family. That hit dad hard. Mom wanted family together but understood in all the strong personalities, different beliefs, and everything else our family was often best in smaller groups. Dad felt all that was part of being a family, family should be together good and bad, loving or fighting, happy or sad. Janet was distant as long as I can remember. Dad hated that. They couldn’t be in the same room together without fighting for long but that wasn’t the point; she is is daughter, his first, the one he worried about every day. I think of the relationship my oldest niece has with her mother, even now that Janet is gone and I think of dad. The same sense of family is family, you love them, you honor them, you want to be with them under any circumstances even when they make you so mad you can’t speak. Allora shows the best of her grandfather.

Next was mom. You can’t say that hit dad hard; it broke him. How could it not? My youngest brother, Paul, said in the service that he didn’t want to make the day about mom but you can’t talk about dad without talking about mom. You hear that and think…they did everything together. But that doesn’t even touch the reality of it. Dad told me that mom was the foundation of him, his life, our family, everything. He honestly felt he was nothing without her. He loved her with every part of himself. He loved all of us kids whole hardheartedly, like his oldest, Janet, his kids were part of himself. But his wife was the core.

I have heard countless people ask each other who they would have married if not their spouse or what would they have done. Asking dad that was pointless. He had no other thought. He made the decision and asked until she agreed. She said no several times. I understand that part, I may have made a mistake earlier but I couldn’t have chosen anyone but my husband. I can’t even picture or seriously consider the thought of life without him. So I understand that dad passed some things on to us.

Jon, my oldest brother said that we are realizing now as we get older how much we learned from dad. He’s right. I always knew my art, my woodworking, my willingness to drop and go when I felt it needed, and my willingness to try anything came from dad. But I see his love, his heart, his strength, and his unbending individuality also. Mom added a whole other dimension to all those with one of the strongest personalities and wills anyone has met. Like dad, I will try to fix anything from a motorcycle or car to a desk, from the wiring of a house to a sick cat, from a strangled office to a friendship. He was willing to try so he was usually successful…at least to a functional point. He could build with intricate amazing art and strength unmatched and then he would turn around and fix mom’s headlight on the Cadillac with a 2 x 6 board.

Friendship was a recurring theme in the service. Dad was a friend for life. It didn’t matter whether he agreed with you. It didn’t matter what anyone thought about you. It didn’t matter what you wanted. Once he was your friend, he was your friend. I many times saw him cry because something happened in a friends life…a friend that hadn’t spoken to him or let him in their life for years. It didn’t matter, they were his friend. He felt for them and wanted to help. Dad always wanted to help. He always did what he felt was right. No-one ever agreed with him. He never fit in. But he did what he felt was right anyway.

He was hard, harsh, loud, brash, stubborn, unbending, but he was passionate, loving, loyal, honest, strong, hardworking, creative, intelligent, and open. Dad never hid anything – not what he owned, what he felt, what he said, what he did. He was honest whatever the cost. I watched them build several companies from nothing. They worked hard and held not just themselves but anyone that worked on their site to a level of integrity and honor that kept many crews off their jobs. But they were so honest, they were hurt when their clients were not. They lost everything to churches that took them and it broke their hearts as much as their lives. We would go back to having nothing but more than that they felt those churches had betrayed everything a church should stand for. Dad worked every day, worked hard, and did his best to make his work result in something that was a part of someones life not just a structure.

I worked on decks with him, I designed decks with him. I worked on metal buildings with him, designed them, drew them, worked on the site with him. I work on churches with him. When mom started cancer treatments I wasn’t in school yet so I went often with dad to work. I learned to draw, to design, to listen, to feel the needs, to understand the function, to work, to carry wood, to stack materials right, to find the people that knew the things you needed. Dad drove across town coffee pot to coffee pot stopping at jobs he had finished years ago, at suppliers, at friends, at engineers, at stores, at print shops. He would talk to anyone, and everyone was treated the same. He expected people to be honest like him even though he would say otherwise. Some of those people remained friends until the end. Dad stopped at the churches especially often.

At the service Mark Thrift said that he understood dad because he tried to understand him. He and my parents were close most of my life and that mutual understanding and trust was the core of that. He was right, you had to want to understand dad, he didn’t come easy. He made no effort to bend to your expectations. He was who he was, take it or leave it. Push him away and he would just pack and go. You couldn’t change him and you couldn’t push him but you could touch his heart and you could earn his loyalty. His heart was always open. Most people heard his loud brash mouth or saw his gruff ways and left it at that. But that meant they never actually saw dad. His passion, artistry, strength, honesty, loyalty, love, intelligence, and family were the parts they should have seen. Ignore his piles of stuff, his hothead reactions, his harsh exterior…just don’t push him.

He left his mark on all of us. We have good traits and bad from both parents and we are proud of that. I see those same traits in my nieces and nephews. They can also be proud of that. I want them to know their grandparents loved them, wanted them to be able to stand tall and proud to do what they felt they should. Dad and mom both would tell them they came from strong blood, passionate blood, creative blood, hardworking blood, with a wanderlust, a core of loyalty, and a heart worth being proud of. Take those strengths, add those from your other families and be who you are. That is what your grandparents wanted. They hoped you would agree with them but they taught us to make our own decisions, to stand solid, to work hard, and to never back down. They taught us to be honest to a fault, loyal through anything, passionate in relationships and life, and creative in whatever you do. Embrace your strengths and know when to ask someone else for information or help. Mom always said it was better to say you would find out than give a wrong answer. Dad always directed them to mom. I hope you all find a partner as loyal as dad and as supportive as mom, as honest as them both, as passionate and as hardworking as them both. Embrace who you are and what you came from. Accept the good with the bad and know that both give you strength. Our family has hurt each other and reacts strongly but we always love each other and we are always there for each other in the end. Dad and mom have left their legacy in all of us and all of you, know that can help you through anything