Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas Wishes

May your holidays be blessed...

with interesting visitors...

...lots of sweetness...

...and faithful old

Wishing you a little fun...

(Bennie's cousins long ago, Michigan.)

Wishing you a little adventure...

...but PLEASE no mishaps..., that's not Tiny Tim's crutch...'s mine.
(My parents' house, Christmas 2000,
the Christmas of the broken toe.

Wishing you
your own kind of miracles...

time to chill... kick back.

Wishing you lots of

...well maybe not
this much.

May there be a snowman on your tree...

...and one clearing a path for you.

May your eyes be open...

...WIDE open to wonder.

Wishing you bear hugs....

...little gifts that fit you...

...some surprises of course.

May you experience childlike joy... matter your age...

and I really mean that.

Wishing you peace in your world...

and in your heart.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Feel-Good Friday (on Thursday): A Sleighful of Awards!

(Photo "courtesy of" aka "stolen from" How Stuff Works.)

So shoot me. I'm a slacker. Several have bestowed lavish awards at my feet. And I've just kicked back and basked in their radiance, never acknowledging them, let alone passing them on to worthy recipients. I am going to try to remember which awards came from whom and if I falter, please assume the generous spirit of this season and forgive my forgetful heart--it's in the right place--I just can't remember where I put it.

Sandi of Holding Patterns passed this lovely thing to me on August 29. I had to go to her blog and do a search for awards to find it. There she was, apologizing for being behind in acknowledging her own awards. Thanks, Sandi. That made me feel even better than the award:

Since this is such a shimmering photograph, I will now pass it along to some shimmering photographers:

Anna of A. Bananna (Great shots of the desert and her own photogenic brood.)
Randy of
Santa Fe Daily Photo (You might say I'm rather close to his subject.)
Anna of
My Only Photo (In her own words, "photography spiced with stories, essays, opionions, and snippets of knowledge.)
David of authorblog (Needs no introduction. If by chance, you've been hiding under your mousepad, then climb out and click over to his place. Not just dazzling photos but tips on making them.)
Hilary of
The Smitten Image (Yes, I'm smitten.)
Celine of Indica-in-Q8 (Interpretations in word and image of the mysterious landscape of Kuwait.)
Lori of Skoog Farm Journal (If this one doesn't make you want to move to the country and take up farming and the slow pace, well then, at least slow down long enough to linger in this peaceful space.)
Daryl of Out and About in New York City (If this one doesn't make you want to move to a huge, exciting city and hop on a bus, then at least hop over here and take Daryl's tour.)

Then along came Spark of
No More Casual Nonchalance and gifted me with this bit of whimsy. I was contemplating whom I might pass it on to, thinking Fe of Coyote Road would be a great recipient. While I was dragging my feet, Fe up and gave it to me. Thanks, Spark! Thanks, Fe!

I pass the I
HEART Your Blog award to:

Todd of Peace through Pottery. (A blog with lots of heart, plus he's thinking about buying a house in my neighborhood--I HEART that idea!)
Diane of Forks off the Moment. (Diane lives her life with passion and gets us all fired up too.)
Moody of Life in the Land of the Rising Sun (As lived to the hilt by a contemporary American Renaissance man relocated to Japan.)
Bruno of Morning Java with Bruno LoGreco (Generous, inspiring tips from a life coach. Don't miss his series on weathering this daunting economic cycle.)
Maggie May of Nuts in May (The oh-so-identifiable-with ups and downs in the life of a wife, mother, and grandmother.)
Lee of Chrysalis Dreams (Expressions of faith in God, friends, and her own lovely self.)
JS of Influx Transposer (Expressions of faith in God and family, with the occasional rant to the Almighty.)
Cath of Cath's Cradle (A gently tilted look at life.)
Jeanne of Life or Something Like It (A head-on look at life--or something like it.)

