Painting Flower Pots

Every once in a while, I have this powerful urge to get creative. I suspect it’s the same feeling that animals get when it’s time to migrate for the winter. It’s not an option. It’s a compulsion.

But as we’re in the throes of a pandemic, I didn’t want to run out to an art supply store to get materials. That made me cast about in the yard and garage to see what was already on hand. That added an additional layer of creativity to the project.

We have a lot of (perhaps too many) mostly used cans of paint in a wide variety of colors sitting around, taking up space. I also happened to have a bunch of empty terra cotta pots in my greenhouse. So I thought, why not? What you see below is the result of my handiwork.

Okay, I never said I was Van Gogh. But it was a fun few hours, and now when I see these pots it makes me smile. I even went a little wild and tried gluing glass beads on one, as you can see. While it looked good on the day I took this picture, it didn’t hold up well. I guess the moisture and drying qualities of terra cotta do not make for a good gluing surface. Lesson learned.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to be artistic. You just need to look at what you have available in a different way. Use your imagination. Have fun. Satisfy that compulsion.

Teracotta pots

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The Confederate Monument Thing Again

On this day, when we traditionally celebrate American independence, I’m a little surprised that I’m having to revisit a post that I wrote in 2017 entitled, “Historical Statues: One Solution“. But yes, indeed, the controversy over whether or not to remove confederate statues has reared its ugly head yet again.

That 2017 blog post describes a brilliant solution that the people of Budapest, Hungary came up with to deal with their brutal communist era statues. It’s really quite fascinating, and I hope it’s an idea that can be adopted here. It would allow the statues to still exist, but in an educational context in a museum-like setting where those who don’t want to see them won’t have to. Please do read it and tell me what you think.

But for those of you who don’t click through, I leave you with a few points to ponder:

  • Monuments are not history. They’re the glorification thereof.

  • No child should have to grow up under the shadow of statues of people who thought they should be enslaved.

  • Removing a statue won’t erase the history, and we can and should still learn from that history. Learn, but not deify.

It really is okay to become older and wiser as a society. I promise. We’ll be okay.

Happy Independence Day.

Confederate_Monument_-_E_frieze_-_Arlington_National_Cemetery_-_2011
Historically absurd.

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On Banning Gone With the Wind

As most of us know by now, HBO MAX pulled Gone With the Wind from streaming video. I don’t blame them. This is a movie that makes the Confederate South seem like a place where the slaves loved being slaves, and where the way of life was all fine and dandy until those pesky Northerners butted in.

Here are the opening credits, according to IMDB:

“There was a land of Cavaliers and Cotton Fields called the Old South… Here in this pretty world, Gallantry took its last bow… Here was the last ever to be seen of Knights and their Ladies Fair, of Master and Slave… Look for it only in books, for it is no more than a dream remembered. A Civilization gone with the wind…”

Make no mistake: This movie glorifies a system that should be shown as the ugly, racist, deadly and ignorant thing that it was. Slavery and everything that came with it is not pretty or gallant. It isn’t a dream remembered. It’s a nightmare for which this country should be truly ashamed.

But this movie is also a work of art. The cinematography is stunning, and the costumes are even more so. In the 1940 Academy Awards, it won an Oscar for best actress, best actress in a supporting role, best director, best writing, best cinematography, best art direction, best film editing, and best picture. Whether we like it or not in modern times, it’s a classic.

I do not believe in censoring works of art. What I believe in is providing context for those works that are offensive. This movie should be forever linked with a disclaimer/explanation/warning label. It should discuss how these views and opinions seemed acceptable in 1940, but we have come to realize how unacceptable they really are in modern times. It should come with links to other movies, books and articles that more accurately portray American slavery. It should warn that this film’s racism and misogyny will be offensive to many. It should also warn us not to fall victim to the false nostalgia that is Gone With the Wind.

I think everyone should see this movie and learn from it. It is a gorgeous work of art. I hope will never be created again, but it’s there, a huge boulder in the center of our cinematic culture, and we should acknowledge that. We also should celebrate that so many of us now find this movie inappropriate at best. You might say that we should all give a damn.

