Halloween


“TWO”, 4.5′ x 4′, pigment on wool flannel, something like 1995
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In my book, Halloween holds no ‘elan.

It feels like a holiday for the privileged masses uninterested in or unaffected by a life lived ‘DE-masking’.

Folks take up the guise of goblins and pirates and mummies and witches.

They revel in the softening of themselves in order to slide into the skin of another.

I have spent my lifetime stitching together my very own costume.

And it truly did feel like a costume most of the while I was at work on the project.

“Fake it to make it’ as the adage goes..

The act of piecing together a solid sense of Self as a human, woman, life-participator-of-value,

When one has not had a reliable parent to back you up in the process,

Is a VERY long row to hoe.

And certainly NOT for the lazy or faint of heart.

There are horrors and mishaps and desert-dwelling years without much water.

But the result of such foraging..

IS AN AUTHENTIC SELF!

And that I have.

It is my highest achievement to date.

And I am uninterested and unwilling to pick a costume to cover this preciousness up.

She is too new and untried as yet.

But I keep feeding her with the finest of food,

Like people who can add to her song and huge dollops of Nature and an intravenous line of Spirit.

The restaurants I frequent ask that all masks and disguises be left at the door.

And so the few of us sit there with shining faces and don’t really say much of anything.

We just appreciate one another in our birthday suits.

Dirty Girl


detail of monoprint
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I have been watching a lot of westerns of late.

More than a few have been filmed here in New Mexico so it isn’t hard to imagine myself galloping down a creek bed with mud and gravel thrown back behind.

I would kill to wear one of those split-back coats cowboys wear in winter weather.

What do I love about westerns?

(pardon me while I put on my ‘fantasy glasses..’)..

I love the dirt. The grit. The patina on the lapels of the tired sport coat a cowboy gentleman wears.

The campfires, the ‘ride in-get a drink-have-a-fight-ride-off-unscathed-thing, the good looking neckerchiefs.

The unbelievably communication-challenged men constantly trying to formulate the words of intimacy they wish to speak but settling fore a ‘poke’ with the local ‘whore.’

But the biggest draw for me is the power and freedom I feel when I watch the horses run.

They throw all care to the wind and don’t seem to have to look down worrying about catching a hoof in a hole or branch.

They just GGGGGGGGGGOOOOOOOOOOOO…………

Fast and elegant and purposeful like lightning.

Seeing them like that helps me remember myself.

At least the purposeful and elegant part.

Fast was never my speed.

My muscles used to work like a symphony.

And now some instruments are missing a string.

But if I really pay attention and forget about wanting the past too much..

I can pluck out a little tune on my ailing ukelele…

That’s fit for the king’s ear and cowboy both.

Voice


“INSCRIPTION”, 40″ x 60″, 1993, m/m
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I listen carefully to people’s voices.

The tone and where the sound comes from in one’s body are markers for me.

You could say I sort of ‘read’ a voice.

Unintentionally, mind you, but it happens just the same..

My own, for example, is a perfect example.

If I am afraid for some reason, my voice is up in my throat.

When I feel very at ease or truly undefended, it slides to just below my chest.

Then, occasionally, I feel my voice generated from below my belly.

It’s kind o f the ‘growl-zone’, you could say.

Something gets added to the recipe from that place which has to do with primal interests.

All of my intelligences are piqued and I am called to order.

SomeTHING is afoot.

And the whole of me steps aside (figuratively speaking) to see what wants to happen.

I am fully aware this all may sound like metaphysical ‘foll-de-roll’ but, I assure you, this this is very real to me.

And really… I trust how I hear you more than anything you could say.

Keith Richards


untitled, 22″ x 30″, monoprint
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I am not a big music connoisseur.

It has never been a big part of my life.

When I write or have created art, it has always been in silence because I have wanted to be able to listen and respond to where I was being guided to go.

And not have that affected by where someone ELSE wanted to take me with their music.

There is one caveat to that statement which happens to be THE ROLLING STONES.

I ALWAYS (almost) want to go where they take me.

Keith Richards, the guitarist, has just published his autobiography called “LIFE.”

I love his craggy face and the way his chin juts out defiantly always sporting a cigarette dripping out of his mouth.

I find it odd that he engages me so.

You probably would’nt expect it of me.

But when he released his book I had to buy it.

Why him?, I asked myself as I surreptitiously dialed up Amazon on the computer.

I realized it is because he is TOTALLY UNAPOLOGETIC for the roads he has been drawn down in search of his muse.

Craggy, gritty, inching toward 70 and still out there doing his alchemy-thing.

