walking to the woods tossing a tangelo.
the peel comes off in one long strip
i eat it,
juice dripping down my arms,
it is so warm today
i head to my favourite spot, down to the edge of the lake,
crunching dead snail shells under my feet
i wash off the sticky stuff
a tuft of indiglo blue floats in the water
fish it out with a stick
ahhhh, fishing line
put it back in the water and watch it float for a while
off and running, so much energy I can’t contain it,
the wind, the smell, the excitement
a massive fallen tree on the path, climb over
i lie down on the boardwalk, my eyes level with the water
like being on a boat without the movement.
i play a game,
study the shape, memorize it, then close your eyes
don’t look for a few minutes and peek again
how much has changed?
did i drift off for a while thinking about the future?
water has flooded the path in front of me
i try to jump onto a log, it seems much too far
i miss and get a soaker.
red muddy running shoes
the wet foot makes me giggle
the smell of cedar hits and i try suck it all in through my nostrils.
as the sun dims the chorus of frogs becomes deafening
they seem happy about the weather too.
emily carr’s ghost speaks
she is calling me to a new adventure.
some things I have been perusing lately…
the great sitting -Two artists riding their bikes accross the United States in an attempt to not let dreams pass by unlived. Turning your life into a work of art is hard work. Help the universe by giving these two a few bucks, they are happy but hungry.
the mysterious world of Jandek -I love a good recluse story, yes i do. Jandek’s site.
handrawn maps -these are beautiful.
stoned hippies dancing -just what it says.
vending machines of japan -we north americans have yet to really delve into this fascinating world. yes to the toys and flowers, pass on the water salad , fried foods, and the ‘p’ word (which I will refrain from writing here to avoid being bombarded with comment spam.) I remember being intrigued with the Febo in Holland (catchy little tune they play). There is also the wonderful Artomat
some things i am learning while plodding through this life…
-that what i had interpreted as extreme independence is actually a fear of commitment (re: safety mechanism)
-that love is not something we create but something we access, it is always there whenever we need it
-that a large part of experiencing love is allowing yourself to receive it
-that fear is a constant companion with us on all of our adventures
-that i am not responsible for other people’s emotions (ooh that’s a hard one, ongoing yes.)
-that life (and relationships) shrink and expand in proportion to what we are willing to give to them/it
-that being gentle with oneself is much harder than it sounds
-that it is o.k. for people to be upset
-that there are no such things as mistakes
-that ‘not taking yourself too seriously’ is about surrendering to your true self and losing the mask
-that one will be regularly required to leap, jump, throw, spin, hurl, fall, run, scream, plummet, etc. in order to learn what trust really means
-that being honest sometimes requires getting dirty, one must be willing to play in the mud without worrying about their clothes. SAY YES TO MUD!
-that in order to feel successful you must stop and acknowledge your successes
-that music and dancing ALWAYS help
-that I am whole and complete right were I am now, wholeness is not some destination I will only visit in the future when i achieve ______?
-that I don’t know much of anything
-that when things get really bad, it can only help to dress like a pirate
A weekend of inking. Inking and inking. I have a permanent black stain on the middle finger of my left hand. Lots of late nights and listening to music at the drafting table. Food becomes a formality, you consume just to sustain yourself. 96 pages. It seems like the pile does not get any smaller. It does, albeit slowly. (I like the word albeit.)
“Albeit so masked, Madam, I love the truth.”
And so I crunch on the final pages for the kid’s activity book. Once all the pages are inked I can start on the colour. I will admit here to being tired. There is a point with every creative project where your energy seems to fade. Your mind looks ahead to all the other creative projects that you want to start. (I have this with books too, I start eyeing the pile of books on my nightstand and they all look infinitely more interesting than the one I am in.) But I plod on. (I like the word plod. It just sounds like a “laboured step”. Like someone is wearing galoshes that are way too big. Plod, plod, sploosh).
Galoshes. How i would like to don mine, with big wool socks on and run out into the rain today. I would jump in all the mud puddles and hunt for frogs. I would lie down on the boardwalk in the middle of the beaver pond and stare into the water. The water lilies are starting to make their way up to the surface. Soon they will spread their leaves and make little condos for the frogs to hang out on. I wonder if the frogs get all excited about that? I wonder if they notice how good it all smells after the rain?
“She stops at a cafe to rest. A man sitting at the window reads a book, scribbling intently in the margins. She wishes for a book like that. One that she could carry with her, writing notes in the white spaces, turning down the corners of the best pages. One that would offer itself up to her, making sense of things. She would turn to any page and find the answers to her questions. A sort of bible.”
