Friday, December 11, 2009

The Disappearing Woman

When my sister Rhonda was 5, she got her head stuck between two wrought iron rails on our front porch. I don't remember what prompted her to put her head between those rails. Maybe she was playing "Jail." All the kids on Emmet Street loved to stand on our front porch, grab a couple of the rails, and chant, "Look, I'm in jay-yul! Look, I'm in jay-yul!" This was well before the days of video games and ipods. Our thrills were much cheaper. If a kid had two wrought iron rails to wrap their hands around, they were in business. They were in jail. Just like Otis on The Andy Griffith Show.

Maybe Rhonda was playing with the idea of her head breaking out of jail. Her logic must have been:

  • I think.
  • Therefore I am in jail.
  • I think with my head.
  • If I can get my head on the other side of these rails, I won't think.
  • I'll be out of jail once I get my head on the other side.
She did have a philosophical bent early on. It runs in the family. It's a wonder I didn't pull such a stunt. Then again, that's what little sisters are for. Did I talk her into this? I hope not, but I don't clearly recall. Although I don't remember who came to her rescue, it had to be our mother. She must have spent a good fifteen minutes lightly holding Rhonda's head, coaxing my sister to turn her head a quarter-inch this way, take an eighth step backwards with her right foot--good! we've got your right ear back--now a quarter-inch that way, step back--here comes the left ear! Having given birth to breech babies twice, my mother was adept at such maneuvers. The neighborhood kids stood in our front yard, silent, in open-mouthed awe of such magic.

Has Rhonda ever put her head through a pair of rails again? Has anyone who witnessed that scene--the breathless kids, their parents watching from the windows--dared a repeat performance? Hell no. And yet we all keep trying to get our head out of jail. My sister writes. I paint.

When a painting isn't going well, I feel like I've poked my head right through the canvas. On the other side of the canvas is a wall, a place to bang my head. When things are going well, though, I feel like a magician has sawed me in half. I gaze from my severed head at my hands. They belong to someone else. They know just what to do. They coax my head to the other side of the canvas. It turns just enough...this way, then that...the top of my head disappears. There goes my forehead. My eyebrows, nose, lips, chin. I am looking at the painting from the other side. I have eyes in the back of my head. Red paint splashes over them. I disappear.

I'm feeling no pain.

Travels with the Magician
48" x 24"
acrylic on canvas
private collection, Mercer Island, Washington

How do you get your head out of jail?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

In One Dream and Out the Other

In One Dream and Out the Other
mixed media on canvas, 24" x 30"

private collection, Wayne, New Jersey

A lot has happened in the past year:
  • I levitated about three feet in the air, circling the perimeter of a room in William Hurt's house.
  • I met up in the Yucatan countryside with the Oscar Meyer bologna boy (from those 80s commercials). He and I walked a while. We came upon Marlo Thomas and her sister. Then things got really interesting...
  • Hillary Clinton purchased a small artwork from my gallery, in honor of her birthday--she told me she wanted a special little treat.
  • Unexpected guests showed up at my house. I was chagrined when one of my eyebrows fell off.
  • James Spader did an extended and earnest sales presentation to me on paintings by African artists he represented.
  • I was at a family gathering. George W. Bush was present. I held a baby in my knee. Bush looked at the baby. "Looks like me," he said. HORRORS. When will I waken from this nightmare?
For almost a year I've had the extraordinary pleasure of participating in a small dream-sharing group. The oddest thing about our members is we've never met each other in person--we're a private online blog. And yet, I feel as if I've known these people for a few lifetimes. And I don't even believe in multiple lifetimes! Must be because our dreams bubble up from that timeless, unfathomable ocean we call the collective unconscious. Don't misunderstand me. We don't always dream in Jungian archetypes, or about movie stars or ex-presidents. Some of our most interesting observations have been gleaned from ho-hum subject matter. I often dream about pedestrian occurrences at the gallery. A troublesome client shows up wanting to consign a pillow and a sleeping mat "for free." The group decides this is a warning to me--don't let this high-maintenance person invade my territory, keep my boundaries intact, or she will be setting up a little rest area in the gallery!

