Monday, January 23, 2017

I'm Not Finished Yet

Here is a picture of The Wall tonight.
I've been working on some watercolor studies and I'm clear on what I want to do next.
It isn't finished and neither am I.

Before the accident I was all
I can do that
I was fit and bright and hell on wheels when it came to computers
I loved working and raising my kids
I experienced my share of pain and heartache and challenges
And while life certainly was not what I thought it would be
And most of the suffering I went through
Was because of my own ignorance
Which made me a little bit crazy for while
With
Good reason
Still, I was okay

However, some times a whirlwind of shit happens and there is just no
Controlling it
And that I had no control over
At times I wasn’t sure my own mind and body was going to be able
To carry me through it either

Imagine
I was an artist and suddenly couldn’t paint
My imagination was left
Out there somewhere on
Blue Star Highway
The experiences and observations
That used to inspire me were also
Gone

I was surviving in the Nothing
Well not exactly nothing
There was terrible unspeakable pain
That had become my constant companion
Every breath
Every movement
Everywhere
Through me
Everywhere pain lived

There was no reprieve.

I mean I was gone man
And nobody could reach me
And though my heart was filled with love and
Such a strong sense of spirituality
It was indescribable
I was left without reference
Without context

I was gone

Thoughts were fragmented
Random
Appearing briefly out of the darkness
That revved on
With the a constant high pitched ringing that also
Never left
That one made me want to slam my head into the wall
Just so I could crack it open and make it quiet

Now add to that I was a writer and
A poet
I had been working for five years on a book
Filled with stories of people who survived the Holocaust.
Writing poetry and reading and thinking had been a part of who I was
From the time I was a very little child I was reciting poetry
My grandmother read to me

I couldn’t figure out how to use my computer
All of those stories were in there but
I could bring them to life anymore
Not on my computer
And not in my abilities to read or reason
That project was gone too

My head hurt so bad when I tried to read
That I couldn’t read
And even when I tried
The letters were swimming on the page
I couldn’t comprehend what I was reading
And couldn’t remember what I read
I would keep on reading the same paragraph because
When I looked up I had no idea where I was
Or what I had just read

I couldn’t tell how far down the ground was
Or where I was going
Or what I was supposed to do when I got there

When I tried to paint I got lost
From the time I looked at a canvas to the time
I tried to find a brush or a tube of paint
I was lost

I walked all wobbly and it was nearly impossible to do
Ordinary tasks.

But some how
This thread of hope that was intertwined with the love
From my family and friends
Got through
It was so powerful
I could feel it
It
Was all that kept me together

I worked very hard
It took years before the doctors and technology and discovery
Physical therapists had the tools they needed
To help me find new ways to interact with a new old world that
Had become
Faint and some how foreign

I became determined to find a way to live one more day
I put my energy into living purposefully
With
And Without
What ever faculties remained
I needed to set a good example for my children
I needed to not be a victim of life
But to figure out a way to turn around
And kick it’s ass
Despite the pain
With the confusion that overwhelmed me and
Some times
With wanting to give up

Those first few years the pain was so horrible
I don’t think there was any time greater than 15 minutes
When the I wondered
How much can this body take
When I thought
This could be the last day
This minute could be the last minute I look into my daughter or my son’s eyes

And then
Suddenly all I didn’t have
Didn’t matter
Because out of all the suffering and fear and confusion
I received a gift
It was wrapped in love
It was called hope
And my perspective on everything changed
I would think
I lived through that hour
Maybe I can live one more
Maybe I can see the kids after school
Even though every minute was
An excruciating struggle
I couldn’t wait for that moment when the side door opened
And I heard their footsteps and heard them call out
Hey Maaaaaa

There were times when
I cried out to a God I didn’t believe was there anymore
A God that I didn’t understand
A God that I wasn’t sure listened
And eventually I began to open my mind to other possibilities
Maybe what I thought had been God was a little askew
Maybe

And this is what I came too
We are here once.
That we know
There are lots of theories and religions and traditions
That try to answer these simple questions
What happened to me
Why did it happen to me
What did I do wrong
How will I get through this
I know
It’s grueling
But out of all of that
Turns out
There was a
Bonus

I had been longing to
Live in the present and appreciate life
And what’d’ya know
Be Here Now
Was my new and very real
Separate reality
Now was the only place I could be
Everything else was forgotten or would be forgotten soon enough

I stopped grieving over the memories of my children I couldn’t find.
I stopped grieving over the life I could have had
I stopped grieving over accomplishments I would never know
I stopped grieving over love lost
And I just started to live
And love
And give of myself
To the garden
To Nature
To the dingbat dogs and cats
My precious children and friends
There was always more love in these deep pockets
I reached into
There was joy in knowing I would see their loving eyes looking back into mine
Loving me
Hoping for one more day too

I will tell you true
There is no one answer
We are all imperfect
We all err in our ways from time to time
We are all learning
And hopefully along the way
We do learn a thing or two
But we will never know everything

I learned that life is precious
Every second of it
And while I was learning this
Through tears and despair
Roots of hope began to take hold

I learned that
Our bodies are terrible things
They can rage on
Without our consent
And cause us so much pain
That we just want to give up
And I learned
There is also more than pain
There is more than loss too because
There is love
There is hope
There is one more precious moment
Some times it’s a freakin nightmare
And some times it is so precious it
Fills our heart with an elation we can only know through
Experiencing it
Gratitude filled my heart and body and for a moment
I slipped away into something
Wonderful
Pain may have grasped my body and was holding on tight
But it couldn’t steal the next moment
My focus changed
Because I was filled with this grateful tranquility for every minute

From that time on
I did more than exist and trudge through the pain
I did more than survived
I began to thrive

You see the thing about love is
It’s endless
You can give it without speaking
You can send it without a stamp
You can love your family and friends
And dingbat animals
And you can love
Every one
Every where
All of the time
The birds
The beauty of trees and leaves blowing in the wind
Watching the sun flickering through them
And it is always a wonder
That I appreciate

