Jul 19, 2014

Summer Dreaming

Scar Tissue by Finijo

Summer is in full swing and I am working hard against my desire to lie down and put a cold rag on my forehead everyday when I get home from work. I have been drawing again (see above) and hope to keep up the habit, especially since I'm in a show in August (Just Ink 4) and I'm looking forward to it. Time to stoke the fires of creativity and get back to work.

Apr 13, 2014

Paw Prints And A Melancholy Day

 Paw Prints On A Window by Finijo

I spent most of this weekend working on the yard and around the house. I waited all weekend for the promised rain to come, hoping that it would wash away the pollen and some of heaviness I have been feeling this week. The rain did not come as I watched the gray sky through the window, but I did notice little paw prints on the outside of the window that were made by Dov as he played through the glass with Lenore, our obese tuxedo cat. They had such an affection for one another, like litter mates, so it is sad to see her waiting for him to return when in all likelihood he has either been picked up by animal control or been lost to being hit by a car. Foxy, his twitchy doppelganger cousin is decomposing under some shrubbery after being hit two weeks ago. Life is tough for feral cats in the city, but they are in abundance..

Lenore played with him for over a year and we enjoyed their antics, so I don't feel a strong urge to wash his prints away, just yet. So long, Dov.

Mar 16, 2014

Julien Martinez - Doll Maker - Lyon, France

 When I was in Lyon, France in 2011, I visited several museums and saw so many incredible things. Lyon is known for it's food and for being such a historically unique city that it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I enjoyed my visit and will always remember an odd little museum,  Musée Miniature et Cinéma on the "Maison des Avocats" at 60, rue Saint Jean.  

 La Fileuse by Julien Martinez - Photo by Finijo

There were many wonders in this museum, including miniatures of all types, but I think I was most drawn to the dolls of Julien Martinez. The face of  La Fileuse is a marvel to me. All of her work is detailed and expressive, but I am awestruck by her weary aged face.

 La Fileuse (full) photo by Finijo

The costuming for her dolls is as detailed as their faces. They seem to come from a fabled land, a steam punkish surreality, where wheels are as common as feet. 

 Marcello by Julien Martinez - Photo by Finijo

Many of the creations of Julien Martinez look as though she brought in Vivienne Westwood to style them. Marcello's hair brings to mind The Cure's Robert Smith or Jack White. Either way, he's a rock star.

 Nérée by Julien Martinez - Photo by Finijo

Nérée is the predecessor to the Greek god, Triton. He is also known as the Old Man of the Sea and you can see the age on his face and the pearls, sponge, and coral that adorn him. There is a full picture of him here

L'écuyère by Julien Martinez - photo by Finijo

L'écuyère, the horsewoman, is bawdy. She wears red and gold bodice hugging dress, revealing her decolletage. Her cheeks are rouged and her nose is rosy red, presumably from the bender she went on with the lion tamer the night before. She also carries a horse whip, which you can see here.

Unknown by Julien Martinez - photo by Finijo

I don't know the name of this one but he looks like a character from a Jules Verne novel had a lovechild with a biker from Mad Max. I will do a follow up post one of these days with more wonders from the Musée Miniature et Cinéma.

Mar 15, 2014

The Lottery Of Birth

 Disobey!  Photo by Finijo
Street Art Lyon, France July 2011

I watched a documentary, The Lottery of Birth, this week and it has had me thinking ever since. The title is what made me click "play" on Amazon Prime, because I sometimes think about the particular circumstances that had to occur for me to end up in my life, with the family that I have, doing the work I do, and I know that if the butterfly flapped its wings in a different way or at a different time, this would not be my life. It is probably the same for everyone, but for me, the moments that changed my life are etched without ambiguity in my mind, and it is clear to me that the flow of my life was disrupted and diverted in specific ways to drive me toward the path I currently walk. It is probably the same for everyone, but these are the thoughts that occupy my mind when I am alone and pondering my life, both past and future.

