Her bones are found among the quarry rocks,

and barren landscape scuffed with sage,

a layered life of sky, earth, sun and sweat,

brittle, ancient, hidden, treasure.

Bone dry, stratified,

rich with filtered sediment

of collected past

River tears flood living days.

A Fossil!

Her query soon complete,

she’ll lie in wait beneath the mesa sky,

among cholla blooms and charcoal dirt

with hopes to be discovered

Well along everyone have that is there a generic cialis found with ease in the Internet. In particular on our website it is full of it. But you forget and constantly you ask.

Cat Daze

This past Saturday, our typical routine of a morning walk was disrupted by a sobering experience with my Mothers’ cat. While it is an extraordinarily ordinary experience to usher any living being into “infinity and beyond,” even my background as a hospice social worker doesn’t give me much of an emotional edge when the Grim Reaper comes calling so close to home. The simple fact of the matter is that when you love someone or an animal, it hurts like hell when it dies. Death happens. And even when you see it coming-you know that the THIS IS IT moment is immanent-it always comes as such a surprise and shock, the end of a life. I didn’t know it would be this particular morning we would be summoned to my Mothers’ side, at the South Lamar Animal Emergency hospital, to support her in making a decision about what to do with her 18 year old Black cat who appeared to be catastrophically ill.

I have always disliked this mangy, thin-as-a-whippet, poor excuse for an animal whose screechy yowl was like nails on a chalkboard, and who should have met his end long ago in a dog or raccoon entanglement, or other form of natural selection. Black, wiry, thin and ugly, this cat was not the cuddly kind who purred or warmed your legs with gentle nudges; he was all stealth, sleek, a ruthless hunter who in his prime had killed his share of groundhogs, squirrels and other small creatures in his many hunting forays near my Mothers’home. Chief among his disturbing habits was to drag half-dead critters into the house, let them go, play with them, then eat them. It was not unusual for my Mother to find the remains of the cat’s prey in the bathtub, a few tufts of fur and some blood and bones provoking many a scream on her part. Oddly (to me) she didn’t hold these disgusting habits against this animal, but forgave him his sinister exploits, and looked upon him as some noble creature of Egyptian Royalty “Bast” descent.

Lately, however, the cat’s sheer age and tenacity had worn me down, as well as the fact that this mongrel beast owned my Mothers’ heart. How could I help but admire this feisty cat who had successfully burned through all his nine lives, only to be uprooted recently from his woodsy Northern Calif Home and relocated to the urban Austin landscape across the street from our family? My Mother, whose eyesight has deteriorated dramatically, was forced to make this move, and her one consolation throughout the whole ordeal has been the company of “Monster” on whom she doted. Not only did this cat adjust remarkably well to this major upheaval, he seemed to be right at home in the neighborhood, terrorizing my own cats, yowling at my door from time to time, investigating my neighbors’ yards. I took him for granted as a seeming permanent fixture in my Mothers’ life, and was caught by surprise when his activity came to a halt on Friday. 24 hours later, he showed no improvement, and it was our unspoken understanding that he was in decline, and that his days were numbered.

So there we were Saturday morning, dogs barking in the waiting room, Mom crying, cat gasping for breath, the kindly veterinarian giving my husband and me all the options, a young technician coming in and out with various estimates of what any choice was going to cost. Was I too harsh to ask for a straight up answer to the question, “Is this IT? Is the cat dying?” No such definitive answer was forthcoming, just hushed voices and the vet leaving the room for us to ponder our financial and/or ethical choices. Steroids or no? Fluid injections-or how about some kitty morphine? Cremation or burial? If cremation, did we want a special (it cost a lot) urn for storing kitty’s ashes? Or did we want a kitty coffin in which to put the cat until he could be buried? It all came down to “to be or not to be,” kitty Hospice or The Shot.

I have to admire my Mother, because she made the same decision I would have in this situation: Cat Euthanasia. Cost and inconvenience aside, the real question was, “whom would it really serve to haul the suffering cat back home, keep a death vigil for what probably amounted to a few days, only to have to come back to the vet for the same decision?” It was clear to us that his end was near, and it seemed the more compassionate alternative to help the cat along into the Happy Hunting Ground without delay. And so with Monster in my Mothers’ arms, she chose to give him what in our eyes seemed to be a dignified end. While the vet administered enough propofol (we know what that is thanks to Michael Jackson) to first knock him out, I reflected upon his wild cat-life escapades, his demonic countenance and vampire-like fangs, his voracious appetite, his years of hunting, the countless hours he spent in the evenings on my Mothers’ lap.

As cat’s lives go, this one had had a good one. My Mother knew that, and though devastated, was clear and unwavering in her decision. It was time. Thus, with a nod from Mom, the vet gave Monster the fatal dose of the stuff of Euthanasia that kills cats, dogs, horses and people on death row. It wasn’t terrible, just sad, and remarkably upsetting.