Monday, July 18, 2016

07182016

I play solitaire at night I try not to make mistakes The red goes on the black The black goes on the red I don’t skip any numbers or face cards Worked on The Wall And emptied every thing on the canvas Maybe no-one will see it Maybe it will go up in flames Maybe it will last forever Under another name I want to know how to get through all of this Coco didn’t come into the studio again today

Friday, July 8, 2016

Deleting Hatred

I read the post below this morning and have been thinking the same things. Last night I got tired of seeing all of the negative and mean posts that have been showing up on my FB page. I started deleting them and wow what a difference. I have decided to cut off the hatred from my page. Not the people, but all of the political meanness and bullying and lies and even mean humor, whatever, I don't even know what to call it all anymore but a sickness that has invaded my home and peace of mind.
I know bad happen. I know it. I'm in my sixties. My grandparents and my parents told me stories about the Civil War, WWI, WWII, the Korean War, the Viet Nam War. There are no winners in war. It leaves scars that are passed down from one generation to the next. I began studying the geocide that happened during WWII (actually reading history books and biographies for more than thirty years) and interviewing Death Camp Liberators and victims of the Holocaust into geocide has made me keenly aware of where cruelty and hatred leads. And you know what I found out? Every continent has been a victim and a perpetrator of violent genocide. Including America, where millions of Native Americans were murdered over the course of about 20 years. Ironically, I didn't know about most of this until I was married to a man who was Potowatomi. We were studying this terrible phenominon that has occured in our own cultural history and I was dumbfounded by my ignorance. I studied different religions. And I believed in a few until I saw so much hypocracy I let go of the organized religions completely but held to the teachings that were profound. I do believe there is something that connects all of us with nature and life but I am no longer arrangant enough to pretend that I have the answers.
I will say one thing and if there are mean comments, I will delete them.... all of my life people have always had different opinions about politics, religion and society. In fact, all of my research into history and religions over the course of my lifetime has shown me this is nothing new. Indeed, as King Solomon said, There is nothing new under the sun. There is wisdom in every society. There is honor in every society. And there is also a need for people to respect each other and each other's differences without intimidating and bullying people into some sort of submissive existance.
That's all I've got to say. I don't give a shit about conspiracies or he said she said.... there is no excuse for the behavior and the media hype that is distorting just about everything and I'm done with it. So, I will be deleted anything negative from now on. Again, not the people I love so much but I need to stop this flow of negativity in my life. I know a lot of amazing people. Giving, caring, loving, honest people. Some are gay some are not; some believe in God, some are religious and some are not; some have families and some do not and they are all sorts of genetic combinations of wonderfulness.... that is my reality. Are there bad people in the world who do bad things? Yes. Clearly. But until the media balances out that with how many good people there are who also do good things and are honest; I'm done with the media and the movies that pump hatred and killing into our lives like it was candy. I'm going on a diet.
My words to live by are these, show respect, to everyone. Burn the measuring stick and just show respect because it is a life choice not because you deserve it or anyone else does either. Show compassion, because none of us have all of the answers and we all have blind spots and none of us knows everything. In fact, that would be impossible, our brains aren't that big. So try to have a little humility and try to figure out how you can make something better and then do that one thing. None of us can solve all of the world's problems but that doesn't mean we can't do something positive today.
People can go on hating each other and finding all kinds of reasons that this is justified until we are all so disheartened we can't breathe, we can't function. People can go on killing each other and try to stamp out anyone who sees things differently or we can actually work on solving problems that don't include cruelty and killing each other. If we don't get our shit together and we just run along and believe whatever and continue to pollute the planet and use up its natural resources like little pigs, well we will pay for it. We won't have to spend millions, billions of dollars going to Mars because that's what this planet will be like. If we were so smart, we'd figure this out and work together to take care of this planet and each other instead of destroying the one place we can live and destroying each other.
This article is good. Not that people read that much anymore. I think most of us look at the pictures and read the captions and don't go much further but it's time to help an Akita find its way home and I'm going to do something about that.

Facebook post by Dakota Meyer
I’m tired. I’m tired of seeing my country divided and fighting itself. It has been tricked by the media and by this administration thinking that the enemy is us. Hitler used the common enemy approach prior to World War II to unite a splintered and struggling Germany. We used the common enemy of communism to unite our country for the 40 or so years that followed the end of that war. Then the wall came down and we lacked a true common enemy until September 11, 2001. But then that faded and America was in a lull of sorts lacking unity. Then 8 years ago “Change” was brought to the White House and over the past 8 years I have seen that change. The media and the Obama administration have worked tirelessly and we are just about there now. We are not a nation as much as we have become groups of people fighting amongst one another because the enemy is us.
When did we become so ugly as a nation? Why are we ok with not being better human beings? I’m tired of watching people dying. I’ve seen too much of it. I’m tired of the anger over things that aren’t even understood. Just stop. We know better than to act like this. Guns are not evil. Police are not evil. It is people who have become ugly and cruel to one another. It is people who have accepted the easy way out. They’ve chosen to be afraid and angry. They’ve chosen to blame other people for their problems. It is easy to be angry and blame someone else than to take responsibility for yourself. We need to just stop. Stop blaming other people and start now making ourselves better as human beings.
It is time to be done with being bound by a common enemy and instead be bound by the commonality that we are all Americans. I am saddened by what happened this evening and the events leading up to it. My heart and my prayers go out to the families of the officers who were shot in Dallas tonight. This isn’t what I want to leave for my daughter when I die and I will be dammed if I am going to sit here and do nothing.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Longer I Live

The Longer I live
the less I see things as either or
and the more I find the most reasonable answers
are often all about
and

I don't know why but when I was young
out there
seemed to be more interesting
more tantalizing than
what I took with me everywhere
that bein
my heart

Should I go to school
Should I become a part of the system
Should I graduate
Should I give a shit
My heart mulled these evaluations
endlessly

Somewhere along the way I realized
the middle of the road gets more sun
it stays the warmest longer
well, unless there is a mountain in the way
then it could be in shadow most of the day
life isn't fixed
but thinking about the journey we are on
the road we are traveling up
or down
its more about finding the warmth
and appreciating it