Recently Suki of Paint, Poems, and Ponderings posted the lemonade stand to her blog and said it was offered to anyone who felt like making lemonade. I grabbed it. And I pass it on to the following bloggers, who have the extraordinary gift for turning those life lemons into magical elixir. (The secret's in the saucy attitude):

Meg of Becoming Whole
Jo of
Celebration of Life
Whim of
The Babblings of a Whimsical Brainpan
Indi of
The World According to Indigo
Casdok of
Mother of Shrek
Mima of
Mima's Doings
Aims of Big Blue Barn West
Peg of Angel Voices.

And Kim of
Creating Space as well as Suki of Paint, Poems, and Ponderings honored me with this award, which I find rather elegant (and flattering):

The PREMIO DARDOS award is "given for recognition of
cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values transmitted in the form of creative and original writing." Thank you, Kim! Thank you, Suki! I now pass this award to:

Fe of Coyote Road
Michelle of
House of Lime
Katherine of
Views from Raven's Nest
Paschal of
murat 11
Doris of
Poetic License
Carol of Carol for Peace
Jeff of A Word in Edgewise
David of authorblog
Sandi of
Holding Patterns
Akelamalu of
Everything and Nothing
Spark of No More Casual Nonchalance
The Elementary of
Crumbs from the Corner.

And now an award I am tempted to re-name the In the Nick of Time Award, since it's time-dated:
When Ora Lea at One American Dreamer graciously awarded it to me, she warned me I'd better post it soon. And I believe that was a couple of months ago!

Then, the ever-generous Fe of Coyote Road sent this joyous little butterfly winging its way to me:

Since I keep thinking of fabulous bloggers whom I've left out of this awarding binge, especially the many visual artists who visit so often and are an enormous source of support and encouragement, and since I now have a checkbook to balance, I am going to leave the Butterfly Award up for grabs. It's here for the catching. So grab your butterfly nets and make a comment if you want this one. It's yours. (Don't forget to pass it on.)

Monday, December 1, 2008

Everything About Me but the Kitchen Sink (That Too)

A Wall with a Past, acrylic on canvas, 24" x 24"
private collection, Mercer Island, Washington

This tag is courtesy Kim of Creating Space. She's requested I divulge seven "unusual" things about me. Here the problem is not coming up with seven offbeat traits/events. It's deciding which to leave out. Oh well, here's a sampling of my quirks:

1. As I've mentioned (numerous times), I was born breech, entering this world ass-backwards and I've been doing things in a roundabout way ever since. Example:


I once dislocated my toe while helping my son learn his spelling words. Don't ask.

3. My eyes are afflicted with a corneal disorder which affects 1 out of 2000 Americans. My uncorrected eyes see something (beyond a certain distance) like this:

Marcel Duchamp
Nude Descending a Staircase

I only wish I could paint what I see.

4. On the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, I am a INFJ, which purportedly occurs in 1% of the population. Kindred spirits include Geoffrey Chaucer, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Eleanor Roosevelt, Carl Jung, Mother Teresa, and Martin Luther King Jr. (As best as I can surmise, these findings were gleaned from the online test-taking results in the hard drives of these folks' discarded i-Books.) Wow, I guess I'm the underachiever in the group. That makes me even more unusual.

Then again, I've not lived a life completely devoid of attainment. Examples:

5. I was the valedictorian of my high school class, graduating with a grade point average of 97.425. I was also one of the Top Ten Magazine Salesmen in our senior class's primary fundraiser. For this I received a goldtone trophy in the form of a comely young woman. (Yes, I still have it. It resides in a place of honor in a cardboard box along with my Proficiency in Two Foreign Languages Award, My Best All Round Girl Award, my aforementioned Valedictorian Award, and an assortment of letters from various dignitaries, among them a state senator and the President of the company my dad worked for, congratulating me on a job well done.) For the record, I honed my art sales skills selling little prints in white plastic frames door-to-door in the fourth grade. I sold the hell out of stuff like this:

6. A small photograph of my own painting Heart's Destiny appears in the current issue of The Santa Fean. The feature is called "Fall Art Openings." And no, the photo wasn't taken at an opening. Get this: the photographer wandered into our gallery one afternoon just after Bennie had sold Heart's Destiny. A mood of festivity prevailed, so the photographer snapped a picture of Bennie, the buyer (the woman on the far left), a friend of the buyer, and yes, the painting. How's that for uncanny timing?

