303 miles, 3 days, 3 nights. 2 sets.
Funny how things repeat, how I find myself writing something as if the idea just came to me, and find it written again, as if I had copied my own notes.
The truck I left behind because: the check engine light, no horn, no turn signal, the incoming rain. When I went back to drive it home after the weather cleared it wouldn’t start and had to be towed to the garage. Rats! had got in and eaten a fuel line. The part on order got delayed in the freak snow storm, then didn’t fit, then a second part also didn’t fit–my little truck, like so much else once trusty and road-worthy, no longer speaks to me, time to let it go.
For years I was a two-vehicle family, work truck and a campervan. I had a business. The business wasn’t me, but it was how I lived, repeating the same tasks, pulling the same weeds, mowing the same lawns, keeping in shape, making contact with humans. It was simple and clear, until it wasn’t.
I kept it going, like all the bands and gigs I fought to carry on with long after there was no life in it. Things too valuable to leave, until the rats got in.
In 1979 when I pulled myself out by the roots of a relationship I found myself raw and homeless and in a scary sort of freedom. It was kaleidoscopic and horrible and culty and dangerous. I fell into things, then struggled desperately to climb out. I visually saw myself on a downward spiral and had to learn to turn around and spiral UP, to save my life.
When I suddenly found myself on stage at the Mabuhay Gardens in San Francisco, wrapped in glitter, I recognized nothing was going to overcome the mere two weeks of practice of this absolute beginner. It was then I gave up all pretense of perfection, and thereby, stage fright. I was the drummer for that band, the Superheroes, and the Outrageous Beauty Review, for four months, before I escaped through subterfuge and returned to a semblance of my old life, but the damage was done. I have been a performer ever since, falling into one band after another, punk, folk, thrash, rock, learning bass, singing, and on into the night. All my friends and social life were steeped in it. Forty years on, it has come to a screeching halt.
Did I credit I my wrecked relationship with the disasters that followed, or the positive outcomes? Or did I save my own life more than once, because I was forced awake, forced to survive on my own, for the first time?
The echoes are deafening, but I am safe and know how to live, I know what I want and don’t want. I work so hard to be real, to be present, I guess I get too big for the template. Maybe the template is the problem. I see no picture of myself there, even a kind of terror, and always, an undeniable relief to leave.
Packing up to move again, not knowing what comes next. I am on the threshold of something, looking in, or looking out. I dunno.
Okay, I hear you now.
I hiked downtown yesterday to make a deposit at the rude, unwieldy new automatic-teller-machine at my bank, then flush with cash, stopped for a lunch of beef salad and Thai coffee. I walked a few more blocks, then spent half an hour browsing the aisles of a hardware store I used to frequent before it moved to an inconvenient location sans parking. No matter now, it’s the same walking distance from home. I bought paint and screws to finish a couple of projects, got those done, too.
I am planning a birthday picnic in the yard with new friends, so I fixed the gate, and have been scraping weeds and grasses from cracks in the flagstone path, and 4-5 inches of mud and overgrowth along the sidewalk. Cosmic dust falling on the planet must have an effect on the rate of rotation of this little ball over time. I see several inches of accretion right here in my yard.
I brought my little Pink Lady apple tree home from Canyon, and got a Cara Cara orange tree, so my tiny orchard is filling out: 4.5 apples (one is rootstock) three citrus, two plums, volunteer nectarine, enormous pear, red and black raspberries, a pineapple guava. I am not so good at vegetable gardening, but fruit trees, they are my people. As someone pointed out, vegetables are work. Fruit trees just hand you a gift. Reminds me of a story . . .
This body is not used to physical labor, but it is coming back. Breaking my ankle two years ago finally ended my business(es), and temporarily turned my full focus to more sedentary pastimes, drawing and painting. Sometimes it’s enough to just show up, but lately I am too busy to sit still. Cancelled my business license in February, last week I sold my truck for . . not much. The rat damage finally tipped the scales.
Getting out into the garden these last few days, I remember how vital, vigorous, powerful I am, I was, I can be. Bare face to the sun and bare feet to ground, free electrons in my bloodstream, lower blood pressure, bringing back my muscle tone. I can change the physical world. I can change my trajectory again. Let’s do this.
Had to go! For a couple of days. The campsite was unreserved due to the broken vintage table. Although there is another completely serviceable table, “People Complain!” So, cool, I get them both all to myself, didn’t really need either one. The waterfall, from a culvert, is lovely and in direct view.
LB came up to take my photograph and join me for lunch on Sunday, and we left to hike Dillon Beach for a bit. The tiny restroom had an emergency!? exit! sign. ?? Yes, rushing to so many exits. I came home to sell my beloved ’95 Tacoma to Mozart after 22.5 years of faithful service. It’s too hard to get parts, I’ve gotten full use out of it. I no longer have a gardening business, so, I am a one-van happy camper.
