This is one of the benefits of living in the City of Angels. In January, we had heavy rain and cool weather. Never mind that today is hot and sunny and the clothes are drying quickly on the clothesline. The boon is that the garden is bursting with pansies, snap dragons and petunias. These were planted just after the garden beds were cleaned up from our summer crops. They suffered a bit through November and December, but now the beds are bursting with color.
Friday, January 30, 2009
Posted by Alberta Art Classes at 5:24 PM
Cloony The Clown by Shel Silverstein
I'll tell you the story of Cloony the Clown
Who worked in a circus that came through town.
His shoes were too big and his hat was too small,
But he just wasn't, just wasn't funny at all.
He had a trombone to play loud silly tunes,
He had a green dog and a thousand balloons.
He was floppy and sloppy and skinny and tall,
But he just wasn't, just wasn't funny at all.
And every time he did a trick,
Everyone felt a little sick.
And every time he told a joke,
Folks sighed as if their hearts were broke.
And every time he lost a shoe,
Everyone looked awfully blue.
And every time he stood on his head,
Everyone screamed, "Go back to bed!"
And every time he made a leap,
Everybody fell asleep.
And every time he ate his tie,
Everyone began to cry.
And Cloony could not make any money
Simply because he was not funny.
One day he said, "I'll tell this town
How it feels to be an unfunny clown."
And he told them all why he looked so sad,
And he told them all why he felt so bad.
He told of Pain and Rain and Cold,
He told of Darkness in his soul,
And after he finished his tale of woe,
Did everyone cry? Oh no, no, no,
They laughed until they shook the trees
With "Hah-Hah-Hahs" and "Hee-Hee-Hees."
They laughed with howls and yowls and shrieks,
They laughed all day, they laughed all week,
They laughed until they had a fit,
They laughed until their jackets split.
The laughter spread for miles around
To every city, every town,
Over mountains, 'cross the sea,
From Saint Tropez to Mun San Nee.
And soon the whole world rang with laughter,
Lasting till forever after,
While Cloony stood in the circus tent,
With his head drooped low and his shoulders bent.
And he said,"THAT IS NOT WHAT I MEANT -
I'M FUNNY JUST BY ACCIDENT."
And while the world laughed outside.
Cloony the Clown sat down and cried.
Posted by Alberta Art Classes at 2:39 PM
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
A few Sundays ago, we were driving along Colorado Boulevard. As we passed the large parking lot of the community college, I noticed that it was filled with vendors. We have lived in Southern California for some time now and we are in close proximity to two large flea markets. I went to the Rose Bowl Flea Market the first year we lived here. Although it was fun and I found a few nice items, the crowds put me off.
Friday, January 23, 2009
I have been fortunate in my life that each morning, without fail, the sun has risen. There was a time when I rose with that sun, joy-filled and with a spring in my step. I have always had a roof over my head, good, healthy food to eat and warm blankets when I was cold. I even had a fan when the temperature was too much to bear. In all, it has been a blessed life.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
I have been busy in doctor's waiting rooms, post offices and other places when I have a moment to spare. Much of the LOVE piece was done while our dear friend was playing the guitar at our table. Rhythmic creating as he put it.
Posted by Alberta Art Classes at 11:17 AM
I spent MLK day picking up trash along the ocean. Our President called us to duty and I was happy to respond. The thing is, I always pick up trash at the shore, but this day I did it with more purpose and felt a part of a community of people looking toward the future of our country. I feel grateful to live in a place that on January 20, the beach is filled with surfers, swimmers, lovers, new parents and pirates.
There were boats along the horizon and a warm wind blowing our hair. Off in the distance was Santa Monica Pier and a different kind of recreation, ferris wheels and roller coasters, you could hear the glee all the way down the beach. Holidays and sunshine, service and community, breath and life...
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Praise Song for the Day
we go about our business,
walking past each other,
catching each other's eyes,
About to speak, or speaking.
All about us is noise.
All about us is noise and bramble,
thorn and din, each one of our ancestors
on our tongues.
Someone is stitching up a hem,
darning a hole in a uniform.
patching a tire.
Repairing the things in need of repair.
Someone is trying to make music somewhere
with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum,
with cello, boom-box, harmonica, voice.
A woman and her son wait for the bus.
A farmer considers the changing sky.
A teacher says, "Take out your pencils.
We encounter each other in words,
words spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed.
Words to consider, reconsider.
We cross dirt roads and highways
that mark the will of someone
and then others who said,
"I need to see what's on the other side.
I know there's something better down the road.
We need to find a place where we are safe."
We walk into that which we cannot yet see.
Say it plain: That many have died for this day.
Sing the names of the dead who brought us here,
who laid the train tracks,
raised the bridges,
picked the cotton and the lettuce,
built, brick by brick, the glittering edifices
they would then keep clean and work inside of.
Praise song for struggle.
Praise song for the day.
Praise song for every hand-lettered sign,
the figuring it out at kitchen tables.
Some live by "Love thy neighbor as thyself."
Others by "First, do no harm,"
or "Take no more than you need."
What if the mightiest word
Love beyond marital, filial, national.
Love that casts a widening pool of light.
Love with no need to pre-empt grievance.
In today's sharp sparkle, this
winter air, any thing can be made,
any sentence begun.
On the brink,
on the brim,
on the cusp,
praise song for walking forward in that light.
— Elizabeth Alexander
Posted by Alberta Art Classes at 4:48 PM
Sunday, January 18, 2009
We have had unseasonably warm weather here in the City of Angels. Bright and clear skies, there were numerous star sightings two nights ago. Not such a big deal in Montana, but here in the southern regions of California, a clear glimpse at Orion's belt is cause for pause.