On IMDB the synopsis reads:
THE LOTTERY OF BIRTH is the first in a three-part documentary series entitled 'Creating Freedom' exploring the relationship between freedom, power and control in Western democracies. The series draws together interviews with some of the world's leading intellectuals, journalists and activists to offer an alternative perspective on today's society and the future we're creating. We do not choose to exist, or the environment we grow up in. Our starting point in life is one of passive reliance on forces over which we have no control. THE LOTTERY OF BIRTH shows that from birth onwards our minds are a battleground of competing forces: familial, educational, cultural, and professional. The outcome of this battle not only determines who we become, but the society that we create. - Written by Anonymous

The Lottery of Birth is a film for thinkers, filled with scientists, authors, and activists discussing the ideas of power, obedience, and control and how they influence ideas, in particular the idea of freedom in the Western world. We have all had the thought that if we were born into a culture that was oppressive, controlling, and abusive, that we would somehow extricate ourselves and our loved ones from what to a Western mind is akin to a fate worse than death. The first part of this three part documentary explores the idea that if any one of us was born to different parents, in a different country, under a different government, we would have an entirely different belief system. It sounds like a simple idea, but I think it is profound. 

The difference it would make in the world if everyone was cognizant of the fact the only thing separating us is something that none of us had any control over - where and to whom we were born. If we all knew that our lot in life was actually a lottery and not a birthright, and that our culture is not something we have chosen to adopt, but rather something that has molded us and our views of the world, then we might not be so willing to blindly accept that our country and culture are the best in the world, or that someone else's is the worst. If we don't have this knowledge, then we unable to shape and mold our government or our society. Questioning the actions of our government, our families, our friends, our employers is imperative to seeking truth, but questioning and the truth are frightening for people and governments who would like to divert attention from things that citizens would find untenable. Keeping the citizens complacent keeps those in power free to silently maneuver the masses away from wealth, power, and freedom. Keeping us separate from one another, makes the people weaker and the world a more violent place.

Most of us go through life like Neo before he takes the red pill and wakes up, but we should be questioning our lives, our bosses, our parents, our clergy, and our government. This film puts forth the idea that we are all political, including the people who claim to be non-political. The so called non-politicals promote the status quo, and their lack of opinion/action supports whatever political viewpoint that is served by keeping things as they are.

I found the assertion in The Lottery of Life that "obedience is dangerous" to be evident throughout history and relevant even today. From the obvious example of Nazis who were "only following orders," to the faceless employees who do whatever their employers ask, even if it means spewing pollution into rivers and skies, making that almighty buck at the expense of the health of people who will suffer and even die so that people in power can keep power and make more profit.

The questions that keeps worming its way back into my thoughts today is, "Have I been disobedient enough in my life?" I don't believe I have and I think I need work to change that.

Mar 12, 2014

Operator


 I watched a pilot for the show Transparent on Amazon Prime and there is a scene with a 40 something brother and sister listening to Jim Croce’s Operator and marveling at the music and talking about how he could never get on the radio today. Photographs and Memories is one of my all-time favorite albums. It’s on my playlist at work, so I have it playing today and I am feeling very nostalgic for the best parts of 1974 for an eight year old elementary school girl. Jim Croce’s voice had a way of reassuring me and making me feel like everything was going to be alright, even when my world was so unpredictable that it was very often dangerous. Thank you, Jim, for making a little girl feel better, then and now.

Mar 9, 2014

The Ferals That Own Me

 Third Eye by Finijo


It was a nice surprise to have Third Eye, the feral Tortie, come by the yard today to eat. 


 Third Eye by Finijo

I haven't seen her in ages and was starting to think I wouldn't see her again. I love the orange mark on her forehead.

 Tippy and Dov by Finijo

This is Tippy and Dov and they pretty much live in our yard. They let us know when they are hungry, but don't let us near them. Marilyn is getting the traps so that we can take them in to be fixed.

Tippy and Dov by Finijo

Dov and Tippy are brother and sister from the same litter, but I am pretty sure they are mates now. Hopefully, the traps will be here before she has a litter of her own.