In the Before Times, I/we would drive hundreds of miles to get far, far, far away from the crowds, deep into the wilderness where there were no lights, passing cars, other people. Aching to connect, I don’t go far, or for long. My hermitage is in the city now.
Ten years ago this morning, Scruffy was snatched away from us, from me, in the most abrupt and unresolved fashion. Much has been written about the surrounding milieu in my other blogs, Travels With Stevie and Possum Family Singers, won’t go on about it much today.
Nothing is as it was in the Before Times, and that includes what we called 2001. Those days when we basked in pointless travels and imbibements and musical amusements with friends, dear and otherwise, was long gone long ago. I clung desperately to the shell of it all, until that crumbled, too.
I spent the last ten years in a fog of loss, circling a drain that seems to be clogged. I lost seven dear people to the great beyond by the end of 2017, and several more went silent. Grief does that to people and friendships. It gutted my social sphere and upended my daily existence. The unfriendliness of friends, the walls and barbed wire and empty storefronts of my former life, all this is commonplace and felt by most people now.
Not bitter, just exhausted, searching for a unicorn under this pile of manure. Throw a little hay over it, a few months from now, it will bloom with pink mushrooms.
By the way, I hear Betsy moved to Norway. You go, girl.
Palindromes all week
I haven’t been posting so much. These last weeks have been horrific. The last moments of Pluto in Capricorn, to be repeated May-January, so we’re not out of the woods yet. At least it is familiar territory, but, gak, already.
The power was out for a mere 24 hours, it was blowing like a pig and rain, rain, rain. Happily, I had solar camping lanterns, a bag of ground french roast, sweaters, blankets, hot water, and gas stove burners, and a new laptop charger. My oven is digital, so I couldn’t use it, for heat or cooking. It occurred to me that if it was on, and the electricity went out, how would I turn it off? I’d have to get Art to bring the power pack to plug into, or turn the gas off, try unplugging it. Scary.
A branch from one of the redwood trees hit the roof and shattered, a large twig is still on the roof of the porch. I went out to see what the noise was, heard a clunk–just missed it, whew.
I also reassessed my bug-out bag and found it lacking, so added and extracted things.
I took the laptop to charge on the inverter in my van, but further adventures, I needed to replace the fuse to the cigaret lighter. Pro tip, I discovered that 8 amp fuse #8 controls my brake lights! Slot #7 holds a spare. Planned to go get some dry ice for the freezer, but found a solid 8# bag of ice; $8, included a tiny yellow bic lighter. Around 3 PM the power came on. Now I have camping ice, so 8 threads are coming together.
I haven’t been doing any drawing whatsoever, but I have been playing with my ink collection, contemplating and admiring my calligraphy practice. I think it has been a month, let’s just call it a fallow period. The new table, tho! After the storm passed, and the power was still out, I went for a walk and found a cedarwood bookcase on the curb, 28×36, 3 shelves 8″ apart. I cleaned it up and switched out the smaller shelf for boots by the door. It suits the theme better, all the pine furniture, minus the big white book case.
Also pulled out my giant 5″ thick Webster’s Dictionary, on the advice of a speaker on the Global Walkout CA zoom call last night. Are you saying what you think you are? BTW, there were 21 people there, two people I recognize. TMI, maybe.
Meanwhile, I wait for the Coder Kids to reprogram the demon robot dogs to dispense ice cream and Solfeggio tones.
The Looming Anniversary of the Great Demise. Maybe I’ll save that for another day.
I just want to bask in the glory of Now for a while.
Woke up weary
There is no inanimate object in my universe. I wake up in gratitude to the 500,000 new cells in my body, a new sun rising through the rain. Everything is moving, everything is alive. The sink, the air, the water in my bath. I love you, water. I love my legs, I love that I can still walk. Where would I be without my self, mice elf, who has brought me so far?
Russel Targ said, Above all else, each morning, put your little paws on the coverlet and give thanks for the new day.
I woke with a headache, be it too much popcorn, too much emotional input, sad stories and beloved friends. I went back to bed and took a nap, woke at 1:30 PM to black coffee and a hot magnesium bath, and a bit of soup.
Heading out tomorrow to tend a friend with the saddest news ever.
This week, a breakthrough. How to draw heads, I thought I would never figure this out. In three sketches, my trajectory is visible. Life is good, if you have it.
Abandoned, a house, a shed, another shed, a cat, two greenhouses, a pine tree, an apple tree, clutter and more, and more indeed. A long driveway. Room for a garden. A view of “mountains” and the moonrise. A dream. A beautiful dream.