I have always marveled at the difference between life and death, particularly the moment after death has occurred. While Monster lay there newly dead, I thought of how miraculous it is-more mysterious than scary-to see a being who was moving, breathing, living just moments ago, so still, not moving. Having been in the presence of both dying animals and people often enough in my life, it is always a profound and humbling experience, provoking a feeling of quiet reverence. Did we really say, “He looks so peaceful!”? Yes, however trite we sounded, it was true. Small consolation for us, though, as we stumbled numbly out the door with carrier and blanket sans cat, my Mothers’ grief (and our own) coming on in waves.

Well yet everyone see that is there a generic cialis found with ease in the Internet. In exclusive on our website it is full of it. But you forget and constantly you ask.

A Voice of My Own

When Icarus flew too close to the sun, his wings melted and he fell into the sea. This cautionary Greek myth came to mind the last time my friend Denis Brown visited me. Denis is no mere mortal; in calligraphy circles he IS the Sun King, the Mozart of Calligraphy, the one who has reached a pinnacle in our art and remains at the top of his game. In comparison, my work seems messy, pedestrian, earthy and most definitely imperfect! Like Salieri in Amadeus, I have felt doomed to mediocrity.

That is until I was surprised by an inner voice which stated clearly, “You are flying to close to the SON!” It seemed perfectly timed as this “message” came to me as I was doing laundry, the most mundane of tasks. I thought about it for awhile, and realized that I had convinced myself that the only standard by which my art could be measured was in comparison to the work of Denis Brown and his ilk, the maestros or SUN’s of Western calligraphy. If I continued to compare myself with ones’ whose light shine so brightly, I not only risked melting my wings, but being blinded as well.
I have followed this clear, intuitive message and it has served to help me stay grounded while seeking my own WAY to soar in art. My wings are not fashioned of wax, but of solid, disciplined studies of line and composition. Art journals have helped me appreciate the value of ephemera, of process, of ordinary experiences recorded with honesty and lack of self-consciousness. As much as I appreciate highly polished, sharp and extraordinary things, I also appreciate the Wabi Sabi-ness of the not so pretty, the decaying and worn down stuff of life.
Now when I leap, I do so with the knowledge that my own light is bright enough to guide me, my confidence and skills strong enough to keep me aloft until I drift back to earth softly, landing firmly with my feet on the ground (rather than in the sea, submerged in the unconscious!) Indeed, earth is where I choose to be, immanent, embodied. However imperfect, I am committed to my own voice, my own truth. I can accept my limitations as well as my strengths and keep working to shape my visions, however vague or mundane.
Denis left this morning after a four-day teaching gig in Austin. I did not take his class, but stayed in my studio, practicing on my own, soaring here and there, happy to do what I do. Our conversations were stimulating, provocative. I spoke my truth and he shared his; I was not blinded by his light, but warmed and inspired by it-and ignited by our shared passion for art.

Well yet everyone see that is there a generic cialis found with ease in the Internet. In specific on our website it is full of it. But you forget and constantly you ask.

"Get Thee to a Monastery!"

I always loved the line in Hamlet when poor Ophelia is admonished to “get thee to a nunnery.” Indeed, I have long been fascinated with nunneries, monasteries, cloistered orders, so it was with great eagerness and curiosity that I got myself to St. John’s College in Minnesota last week which has at its center a Benedectine monastery. The purpose of the visit was to teach at the annual International Calligraphy Conference, hosted by the Minneapolis-based Colleagues of Calligraphy.

 The first calligraphy group to host a conference of its kind in 1981, The Colleagues’ have arguably been the standard bearer since that time, helping chart the course for future generations of calligraphers.  Currently, what is most significant to calligraphers about their venue of St. Johns, is that this community is the patron of the first hand-written bible in over five hundred years. Pages of that bible, which is still in the process of being created, were on display all week, and several contributing American artists were on hand to discuss their role in creating the artwork for this historical document.
All this is well and good, but what held my attention all week was not the lovely trappings of bibles or monastic grounds (on which I inadvertantly trespassed in my quest for a nature-infused quiet haven), but rather the theme of the conference: connections. That and one of  the guiding purposes of the Benedectine Order: hospitality. 
Connections, hospitality, hospice. As I set up my room for the conference I thought of my former work as a hospice social worker.  I was thinking less of the death and dying part, but more of the root of the word hospice, meaning hospitality. In fact,  in the middle ages, hospice referred to a resting place for weary travelers. Only in modern times would we come to associate the word with the care of the terminally ill. As I pondered these things, I decided that in the spirit of Benedectine hospitality,  my classroom would be a resting place for those artists either wearied by the burden of perfectionism, or at a crossroads with their art. Setting this intention and inviting my students to create a safe and hospitable community seemed as much or more important than what I had been asked to teach. This seemed borne out in the end when class participants created the most lovely, personally inspired books.
Interestingly, the Medieval Benedectine monks were not only noted for their hospitality, but for the illuminated manuscripts they produced.  It was thus fitting that the title of my class, “A book of Ours”referred to the medieval standard “book of Hours,” small prayerbooks which Christians could refer to throughout the day to inspire and strengthen their faith.  These prayer books might include elaborate illuminations, decorations, and of course calligraphy, or be more modest in their make and appearance.  The purpose of my class was not to imitate these books, but to be inspired by them in making our own contemporary, personally meaningful ones. Rather than solely relying on the words of others, we would furthermore use our own words as “sacred texts.”  As I saw these books take form and shape, each unique to its maker, I was struck by how powerful a safe and loving community can be in helping one move past personal hindrances such as fear. 
Connections. On the final day of the conference, participants set up sharing tables on which they put the artwork they had produced during the week.  The rather drab, unremarkable gym which had served as a cafeteria (while a new one was being built) became alive with colors, marks, gestures, painting, writing, calligraphy. On one end there were large brilliant canvases with splashes of color juxtaposed with carefully painted calligraphy. At the other end were exquisite book page layouts in progress, black sumi marks dancing in space with lovely calligraphy linking together all the design elements. In the middle of the room were the simple and breath-taking pencil drawn Romans which stood out for their lack of guile or pretense. And in our corner were painted tyvek-covered books which upon opening revealed gems of paintings, writing and marks-each a reflection of the makers’ inner world.  As I walked through this communal art-sharing revelry, taking in these glorious and spirited displays of discipline and play, I was struck again by how this had come about: through loving connections with one another, both teachers and participants, which inspired trust, and through our hosts who had asked us to treat each other as we would Christ.
I am home now, far from the monastic gardens, the lake of Woebegone (sp?) fame, the mediocre institutional food,  the new friends and old ones whom I already miss.  Facebook or e-mail will keep me connected with everyone, and though I am more drawn to the archetype of Avalon than a monastic cloister,  the Benedectine spirit of hospitalit guides my Way. 