The dream group is an ongoing adventure. A quiet adventure. An adventure of the best kind. It was founded by Laura Lefelar-Barch, a therapist in New Jersey. She has a Master's in divinity from Duke. She has an Educational Specialist degree from Seton Hall. And she is working on her PhD in clinical psychology. Laura has many balls in the air and she keeps them up, beautifully. She's married and the mother of four young children, including twins. She has a busy private practice and an even busier dream life! Recently she appeared on MTV's "True Life Monday" in an episode with real footage from one of her remarkable therapy sessions. (In case you could use a little help getting through the holidays without your inner self getting trampled in a Black Friday stampede, I believe Laura does distance therapy with Skype.)

I'm paying tribute to Laura today, because I want to thank her publicly for the energy and focus she has given to our dream collective. Laura is stepping down from our group--the thrust of her work is now less dream-centered--and encouraging us to forge ahead on our own. We've decided to do just that, thanks to Laura's empowering insights.

And it is my sublime pleasure to know that my painting "In One Dream and Out the Other" now resides with Laura and her husband Michael, who saw fit to acquire it as an anniversary gift to one another. That's what I call a dream come true.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Life Is Food

Vessel, acrylic on canvas, 30" x 40"

Ever have a day when things connected? When the events unfolded gently, not with a lot of fanfare, but they nonetheless felt inevitable? Not life-changing events mind you, just quiet events that affirm being alive. Sunday was that kind of day for me. It was a glorious autumn morning. I was driving down Old Pecos Trail, under the big, achingly blue New Mexico sky. Yellow chamisa lined the sides of the road, interrupted here and there by purple wildflowers, whose names I don't know. The shaggy contours of the junipers, loaded with berries, looked about to burst with their own joy. I was listening to NPR.

The theme of the program was death, or more accurately, that border between life and death, the territory that is the closest we who are living can get to death without actually dying. One man told a story of jumping off a bridge. He had methodically decided that his death would be best for all. He had analyzed how his death would affect each person in his life and was convinced that they would be better off were he to take that last step into thin air, plunging into the water, and the death just beneath that water, below the bridge. So that's what he did. He took the plunge.

Only thing was the very moment he saw his hands leave the rail, he realized his was a huge mistake, he knew he loved life with all of his heart, he wanted desperately to reverse his action, to be standing on the bridge again, walking back into life and the people there, all the unfinished business, the sloppiness of it all. He hoped, probably more deeply than he had ever hoped, for a miracle. He wanted to survive.

That was his lucky day. A member of the Coast Guard had witnessed the jump and they were there in minutes, pulling him into their boat.

Other stories followed. The story of a neuroscientist who put a comatose patient into an MRI tube and instructed her to imagine she was playing tennis. The areas of the cortex that would light up when a person was playing an aggressive tennis game, or even imagining such a game, lit up brilliantly! Someone was in there, someone in love with life, as limited as that life appeared to those of us out here. There was an imagination at work. Then there was the story of the woman who was not comatose at all. She walked around. She spoke. She could play a game of tennis if she wanted to. A real game of tennis. Only she really believed she was dead. She could sit on chairs and touch tennis balls, but they seemed not real. They seemed illusory. It was decided she too was in there, but she had no sense of self out there. Unlike the comatose woman, she had no emotions to link with her thoughts. She had no purpose. I believe she was devoid of imagination and dreaming. She was among the Undead.

Later that evening in Albuquerque my family saw two vampire plays by Mac Wellman. In Dracula, a contemporary interpretation of Bram Stoker's tale, the director chose to "split" some of the characters--they were played by two actors. When a character would speak or perform an action, another actor, a kind of doppelganger, would repeat the words, and the action, but slightly differently, more softly, with less emphasis. I realized that we the audience were witnessing the in here and the out there selves. We were seeing our own divisions, our own apartness from life, our own Undeadness.

During the intermission we were asked to take our personal belongings and leave the theater, to have a cup of tea in the courtyard. When we returned to the performance space, we were to see the second play, Swoop, sandwiched between the two acts of Dracula. All of our chairs had been turned in the opposite direction for Swoop. Whereas in the first act of Dracula, the back row of chairs was highest up, and the front row, where I'd been sitting, was on a level with the actors, now the front row was highest up, facing a stage curtain several feet above. I eagerly went to the top level and sat down in the center chair. The curtain opened and I found myself staring directly up into the eyes of a vampire, who was looking back down at me. Perhaps that was a stage direction to the actor--look right down into the eyes of whoever is sitting in the front-and-center chair. That would be me! I loved it!

