Racing and Hunting

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Early on a late September morning: foggy, damp, warm but a slight chill lingers. A very quiet town: also very dark. Slowly a few cars creep along the streets: coming, going, searching, watching. It is the time when everyone and everything is calming down and people don’t seem to know what to do with themselves. Rushing here, running there, overexerting energies to fill now empty spaces.

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The five colors blind the eye.

The five tones deafen the ear.

The five flavors dull the taste.

Racing and hunting madden the mind.

Precious things lead one astray.

Therefore the sage is guided by what he feels and not by what he sees.

He lets go of that and chooses this.

I Believe In You

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Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no; it is an ever-fixed mark, 
That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks 
Within his bending sickle’s compass come; 
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, 
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
   If this be error and upon me proved,
   I never writ, nor no man ever loved. 

Sonnet 116

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Tonight, I watched the sun set over the ocean. It spread lavender and navy and peach and magenta red light out over the horizon and washed the clouds, bathed them in color. I looked up at the clock and noticed it was 7:15: we have already lost a full hour of daylight. I noticed one branch of maple leaves was bright red against the remaining green ones stretching up to the roof of my building. This morning, I woke up to a breeze blowing through my windows. I had kicked off a blanket last night and woke up cold: it was a fall morning.

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Life is a constantly changing mystery; but if you start to pay attention, the good floats to the top, until it’s all you want to see.

 

 

Serenades From The Street

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There are two young men in my town who I watch and listen to from my top floor windows. They are always together: one fair and one dark. One always carries a black guitar case diagonally across his back, and sometimes they play songs together under my windows, on the heavy wood and concrete bench that is set on the street.

They must live down the road from me, but I don’t know where. I introduced myself to them one night when I walked almost into them on my way home from a night out. They are very young, very exuberant: funny even.

There are three large windows in my bedroom, and the sashes split the landscape: above is the sky, and below is the town. Outside, people skateboard at night; I think the corner must be a really good space for spinning yourself around on a skateboard. People walk to this corner at the ends of evenings and yell into the space, seemingly just to create an echo and a noise. Since many people howl and scream over here, on this corner of Bar Harbor, I take it as just a part of this section of town. In daytime, it is covered with so many people that they are like ants coursing around each other in a seemingly neverending wave of ice-cream eating, picture-taking humanity. It is funny to watch the families together:how sometimes their clothes match, sometimes they themselves match, as if they have morphed into pieces of one creature and are no longer separate people.

My top floor windows are a magical peepshow of this town as no one can see me looking at them: I hide so far up above the street that no one could see me unless I were to lean out and point out to them that I am there. At night, on the old couch that was brought into this room almost one hundred years ago by pulleys and ropes, through these same windows that I now stare through, I look out at the street corner, at the streetlights, at the people stumbling along.

For only a few short weeks more will I be able to see the waves of people that spill by this house every single day as even now, the days are growing shorter and the light is changing and the inevitability of fall is felt in crisp breezes at night. Days are still warm, hot even, but the nights betray the cooling of the air, the bend of the sunlight shifting into the strange movement of this place into autumn, with its changing leaves and riotous colors, to cold, and into the dark.

In the dark, and sometimes in the daylight, for now, though, I will continue to watch the two young men, the drunk couples, the skateboarding teenagers, the ice cream eaters and lobster lovers, the families on vacation in Maine, and appreciate them and wonder about them from a large, open room, on the third floor of a very old house.

 

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“Some luck lies in not getting what you thought you wanted but getting what you have, which once you have it you may be smart enough to see is what you would have wanted had you known. ”

Garrison Keillor 

In The Light

“At last I began to realize . . . that I needed some kind of inner peace, or inward retirement, or whatever name it might be called by. . . . I began to realize that prayer was not a formality or an obliga- tion; it was a place which was there all the time and always available. “

- Elfrida Vipont Foulds

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I was standing on the village green the other night, eating hot chile chocolate ice cream in the dark, and staring through the front windows of a shop at the woman working inside. She was dusting and rearranging, and sighing, and wondering where all the people were.

