Rock, Paper, Scissors - The Art of the Commonplace

Hand series #2 - Rock

Hand series #2 - Paper

Hand series #2 - Scissiors

Hand series #1 My hand

The hand as art. Hand game. Or, this series could be an ode to Andy Warhol. For me, it's more along the lines of figuring out what it means, other than a pedestrian kitchen accident.

Since I sliced through the last two fingers of my right hand Christmas Eve, 2010 has been a year of learning to pay attention and relearn how to use to my right hand. The scar is still hard, and the tip of my little finger will not bend of its own volition.

In case you've never heard of this selection game, here's a post from wikipedia:
The players count aloud to three, or speak the name of the game (e.g. "Rock! Paper! Scissors!" or "Ro! Cham! Beau!"), each time raising one hand in a fist and swinging it down on the count. On the third count (saying "scissors!" or "Beau!"), the players change their hands into one of three gestures, which they then "throw" by extending it towards their opponent. Variations include a version where players use a fourth count — "Shoot!" — before throwing their gesture, or a version where they only shake their hands twice before "throwing." Others prefer a five count cadence by saying "Says Shoot!" before throwing their gesture. The gestures are:

Rock, represented by a clenched fist.
Scissors, represented by the index and middle fingers extended and separated.
Paper, represented by an open hand, with the fingers connected (horizontal).
The objective is to select a gesture which defeats that of the opponent. Gestures are resolved as follows:

Rock blunts or breaks scissors: that is, rock defeats scissors
Scissors cut paper: scissors defeats paper
Paper covers or captures rock: paper defeats rock
If both players choose the same gesture, the game is tied and the players throw again.

Poem Therapy at 1:00 P.M.

The Archaeologist
Hester Knibbe

In one who doesn’t speak the story petrifies,
gets stumbled over, causes hurt. Then,

says the man who should know about the past, then
is a word you need to learn now. Then

lived lives had has
a name a body, sacrificial hands

so god might help us. Feel with your hands and feet
back along these countless steps and hear

the incessant bloodrush, its dark red

presence. That was what the man insisted,
in so many words, pointing to the ornate

temple corridor, an altar
conjured at its vanishing point.

Then is a word we must learn now, since we live, have lived it countless times. So strange the past appears so distant on the horizon, yet it's set up shop in our bones, lurks about in our DNA, waiting for the appropriate time to jump out and shout, hahaha!

then is an adverb, an innocuous little word that means at that time. It implies a time other than the present. Then is the understory, what lies beneath the words. Left unsaid, it can turn to stone, be chiseled into a razor obsidian shard and plunged deep into the abdomen.

Yes, a story turned to stone through silence can do damage.

This Moment - May 26 12:08 P.M.

Flower series #22

Ash hued cloud cover and the sound of metal racheting up emotion coming from the studio. I have ducked into my office for a brief respite from talking, instructing, emoting. I have closed the door and claimed sanctuary. It is a fleeting refuge.

This Moment - May 24, 2:07

Flower series #1

Snow. A burst of sunshine. Heavy cloud cover.
Annoyance. Bliss. Despair

Collages - May 24, 2010

Civilization series #7

I love the Photoshop's cutout feature!

Floral series #1

A reworking of a collage using Photoshop's paint daub feature.

Goddess series #1

Photoshop's cutout feature.

Goddess series #2

Photoshop's pointillate & poster edges feature.

Goddess series #3

A reworking of a collage using the watercolor feature.

This Moment - May 23 7:01 A.M.