There were four actors in Swoop. All were characters from Dracula, including one character's split selves, who had moved through time and space to hover in the air seven miles above present-day Manhattan. They delivered powerful, far-reaching monologues on the absurdity and beauty of existence, what one referred to as "the blur." Their words swooped down at us, fast and furious. As Bennie remarked later, it was really challenging to follow the ideas and the images, which blurred together like gazpacho ingredients thrown into a blender. We were nonetheless compelled to drink in all that we could. We were hungry for the blood of it all.

As one vampire said, "It is a need to prey (and yes, I delighted in first hearing "prey" as "pray"), that so incessantly needles...needles some to madness, awful woes and bellowing, and some other, happy few, notably me, to my sustaining updraft, my hilarity. I look down through veil upon veil of wispy vapor and behold a city of food."

Yes, it's all about the food. Life is a feast, although not always what we'd hoped for. Sometimes it helps to have our chairs turned in an opposite direction, so that we look briefly, for one dark moment, into the eyes of he who would take our precious life, our blood, our food, from us. To know that the chair we sit on is real, that we have the choice to climb down from the drama, wrap a scarf around our vulnerable necks, and simply drive to a diner. For a bite. It's good to know the ones we hold dear are waiting in the wings for us, with a cup of tea, a bit of conversation over shared food, maybe even a lifeboat.

Friday, September 18, 2009

When Faith Moves Mountains and Other Geographical Experiments

Slice of Time, acrylic on canvas, 24" x 18"
private collection, Littleton, Colorado

"Experimental Geography explores the distinctions between geographical study and artistic experience of the earth, as well as the juncture where the two realms collide and possibly make a new field altogether." The spaces where realms collide--that's where hope resides.

"Experimental Geography" is a traveling exhibition, currently at the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History. Nineteen artists or teams of artists from seven countries have presented their personal "geographical study and artistic experience of the earth" through various mediums.

There is a film documenting "A Project for Geographical Displacement," a project by Francis Alys, wherein 500 volunteers formed a line to move a sand dune near Lima. Described as a "human comb," these 500 human beings "pushed a certain quantity of sand a certain distance, thereby moving a sixteen-hundred-foot-long sand dune about four inches from its original position."

Such a tangible metaphor for hope. What hope, combined with sweat and teamwork, can accomplish, on a monumental scale. That's what I call faith.

Equally moving was the "NOTES FOR A PEOPLE'S ATLAS." These were small printed digital outlines of the city of Albuquerque, on which residents had been invited to "plot their personal knowledge of places, histories, and ideas on the map of their community." The most poignant one for me included only two large penciled-in dots, loosely marking two locations, a couple of miles apart. Each was accompanied by a message. One said, "where I was raped, age 15." And, in the second location, "where I got my life back together, 14 years later." For that young woman, getting her life back together must have been as monumental as moving a sixteen-hundred-foot-sand-dune four inches. Even so, after 14 years, it budged. That's what I call faith.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Old Man Gloom Dispatched by Fire and Ceremony

Sparkus Illuminus (the Honorable and Exalted), the  berobed, besceptered man on the stage is holding court:

"Santa Fe, it's time to consider the fate of Old Man Gloom:

  • Zozobra, for being a hideous 50-foot bogeyman who scares the innocent children of Santa Fe;
  • Zozobra, for being a menace and making our dogs howl at the moon;
  • Zozobra, for haunting our dreams and upsetting our peaceful way of life;
I ask the citizens of Santa Fe:
  • Shall we now send Zozobra to a fiery death?
  • Shall we burn him?"
The mob of 20,000 gathered at Fort Marcy Park, comprised of upstanding Santa Fe citizens, visitors from New York, Oklahoma City, and Albuquerque, young parents holding their toddlers on their shoulders, white-haired seniors, teens (LOTS of teens), Dems, Greens, and Republicans--roar in unison, "BURN 'IM!!!"

It's unanimous.  Sparkus Illuminus proclaims Zozobra's fate:
  • "I declare that on this evening, September 10, 2009, that Zozobra, otherwise known as Old Man Gloom, shall be dispatched by appropriate fire and ceremony.
  • With the execution of Zozobra, we release all anxiety, suffering, heartache, and gloom of our fair city.
  • Bring on the Glooms and Firedancers!
Zozobra's fate is sealed.  The Glooms (ghostly, sheet-wearing schoolchildren) and Firedancers in red costumes, bearing torches, solemnly proceed to the platform.   At 9:00 on an evening in early September, Zozobra, a towering paper marionette, is consumed in flames to the delight of our people.  For an evening, we watch our troubles go up in smoke. 