Saying goodbye to Heroin and making nice and not as best he could with the ego-of-the-century lead man, Mick, while he negotiated his own ego with a capital ‘E’.

Rimming his eyes in black and cloaking himself away from the too bright sun (because he generated enough already?)

And still, after decades of sleeping with his guitar (really), he spins the gold dust left to him in a dream into high fidelity, blood boiling sounds that leave me different and better.

And ALIVE.

In an interview on NPR this week he spoke well and truly of wondering how to present THE STONES on stage as a ‘grown up’ band?
Key in: October 25, 2010

How does one leap and preen and tease out a sound that moves us as 65 yr. olds?

We’re all just making it up here..

Everything is in flux.

And so we need pioneers.

In relationship, health, music, religion, politics, et al..

I love The Stones because they’re all about ‘never say die….’

And so am I.

Bare Tree Me


“TREE” 40″ x 26″” m/m
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BARE TREE
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My favorite tree
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Has misplaced her dressing gown.
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Naked to the wind she squeals.
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CA 2010
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Place


“SOFT WIND”,36″ x 6′, m/m
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In Santa Fe we live with dirt.

And we love it.

When one builds a home, there is a choice of about 12 different colors of stucco to choose from.

Each is the color of earth found locally.

The result is that when I look out over the wide landscape of my beloved town, I can’t tell who has money or who doesn’t because each home looks like the landscape…dirt.

It is the great equalizer.

The other thing that happens is that one can not tell how very many people inhabit this place because all the colors are so natural that the distinction between home and land is blurred.

Sometimes, I am just called to go visit a church I know on off days (meaning not Sunday..)

It is made of adobe which are earthen bricks.

They have weight and volume which are quite different than ceramic bricks we are used to.

When I visit this church, everything in me slows to a hush.

It is a marvel of a structure with it’s ceiling height and 200+ year history.

I go in and sit in a front pew.

No one else is there.

Sometimes a stooped and hobbled human arrives and visits the adjacent small chapel dedicated to one or another saints or deity.

The place holds a perfect combination of the preciousness of both The Great Mystery and our own humble and miraculous selves trying our damnedest to sweep our own floors to make room for our Selves.

Often, in churches, I get overwhelmed by the heaviness of spent tears and sorrows given over after the weight becomes intolerable.

Particular places are generous in that way. They hold what we can’t.

But this building made of humble earth feels like the gentlest of car washes; the softest mist of wet, almost imperceptable,
attracts the grit of life and takes it down some invisible drain.

I leave there soft and ready.

Ready to begin again.

I never think too much after I leave there.

I seem uninterested in ‘what just happened.’

I just take the gold and try to spread it around a bit.

But only if I’ve enough to spare.

Those Among Us


“TRIBE” ceramic,steel, 14″ x 7″ x 4″
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I ran into a few friends at a favorite haunt.

Most of the time I like to be left in peace with my thoughts-of-the-moment.

But not this time.

These people are pretty stellar representations of our very humanness.

One artist/writer/life-appreciator extraordinaire…one enigmatic and engaging Hopi man… and a psycho analyst you’d walk hundreds of miles in the desert for one of her cards.

There we all sat talking.

I actually can’t recall one single thing we talked about. (granted, it’s still early morning yet.. something about prayer and porosity and Peru, I think…)

And I don’t care.

Except it WAS a fascinating conversation!

The thing I took away was the essence of the thing.

The fragrance I was left with.. the between-the-lines electricity.

The satiation and hunger, both… I had plenty but there was more…

I wondered why this chance meeting was so very satisfying to me.

One part has to do with the sense that I was witnessed with every antenna these folks had available to them and I, in turn, but not because it was expected, was There in full receptive mode.

The student in me learned.

The artist was inspired.

My inner writer was fed.

My heart was both soft and full.

The thing is… I came away MORE.

More than I was.

I took up space differently when I walked out of that restaurant than when I arrived.

And I like the new me.

Interior


detail of painting, m/m
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If you were to look inside my brain, you might see something like this. (photo)

Not literally but, in essence, the kind of activity you might see seems like it would look similar to the above.

From the outside, I may seem like I lead a life in the narrows.

But no.

That is not the case at all…

There’s this disability thing and my book proposal and getting dressed in time for the acupuncturist and getting my hand to work right so I can hold the water to wash my face and wondering which of my friends will put up with going to get groceries AGAIN for me and getting the dog outside and calling the editor and bending down to straighten the wrinkle in the rug and getting stuck and the dirty dishes and the letter that needs writing and the meditating and… and…..

See..no lack of movement here.

My brain clearly still works.

But it needs a rest.

And the ONLY way it gets it is to sit at my altar and meditate.