I was on the phone with my friend, listening to her cry and cry and worry and be frustrated at her own emotions and wondering why she couldn’t be the strong person, the person others could depend on in moments of crisis, anymore. I listened and tried to tell stories or relate other events to her experience, but mostly, I just listened to her and asked her to try to stay present, to not worry so much, and to take some time off.

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“Yes. There definitely is a certain attraction.”

This morning, I was sitting in the grass of the Masonic Hall, drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes in the early morning, hot summer light. On the sidewalk, two ladies walked past us in running shoes and pastel-colored athletic tops and ball caps: they walked with purpose. I sat in the grass, listening to my friend relate her spring and early summer to me, ruminating on families and relationships. I think we both were wondering how any of us ends up where we are, and how it can be so confusing. I chose to listen, and smell the freshly cut grass, and think about all the small bugs crawling under our thighs in the grass.

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“Don’t get officious. You’re not yourself when you’re officious: that’s the curse of a government job.”

This evening, I sat in my friend’s impermanent abode, a small cottage in Hulls Cove, a perfect summer rental with IKEA furniture and well-styled cutlery, eating curried haddock and rice, and listened to him lament the island, its problems, its inadequacies. He constantly asked me why…and I had no answer for him other than that there is reason that this place was once called Eden.

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“Harold, everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can’t let the world judge you too much.”

I have been writing here for almost two years; two years ago, I was living in the basement of my parent’s house, in a giant tent made of old sheets and scarves and curtains and mosquito nets that I made one day with one of my oldest friends. I spent my days knitting and watching movies and occasionally going outside into the light, only to retreat again into the dark. After awhile, I began to live in a house in a tiny town called Seal Harbor, and then left on a wild adventure, only to come back to the House that Floats in Northeast Harbor.

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“See, some are smaller, some are fatter, some grow to the left, some to the right, some even have lost some petals. All *kinds* of observable differences. You see, Harold, I feel that much of the world’s sorrow comes from people who are *this* [points to a daisy], and allow themselves to be treated as that [points to the field of daisies].”

So….after two years, and what feels like a lifetime of reflection, how does one make the switch from a person who stands, bewildered and gaping at the power of all of it, at the profundity of life here, of the connections to nature and to other people, now change to a person that listens to others who are experiencing something similar? The perspective shifts from one of intense self-focus to one of a listening ear: a person who sits on lawns and decks, who holds the phone close, who feels, finally, able to be the listener instead of the speaker.

Tomorrow is a day of tomato plants and irises, of jewelry-making, of sunshine, of light, of hoping that all who have shared their consternation with me this past week will take the time to look up, look at the clouds, feel the wind, smell the lilacs on the breeze, and hold themselves in the light.

“For me, prayer is more about listening than talking. “

-  Deborah Fisch

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“Oh Harold…that’s wonderful. Go out and love some more.”

Formidable From A Distance

Still glaring
from the city lights
Into paradise I soared
Unable to come down
For reasons I’d ignored.

Total confusion,
Disillusion
New things I’m knowin’.

I’m standing on the shoreline
It’s so fine out there
Leaving with the wind blowing
But love takes care.

Know me, know me
Show me, show me
New things I’m knowin’.

Wind blowing through my sails
It feels like I’m gone
Leaving with the wind blowing
Through my sails. — Neil Young

“I have learned that if you must leave a place that you have lived in and loved and where all your yesteryears are buried deep, leave it any way except a slow way, leave it the fastest way you can. Never turn back and never believe that an hour you remember is a better hour because it is dead. Passed years seem safe ones, vanquished ones, while the future lives in a cloud, formidable from a distance.”