In past years I have written notes about a particular personal trouble I wanted to release.  I have deposited that note in the Gloom Box (the contents of which are burned with Zozobra), along with other people's divorce papers, bankruptcy papers, mortgage notes, medical diagnoses--you name it--and felt the thrill of seeing all things troubling from the past year reduced to a puff of smoke, a spectacle of fireworks.

There's a time to let things go, to get over it already, to move on.   Other troubles await us, but for now: Viva la Fiesta!

(The video is from a TV station in Albuquerque.  You can't fast-forward through the opening commercial.  But once you get to the Zozobra coverage, you can fast-forward through segments.  If this ritual interests you, you might want to do that, to see the sentencing of Zozobra, some of the firedancing, some of the burning, some of the pyrotechnics.  I'll warn you though.  It's nothing like being here in person.)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Running with the Wrong Crowd

There's a line a blogger crosses. From Bad Blogger to Dirty Rotten Blogger. A Bad Blogger posts sketchily, willy nilly, in fits and starts. When she returns to blogland after an extended absence, people say wry things like, "Oh my, you live and breathe." But the Bad Blogger at least has the decency to put in an appearance for solemn occasions such as blogaversaries. The Dirty Rotten Blogger does not.

I've crossed the line. Friday was my second blogaversary, not to mention my 56th birthday. And I refrained from commemorating. I morphed from oaf to scoundrel. I'm a Dirty Rotten Blogger. Maybe that's because I'm in the Terrible Twos. At least in blog years. Maybe it's because I've taken to running with the wrong crowd.

These kids are a bad influence.
Foreground: daughter Flannery.
Back row: David (Flan's boyfriend) and son Oakley.
Their deviousness is outdone
only by this one...

This one is bad to the bone.
He cooked TWO birthday feasts for me,
the first one two days before my birthday.
I came home from the gallery,
walked up the back steps to find
the bad one holding hands with Cinde, Bob, Christy,
and Russ. Their heads were bowed, their eyes were
closed, and they were chanting OOOOOOOOOOOMMMMM.
"What's going on here?" I asked in indignation.

Then there's that thug Otto...

Otto, my Stephano-Pirovano-designed
dental floss dispenser,
a gift from the dastardly Christy.
My birthday cards and letters, from various low-lifes:
My mother (who surreptitiously slipped me cash,
then brazenly sang Happy Birthday on my voice mail).
The infamous Sometimes Saintly Nick
(alias Alex the Blogging Cat).
JS (knee-deep in "discernment"--
an Episcopal euphemism for parole--she emailed me her first,
highly subversive sermon).
Paschal (who penned a wicked acrostic based on my name).
Belinda and Armand (from L.A.--lower Alabama--
can't get any lower than that).
Cinde and Bob, who harbored on their premises
Christy and Russ, accessories to the birthday perpetration.
The Out-Laws (disguised as the in-laws).
The Bad Influence Kids.
Notice all of the cards are rallying around
the large bottle of Reposada,
a gift from Flannery and David.
(I told you they are a bad influence.)
The chocolate from Bad-to-the-Bone is hidden,
as are the various items of intimate apparel.

My birthday roses, grown by my neighbor Cynde
and arranged with greenery from her garden,
in a French tin pot, adorned with a white satin bow.
She's the scourge of the neighborhood.

Four pots of Russian sage,
foisted on me by my in-laws.
They wrote the book on Bad.
A selection of headily fragranced incense
and a heart-carved case to keep it in.
A gift from my insensitive lout of a son.
(That's the hem of my skirt in the foreground.
Not that you were asking.)
My Bradley mixed-media ceramic mask.
Gifted by, you guessed it, Bad-to-the-Bone.

My brand new great-niece Allie Rae,
whose timing could not have been worse.
She arrived home from the hospital on Friday,
my birthday,
my blogaversary,
the official opening day of Santa Fe Fiestas,
the official kick-off of Santa Fe's 400th Anniversary.
Some people are dirty and rotten from Day One.
But I adore the headgear!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Indian Market Discovery

A Good Omen, 24" x 36"
mixed media on canvas
(my painting)

Santa Fe recently celebrated our 88th annual Indian Market, the largest juried Native American arts event anywhere. With over 1000 artists participating, our little downtown district was packed with vendors, buyers, and unsuspecting tourists who just happened to stumble into town during the most exciting event of the year. It's always a busy weekend at the gallery, kicking off with a reception on Friday night. Often I'm so tired from minding the gallery, which remains open into the night on Saturday, I don't take the opportunity to stroll through the Market. This year was different, however. Family members were visiting for my in-laws' 60th wedding anniversary--that celebration occurred Sunday evening--so naturally, they had to be introduced to Indian Market.