Sit.

Sit down.

Breathe…

..and do it again.

and again…

……..and…..again…………………..

Women, Art and Hope


“PRIESTESS”, 14″ x 4″ x 4″, ceramic, steel
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Well, after telling the world yesterday that I have moments when I feel less than in love with myself,

I came across one hellava’ perspective shifter.

As you might know, I pay attention to a website called TED.COM

Within the sometimes narrow confines of ‘chronic illness-land’, this site keeps my head and heart charged and engaged.

Each year they award someone a $100,000. grand prize to spend as they wish.

This years award went to an artist.. he goes by just JR as he wants to remain in the shadows.
Scroll down three posts until you see: ANNOUNCING THE 2011 TED.COM PRIZE WINNER:JR The trailer is called: “Women are Heros”

The link shows a short trailer of his work which involves going into crumbled and poor, physically disintegrating slums of Africa and photographing the women there VERY up close and personal.

He then blows the black and white photo up to larger than life size and in true guerilla style, surreptitiously plasters the image on ‘in-your-face’ surfaces around the town.

Seeing this short trailer will shift your day toward the core of goodness, I promise you.

Here is a brief slideshow of the work to whet your appetite if you haven’t the 5 minutes for the powerful trailer.

Sit, breathe and watch someone spinning gold.

Waking Up


“GIFT”, 14″ x 4″ x 4″, ceramic, steel
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A friend emailed me yesterday saying he had not looked in on my blog for 4 months and fully expected to find it filled with grief but was surprised to find it was not.

And this morning I wake up and my first thought is: “I hate myself.”

I promised to tell the truth on this blog and here is some of it.

I chose this image for today because it represents me well on most days of late.

Teetering on the pinnacle she tries in ernest to remain upright.

She still has a modicum of grace to call on as she says a whispered prayer and listens maybe half-heartedly for an answer.

My ‘default’ seems to be shame.

It is a state I am most familiar with.

Historical issues ushered it in probably at birth,

Usually, I have a well-turned and solid, hefty rope as my ‘thread to God.’

But sometimes, in the mornings before my body becomes mine again, I can’t find that rope.

Thankfully, as I eat courage and gumption for breakfast, it makes itself known again.

And I reach out with the weakened musculature of a starving child,

And grab it…

I hold on for dear, dear life.

And every time it saves me.

Every time.

And the woman I remember and now love walks back into the room.

And we chat over tea.

Match


“CRITICAL MASS”, 24″ x 24″, matches, earth
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I just finished a very short stint in the MATCH.COM world.

I recognized I was feeling a bit ‘neutered’ as most of my energy goes into staying afloat in the pool of life.

Somewhere in there was the question of whether I was still an attracting force in the male population even with my walker and wheelchair.

It seemed that Mach.com might be a way to put myself out there in an honest and forthright manner and see what came back.

I wrote a profile for myself which was a no-holds-barred treatise on Cathy.

It was fun to write, actually.

A photo was posted of me with my dog in the pouch of my walker so there could be no denying the realities present.

I asked for things important to me in relationship: humor, intellect, adventure, honesty, depth.

And lo and behold!

I received only kindness and interest from substantial men!

They happened to be from all over the country which does not work for me but the gist of the thing is that even though my life feels narrow and disconnected a good deal of the time, I saw that I still have it.

That is vital for me to know.

I recognized that internet dating is not the right venue for me as I rely on registering the energy of a person to gauge attraction.

You just can’t get that over the computer.

And people are VERY adept at presenting themselves the way they want to be seen.

I see the thing I have going for me is the fact there is a pretty solid part of the population hungry for honesty and the breath of fresh air that comes from ‘de-masking’.

I’ve got that in spades as I haven’t the energy to do the work of putting the worn and tattered, overused masks on anymore.

It was an excellent and short-lived foray into unknown waters and I am glad it is done.

But it was good for the girl to do it.

At My Feet


installation, ceramic,earth,coal
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I spend an inordinate amount of time scrutinizing the ground.

Watching for bumps and cracks and detritus left behind.

My neck gets sore from the constant hyper vigilance needed to stay upright.

Really, just RIGHT in general.

And so.. I came across an artist recently who piqued my interest.

He created 100 MILLION INDIVIDUAL SUNFLOWER SEEDS for an installation at the TATE Museum.

Each tiny seed was made individually, fired once, painted and then fired again.

The artist invited the museum-goers to walk on the carpet of porcelain seeds and have their own experience.

Intriguing landscapes can be found at one’s feet, in the sky, the full and wide-angle view we take for granted and in the palm of one’s hand.

Since MS has forced me to be more myopic, my landscapes are closer in.