When people get hung up on either or
they tend to get rigid
it's my way or the highway
and this affects our
the way we ultimately decide to live
each moment
each day
of our lives

Should I get married
Should I get divorced
Should I take that next step
Is stability every thing it's cracked up to be

How do I apply all of the wonderful lessons I've learned
into day to day living so I am equipped to make
good decisions

I can consider lessons I've learned from my past
experiences and emotions and consequences
and I can make plans for the future
I'm going to the grocery store
better get my keys
or I need to decide whether or not to sell the farm

I can trudge up things of the past
oh I remember grieving or feeling so all alone
but going over detailed re-enactments of what happened to me
just ain't runnin on the wheel anymore

I have found considering the past is a good thing
because we learn from ours and from other's experiences
And having a plan without any expectations is actually
pretty reasonable
but in order to have balance
it is important to live right now
in the moment
yep
being in the moment is definitely where it's at

lucky as shit about that
I used to have a hard time falling asleep
because I would think about
everything
tomorrow
yesterday
it seemed like all of the questions
and conundrums of the world
would flutter through my subconscious

Should I sell the farm
Should I open up the house to travelers
or artists and poets and musicians who needed a getaway
who needed some times to just feel the earth between their toes
and get a few calluses on their hands
I've been a hermit for most of my life
And then I thought
What if someone came and didn't want to leave
What if I tried to take care of the farm alone
what if
I fell down in the haybarn lost my balance
it already happened once
had it been any worse my leg might have twisted the wrong way
and then
nope being alone isn't viable
and without knowing people
I don't think I could keep up with their coming and going

I didn't want the kids to have their own flow
interrupted
they had their own life to create and follow
the most reasonable decision was to sell the farm
I needed to change my perspective
it wasn't a loss
it had been a great way to raise the kids
it had been a great place to heal
and while I would have wanted to stay there
for the rest of my life
it was time to finally learn
to let it go
let go of my expectations of life
and instead
look at it realistically
there is another phase for me
another place to live
it it time to stop resisting change
and to go with it
not to grieve over it
but to celebrate it

I asked my sister to help me with this decision
After two years of struggling I still wasn't any closer
to knowing what to do

We figured that if we lived closer
than at least we would all see our kids if they wound up
living in other places too
it was time to sell the farm
it was time to move
on
so I had an auction
packed up
found homes for my much loved
llamas and donkeys and mule and goat
and my stinkin cats
and my Akita and Bulldog and
got a little house my sister found for me
with a wonderful yard
I was close to my sister
and it was absolutely the best decision
our kids grown and growing
were close and my sister and I loved each other
and enjoyed being able to see each other
and funny thing about it was
my adult kids all wound up in Chicago
living together
making friends
having a life
working
going to Columbia College
learning how to take public transporation and
learning how to take their country
sensibilities with them to
Chicago

it was great
I went back to Columbia College
and finished what I started back in the early seventies
and I even graduated on the Dean's List
30 years after I started there
Two of my children graduated from Columbia College too
what a great experience that was

moving to this area
and going to college in Chicago
and the kids living together in an apartment
and working and going to school and
making friends
creating a life there
that probably wouldn't have happened
had I not sold the farm
Their lives opened up tremendously
from having lived in the City

Turns out
the decision to sell or stay wasn't about
should I move
or should I stay
or should I live on the road
it was about
family
and being in contact with each other
it was about cherishing those times we had together
it was about celebrating life
and celebrating each other's lives too
yeah
none of this would be happening
if I sold the farm and kept a few acres and
put a tiny house on it.
taking that next step
is how I got here
right now
it's how I got to peace
and understanding
in the one City that decades ago I hated
Yeah
Chicago
who knew

cool
huh


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Perfection Is Highly Overrated

being
out in the gardenyard
soon it will be warm enough
to take my shoes off
and feel the mud squooosh up through all of those
inbetween places

it grounds me

after a few good thaws
and a few good rains
the good earth
is ready to receive its seed and root

planting and transplanting
moving moss and flowers and saplings around
and the warmth of the sun on my back
is exhilarating

Put some garden tools
into the old Radio Flyer and up the driveway we
crackle and roll

broke'n gloves hang out my back pocket
I'll use them for awhile and then
refuse them
something about dirt under my finger nails
brings me closer to Grandma
think we'll spend a morning together

I need to top off some buds from weeds that have clearly
been improperly categorized
and put those seeds out'ta searching
for a place that is just right
my garden
is unpredictable

Ooooo those clouds are coming in
quicker than I thought they would
think I'll go put on my rubber boots just in case
wait a minute
they need mending
no worries
I know where some neon pink duct tape sits
waiting to be taken off it its roll
to find something useful to do


ahhhh
perfection is highly overrated





Monday, February 15, 2016

Academy Award Boycott 2016

This year the Academy Awards presented me with a moral dilemma.

For the second time in the past two years, only white people were nominated for any awards.  Now this is not uncommon.  Everybody knows that a bunch of fat cats raking in money for peddling their owners ideas and way of living is culturally narrow.  And outside of major cities wow... not a lot of diversity there unless it represents one way of thinking.  Which in and of it itself is.... disappointing.

I got to thinking.... do I really care about what these people do.
Do I need to sit on the couch and watch one more awards ceremony
As people I'll never know slap each other on their backs and
go to all kinds of fancy parties and
get accolades from their peers and listen to who made what fancy suit
and designer dress
from yet more people I don't care about.
don't get me wrong now
some of those gowns are truly works of art
but do I really care who is what in this whole exclusive scene
nope I really don't care
not when there is something else that is worth so much more
like respect and dignity and integrity and fairness and inclusiveness

freedom to have everybody represented in the arts and sciences
freedom to hear a wide range of stories about our shared human experiences 
freedom to be represented, for crying out loud 
Really. 

I heard Ice Tea say something, and it just broke my heart, paraphrasing here, he said he never expected to be invited to the party.  He made movies because he loved making movies.  He loved  expressing himself creatively and
he was passionate about his work
his insights are so true and so real
to think that someone like this
some one with this much talent
would just figure that was the way it was
broke my heart

Oh
How all of Hollywood couldn't gain some insight into this is beyond me.  This some racist bullshit and everybody knows it.  There is no way the only stories worthy of being recognized or awarded to only those about white people or told my white people
Seriously,
this is some ignorant bullshit. 