Where was I? In the studio painting of course.

7. AND my kitchen sink was immortalized on the cover of a literary magazine called...what else? The Kitchen Sink.
Oakley took the photograph.

I now tag 7 highly unusual (in the very best of ways) people:

1. The Moody Minstrel (who resides in The Land of the Rising Sun)
2. Ron (who Vents)
3. Lee (who dreams Chrysalis Dreams)
4. Jo (who Celebrates Life)
5. Peg (who hears Angel Voices)
6. Todd (who makes Pottery for Peace)
7. Paschal (aka murat11).

Your turn to confess.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Is Every Day Dia de los Muertos?

Wanderer, 40" x 30"
acrylic on canvas

This morning when I was soaking in the lovely hot tub, I saw the spirit of a teenage girl sitting in the spirit chair. Her name was Michelle, she lived a quarter mile from my house in Westacres, and she was in my grade. I think she was my first "crush." I remember going tobogganing with her and several friends at night in the eighth grade. After the toboggan runs we all met up at the community clubhouse for a dance...we danced to the Monkees and Beatles, drank hot chocolate, and I couldn't stop thinking about Michelle. A few years later, probably when I was a student at Oakland, I heard she had died in a car accident somewhere in the east. It made me sad. I never did find out for sure. Still, I think she was in that chair this morning--looking very young and pleasant. Don't know what to make of it...

These were words I received in an email from my husband yesterday, Halloween. Last year I posted the story of our "spirit chairs," one of which is the focal point of my blog header. From time to time wandering spirits do take a load off here. Hiram and Lily have frequented them. And now Michelle has come calling. Last night Bennie and I lit candles in our living room and sat for a time in their quivering light. We talked about the spirits, the few times we or our family members have had visitations from dear ones.

When my father was diagnosed with cancer, he woke from a nap to find his own deceased parents, and my mothers' parents, and her brother who had died in World War II, standing at the edge of the room, very still, all of them looking at him, smiling. He described them as looking young and healthy and very happy. He was completely unnerved by the experience. And my mother-in-law, on her fiftieth wedding anniversary in 1999, saw her own mother Mildred sitting in a chair, dressed in fall colors and a fall hat (even though it was August and Mildred had died in 1985). Mildred too was smiling and radiant. Bennie asked me last night, "Do you believe that experiences like this are in the mind?"

I don't know. Some would say that any experience is completely in the mind, that as we go about our ordinary activities, we are journeying from one place in the mind to another, passing through a world we've imagined.

Passing Through, 30 " x 40"
acrylic on canvas

The chair I sit on is an arrangement of subatomic energies, ordered just enough to provide the illusion of solidity. I can't "see" those energies, but they're there.

detail from Passing Through

What else is out there, all the time, that I can't, or don't, or won't see?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Six Unremarkable Things about Me

Laura, the dream-loving therapist of From the Couch, has tagged me with a meme. I'm supposed to divulge six unremarkable, ho-hum things about me. Easy.

Here goes:

1. At the age of 1 1/2 I ran away to join the circus.

2. My newfound family was just your average family. Loving. Somewhat dull. They used to say that Uncle Roscoe had been fired from one too many cannons. I always wondered what that meant.

3. Save for an unfortunate incident involving an irate bearded lady, a cotton candy machine, and my upper torso, it was an uneventful childhood. I emerged virtually unscathed. (I stand before you today a typical menopausal woman.)

4. I spend my days in recollection. One of my sweetest memories is that of the day I met my future husband. It was love at first sight...
...of those clown pants.

