This is NOT about Covid 19

sacred cow

My latest painting: The Sacred Cow

Well, here we are.  We seem to be experiencing a world wide phenomena most have never seen before.  It’s remarkable, amazing, frightening, overwhelming, unprecedented and yet, somewhat predictable as the world has seen pandemics before.

BUT, I’m not here to write about Covid 19 and the Corona Virus. I want to get back to blogging.  After 2 years of sparse contributions I’m ready to return to sharing my art and my thoughts.  If you recall, I said “see ya later” to the blog when I started to write my memoir following my hike down the Oregon portion of the Pacific Crest Trail.  Well, I finished the book, and several rewrites/edits. I was shopping for a professional (read objective) editor and an agent to help with that when Covid hit my corner of the world. Book on hold, I hunkered down and hung out with the newly retired husband.  We worked on various home improvement projects and considered ourselves fortunate to have property where we can walk and garden and be outside in a gentle way as the rest of the world seemed to explode with a level of angst and anguish and fear.

Now, in the past few years, along with the writing, I began to go on meditation retreats of different kinds.  I went on a yoga retreat, a woman’s medicine circle, a couple of silent vipassana style retreats, a big, splashy new age retreat as well occasional stay-at-home retreats where I meditated in a small yurt on the corner of the property for days at a time. I even hiked another 60 miles solo on the PCT where I realized it just wasn’t the same and there were too many people on the trail to suit my need for solitude.  In the past week, I’ve completed a 2 ½ day on-line retreat via Zoom meetings. What a world we live in now!

All this retreating and self-reflection along with the writing project stirred up deep seated traumas that needed to be witnessed (by ME) and healed. I am stronger and happier for having taken the time to clean out the cobwebs as well as fix the broken parts of my foundation so that my emotional house can be strong and withstand the next thing life had to throw at it.  When Covid hit, I was struck with an initial sense of fear (a normal reaction) but my training and inner work helped me to settle down relatively quickly  and be in a place of peace as I live each day as they come and try not to predict or look too far into the future.  Will we face financial ruin?  I hope not, but I can’t do anything about it, we made our retirement funds as safe as we could. Watching the news is anxiety provoking, so we limit our exposure and between the two of us, we’ve come up with a “safe word” to remind the other when we get worked up about how a global health crisis has become political fodder and other inflammatory issues, the stress of this is not good for our immune systems.  Will we catch the disease and will it be fatal to my asthmatic-over-60-year-old husband?  Maybe, but we are in a quasi-quarantine and do all the surgical-clean procedures if we ever have to go out and bring things home (which we mostly don’t). I’ve done all I can do to make sure he’s protected, as well as protecting myself.  Worrying anymore beyond this won’t help and so I surrendered to the present and that’s pretty much where we live, in the present moment.

But not everyone lives in there and when confronted with a friend’s personal issues that had her flashing her anger onto me, I puzzled over her reaction and knew that there was a lesson to be learned.  Somewhere.  During a meditative moment where I studied a tree outside my window in depth, the lesson emerged and I’d like to share what I wrote in my journal.  There is a lesson here for all of us and it’s not just about navigating difficult times but about accepting what is right in front of us all the time.

April 16, 2020

We were asked (in the online retreat) to observe a natural thing and look at it until we saw more than what could be seen and knew more than we had known.  I stared intently at the willow that holds my bird feeders.  I took stock of its obvious qualities, length, shape, color, various dimensions. I looked at it with my “artists eye” and saw the negative spaces between the branches the way some turned up and down.  I saw the joints of the branches, the knurled look of older fingers, the supple greenness of new growth. I noted lichen growing on elderly parts and flourishing on the deadwood.  I saw where bird feet had worn bark smooth as they perched, taking advantage of my offered seed and suet.

I began to look at the fractal patterns, the new growth was a repeating pattern of the growth that had come before it.  Not yet twisted and tempered by time, the new branches, while straight, still contained the essence of what they would become.

And then I applied the fractal metaphor to my own life.  The bumpy encounter with my friend came to mind.  My usual methodology of “talking it out” had been closed to me so I found myself tracing the issues back in time.   It was there, in those fresh, new, supple branches of early development that I saw the fractal pattern that would now be the hallmarks of our older growth.

If relationships are like trees, then there are many, many varieties and species. Some, bear fruit and are nourishing, while others provide respite from summer heat.  Some age gracefully while other may fall apart, their time on earth a foregone conclusion, serving a purpose that is brief though no less important. All trees have their place, to appreciate the fractal nature of life allows each to be what it is.  Nothing more or less.  And thus, rather than lamenting that my willow-like friend will never be the sturdy oak of my aspirations, strong and reliable, knowing that she is more like the willow, I can relax and allow, finding beauty and peace in all forms of communion with others.

IMG_0573

A Gathering of Artists

I just returned from an artist potluck party.  Well, not exactly a party… not sure what to call it… a gathering sounds good.  Some very nice artsy folk down the road from me put together a once a year “gathering” at their place whereby artists and craftspeople can hang out for the day, eat good food, chit chat and do what they do.  I’ve been invited before, but this is the first time I actually went.

I generally feel that getting together a group of artists and artisans are like herding cats.  Sure, it can be done, but do you really want to?  Cats don’t really “gang together”.  Well, maybe lions do, but I’m thinking of domestic kitties… the kind that tolerate each other and are nice enough so long as they have a full bowl of kibble.  Since the lure of food works for hungry cats, it’s an effective way to assemble a group of artists.

Yeah, I know some artists are very sociable and I am painting with broad strokes here, but that’s the kind of artist I am… social sometimes and more of a dog lover than a cat person.  Anyway, off I trooped to the event, looking for a social connection, a good meal and perhaps a spark of inspiration.  For me, art is more of a solitary endeavor but I was game so I packed up some supplies and drove over.

After I arrived and made all the necessary pleasantries, I tucked myself in a corner of the property and got down to work. Most of the other guests were having a group spin… weavers and knitters and workers of wool.  They all seemed to know each other and were happily chatting so I found a shady spot away from the chorus to explore a new idea that had graced my doorstep recently.

It’s very simple… and familiar.  We see it every day, even though we don’t know it by name.  Fractal Geometry. It comes down to this: Z=Z squared +C.  What that means is simplified repetition of design, or in fractal terms: a self similar pattern. This has got to be the coolest bit of mathematics I have come across and I am on a mission to purposefully blend my art with fractals.  I could probably go on about this for awhile, but really, the studio is calling and I have GOT to get in there and put this stuff on some canvas.   Here’s a Wiki link if you want some general knowledge on the subject  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fractal of course, there is TONS more about fractals on the internet, but Wikipedia is a good place to start.

Fractals are a part of nature, it’s the repetitive design we see in trees, ferns, textures, coastlines, blood vessels, musculature… it’s everywhere and it is awesome.  They call it the “thumbprint of god” which is poetic and mind expanding.  Whatever it is, I’m feeling very dazzled by the beauty of this mathematical concept.

I’ve unwittingly used this concept in some of my other art.  The Orange Swirls are loosely fractal in nature, but it’s there nonetheless.

Orange Swirls Oil on raw Canvas 36"x48"

Orange Swirls
Oil on raw Canvas
36″x48″

 

But now I am purposefully exploring with just a little more knowledge.  Looking forward to the results, so back to work for me.  For now, here’s the sketch I came up with at the Artist’s Gathering:

 

My first official fractal.  This is an idea that needs exploring.

My first official fractal. This is an idea that needs exploring.