It wasn't so long ago, people that were different genders, races and religions joined together in something called the Civil Rights Movement.  It was dangerous.  It was scary.  It was beautiful.  Crossing those lines of ignorance and reaching out to people we didn't know culturally.  Not just black and white but people of all  ethnicities and religious or non-religious beliefs decided to see.... what does it look like from over there...

We took chances. 
Most of us were never on the news or in any book. 
It was more a choice to live with the knowledge that man now has the capability to blow up this planet like so many times, its ridiculous.  How did that translate to everyday people.  People taking chances to make friends with people who were different?  Yeah, and you know what, we found out that there were a whole lotta groovy things we did have in common.  The need to be understood.  The need to reach out and know someone is there.  The need to understand what is happening in our hearts.  The need to love and to be loved
The need to have a friend.

We cooked cool foods and enjoyed experiencing different cultures and found other like minded people that really loved living free.

You know what I'm talkin about too.

When I was a little girl we were driving up north
and I remember seeing those white only signs up over the water fountains and
colored signs only by other water fountains and wondered
what these were signs there for. 
I went over to the nearest fountain, which was the wrong one and
my Mom came over and got me.  She told me had water in the car. 
Why are those signs there, I asked her?  I wish I knew she said.

Years later I was involved in the peace movement in Chicago.  And I was there when the second Chicago fire hit.  Oh my God, it was so sad.  So sad.  I bet you don't hear that often.  But it was.  When John F. Kennedy and Malcom X and Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. were taken from us it was like the wind had been ripped out from under our wings and we fell, flat on our backs, no wind, no breathing, hollow
hollow
hopeless

all of our hopes and the people that inspired us so
had been stomped on and trashed
and it left a scar

but we didn't disappear
we just got quiet
we kept being real
and we kept moving on

I'm an old woman now
and my heart still aches
still aches
just to think about
that time

And I think, the Revolution will not be televised
The Revolution is Live

Because every time we continued to extend our hand
and our hearts to those around us
regardless of whether we were alike or different
it meant some thing
it
meant
some thing

Now the Academy Awards is coming up
and again two years in a row not one person who wasn't white
was chosen to be awarded.
That means that apparently no other stories like
Straight Outta Compton, Concussion with Will Smith
or Spike Lee's, ChiRaq had any relevance or ironies or substance
really
seriously?

And I thought about Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr
and so many others
some names you would recognize and many you've never heard of
and I thought about that diner in Greensboro, North Carolina
when regular everyday people decided
they weren't going to sit by and tolerate segregation anymore
and all kinds of people put their lives on the line
during that decade
because they knew
deep in their hearts
that the Revolution was live
it was an everyday mentality
an awareness of how connected we all are
of how much we share
and it was about turning away from destruction and turning
toward creating something beautiful

Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr.'s beliefs
about practicing non-violence and civil disobedience by living
mindfully
through the convictions of one's own conscience
with integrity
with the goal of achieving freedom and peace
for everyone may have been lofty
but it still sails me

to live any other way
once you understood that when one suffered
we all suffered
it wasn't possible to stay comfortable
when others were suffering from the wounds of hatred

I saw on the news today that all of these actors and directors
had won all kinds of awards. 
I thought maybe the Academy Awards had been on last night
but no, these were major awards from other countries
and suddenly
I pictured
all of those well tanned
muscular few
who have trainers and coaches and prestige and adoration
from their fans
and I saw the glutinous need for more

smiling and scarfing down
more and more and more
and more
and I thought
the Revolution is live

look
some will sit at the trough
and some won't have a clue
some will sit at other tables in the five and dime
and they won't say a word
but maybe a few
might just maybe
decide to sit somewhere else instead
and say
enough is enough too

Unless everybody is invited to the table
man why go
there's gotta be a whole lotta some thing else to do
and some where else to be
than there

I have decided to boycott the Academy Awards this year and chose to share my thoughts about this in my video.


All of life, so far as we understand it
is connected
it is always being
and it is always becoming
whether we see it or not
hear it or not
whether we can quantify it or not
life is
its real liquidy
and its always moving
on its own wavelength
I think this is why prayer and singing together
or listening to music together
gives us the awareness of our connection
that is always inside us
moving through all of us
you see I think
ALL
lives matter
and participating in the perpetuation of this discrimination
regardless of who gets hurt
or who is hurting
well, it just isn't entertaining
not one bit
it isn't funny
it isn't cool
and it damn sure isn't righteous

I remember singing a song with many others
I couldn't find a recording of a crowd singing this song
I think you'd have to be there to know what it felt like
to be targeted
to be scared
to hear the screams America love it or leave it and to stand
and hold onto each other
swaying to this undeniable connection we were all feeling
and it was some thing
monumental
that broke down all kinds of walls and barriers and it was
beautiful
here it is
We Shall Overcome

Look, we all decide who we are by how we live.  We all reflect who we are by how we live.  We do this every minute of every day.
As for me?
I'd rather sit this one out
and tune out hatred
and ignorance
and instead do just about anything else
I may even wash my hair and
in my heart
I'll be remembering those songs we sang
and the crowd
becoming one love
and I'll be digging on that


I realized that the real fight
wasn't won with violence
my Grandpa told me more than once
Baby
You may have to fight three times in your life
But all of those good decisions you make
whether anyone sees you making them or not
will give your the strength to survive

I was young then
a pacifist
a dreamer
but I listened to my Grandfather because I knew
he was such a good man and he was telling me something important

I couldn't imagine what I would fight with someone about. 
I was picturing getting into an actual fist fight.
But as I lived and breathed
Grandpa was right
Those struggles
especially after the brain injury
that ripped me a part
I could never have imagined
turns out the greatest battle I would ever face
was the one with my own will to give up
my own will to live
was beyond me

I realized that yes, all of those decisions that seemed insignificant
whether anyone saw them or not
had given me strength
enough strength to look in the mirror and recognize
that I was still being and becoming and
a part of everything
and while it was different now and
I was in some ways different now
life was still worth living
and even when it was hardest to convince myself of this
I kept on going
the strength of all of those decisions I'd made
gave me the ability to take one more step

Grandpa was right
no matter how hard we get knocked down
life is still worth living
when we live it with integrity, love and
when we live it purposefully

And my purpose is to keep on keepin on


I watched the Grammy's last night

And wow
I saw the most historic, inspirational
creative expression of genius
Kendrick Lamar

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Prairie Gifted to The Indian Prairie Public Library

This is a video Dave Bunn put together of the time I worked on the painting The Prairie at the library and then when I gave it to the library when it was finished.  This painting took about a year to paint.  It is a love gift to the whole community.


