EasterPast

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We didn’t hunt for eggs as kids.  Our neighborhood annual Easter hunt was a complicated and well-thought out clue hunting “most of the afternoon” type adventure.  We had about 20 or so kids on the farm in rural Pennsylvania.   We’d be divided into two teams and given our first clue.  With acres of woods, fields, streams and fences, there was ample room to hide clues.  The clues would be in glass bottles – hanging from tree branches, hidden in stream beds, tied to a single rail on a fence – all written in a jingle, based on “tribal” knowledge of all our escapades (place where Peter fell in hay pile on Halloween).  The adults and older kids would plot out the clues, place them and then monitor the trek around the farm on Easter Sunday.  So while sitting in church on Easter Sunday, I was thinking of my sneakers and getting ready to think – the clues were not easy.  One year, the clues were all written in rhyme – we all hated those.  One year, my team won and I received an stuffed Easter Bunny that was as tall as I was – she had elastic bands on her feet to wrap around my shoes.  I was so happy about that bunny.  We walked around together for weeks until the bands broke.

To carry on the tradition, when my son was little, I would have him hunt for his basket.  One year, I cut off food icons and labels of of cans and boxes and pasted them on index cards.  He had to find out what they were and where they went in the pantry or bathroom to find the next clue.  I mean, he ate Campbell soup, but did he ever look at the label when he was six years old? 

Even when he was older and the basket would contain classic rock t-shirts and jeans instead of candy, I challenged him to think in order to find what he wanted.  It took lots of planning – and running around, but it was worth it to see his concentration and laughing with all of his friends as they joined the hunt.

As I gather together the baskets for the nieces and nephew this year, it seems like a step backward just to hand them to them.  I think I have officially become a “back-in-my-day” kind of old geezer.  I’ve earned it.

Image

Joe- April 9, 1967 – December 6, 1988

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Joe- April 9, 1967 - December 6, 1988

Joe – taken in Phoenix, AZ

I have this pattern on April, 9th, Joe’s birthday.  On April 8, I usually start thinking of what I want to write about him on his birthday.  I figure out how old he would have been (47 this year) and that leads me to what my life would have been like instead of what it is. The what ifs are not a good path to take.

I think of the quirky kid he was when he was little.  How he liked having books read to him – how he liked going out to eat – it was such a treat back then.  I was proud of how he collected his good toys together to go to Goodwill every holiday – so other kids could share.  How he dressed up in June in his Halloween mask and went door-to-door seeking treats because I told him he couldn’t have any cookies before dinner – how he went through a phase of kicking men in the shins – particularly the men of the biker club we road with and they would howl and lift him over their heads and he would giggle.  How he had a little low-rider chopper bicycle that the guys would balance as they ran behind it because he was too young to ride a two-wheel bike.  And it goes on through his school years and his teenage years.  There’s so much to write about.

Then I try to find a new photo to use.  I’ve used the ones taken before he died over and over.  It’s how he looked – it’s how I remember him.  But there was so much more that led up to him being the person he became.  So then I try pulling out all the old photo albums – well, try to find where I hid them.  I have loads of photos in manila folders and in albums – I start looking at them and the weight gradually gets heavier – and it’s 4 p.m. on April 9 and I don’t have a decent photo because I was all caught up again.  And pulling out the old ones gets too much once again.

But I want to celebrate his life, not cover myself in a deep hole and forget it – with the pain of his loss, there was and is a lot of joy having Joe as a son.  We were lucky to have him as long as we did.

Here’s to you, kiddo!  Happy Birthday!!  This picture was taken in Phoenix, AZ when we lived there in the late 60 and early 70s.

I don’t remember the exact date, but what a great smile!  I carried this photo around for years.  Luckily, Mike worked his magic in Photoshop and removed all the cracks and bends I put on the photo.

Gone

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It’s all gone.

My scanned photos

My poems (good and bad)

My external storage disk crashed

Well, no sound of my past being obliterated

Just a light came on and would not go away

Took it all with it – even stuff I can’t remember about

Maybe that’s better…not to know what’s gone.

Gone.  Tuesday, March 4, 2014.

And that’s it.  Now just the screaming remains.

The Hardest Thing

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The hardest thing is for Art/Idea to be turned into

…A real project

I had an idea

I started sketching

I don’t know about what materials to use to start

But I have a shape and an idea – circle and void.

I ask him and he asks, “How big will it be?”

I reply with a vague hand gesture

“Where are you going to put it when it’s finished?”

I shake my head

What materials are you going to use?

I reply, “Some small pieces of wood, some yarn, shells, beads and wool…and maybe decorative paper.  Just a combination of things to make this big circle.

“Well, I kinda need to know a little more than that to give you a material to begin with.”

Art/Idea still in my head.

