Tuesday, December 29, 2009

If A Tree Falls in the Forest

and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? Well of course not, I would answer, qualifying the answer by including birds and other hearing critters among the absentees. The falling tree would create the vibrations that we and such critters would interpret as sound if we were there, I would add, while putting aside such matters as the transmission of these vibrations across great (or small) distances to other sentient beings who might or might not be hearing the sound
Soooooooooo if a tree falls in the backyard of a sentient being and said sentient being ignores it, what happens? It returns to the dirt that birthed it, I would say and I offer the photo at the left as proof. I would remiss if I failed to point out the caribiner and chain attached to the tree trunk about two thirds of the way up. This was not an unloved tree, though we did not hear it falling. It held up one end of one of our two (much loved hammocks).

All this is prelude to The Presentation of The Moss. I like my back yard look of winter. Instead of the white coldness of snow, I get the sometimes moist greenness of moss. It reminds me of a summer visit to Amsterdam

in my 20's; the moss remains my second most vivid memory of the
city. And so, more pictures of moss, all of them clickable because they are so cool. The last one shows the remaining

hammock which will soon be stored in deference to winter's fierceness, Northern California style.

On a totally other subject, Thursday will begin my 5th week of on-track eating. I have been writing about this in my newest blog, Onwards: 11/11/09 to 11/11/11. I had not planned to provide a link to this blog until I'd reached 185 pounds, the weight at which I started Onwards, Getting Rid of the Regain on September 29, 2005. My current weight is considerably higher, but I feel confident that the only thing that now stands between me and my size tens is time. I invite you to join me as I narrow the distance from here to there.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Wisdom From A Friend

My friend, Lesley Wolfetwain, wrote this when reflecting upon the Solstice. It resonates with me and expresses my wishes for my friends and family and for all of us human inhabitants of this planet.

Tomorrow morning the sun rises at its lowest point. The day after, it begins to rise, to promise spring and summer. For our ancestors, a time to rejoice. We have forgotten that joy; that the cycle of the seasons means the crops will grow again and there will be life for another year.

So I wish you all the joy of that knowledge of life. Of those things that make life beautiful; the love of friends and family, the laughter of stories and tales from our personal histories, the memory of those gone on from this world, and the dreams and hopes for tomorrow. Remember also the glory of Earth herself, the amazing physical structure of the land and water and the myriad of life that lives with us on this small planet in the dark of space. We are so blessed with this world, this special place that somehow gave humankind the chance to be what we are. That we can live and love and treasure that life.

Tonight go out into the night, look to the sky but also feel the earth in your hands. Whatever your faith, send a thank-you to the universe for what you have.

And know I love all of you very much.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Joyful Creation

I had originally entitled this post "Liberation (from The Cosmos) Finally!!!" Then I preloaded the pictures that I intended to use with it and came away with unexpected feelings. I will start this post as I'd initially thought I would, with the whoa-is-me weariness of a project that grew and grew until it absorbed too much of my time and threatened to smother me. In true narcissistic fashion, I have installed the pictures that include me or my project at full power so that the detail is available with a click of your mouse, while reducing all the others.

These pictures show the pain that I am willing to endure for Art (spoken with a tongue-in-cheek pretentiousness). They also demonstrate a certain idiotic perseverance. I could have reduced the extent of the scratches on my hands and arms with the judicious and arms with the judicious use of masking tape. Though the amount of time that I spent working on The Cosmos since my last post exceeded 50 or 60 hours, I couldn't be bothered with spending less than an hour to make it safer.

One of the most satisfying parts of my project was the involvement of The Public. As I wrote in my December 3rd post, all objects except for the glass "stars" were made mostly by kidlets, but also by some adults, at the Sculpture Jammer week-end on October 3rd and 4th. I felt a strong commitment to include everything that they made in the finished Cosmos. Securing them to the window screen that I used to create "the fabric of The Cosmos," to use the title of Brian Greene's wonderful book on the subject, took eons of time. The attachment had to be strong enough to withstand my rugged handling as well as whatever nature will throw at it in its outdoor setting. Many pieces were complicated creations and had to be virtually sewn on to the screening. I spent about 3 1/2 hours trying to secure in a prominent position an "alien" that a woman spent at least 40 minutes making. The final position is indeed prominent, but the alien is irrevocably deformed. Were I ever to do a project like this again (which is to say "Were I ever to totally lose my mind"), I would know that the intended back should be secured first and the pieces in the front should go in last. There is a very good reason that I didn't plan to do this, yet the intended back (which is slightly smaller) ended up being the actual front. (Have I lost you all yet??) If I'd have known that this would happen, I would have had to spend significantly less time on the alien and the alien would not have gotten deformed. The (clickable) picture above and to the left is the intended front, while the (clickable) one to the right of it is what ended up being the front.