My son Steve Lieto and my daughter Rebekah Lieto are adding their brush strokes and color to The Prairie.  The creative expression we share is very much a family affair.  We had such a good time.  Coco is also in the video.  Coco is my Akita Service Dog who was very much a star at the library while I worked on the painting there.  And she was my constant companion when I continued to work on it in my studio.  There is just a sideways glimpse of Marianne Ryan, who did an awesome interview after The Prairie found its new home at the library.  Thank you Jamie Bukovac for coming up with this interactive project.  I love love loved working on it at the library.  I loved the families, the love, the questions, the curiosity.... just everything.
Thank you Dave for creating this video.  You are a dear.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Birdman Review

Birdman

I don't usually choose movies because they've received awards or rave reviews.  Most of the time big winners don't impress me. But there was something about Birdman and what people said about it during the Oscars that compelled me to make sure I didn't miss this one.

I went to see Birdman at a wonderful small theater in town. I went with my daughter, who is also an artist and our dear sisterfriend Margo.

First off, Birdman was fucking genius.
Everything about it.
The screenplay, and directing
was
wow brilliant.


This film was based on a play by Raymond Carver entitled ,"What We Talk About When We Talk About Love," and the screen play was written by Alejandro Bonzales Inarritu and Nicolas Giacobone and Alexander Dinelaris and Armond Bo.

 The actors shared their own moments of truth.  Their own enslavement to their craft.  Their own self hatred and inspiration.  Michael Keaton was amazing.  The way the Director, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, melded the in-time events with what was really going on inside the characters was way out cool.

Everyone's performance was stellar.
It was great seeing real flesh and blood actors with wrinkles and imperfect bodies who had something authentic to express between the lines of the written word and the depths of their own experience. I especially dug Edward Norton, (always a fave), Emma Stone, (she totally blew me away) and Lindsay Duncan, oh hell yeah and Amy Ryan, as subtle as an ocean breeze.
All that being said,
Michael Keaton,
Michael Keaton,
Michael Keaton!!!!!!!!!!!!!
He filled up that screen and expressed a whole lotta somethings that he had lived through,
and gave an in your face performance that stuck


Bek and I talked about this shared experience of being an artist, a creative person, after the movie.
We talked about that moment or lots of those moments
when we reach that point, while we are creating something out of nothing,
when self doubt, and self loathing lifts its grotesque head,
out of the depths of wherever the hell we go for our inspiration
and gurgles up through the sludge of change and chance
until we are overcome
until we reach out and truth leaves a trace of some kind of
creative expression
for the reader or viewer or listener to feel too
that connection between the obscure and the inspired
is what most people never see
That moment or maybe lots of moments
when we experience these private little deaths
when we give ourselves to our work,
our creation
and let go of every
hope 
every secret expectation that our work will be validated
and we let go
we jump
we wake up
crippled
sweat dripping and running and running
motionless
breathless
head pounding and excruciating truth
until we can't think any more
and it all
gives way to something far more risky,
something far more
real.
something tangible that the viewer sees

it is our of our hands
it takes on a life of its own
and everything else pales

The final seconds before the curtain rises
when we demand an answer
as though we are asking a judge to find us innocent
and the gavel cracks down hard
and inside the world vanishes
and all we hear is
what difference does this make
this is all insignificant
nobody cares
you are nothing
and then
we step into the nothingness
into the sentence
and we say the next line
or load our brush
or we begin to sculpt or
play another note
and then we are there
we are swirling around in that moment
second by second
creating something to hold onto
something that won't disappear
but something that will always
always
disappear

This movie blew my mind.
The awards it received were wonderful and well deserved.
But the experience of seeing this movie in the theater
the artist and the craft being splayed in the darkness lit by the wide screen
was like going through a living breathing autopsy
It was the metaphorical journey of an artist
the insecurities
the questioning
wrestling with that great big question
what difference will all of this make
and the ultimate answer that echoes time and again
it doesn't matter
its all insignificant
you are insignificant
oh man oh man

My favorite things?  The story has substance and people look real. People have wrinkles and imperfect bodies and they don't know what the hell is going on. They are hanging on by a thread just long enough to take an entire audience with them, as they delve deep and deeper still into the creative process. This is what the artist, the musician, the writer, the performer lives and breathes.


This is the sacrifice that most people never understand.
This is the torment and this is the bliss
this is the wound and this is the healing death
this silent primal scream that springs from the depth of our gut
until we are finished
until we are wrung out and nothing else is left
until its over
until
we slip away
with the hope that just maybe
maybe someone else feels it too

and that's it
the completion
the opening
the death
the life
the expression
all there
all hidden
all out in the open

oh by the way
the drummer was the heart beat that pulled this whole dealeo
together
he was the beat


yeah it was pure genius

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

All Creatures Large and Small

All creatures large and small have attention getting behaviors. Some are used to alert others of danger and some are to alert others to a source of food. All use lots of behaviors to get the attention of a potential mate. This is normal. Now here is the kicker. Your dog will respond to your attention getters too. For example, say you are a yeller. You are constantly correcting but you don't follow through with instruction. You follow through with intimidation or force. And your tactics frustrate you because you have to behave in a way that outdoes your dog's behavior. Your relationship is based on telling and punishing. Neither of which is something your dog understands. It may understand it needs to be submission to quiet things down but that doesn't mean it has learned anything.