The world waited patiently for me to awake this morning and make it real again. I turn my head and paint the trees vivid green. Decide it is too quiet for a Sunday morning and a cacophony of birdsong appeases my dissatisfaction. And yet, without my command, Cindy and her girlfriends have been pouting in short shorts for at least half an hour. We make our own reality, don't we? Isn't this the imperative of the age, to design our days? make up our lives moment by moment? Isn't it possible that we, meaning each individual mass of cells and awareness, are not the center of his or her post modern reality? Is it not possible that we are ants in a colony, drones in a hive with a finite number of days looming before us? And to our amusement, the carnival construct of a heaven or hell afterlife is crumbling like old bones. And still this beautiful world foists itself upon us, upon me. And there is the same pine tree outside my window, spreading its branches like fingers. There, the trees and branches shaking the morning rain from their leaves. And here, my dog is sniffing the newly washed sheets and whining to be let out for an adventure. Yes, it goes on, it all goes on. With or without us.

Poem Therapy at 6:55 A.M. - January Gill O'Neil

Early Memory
January Gill O'Neil

I remember picking up a fistful
of sand, smooth crystals, like hourglass sand
and throwing it into the eyes of a boy. Johnny
or Danny or Kevin—he was not important.
I was five and I knew he would cry.

I remember everything about it—
the sandbox in the corner of the room
at Cinderella Day Care; Ms. Lee,
who ran over after the boy wailed for his mother,
her stern look as the words No snack formed on her lips.
My hands with their gritty, half-mooned fingernails
I hid in the pockets of my blue and white dress.
How she found them and uncurled small sandy fists.

There must have been such rage in me, to give such pain
to another person. This afternoon,
I saw a man pull a gold chain off the neck
of a woman as she crossed the street.
She cried out with a sound that bleached me.
I walked on, unable to help,
knowing that fire in childhood
clenched deep in my pockets all the way home.

I've had Ellie, a blue healer/border collie mix for over sixteen years. We got her from the pound when my daughter begged and I relented. She's been a good dog: good natured, active, playful, (although a deeply committed digger and uprooter of flower beds). Until recently. Enter Harley, a shorky - half shitzu, half Yorkie. Ellie now snarls, bites, pees on the dining room hardwood, and most surprising, she exhibits premeditated cruelty. She teases the puppy, sometimes viciously. Harley thinks Ellie is playing with him. I know Ellie well enough to know it's not a game.

Perhaps it's a Darwinian reaction in which she senses it is possible to be replaced in the social hierarchical food chain. Or, could it be possible that cruelty is encoded in our DNA? Science is beginning to show that our brains are hardwired emotionally, that we are predispositioned to certain emotions.

The speaker in the poem feels guilt as a reflective adult, and wonders at the rage she must have felt. The girl in the sand pile probably just wanted to see what happened when she threw the sand, wanted to feel the power of provoking pain. Power over is always a tenuous position, provoking pain to feel powerful is the refuge of cowards and the weak. Unless there's a method, it's merely madness. Shakespeare or Machiavelli would tell you this.

Poem Therapy at 8:07

Shahid Reads His Own Palm
Reginald Dwayne Betts

I come from the cracked hands of men who used
the smoldering ends of blunts to blow shotguns,

men who arranged their lives around the mystery
of the moon breaking a street corner in half.

I come from "Swann Road" written in a child's
slanted block letters across a playground fence,

the orange globe with black stripes in Bishop's left
hand, untethered and rolling to the sideline,

a crowd openmouthed, waiting to see the end
of the sweetest crossover in a Virginia state pen.

I come from Friday night's humid and musty air,
Junk Yard Band cranking in a stolen Bonneville,

a tilted bottle of Wild Irish Rose against my lips
and King Hedley's secret written in the lines of my palm.

I come from beneath a cloud of white smoke, a lit pipe
and the way glass heats rocks into a piece of heaven,

from the weight of nothing in my palm,
a bullet in an unfired snub-nosed revolver.

And every day the small muscles in my finger threaten to pull
a trigger, slight and curved like my woman's eyelashes.

I come from a mixture of renegade and pioneer stock, Both branches escaped to Utah: one found refuge, the other a temporary solution.