Friday, January 16, 2009
This is one of the last paintings I completed. I have had torn feelings about it. Did Joan succumb to the flames or did she transcend the flames? I feel as though I need to answer this question to find some peace in the turmoil of my own life.
I can never resist the green stalks of the daffodils at Trader Joe's. I don't even look at the price. I just buy three or four bundles at a time. There is something about the tightly closed buds that bloom into sunshine as soon as I get home and put them in a jug of water. The environmental activist in me cringes a little when I think of how far these flowers have traveled to reach me, all the petrol and resources, etc. Yet, that voice is silenced as I scoop up a handful of daffodils. After reading The Flower Confidential by Amy Stewart, I am ever mindful of what it takes for a bunch of flowers to travel to our local florist or supermarket. I try to fill the house with flowers and greens from the yard, but the daffodil, and the peony, always tug at my heart. So here are the first of the daffodils to grace our house this year. Enjoy!
I Wander'd lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretch'd in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed -- and gazed -- but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
By William Wordsworth (1770-1850).
Posted by Alberta Art Classes at 3:15 PM
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
I have been suffering from extreme peaks and valleys of emotion. I never had this experience before. I have had others, but not this one. Some days I get out of bed and tend to chores and maybe even do a little handwork or sewing. Other days, the blueness sinks down into my soul and limbs and I find it hard to get out of bed. I sink down under the covers, surrounded by pillows and cover my face from the bright world outside of my window. I never want to leave the bed. I force myself into the shower as the hour approaches when everyone returns home. I try to look like I have been productive. Sometimes I make a nice dinner to fool everyone. After dinner it is all I can do to stay out of the bed. There have been many days when I look at the clock and think, "Is 6:30 too early to go to bed?"
Today was one of the later days. I had an appointment at 1:30 and was forced to leave the house. I showered and dressed and drove downtown. All I could think of was how I guilty I felt for wasting the day away. I should be sewing, or cleaning, or reading, or painting.
I had a terrifying realization today. I am afraid to paint. I am afraid of what I will paint. The last two major paintings I completed seemed to manifest themselves in my life. I painted the Crucifixion of Christ and The Burning of Joan Of Arc. I am afraid of what I will paint now. I have felt crucified recently, I have felt as though I have been burned at the stake. So, I am afraid. Afraid of what will come.
Maybe I will sew instead...
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
We have been enjoying the full moon and how close it is to us the past few nights. This is often called the Wolf Moon, as this is the time of year when the wolves would gather outside the villages and howl at the moon. The wolves are silent here in the City of Angels these days and rarely travel in packs. However, I am still moved by the close proximity of the favorite of my celestial bodies.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
After a very trying day on Thursday, I spent the morning with my legs up and resting. There was tea and toast, long overdue thank you notes and a brief trip to the Norton Simon Museum. The afternoon ended with a dear, young poet singing his latest collection of songs at our table.
Friday, January 9, 2009
I am feeling stripped from the inside out this morning. I feel empty and torn and gray. What I know and have always known is that one must have courage for the truth. I have tried to walk this path for many a year. Have courage for the truth. Have courage for the truth. It is selfish really. Mostly, it is so I can review the end of my day and know that at least I tried to be truthful. I am certain, the truth is all that matters. It comes out, even when others lie and confidently spread falsehoods. Perhaps not everyone is able to see it or experience it, but one can feel it. You feel it so deeply in your soul that you cannot doubt the power of it, the truth.
Yesterday I was surrounded by individuals that I would otherwise choose to steer clear of in my daily life. Yet, somehow, my path is intersecting with theirs at this moment in time. My mantra is always, be full of grace, be full of grace. Yet, I was witness to so much bad behavior by adults. When did we humans begin to abandon the manners we learned as children. I was surrounded by professional adults who were rolling their eyes, guffawing, snickering and lying. At one point, I was fighting the desire to stand up and look at each of these grown-ups directly in the eye and say, "You have bad manners!"
I don't know how they slept last night. I didn't. I tried hard to release it, to decompress, but my back ached from sitting so long, from watching grown-ups strip away my hope in humanity. I would rather surround myself with children. They have manners, they usually speak the truth, at least the children I know. They could teach this group of grown-ups a thing or two regarding nobility, chivalry and having courage for the truth.
I am going to be kind to myself today. I will care for my aching, healing body. I will attempt to soothe my tattered insides and forgive myself for judging others so harshly. In the meantime, I turn to Miss Mary Oliver, who often helps to soothe my soul...
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting--
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
© Mary Oliver
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Today is the Feast of the Epiphany. I went to a Catholic school that was named in honor of this feast day. As a child, my impressions of the spiritual world were completely colored by the teachings of the Catholic faith. I must admit, there is a soft part of my heart that honors the ritual and pomp of organized religion. I adored going to church and continued to go alone after the rest of my family abandoned the Sunday morning ritual. I would walk to church alone, I would sit alone and I would pray so hard my face surely looked pinched from my concentration. I was a believer.
Saturday, January 3, 2009
The tree has been recycled, the vintage ornaments are wrapped and tucked away. The nutcracker is back in his box and all the signs of the holiday are safely put away until next season. I must say, after a difficult Christmas last year, this season was filled with light and cheer. Last year I was confined to my bed, unable to walk and unsure of what was wrong. It has been such a joy to be an active participant in our life again.
The flying cloud, the frosty light:
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.
Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more;
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.
Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.
Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in.
Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.
Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.
Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.