(Oh, and it’s rumored that Clarke Gable had really bad breath, so think of that during all the kissing scenes. Poor Vivien!)

Gone-With-The-Wind-Poster-gone-with-the-wind-33266928-1667-2500
“Oh, Rhett, please take a breath mint!”

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Future Shorts

A friend of mine recently sent me a link to a delightful video called Dog Years. It’s less than 4 minutes long, and I highly recommend it. It also has a second part which is even better than the first one. Even if you don’t like dogs, you’ll be charmed by these little videos. They dramatize what is quite likely the typical pet’s thought process.

I noticed that these videos were put out by an organization called Future Shorts, and I decided to further investigate. It seems that they’ve been around since 2004, and they’re a platform for short videos. They often host Future Shorts nights all over the world, where people can watch a collection of them. They call it a pop up festival, and it sounds like great fun.

Uh oh. Their Youtube channel alone is going to keep me busy for days. They have everything from documentaries to animation to romance, and every one I’ve seen so far is very well done.

I’m already in my jammies. Now all I need is the popcorn, and I can settle in for a nice binge watch. If you don’t hear from me for a while, send pizza.

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10 Day Album Challenge #7: NNAMDÏ, BRAT

If you haven’t been following this series of posts, a friend of mine nominated me to do an album challenge. “The task is to post once per day for the next 10 days about the top ten albums that have an impact on your life, and to pay it forward by nominating someone else each day to do the same.”

Okay, so I’ll play. But I’m changing the rules to suit me. First of all, I’m not writing about this for 10 days in a row. I will write about 10 albums, but only on the occasional “Music Monday”. And I refuse to nominate anyone else, because I try to avoid adding stress to the lives of the people I love. Having said that, if you’re reading this, and would like to take up the challenge, go for it!

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Once again, my commute with NPR has sent me to an unexpected, yet delightful, place. (In my mind, anyway. I always manage to get to work or home, despite my flights of fancy while in transit.)

When I first turned on the radio, a song by NNAMDÏ was playing. I thought that maybe my speakers needed adjusting. Or perhaps I was actually at the dentist office, reclined in the chair, grooving with some much-needed nitrus oxide. I was hearing sounds I’d never heard before, and they made me disoriented in that calm, pleasurable, laughing gas kind of way. Naturally, I wanted more.

NNAMDÏ is an artist from Chicago, and BRAT is not his first album. You can tell he has a knowledge of music, and all the ingredients thereof, to the point where he can experiment with the musical recipe and cook up things that shouldn’t taste good, but actually do.

I struggle to choose the songs from BRAT that deserve the most attention, but here’s my best effort on this given day. (Ask me tomorrow, and the answer would be different. I recommend the whole album.)

The first amazing song that I hope you’ll listen to is It’s OK. I find this song extremely comforting in the stressful times in which we all live. He says, “There’s no need to pretend you’re OK if you’re not,” and the way he sings it, it feels like a much needed hug.

On the other hand, Glass Casket makes you feel like you’re floating through space. “I wish I was a farmer, I wish I was an astronaut, so I could feed my family, and then take them somewhere very far away.” This song makes you want to take that journey with him.

The third song I highly recommend is Price Went Up. It’s accompanied by a fascinating music video. It’s about frustration, but it makes you feel like frustration is the stuff of aliens, so that kind of makes everything all right. But I think everyone’s price is going up in this riotous atmosphere, so maybe the aliens have landed.

I listened to the entire album on Youtube, and I loved the emotions that washed over me. They were both intense and remote. And that made me feel like I could handle anything.

If concerts ever become a thing again, I’d love to see NNAMDÏ live. I’d probably be the only fat, 55-year-old white chick in the audience, but you know what? It’d be worth it.

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The Demise of the Hula Hoop Tree

After a storm passed through Amber, Iowa in 2015, someone noticed that two hula hoops were suspended in a tree on County Home Road. No one is sure how they got there, but over time, dozens, hundreds maybe, were added. This tree, nicknamed “Her Majesty”, was adorned with so many colorful hula hoops that it became a tourist attraction. People came from far and wide to see the Hula Hoop Tree.