Palmists believe your entire future is encoded on the palm of your hand. I've studied my palm, palmistry book open, but haven't been able to ferret out its mysteries. Can my palm really tell me how many marriages I will have, how long a life I will live, if I will travel? I like to think of it rather as a map: here's the roads and highways, now where will you go? what will you choose?

About fifteen years ago, I became casual friends with a local restauranteur. She had recently immigrated from China. When I told her I would never marry or have more children, she grabbed my hand and pointed to the evidence. She predictions were correct. I did marry, and have two more children, (stepchildren).

I had my palm read back in my late twenties. It was ridiculous. The woman got it all wrong. Or perhaps I just refused to listen.

This Moment - May 21 7:34 A.M.

A magpie is voicing its discontent in long syllables. The view from my window is varying hues of fertile green. My dog is on the bed growling at school children walking past our house to the bus stop. My diminutive protector. He looks to me for approval, then lays his head on his paws and offers a final growl signalling danger has passed. The bright orange bus stops and the queue of children dutifully enter. I am working from home today, nursing a radiating pain in my jaw, a by product of jaw clenching. The rain has spent itself, yet a bowery of gray clouds hang overhead. The magpie has taken its complaints elsewhere, and a dove has taken up with its own litany of softly modulated sorrows. My other dog is barking its jaws weary. I will bring her in and instruct her to lay quietly by the fire while the smaller dog insinuates his nose into her fur. Cars are suddenly barreling up and down the street, their sibilant sound of wheels on wet asphalt the music of early morning. A pheasant shouts his arrival, and then silence, save for the steady rhythm of wheels turning. Birds join the composition at intervals as if instructed by a maestro: a chorus of birds is the swell of violins, a duo of birdsong is the sudden short bursts of horns, and a solitary voice imitates the timpani roll of drums. This morning, I am privy to a symphony in three movements.

Collages - May 20, 2010

Cocoon series #10. I reworked this collage on Photoshop. It's a study for a painting.

Cocoon series #13. For whatever reason, this collage is a little sideways and I can't get it righted. This is also a study for a painting.

Flower series #3. I love this piece and think I'll tweak it a little and then let it be.

Flower series #7. This is a study for a painting. I have a lot of work to do with this one.

I've been playing around on Photoshop using old collages as inspiration for new paintings.

Poem Therapy at 12:41 P.M. - Sandra Alcosser

Sandra Alcosser

Auntie lies in the rest home with a feeding tube and a bedpan, she weighs nothing, she fidgets and shakes, and all I can see are her knotted hands and the carbon facets of her eyes, she was famous for her pies and her kindness to neighbors, but if it is true that every hat exhibits a drama the psyche wishes it could perform, what was my aunt saying all the years of my childhood when she squeezed into cars with those too tall hats, those pineapples and colored cockades, my aunt who told me I should travel slowly or I would see too much before I died, wore spires and steeples, tulled toques. The velvet inkpots of Schiaparelli, the mousseline de soie of Lilly Daché have disappeared into the world, leaving behind one flesh-colored box, Worth stenciled on the top, a coral velvet cloche inside with matching veil and drawstring bag, and what am I to make of these Dolores del Rio size 4 black satin wedgies with constellations of spangles on the bridge. Before she climbed into the white boat of the nursing home and sailed away--talking every day to family in heaven, calling them through the sprinkling system--my aunt said she was pushing her cart through the grocery when she saw young girls at the end of an aisle pointing at her, her dowager's hump, her familial tremors. Auntie, who claimed that ninety pounds was her fighting weight, carried her head high, hooded, turbaned, jeweled, her neck straight under pounds of roots and vegetables that shimmied when she walked. Surely this is not the place of women in our world, that when we are old and curled like crustaceans, young girls will laugh at us, point their fingers, run as fast as they can in the opposite direction.

Dare you to read this all the way through without your eyes threatening tears.