Mar 8, 2014

Spring Peeking Through A Grey Day

 Pregnant Plant in Bloom I  by Finijo

Evidence that Spring is upon us once again is all around my yard. This is a Pregnant Plant, also known as Mother of Thousands. This Seussian  beauty was birthed from a stowaway on a plant we brought with us when we moved into our house in 2006. We tried not to bring any with us, but once you have this plant, you will ALWAYS have this plant.

 Pregnant Plant in Bloom II by Finijo

As the name suggests, this plant is prolific. It's a good thing that I really do like it. Even when it is not in bloom, the succulent leaves are a pleasingly speckled dark and light green. The rose colored, bell shaped blooms are very delicate looking, but the plant itself if drought resistant and hearty. This is the first bloom I have seen since we moved, but as I remember, when the plant bloomed at our apartment after many years of dormancy, it continued to bloom again and again. I'm glad it hitched a ride. 


Spring Onions by Finijo

These spring onions are reborn from mushy old onions that I was about to throw out. As often happens, I bought a pack of onions from the store and only used some of them, leaving the rest of them to go bad. I was about to toss them in the compost, but decided to experiment and trimmed the tops and stuck the bottoms in the dirt last December. In spite of not being covered during the freeze a couple of weeks ago, they have thrived. Now I am looking forward to eating them and planting more.




Cascading Weeds by Finijo

I have no idea what this is, but I think it's beautiful. Its seeds must have been blown into the pot, because now it is lush and flowering. I may transplant this into one of the beds in the front, near the street. I think it's pretty, and the fact that it's free, is just an added bonus.

Stolen Cactus by Finijo

I'm not proud of it, but in 1994 when a co-worker told me I could not have any cuttings from a plant that was about 4 times the size of the one pictured here, I took three pieces of it anyway. I still think this is a gorgeous cactus all these years later and I have given away pieces over the years to anyone who wants some. I know it doesn't make up for stealing, but the beauty of this cactus has brought me (and others) much joy over the years, and the victim of plant purloining never noticed the pieces missing.

 
 Cactus Buds by Finijo

This is one of three cacti that I purchased several years ago to plant in the pot with the other cactus after a freeze killed similar cacti in the pot. It is still on my to do list, maybe this weekend I will finally get around to it. 

Mar 5, 2014

Any Human Heart

Any Human Heart (2011)

I awoke this morning to that peculiar feeling that comes along much less often than it did just a few years ago. I was queasy, achy, and crampy, and felt generally puny. Puny enough to call in sick and make plans to spend the day in bed. I could not fall back to sleep, so I started watching Any Human Heart on Amazon Prime and watched all 6 hours straight through. It was the perfect marathon for a cold, grey, wet March day.

Any Human Heart is the story of the life of a writer, beginning in his college days and up to his death. The story of his success, his failure, and the banality of his aging, were the backdrop to the story of the ebb and flow of his love and creativity. It was a beautiful story, sad and funny, too. In my hormonal haze, it was a story that felt very personal for me, and when the last scene played out, I wept until I wailed, and I was grateful that I was home alone. On such a cold day, my tears ran hot out of my eyes and down my face and I gagged and gasped for air between the wails. Alone, I allowed myself to have the kind of cry that you stifle if you feel that anyone is in earshot or might see you at your ugliest. Growing up, I only had time to cry like this just after arriving home from school, but before my sister made it home. It was a narrow window of opportunity, but that window was there five days a week. When I moved out on my own I had the freedom to cry at will, but it has been almost twenty years since I could afford the luxury of tears that solitude affords. I know I am lucky that I don't feel the need very often, but I do miss it sometimes, the catharsis of weeping.

Lately, I am feeling my losses keenly. While I miss everyone that has left, I feel myself pulling further away from my friends who are still here. I feel solitary, but not lonely and I feel an urgency to take care of all that needs to be tended to, while I still can. When feeling this way, I wonder if these thoughts passed through Grandma and Momma when they looked at the road ahead and realized that it was shorter than the road behind them.

I suppose that this is less a review of the movie and more of an expression of sadness, release, and relief...good movie, though. I definitely recommend it for a day like today.