Manifesting a Work Table
Out with the round black table I bought from Conran’s for my apartment on Emerson Street in 1981. Took off the legs and rolled it into the hallway closet. I had to move out stuff to make room, two boxes of JD and Pearl, et al, into the Underhouse. Also my vintage Ludwig snare and stand. Why not consolidate, the bass drum is out there.
I set up this pine work table I found last year, abandoned on the street by a painting student. I had to scrape and sand off quite a bit of paint to make the surface flat, leaving it pre-loaded with a patina of artistic energy.
I now have about 3 sq. ft more space in the room, as this table is also an inch taller and fits closer to the treadle/printer table. Someone warned me that rectangles are bad feng shuy, but not if it makes more room to ease through the space.
Already I feel a creative upgrade. It was easier to paint from these old photos of Death Valley near Racetrack, 10.03.03; and a view of upper warm spring in Saline Valley, circa 1997.
Also the current view out the back window from the table.
Crazy rains, wind, trees down, houses sliding off hill tops, king tides, cliffs collapsing, beaches eroding, an ant invasion, and me in my little possum holm. Heaven. A bit of hiking the streets between the storms, where I found some cool kitchen things in a free box. A (sweet) potato masher, which I need, a 1/3 cup stainless steel measuring cup, always handy. Several wide mouth pint ball jars, yay, and a red coffee mug I can contribute to the Sunday Salon. It’s a full life.
I made some soup from the meaty carcass of the Christmas turkey, with shiitake mushrooms and fat Italian egg noodles. So good. Also tasty and festive are small chunks of wild salmon, gold potatoes, green beans, broccolini, pink lady apples, coffee and cream, from hikes to B. Bowl.
More little sketchbook play, with opera rose and white gouache, white Signo, micron, Kuretake brush pens, french ultramarine, various greens, yellows, and random watercolors and stains from old messy palettes.
Back from the north, where we visited an abandoned, boarded up house with a shed and a garage, and an empty lot on each side. I so want it! Imagine the garden, and the painting studio! How many millions will it take?
The best deal of the season was a stack of sweaters, three turtlenecks and a zip-up cardigan from mimi’s stash of donations. I also bought a long gray skirt at Goodwill. Gift are so unnecessary.
On returning home ahead of the storm (before NYE, which I slept thru) I hunkered down with my new sweaters and youtube, covering up sloppy swatch charts in old sketchbooks, inspired by screen shots from Marina Willer, and previous grid play.
I’ve said too much. Just an image.
What could be happier than this window full of sky, sunlight and squirrels, me and youtube, old sketchbooks, brushes and paints?
What better than unending days of not watching a clock. Just this.
Took a fun workshop in luminous landscape watercolor with Andie Thrams this weekend. I LOVE the juicy yellows, the square format. Many thumbnails and color tests.
Oops: edit: caveat: didn’t mean to hit the Publish button yet.
Some notes: Engage with your subject: why did I choose this subject? What am I seeking? What is my hope? What is the viewpoint? close, far, big, small, hard, soft, gestures, detail, mood, flavor. Be present. Consider the possibilities.
Shake out the hands, roll your neck, mix little color swatches, then pools of color.
Meanwhile: Complaining shrinks your hippocampus.
Gratitude boosts endorphins to produce a euphoric rush. It can boost oxytocin, the love drug (like rubbing the ears of cats). It can boost seratonin to make you happy and calm. It activates the brainstem to produce dopamine. It boosts the immune system, lowers stress and blood pressure.
“Perfection is a stick with which to beat the possible” –Rebecca Solnit
Be peace. Be love. Be here now.
October 25/eclipse 2022
My friend gave me a little Mexican-made chest of drawers as a gift for helping her in her studio. Just in time! because now instead of having my acrylic paint tubes and bottles in open trays, subject to terrorist assault by hungry rats, I can keep them secure. The chest had been left outside for a bit, sufficient to have the drawers stucky and wonky. I sanded them all down and got them working nicely, and touched up the outside with successive grades of sandpaper and a coat of Feed-N-Wax.
Meanwhile, I found four aforementioned chewn-open and partially eaten tubes of paint resting atop a container of some dolls–I found the hair of Pocahantas in the paint-tube tray. Titanium white, Neutral gray, phthalo blue, and for good measure silver, turned out to be just the colors I needed to mix and match the “cape cod blue” I had used on the floor last month. Squeezed what was left into jars, and started mixing; way too much white, so I ended up adding a few drops of carbon black, dang close, I’d say. The rat had also chewn into a bottle of bronze paint, and I tried using that as a stencil color, but it was too faint, so back to the iridescent blackish, and done.
