Monday, April 25, 2011

What happens next?

What happens next?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Spare-time Novelist

Follow Me
(Boston, 2004)

When I told regular people that I was thinking of writing a novel in my spare time, they smiled indulgently and thought to themselves, she'll never finish it. They figured that the day to day rigours would grab my attention, and I just wouldn't find the space of time.

When I told an artist that I was thinking of writing a novel in my spare time, he smiled with empathy and thought to himself (I imagine), I wonder if she's strong enough to finish? He knew what I was in for. Aspiring writer, if you have not begun your journey, I suggest you ask yourself that question before you fall in love with it. Are you strong enough to hold yourself and your life together and devote yourself to creation, too?

Because it's not the day to day rigours that will grab your attention. It's the writing.

Why did no one tell me about this moment in the creating process? Oh, maybe they did. I often don't understand what people are telling me. I assume I know me best.

Anyway, this moment. This moment when the story has grown to a heavy lump, not ready for the world but definitely in the way of living a normal life. This moment when the characters are demanding that I adapt my mind to them and live in them before they will give up their more of their secrets. This moment when the world of the story cries for its creator to feed it. My energy gets sucked up creating barriers to keep my drive to write the story from mucking up my daily life. I'm not as able to switch between worlds, focus my attention. It's like a constant siren's song.

This is the choppy water and sharp rocks that the artist wonders if I'm strong enough to take. There are real cuts and bruises in this journey, real impossible choices and no right answers. The regular people think not finishing is just a matter of losing interest, letting go of a fancy. The artist knows that if I don't finish, it will be a conscious decision to lower my expectations of myself in the face of "too much."  The artist knows that if I don't finish, I may never forgive myself.

The tension among all my "must do well"'s creates this moment. This moment when I need to ask myself - do I continue to let this eat up more and more of me because I am so in love with creating, or do I suck up my heartbreak and let it go, "for now"? (you can always come back...I might pick it up again...oh, who am I kidding).

The moment is not here, but it's coming. I feel the earth beginning to rumble with it, a tremor under my bare feet. I wonder what will happen next.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Veggie Art = Veggie Smart (how's that for a Mom Post title?)

I'm sure you won't mind if I go a little off side here and write a pure mommy post. Or, if you do, you'll just skip it and love me anyway.

All of a sudden, my kids eat vegetables. Like, not just one or two, more than a dozen different kinds, including the big ones: broccoli, cauliflower, spinach. The only ones they don't eat are tomatoes...yet.

It wasn't always this way. Although both children took to pureed vegetables early on, the moment they tasted fruit, veggies went out the window. We were down to pureed pea/corn mixes just to get a little veggie into them. That lasted a very long time. Every attempt to introduce vegetables into our meals was met with constant resistance.

So what changed? One, I got lazier, and two, I got bored.

I decided to stop cooking vegetables. I only bought vegetables that I was comfortable serving raw. In fact, I bought a bit of every vegetable that I felt comfortable serving raw, washed them and carefully put them away. That night, I cut up veggies and created the first of many tableaus to come.

That's the secret: raw veggie tableaus. And time.

I create a picture, sculpture, abstract visual piece, or an attempt at realism, using raw veggies. The family chooses our own veggies from the tableau throughout the meal. CHOICE IS KEY!

At first, the novelty got their attention. My rule was that they needed to choose three pieces of vegetable from the picture, no more than two the same. They reluctantly complied, and though it often took a long time at the table, they got used to eating their three pieces of raw vegetable every night without complaining too much.

Still, they were very limited, choosing only carrots or celery, avoiding chunkier bits. I persisted in using colour in my pictures, and managed to convince my son to try a piece of red pepper by making it a light saber. He loved the red pepper. He loved how happy I was that he loved the red pepper. He was encouraged to try other veggies, adding broccoli, cucumber, green beans and snap peas within a week. He declared that he LOVED zucchini and he couldn't BELIEVE I hadn't given it to him before, the night it was a face. He started enjoying his picks, taking six, seven and eight pieces of vegetable. Soon my tableaus needed to grow in size to keep up with demand.

My daughter was stubborn. I didn't think she'd ever come along, Then, based on her brother's recommendation, she decided to try just a little tiny bite of red pepper. She declared that she LOVED it. She loved how happy I was that she loved it, thought she only ate a few tiny bites, not sure after all. The next night she persevered, taking red pepper as one of her choices. She got a little further. Eventually, she could finish a piece in no time. Another day, we pretended to be rabbits and she ate the spinach leaves *nibble nibble nibble*. Next it was cauliflower, which had been the sheep in my shepherd tableau (she was happy to CHOMP the sheep!).

The thing is, I am not a veggie lover. Unlike my kids, my repeated tries have not resulted in LOVING any particular vegetable. But I am trying. And I make sure they see me take a variety, see me eat it. My husband, too, though for him it's not a chore since he actually likes them.