Another satisfying part of this experience is that my involvement was with the Sculpture Jammers, a group of other creative people who committed themselves to the larger project. What we intended to do was create a meditation space honoring "the elements." My idea in creating The Cosmos was not just to create the material aspect of stars and the like, but to also give a sense of unseen forces like gravitational and electromagnetic fields and the space-time continuum. The (clickable) picture is of Susandra, who helped me create the container (I'm sorry that I can't think of a better word) for The Cosmos. Susandra is a sculptress who works with welding metals; her knowledge and experience saved me numerous missteps. Other sculptures in the meditation space honor the sun, the moon, fire, and wind. The pictures are of these other pieces and of some of the artists who worked on them.

The meditation space came about through the brainstorming and work of the group as a whole. After I loaded these pictures, I began to think of the experience of the people who would come upon our creation with no expectations of seeing expectations of seeing anything there. I smiled as I imagined this. Before this, I was satisfied but disappointed with what I and what we had created. I saw many flaws in The Cosmos. The meditation space looked ordinary to me, a result most probably of working the nitty gritty of it over the course of many months. When I imagined how this would look to passersby or people just out for some fun in the park where the project is now installed, I saw it with new eyes. And I smiled and felt joy.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Bottom of the Barrel Thrift Shops

The pix this time are clickable, partly because I wanted viewers to be able to see the detail, partly because I'm feeling too lazy to reduce them.

I scored large on Thursday's excursion to the downest and dirtiest of the thrift shops. My friend, Linda, and I first set our sights on The Dump, literally. My prizes there, for 25 cents, were the stuffed mouse and the webbed something at the top left of the photo, not such a bargain when the cost of gas to get to this out-of-the-way disposal site is added in. My much larger prize was all of the other stuff on the table, some of it under other stuff, which I got at the bottom of the barrel Goodwill, the place where stuff that hasn't been sold at the regular Goodwill stores goes. My prizes included toys for Maddie and stuff that I'll use to make other stuff. Also some very nice placemats and a strainer (unseen). The purchase price for the whole pile was $4.

Did I mention the stones and glass? They, like the stuffed animals, are on the placemats that I found there. Linda had told me that the sales clerks often make a flat fee offer rather than pricing items individually so, when I saw the stones and glass, I just threw them into the box that I was using. I find it absolutely invigorating to discover these marvelous virtually free treasures. Perhaps it is the pirate in me that so enjoys these finds. I am a pirate and also a recycler.

After Linda and I parted, I scored this book at one of the nicer thrift shops. At $1.25, it certainly is a bargain. Compared to my $4 piracy though, it's outrageously over-priced. I purchased the hat on Wednesday at a rather pricey thrift/consignment shop. At $12, it cost more than twice as much as all these other purchases. The people who bring their stuff for this shop to sell get 40% of the proceeds and the shop gets 60%. I'll keep it in mind for the times when I need to get rid of clothes that have gotten too big for me. I've been on low cal track for a week and a half and am feeling resolutely optimistic. The biggest score of all, unbeatable I imagine, is the freebie that Rachael found for me at Deborah's semi-annual clothing exchange. The shawl/jacket (pictured at the beginning of this post) has a certain flair to it. It's not something I'd buy in a regular store at a regular price, but I like it a lot.

After thrift shopping on Thursday, I made a brief stop at Macy's. I bought the sleep socks and regular socks that were on my list and a warm sweater that was not. The socks were on sale with an additional $15 off for using my Macy's card. The sweater was 50% off with an additional 20% off for using my Macy's card. I did well, but was without the thrill of piracy. Aye, it's good to be a pirate.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Conversation With My (Wonderful) Hubby

It is now 1:05 p.m. I had planned to start working on The Cosmos at 10 a.m. I've been at the computer doing necessary stuff for the last couple of hours, but before then I was camped out on the family room couch, also known as "The Trap." Here is the conversation with my hubby as I finally got up to do something productive.