Unfortunately, the tree was on the side of a highway, with no parking facilities. People would often come to a dead stop on the road to take pictures. Poorly supervised children would run across the road. People would attempt to add hula hoops to the collection, and those hoops would often overshoot the tree and land in the road, or, worse yet, in the cattle field of the farmer nextdoor. His barbed wire fence was often trampled by people attempting to retrieve their errant hoops.

Needless to say, Her Majesty was an accident waiting to happen. Because of this, very recently, the Hula Hoop Tree was cut down. The community has been left with very mixed emotions about it.

I wish I had seen Her Majesty before her demise, but it makes me happy to know that for 5 years, such a thing existed in this world. If you have a Facebook account, check out this gorgeous slideshow comprised of stunning and colorful photographs of the tree by Nikki Engelhardt.

Hula Hoop

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I Miss Concerts

In this age of social distancing, I’m beginning to wonder if I will ever be able to attend a live concert again. That makes me sad. Where else can you scream at the top of your lungs in public and not be taken away by the men in white coats? That’s a valuable release, and one I find increasingly necessary in these tense, strange times.

I also feel the need to goof off rather than blog today, so please hop over to read a post I wrote long ago, entitled Concert Therapy, for more on this subject. In the mean time, stay safe, stay sane, and scream if the spirit moves you.

bigstock-Treble-Love-And-Music-Notes-V-2854074

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N-N-1: The Quarantine Edition

For several years now, I’ve participated in a delightful photography/creative writing experiment that was created by two of my favorite bloggers, Anju, who writes This Labyrinth I Roam, and Norm, who writes Classical Gasbag. They thought it would be interesting to see what people all over the world were doing/seeing/experiencing at the same point in time. As Norm explains it, in N-N-1 the first N stands for the number of participants, the second for the number of photos (they should be the same), and the 1 stands for one time.

The subject I chose for this N-N-1 was Quarantine. Our worlds have been turned upside down by COVID-19. What are you and/or your family and/or your community doing to cope during these strange times?

I received a variety of wonderful submissions, showing that we each have different ways of living, which is as it should be, and in fact always has been. But I also found it very comforting to know that when all is said and done, we’re all in this together.

Thank you to everyone who participated! Stay safe everyone!

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n-n-1 picture

Driving for Grandma and Grandpa,

Running their errands, buying food

And picking up prescriptions,

Brightens my mood

And makes me feel valued.

It only happens once or twice

Every couple of weeks.

But it gets me out of the house

And away from their piques

Of anger over political critiques.

I love my Grands

And they love me,

But when politics arise

I would rather flee

And agree to disagree.

-Natalie Garvois  https://wildriversrunsouth.wordpress.com/

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N-N-1 Norm

I had trouble deciding on an appropriate photo for this N-N-1. I took at least half a dozen different pictures that dealt with different aspects of how I was coping with our lockdown. Then I thought that I could make a collage of the pictures and use that, but it didn’t feel right. Each of the photos were the same things I would normally do, only to different degrees, such as more time reading but no time in restaurants. Well, there was the picture of my mask, but it wasn’t a compelling picture. The only truly new thing that I’ve done is to start posting a link to a song on Twitter each day. The song matched my feelings about our situation each day. But then I realized that it was a pretty sad look at the world each day, so I started mixing things up. I’ve also posted songs performed by people who have died in these times. So, my picture is my laptop opened to my Twitter page.

Norm, https://classicalgasbag.wordpress.com/.

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N-N-1 Isolation

Isolation. Social distancing. Masks. Gloves. The world has been turned on its axis. There’s so much talent coming out. People are making sweets at home. Some are picking up new hobbies. Stories of this time spent with you and only you will ring out forever.

Nature is healing from what we have done to her. Wild animals are coming out of hiding. It’s their planet too. We can’t deny that.

As I walk back home, my footsteps echo. Birds on the pavement pay no attention. The silence is soothing.

When the noise comes back, will I embrace it or forsake it?

Ashesh Mitra – http://asheshmitra.blogspot.com/

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N-N-1 6am

6am – Already? Am I colleague or mummy this morning?