Feb 22, 2014

Crushing


 Making Do by Finijo

This year is off to a very difficult start, and try as I might, I have not been able to adjust to the frustration I feel. I thought the loss of my brother last year would make this year a breeze by default. I was wrong. On the deepest level I know that things are as they should be and I difficulty brings about growth, but my mind is fighting all of the disappointment. I feel like I am slogging through each day in mud that becomes deeper and more thick with each sunrise. Waking each morning, I try to "look on the bright side," but as the day progresses, this weight in my chest and on my shoulders crushes. Interest in painting, creating, dating, cooking, reading, gardening...pretty much everything I enjoy, holds no interest for me now and the numbness creeps further in. I know I need to stop resisting and just float, but I feel too heavy to float at the moment, like I need to break free of the cracked earth that encases me. I wish it would rain.

Jan 15, 2014

Uneasy Day

 Prison Dog by Finijo

Today was one of those days that left me feeling uneasy. The kind of uneasy that makes me queasy and brings to mind the feeling that I got as a child if I knew I was in trouble when my parents got home.
Lyon Legs by Finijo

This is the kind of feeling that brings on exhaustion, but prevents me from sleeping. In short, it sucks.
Discarded by Finijo

Jan 1, 2014

A Metaphoric Toast






A year ago today we received the call that changed everything. We all still miss you and we are all working through the unfinished business you left behind. I suppose we will be doing that for a long time. Tonight I try to put to sleep some of the sadness that has overtaken me during the last year and work toward making the coming year a year of peace and productivity. I have much that I want to experience and accomplish and it feels at times like I have not enough time to achieve the goals I set for myself. So tonight I lift my metaphoric glass to you, David West, and toast the peace that you have finally found and the life that the rest of us have to make the most of. We all love and miss you always.

Dec 27, 2013

Releasing the Ghosts

  
Exalted by Finijo

Another year draws to a close and I find myself reflecting. This year has been an ode to the acceptance of loss. There is no point in grieving what you do not have, but at times it is difficult to process that people who were in your life are now not. My brother died New Year's Eve 2012. I spent much of this year traveling back and forth to another state to deal with his estate and his business and to try to help his sons learn to live their new lives - without him. I doubt my success in that endeavor, but it was not for want of trying.

Now I am in the process of releasing several longtime friendships from my heart. Friendships that, truth be told, became one sided. For much too long, I have tried to hold up both ends all the while wishing that they would someday own their side once again. I thought I could hold on forever, but the weight became a burden that I no longer wish to carry. 2014 will be the year that I embrace endings, even when I don't desire them.

Choosing to let go is freeing me from the expectation that ghosts will provide comfort and support. Ghosts are memories, and while memories can create a wistful smile, they are not companions in the world. Even though they are transparent, easily seen through, their weight is heavy and cumbersome.

To all of my ghosts: I am grateful to have known you, to have learned from you, and to love you still. Now please be free, be happy, and perhaps we will meet again in the next life as friends.

Nov 17, 2013

Preparation






 Winter is fast approaching and I am trying to prepare for the end of the year and get ready for a new, hopefully less stressful year. I have no reason to believe that it will (as it should) be anything less than the new beginning I desire. I have that itchy urge to travel welling up in me and I hope to make another trip abroad next year. I have one foot in the dream of exploration and another one stuck in the thick mud of responsibility.

I don't begrudge my responsibilities, because much of the best of my life is born out of the experiences I have with family and friends. I do wish to be lighter and not carry as much stuff and perhaps not as many people through this world with me, though. Our venture into selling items on line to make some extra money has run into the snag of taking up more room in the house than I am willing to give and taking more time to post the items than Marilyn is able to spare, so tonight I will pack all of it into bags and start dropping them off at Goodwill and The Salvation Army. 

The best laid plans...