Me: I've just wasted the entire morning.

Matt: No you didn't

Me: I have so much to do and I've been just sitting here doing the crossword puzzle and playing sudoku.

Matt: Did you enjoy yourself?

Me: Yes

Matt: Then you didn't waste your time.

Gotta love love love him!!!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Empty Universe (and Power Tools)

If I ever get the idea to create the universe again, would someone please tell me that it has already been done?

The pictures are of :

the (so far) empty universe

the material objects of the cosmos against gravitational and electromagnetic fields, the space/time continuum, and other stuff that I don't understand

Stars, constellations, and forces that I don't understand

Studly me with a power drill that I actually used and a sawsall that I used the day before.

All objects except for the glass "stars" were made mostly by kidlets, but also by some adults, at the Sculpture Jammer week-end on October 3rd and 4th.


Only a fool would be sitting at the computer in a freezing room at 2:05 a.m. reading posts about snow. Back from a night at the San Francisco opera at shortly after midnight, I sat in the family room eating cereal and doing sudoku. Now I am freezing and still writing this. Tomorrow I will be sane again. Or not. Brrrrrrrrrr.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Worked with Sculpture Jammers group today for about 4 hours today doing stuff I've not done before like bending rebar around a tree trunk, using tools I've never used before like something called a sawall (even though I'd first wisely decided not to try for fear of severing my fingers or toes), became brave and superman-macho-feeling after successfully using said sawall tool. Am too tired to type coherently. Would probably be better to delete this. Too tired to check for typos + grammar. Probably too tired to delete. And yet. And yet. I still must try to finish creating The Cosmos so that it can maybe be installed tomorrow. Photos will eventually follow.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


May our lives be filled with more joy than sorrow
May our hearts be open to receiving both
May we maintain an attitude of thanks giving

Friday, November 20, 2009

Prime Ingredients

Prime ingredients for a lazy morning (which is how I like all mornings to be):
*coffee and fruit bread or a muffin
*the local newspaper (and especially the crossword puzzle)
*a cuddle blanket and, of course,


Friday, November 13, 2009

Michael Jackson is Alive

The Michael Jackson concert film, 'This Is It,' has become a massively successful documentary.

Michael Jackson is alive, at least at a number of local theaters where I live. Compelled by its four star rating, I went alone to a 3:35 p.m. showing of "This is It." I was the first to enter the screening room in which it was shown. Another woman, also alone, entered shortly after, first sitting in front of me then switching to a seat behind and two seats to the left. In our pre-film chat, she said that she felt badly for the performers and crew who had these sought after jobs snatched away from them with MJ's death. Of course the MJ Industry continues, but without them. MJ, dead, makes more in a single week than most of us have made in our lifetimes.

Some of the performers were interviewed at their auditions. Many had tears in their eyes, grateful just for the opportunity to perform with MJ watching. I can only imagine the exultation of the eleven dancers who made the cut. Enlarging this for just a moment, I think of times when people feel particularly blessed by good fortune and how one doesn't really know how things will turn out. Certainly the teacher who was chosen for the ill-fated Challenger mission must have been awed by the journey that awaited her. How did those who also competed but remained earth-bound feel when they saw the Challenger engulfed in flames? We are beholden to the uncertainties of our existences. A small plane crashed into homes in a very nearby tract when I lived in Southern California. It ended up in the playground of my children's school. A resident in one of the homes was killed. Who could have imagined dying in a plane crash in one's own living room?

As to "This is It," I found it entertaining, worthwhile, magical. thought provoking and sad. Its pace was slow at the beginning, but with each moment, became increasingly compelling. I've never been a huge MJ fan, but have enjoyed his performances when I've seen/heard them. For all the obvious reasons, I've viewed MJ as a tragic figure. This film shows how hard he worked. I left with a sense of melancholy. All the intense effort of so many many people came to (almost) nothing with the death of this very talented, strong and fragile man. When the film was over, I avoided turning back to chat with the woman with whom I'd talked earlier. I wanted to be enveloped in my own silence.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Day Without A Photo

(The photo is of Ben and Rachael on May 22, 2004)

Yesterday was one of the best days for me in a very very long time, maybe even years. This is not because of a poverty of good days, but a testament to how really great yesterday was.

