Suffolk County Cultural Arts Center Show, now through Dec.21st

Off we go, on another adventure. John and I packed up my ink paintings, jewelry, and the roll of wonder that has seen so much of this world. So many hands have touched the work: the hands that collected, those that cut, painted and added these blossoms to this pixilated panel, and finally, the hands that view it and can't resist adding their hand, their touch to this big bundle of joy. It has been exhibited in part or whole in Michigan (Grant County Courthouse), Florida (Orange County Admin Building,  Orange County Library, Our very own backyard fence), Sharjah U.A.E for their Summer Arts Exhibit where it withstood blistering 120 degree heat, and now it travels to Suffolk Virginia, home of Planters Peanuts where I visited my great-aunt on many occasions for Sunday dinner.

We arrived to thousands of bottles already cut and painted, a crew staff and volunteers busily working to add more, and piles of empty water bottles ready to be dressed up and put on display.

While we worked to make two chandeliers, Christmas trees and wreaths to fill this space, John and the staff got busy on the installation. The front and center piece is the one that travelled to the Middle East. 



Happy Anniversary, are those real EarthShoes?

Heather and Danielle gave me a subscription to StoryWorth for Christmas.  They send a question to me every week and I write a response. This week's question is: "What's a small decision that ended up having a big impact on your life?" I thought y'all might enjoy the answer.

Real Earth Shoes were the thing back in 1974 when I was a Junior in High School. I remember the first time I saw them. My art teacher,  was a tall  looming man with bushy orange-brown hair and  beard , giving him the look of a Star Wars Wookiee with glasses. He sported brushed corduroy low rise bell-bottoms, a hand-tooled tan leather belt, and shoes with a wide curved toe-box that made them take on the look of clogs. I didn’t like the teacher,  but I fell in love with his shoes. Soon, Earth Shoes were appearing on the feet of ‘cool kids’ and the Harvard Square hippies I  secretly admired. 

Earth Shoes were expensive, and soon knock-off versions made their way into the mainstream, displayed, heels at right angles in storefront windows. My first pair were tan, had a similar but not as wide toe box, and clunky pressed rubber ridged soles that were an inch thick.  I longed for the authentic version with their signature thin heel that rested lower than the toes, purportedly designed for how man was meant to walk. I remember dark green marketing placards  referencing feet in sand or caveman feet, or maybe caveman feet in sand. I didn’t need to be convinced of my primordial ancestors foot anatomy or of the way bare feet leave their imprints on the beach. I loved the style. And my wanna-be versions made me feel like a fraud that fell short of believability. I wore them none-the-less, stalking the authentic versions in stores at the mall, daunted by their price tag.
“You can have them if you pay for them yourself,” was my mother’s solution. I worked part-time at a greenhouse, hands in dirt most of the day as I stood at potting benches with little old ladies and hippies in the back rooms of a huge nursery.  At three dollars and forty-five cents an hour, (I had asked for and received a raise), it took me some months to save up enough to buy the real deal, tan soft leather shoes with the “Earth Shoes” oval shaped logo pressed into the bottom of the sole. I can still smell the smooth, supple chestnut colored leather and feel its unfinished suede underside. The shoes came with the caveat to break them in slowly over the course of a week to accommodate  contemporary feet that were not accustomed to their heel low/ toes high natural inclination .  I wore them for forty-five minutes the first day, then full-time from there on out. 
When I arrived at college in Indiana, my shoes were still relatively new. I soon realized that in Indiana ‘back East’ is Ohio, and a girl from Boston was an exotic commodity. “There’s a guy named John Wayne!” one of my new fast-friends told me excitedly, “ you have to come to InterVarsity and meet him” she continued, inviting me to a Christian fellowship group that met in a basement meeting room.I showered and dried my ‘Dorothy Hamill” haircut  to smooth perfection, slipped on my straight-leg Levis corduroys and peasant shirt, then finished the outfit with dainty rough hewn turquoise and coral silver necklaces. The piece de resistance? Slipping into my prized authentic Earth Shoes. 
I can still feel my sits-bones, square on the floor and my legs outstretched as we sang Christian folk songs .  He was across the circle from me, this 'John Wayne’  I had been told was so cute and who had the longest eyelashes anyone had ever seen. I made sure my heels were propped so that the pressed insignia on the soles of my feet was clearly visible. The meeting ended and we all got up from our seats on the floor to mill around and meet each other. It was the beginning of the first semester of my Freshman year and students were just getting acquainted.  I hadn’t been on my feet for long before a tall lanky good-looking guy made his way over to me. Behind his aviator wire-rimmed glasses were blue eyes and eyelashes so long I later learned his best friend had knick-named him ‘Maybelline’ when they had a falling out in Junior High. (John’s retort was to call him “Curly,” Barry’s Achilles-heel being his frizzy hair.)
“Are those real EarthShoes?” was John’s pick-up line, and I wonder now, did he already know the answer? “Yes,” I responded a bit too eagerly.  Soon I was saying ‘yes’ to a movie date, in a few years ‘yes’ to a marriage proposal, then ‘yes’ at the altar. Real EarthShoes. The best money I ever spent. 