5. We had two rather ordinary children....

...who shared a penchant for impersonating Cherokee Indians...

and bringing home stray animals.

6. To this day, I enjoy simple pleasures. Friends. Family. Walks in the countryside. I now live in the high desert of New Mexico,

a sparsely inhabited, unremarkable place where the license plates say Land of Enchantment.

Go figure.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Marie Larson 1926-2008: A Legacy of Light and Shadow

"Aunt Marie is one of those people that just does everything perfect!" 8-year-old Oakley was beside himself with delight. Marie Larson, Bennie's aunt, had just moved to New Mexico from Michigan and had purchased a modest little condo in Albuquerque. She had invited us for New Year's Day dinner and had made an Oakley-friendly meal--roast beef, baked potatoes, green beans. Plus her condo was such an interesting place to be. It had nice tall ceilings with vigas, and saltillo tile floors, and for those places that were lacking in architectural charm, Marie had shopped salvage stores for corbels and mounted them in doorways and beside the kitchen cabinets. Although the art this dazzling painter made was very much classic representational, she had an eye for the "found" art object, and her walls were decorated with a vintage snowshoe and sled. Her furnishings were a mixture of simple comfortable contemporary seating and dark walnut antiques, set off by elegant candlesticks and a big jar of her own paintbrushes. We all laughed at Oakley's comment, understanding immediately the truth of it.

Marie's relationships with some of her family members will be remembered as less than perfect. She and her husband divorced rather bitterly when the children were small and apparently, she never completely recovered from the hurt of it. According to her children, she wasn't the perfect picture of the nurturing mother. She freely discussed the perhaps exaggerated shortcomings of their dad in their presence, and sometimes these shortcomings she applied to the entire male sex. She wrote off men as romantic partners as a waste of her time. It was a way of simplifying her life raising two children on her own in the 60s. It was not unlike the way she distilled a composition into the essentials of light and shadow.

She had a gift for portraying the human figure and face. She inevitably tapped into her models' vulnerability and sadness. It was as though the sadness at her own core opened a door into the hearts of her subjects.

She preferred to paint and draw rather than to cook, and at an early age the children learned to get their own meals. Bennie remembers his cousin Paul reporting long afternoons spent as his mom's captive model.

The Marie that Oakley and Flannery and I knew was the more public Marie known by her art students. A Marie who laughed. A Marie who offered encouragement. Once we drove down to Marie's place on the evening of July 4. I made food and we grilled steaks on her patio; afterwards we watched the fireworks from there. Although whatever food I brought was so simple I don't even remember it, Marie said, "Well, I just don't see how you have the time to work and cook." She always expressed appreciation for simple gestures. And as recently as this past spring, I received an email from a former student who was trying desperately to track her down. She wanted to visit her and catch up. (I have met other students of hers, some of whom have become clients of our gallery, people on whose lives she had a dramatic and positive impact.) By that time, however, Marie had moved back to the Midwest to be closer to her children and was living in an assisted living facility. Yesterday she quietly passed on with them nearby. Paul says it was a beautiful fall day and a feeling of peace pervaded the room.

I believe the last time I spoke with Marie it was the occasion of one of her last outings after a serious heart attack. Oxygen deprivation had left her with on-and-off memory loss and she had become quite frail. Soon she would be returning to the Midwest. Paul had come out from Chicago, and he and Marie met Bennie and me at a restaurant. I'd just had my hair cut and one recalcitrant curl kept falling over my forehead. The first thing Marie said to me: "There was a little girl who had a little curl right in the middle of her forehead. When she was good, she was very, very good. But when she was bad she was horrid." We all laughed and had a delightful meal.

I treasure that memory of Marie's remark. It does apply to all of us. We are all part good/part horrid. We can hope that our legacy of good will outweigh the horrid. I believe that in Marie's case that is very much the case. Marie's artful hand fashioned a life pared down to the luminous essentials. And that's good.

(Note: All paintings and drawings in this post are the work of Marie Larson.)