For the first time in a very very long time, Matt, Ben, Rachael and I were home together, just the four of us, the nuclear family sans a spouse, a granddaughter and a boyfriend. This was an unexpected treat, the result of Rachael's earlier decision to come up for a few days and Ben's asking her if she was planning to make the trip some time soon.

Rachael arrived on Thursday and I was able to have some very special time with this very amazing young woman; Ben joined us yesterday at around 3:30 p.m.. While it was still light, the two of them wrestled a heavy desk that we no longer use from our over-crowded storage room into Ben's SUV. They worked together in flawless harmony as they did this, then positioned an old TV stand next to the desk. With these new acquisitions, garage sales, Craig's List and hand-me-downs from Ben, Rachael's new home has gradually been getting furnished.

Ben's update tour followed: my glass studio which has taken over the garage, the empty kitty litter containers that I have been saving to use to build marvelous superstructures with Maddie when she is older, an insect corpse for when she is even older (if her interests take such a turn), an amazing collage created by a young visually handicapped and schizophrenic woman, the photo of which is at full power so that you can see its intricacies by clicking on it.

And then it was on to the family room and Ben and Rachael reminiscing about the very recent (and first) conversation between Ben and James, Rachael's boyfriend, about finding joy in the small delights of lavender scented body soap and eucalyptus oil in the shower. We laughed about the non-masculine tenor of this conversation and how neither men could be found lacking in this quality. Ben mentioned seeing Paris Hilton sweep through a Vegas night spot; we talked about the joys of anonymity. Rachael showed us her design for turning her four bedroom house into one with three bedrooms, one of which would be a master suite which is currently lacking, and why this would be a fabulous idea in terms of its resale value. This led to the dreary subject of mortgage defaults and unemployment and the still sucky state of the U.S. economy. And on and on the conversation wandered. At leaving time, I told Ben how much I appreciated his taking this time away from his family to be with us. And so he left and then this morning, at 5:45 a.m, so did Rachael, headed for an early morning meet up with some friends to go surf kayaking.

Today, in the precious silence of their absence, the joy of their visit lingers. This morning I was startled by the realization that it was a day without photographs. And startled again when I realized that this was good. There is a freedom to sometimes living beyond the reach of the lens.

Monday, November 2, 2009

A Sampling of Books

These are some books I've recently enjoyed to varying degrees. I'm challenging myself to keep my comments brief.

My favorites: In sync with the theme of the book, I've pretty much forgotten the plot line of Stefan Merrill Blocks's The Story of Forgetting. Even so, it is a compelling, powerful, extremely well written book, easily worthy of a second read.

Benjamin Wallace's The Billionaire's Vinegar: Fun fun fun. And a true story. A glimpse into an extravagant, dare I say decadent, world in which a bottle of wine is sold for $156,000 and may not even be "the real thing."

I'd read anything by these two authors: In the last few pages of another wonderful book, The Senator's Wife, Sue Miller creates a scene of incredible poignancy. I didn't expect it, yet realized that the entire novel was building to this point.

I thoroughly enjoy Garrison Kellor's writing style. Love Me is a totally fun book. It has a plot, but I'd love it even if it didn't.

A trio of books about Ireland: Frank Delaney's Ireland is essentially a series of short stories told by an iterate storyteller. I began to cry for Ireland and better understand its recent history.

Leon Uris' Redemption has lingered on my shelf for years. At 867 pages, its story would be strengthened by some well placed nips and tucks. Even so, there are scenes that are burned into my memory and the book is well worth the sometimes weary ride. Again, I cry for Ireland (and shake a fist at imperial England - not the common man making his way as best as he can, but the power hungry decision makers who made a misery of the lives of those they conquered).

Of this trio, I most enjoyed Robin Maxwell's The Wild Irish. Based on true events occurring from the 1590's through the earliest years of the 1600's, this is a story of two amazingly strong women, Elizabeth I and the pirate, Grace O'Malley. More than the other two books, this gave me an understanding of why the Irish were so vulnerable to mighty England.

Not all that great:
I should have remembered that Chris Bohjalian is not one of my well liked authors. With The Double Bind, he not totally unexpectedly disappointed me. The heralded surprise ending was of the type where the protagonist wakes up and the whole story turns out to be a dream. More importantly, this author has writing tics that drive me crazy, repeatedly referring to the main character as "the social worker," for instance; misusing (twice) the word "irony." Even so, the book kept my attention. I must remember not to buy another book by this author unless I'm desperate to read something and nothing else even semi worthwhile is available.

