This Post has Gone to the Dogs

These are my pals — Teddy Bear T. Dog (little guy) and Polar Bear Yeti T. Dog (“Yeti” gives it away, I think). They are dogs. I’ve always hung out a lot with my dogs but I feel a bit more “together” with these two as a result of the necessities of the past year.

Dogs are very good at “together.” Recently another dog visited — Frosty — and he soon found his way to be together with Teddy and Bear. (My house is not as ugly as it looks in this photo)

As you see, they are “togethering” like the pros they are

He came together with his person who discovered a lot about Frosty. Until their visit he thought his dog was a pain in the butt but learning how well his dog traveled, how much his dog enjoyed it, how well his dog fit in with other dogs, and seeing that there are dogs worse on a leash than his own (Teddy was a little nuts on our mutual walk), my friend has realized Frosty is a prince among dogs — and he is.

Frosty and his human. Sangre de Cristos in the background. I’m sure Frosty doesn’t remember, but he was born in the San Luis Valley.

It’s no secret that I like dogs. I like being together with them. I don’t have many photos of me together with all my dogs over the years. We didn’t have camera phones and most of the time when I was out being together with my dogs, we were the only beings in the wide world. Here are some of the few photos of some of the great dogs I’ve been together with.

Maggie, Truffle and Molly — my first three dogs

Painting and the Subconscious Mind

How much painting comes from the subconscious mind? Reading an article today made me think of this, this quotation is the focal point, “One feels there is an unveiling of subconconscious thought in (Bonnard’s) work, and that by through not rushing, and by constantly questioning and responding to ideas as well as the materiality of the paint, he is able to embark on a journey that eventually naturally arrives at a point that creates a painting full of expression, with just enough ambiguity to intrigue, and a vision entirely unique, honest and fascinating.”

I don’t know about the “constant questioning,” but I have painted from my subconscious mind without being aware of it. Perhaps that is a kind of questioning. Oddly, with the paintings I’ve done that I KNOW were driven by something in my subconscious, I think they were painted without a lot of input from my conscious mind at all. I would. never have told myself to paint them and yet I did tell myself to paint them. In fact, I thought I was painting one thing, something else completely, from what the paintings turned out to be.

I have no idea, but two of my favorite (of my own) paintings definitely came from there. One I did in 1980 after a horrific bout of the flu and not having painted anything for myself (I’d worked for the Denver YWCA as their artist which was great) for nearly 10 years. It was my first painting after that long hiatus. It led to a period of intense creative work. What I had to paint with were acrylics, linoleum print ink, lace paper, watercolor paper. Here is that painting:

At the time (I was 28) I was looking for something, but this was still strange. I did another and another and ultimately ended up having a one person show of mostly figurative art. My good friend Wes and I were going to life drawing sessions every Monday evening, but this painting happened before that.

Then in 2012/13 I did a painting that was inspired by the bizarre coincidence of having written a novel about my ancestors before I even knew anything about them. That novel is Savior and I learned about the ancestors from a Swiss reader who’d read Martin of Gfenn and suggested maybe I had Swiss ancestry. I pretty much finished my novel when I got his email. I’d suspected the Swiss ancestry after many visits to Switzerland and discovering my grandmother’s cooking here and there throughout the countryside. In any case, when I found my family — which went back to the 10th century — the people in the 13th century, when Savior is set, lived at exactly the spot where I’d placed the family in my novel and had the same names.

You can imagine this was a little weird and upsetting. One afternoon at a conference, I sketched a kind of allegory for what I thought had happened, considering that the earth is really one enormous cemetery anyway. I painted my idea when I got home from the conference. Here is the painting:

Ancestral Memory

A couple years ago I realized I’d already painted this image, years before, in 1980. Weird as that was, there was also the bizarre reality that a couple of years before I moved here or seen this part of the Valley, I had painted the San Luis Valley, not just the Valley, but the Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge, looking south. Sadly I cannot show you at the moment since the photo that does that is buried somewhere. I have a photo taken last spring of this very scene with a virtually identical sunset. It’s creepy and wonderful.

Another painting from the subconscious is this one:

The World is Out There

I didn’t even know I’d painted advice to myself about retiring until I’d retired and moved to Colorado. Then one day I looked at it and understood it completely. It says — clearly — “Get Out!” Originally it was going to be a painting of New York City (??) that my step-daughter-in-law wanted, an image that turned out to be better as a water color. Thinking I had a “wasted” panel, I attempted painting velvet and loved it. Then it sat around for a year or so (practice panel) and I painted the figure (inspired by Sean Connery in a 007 movie walking resolutely out of a room). I dressed it in my favorite dress EVER. The flowers and bunnies are from a medieval tapestry. It was just fun.

These two paintings hang in my living room. The painting with the skulls hangs on the south wall so that IF there were no wall, no trees, no town, you’d see that view from my front door.

Here’s the link to the article. It’s very interesting!

Quotidian Update

Summer has arrived. The fan is in the bedroom window. His name is Edmund. (ha ha)

As the word for the day — sawyer — is related to forestry, the season for prescribed burns in the mountain forests has passed, and I hope they were able to get a lot accomplished in that brief window of time between mountain accessibility (brief spring) and summer’s dry heat. We’re looking at a hot dry summer and the likelihood of fire.

