A Month of Thanks – Post-Turkey, A Bonus Chapter

30 11 2016

On this fifth Wednesday of November 2016 – the post-Thanksgiving-thanks-giving-post –

I  am thankful for:

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Do-Overs. 

Mulligans.

Second Serves.

Whatever you want to call them, I am thankful that, as long as we live, we have the chance to fix things.

We can grow kinder.  We can gain more knowledge.  We can get stronger.

We can change our minds.

Never forget that we have that power.  Never deny that power to others.

In the swirling negativity and continuing vitriol of our country’s politics, when we need, more than ever, to find ways to meet in the eye of this storm, we seem to hold tight to the desire to blame those whom we perceive as “the other side.” We persist in this argumentative and ineffective posture, even – and especially – when one of the “others” expresses a change of head or heart. They deserve a do-over.

Hear these folks out when they show you a good faith effort to step onto common ground. Respect that they can grow, learn, and change.  You certainly would not want anyone to begrudge you those beautiful precious abilities.

I’m going to try even harder to respect the honest efforts of myself, my friends, and the “other side”  to improve the way we live together every day. To do that will likely require more than a few do-overs.  Just remember the old adage:

If at first you don’t succeed – you’re normal – give it another go! 

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Over sixty takes over three days for less than three minutes of finished film – even geniuses know the value of a do-over.





A Month of Thanks – Chapter Four

23 11 2016

You know that it’s never wise to tempt Fate; she always rises to the challenge. A Month of Thanks has surely energized her, but the duel’s not done yet,  so here’s my final thanks of Turkey-month 2016.

This week, I am thankful for:

Loss.

Take THAT, Fate!

Fate gets a big middle-finger salute; the rest of you deserve an explanation.

A little more than six years ago, I lost my daughter. She was murdered by Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  It was the worst thing that ever happened to me, because Jessica was the best thing.  No one could have told me how much she would affect me – that she would make me a lot stronger, a little smarter, and immeasurably kinder than I would have been without her brief and sparking twenty years.

Am I saying I am glad I lost her?  Of course not.

Would I change the course of history to have her back? Absolutely.

But, I can’t.

We all face terrible abuse at the hand of Fate. She is capricious and feels no pity for any of us. She does not care about our broken hearts, so railing against her is just a waste of energy. It’s like yelling at the wind. You’ll grow hoarse, but it will blow until it is ready to quit of its own accord.

When the wind stops, that’s the time to assess the situation. What have we lost?  What has been damaged?  What remains?  What has been uncovered?  Was some wonderful something hidden revealed?  Look.

This week, I am thankful that – not in spite of, but because of loss – I understand more deeply and appreciate more fully the wonder,  joy, and love of family and friends.

Thank you.

Happy Thanksgiving.





A Month of Thanks – Chapter Three

16 11 2016

Given the ongoing uneasiness in our country, this week . . .

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 I give thanks for smart people.

Thanks for those folks who have powerful brains and who are not afraid (or too lazy) to use them. 

I am not talking about people whose intellects have been verified by institutions of higher learning, although a great formal education certainly does not disqualify one from being this kind of smart; I am talking about people who can and do think critically about the world around us.

I am thankful for you brilliant and bright folks who look for facts first, without regard to whether or not they support your hypothesis.  What wonderful people you are who welcome challenges to your assumptions, who will debate issues fairly and with dignity, who are only afraid of one thing: ignorance.

Thank you, my gifted and brave friends, who always look for solutions before blame, who strive to find mutually beneficial outcomes to problems, and who know (and call) bullshit when you smell it. There are times when I think that ignorance is truly bliss, but you come along and slap me out of my complacency (or from hiding under my pillow).

Life on this earth is scary. It is also beautiful. It’s less scary and more beautiful because of you.

 

 





A Month of Thanks – Chapter Two

9 11 2016

Today, I – along with a little over half the voters in the USA – am feeling a little bit gobsmacked.   The fog in my brain when I woke up with this morning would have eaten me alive, had there not been a commitment on my calendar that demanded my attention, so today:

I am thankful to have been accepted as an exhibitor at this weekend’s Artisan Fair. http://artisanfair.org/index.html 

Let’s just get this right out in the open;  I do not enjoy doing art shows.

Packing the work,

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Foam and tubs and fragile works.

 loading the van,

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Walls and lights in; art goes in last.

setting up the booth,

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Test layout (before every show) takes an afternoon in the garage.

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Looking pretty good – now to label and map for actual showtime.

breaking down the booth  .  .  .  and all that people-y stuff in between.

I am truly an introvert in extravert’s clothes, so this endeavor requires a whole lot of energy – energy I would otherwise be channeling into worrying about stuff I can’t change.  What a waste of blood pressure points and stomach lining.

Thank you, Artisan Fair.  By your acceptance of my application all those months ago, I am now challenged to concentrate on showing my art. I am forced to look hard at what I’ve done;  I am reminded of how happy I was to create it; and I recognize that it is good work.