I'm so glad I visited the Market. There in the Emerging Artists section, I happened on the exciting ceramic sculpture of Chippewa artist Patricia Bradley. Truth be told, my daughter first spotted these evocative masks sporting the semblance of animal ears, face paint, headdresses, and various sculpted wrappings--around the forehead, over the mouth, over the eyes. "Hey, Mom, look over there at those AWESOME masks!"

Lil Brother



Animal Guidance

from a series of 25 mixed-media ceramic masks
modeled on the faces of the artist's children

They were powerful and carried a wild, joyous energy. I fell in love. With the art and with the artist, who struck me as a straightforward person, open to possibility. Flan snapped up what I had decided was my favorite mask. It was the only piece loosely modeled on Patricia's own face; several strokes of red paint were dashed across one eye, warrior style. I have to hand it to my daughter: she has quite an eye and she knows what she wants and when she sees it, she takes it. She's a warrior herself.

The next day I returned and saw that Patricia had sold a number of her pieces, but her tabletop sculptures--faces emerging from a mass of fired clay, with coils of metal emerging from the backs of the heads and pieces of found metal sprouting from tops of the heads, a fusion of smooth and rough, playful and sad, Earth and Spirit--remained unsold...

Sun on My Face
mixed-media ceramic

I was mesmerized again. Patricia smiled at me in this open, disarming way and asked, "Hi, what are you doing back here today?"

I confessed that I owned a gallery and that I would love to show her art. Without any pretense, she said, "I would love to leave all of this work at your gallery."

And that's just what she did Monday morning.

The whole process felt effortless, as if it were meant to be.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Place of Enchantment

I always got a kick out of driving a car with a license plate bearing the slogan "Land of Enchantment." I was disappointed when the state of New Mexico changed the design a few years ago. We still have a distinctive license plate, but it no longer proclaims our state nickname. And "Land of Enchantment" is simply perfect.

Where else will you witness a scene like this?

That's what Bennie and I saw Monday evening, as we drove north out of town, past the village of Tesuque, and turned left, headed for that dramatic structure nestled back into the mountains. The short journey through pinon-studded high desert was enchanting, in and of itself, but the real enchantment lay ahead.

We parked and descended into the soaring space of the Santa Fe Opera House, an open-air venue. Four tall diaphanous curtains swayed on stage. The murder victim sang an aria from behind those curtains, which served as portals into truth and the subconscious. Beyond the stage, the almost full moon revealed itself, time and again, from mountains of cloud cover. The cloud forms mimicked the actual mountains beyond. It was a magical backdrop for "The Letter," the world premiere of the opera based on Somerset Maugham's play.

The occasion was Bennie's birthday.

When we returned home, we found the Spirit chairs illuminated by the same moon. Someone was singing an aria in the distance, in the direction of the foothills. The sound was faint, barely discernible. At the same time, it seemed to come from that very chair.

Just another night in our back yard, a Land of Enchantment.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Dreaming It Forward

Magician, 36" x 24"
private collection, Washington, D.C.

This past Thursday I participated in a global healing event. What did I do? I slept on it.

I got the idea from Laura's blog From the Couch. She got it from

The event will recur on the 23rd/24th of each month, culminating on the night of October 23. The idea is to go to bed with the intention of dreaming of "global healing for Mother Earth with dreamers from around the world."

Here's what I dreamed on July 23rd:

I am eating a chocolate cake which is sitting on a table. I am nibbling, taking one small bite from the cake, then walking away, returning to the cake, taking another bite, walking away, returning, eating another bite, etc. The giver of the cake says to me, "San, could you leave a little for me? I'd like some too."

I then find myself teaching in a classroom. My students are young people. I am taken with how fresh they look, how eager their faces appear. They are hanging on my every word. It's bit unnerving; I feel my presentation is kind of dull--I am referring to a textbook which doesn't inspire me. I am also becoming aware that a noise from outside the classroom is drowning out my voice.

I walk down the hallway to the room where the sound is coming from. I open the door and find a bunch of old folks square dancing with their music turned up really loud. A couple come to the door. Her hair is in disarray. Both of them have their mouths open in surprise, surprise that their music could be heard from outside the door. They seem, however, happy to turn it down.