Well along everyone have that is there a generic cialis found with ease in the Internet. In distinct on our website it is full of it. But you forget and constantly you ask.

Shared Beat

Earlier this year I read a book written by a local author about the Lascaux cave paintings.  I have always been drawn to the quality of this prehistoric art-how vivid and alive the lines are and how with so few strokes the artists captured the essence of a living being.  When my husband approached me about painting “totem animals” on the surface of drums he is fashioning out of whiskey and wine barrells, I knew where to turn for inspiration. 

Let me back up a bit….
Clark’s “Bubba Taiko” drums have been a hit at the drum circles to which he totes them all over Austin. They are large, and make a big sound.  It has been no small task engineering these drums, and Clark has spent many an hour searching the internet for practical guidance. After teaching himself how to weld, and creating his own (in his words) more crudely designed hardware, he has recently opted for commercially designed pieces which he has had to order from Thailand.  Not only is the hardware more aesthetically pleasing, it is ultimately more functional, and helps keep the skin of the drumhead more tautly stretched.  Originally, Clark’s plan was to simply stain the drums, and indeed his first one is stained a lovely red.  We both agreed, however, that the drums can have more personal-and universal-meaning as artifacts if we customized them.  Thus the idea of  totem animas was hatched. 
We see a lot of animals on our walks around Town Lake, and to us, the most special among these are the Blue Heron, Cardinals and turtles.  As Texans, we are also fond of Armadillos and Horny Toads.  And though we are not big fans of snakes, we do admire them for their power, beauty and archetypal significance.  Clark is fond of fishing, so Red Fish seemed another logical choice for a “totem animal.” 
This last Sunday, I honored my promise to paint these animals on a “proto-type” drum in preparation for painting Clark’s latest,  “new and improved”  version of Bubba Taiko.  In the spirit of the cave paintings, I decided to use charcoal which my Mother had found in a dig near Ghost Ranch. This charcoal, which is millions of years old , found among dinasaur bone fragments, has special significance for me because Ghost Ranch is my spiritual Mecca.  
I had made several sketches of the animals I intended to draw and paint on the drum, but still felt ill-prepared as I began.  My goal was, simply, to make as few lines as possible, keeping the drawings fresh, calligraphic.  The charcoal is crumbly, and not as easy to use as commercial grade, but I thought of what my prehistoric predecessors were able to do with their own crude materials and stopped worrying.  For paint I decided to use acrylics, choosing a very simple, earthy palette of burnt umber and burnt sienna, white and a touch of cobalt blue. Without using any brushes, I smudged the paint with my fingers and with a kitchen sponge which I tore into various sizes. I sprayed a layer of fixitive on the whole thing after I finished-we plan to seal it with another coat of clear matte acrylic.  
As I look over at the finished “piece” I am pleased with the result. Clark is happy, too.  For the most part I succeeded in fulfilling our shared vision and am prepared to move on to the bigger drum.  I love the ritual aspect of the making of the drum and how it used; and I loved making the preparatory sketches and observations for drawing and painting on it. Also, the Ghost Ranch charcoal,  which I was saving for some vaguely imagined future project,  seems perfect for this personally envisioned, unique artifact.
Clark has no specific plans for these drums other than they be well-crafted and used for drumming.  Perhaps he will sell them if offers are made, but in the meantime they provide us with a lovely opportunity for artistic, musical and spiritual collaboration. 

Well already everyone be aware of that is there a generic cialis detected with ease in the Internet. In distinctive on our website it is full of it. But you forget and constantly you ask.