It is Tuesday morning and I’m enjoying the rain that continues to fall outside my window. I donned by rubber-boots, raincoat and rain-pants and went for my first rubber-boot walk of what I hope will be a nice wet rainy season here in parched Sonoma County, California. Fully protected from the downpour, I could rejoice in the sound, smell, touch and even taste of the rain. I found myself fully in the moment, relishing the plopping sound of the fat raindrops as they accumulated on the bay laurel and released to the leafy forest floor below. Oh and the smell, the smell is divine, a mixture of the spicy smell of the bay trees and the licorice smell of the wild fennel tall and dry along the road as well as a smell that is all its own – the smell of fresh rain on dry ground – to be more precise petrichor. I didn’t know this word until my friend Jennifer shared it with me. Petrichor means “the earthy scent produced when rain falls on dry grounds”. A pair of Australian scientists coined the word in 1964 and I found a surprisingly beautiful video that shows how this aroma is released into the air here is the link.
So I am blessed this day to have experienced this feast of the senses this morning and to be reminded once again to observe this brilliant moment. That phrase has become a bit of a mantra from me and I hope it will remind you to seek wonder every day.
The painting above is a new one. It is titled This is Now. I finished the painting last week and hung at Gallery 300 in Sebastopol CA, yesterday. The inspiration for this piece came from an entry in my sketchbook from some time ago that said only this: This is Now, this is Today – Yesterday is gone – Tomorrow is not yet here – What shall I do? – Who shall I be?
Lucky, my sweet old dog of 15 plus years died Friday and my heart is has cracked open…again. I thought maybe this loss would be easier but its not really. When you love someone, even a little dog, the bargain you make going in is that it will end one way or another and there will be heart break. But the sadness doesn’t mean the love wasn’t worth the loss. It is. Love is worth the loss.
Rest in peace little friend I’m so glad I got to be your companion human. You taught me about being in the moment, that sometimes sniffing around where you’re not supposed to can bring unexpected treasure, that wagging is always better than barking, and most of all how to love unconditionally.
This past week my extended family gathered to help pack up my mom’s life in the sprawling home she built with my father some 30 years ago to move into a two-room apartment at the back of my house. Needless to say, this means things need to be let go. This wasn’t a sudden decision, so my mom has had over 6 months to start sorting into three piles: keep, give away, dump. At the beginning my mom was reluctant to let some precious items go even though she knew she wouldn’t use them because frankly she didn’t use them now. Things like a porcelain tea pot my grandma made that was shoved in the back of a cupboard for 30 years since the last move, old photo albums with unidentified pictures, my dad’s report cards from middle school. When you have space you just fill the void but moving forces a cleansing especially a move like this one. My Mom read “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter”. This book helped her a lot to let things go, she tried to pass things on to family but there are just some things nobody wants and those just had to go.
I even had a reckoning of my own in this cleaning process. When my parents moved to this past home they told we three children that they would store a foot lockers worth of items in their attic. They give us each a small trunk and at 18 looking at the precious items in my bedroom I chose the things that were sacred and special to me then. The pile of dolls pictured above is a collection from my sister and I’s trunks. I also saved a vast stack of Cricket Magazines, for some reason the stories and art in those magazines were prized to me at one time but for the life of me now I couldn’t fathom why I’d kept them for over 35 years. There were the a bean bag dolls called Larry Legs that my Grandma made and a red metal cash register. In the end I only kept the red cash register and even that I’m not sure why.
It’s interesting what we save. Some things out of inertia – it gets put on a shelf on a whim and never touched again till moving day. Other things we wrap in velvet and ribbon a put in our underwear drawer for safe keeping- love letters, old photos, wedding garments – proof of our youth and wild ways. But mostly it’s just stuff, pretty stuff, interesting stuff but in the end just stuff. One day to be put into three piles: keep, give away, dump.
I’m grateful my mom is coming to live with me. It will be a beautiful, joyous, maddening, wonderful, difficult transition. But she and I are both up to the challenge, both ready to hold on to what really matters – love of course – the rest, as we all know, is really just stuff.
I’m teaching a two-day Encaustic Collage workshop this weekend at The Bishop’s Ranch where I am the Resident Artist. This class is one I’ve taught many times, so I have a good idea of how to organize the space and materials for success. One thing that I think makes everybody happy is to have things arranged and ready to get creative. While the creative process itself can sometimes feel magical and loose, for me at least, the magic comes from having everything in order, so my mind is free to be inspired. I try hard to give that balance to my students too, I want everything to be at their fingertips with stimulating materials and careful demos to guide them to finding their genuine, creative voice in a new medium. Wish me and my 12 art adventurers luck!
In the busy mix of the weekend I’ll try to take some action shots of my students at work to share at the end of the weekend. Hope you make some time for your creative self too!
I was talking to a dear friend this week who is on sabbatical for three months from her highly demanding work as an episcopal parish priest in a large parish on the east coast. When I asked her what she was doing on her sabbatical she said jokingly but somewhat wistfully said “waiting for a vision”. She is ready for a change but not sure what or how or where. I know that feeling. We’ve all had it and always the question is what is the right next thing? I’ll tell you honestly I have never had a vision, I have never been totally clear of my next step, I have never been 100% confident that the path I’m on is the right one and yet I continue to wander on. I guess I’m comforted by the fact that every time a wander down an unknown path there is always another fork along the way. That this path I’ve chosen today has side paths and loops and other meanders. That’s all to say I just keep walking, sometimes it feels like I’m totally in the dark but I keep walking – vision or no vision.
I know I’ve talked to you all before about my rejection therapy approach to career development but it’s worth repeating here. I set a goal to be rejected every day in big ways and small ways. Start with the small ways like in the grocery store parking lot instead of walking the cart to the rack ask the person who just drove up if they want it… that doesn’t seem like much because it isn’t the worst thing that happen if they say no thanks or look at me weird and I have to walk the cart to the rack. But that little rejection therapy session just got me ready to submit an article to magazine for publication I ask myself “what is the worst thing that can happen?” well the answer of course is nothing happens -literally nothing- they don’t publish my article and guess what if I don’t send in the article they can’t publish the thing I didn’t do…. you get the idea it’s a bit of a “just do it” mantra. No visions required – say yes to yourself even if you don’t know how it will work out. Wander down a path even if you can’t see around the next bend, there is something there – just keep moving!
Here are a few rejection therapy things that have I’ve got in the works: continued freelance writing for Quilting Arts and Cloth,Paper, Scissors Magazines. I have a wonderful 5 page spread in the latest issue of Quilting Arts and an another article coming out in the Fall. I’ll be teaching at Craft Napa again in 2019, I’m in conversation with the Quilting Company to develop an online series of courses for them. I’m opening a gallery with three other women in Sebastopol, teaching at quilt guilds and retreat centers on and on…. I just keep moving I’m looking forward to seeing what is around the next bend.