As I turn to walk back to my classroom, I have an idea for a writing assignment for my class. I will show them two pottery disks, one of them shiny new and unblemished, the other with a complicated weathered surface. I will have them write about which disk is more beautiful, and why. I feel excited. I know the students will be inspired and I can't wait to read their work.

So, now I ask for your interpretations of my dream sequence...

detail, Way of the Sea, 60" x 48"

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Recovering from Vacation

A few things I did on my summer vacation to Chicago and Michigan:
  • On the plane from Albuquerque I sat two seats behind actor Gary Farmer. An odd coincidence, as I was already planning on his being the subject of my Meme of Fame 4/7. (I'd last seen him a couple of summers ago when I helped him hang a large painting on the wall of his now-out-of-business gallery, a block from our own. There you go: Meme of Fame 4/7 is now complete.) We exchanged awkward pleasantries in the O'Hare terminal, then went about our separate misadventures.
Farmer and Johnny Depp in Dead Man.
  • My spouse got his suitcase locked in a turnstile at the El station. The turnstile would not budge. My spouse therefore became locked in the turnstile. He would not budge. An attendant had to disengage the luggage, and thus my spouse, with brute force. The attendant broke a sweat wrestling the steel bars in their death grip. We haven't a clue exactly how it all happened. Just lucky I guess.
  • My spouse excused himself for a restroom engagement during a performance of The Enigma Variations at the concert pavilion in Millennium Park. He simply vanished. It was truly enigmatic. Then again, I might want to disappear after that turnstile stunt. Come to think of it, I never saw that man before in my entire life.
Everyone was whispering,
'Where did Bennie go?'

I went searching for him...

...only to find him napping on the sculpture terrace
of the new wing of the Art Institute.

  • In Michigan I was caught trespassing on the grounds of a private residence I'd mistaken for a funky collectibles shop. I mean, how many antique birdhouses, disintegrating farm implements, and sculptures of giant hands cradling the planet Earth does one family need? Shove your rusty hay rake. Take your vintage sausage grinders. Please.
And call your dog off.
  • Upon arriving at the steps leading down to Cherry Beach at Lake Michigan, a panic-stricken family was coming up, slapping at their arms and legs. They shouted warnings of a proliferation of giant and hungry flies. They weren't kidding. Here's Bennie coming back up the stairs, pursued by a swarm of famished flies.
Don't let the smile fool you.
Those insects mean business.
  • Arriving at Club Lago on West Superior in Chicago, salivating in anticipation of fried calamari and linguini, we discovered a big sign at the entrance, explaining that the restaurant was closed due to damage incurred by an exploding chimney next door.

They say they'll be back.
And so will we...

We just love vacations.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

It's a Wonderful Life (100 Ways)

No doubt you've seen this meme around Blogland. I started noticing it last winter and promised myself I'd participate. One of these days, I said. Today's the day. Warning: It's loooooooooong. Bennie and I are about to leave for a little vacation to Chicago and Lake Michigan, and I didn't want to leave you bereft of reading material. Feel free to drop in and read a few items, then come back and read more. And more. And more. It's a list of 100 things a person might have done in one's life. The idea is to copy and paste the same list, then put in bold the things you've done already. And you know me. I have to illustrate my memes.

1. Started my own blog (Truth be told, I found this blog in the parking lot of Denny's. Possession is, however, 9/10 of the law.)
2. Slept under the stars (Yup. In the Rockies, in Yosemite, on the beach beside the Pacific, and occasionally on the trampoline in my back yard in New Mexico. Long story.)

Camping in the Rockies with Trudy.

3. Played in a band (No, but I used to sing in a church choir. They took anyone who could "make a joyful noise.")
4. Visited Hawaii (We went there on our honeymoon. My favorite memory is sitting in the shade of a huge banyan tree, eating breakfast and drinking Kona coffee. At the time I didn't realize that the banyan tree was an omen of the roots we would be putting down, far sooner than we realized. Our firstborn would arrive a little over 9 months later.)

5. Watched a meteor shower (And I once spied on an asteroid taking a bath.)
6. Given more than I can afford to charity (Do you realize what gallery ownership is about? Commercial landlords are my least favorite charity, but they've twisted my arm to contribute to their cause for better than 24 years now.)
7. Been to Disneyland/world (When the kids were little, we traveled down the California coast, stopping along the way to camp on the beach, winding up at Disneyland and Universal Studios.)