Summer will also test the philosophical foundations of both my big white dog and me. The season of brushing her has begun. Big white dogs seem to have two undercoats compared to my husky’s one. Bear seems seasonally designed to contend with ordinary cold and very cold. As much as she loves the cold, she will come inside when it’s VERY cold (-15 F). Luckily, she likes being brushed and the undercoats come loose when it warms up. Bear regards it as a bonding activity.

The rest of summer? Stuff I hate like mowing the lawn… If I had any courage at all, I’d turn into a full on eccentric and NEVER mow it and NEVER water it, but I’m too conventional.

As you see, I have really nothing at all to write. The new book — Finding Refuge — is now New and Improved (though not seen on TV) and ready for people to read. You can get it here on Amazon or from me.

Beautiful Post About Color

If you love color, passion and good writing, you will also love this post!

Color fascinates me because, in fact, they might not even be actually THERE since all of the colors in the non-light spectrum result from how light is reflected from a surface.

I was really lucky to have had a dad who was interested in this too. My first science project was a box in which I demonstrated the different spectrum of light. I think I wrote about it somewhere. Here I wrote about mineral colors. Here I wrote about my science project on the light spectrum.

Maybe I should go paint something…

Almost-Summer Walk

Trying to elevate our perspective yesterday when the day darkened (yay!) and the wind picked up, Bear and I headed out for a walk.

Summer IS beautiful in its way. The storms swirling around the San Luis Valley made the mountains change their aspect every few minutes. On the way to the Refuge I saw the fallow pastures were filled with wild iris.

Wild Iris

There aren’t many animals (visible) out there now. Some of the beings who hang around most of the year are singing their hearts out — blackbirds. The best animal story was a mother coot and her lone duckling. Mom was foraging like crazy and the baby was hanging close. I thought of the whole reality of nature and of all the eggs she’s probably laid and how there was only one surviving hatchling. Then I saw another. For a moment I thought about the quiet way these creatures address loss. “This is what I have. Isn’t is precious?” not “Oh my god, I’ve lost four eggs out of six! What’s the point of going on?” You can’t see them, but the featured photo was supposed to be a picture of the coot and her ducklings which, I have learned, are actually called “cooties.”

Doing research into what baby coots are called, I learned about the “nurturing” habits of the coot and was momentarily horrified:

“Chick mortality occurs mainly due to starvation rather than predation as coots have difficulty feeding a large family of hatchlings on the tiny shrimp and insects that they collect. Many chicks die in the first 10 days after hatching, when they are most dependent on adults for food. Coots can be very brutal to their own young under pressure such as the lack of food, and after about three days they start attacking their own chicks when they beg for food. After a short while, these attacks concentrate on the weaker chicks, who eventually give up begging and die. The coot may eventually raise only two or three out of nine hatchlings.In this attacking behaviour, the parents are said to “tousle” their young. This can result in the death of the chick.” Source

Which is WHY watching nature documentaries WON’T cheer you up.

A car drove by, and the people in it waved with all their hearts. ❤ ❤

Yesterday was the first day I’ve felt like myself in more than a year. So far so good today. 🙂

Yesterday a reader asked me how to get a copy of my new book, Finding Refuge. It is available on Amazon Please don’t order a copy from Amazon until Wednesday morning Western Hemisphere time. Although I had gone over the content very carefully more than once, yesterday I decided to quietly just READ it. I made some edits that I think matter.

If you are someone who doesn’t like Amazon, you can order from me. It will be $15 including postage. I imagine at some point soon I will be putting it up on Kindle, but without illustrations.

Little Covid Book Published

After enduring a lot of rigamarole on Amazon to get my cover to work I realized I was dealing with a browser issue and switched. Voila! The little book about being in the back of beyond for the past year as the pandemic hit hard here and there, is published. It’s not going to be a best seller, which is OK. It’s titled Finding Refuge and it’s available here: Amazon

There is nothing new inside, but I discovered that, as I put it together with some intention, it’s an interesting journey into determined optimism. It was impossible to avoid politics completely, but there is very little politics in the book. At first I thought of doing drawings, but as it evolved I saw the photos were OK in black and white, actually fit the content of the book. There is a whole very colorful world out here, but last year, some of life’s color really did drain away.

It was a good project and it turned out to be very compelling. I just hope I got all the entries in chronological order. 🙂

Art Shed and Mercury Retrograde

Before I moved here, I had an Art Shed. I built it with money I inherited from my Aunt Martha. It was a small — 8′ x 8′ foot — blissful little sanctuary. It was only 10 feet or so from my house, not a continent away, but it felt like it.

I thought it was important to read the hand-writing on the wall

In other news — Li Bai — whom I’d given up for dead — is sending out leaves. I am happy about that because he and Tu Fu were always good friends and I hated the thought that Tu Fu might be wandering in the garden of Scarlet Emperor Beans on his own.

Yesterday was a stupid annoying frustrating futile day and I’m about to believe in astrology. Mercury IS retrograde. This is exactly the kind of stuff that is supposed to happen under these astrological conditions.