Yoga, cynicism , and a happy Buddah


She stood up before them and shouted, "I am better than all of you! Why? Because I am a cynic. I am better than any fool who believes in things, or fools who believe in anything." Then, her eyes on fire, she cried out : "I don't believe!" And the roomful, everyone of the people there, began a laughter that swallowed the world, swallowed her pride, swallowed her unbelief.  She looked around from the left to the right, from the front of the room to the back. Then, she looked to the ceiling, and it opened up to reveal the blue of a sky that was looking at her. She cast her eyes down in shame and saw her sagging breasts and the rolls of her belly. She could not see her feet, just the tips of her un-groomed toenails. She felt her cheeks flush until her face burned and there was a deafening ringing in her ears, but the tiniest tinkle of bells broke through the ringing. It was the sound of a giggle that broke her heart, and, when it did, roaring laughter erupted from within her. She looked again from side to side, from front to back, and to the very last one, each person in the room had transformed into fat, happy, laughing Buddhas, and she was the happiest and the fattest of all.



My paintings in a gallery...

I am so excited to be chosen as one of Artlifting's artists. Now my paintings are available in print format for purchase. Here is a link to my page. There are seven paintings available. I really appreciate everyone's response to my work in alcohol inks. It kept me painting!


My elderly friend's philosophy of life in a nutshell...

A ninety-something friend called this morning to let me know about an upcoming luncheon. I am part of a sorority, PEO, that was started in the 1800's by a woman who didn't get into a sorority in college. Anti-establishment, wouldn't you say? My grandmother and aunts were members of PEO in the Midwest. The   friends my grandmother made sustained her through many trials, including losing a daughter, pregnant with her third child, to polio. "God really forsook me then," she used to say.

A few years ago, I took a plunge that I never took in college, and joined a sorority. I affectionately call it  'my secret society.'  I met a woman  through a mutual friend and when she mentioned "PEO" I became very nostalgic, recollecting my father's mother who was so involved.  "PEO raises money for women to go to college," the woman explained when I was contemplating joining,  "but mostly we go to lunch."  Yet another affirmation that this is my kind of group.

Don't ask me what PEO stands for because I pledged I wouldn't tell anyone. My grandfather used to say it means "pop eats out" since my grandmother wouldn't be home to cook on meeting days.  Later, it was suspected to mean "phone each other," since they did, which brings me to my friend's phone call this morning to let me know what restaurant we would descend upon for this month's luncheon.

I have a literal phobia of the telephone, so much so that I rarely answer my phone and have to muster up the courage to make even the simplest calls. But when my caller ID flashed "Retha" I fumbled for the remote to mute the television (It was under the Dalmatian), grabbed my smartphone, and successfully slid the awkward green button on the screen without accidentally hanging up on the caller. Technology exacerbates phobia.

Chatting does not come naturally to me. I have to remind myself, "Ask them how they are doing..." when I interact with people. I have a weird pragmatism that demands 'getting to the point,' perhaps stemming from my military upbringing, ('Answer the question!' my father demanded),  but its root cause is most likely social anxiety that causes me to live with an invisible barrier that hovers about 8 inches from my face. Like the layer of athmosphere that envelops the earth, I have an 8 inch thick miasma that I look through when I interact with people.  But I like to talk with Retha. 

When you reach your nineties, you must feel free to say or do just about anything you want. When I was turning forty, older friends coached me that they felt that entitlement at forty. Ninety being more than twice as old as forty, and with time running out along with the energy it takes to be reserved, I imagine any remaining  filters are just about gone. Maybe that's why I love older people. I'm guessing the bumper sticker "I tried to contain myself, but I escaped" describes them too.

Retha asked how I was doing, and after I gave my report, (get to the point, answer the question), I remembered to ask how she was doing. She always says "I'm GREAT!" She will soon be travelling to her family reunion where she is the matriarch. She told me about a little health scare but the biopsy was negative, and she asked the doctor why he didn't "put back the fatty tumor and spread it around" since she needs all the weight she can put on. She is soon to be a great-grandmother.

As we were saying good bye, she said "Now you go and be the smart artist that you are" and continued, "Over the years I developed a philosophy. I don't know when I thought of this... Maybe I've always seen life this way. I tell myself 'I love everybody, and I know everybody loves me, so everything is going to be alright! '" Maybe once all our reserve has been worn away by the years, all that is left is love. I hope so.