8. Climbed a mountain (The closest I've come is hiking down the Vernal Falls trail and back up in Yosemite. That hardly qualifies, but doing that with one child in a stroller and another by the hand does qualify as an adventure, don't you think?)

9. Held a praying mantis (Why would I want to do that? Aren't they the ones who mate and tear their partner's head off?)
10. Sung a solo (Yes, when Oakley was a toddler and had stitches put in his head, I sang solo after solo, my face as near his as possible, unnerving the ER physician. "Well, somehow we got that done," he said, "despite the singing."
11. Bungee jumped (Are you f'in' kidding????)
12. Visited Paris (Oui.)

13. Watched lightning at sea (From the window of my motel room.)
14. Taught myself an art from scratch (The fine art of answering memes.)
15. Adopted a child (Only if you count our dog Trudy, adopted from the shelter in 1999.)
16. Had food poisoning (I must have, but I honestly can't recall an incident. And I've eaten in divey border towns as well as at Denny's. Guess my immune system is cast iron.)
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty (I'm more of a sidelines kind of person. I've looked at it from afar, from the Staten Island Ferry.)
18. Grown my own vegetables (A few tomatoes, some green onions and jalapenos, and some actual corn. My husband is the gardener. I'm a sidelines kind of person. But the garden's on my land too. Possession is 9/10 of the law.)

Bennie's High Desert Garden

19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France (From the eighteenth row back, in a frenzied, picture-taking mob of Japanese tourists. And it may not have even been the actual Mona Lisa. To protect the real deal, they trot out replicas. You never know if what you see is what you get.)
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight (I was the featherweight champion of that train.)
22. Hitchhiked (Once while walking in my own subdivision, I got lost and flagged down a guy to ask directions. He drove me home. )
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill (Unless you want to include mental. Every day is a mentally ill day, for me.)
24. Built a snow fort (What's a snow fort? Why not a sand castle?)

25. Held a lamb (chop)
26. Gone skinny dipping (If a hot tub counts.)
27. Run a Marathon (But I've cheered my husband over the finish line.)

28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice (I am going to get to Italy. One of these days.)
29. Seen a total eclipse (Of business in 2009.)
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset (Every morning and every evening, from our deck.)

31. Hit a home run (Who? Me?)
32. Been on a cruise (Only up the Potomac. And around San Francisco Bay. And on the Staten Island Ferry.)
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person (I've flown over Wichita Falls.)
34. Visited the birthplace of my ancestors (I'll get to the Garden of Eden. Watch me.)
35. Seen an Amish community (I saw that movie with Kirstie Alley.)
36. Taught myself a new language (I know some Spanish. Enough to make my way around a hotel room in Chihuahua.)
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied (OK, I can pretend, can't I?)
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David (I will. I will.)
41. Sung karaoke (Not on my to-do list, but I admire it in others.)
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt (in song, in a karaoke bar, in Oakley, Kansas.)

43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
(Never mind. That's my husband and my son.
But if he puts his hand in that water,
I'm going to act like I never saw him before in my life.)

44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight (On the Atlantic, the Pacific, the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean. Now, to make it to the Mediterranean...)
46. Been transported in an ambulance (No, but I did have to climb into one and be checked out by paramedics after a car accident. That was close enough.)
47. Had my portrait painted (Sketched. Twice. Never painted. Unless you count my very abstract Self-Portrait.)
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person (I will. I will.)
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris (As opposed to the Eiffel Tower in Las Cruces?)
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud (I recommend combining Numbers 52 & 53.)
54. Gone to a drive-in theater (When we moved to Santa Fe, we were delighted to discover the Yucca Drive-In. We saw The Lion King there with the kids. Sadly, the Yucca closed soon thereafter. Now, tell me the truth. Does that sign really look like a yucca?)

