Friday, January 26, 2007
I am listening. Rain on roof. Appliances humming. Horse hooves on wood. I am waiting to see if there will be a rainbow. I am looking at droplets on pine boughs, glistening like diamonds. I am drinking guava juice, wondering about guava. I am wishing I could capture something I cannot name. I am wanting to fast forward time at the same moment I wish to stop it. I am listening so hard I think I hear bells and screams in the silence. I'm waiting.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
I am leaving Big Sur this morning. I am cleaning the studio with a heavy heart. I am filled with thoughts about the Mudds, who I feel I got to know during this last month, thanks to the loving stories shared by Jim Cox, their ranch manager and friend for many many years. Yesterday I saw some photographs of the Mudds when they were young and vital, laughing at parties, at their daughter's wedding at Glen Deven Ranch, snapshots of graduations and intimate dinners, with horses and dogs, a photograph of their children around a Christmas fire. As I sit here writing the last entry to this blog, I am witness to the seasons changing before my eyes. Santa Ana winds have become Arctic blasts. Dusty ruts in the road are puddles now.
I intend to preserve the awe and joy of the previous weeks here, an unprecedented time where I remained spiritually open to every change. I was undaunted by carpenter ants and rewarded with rainbows. I read Walden while living Walden. I painted with energy and the work was received with enthusiasm. I met dozens of new people, every one of whom I'd like to see again. Still, as I pack up the paint and dispose of the perishables, I 'm trying not to feel sad. Though the residency has come to an end, tomorrow will be the beginning of something else. Just as the Mudds, though long gone, are surely pleased by the gift they gave me, I will find ongoing pleasure in giving gifts of my own. In January, The Big Sur Land Trust, the Big Sur Arts Initiative, Jim Cox and myself will begin to assess how this can become an ongoing opportunity for other artists. And I want to leave you with one last gift: my hope for those of you who found your way to this blog, that you too now realize it is never too late to pursue a dream. I hope I've especially shown my children (including those I did not birth --you all know who you are) that it is always good to stretch your boundaries, but also, to be occasionally very quiet and listen to what the world and nature are trying to tell you, and finally to be grateful for what you have received. I love you all.
(On the subject of gifts, that reminds me,.. I'm in deep trouble in the Christmas gift department. Unless you put in an order for tie-died socks a.s.a.p., I haven't even thought about the holidays, so forgive me if you don't get a present until March.) Today, I don't feel sharp enough to articulate an ending to this journal worthy of what the experience calls for. I'm looking our the window again at the last sunset I will see from this seat for a while. In the sky, which is beginning to fill with rose tinted clouds, a plane flies high above the Santa Lucia mountain range. I am reminded of the very first time I flew alone. I was fourteen and I went to visit Judy Murray in Carmel. The flight was from LAX to Santa Barbara to Monterey Airport. I had a window seat and my face pressed to the glass the entire flight. I wondered who lived in those little houses tucked into pines along the top of the mountain range so far below the belly of the plane. Now I know: I Do.
Still reading Walden, the mid-nineteenth century record of Thoreau's experiment living alone in the house he built himself on Walden Pond. In describing the land where he eventually chose to build, he wrote: "At a certain season of our life we are accustomed to consider every spot as the possible site of a house. I have surveyed the country on every side within a dozen miles of where I live. In imagination, I have bought all the farms in succession, for all were to be bought, and I knew their price. I walked over each farmer's premises, tasted his wild apples, discoursed on husbandry with him, took his farm at his price, at any price, mortgaging it to him in my mind; even put a higher price on it, --took everything but a deed of it, --took his word for his deed, cultivated it, and withdrew when I had enjoyed it long enough, leaving him to carry it on. Wherever I sat, there I might live, and the landscape radiated from me accordingly. What is a house but a sedes, a seat?"