When there is a behavior that your dog does and you want it to do something else, you need to set your dog up for success. For example, when Coco and I were in service dog training school there was a command they needed to do. Back.. In class, they were along a wall and they couldn't go forward. The only way they could move was straight back. Every step back earned praise, Good back. Good girl, good back. Lots of repetition and instruction gave her brain and body a chance to learn this skill. Then when we applied it in stores, again, we were in a situation where she could only walk straight backwards. Lots of praise.

Eventually, I used a hand signal with her and she cued me when we needed to go back and it became more like a dance. Coco, all on her own, will decided if an aisle is too congested for us to get through and she will stop, look at me and we will go backwards. She has done this in a parking lot or in a restaurant. Always looking for where we need to go and always prepared to change directions.

So when our dingbat animals, our brilliant Akitas are doing something to get our attention try to figure out what type of attention they are getting used to. We generally set the tone. I remember seeing this with so many of my fosters. Especially ones that had been yelled at or worse. One of the sweetest dogs I ever fostered was Chelsie. She had been left for dead in the backyard, chained to a tree, when the people moved away. There had been terrible storms for a couple of weeks so she was completely deaf and very sick when she came to me. One thing I noticed was she didn't want to go into the kitchen, which is where our side door to outside and walks is and where the food and water is kept. She would get low to the ground and practically crawl with her ears flat down and this sorrowful look on her face. I knew she had been yelled at, seriously intimidated and she had learned her lesson but she was left with scars.

So I started helping her so she wouldn't feel afraid. Now she may have gotten food off a counter or into a garbage can so she may have done that. A lot of people insist on keeping open garage cans in kitchens and then get mad at the dog when it gets food out or out of boredom drags it through the house. Instead of getting a can with a good secure lock on it or putting it covered in a pantry or laundry room or in a lower cabinet. I had to get a baby lock for a cabinet door once because that was where I kept the garbage. Instead of yelling at my dog I set my dog up for success.

Our dogs learn so much when we teach and reward instead of punish and reward. Trying to figure out how to get ahead of a bad behavior and train or teach your dog what it needs to do to get lots of positive attention is the challenge and the difference between conditioning a dog to respond to your attention getting behavior and you developing a teamwork relationship that is actually a two way communication that enriches all of your lives. Chelsie got over her fear and looked at that kitchen like a fantastic gateway to outside and long walks and treats and when I was cooking she would join the others and lay just outside of the kitchen waiting for something yummy to happen. Oh and with proper Vet care her terrible ear infection cleared up and she could hear again. It took some time before she got better so I trained her by tapping my foot on the ground twice, an attention getting behavior, and giving her a hand signal. Both of these love bugs were fully trained and went into terrific homes.


Monday, February 9, 2015

I'll Stand By You

There is an icy patch between my back porch and the garage. I say, "Coco I need you." She comes running to me, absolutely exuberant. Usually, I put her vest on before we go outside and I say, "One step girl." And then we carefully go outside. When I hold onto the handle of her vest there is no tugging or movement forward. We are one in motion. She leans her body into the side of my leg just enough to give me balance so I don't fall down. Some times I forget to put the vest on Coco and she just waits there for me to take a hold of her back.

I could put some salt in front of the garage door but the dogs would walk through it and I worry about it getting on their feet.

I had already put Rider on his tether so he could be outside with us too. Coco and I went into the garage and I emptied the garbage and secured the lid and then opened the garage door. Sun filled the garage and for a second or two I am blinded. Coco knows its coming. I can feel her wrap around the backs of my legs. We have to take the recycle bin and garbage can to the end of the driveway. The driveway has been plowed and salted but it is very cold and there are icy spots that are some times hard to see.

I put a snow shovel in the recycling bin and with one hand, push it down the driveway. I hold onto Coco with my other hand. After seven years of living together we instinctively take "one steps" until we have gone to the end of the driveway. Gently, she leans into the side of my leg to give me support so I don't fall down. We walk back up the driveway and then roll the garbage can down and set it alongside the recycle bin. And then we walk back up to the garage and close the overhead door. Each time my trusty girl is by my side. She never moves an inch without me. Coco's love and focus never waivers. How did I get this lucky... I am so grateful to share life with Coco.

I was stirred today about something that happened after the accident that left me with a Traumatic Brain Injury. Maybe a couple of years later. I was still in a fog, trying to find my way back to my new life with a TBI. I was driving in the day time to places close to the house and only going in straight lines. I decided I wanted to find out if I could do something all on my own. I went to see a movie called, "The Horse Whisperer". It was during the day and I don't think there was anyone else there. Which was lucky because there were a few times when I watched this movie that I sobbed uncontrollably. That kind of gut crying that shakes your whole body. In the dark there I watched the whole movie. I left, all wobbly, using my cane, blinded by the bright light outside, I made it to my car and sat in it and cried some more. I didn't understand what upset me so. I talked with my neuro-psyche about it. But I didn't feel settled in my mind over it. About a year later I finally finished reading the book. Often crying even then. But I couldn't process it. When the video finally came out I watched it and had the same reaction. I talked with my neuro-psyche and told her I knew there was something going on but I couldn't figure it out. I felt like I needed to face whatever it was but I couldn't sort it all out. She told me to watch the video and stop it whenever I felt that way and write down what happened in the movie. She said she would watch the movie too. So I did and when we met again I gave her my notes.

After reading them she said I had replaced my self with the horse. As soon as she said this, I knew it was true. The accident and injuries and not being able to trust the doctors or people who were supposed to take care of me; feeling terrified and panicked and alone and unable to understand what happened to me, it all was there. And then the doozy moment came. There was a point in the movie when this troubled horse got loose and ran off. And the trainer went out to the field where the horse was and he waited. He waited all day. He waited until that horse came back to him. And my first thought was, there is no-one who will ever wait for me like that. No-one will ever love me like that. And I grieved over the person I once was and the promise of the person I could be in the future.

I did eventually get great help and will always be grateful to the Chicago Lighthouse and RIC for their expertise and ability to help me understand what happened to me and how I could make the best out of what remained. Its been twenty years since that car came speeding into our lane and since then I have realized that there have been plenty of people that have waited for and have stood by me. My amazing sister and her family, my precious children and a few dear friends and of course, Coco.