I’ve been exiled from Twitter which is probably for the best but why? Because my new cell phone wouldn’t connect to the phone network so I couldn’t start the countdown to my reinstatement. I don’t think I care. I don’t think Twitter is a very healthy place for me, so no big deal.

But still, a phone should work as a phone so…

After two hours on chat with my cellphone company yesterday attempting to teach the phone to find the tower (which is 1 mile away) we decided that it could very well be that the phone wasn’t OK. Stupid me, I tore up the old SIM card for the old phone when my new phone was activated and working — which lasted for 4 days. They’re sending me a new phone. This has made me think about phones. Back in the day we had a phone at home. That was it. It wasn’t so bad. I started to look at land lines…

But the land line option is probably just a “thought” born of irritation. It’s another $30/month and while the nostalgia factor of an answering machine has some appeal, I dunno… Seems silly. I resisted getting a smart phone, but 7 years ago, when I got my first one, I decided I like them.

I STILL Have No Idea What’s Going On

I’ve finished putting together the little book about the past year — I don’t have any idea if there is a market anywhere for it other than myself. It was an interesting experience to go through my posts of the past year, which, oddly, seems like a long time ago. 2021 seems to be speeding by like a bullet train. The book is pretty and has lots of (black and white) photos.

Emily, in her prompt this morning, asks the question whether we want to throw out everything good that happened last year — I don’t, but honestly I’m not sure what was good and what was bad. I’m not sure if the things I did last year to accommodate necessity were actually good or if I was just putting a good face on everything. I do know that some of the residue from The Former Guy vis-a-vis the virus are hanging around and my country’s evil decisiveness has only intensified. That has proven to be an entrenched and scary animal on the carousel of present reality.

My new phone isn’t working because there’s a problem with the SIM card (apparently). SO when I went to pick up groceries a couple days ago I couldn’t call to tell them I was there. I had to go INSIDE THE STORE. And there I was, looking at things, displays, people, all masked. The same sweet and motley display of humanity I remember from “before.” That left me with the question of whether I should continue ordering ahead and picking up or just go in and get my stuff. I think I’m probably sticking with picking up. It’s faster. It does diminish my choices, but I have always hated grocery shopping.

Anyway — I don’t have anything of note to share this morning. No sonnet to write and no profound ideas about the meaning of life. I have chores to do like go to the post office and stuff.

The Crack House I Called Home

Back in 1987 the Good X and I bought a fixer upper. It was a 40s tract house in the bad part of San Diego. It was a nice house, but its most recent occupants had been drug dealers and guys who tore apart cars. There was a VW bug hanging in the palm tree in the front yard, deadbolt locks on every door inside and out, engineless trucks in the back yard, another VW, shrines and needles in the corner of one of the bedrooms, piss in the toilet and a lot of other ragged and disturbing things. Mostly it needed cleaning to be livable, but it also needed an exorcism. That took a while. I lived there 17 happy though challenging, years.

I no longer have “before” pictures. I left them for the people I sold it to who were my neighbor’s daughter and husband.

The featured photo is a few years after I moved away. It was used to list the house after the people I sold it to moved out. When I lived there, there was a bird of paradise under the window, roses and hibiscus…

The photos below were taken the morning a tree company removed my palm tree. I sold it so I could make my house payment one winter. It ended up on College Avenue, just by the ramp coming in from I-8. It did well there. I saw it every day I went to school. ❤

Mindful of Differences

“Mindful” is one of those words that I don’t understand. To me it means “attentive” “paying attention” “conscious” something like that. The people in my life (here comes an egregious generalization that’s probably inaccurate and unfair) who used it go to yoga class and burn Nag Champa. It’s (to me) a California word.

Not too long ago I noticed my phone had a “mindfulness” thing as part of Apple’s health app. Huh? People do this? I looked into it a bit and it gave me the hee-bee jee-bees. I could set a TIMER and be “mindful” for 20 minutes at a time. It would even tell me HOW. Creeped me out. What would I be the other 1420 minutes of the day? OK, some of those minutes I’d be asleep, but…

I now know there are hundreds — maybe thousands — of mindfulness apps for our phones.

There’s no shortage of mindfulness and meditation apps these days, promising to help you combat anxiety, sleep better, hone your focus, and more. In fact, the Wall Street Journalreports that more than 2,000 new meditation apps launched between 2015 and 2018, and offerings have only increased as a result of higher demand during the pandemic—according to the New York Times, mindfulness apps surged in 2020. We took the overwhelm out of finding the most valuable and easy-to-use mindfulness apps that are available free and narrowed it down to these five apps.” Here’s a link

That said, it’s not easy to pay attention or even know what you’re paying attention to, and I’m 100% behind anything that helps people live the life they want, increases their awareness of the world in which we live, helps people be more conscious of themselves and others. I’m mindful that we’re not all me and maybe I just call it something else.

P.S. in looking for a picture of Nag Champa I learn that the scent comes from the plumeria blossom. ❤

P.P.S. I’m very behind reading posts. I’m sorry. I hope to catch up soon!