-from “How the Blessed Live”, Susannah M. Smith
Just can’t seem to get started today. It’s already 2:30 and I have yet to even make a mark on a page, (though I did manage to make a lovely doodle on my desk while on the phone earlier). I hope my editor is not reading this right now. Don’t worry m’dear, once I get moving it will all get done. I hope. I often wonder how much I would actually accomplish if I held myself to some kind of schedule. Somehow I think the procrastination has a way of motivating me, there is always a little rush that accompanies it, (I know I could be working, and that at some point I will, but first I must make some tea. Yes. Tea first. Then work.) And maybe while making tea I will notice that my plants need watering, and while I am on the way to the watering can I spot my favourite stones laid out on the bureau. I like to pick them up and remember the day that I collected them on a windy beach, watching the tide roll in. The kettle boils. Back to the tea. The phone rings. I hang up and wander outside to feel the wind on my face just for a moment. I spot the tips of my irises poking out of the ground and go over to say hello. I start pulling leaves out of the garden, a couple of weeds, then rub the mint and lavender. Sniff, sniff, god that smells good. Oh yes, work. Must focus. On the way up to my studio I realize that I have to pee. In the bathroom I notice my reflection in the mirror and decide that I must try to at least pull a comb through this mop of hair, just in case someone decides to pop in for tea. Why not pluck the eyebrows while I am there? done. Oh yes, grab my tea. Sit down at the drafting table. Take the packing tape and wrap it around both my leg and the leg of the table. Twelve wraps should hold me for now.
Maybe editors should send authors lots of duct tape. I think I have mentioned before that Douglas Adam’s editor actually locked him in a hotel room for a week. I understand this completely.
o.k. now I am ready. maybe just one quick blog entry…
I think most of the world completely underestimates the potential of good soap. Lately I have become addicted to the stuff. Such a small thing can impact your life in great ways. Firstly there is the experience of smell, which has the power to make you to travel instantly to distant places, take a trip through a damp forest (cedar), or walking over a wild mint patch, or maybe through an olive grove. Sometimes the smell of a certain kind of soap will hook a memory so strong you actually travel back in time. One wiff of ivory and I am washing my face in my grandmother’s bathroom, (my sister always described the smell of her house as a mixture of ivory and carrots). But there is also the texture of soap that makes it so enticing, how it feels in your hand, how it feels when lathered on your face. I have been experimenting with using different kinds of soap depending on my mood. Carrot soap when I’m happy, milk & honey when I’m needing comfort, citrus when I need to wake up. How different the world might be if there was really good soap in every restroom! Maybe people would stop for a moment to enjoy the smells, or ponder a happy memory. Maybe they would take more time for themselves and be less inclined to rush onto the next task. I always get excited when I go into a restroom and find some little unexpected treat, like hand lotion, fruity soap, or free tampons. I take my time, use my nose, and pamper myself. Little reminders like that can really make your day better.
Another interview with yours truly, written by the talented Kathy Cano-Murillo.
“If they give you ruled paper, write the other way.” -Juan Ramon Jimeniez
I am off on a mini adventure for six days. To a world of sun, tea, books, and dreams. More words upon my return. Now it is time to fill my knapsack.
A while back I got the idea that I wanted to do a set of cards based on real-life characters. Meet Charlie and Lola, garbage man by day, legion goers by night. Ok so Lola is not based on a real person, more a combination of people I have seen. But Charlie is actually my real life garbage man, a man of many talents. He drives around in a shiny red truck, with white type that reads “Satisfaction guaranteed or full refund.” Charlie does this really cool trick, the first time I saw it I stood transfixed. He flips his false teeth out completely, and then flips them back in, the whole thing taking mere seconds. I pointed it out to friends one day at a local auction, (“Watch, watch, he’s doing it again.” flip, flip. One smooth motion. Don’t blink or you’ll miss it.) On any given week, after about three pm you will see Charlie’s truck parked outside the legion for an hour or so. These are the little things you get used to and come to expect in a small town. Like the two finger wave, hands on the steering wheel. The short ‘hello’ honk. Unchanging. Reliable. Comforting.
Two years after I moved here I went to visit the city for supplies. Being in the country I had already developed the automatic reaction of waving when people honked, (that and saying hello to everone on the street.) I felt like I was waving ALL day. Yes, I was. “how ya doing”, “hey”, “howdy”
It is all getting done. Wow. The huge, seemingly insurmountable amount of work that I had a month ago is one large step closer to completion. The book is written. Just a few small things to add. Editing, revisions, and then on to inking. I feel as though I am coming up for air after having been underwater for a while. My head spinning. There is a point with a large project where you have to push through a block of sorts. It feels like my brain is no longer capable of coming up with any more ideas. At this point I usually have no idea how I will wake up the next day and do it all over again. And yet I always do.
When I first started doing book projects I would spend months pulling things together, adding illustrations, and designing. When it was ready to submit to a publisher it would be a finished piece, the editor would know exactly what my vision was, (I felt it was necessary to sell myself to them). Now there has been a large shift in the process. Now I am submitting proposals to trusting editors, getting paid, and THEN doing the writing/illustrating. I’m not sure if I like it this way. It feels like a lot of pressure to perform at times. What if I’m having a bad week, what if NO ideas come? What if I just want to sit in a cafe a read a novel. no sir. Nose to the grindstone. Don’t look up until you are done. It feels like a grueling workout at times. All the while you are spending your advance money to live. Now I am not complaining at all about getting paid for my art, it is beautiful thing. But at some level the money does have some impact on the creative process.
I could really go on and on about this topic. And I will someday. But right now I want to go out and touch the ground again. Interact with other humans. Drink the rain.
I am so excited that I get to see my friend Helen perform this weekend. Watching her makes my own heart dance.
Read a recent interview I did for Mosaic Minds.