I am thankful for art – the art I make, the art my friends make, the art that is yet to be imagined by artists who don’t even know they are artists. 

Thanks-worthiness will be abundant at the Artisan Fair.

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Through the Grapevine. About 6″ wide x 9″ high.

 

 

 

 





A Month of Thanks, Version 2016 – Chapter One

2 11 2016

Well, well, well.  It’s November, Thanksgiving’s month, so I’m going to do another series of “what I’m thankful for” posts.  Before I started, I figured I should review what I’d been thankful for last November.  Thankfully, the four post subjects are still in my life and I am still thankful for them:

My mother.

Common sense.

Windows – to see the goodness around me.

You, dear readers.

Whew! They were good choices.

This year, there’s been plenty of stuff to make me (and everyone else who lives in the United States) more on the cranky-to-crazy side of the scale than the grateful-to-generous side, so I’d like to start this month of Thankfulness like this:

I am thankful that, this time next week, the 2016 presidential election will be history.

That means no more ugly yard signs blocking my view of the beautiful autumn landscape; no more dinnertime phone calls from campaigns; no more political ads.

In other words:

See no evil. Hear no evil. Speak no evil.

Sounds thanks-worthy to me!

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This is not an olive branch, but it surely makes me feel peaceful. Grateful for just-before-dusk light coming through my Japanese maple on a seventy-degree November afternoon. Thanks.





Tricked!

26 10 2016

We rescue guinea pigs . . . yes, there IS such a thing!  Right now, we have three, Pig Newton, Cedric Piggory, and Rebel, who all have very distinct personalities.  Knowing that I have a history of dressing them up for Halloween, Newt rallied new kids ‘Ric and Rebel to foil my plans.  After much discussion – and fierce wheeking – they convinced me that no costume could compare to SpiderPig (rest your little furry soul, Simon)

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Miss this sweet piggy. This was from 2014.

so this year,  we agreed to more traditional autumn portraits. We took a page from the typical family shoot and did natural (late-afternoon) light and “studio lighting” (two flood lights clamped to a bar stool) shots. Here they are!

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Yes, the whole costume thing would just be undignified, right, Newt?

 

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Newt insists that he IS smiling.

 

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Chrysanthemums for our homecoming queen.

 

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The name’s Rebel, but the personality’s Bellatrix.

 

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Cedric Piggory liked this one – said it shows off his luxurious hair.

 

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“The Great Pumpkin will rise out of the pumpkin patch and fly through the air and bring carrots and parley to all the piggies of the world.” ‘Ric is a believer.

Rebel and Pig Newton and Cedric Piggory wish everyone a sweet and safe Halloween!





Apocalypse No!

19 10 2016

I’ll admit it. This presidential election stuff has put me into quite a funk.  To make things (even) worse, two of the smartest people I know, two of the people I love most on this Earth, are on totally opposite sides in this election. 

AAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

How could these two people who mean so much to me be so different?

Well, they aren’t.  I’ve just been focusing on the wrong stuff.

Yes, we are in a crapstorm of a news cycle. Yes, it scares me stupid. Yes, there are enormous divides between folks about issues large and small, real and imagined, existential and inconvenient; but that’s not the whole story. 

Tired of feeling terrified, as the 24-hour news-mongers have so carefully nurtured, I knew I had to do something fast.  What if,  instead of wondering about the difference between these two VIPs in my life, I considered their similarities? Wow, did it make me feel better! 

Here are the Top Ten Happy Similarities between (let’s call them) Sissy and Spousey:

10.  They are kind to animals.

9.   They work hard and pay their fair share of taxes.

8.   They revere and look out for their parents.

7.   They are good neighbors.

6.   They are generous with their time and their money.

5.   They hate to dance.

4.   They are science-believers.

3.   They like David Bowie music.

2.   They are fabulous parents and wonderful spouses.

1.  They love me and they love each other.

In a few weeks, the election will be over and all the animus that the campaigns have created must be neutralized for all our sakes.  There is no denying the differences, but we should not lose grasp on all the things that we share.  We need to stop treating each other like enemy combatants and remember that we are neighbors.  If we were not shouting ugly words at each other before the primaries were concluded, we should be thinking hard about what we’re doing now. 

Life will go on after November 8th. We’ll work and shop and live with the same people we worked and shopped and lived with before.  I am not suggesting that we should not be passionate in our debate and advocacy for our issues; I am saying that, if we burn down the house, it won’t matter if the drapes are blue or red.

I’ll bet you can find ten things in common with someone who’s giving you some election heartburn, too. It will make you feel better. Try.  If you disagree with my position, here are a few things I offer for your consideration: 

chocolate chip cookies

the Beatles

rescued guinea pigs

baseball

the color turquoise

butterflies

over-tipping

Harry Potter

home 

peace.