Came home all fired up after work to begin making homemade soap…bought the book, tools, oils, lye, protective gear, bowls – read the instructions not once, not twice, but three times a lady (old Commodores song). I was prepared. Got ready to mix the ingredients and I needed a scale because soap making uses weight, not volume measurements. Went to the store twice, but apparently it is illegal to sell kitchen scales in my half-ass town. Have to run to the big city, down the hill, tomorrow to purchase such a thing.
Put everything away and will have to wait until after Thanksgiving to make soap. Now what to do tonight? I refuse to turn on the television…so I bring out some books I bought. I am going to learn how to draw.
I have a few skills and natural abilities, but drawing, or even writing my name clearly enough for others to read, is not one of them. From early on, when surrounded in a classroom with a template of perfect cursive alphabet examples for my mind to soak in subconsciously, I couldn’t write. Even today I print everything I write. (By the way, does anyone actually write the capital letter Q like we were taught, some kind of a fancy pants number 2?)
I am challenged by the fine arts. But, damn it, I want to be a well developed human being. Plus, I am reading the new biography on Leonardo Da Vinci and it is full of artistic analysis of his different techniques. Even when the author points out main highlights of a particular work of art- I don’t see it. This cannot be a good thing. I must improve myself.
So…I decided I will begin spending time by at least trying to draw – so that I can become more artistically aware. Perhaps I will begin to see the world and its objects in a more enlightened manner. This would be a good thing I think. “Oh look how the light plays with the shadow of that apple!” Right now all I do is bite the apple and hope it is still crisp, snappy, dare I say…crunchy. I want to “know” the apple, understand its place in this world, and then perhaps eat it.
So I present to you ladies and gentlemen, “The Walnut.” I know I must tell you what it is or you might think it is a rock, or the head of a dinosaur, or an ink blot image used for psychological analysis like, “What do you see there?” “Oh, I see my dear mother in bed with my daddy and it makes me terribly angry. I am going cut off daddy’s one-eyed snake.” Nah, it is just a lousy looking nut.
I will buy the scales tomorrow.
Continuing on a musical journey… This little tune is a collaboration with David Hutton, a fine human being who lives about 5,151 miles (8,289 km) from me. We shared ideas, video conversations, lyrics, melodies, guitar tracks, typo errors in our messages, and different audio mixes, all without ever being in the same room. Very enjoyable experience.
Now off to making soap this evening!
Last night I sat in quiet darkness contemplating the violence and hatred in the world. When I am lost in search of comprehension and understanding in my life, some times I try to pray. So I did last night and I had nothing to say. It felt like an empty void of nothingness. I thought, “What am I doing? It feels like talking to an imaginary friend.”
In the following moments I started considering my own faults and there were many. I told my imaginary friend everything about those faults, or at least until the thought came to me, “Hey dude, lay off some. You ain’t that bad.” But then I thought, “No, there is hatred inside of me, no doubt about it. A killer rages deep within or so my favorite therapist told me once.”
So then I said, “Ok God, I’ve come clean and I have no right to come to you in prayer, but I am going to try again.”
Again, silence, and words seemed such a useless tool to use in praying. So… I thought…fuck. And then I recited the Lord’s Prayer…but then I got a little hung up on the differences between the Protestants and the Catholics versions of the prayers and immediately I started doing some theological analysis in my mind. Then I thought, “Yes, it is like your birthday song where everyone is singing together until they get to your name and then all harmonic hell breaks out, “Happy Birthday….Gary, Daddy, Dad, Grandpa, Uncle Gar-reee.” Yeah, praying didn’t go well, but you probably guessed that when I earlier used the “f” word.
Afterwards, I went into my office and perused my bookshelf where I found a book that once made my cry as a child, Charlotte’s Web. I began to read it. I soon realized that the answers to my prayer struggles in the darkness were probably embedded in the story of Wilbur, Fern, and Charlotte. Friendship, courage, loss, new life, and most importantly…love is what makes Charlotte’s Web such a simple and powerful story. I think love was missing from my prayer time. Maybe I will read Charlotte’s Web first, next time.
Alison captures so well that feeling I get from looking at a solitary leaf of autumn. When you realize that the fallen leaf eventually decays and contributes to the soil which supports a new tree with its own leaves, it is all rather miraculous.
As winter draws near
they begin to fall
from weakening arms
dropping, one by one.
They braved the storms
the wind and rain
their beauty shone
with the rising sun.
Now crumpled and creased
it’s time to let go
time to accept
the journey is done.
so softly to the ground
tears are shed
a battle is won.
Love Alison x
I decided to go back to that original feeling and record a song I wrote and recorded some time ago. It doesn’t get more basic, production-wise, than this. This song title ended up being kind of a theme for my artistic endeavors. Sometimes in times of loss, we simply put up another picture on the wall.
I try to speed-write a song on occasions. I like to see what just pours out. I just plug a microphone into the Iphone and have a go at it. There is something satisfying about not caring and just doing.
By the way check out this beautiful tree in our yard!
From these Concord grapevines in our backyard…
…came this homemade grape jelly!
Now I shall go out and gather some fresh eggs from the lovely ladies in the side yard and then go stack some more firewood under cover…rain tomorrow!
About 37 years ago, or so, my paternal grandfather died which made me about 26 years old at the time. I remember watching my father just sit and stare. He hardly spoke for a few days; he just sat in chair outside and stared at the big oaks trees in the back of his land.
This didn’t seem right to me. I handled my grief by trying to be as positive and supportive as possible. Although I was really sad, I hated silence and felt a need to fill the air in some sort defiance of death. Others my age in the family did the same thing, perhaps not as outgoing as I was- but they did not sit and stare. We were all in motion. I thought my father’s reaction was odd.
That has all changed. Since my father passed away on Friday, I find myself just staring a lot into empty space, but also sometimes at the branches of a tree on my own land. I noticed that Dad’s very kind and loving grandchildren have a tendency to be active during their grief, just like I was 37 years ago. The noise doesn’t seem inappropriate…I understand it…but I am not able to participate in it. I prefer just staring.
If you’ve followed this blog for awhile, you know that I tend to be introspective at times as I try to learn more about myself, life, and the great mystery some call God which all leads to this question: Why did my father stare at trees when grandpa died?
I think I now know why. His North Star had fallen out of the sky. It takes a bit to orientate your life, your direction, especially if way down deep you have been trying to make your father proud of you…even when you are older.
What should I do with this new insight? For one thing, I need to make sure my own children know I am proud of them not for what they do, or their accomplishments. I am proud of them for who they are and that pride was born the instant I first laid eyes on them…although they were indeed kind of messy at the time.
The other things I need to do with this insight? Well, I am going to have to sit silently and stare at a tree for some time before I know that answer.