7am – Log on. Engage brain to squeeze out maximum productivity in the next 5hrs.

9am – Rest of team logs on, emails fly about, calls launched with vigour.

12pm – Leisurely lunch during her nap? Maybe I should nap too… No! Exercise and a quick lunch. Done.

1.30pm – Woken by 2yr old ready to seize the rest of the day. Parenting mode – enabled.

3.30pm – Pick play-doh out of the carpet and stop her eating strange leaves outside.

8pm – Toddler asleep after nightly battle. Movie? Quiz? Haven’t seen you all day, probably should.

11pm – FINALLY bedtime.

Mwila  http://chisbingredblog.wordpress.com

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N-N-1 being

Being “outside” has meant staring at the sinking colors of the setting sun, sneaking a quiet moment in the balcony. Questions of how much the world has really changed tsunami up before receding… I’m equal parts hurting from the anxiety and recognizing still, the joy and wonder of all this time together with the person i love the most on this planet. Isn’t this how life is supposed to be? But how? How is any of this sustainable? And then the moment passes, just like the pink, orange skies melting into deep blue-black all too soon. This quarantine has taught me that nothing is truly ever in my control.

https://www.becomingneha.com/

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N-N-1 Anju

Over the weekend, we got up early to avoid the crowds, and went on a walk. About ten minutes into our new careers as walking enthusiasts, something fluffy lodged in my throat. Ironically, it was during a conversation about Trump and Masks. My brain told my body to cough. *I* told my body that it is going to do no such thing. “Cough and you’re grounded for TWO weeks!”. In the ensuing fight between our current cough-less public etiquette, and my body’s natural defence mechanisms, I nearly choked myself. And yet, I survived. Then, I treated myself to this view!

Anju Lavina   https://thislabyrinthiroam.blog/

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N-N-1 Me

I’m not going to lie. This is how I spend the bulk of my time when I’m at home these days. Sitting on the recliner, my husband beside me, dog in my lap, watching Netflix.  Sometimes I switch it up and watch Amazon Prime or Hulu or Youtube.

Killing time is killing me. I’m getting fatter by the minute. When I get up, my joints are so stiff I can barely walk. Depression washes over me in waves. I try to take walks, call friends, garden… but I’m more sedentary with each passing day. Quarantine sucks.

But at the same time, I’m grateful to still have a job to go to for 40 hours a week, and a paycheck and a roof over my head. No one I love has died to date.This is both a relief and a surprise.

I’m hoping this pandemic will cause us to change in positive ways. We’re learning to be gentler on the earth, and we can no longer take our relationships for granted.

These are good things, right? This makes it all worth it, right? Right?

Barb Abelhauser     https://theviewfromadrawbridge.com/

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N-N-1 Cris

On February 29th the Governor of Washington state declared a state of emergency due to Covid-19. In the following weeks, a “Stay Home – Stay Safe” order closed all non-essential businesses and we began our shelter in place. Gray, rainy days with temps in the 40’s and 50’s encouraged remaining indoors. By May 5th when the sunsets were nearing 9 pm, State Parks were reopened for day use. And after ten weeks of staying home, we received a preview of summer with three consecutive days of temps in the mid-80’s. This brought everyone outdoors. Mother’s Day 2020 saw busy roads as family’s brought Mom to the forests, trails and parks. This photo was taken as I drove into the town of Black Diamond on my way to the Green River Gorge.

Cris LeCompte, www.RealtorCris.com

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N-N-1 Is

Is there any more space in your heart- she asked?

I looked away, pretended I didn’t understand the question.

Well is there? She persisted- brown eyes staring at me unwavering.

I said there is plenty of space in my backyard.

You can hang there with Wendy, Jerry & Suzy.

All 6 feet under- converted to fertiliser for my jackfruit tree.

Yes, later. But now can I hang with you?

I looked at my father- NO- it was said with finality. I looked at my mother -no she said with future sadness.

I’m tiny! How much space do you think I’ll occupy?

Too much space.

