Just Trying to Get Through This Like Buddha

A girl of about 14 came up the driveway and offered to shovel - from my car straight to the road, she specified, not the full circular drive - for $40.00.   I laughed.  That's a $50 job at least, just my side, and she doesn't know about the gravel and the carpet. There was $3 in my wallet;  I gave it to her for taking the time to come up to the cottage.

My snow shovel was rescued from the side of the road this summer. It's sturdy and can hold more wet snow than I should lift.

I developed a snowplough method of push-and-dump.  I learned that leaves are easier to shovel with snow on top of them.  Also, the carpet in the driveway makes for easy snow removal.  I was happy to see the green moss, but wondered whether it was actually harmful to uncover it and let it be snowed over again.

I'll admit I had a little bit of fun. Deer were hiding under the trees, and the foxes ran through the yard too fast for me to take a picture of their frolic. Even the cardinals seemed pl…

Goodbye, Dr. Hofstadter...Book Club vs. The Next Series of Digressions

Today was our official last discussion on Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid - kind of like an Ozzy Farewell Tour, because we've already agreed to go back and discuss sticking points once we've cleansed the palate, so to speak.  Also, we didn't really talk about GEB's content, but about our group.  We talked about talking about GEB.

I'm impressed that after spending 2.5 years reading one book we're eager to go on and tackle another one.  This is a great collection of people who digress well. Excellently, even.  We asked our ringleader, Lee, whether her initial vision of the study group matched what actually happened.  Not so much, but she's pleased with the outcome.

We brought to the table - literally - the following books:
Bacteria to Bach and Back, Daniel DennettThe Mind's I, Hofstadter & DennettKant & The Platypus, Umberto EcoThinking Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman The Order of Time, Carlo RovelliThe Great Unknown: Seven Journeys to…

On Jazzmen and How the Light Gets Out Again

Being creative is like pursuing the Golden Fleece. It's a challenge to pin down the visions floating in your head, put them into a language that hopefully others can read and discuss. Getting to the end, actually completing the project, is the next trial. Once your ugly is baby outside your body, you have to be brave enough to share with people. If that goes well - if enough people can read your language - you will be asked to talk about yourself. Ouch.

But then there you are:   the light came in through your cracks and reflected outward, taking your soul into the world with it. 

Jerry Jazz Musician ran their first Short Fiction Contest in 2002, with my story Coloring Outside the Lines. In preparation for the 50th Contest, Joe Maita is running brief interviews with previous winners beginning Monday, March 7, 2019. I highly recommend you submit your best short fiction to this online magazine. But this is not why we're here.  We're here to talk about Wynton Marsalis.
The f…

Carving the Light - How to De-focus the Negative

I've come to a crossroads in my creative spurt -  there's a skunk to be drawn on scratchboard.  I have a colored pencil project to finish first, and the ink on canvas will have to wait.  Scratchboard requires me to turn my head completely around.

Here's the stuff.  A fine coat of clay is applied to thin cardboard, and then India ink is layered on top of that. The artist uses a stylus  to scrape away the ink and reveal the clay underneath, which is usually white.  I had a tiny artistic tantrum after I accidentally bought a sheaf of rainbow-coloured scratchboard, but I own my mistake.  I did it to myself by not reading carefully. I can use the rainbow to practice without wasting the good black and white board; it's been a while since I worked in this medium.

When I took photographs at The Academy of Advanced Imagery I focused on light and shadows, the interplay between them.  I'm very figure/ground oriented - I see both concurrently, always, seeking balance with o…

Refrigerator Magnets: A Team-Building Exercise

My friend Meg played the catalyst this time. She bought me a Zombie Magnetic Poetry Kit and informed me I was to take it to work.

"You have a kitchen at your job; I don't," she said. "So this is for your work-kitchen." Roger that.

I scooped up a few words, sidled into the break-room and stuck them on the refrigerator door, trying to guess how many minutes I'd be blamed. Even if someone else had done it, my reputation would precede me. By the time I got back to my desk, I was envisioning HR's gentle admonishments in my head, so I went back and pulled all the death, corpses, and creepiness.