I love the line, every hat exhibits a drama the psyche wishes it could perform. I suppose shoes and jewelry do this for me. With each year, the more dramatically inclined I become. I just purchased a pair of black leather wrap around pumps with a three inch heel. I really have nothing to wear with them or anywhere to wear them (yet), but I'll figure it out. My jewelry is getting bolder and bigger. Perhaps because the older you get, the more invisible you become, it's imperative to show the world who you always meant to be, since your youth was spent playing it safe and by the rules.

My Aunt Della is eighty-four, although you'd never know it. When I was a young girl, I couldn't understand why she acted like she was beautiful, since she was SO old. Old to me was anyone over sixteen. Looking at the pictures from that time, she was beautiful. She still is, and, frankly, she has to botox. There's no other explanation for an unlined eighty-four-year old forehead.

I didn't want to see Della old, wanted to remember the preening woman of my youth when four years ago I was invited to her 80th birthday party. There she was in majesterial beauty in white pants, heels, orange hippie blouse that showed firm cleavage, strawberry blonde hair, perfect make up, and unlined forehead. I couldn't believe it. Yes, she had a little tremor, but nothing like an old woman, and when she excused herself she sashayed like Blanche Dubose.

I can't see her in a rest home, can't imagine she'll ever truly age, just float away like a cloud after a rainstorm.

What I Made Today - Sterling Silver Brahma Bezel - Ruby, Garnet, Faceted Rock Crystal, Pearl Necklace

Sterling silver Brahma bezel

Sterling silver Brahma bezel- ruby, garnet, faceted rock crystal, pearl necklace

I found a picture of Brahma, the first diety of the Hindu trinity, in 1000 Faces of God by Rebecca Hind. I scanned it, then cut it out and affixed it to the back of a clear glass marble to act as a "stone" for the bezel. I then soldered the bezel wire to the plate, sanded, then drilled the bezel plate, and soldered jump rings to which I attached hammered sterling silver chain, clasp, and ruby, faceted rock crystal, garnet, and pearl embellishements.

What I Made Today - Pearl Ring, Etched Metal & Pearl Necklace

Sterling silver & pearl ring - top view

Sterling silver & pearl ring - side view

Etched metal with pearl bezel and ruby & pearl embellishment

I have been busy today!

Poem Therapy at 1:35 P.M.

Jane Cooper

If you want my apartment, sleep in it
but let's have a clear understanding:
the books are still free agents.

If the rocking chair's arms surround you
they can also let you go,
they can shape the air like a body.

I don't want your rent, I want
a radiance of attention
like the candle's flame when we eat,

I mean a kind of awe
attending the spaces between us---
Not a roof but a field of stars.

Let's get something straight: nothing in this life is fre. Everyone of us has to pay admittance to the show. Every one of us has to pay rent for the space we occupy.

If you think the universe owes you, get your whiny self to a therapist so she can help you understand that it is you who needs to write a check. You who needs to be grateful.

I'll be on my soapbox for at least another hour. Feel free to drop by - I'll share.

Poem Therapy at 10:11 A.M. - Bhanu Kapil

Humananimal [Feral children are fatty]
Bhanu Kapil

4. Feral children are fatty, complex and rigid. When you captured the two children, you had to brush the knots out of their hair then scrape the comb free of hard butter. Descent and serration. No. I don't want to ask primal questions.

5. Kamala slips over the garden wall with her sister and runs, on all fours, towards the complex horizon between Midnapure and its surrounding belt of sal. The humanimal mode is one of pure anxiety attached to the presence of the body. Two panicked children strain against the gelatin envelope of the township, producing, through distension, a frightening shape. The animals see an opaque, milky membrane bulging with life and retreat, as you would, to the inner world. I am speaking for you in January. It is raining. Amniotic, compelled to emerge, the girls are nevertheless re-absorbed. I imagine them back in their cots illuminated by kerosene lanterns. I illuminate them in the colony—the cluster of residences, including the Home—around St. John's. No. Though I've been there, it’s impossible for me to visualize retrieval. Chronologies only record the bad days, the attempted escapes.

d. I was almost to the gate. I was almost to the gate when a hand reached out and pulled me backwards by my hair, opening my mouth to an O. The next day, I woke up with a raw throat. The cook gave me salt in warm water. I waited until she was gone and then I bit it. I bit my own arm and ate it. Here is my belly, frosted with meat. Here are my eyes, bobbling in a tin.