55. Been in a movie (When the kids were little, we wrote, directed, produced, and acted in our own action/adventure video. Sadly, it was a bomb at the box office. Never even made it to the Yucca.)
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business (We've had our gallery since 1985. And as a kid I had one hell of a profitable lemonade stand.)
58. Taken a martial arts class (But in San Francisco I rented a house from a guy named Bruce Lee.)
59. Visited Russia (No, but if I ever make it to Alaska...)
60. Served at a soup kitchen (I've prepared food for a homeless shelter, but I didn't serve it.)
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies (But I've bought, and eaten, them aplenty. Chocolate mint rules!)
62. Gone whale watching (Never. One for the bucket list I guess.)
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma (I should. I'm O negative, the universal donor. And I've been on the receiving end after a spell of anemia. Talk about a precious gift. Even better than flowers for no reason.)
65. Gone sky diving (I won't. I won't.)
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp (I probably will one of these days. It must be a profound experience.)
67. Bounced a check (After we sold our house in California, we deposited the proceeds in a bank in Santa Fe. The teller put a hold on the out-of-state funds. She meant to put a 10-day hold, but she typed an extra zero and held up everything for 100 days. Yes, there was a whole lot of bouncing going on.
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy up until my late 20s (Make that late 50s. I still have the little stuffed white dog with black ears I used to have to hug to fall asleep. (Bennie isn't too jealous.) My own daughter held that dog and now it's in storage for a grandchild down the way. And I have a collection of Troll dolls from the 60s. Remember those wild-haired things? And Flannery now decorates her kitchen with my Deluxe Dream Kitchen circa 1962. And I have my original Barbie Doll and my Ken Doll (who's actually developed a bald spot and a resemblance to our friend Eric)...and...

70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial (Jefferson too.)
71. Eaten caviar (I personally don't see the big deal. Guess I'm a phlebian.)
72. Pieced a quilt (But both my grandmothers passed down to me some lovely hand-made quilts of their own creation, including one made by my great-grandmother. I live in a passive solar suffused with sunlight, and so I have to keep my beautiful, fragile quilts hidden away most of the time.)
Young Flannery, practicing head lifting,
on a quilt made by her great-grandmother.

73. Stood in Times Square (I even walked around the place.)
74. Toured the Everglades (As a young adult, with my parents.)
75. Been fired from a job (That's the disadvantage of being self-employed. I can't fire myself!)
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London (No, but I used to work at a gallery across from the Sir Francis Drake in San Francisco. The doormen wore Beefeater Guard outfits. I watched them go off duty.)
77. Broken a bone (My toe. Three times. The third time was the charm.)
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle (How do you think I broke my toe? Just kidding.)
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person (Everything, I mean everything, it's cracked up to be.)

80. Published a book (No, but I've published my writing in literary journals.)
81. Visited the Vatican (But I will get to Italy. One of these days. Keep reminding me.)
82. Bought a brand new car (Not anywhere near what it's cracked up to be. I'd rather save my money for paintings.)
83. Walked in Jerusalem (Little Jerusalem, aka Ave Maria Grotto, a replica of the Holy Land near Huntsville, Alabama.)

84. Had my picture in the newspaper (Several times. The first time was when I was a third-grader, touring the phone company. I've been a publicity hound ever since.)
85. Read the entire Bible (Not all of it, but I did walk in Little Jerusalem.)
86. Visited the White House (Only the areas that used to be available on public tours. I'm still awaiting that West Wing invitation.)
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating

A sampling of wild game. Hunted, killed, dressed, baked.

88. Had chickenpox (And measles and mumps. I grew up before those vaccinations existed. Did I mention I'm old?)
89. Saved someone’s life (Only my own. I make it a practice to stay out of the trajectory of falling meteorites.)
91. Met someone famous (Just this past Sunday Jane Lynch, of Christopher Guest movies fame, and 2 1/2 Men fame, popped into the gallery.)

Charlie Sheen's shrink. A juicy role.

92. Joined a book club (Several friends and I used to meet monthly at each others' homes for a potluck and book discussion. We were in far-flung locations. Los Alamos to Eldorado to Chupadero. The commute became a grind and we wound up reading our books in solitude.)
93. Lost a loved one (Yes. My father, all of my grandparents, all of my uncles and aunts, a cousin. Some friends. It's a hazard of growing older, losing people.)
94. Had a baby (Two times, and by natural childbirth.)

95. Seen the Alamo in person (No. But I've seen Los Alamos in person. See #92.)
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake (No! I'm too afraid of turning into a right-wing Republican. There's definitely something in the water up there.)
97. Been involved in a law suit (Small claims court. Twice. Sued a shipping company and a landlord. And I've filed a complaint with the Office of the Attorney General of California. Don't mess with me, people!)
98. Owned a cell phone (Aren't I special?)
99. Been stung by a bee (And I once accidentally stepped on a dead wasp with bare feet. I still got stung. The nerve!)
100. Ridden an elephant (It's a crucial part of my morning routine, right after coffee.)