Sunday, January 11, 2015

Je Suis Charlie


I am so grateful to see that the French are making a joyous stand for freedom of speech and freedom of religion and most importantly, standing against hatred and violence and fear, peacefully. I have never been more proud of humanity than at this very moment.

Vive la France!!! Je suis Charlie!!!

National Unity March In Paris Draws World Leaders And Crowd Of Millions
  

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Polar Vortex? No Problem!

Built Akita Strong - Coco is loving this cold weather!


It always gives me such a kick to watch Coco just enjoying our coldest days.
A puddle?  Not so much.  
She gets a look on her face when a puddle is in her path is like, seriously?  
That would be uncivilized.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

You Don't Know What You Don't Know

You don’t know 
What you don't know


By Jenn Weinshenker 12312014



some times you don't know what you don't know

until you come right face to face
sa'mack 
thumb in the old eyeball
with a new belief
that contradicts everything you thought was true

shit
now what

yeah so

I was thinking about that

and then it hit me

When I've made mistakes
It was because 
I couldn’t see that huge barrel of crazy
commencing to blast through my life
toppling over everything 
I thought was absolutely
unshakable

As ludicrous as it may seem
I just about always resisted change

Instead of adjusting my point of view
I tried to rationalize what happened
and cram it into my old ways of thinking
some times I kept this up for years
until finally I was so exhausted
from dangling off the edge of nowhere
I let go
and faced the facts

then I’d beat myself up and holler inside my head
If only you would have known then
what you know now
you would have made different choices
life would have been so much better

but life isn't that way
some times
you just don't know
what you don't know

I mean I traveled and experienced lots of things
I lived a self examined life
I was being mindful of my intentions
and quick to weed through selfishness 
and self deception
and I was making some good decisions
A lot of them were good
but man some were like wow
what were you thinking 

And then I'd climb in the ring again
Why didn't I see that
And the valley I'd stumbled through
echoed  back
You were thinking through the lens of your own experience
Up to that point
you didn't know that was a possibility
you had no frame of reference for what was about to happen
Okay then...
I didn't know what I was up against  
I was completely out of the realm of my experience

I couldn't know what I didn't know

I couldn’t anticipate or see clearly what was about to happen

And I couldn’t see beyond it

because there was a bend in the road 
sometimes life is that way

out of nowhere
you get clocked up side the head

because there is this belief you had

that kept tripping you up
its like walking into a wall 
over and over again
and then one day
you see a doorway
and you move on through it

I used to think  
either 
or 
a lot
But the longer I live
the more I think
and 
is the connecting word to all of it
And then so much more became clear

I used to believe this way but now I believe another way
maybe both ways are true
Maybe absolutes are for suckers with agendas

hmmmm

now when I get all crumpled up
and wish I could have made some different choices
or wish I hadn't fought with reality and life so much
I just tell myself to chill out
stop letting unreasonable expectations
Bum you out

I mean none of us are born knowing everything
So you skinned your knees a few times
You were watching which way you were going
And your vision was askew
You couldn’t see what was coming
So what
Join the human race
And just
Dig the day
Learn what you can
Keep living mindfully
And let go of that lasso
That ego that keeps insisting
Perfection exists

 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Bad the Ugly and the Very Very Good

There's over 5 trillion pieces of plastic floating on the surface of the ocean. Keep in mind that this is what is floating on the surface. I know someone who was part of a study being conducted by scientists, and I learned that climate change and global warming is also happening in the ocean. All of those tiny bits of plastic that become fine as sand are reflecting heat from the bottom of the ocean. Heating up the ocean and changing the currents of water, which also changes the currents of the air moving on the ground above.
I have been thinking about these things for much of my life. I always thought that there were huge currents in space, wavelengths that were too long to measure, that did not have a beginning or end but that were more like the ocean and that is what kept planets spinning and wobbling in a steady sort of way. But waves can change depending on the resistance of what it went through or had to go around. I called them spatial waves. I just found a post about them.
People think that just because nobody sees you polluting the planet or just because it happens underground or in the ocean that is never happened. But traces of the truth are everywhere. All throughout our human history. And here we are. The resources we have are precious, the are finite and they are worth a lot more than money or power.
Ever heard of cutting off your nose to spite your face? Its an old expression. Well, we are dumping crap into the ocean, into the air, into the ground, into the aqua fir, piercing through that tiny OZone layer every time we go out into outer space and people remain oblivious. If I don't see it, it never happened. If I'm not caught, I didn't do it instead of just figuring out what the next right thing is to do and then doing it. But we'd rather kill each other with war and toxic poisons and bullshit then treat each other with respect and taking good care of our planet, our mother and our father for crying out loud.

I just did a search on spatial waves....

Rock topography causes spatial variation in the wave, current and beach response to sea breeze activity
Abstract
We hypothesized that beach profiles that are perched on natural rock structures would be better protected from waves and currents than profiles that are not fronted by rock. In southwest Western Australia many beaches, such as at Yanchep, are perched on Quaternary limestone. Yanchep Lagoon is fronted by a low-crested limestone reef that partially encloses a coastal lagoon. The spatial variation of waves and currents around the rock structures were quantified during the sea breeze cycle at locations: (1) offshore; (2) 20 m seaward of the reef; (3) inside the lagoon; and (4) in the surf zone. The spatial variation in the beach profile response was measured at two beach profiles: (1) the Exposed Profile that was not fronted directly seaward by outcropping limestone; and (2) the Sheltered Profile which was fronted seaward by submerged limestone at 2 m water depth and that was near the lagoon exit at the end of the limestone reef. The Sheltered Profile had greater volume changes during the cycle of the sea breeze whilst the Exposed Profile recovered more by overnight accretion when wind decreased. The lagoonal current drove the strong response of the Sheltered Profile and may have contributed to the lack of overnight recovery of the beach together with the seaward rock formation impeding onshore sediment transport. The different direction and speed responses of bottom-currents in the surf zone fronting the two profiles reflected the local variation in geology, the influence of the jet exiting the lagoon, and wave refraction around the reef that was measured with GPS drifters and wave-ray tracing using XBeach. Major spatial variation in waves, currents and beachface behavior at this perched beach shows the importance of the local geological setting.