Not an hour later, I found a new message:
find out how unstoppable you canbe
...and then I realised someone had gone and found the word be in a different set of magnetic poetry, and in fact had severed it from a longer word, in order to complete her message.

I say her, because I knew it had to be Roxanne Jackson, who happens to be a wise person and Certified Profession…

Update on Things: Deconstructed Corvid 1 - Fibonacci

Due to...logistics? Technique? My innate laziness?...there does not exist an original of this drawing.  To have it on my wall I had to order it from myself via Zazzle. So this is the first and therefore most valuable copy of Fibonacci Raven. I will try to explain. I started this project on blue grid-lined paper (you know, the one that doesn't really render the lines invisible like they said it would.)
In a fit of inspired doodling, I started inking the original sketch.  And then I kept going.  Before I knew it, I had an almost fully-inked drawing on the wrong paper. I decided to try scanning it anyway.  To be honest, I like the gridlines.  They feel architectural, or something.

Also, I'm messy.  There was a blob of purple paint on the page, as well as several wrinkles.  And I'm lazy and didn't want to re-ink what already looked pretty damned good.  I did some judicious scissoring; it took a few scans and cuts to excise the blue lines I didn't want to show up on the f…

Abbey New Year

You remember my bestie, Abbey the Cockatiel. We're even better friends now - she  flies across the room, smacks into the blinds and falls to the leather ottoman, and then yells at me to help her down because she claims she can't get to the floor from eight inches up.

"Go for it, Abbey," I tell her. "Just jump. Or fall. You'll be alright." It can't hurt worse than smacking into the blinds.

But she holds on with her beak and inches her feet down until she's no longer comfortable with the grip. Then she creeps back up to safety and yells at me some more.

I let her get on my arm and she crabwalks up to my shoulder. If I look at her, she hisses, but if I chatter my teeth in response to her doing same with her beak, she inches over and kisses me.  And if I seem to be turning my head she bites me. This is love.

Yesterday I went into the neighborhood without her; Abby took a nap.  I chatted with some artists who were set up at Palette 22. It's a br…

Things the Moon Knows

The moon told me tonight a plainer version of a truth I've always known.

It's not full any longer - waning, we say - and there's a fine lace of cloud cover stretched above the yard. I notice that the moon is enhanced, brighter, seems to be glowing, as a thin veil crosses its face. When the moon shines between clouds, the sky is dark and the edges of the sphere delineated.

We, too, shine brighter when we are filtered through challenge. People notice our energy while we struggle toward the surface. At peace, when the skies are clear, we seem calm, linear; it's easy for the observer to move along after looking upon a placid face. 

But the moon shining through opposition takes our breath away. 

Happy Christmas to you, my menagerie. 

Work In Progress: Let the Poets (and ravens) Take Charge

My work-space is currently a poetry lab, but the poetry's not mine - Peter Kidd sent me some-odd pieces by priority mail so I can see what art may manifest to accompany them. I fixed the pages like butterflies* with long pins to my U.S. map, around and over the Presbyterian Migratory Trail where each generation of Ewing is marked with a different shade of plastic head. The ancestors will have to wait and support this project - every choice they made was for me, was for now, after all. Right?

Take the risk.

This assignment coincides with the emotional birth of Deconstructed Corvid 3, which I saw in the rocks and moss growing between the carpets of my driveway. The carpets are not allegory nor metaphor. I'm not sure why they were laid out there initially, but as I move them throughout the winter to cover iced-over puddles I think I get the idea.

When Pete said he'd be mailing the pages, my first thought was that I should send them back illuminated like Medieval documents. …

I Hear Colors - Art, Synesthesia, and Mental Mapping

My brain's tangly. I'm working over a short story which isn't a story, and my writing compatriots have requested I interject synesthetic impressions throughout. I'm angry that they're so nosy, and yet I can - should - do this. I have to first pin down what synesthesia means to me and then clean up those little bits of writing so they can be seen for what they are.

Expression is easier for me in art than it is in words, possibly because I don't see the words as such. I honestly didn't know synesthesia is a thing until a friend explained to me exactly how my brain works.