Oct 27, 2013

Fire



A Wisp of Smoke by Luke Freeman
 http://www.flickr.com/photos/lukefreeman/8184301974/

It is one of those days when I feel like my brain is on fire. There are thousands of thoughts and ideas like mini pulsars shooting through my grey matter, but none of them is really sticking. On a day like today I know I should be getting so much done, and I try, but it's never enough. My thoughts are like wisps of smoke that float up and out of my reach. Trying to catch them is futile, so I settle for watching them drift up and away.

Aug 24, 2013

On Death And Dying

Cactus Flower by Finijo

This has been an odd year. My brother, David, died the morning of New Year's Day and as much as I have tried to keep that from coloring my year, it seems to have seeped into so much of my life. I travel back to Arkansas every couple of months to check on his sons and his business, but both the sons and the business struggle without his guidance. On my darker days I feel like a very poor substitute and wonder if I am being of any help at all. The youngest son is learning to live at a new level of responsibility, and most of the time seems like he is thriving. He is trying his hardest to master a business that took his father a lifetime to build. There is no time for the steep learning curve that he faces if he is to keep the business going through the lean winter that is too quickly approaching. My brother's oldest son is in prison and has two years to serve. He seems to have adapted well to prison life, but I am not seeing anything his his personality, speech, or actions that allow me to believe that he has changed in any kind of meaningful way for the better since his incarceration eight years ago. When he is released in two years, he will own half of the business and he shows no interest in learning about what is happening with the business or in working in the business during his furloughs every few months. Each visit or phone call from him leaves me feeling more anxious than the last, but each visit to Arkansas includes a visit with him to try to clear a path for him to work with his brother, instead of against him. They are not close, because the older son is a bully and does whatever he can to undermine his brother. I think the most unsettling thing about the visits with him is his attempt to act like he has changed. The ring of insincerity is loud, but he has a smugness to him that makes me think he truly believes that he has us all fooled. I love them both, and hope that my worst fears will not be realized when he is released. In the mean time, we work at trying to keep the business going and I work at building up the younger son to have the confidence to face his brother when he gets out.

While trying to deal with all that my brother left undone, I was blindsided by a diagnosis of  diabetes (type 2) in April and two weeks ago I was told that I have "a mass in my kidney". I was diagnosed with Lupus in 1996 and although I have been in remission since 1999, I have flares and have to deal with the kidney disease it caused. A couple of weeks before the doctor told me that I have diabetes, we were informed by the medical examiner that my brother also had diabetes. He was diagnosed in 2007 and chose to never treat it or even to tell us about it. The medical examiner also told us that he had 4-5 heart attacks, which he likely did not feel because he did not treat the diabetes. I am in limbo about the mass until they figure out the next step to try to determine if it is a cyst or cancer. My health setbacks this year are troubling me.

My relationship with death is complicated. I am age 47, with lupus, diabetes, and kidney disease. My mother died when she was 35 of MS, my father when he was 45 of stroke/heart attack, my older sister at age 52 of cancer, my brother at 58 from a stroke. I feel like I cheated death so many times in my life, and now I feel it licking at my heels again. I am not so much afraid of dying, but I feel like I have so much left to do. The thought of leaving my sister and youngest nephew in the same predicament as my brother's sons is the worst thing I can imagine.

So, I am trying to be as healthy as I can. My diet has changed drastically and weight is falling off of me, faster than expected. So fast, that my doctor informed me that the weight loss "threw my kidneys into a state of shock." I lost 10% of the 35% kidney function I had, but I am slowly rebuilding it and it is almost back to normal - if you can call 35% normal. I spend spare time these days working on "getting my affairs in order." I put together my "death file" containing all of the important information about insurance, retirement funds, etc.., so that it will be easily accessible. I try to stay in contact with the friends I have that live far away, or that live close by and I don't get to see as often as I feel I should. I alternate between bursts of energy to do what must be done and an almost paralyzing inertia that keeps me from getting anything done. My art and writing have gone by the wayside this year. I don't want them to, but I don't seem to have the energy or the desire to work at them except in fits and starts. 

It seems maudlin to write all of this out, but this morning I felt like I would burst without releasing these thoughts. Better now, so it's time to do something useful...