By the way, I had been painting most of the interior in this patchy style, using Zinsser 1-2-3 due to the history with mildew. On the window-well walls here I pulled out some interior latex, which turned out to be what I had used on the ceiling “Summer Sky” almost imperceptibly sky-blue. I love the way it gradually moves from blue to white as it goes from the floor and up the wall.
skating on the edge of gouache and watercolor, brush pens, mysteries of light.
October 5, 2022
Playing with my new gouache in a small sketchbook of olive green paper, portraits and anatomy from photos and screenshots. I took photos of some of the images in the book Natural Fashion, Tribal Decorations from Africa (wait–I can’t underline?? wth?) that I bought Vikki for Christmas, at last getting around to working from them. Also a screenshot from Vania Bashur, who teaches classes on Domestika. Nothing inspires me more than new materials.
I was telling the story of how I keep buying classes (mostly around $10 each, special discount) but can’t work in the linear structure of the courses. I get hooked on the trailer, and then am not happy with how the instruction plays out. So I am just taking screen shots from some of the video introductions and copying them, then clearing them off my computer.
Also about copying, judgement, what is art. Ok, here we are. This week’s work, so far.
Studio Floor- blue
Finally found an image I could cut a template for, to stencil the studio floor. I had smeared some of this deco-color cape cod blue from a tiny bottle on the deteriorating plywood to see how it would last, and heck, good enough. That’s how it happens, after months (years) of a blue floor rattling around in my head, i just started in. Cutting the printout I stuck to a sheet of bristol board with tape, I used a stiff acrylic paintbrush in different intensities to dab Daler Rowney FW iridescent acrylic black ink through the stencil. So satisfying! The more i used it the more water resistant the stencil got, pretty permanent now. Finished with a coat of Golden acrylic sort gloss medium, supposedly waterproof. Too late, I realized I could have extended the blue a bit with the medium. But I’m happy.
Tiny Haul: Late September
August was so busy. Every weekend we have been out of town, festivals, campouts, and visiting friends; San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, Felton, Cotati, Pescadero. (check out photos at possumfamilysingers.com).
I’ve decided to stop worrying and love the new Berkeley, after finding a huge new art supply store on 6th Street. Been wanting to replenish my gouache supply for ages, and the fact that they are not behind locked doors was a temptation too great to resist. I went on a tiny shopping binge: a minimal array of six colors, a micro palette, Daniel Smith mineral watercolor dots to try; a 2.3 mm eraser pen and refills, a purple glue stick. All laid out on the tablecloth as I waited for a slice and a pint at soon-to-be-demolished North Beach Pizza.
I chose six colors of gouache: spectrum red, spectrum yellow, spectrum violet, phthalo blue, chromium oxide, van dyke brown. Add these to my big tube of permanent white, and opera rose.
So many colors, I wanted to document the swatch display for future reference and further investigation. Now, back to work.
deck chairs on the titanic
I have wanted to do this for so long. I tried white, ow, my eyes. Green, hideous. I really thought the blackish, chalked, charcoal gray would be awesome, but too hot to be practical on the sunny porch. But then, one day, looking out my window, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I had seen some gorgeous patio chairs in black and they were perfect. I’ve had these great stackable chairs since the John and Linda times–that would be circa 1990, at the latest, and they were used then. The table was abandoned by one of my clients some ten years ago because it had a screw loose. Don’t we all, at some time. I couldn’t be happier with how they turned out. Plus, Vikki’s birdcage.
p. s. The first can at my local hardware store, $6.49. The second can, at a 3-letter chain down the road, $13.99. Wth?
Stalled in the Fall
So busy, music wise, not much time or energy left for the pencil and brush. To see what I have been doing in August check out my site possumfamilysingers.com. Every weekend has been a gig, a festival, a campout, from Santa Cruz to Santa Rosa. I plan some downtime for September, yessirreee.
when I was a kid there was a corner store with a screen door that had been painted with an ad for orange juice. It was magical to me how you could see through the paint, but also see it as an image floating in space. It lead me to try painting on screen, and to copy a crochet moth with tinted acrylic medium on this 1/2″ hardware cloth.
Hmm. This is all I’ve done this month. in the realm of 2D art.
I have been doing a lot of physical work in the yard, uncovering an old flagstone path, rebuilding the grape arbor, cutting back the wild growth everywhere. I have been hiking about 3 miles every day or so, downtown and back, up to College or Telegraph Avenue, in search of pizza or gelato, and miscellaneous free items on the street. I found a circa 2013 gaming PC with Windows 10 that I named Curby–found it on the curb, had to buy a 19-pin monitor cable, transferring all my old photos and some music via thumb drives. Really fun to have a random project appear, just after I rearranged my office to take advantage of the summer sun.
I started an instagram page quite a while ago, following on my massive output of last summer. I have been remiss, neglected to share them here, until now. Oh deer. Never feer. They are not that square. Oh well, we shall see.