Holy Shit! I remember, it had to be a few years after the brain injury, and I all of the sudden thought about spatial waves, like currents. I used to love to study Einstein. I started when I was about 12, reading the Theory of Relativity. But I grew to love physics. It dovetailed with studying Taoism and Yoga. I was intrigued by the thought that everything was connected. Always and in a continuum. I couldn't have said what it was bath then but I started drawing these pictures on the memory board of my refrigerator. I was so excited and couldn't wait to talk to my kids about it. I started picking up papers and drawing pictures. Oh man... do you have any idea how exciting this moment is right now.
See planet does spin and it does wobble.
The closest I could get to why it spins was centrifugal force but then when I realized, this is so cool
I was painting Quiet Desperation in the moonlight on the farm...

I was looking at the Milky Way and I was thinking... there is no such thing as empty space. Because even what might contain it becomes a part of it. So space was more like wave lengths. Like these huge waves that had a rhythm and motion, just like our speech any living thing has waves and frequencies... so we are not isolated. I mean, I think feeling really isolated is what gave me the heart to see it. We were never alone because we were always connected to everything all of the time. Being and Becoming.

Over five trillion pieces of plastic are floating in our oceans says most comprehensive study to date on plastic pollution around the world
theguardian.com|By Oliver Milman

And then there is hope.  I wonder what the labels are on these plastic items.  Where are they coming from?  Cruise ships?  From garbage freights? It would be good if we could be informed about the sources of this garbage.


19-year-old inventor finds way to clean up the world’s oceans in under 5 years time

http://themindunleashed.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/81.jpg
By: Jack Taylor, Guest
Previously the idea of cleaning up the world’s oceans with their vast accumulations of disposed plastic material was considered an impossibility. Now a 19-year-old inventor says he and his foundation has a way to clean up the world’s oceans, and not only does he say we can do it, but that we can do it in five years time and produce a profit from it.
It is called the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’ or sometimes the “Pacific Trash Vortex”, and it is a massive collection of plastic particles accumulating in the Pacific.  Other oceans have their own collections of plastic wastes as well; furthermore, most of the debris in our oceans are plastic materials that accounts for approximately 90% of all the waste debris.
Scientists have considered all manner of ways how the debris could be retrieved but there was no clear answer for it.
Now a 19-year-old inventor by the name of Boyan Slat says we can remove nearly 20 billion tons of plastic waste with his concept he calls an ocean cleanup array.  It is made from a massive series of floating booms and processing platforms that gradually suck in the floating plastic like a giant funnel.
The angle with how the array is set up allows all of the plastic to go to where the platforms processing centers are floating. At the platform processing area it would separate the naturally occurring life such as plankton an only keep the plastic materials to be recycled.
plastic pollution indian patch 19 year old inventor finds way to clean up the worlds oceans in under 5 years time What is most impressive about the array is that once it goes operational it would clean up the oceans in only 5 years time!  He also makes a point in saying that due to the vastness of our oceans most do not know how badly polluted the oceans really are.
“One of the problems with preventive work is that there isn’t any imagery of these ‘garbage patches’, because the debris is dispersed over millions of square kilometers,” Slat says on his website. “By placing our arrays however, it will accumulate along the booms, making it suddenly possible to actually visualize the oceanic garbage patches. We need to stress the importance of recycling, and reducing our consumption of plastic packaging.”
Slat was able to come up with the idea while in school, and so he wrote a paper on his concept. Once Slat’s paper was published it immediately caught the attention of many marine experts.  His paper won all manner of prizes, which included the Best Technical Design 2012 from the Delft University of Technology.
When he and others realized that the concept would work he took a leap of faith and created a non-profit organization he calls The Ocean Cleanup Foundation.  This group will focus on the goal of developing his invention, raise funds for it and make it operational as soon as possible. His concept would save numerous aquatic species of fish and help reduce PCB and DDT containments affecting all of us.  Best of all it operates on the power of the sun and by the oceans themselves.
Not only is Slat’s concept self-powered, it would also be very profitable from the all the recycling, which is estimated in the amount of 500 million dollars (U.S.) per year.
According to Slat’s website it “would make in fact more money than the plan would cost to execute. In other words; it’s profitable.”

Monday, December 1, 2014

Its a Wonderful Life

I have seen where the need to have green grass about two inches high works out... not so good.  People have been contaminating our earth and water with tons of pesticides and GMO fertilizers and grasses just to make a lawn look like a golf course.

I had an organic farm and when I sold it and moved to be close to my sister I decided that having a lawn did not interest me at all.  I started looking at my small but lovely expanse of green and thought, I'm going to start little by little and plant things, organic plants, that feed the birds and squirrels and bugs.  I can't wait to post pictures this spring.

I started creating woven wood sculptures with a vision for how I would break up the lawn and create different layers and levels of interest and then I would gradually change the lawn to a living and self sustaining and just down right good for nature area where animals and birds and squirrels can play and enjoying all of the seasons.

This past year I met Shawna and was blown away by the beauty and abundance that her determination and love of gardening has created. Shawna has posted this view of her garden and it is beautiful.  But her words, her challenge spoke to my heart.  It was just too good to keep to myself.

 

I recycle old T-shirts and towels and use them for cleaning.  I don't buy paper towels.  I recycle cans and all kinds of plastics and paper.  I generate more recycling waste than anything else.  And once I get my compost area set up, and I start making my own paper.... I will just about be able to eliminate - garbage.  I started by signing up for recycling and told myself, every toilet paper roll I'll put in a plastic bag on the back door.  I can do that much.  And what became a new habit, a new thing I could do?  grew and grew

Imagine what we could accomplish if as many of us who are capable, did something to turn this wasteful, reckless ship of fools around?  Because you know, if we ain'ta rowin' and we ain't a growin' what are we doing that expresses a heart felt appreciation for this amazing planet and this wondrous life?  And it is a wondrous life.