Reading Walden, and not the Cliff Notes I frantically scanned decades ago, has been like icing on the cake. When you are alone this long, you begin to "commune with nature" and "contemplate your bellybutton" (two expressions my dad used derogatorily all throughout my teenage years ) so it's comforting to know that others experience similar bliss. This land is your land, this land is my land, Dylan sings. And this studio feels like it is mine today. I don't need to own it. I live here in Big Sur, and in some ways, always will.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Friday, December 15, 2006
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
The last few days fuse into a blur of motions, weather, locations, color, light and darks. Late Saturday night, when the rain seemed relentless, I determined that it was not a good idea to drive my car down the road from the studio to the guesthouse. So I set out on foot, sloshed, umbrella and flashlight in hand. I admit: one does have fearful thoughts. What if I fall, what if a hungry mountain lion lurks beyond the curve? What if the road slides down the canyon and I'm on it? You simply walk through your fears, one step after another. I took a hot bath. I was feeling tired and brave, about to go to bed, when this ferocious clap of thunder shook the night. (I don't like thunder.) The electricity blew, lights went out and while I was trembling from those two surprises, suddenly, the estate's generator (located right next to my bedroom) roars on, vibrating the window and I'm sure, we're also now having an earthquake.
The first half of yesterday, Sunday, was a logistical juggle where all the balls dropped. Some local Big Sur artists were going to come onto the property, have lunch, then do some plein air painting. Unfortunately, it was raining. With no way of contacting them myself, I had to assume they were still coming. That meant I had to go up to the studio, get some art supplies, and bring down some food. Except, I'd left the car up the hill. It was a pleasant morning walk in the rain. It was not yet 9 a.m. Jim Cox, who was feeding the horses, offered to follow me in his 4-wheel drive if I wanted to get my car to drier ground. I safely navigated the road. The rain was relentless. By ll:00, I concluded the painting day needed to be cancelled. I have no cellular service here and couldn't reach Tom or Erin from the main house phone. That meant..... back up the hill...on foot, umbrella-less this time, as I'd absentmindedly forgot it in the studio. I fashioned raingear for the trek out of trashbags. And I mean, fashioned. I covered my lower half with one bag, poking leg holes and tying it about my waist, like pantaloons. My face poked out of the other trashbag which slid down over my upper body and a backpack. As I was trudged up the hill, I thought of all the hours I've spent in my life fashioning multi-purpose outfits, clothes that satisfy my aesthetic, but don't offend, let's say, a stepmother's, a Board of Directors, or a PTA. Believe me I was grateful knowing NO ONE would be a witness to this most unfashionable raingear. Almost no one. As I rounded the bend to the studio, the horses caught sight of me. They reared, they whinnied, they snorted, skittering backward across the muddy field. I seriously thought they were going to hurt themselves. Judging by the whites of their eyes, they must have seen what they thought was one ugly black plastic beast approaching the corral.
With the art day cancelled, Erin suggested I drive down to Nepenthe, and join her at her mom Holly's house for the Sunday "stitch and bitch." Should you wonder, a stitch-and-bitch is the 21st century version of a women's quilting bee, in this case, knitting squares for a baby quilt. Holly's renowned for her knitting, an artist with needles. To my eye, most of the women were pretty sophisticated knitters. There were about fifteen of us, some cross-legged on the floor, others cushioned on couches, slippered, barefoot. The only conversation remotely bitchy involved Mel Gibson. Otherwise, it was what women, gathered voluntarily, do best: laugh, assist each other, discuss film, praise the coffee cake Holly baked, reminisce about travels, husbands, children, fret about their teenage drivers. Erin taught me how to knit and I completed half a square for this lucky unborn baby; Holly finished it. The ladies left. Around six, family members began to pour in from all doors at once for Sunday dinner. Tilapia tacos and cake were great, but the company was even better. (Made me miss mine.)
Today is Monday. I am wearing a multicolored cap that in fact was intended as a sweater sleeve. Erin knit it and the colors are inspirational. I will wear this as my art hat, as others have worn berets.