- Beryl Markham

A Spirit Balanced on the Edge

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Bene vixit bene latiti

Having just returned from another Haystack weekend, this one punctuated by instructional time and seeing friends and delicious food and kinetic jewelry and assemblage sculptures, I am sitting here, on a cool spring night, thinking about the hidden things and secret places. photo 2

Artists at Work – MeCA

When I was in middle school, my brother played a lot of little league baseball, and despite my lack of connection to the game, I would attend all of his games and wander around the ballparks eating purple sno-cones. (Purple was my favorite color and flavor). I remember walking through dusty patches of ground, kicking at the sprouts of bermuda grass desperately clinging to life amidst the parched nature of East Texas summertime, I remember my red All Stars, and I remember how the grape syrup would leak out and around the waxed paper cone that held the ice and cover my hand with sugary sweetness: the stickiness would linger until I could find a bathroom in which to wash my hands. photo 4

A New Machinist’s Box

One afternoon, as the baseball games played on in the background, I found myself standing and staring down into a storm drain: one of those giant square openings in the ground that are covered in a cast iron grate with many square shaped holes. At the bottom, I noticed something glimmering in the Texas sunshine. I sat, then squatted, then lay on my young belly, All Stars pointed straight out, jeans collecting dust and dirt as I gazed intently downward. At the bottom lay something golden, that I was sure of. Always the fan of a challenge, I unlaced my shoes and tied my two shoelaces together to see if they would reach the bottom. They did, but no closer to my goal was I until I went to one of the snack stands and secured a paper clip from an obliging ballpark worker. Slowly, carefully, with much focus, I hooked the golden ring onto the bottom of the paperclip and edged it up, through the grate, and into my young hand. photo 1

The Beauty in the Simple – Copper Embossed with Miscanthus

Here was a golden ring, wide, a man’s ring to be sure, with a clear stone in the center. Its surface was brushed and dinged, as if it had traveled quite a distance and been smoothed down by silt and water and the innards of pipes. I put it in my pocket, and later the drawer in the bathroom that held mysterious treasures, and occasionally I would pull it out, look at it carefully, and hide it, again. photo

Ineffable

Many years later, as a lab assistant at a biotechnology company, I became friends with a person who came to work on Halloween with a purple tshirt on. The tshirt had a black P made with electrical tape and he had blackened his eye with shoe polish. When I asked him what he was, he answered, matter of factly, “A Black-Eyed Pea”. This was the beginning of a friendship that included motorcycle rides on a thin-bodied Harley Davidson painted with iridescent flames, camping trips in Austin, Mexican restaurants in downtown Houston, swing dancing, road trips through the deep South, visits to gem and jewelry shows, and my first experiences making jewelry. My friendship with this person introduced me to city life and all its hidden places: a coffee shop in Houston named Not Su Oh, dances at the Last Concert Cafe, midnight picnics in the gardens of the Contemporary Arts Museum, hula hooping at Stubbs Cafe, following music through Pace Bend Park to find a man with an envelope full of strips of psychedelic magic, and people with patios full of pots of baby peyote cactus. photo 3

Swoon at Space Gallery in Portland, Maine

Mere months ago, I reconnected with that friend after an absence of several years; in fact, we had not spoken to each other in probably twelve years. He called me during my last few days of living in the tiny house, and as we spoke, his voice transported me back to those days when we spent so much time together. I remembered his kitchen and making pasta in his stainless steel pots, his velveteen couches, his old Mustang with the hood pins, our visit to fortune tellers in New Orleans, and him teaching me the basics of jewelry making at a small bench in the corner of his living room. I remembered us making a ring together dotted with sunstones, three in an offset row. In fact, it was he who had the ring I had found all those years before appraised, only to find that my ballpark treasure was a solid gold ring set with a large diamond. photo 5Now, after many of life’s twists and turns, and the holding on to curios and treasures that help us mark time, but mostly help us remember the hidden and secret moments, I am struck by how important those little things are, those signposts that help you remember moments in your lover’s bed when the only thing that existed was the two of you and the rain outside and the brass bell cast in sand that lay on the bedside table, or the box covered with peeling paint and filled with prisms that was given to you solely because you asked for them, or the old mirror from India your father brought to you when you were five and you have held so many times in the same place that the enamel has worn off as if to mark the place your thumb belongs. These are the hidden places, the secrets, the markers that bear no explanation except as memories for ourselves. photo 1 How do we know what is valuable and what is transitory? How do we know what is treasure and what is trash? We, as the magpies that we certainly are, cherish these tiny, priceless, useless, beautiful things. They make up the palimpsest of our lives: layers and layers of love and loss and memory and change. We collect, we gather, we hold up to the light: we categorize and place, carefully. We make a puzzle picture of  a life, decorating it was we go with baubles: with strange and lovely secret things. photo 4