So here's the list of things that seem to have led to my kids' big turnaround:

- my positive attitude towards vegetables (look! I got fresh cucumber this week!)
- serving vegetables raw
- creative presentation
- variety available, choice
- patience
- supporting even a very tiny try with big love
- sibling recommendations
- eating my own vegetables so they see it
- perseverance and a willingness to sit them out, every night (or at least, most nights)
- early, promises of dessert, but not every time

That's my list. I can't guarantee it will work for anyone else. But I am shocked and proud to find myself the mom who's kids beg for more broccoli. Hooray!!

They won't make any museum, but my family really looks forward to them:

Monday, April 18, 2011

A Calling

(Grand Bending Series, 2004)

Any sailor can tell you
A calling
May be a Siren's song
Beckoning only to rocks and horror

(I don't want to turn away)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Another way to see(?)

See Again
(Hold On Hope, "Hope in my Backyard", 2011)

I’ve gotta find another way to go, here
I’ve gotta find another way to be
This mess of confusion, this not-coping nightmare
I cannot allow this to be me, not me

I can’t afford to lose face
I can’t afford the disgrace

Bristles to prickle the people around me
Showing them what I don’t want them to see
I see it, I know it, I can’t seem to fix it
The effort’s beyond little me, just me
I can’t afford to lose face
I can’t afford the disgrace

Most don’t forgive all those moments of weakness
Blame is an easy little flame to throw
Smiles hide judgments and whispers that haunt you
A hush and a coldness, silence, a no
I can’t afford to lose face
I can’t afford the disgrace

I’ve gotta find another way to go, here
I’ve gotta find another way to see

(well, it's better with the music in my head. fledgling.)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Hope (is an explosion)

Hope (is an explosion)
(Hold on Hope, 2011)

From the path
Stumps like rooted litter, leftover, dead.
(come closer) 

Depth  Awaits Our Notice
(Hold on Hope, 2011)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Hold on Hope project

Hope (is a Colour)
(Hold on Hope Series, 2010/2011)

Hold on Hope (a life project)

I’ve always had a well of hope, of optimism, and I never tried to guess how many experiences, at what intensity, might drain it too quickly to replenish. I assumed it was infinite. I assumed I could always draw hope from within, even when the world was stingy in providing. I could always find reasons, ways to hope.

And then, I couldn’t.

Sometime last year, I started losing hope. It’s been coming on for some time, in waves of despair that I dissipated quickly with some pride in my efficiency.

But they kept coming.

Stronger. Pounding me down a little harder each time, with fewer moments for a relieving breath before the next wave, BAM. And me, the whole time, trying to pretend to stand upright, pretend I’m not dripping wet, my smile determined.

That day, the day I scraped the bottom, I didn’t see it coming. I was paying attention to my body, breathing, focusing on my strength and capabilities. Then gradually, an undercurrent distracted my attention. I felt a rumble of discontent, like a little earthquake shaking my Okay. I felt a rumble of BULLSHIT.

From threat to explosion, brutality disguised as truth, the dam I’d been building gave way and what was there behind it was still there, rancid and steaming:

You don’t buy this. You know it’s hopeless. Is this what you’ve made of your life? Do you think that all those people watching Fox News are really capable of understanding what is required for humanity to live in peace on this planet? You have no more impact than a finger stuck in a pond and removed. Where do you get off even thinking you should or could make a difference? You’re just a middle-class no one in nowhereville doing nothing that anyone will ever care about, and that’s all you can be. You're on a path to fucking even that up. You’re ridiculous.

I sunk to the ground. I couldn’t remember one reason why I might want to dwell among humans. I thought, if I die right now, that’s okay. Whatever.


I don’t know how long I was there, in a heap, repeating that word , Whatever, over and over and over to myself like it excused every weak and ugly thing about me, like it absolved me of thought, caring and action all at once. A guilty relief, and a fake one, but I didn’t care at all. I laughed, manically at and to myself. I thought maybe my head would explode with the pressure of rejecting anything that felt like caring.

Me, without hope, is not someone I’m fond of being.

Eventually, I had to move. The body required it. Stiff, drained, empty, I rolled to my side. I sat up and faced myself in the mirrored wall. I couldn’t look in my eyes. I moved closer, rested my forehead against my forehead in the glass.

You need to get a hold on hope, I told myself.

I raised my head, and my blue eyes shocked me with their brilliance. I watched me see myself, and I smiled for a moment.

But it’s hard, I said, whiny.

I nodded in sympathy. Yes, it’s hard.  Hope anyway.

I held my eyes. I told myself: decide and stop deciding. Commit to a life that demands hope, every day. Stop worrying if it’s going to hurt. It is. Just figure out how to do it. Each choice, each decision, says what we really believe. What do you believe? What do you dare hope for?

This Hold on Hope project is about that, for me. It permeates everything I'm doing. It demands expression, this process of asking:

What do I believe? 
What do I dare hope for? 
And how will I be strong enough for all the inevitable disappointment along the way?

It's a life project. I’m glad you’re here with me. Stay tuned.
Almost a Path
(Hold on Hope, 2011)

Saturday, April 2, 2011


(Hold on Hope series, 2011)

A collage
A montage
Each season shares her colour
Light and shadow play
As though by whim (don't be fooled)