A question I am asking myself: Why is it that I've written the most about the book that I like the least? Hmmmmmmmmm.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


Had my To-Do list

Ignored it.

Read instead.

Played with glass.

Lay on the hammock.

Yup, I'm smiling.

Friday, October 30, 2009

An Apology

I am in the middle of writing a note of apology to Marj, a woman in her late 80's who I much admire, for being unsocial - rude??? - to her at the doctor's office yesterday.

I was with Matt who'd had worrying lab results for his weekly blood counts the day before and was there to see his GP about an incapacitating increase in his back pain. Marj was waiting to see the doc that she and I share and smiled broadly when she saw us approaching. "I thought it was you," she said. I answered with a few pleasantries as I settled into my chair and then, "I hope you don't mind, but I'm feeling like being quiet right now. I tend not to like to talk in the morning." Those weren't the exact words, but it was something like that. I smiled as I said it and she continued smiling as broadly as before. I was afraid that she hadn't understood, restated some of what I'd said, then retreated into my private world. I'd had difficulty sleeping the night before and could easily have dozed off in the chair if it had been slightly more comfortable. When Marj was called into the doc's office, I looked up to say "so long," but she'd already turned and was following the nurse with what seemed to be a troubled expression on her face. Later, Matt told me that she'd said "good bye" to me and that I'd ignored her. I suppose that was when my head was down and I was in my own private world.

Marg is the founder of Wildlife Fawn Rescue. She is one of my super heroines. It grieves me to think that I might have caused her to be sad, even momentarily.

I've got the stationary and the scrawled draft of the note of apology on the desk to my side. I'll write it, then walk to the post office. The exercise will do me good.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Daisy and the Burning Man

A response to Kathy's comment about my comment on her blog and to all cat lovers.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Bragging Rights

Rachael Krugman is my truly awesome daughter. She got FIRST PLACE in a surf kayaking competition in Davenport, California, this past week-end. Rachael is the third kayaker and appears 3 or 4 times in this practice session the day before the competition. She is wearing a white helmet and an aqua blue paddling jacket.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Friggin Friggin Priorities

I can not believe how long the friggin paperwork that I am doing is taking!!!

I will read the posts of my on-line friends ASAP.

I will do the week+ long of unwashed (but properly rinsed) dishes tomorrow at the latest.

I will do the friggin laundry before we run out of clothes (or buy new ones on-line 'cause I can't go out until I finish the friggin friggin paperwork; I'll use next day delivery.)

I will post eventually.

I will play with my glass before the month is over (hopefully).

I will attend the San Francisco Opera's performance of The Daughter of the Regiment with Juan Diego Florez no matter what unless hell freezes over or my hubby's health demands that I stay home. Here's Why!

I will go thrift store shopping with Linda on Tuesday and to the Sculpture Jam meeting and pot luck on Wednesday as long as the friggin friggin paperwork and the dishes are done.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

For Rebecca

Millions of Americans Waste Entire Fucking Afternoon

Balloon Boy to America: Punk'd!

COLORADO (The Borowitz Report) - Moments after a little boy who was believed to be in his parents' homemade helium balloon was found safe and sound, millions of Americans came to the realization that they had flushed the entire fucking afternoon down the fucking toilet.

"I watched the entire drama unfold and then it turned out that no drama had unfolded," said Carol Foyler, 32, of Missoula, Montana. "I can't tell you how pissed I am at that fucking kid."

At their Colorado home, the parents of six-year-old Falcon Heene said that they were relieved that their son was all right and that they were pushing forward with their plans to build a giant child-operated flame-throwing robot

As reported on WA Today (starting several paragraphs into the article):


Falcon was the son of Richard and Mayumi Heene, and the family appeared on ABC's Wife Swap. Richard Heene was described by friends as a sort of "mad scientist", 7News said.He was a storm chaser and had a website called The Psyience Detectives, which "investigates the mysteries of science and psychic phenomenon". A profile written for Wife Swap mentioned the Heene family's interest in experimental aircraft.

"When the Heene family aren't chasing storms, they devote their time to scientific experiments that include looking for extraterrestrials and building a research-gathering flying saucer to send into the eye of the storm," it said.

In a 2007 profile in the Denver Post, Mr Heene said he took his sons on storm chasing missions. "I think I have odd kids. They start screaming with excitement," he said.