Mary Alexander, (The background story is published here – https://thislabyrinthiroam.blog/2020/05/13/guest-post-midnight-all-day/ )

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N-N-1 Photo

Photo taken on a solitary walk through the woods on Mother’s Day

Change is hard. And spring is a season of change. It seems harder this year and it is taking longer. The flowers are having trouble rising above the blanket of leaves, remnants/memories from seasons past. A light dusting of snow in early May brought refreshment, a longing to return to a hidden comfortable world that no longer exists. Nature teaches that change is inevitable. It will happen and we will grow and blossom beyond what we ever imagined, in ways never known before.

Peace and Joy and Love and Trust

Linda Zeppa, www.intuwriting.com

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N-N-1 Sanctuary

My Lockdown Sanctuary

Before quarantine, I thought my little balcony was only just big enough to stand on.  On around day 20, while on the phone to my mum and searching for some sun in my flat, I discovered I could wedge my chair (part in, part out) and sit in what is now my favourite sun spot in Valencia.

As spring turns to summer, this squashed little space has become my sanctuary, during strict confinement.  Here I have felt free, at peace and so thankful for all the little things.  Which really do mean so much.

Lauren Molzahn, Laurencian Tales (site still under construction)

Call for Participants: N-N-1: The Quarantine Edition

For several years now, I’ve participated in a delightful photography/creative writing experiment that was created by two of my favorite bloggers, Anju, who writes This Labyrinth I Roam, and Norm, who writes Classical Gasbag. They thought it would be interesting to see what people all over the world were doing/seeing/experiencing at the same point in time. As Norm explains it, in N-N-1 the first N stands for the number of participants, the second for the number of photos (they should be the same), and the 1 stands for one time.

The subject for this N-N-1 will be Quarantine. Our worlds have been turned upside down by COVID-19. What are you and/or your family and/or your community doing to cope during these strange times?

So your assignment (should you choose to accept it) is:

  1. Contact me using the form below, and then I’ll send you my e-mail.

  2. Mark your calendars, and snap a picture sometime between May 9 and May 11, and then do a 50-100 word write up about it. It can be prose or poetry.

  3. Turn that picture and write up in to me via e-mail by May 13th. If you have a blog or a website (neither of which is required) include a link so that I can also add that to the post that I compile with all your submissions. When the post is complete, I’ll send you a link so you can share it with all your friends.

Please invite others to participate as well! The more the merrier, the more far flung the better. It will be interesting to see what people all over the world are doing during this pandemic.

If you’d like to see how other N-N-1’s have turned out, check them out here, here, here, and here!

photographer

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Creativity under COVID-19

It seems that every cloud has a silver lining. Even though this quarantine has been an exercise in torture and an economic nightmare, I am seeing a worldwide artistic explosion as a result of it. Yay, us!

Just today a friend sent me a link to this facebook video. It’s the best, most creative COVID-19 song I’ve yet to hear. I’ve listened to it about 20 times now, and it always makes me smile. It makes me want to do a jig. Thank you, Dermot Ryan, wherever you are, for making the best of a bad situation.

I’ve also seen some amazing artwork that people have created using whatever happens to be at hand. I’ve seen photographs of someone skiing down a mountain, the mountain being a bed sheet, and the pictures taken as the person poses on the floor. I’ve seen people reproduce famous works of art using balogna and toilet plungers.

I’m enjoying the many games people are coming up with to entertain themselves and others. There are also some amazing facemask designs out there, as well as astonishing inventions and creative ways to help/connect with one another remotely. Humor, both dark and light, abounds.

For every hateful or idiotic act that this virus has inspired, it seems that there are 10 artistic creations. That gives me hope, and it makes me rather like humanity more than I have in quite some time. Keep up the good work, everybody!

Maybe we all just needed the time and space to let our imaginations run wild. Maybe we are taking extra care of our mental health through art therapy. Whatever the case may be, I’m enjoying all this creativity, despite the fact that I’m finding it increasingly difficult to enjoy anything else. Stay safe, everybody! We can do this.

220px-Ghost_Hug_chalk_writing_on_Hawthorne_during_Coronavirus_pandemic

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