I like to wade through each person’s flotsam and unveil the jewels there; often hidden.

I do the same with myself.

The longer this partnership continues with MS, the shinier I seem to become.

(except in the mornings when it takes me hours to become human)

(Oh.. and then in the afternoons when the leaden wall of fatigue comes a’ callin’)

(and then when I am swearing up a storm because I can’t even hold an avocado to cut it for lunch)

I haven’t quite mastered talking myself into all situations as interesting landscapes…

Facelift


“PORTRAIT”, 11″ x 11″ x 4″, m/m
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I caught my face in a store window.

I saw my mother.

I thought: “Nope.. gotta do something right quick, here.”

She actually aged quite gracefully but it was the set of her taut mouth and the guarding in her jaw that I don’t want to have anything to do with.

I laid in bed before I fell into sleep last night.

I consciously let the corners of my eyes melt down toward the pillow.

My eyeballs had weight and they seemed to cave in to the gravity pull as muscles relaxed and they rested in their nest.

My tired and worried mouth took longer to abandon it’s armor.

But after awhile, it too gave way and smoothed into a young girl’s repose.

I felt it move and soften and sigh at the relief.

My forehead, I imagined a slow drip of warm oil soothing it’s archive of expression.

A tear washed my cheek of leftover makeup.

And I began to understand the Buddha’s little turn of his impossibly knowing lips.

Surrender…Surrender..

And more of that…

Red


detail of sculpture, naturally pigmented earth, clay
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I have spoken before about how my body registers the various frequencies of color.

In my long walk toward authenticity, I have worn primarily black.

Not that I knew why I had that proclivity.

But I do now.

Black is a neutral color.

On my body, when I put on some black piece of clothing, the essence of me stays the same.

It doesn’t change my mood or ask me to be something that I am not at that moment.

Say I put on a bright yellow top.

The vibration that yellow carries is bright and fast and energetic.

It would seriously throw me over the edge.

The vibration color carries is one reason we dress in one thing and feel superb and another has us praying to get home for the chance to change clothes.

Because I am more ‘ME’ now, I am better able to gauge what color, etc. helps me be MORE me.

Right now I am hungry for a particular color of scarlet.

I want it around my face and over my chest/heart.

My sister gave me a velvet scarf close to this color I’m talking about but I seem to want more of it.

Not sure what this looks like yet but it feels right so I’ll see what unfolds (so to speak..)

The mystery of it all…

The Light, The Light


untitled, 30″ x 40″, m/m
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Apologies for not posting yesterday.. technical difficulties, alas.

THE CHILEAN MINERS ARE OUT!

I am quite sure that every person out there who deals with a chronic autoimmune illness can relate at least in part to what it feels like to live in the dark.

Questions surround cause, treatment, duration, prognosis.

Even the NAME of the illness is in question (Lymes, MS, other?)

In my experience, when one lives with enough uncertainty for too long, EVERYTHING becomes fuzzy.

You can imagine that this systemic fog is possibly a precursor to madness in those who tumble off the edge.

Those miners really only had their POINT OF VIEW to keep them right.

That, and each other.

The dark can be a dastardly and numbing veil.

Too much time alone in the dark and no glasses will correct your vision.

But then, there is THE LIGHT…THE LIGHT.

The light that comes when I actually get a RESULT from some action I’ve taken on behalf of my body and her happiness.

THEN, my mind and heart reacquaint themselves with one another and skip happily off into the sunset like nothing had come before.

The fog clears.

And I have hope.

It happens in an instant.

Though it takes it’s sweet time to arrive.

It is probably like childbirth in a way though I have not had the honor.

They say that all the pain is erased from memory as soon as the birth is complete.

And so.. we step forward with hope and train ourselves not to cast a glance behind.

Because we have limited energy.

And the light is so bright.

Interest


untitled, 30″ x 60″, pigment on wool flannel
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I have posted this before but it wanted to come back again this morning….
.
.

DECLARATION OF NON-INTEREST

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for, and if you
dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to
know if you will risk looking like a fool for love,
for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring
your moon. I want to know if you have touched
the center of your own sorrow, if you have been
opened by life’s betrayals or have become shriveled
and closed from fear of further pain! I want to know
if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without
moving to hide it, or fade it, or fix it. I want to know
if you can be with JOY, mine or your own; if you
can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill
you to the tips of your fingers and toes without
cautioning us to be careful, be realistic, or to
remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling
me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint
another to be true to yourself; if you can bear the
accusation of betrayal and not betray your own
soul. I want to know if you can be faithful and
therefore be trustworthy. I want to know if you can see
beauty even when it is not pretty everyday, and if
you can source your life on the edge of the lake
and shout the silver of the full moon.