On at least one occasion the family had a close call when they found themselves in the midst of a tornado in Buckeye, the Post said.

Viewers in the US were glued to TVs showing live footage of the runaway balloon, and posted their thoughts on Twitter.The story occupied most of the top 10 popular topic spots on Twitter, under various "hash tag" names including "Denver", "Colorado", "Balloon Boy" and "SaveBalloonBoy".

CNN said the aircraft was experimental and was built by the boy's parents.

I didn't get caught up in this. I was too busy wasting time in other ways. It sure is a funny story, though. I plan to get back to posting tomorrow . . . or the next day. . . or the one after that. First though, I'll catch up with the blogs of my on-line friends.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Quickie Update

Volunteering at the Handcar Regatta on September 27 has me questioning my mental clarity.

Sculpture Jam this past week-end was Amazing-Fabulous. Especially 'cause of the kidlets.

Yesterday, I had an interaction with a sophisticated lady at an adult education class that was reminiscent of junior high school. And not in a good way.

Opera is becoming an addiction. Dare I hope that it replace unhealthful eating?

More later. Plus catching up with my on-line friends including some who seem to have deserted me and some who may have abandoned blogging. (I need to make some more on-line friends.)

Right now, it is rush rush rush. (and I am definitely not talking about Limbaugh.)

Cheers to all.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Home Town(ness) - Chapter 2: TheThrilling Conclusion

In the last chapter, I associated my most heartfelt feeling of home town(ness) with Gibraltar and Burning Man. I also wrote about two community events that seemed like the fertile grounds for an emergence of this feeling within the town (loosely defined) where I really live. We'll leave Gibraltar off the coast of Spain where it belongs for now, quickly revisit Burning Man, and then move on to the place where I make my home.

One of my Facebook friends, a Burner who I haven't seen or talked to since at least August of 2006, hosted an "orphan" party for Burners who wouldn't be making their way to the festival this August. I am sadly one of these poor unfortunates and had been feeling just a bit sorry for myself because of it. When I saw Curtis' invitation, I was elated. As it turned out, the only person at the party who I knew was Curtis. And yet, because of the Burner energy that I experienced there, the sense of acceptance and openness and belonging, I felt at home. More about that later.

In my August 20th post, I wrote hat I'd joined a group called the Sculpture Jammers in March. The week-end during which the community is involved in the creation of this year's project is less that a week and a half away. This year we are creating a "spirit house." There will be five or six "altars" within this spirit house. Through the ideas that I have contributed from its inception, I have become a part of this project and this wonderful group. One part of this larger project, a shrine (loosely defined) to The Cosmos, emerged solely from my creative process. It was My Project. And then Susandra joined me, shared the work with me, showed me easier ways of doing things. And the project was joyfully no longer just mine. The photo at the top of this paragraph is of the maquette I created before Susandra became my co-creator. You can click on the picture for greater detail. The one at the bottom is the current state of the project. Eventually I hope to post photos of The Cosmos when it is finished as well as the spirit house when it is installed at the park where it will be displayed for two years.

The other community event that I mentioned in my August 20th post was The Great Handcar Regatta. This will be happening on Sunday and I will be volunteering at the booze booth. It will be my awesome responsibility, along with some other brave souls, to check the IDs of people who want to purchase wine and to pour it for them. And here we approach The Thrilling Conclusion. Will I feel a sense of home town(ness) at this festival? I think the possibilities are highly favorable, first because I'd gotten the sense last year that it was a context in which I could feel at home, and second and much more importantly I have found the sense of home town(ness),

of belonging,

within myself. It's taken me 60+ friggin years to arrive at this place. I am comfortable with myself and, largely thanks to Burning Man, but also positively reinforced within my community, I have finally developed the minimal social skills to relate with my fellow human beings. There is a caveat to this: I need to be in an accepting environment. A friend of mine, a new friend as are virtually all of my friends, told me about someone she knew who went to live in a "retirement home," a group situation. The people there seemed to have settled into their solid little cliques. They had neither the need nor the desire to make new friends. She had become an involuntary loner. It is likely that I would not find home town(ness) there.