Emergency Lists

winterice 003 winterice 006 winterice 011 winterice 014 winterice 016Georgia weather has been particularly nasty this winter – ice, sleet, SNOW, wind and last week, we had an earthquake.  I know that earthquakes don’t really categorize under weather, but hey – it’s my way of lumping all this together.

Our local television stations have been scaring people into staying home (good point of you don’t know how to drive in snow) and listing items to have on hand for a prolonged stay indoors.  That, during the last storm was two days.  People were going stir-crazy for two days?  Two days.

So, in addition to the regular disaster lists for emergencies, as an artist, I have my list of items never to be without.

1.  Paper

2.  Black Sharpie pens (no puny ballpoint for me)

3.  Bits of scrap decorative papers or old magazines to cut up

4.  Paint samples from Home Depot or Lowes (they make a nice surface for rubber stamps).

5.  Acrylic and watercolor paints and brushes

6.  Gel medium, glue and water (for paints)

7.  Blank canvasses

8.  Wool Roving and Felting Needles

9.  Glue or double-sided tape

10.  Watercolor paper – heavy (can take a beating)

11. Coffee – if you don’t finish it, you can paint with it.

12. Scissors and cutting knife

I Remember You

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I was standing in front of the bathroom mirror

This first day of 2014

It was a crowded reflection – everyone showed up this year

I saw the hippie mom, adjusting her long earring,

The technical writer dashing to check her new hair color (blond),

The young mom holding Joe on her hip as she ran and grabbed a brush,

The shy teenager looking to see if the tape she put on her side curl overnight had left a mark on her cheek

The activist not really looking at the mirror and she grabbed a jacket from the closet.

As I focused on the old woman’s face, seeing all those lines that weren’t there last night, I saw a movement to my left

There she was – I hadn’t seen her for such a long time

She was about nine years old, sitting on her bed and reading a book.

Her bangs were neatly trimmed as she looked up from her pages

and saw me looking at her

I saw in her eyes that she believed the stories written by Ray Bradbury – why couldn’t dinosaurs live in the depths and hear a foghorn and think it was a friend calling to her?

She entered a contest that said she could be an artist if she drew this pirate that was on the back of matchbook cover – and she won – she really won (no matter that everyone won)

She believed in the goodness of people, the generosity of spirit and the hope that her world would continue in spite of the “under the desk” bomb drills at school.

As she smiled at me, those lines in my face dimmed, the others in the mirror folded into my reflection and I felt renewed.

She would be my muse in 2014, I decided.  She winked at me and was gone.

And I remained.

Open Paths

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steps23Last night, I dreamed of open paths

In the past, I didn’t even try to go down them

Because I believed they were closed to me

Even before I started – what I didn’t realize was

that I closed them myself with my thoughts

too old, too fat, too dumb

not rich, not celebrated, not 20 anymore

I’d stack those up them before I even started

This year, I’m blowing apart the barriers

I will take some risks, some leaps, some chances

They are my paths to take

and no one else’s

I will own them proudly

Wonder where they will take me?

New Drawings done in Cozumel

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cozumelart6 cozumelart1 cozumelart2 cozumelart3 cozumelart4 cozumelart5We went for a week to an all-inclusive resort in Cozumel, Mexico.  We had stayed there before and we wanted to go back.  We had a great time – I drew and read.  Mike learned how to sail and he took the kayak out several times.  We relaxed and enjoyed the 80 degree weather and sun – it rained for three days, but even that didn’t stop us from enjoying the resort.  I tried to channel the Mayan spirits with my sketches – got on a roll – one of the waiters even asked me for one – I drew him a mermaid!  We had a lovely afternoon with a parrot named Pepe.  He stayed right next to us in the lobby while we were reading.  He preferred Mike to me, however.   It was a wonderful time spent in a beautiful jungle.  Thank you, Iberostar!

I saw Myself

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We were heading home from the car parts store

We pulled out into the right turn lane

I saw you standing at the end of the lane

…with a sign

I couldn’t read it yet

but I knew how you stood in the blazing sun

…sweating rivers down your face, eyes down, knees together, back straight

wishing to be anywhere but where you were

Hungry.  Please help.  read the sign

Hand-scribbled in black ink

on a battered piece of cardboard

As we neared, I saw myself

40 years ago, standing in the sun

with a similar sign, desperate, bewildered and scared

…wanting money to feed my young son

It didn’t matter how you got there

It didn’t matter what mistakes you made or didn’t make

We motioned toward you and put some money

in your hand

You cried when we said it was only a little bit

You said, “It means the world to us.”

Someone gave me some money that day I stood in the sun

In another year, in another place, in another time

And my son and I ate like kings on rice and beans

grateful that someone cared enough to help us.

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