It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how
much money you have. I want to know if you can
get up after a night of grief and despair, weary and
bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done
for the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came
to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center
of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom
you have studied. I want to know what sustains you
from the inside when all else falls away. I want to
know if you can be alone with yourself and if you
truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

Oriah Mountain Dream, Indian Elder
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Playing Cards


detail ceramic sculpture
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I went to a performance of poetry reading the other night.

It was a literal bath of music, words and theater.

It was great.

The only thing was that a woman came sauntering in to find her seat and her perfume was so strong and off-putting that I just about left.

I do realize I am extra sensitive to scent but REALLY… can she actually think that level of olfactory overload is alluring?

There are few things that get me riled but over-scent-sation is one of them.

A fantasy I have is to make a set of cardboard signs I’d carry with me always.

Flashing these cards would alleviate the stress of getting too up-and-personal and would get the point across.

They would say things like:

1. PLEASE.. NO PERFUME / COLOGNE IN PUBLIC PLACES

OR AIRPLANES.
.

2. WHERE IS YOUR HANDICAPPED PLACARD?

3. PLEASE SLOW DOWN

4. TAKE YOUR CELLPHONE OUTSIDE, PLEASE.

5. YELLING AT YOUR CHILDREN DOES NOT BUILD INTIMACY

.

Well… it felt good just to get that off my chest.

I feel less prickly now.

Thanks for listening.

Dive


“BLUE”, 6′ x 30″, m/m
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The following is the postscript for my (hopefully) upcoming book about how to lead a thriving life in a high-maintenance body:

POSTSCRIPT

I remember being on vacation once and the sea tossed me hard and long as I scraped the bottom and lost track of the direction I needed to go in to breathe.

I was down there too long and suddenly I realized I no longer needed breath; I was absolutely fine. More than fine.

When I did make it up for air I thought: “Did I breathe underwater? What the hell just happened here?”

I never did answer that question.

I think because the mystery of it all was bigger than the urge to have an answer that was right.

I see now it was a dollop of grace.

One I’ve used repeatedly over the years since.

There are those of us with the draw to dive deep.

And those forced to do so.

No matter what the outcome, we continually go after the pressure that builds and the work it takes to remain conscious as we explore depths unknown to but a few.

Down there we see stuff.

Feel things.

Change to meet the unfamiliar depths.

We resurface differently.

Our whole being wraps itself around the challenge of uncharted territory and we push aside the loneliness of each step because we can.

My own proclivity has always been to move toward the deep.

Now, as I have the companionship of a chronic illness it takes me a bit longer to suit up but I continue to dive and be glad of it.

The weight of the illness actually helps me go deeper faster and stay there longer.

Sure, there are hardships to endure and exhaustion; overload of new information, decompression and the constant effort to reacclimate to everyday life as I rejoin the land lovers.

But I still go in. Have to go in. And see what I can effect by doing, thinking, being different.

I think it is worth the effort.

I don’t honestly know how to do it differently.

So should you ever need to know how to breathe underwater, gimme a call and I’ll tell you everything I know.

You’ll likely be disappointed as the stuff I know doesn’t come easy to the telling of it.

But if you close your eyes for a moment you likely can feel a bit of the chill of the deep.

It feels good I’m told, on a hot and humid day.

Open


ceramic, 14″d x 5″h
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OPEN
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Open to the next thing
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The peelings drop to the floor
.
And I take a bite.
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CA 2010
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Favorite


“SOME WOMEN ACTING KINDOF SASSY”, 30″ x 50″ M/M
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This may be one of my top five favorite pieces I’ve created.

It always makes me laugh.

The surface is sort of like a thin layer of plaster applied over canvas.

After it dried, I began folding and manipulating the canvas in specific places.

Where I would bend it I could then peel and flake off some of the plaster to reveal the canvas underneath.

So, you can see that for each change in direction of a shape, a new ‘fold-and-peel’ needed to happen.

After all was said and done, the revealed places were painted black as you see.

What makes me laugh is that you can’t REALLY be all that attached to how you want the figures to look in the end because the technique has so many restrictions.

So.. when this piece took shape I couldn’t believe the intricacies in the conversations these people were having with each other!

Carl Jung would have had a field day.

Warriors, lovers, mothers and outcasts..

They have that communal energy of ancient cave dwellers deciding something important.

I never have been drawn to go into this piece far enough to actually decipher what it said about me.

I just let it have it’s life and enjoy it every time it crosses my path.

There’s wisdom in that last statement, there..

Guess that’s what I needed to know this morning.

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