May 16, 2020

Time and Art During Covid-19

Staying Safe at Home

I appreciate, even adore, a quiet day where naps are there for the taking, books fingered and page marked, design shows on the DVR, a fresh journal begging for my attention. A quiet day is a gift to cherish. But (always a but in there somewhere) with "enforced" quietude - these "free" days seem different, perhaps more of a challenge, but also magical. COVID-19 quarantine and its horrid and lasting effects acknowledged, we are staying safe at home, Zoom and FaceTime visiting, and distancing ourselves on walking trails or engaged in other outdoor activities. I'm seeing more families walking together, dogs are getting good workouts and trot by with their tails curled up in happiness.

Quiet and inaction are not words in my vocabulary. I'm more of a go-go person. Always doing suits me fine and is more to my liking. When we were given the mandate to stay-safe-at-home, my heart literally skipped some beats - what, no coffeeshop writing, bookstore haunting, family gatherings? I wondered how to meet this challenge with grace. 

Reaching Out

I began posting on FB what we were doing and our challenges, and asked my FB friends how things were going and could they share ideas for activities within the state guidelines. Responses poured in - lot going on with these friends - but over time, felt a staleness in my posts, so am on a break. 

Thinking -- how can I/we reach out? I began sending cards, some homemade, to family and friends; dropped a meal or two off at a neighbor's house; supported mask-makers, one of whom was a daughter; and began buying lunch once a month for the ICU staff at a local hospital. My husband and daughter planned their gardens and spent hours preparing, digging in the earth - the smells musty and full - now are planting.

Art Journaling -- why not?

I am not classically artistic, but found my art journaling project not only challenging but strangely liberating. Taking a poem I wrote a couple years ago, I pasted, wrote, painted, cried, smiled, and drank coffee as I worked the art journal around its theme.

This project totally absorbed me, made me think, took my mind off the world pandemic, and allowed me to reflect on what is important inn my life and why do I gravitate toward the urgent. I've discovered a volunteer opportunity which I think will speak to my spirit and talents - all from quieting my busy, busy brain.

Start to Finish, my process

My art journal is not professional, nor do I expect it to be -- I rather like its many flaws as each one is now a part of the final project, a warm memory. The journal is an accomplishment and has kick started me on other "artistic" endeavors. 

What I did was--
  • Pulled an old, unused multi-media notebook from my um, craft closet.
  • Gathered my rubber glue, Elmer's glue, Gesso, colored pens and pencils, and old coffee cards to use in smoothing glued pictures to the page.
  • Cut pictures, quotes and words from old magazines and added them to my collection (of hundreds of previously clipped pictures). 
  • Scoured my poems and chose which poem spoke the loudest to me. 
  • Painted some pages with water color, acrylic streaks, chalk or added a full page graphics to the page and worked pictures and quotes and my poem around the page.
  • Wrote, pasted, created, listened to music, and found my missing MOJO.
Art Journaling is relatively cheap. You can use tea bags, coffee or berries to stain pages, old pens and pencils to draw, and pieces of literally anything to adhere to your artful expression,

Everyone has a story to tell, a poem penned on a slip of paper – do you have one you might want to work into an Art Journal? 

May 6, 2020

The Monster of the Hawaiian Islands

I grew into a love of writing and had my mother, Fritz, as my unofficial, and at times unsolicited, editor. But boy, did she love to edit and I allowed this pleasure as it felt right. 

Memories surrounding my first story are both painful and warm, and for me an unfortunate change in my dreams of being an author. 

My 10-year-old self, wrote The Monster of the Hawaiian Islands while on a family visit with my grandmother in Marquette while sitting on the cool, soft feather bed in the front bedroom along the long porch which surrounded two sides of her house. I had a new sharp pencil and lined paper … which smelled heavenly.

My story was centered around a monster on the islands and a ship named "The Olivia" - my grandmother's middle name. Clever and fun to write I gave my "final" draft to my grandmother to read … she was ecstatic, "ye gads" this needs to be published! 

As my grandmother was a person of action, walked my story down to the local paper, The Mining Journal, on Washington and Third. I remember a feeling of dread and even fear that she would have my story put in the paper. 

That's it! The end of my memory -- I never saw the story again. 

My *father did not encourage my writing and seemed to think it a lazy person's activity. In my later years I wondered if it were he who might have tossed my story. As a young person with this passion, which was not exactly allowed, I think my soul for writing was crushed ... it took a number of years before I wrote again. 

Until I was in a college creative writing class. This "secret class" I kept from my father, yet mom knew and approved. My teachers, my adored teachers, wrote wonderful things at the end of my writing - in red! I've kept the little bits of stories for my memoirs. "Ye gads!"

Writing has been a positive outlet for my feelings, projects and thoughts. My mother, may she rest in peace, encouraged me, would carefully read the sentences, advise, and hoot with laughter, as only a mom is allowed to do, at my word choices. Her absolute favorite thing was finding gems of misspelled words, a tasty morsel for her (which occasionally I'd place to please her). 

Fritz was raised in Michigan's Upper Peninsula where schools awarded students for good penmanship … my mom received many awards. She also took Latin, and became an exceptional crossword puzzler and Scrabble player. I valued her and the significance of her abiding encouragement and attention to detail in making me a better writer.

Happy Mother's Day, moms. You make such a difference.

*Dad, may he rest in peace, died young from heart disease and left seven children and a wife. Going through his memorabilia, it was discovered that he developed "Shell Shock" (PTSD) following the war. He was a soldier in many battles, including Normandy's Battle of the Bulge. 

His sister shared that before the war, dad was a peaceful, sweet man. In my heart-of-hearts, I have a greater understanding and have respect for my father and the horrid situations he encountered in the war. I thank him deeply for his service to our country, keeping us safe and free. He was a great man!

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