If Not Now, When? If Not You, Who?

Assemblage Sculpture 

Found Objects, Glass, Copper, Paper, Epoxy, Beach Stone

Viva La Vida

Frida Kahlo and Pet Hawk

I have been in radio silence now for quite a while; there are various reason for this, but mostly life just keeps getting in the way of delivering my musings to you here. I have a slew of stories to tell about sailing the Caribbean in Panama, as well as reflections on the ending of my second winter in Maine, as well as new developments in the art-sphere, namely a new studio in a magical place that has been a stomping ground of mine since I was a little girl.

But, for today, for all we have is today….some musings and ideas from two of my favorite artists, that will propel us all forth this second week in April, in the year 2014, my thirtieth year of spending time on this small island that I know call home.

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The Portrait of Alicia Galant (1927) was the first painting of Frida Kahlo’s that made me pause. I was a very young girl of maybe 10 when my best friend’s mom dragged she and I to the Houston Museum of Fine Arts to see the exhibit of a painter who, before that moment, was unknown to me. I remember spending many minutes gazing at this painting because it felt, to me, as if it was alive and glimmering: velvety and viscous, dark and deep set in the night.

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“Feet, for what do I need you, for I have wings to fly?” has been a motto of mine, especially during the metamorphosis of the last two years. I find that holding on to dreams, and trusting that when you  leap, you will land somewhere far better than where you started, and of course, just keeping going, one foot in front of the other, is what will propel you forward to a happier life that is full of intentional actions versus reactions to simple circumstance.

Today, I read this quote from another of my inspirations, Anais Nin, and thought to include it here as a musing on the doubtful part of the creative life: those dark corners of the psyche or even your apartment, when the doubts or fears or seeming impossibilities of what you are doing seem overwhelming. It seems to me that anyone embarking on the creative path will discover these dark corners of themselves; the trick, I think, is to channel those into more making, more artwork, more writing, more pause to understand the temporary nature of each passing moment, so that the creativity can continue, rather than be stifled by the “shoulds” and “should nots” of our cultural world.

“You must not fear, hold back, count or be a miser with your thoughts and feelings. It is also true that creation comes from an overflow, so you have to learn to intake, to imbibe, to nourish yourself and not be afraid of fullness. The fullness is like a tidal wave which then carries you, sweeps you into experience and into writing. Permit yourself to flow and overflow, allow for the rise in temperature, all the expansions and intensifications. Something is always born of excess: great art was born of great terrors, great loneliness, great inhibitions, instabilities, and it always balances them. If it seems to you that I move in a world of certitudes, you, par contre, must benefit from the great privilege of youth, which is that you move in a world of mysteries. But both must be ruled by faith.”

Lastly this morning, as I wrap up this scattershot of musings on a Wednesday, gazing outside the window at an early spring day, daydreaming of this afternoon’s visit to the new studio, and thinking about planting pear and black walnut trees on a 5 acre swathe of land on the Breakneck Road, my feelings keep coming back to the idea, that without the sense of love for yourself and others, that no dreams or beauty or art or peace or sense of tranquility is truly possible. May we all be lucky enough to have people that encourage us to find this feeling each day, in those temporary, fleeting moments. They are, after all, what ties us to our earth-bound experiences, and to each other.

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