My version is this: I see patterns. I can see the same pattern visually, aurally, texturally, and so I can apply a music pattern to art, or cooking, or gardening. You know, conceptual skeletons.

To me everything is the same. I just try and show the world what I discern in terms that might lead them to share my vision. Everyone uses a different vocabulary. I like the challenge, mostly.


Big Texas Road Trip Part the Second...? Texas Farms Wind, Oil, and Cotton

Things are getting a bit jumbled in my picture sets, if not my story-line. We saw a lot of Texas highway on this trip. A lot - 1800 miles.  This trip was nostalgic to me, bittersweet, and for that reason I'm showing most of the pictures of Texas in black-and-white.

Texas itself doesn't change much. In college I watched a documentary by Bill Moyers on Marshall, Texas, and it's a good show. Bill interviewed people who explained how the Great Depression didn't really affect them, because they were already self-sufficient. I tried to find a link to the docu for y'all, but was unsuccessful.

We banked in Marshall, and  bought groceries at the Piggly-Wiggly; our school was in Bullard, and our post office box was in Cuney. We lived in Deep East Texas, somewhere between Noonday and Teaselville Junction. Marshall was the big city. We didn't go exactly through that neck of the Piney Woods on this road trip, but still I was tugged at the heart. I could imagine our school …

It's Still Not About The Doughnut - the Snowball Effect of Self-Help Books

My co-worker just showed me a Satanic Vegan Cookbook he found for sale online (not sure it's actually Satanic, but that's an interesting concept.) Instantly my mind went to an horrific thread from a year ago on Facebook - it all started with a doughnut carrying a sign that read, "hey, i'm vegan"

Nobody wants to sit next to the guy at the party who tells you all night how he's quit drinking and smoking.  Just enjoy the party, guy. It's a stage in your life-process; we get it. Be here for the reason you're here.

That's the message alleged vegan-haters offer: be happy with yourself and we will be happy with you. It's not the vegan-ism that's ostracized, but evangel-ism.

Co-worker helped me realize the challenge with making assumptions about evangelism: the guy with the Satanic Vegan Cookbook might be at the party because he likes parties. Because he's selling a book, he may start talking about veganism. Can this be sensible and repulsiv…

Behavioral Patterns and What You Should Do About Them

Humans are pattern extractors - it's what we do. We find replications of familiar intervals everywhere, and we attempt to rearrange the medium where it doesn't fit a comfortable pattern.

We rake the yard because we like wide, flat surface area. We build fences with uniform pickets to enforce arbitrary boundaries. We strive to make perfect pancakes (don't laugh - it's an inherited gene as well as a term of endearment in my family.) And this is the point at which I branch off into unequal tangents. Does it help you at all to have advance warning?

You hear once in a while about a person who's born with an extra set of teeth. I sometimes think I was born with two full sets of emotions, and I make use of them all. I see faces in trees, colors in song, paintings in words. I do my best to translate what I see into something you can recognise. The patterns I see are not necessarily useful to you, but hopefully you find some entertainment therein.

My book club had a conver…

A Day Job is Hard When Your Head Is Full of Ravens.

I'm making phone calls, entering data, but all the inside of my head is wings. My brain is rendering raven feathers in pencil and ink, in paint, in chalk, in actual feathers. They beat against the inner wall of my skull; beaks and claws scrape across the sphenoid. The phone rings; I pick it up. I can barely hear a voice through rustling wings, but I answer the question. It's almost lunch-time; then I'll be able to empty my head onto paper, fix down the ideas with Scotch tape.

I sleep early, wake up earlier. Put on my baja shirt to go outside, crispy-frost grass under my boots.

YES - the air is icy and clear enough to see everything: Orion, the Sisters, the Twins, the Crab, the God of War; my namesake the Scorpion hides just under the horizon. I know where he is though he can't be seen, always opposite the hunter. When I was small I used to dream of being Cassiopeia in her chair.

My boots clop down the road where I visit my tree-friend, the one who tells me prophecies. He&…