But maybe I would. I'm far more outgoing than I've ever been (and not obnoxiously so). Maybe I could make my way in such an environment. I hope I never am in the situation where that or an involuntary solitude are my only options.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Crazy Busy

I haven't forsaken my blog or forgotten my on-line friends, if I still have any. I'm just crazy busy. I will return. May all who read this find the strength with which to face life's challenges and sufficient joy to make the whole thing seem worthwhile.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Home Town(ness)

There is no place that I can identify as my home town, though I've had a sense of home town(ness) in two separate places in the last seven plus years. One of these is Gibraltar where I spent a few hours in the Spring of 2006. As the tour bus made its way along the upward curve of the winding road, I had the sense that this was where I belonged, that it was an ancestral home of sorts. I trace this feeling to a television commercial that was shown many years ago, I think for an insurance company. It used the "rock of Gibraltar" as a symbol of its own rock solid strength. Such is the power of advertising.

The other place where I have experienced the sense of being in my home town is in Black Rock City, the magnificent, transitory, and densely populated city that appears on the Black Rock Desert of Nevada for one week at the end of August every year. Burning Man, a festival that I first attended in 2001, is the context for the creation of this city. As I roved around gaped-jawed at the eye popping creations and the previously unimaginable friendliness of its citizens that first year, I kept hearing such phrases as "Welcome home" and "It's good to be home." Even as I departed from "the playa" at the end of the week filled with the joy and magic of the place, I couldn't relate to these sentiments. Home was the place where I lived the other 51 weeks of the year, I thought. In the sense that my little domicile is my home, I was right. I hadn't yet gotten the sense of home town(ness).

It was in the second year, and instantly upon my arrival, that I understood the experience of home(ness) that had seemed so foreign to me the year before. The population of Black Rock City reached 25,000 or 30,000 that year, yet wherever I went, I would almost inevitably run across friends from the previous year. We would laugh and hug each other with a joyous abandon that I'd experienced nowhere else. Strangers would greet me and I them with an ease that I'd never known in what Burners call "the default world." For a few minutes, we'd be as friends without masks. As I walked throughout the city, a voice within me silently and boldly shouted, "This is My Town." It was an experience I'd never felt before.

The songs of country music often refer to home towns. I listen to them (and sing along) with a sense of having missed out on that. None of the places where I've previously lived are home towns for me. None of them are places to which I could return with the expectation of finding anyone there who would remember me or I them. The title of one of Tom Wolf's books comes to mind: You Can't Go Home Again. Perhaps I am missing a mythic home town that has its roots in a less mobile past. Even so, in my second year at Burning Man and every year thereafter, I experienced home-town(ness).

I think that I may be finding a path to this experience in the town where I actually live. One of the things that has helped open the door to this is my rediscovery of the joy that I felt as a child when I was able to let my creativity run free. Burning Man played a big part in this by providing the impetus for me to make art (very loosely defined) that other people enjoyed. Big George in his rocket ship and M!MM with his/her straw hat are examples of this. Burning Man also taught me to talk comfortably with strangers. (Advanced age has allowed me to continue with this even as I encounter people who are not necessarily . . . ahem . . . kindred spirits.)

And so I finally come to a community event that I attended on Sunday, October 5, 2008. It was called Sculpture Jam and was put on by a small group of people, most of whom are artists. They have been hosting an annual community art project since 1998 and meet throughout the year working out its details and hearing related presentations from various local artists. The theme for 2008 was "Fish In Motion." An (approximately) 12 ft. by 12 ft. area was set aside in the plaza of a park where a farmers' market was also taking place. Within the Sculpture Jam area were several tables on which participants could make and/or decorate metal fish. These would become a part of a permanent display, although the fish were available for $5 or $10, depending on size, for people who wanted to keep their creations. From the moment that I saw the set up, and even though none of the organizers who I met had been to Black Rock City, I felt some of the sense of community that I experience at Burning Man. In March 2009, I was priviledged to join this group of creative people.

When I began this post, I was thinking that the town where I actually live might become My Town. A couple of week-ends before Sculpture Jam 2008, I attended a festival called The Great Handcar Regatta which was largely organized by Burners. This was the first year of the event and, with about 3,000 people in attendance, it was successful beyond all expectations. The festival will make its second appearance on September 27. I have offered my name as a potential volunteer. It's beginning to look like the place where I actually live may eventually become my home town.

With a few minor changes, I wrote but never published this post on October 10, 2008. Not realizing that it was so long, I intended to incorporate it in a current post about my newest project. It is now 11:25 a.m. and I have much on the agenda today. My next post will be a continuation of this one.