6. It's Palm Sunday and Kamala, with the other orphans in a dark, glittery crocodile, walks from Home to church. Her two arms extend stiffly from her body to train them, to extend. Unbound, her elbows and wrists would flex then supinate like two peeled claws. Wrapped, she is a swerve, a crooked yet regulated mark. This is corrective therapy; the fascia hardening over a lifetime then split in order to re-set it, educate the nerves.

e. The cook fed us meats of many kinds. I joined my belly to the belly of the next girl. It was pink and we opened our beaks for meat. It was wet and we licked the dictionary off each other's faces.

7. Is this the humanimal question? No, it’s a disc, transferring light from corner to corner of the girl's eye. Like an animal tapetum. The way at night an animal. Animal eyes, glinting, in the room where he kept her, his girl, deep in the Home.

In this new prose document, Bhanu Kapil follows a film crew to the Bengal jungle to re-encounter the true account of two girls found living with wolves in 1921. Taking as its source text the diary of the missionary who strove to rehabilitate these orphans--through language instruction and forcible correction of supinated limbs--HUMANIMAL functions as a healing mutation for three bodies and a companion poiesis for future physiologies. Through wolfgirls Kamala and Amala, there is a grafting: what scars down into the feral opens out also into the fierce, into a remembrance of Kapil's father. The humanimal text becomes one in which personal and postcolonial histories cross a wilderness to form supported metabiology. "Lucidly, holographically, your heart pulsed in the air next to your body; then my eyes clicked the photo into place. Future child, in the time you lived in, your arms always itched and flaked. To write this, the memoir of your body, I slip my arms into the sleeves of your shirt. I slip my arms into yours, to become four-limbed."from Small Press Distribution

I found Kapil's poem earlier this morning on, and the subject matter drew me in immediately. When I learned Kapil retraced and "reencountered" the two girls living with wolves, well, of course I leaped mentally to Romulus and Remus, founders of Rome, and thier wolf mother. Being raised by wolves is a metaphor for the wildness, the id lurking beneath our powdered and coiffed exteriors. But what of the actual cases of being raised by wolves or growing up feral?

One of my first jobs was working in a group home, something like current assisted living, for the mentally, phyiscially, emotionally, and socially disabled. I was a respite worker, which means I gave parents of disabled children a break for a day or a few weeks. This was before mainstreaming, and also, right before Reagan cut unding and sent the residents of simliar homes across the country, to the streets,(hmmm, back to the wilderness). At the home, there was a woman who was raised by a dog, or, to be correct, her parents kept her in the doghouse with the family dog until social services were contacted. Although she had been reeducated in human ways: to walk upright, eat with utensils, clothe herself, appropriate social interaction, etc..., whenever she was angered, she barked.

I wonder the fate of the two feral girls of this poem. I'll have to google, and read Kapil's book to discover it.

This Moment - 8:09 A.M.

Dark green shadows contrast against light green patches of the mowed lawn. It is quiet still this morning. The world is just waking up and rubbing the sleep out of its eyes. A plane rumbles overhead, breaking the silence. My dog's nails click on the hardwood floor and he is huffing his scent into the room. The Quaking Oaks' leaves provide contrast against the red cedar fence. I can see that there is a slight breeze, but other than that, the trees are still and unmoving. A bald man lumbers like a miniature Paul Bunyon up the sidewalk, the morning paper in his left hand. And now a steady flow of cars up and down the street. Dandelions glut the unmowed lawn of the house next door. The sight of their fluffy white heads provoke the thought, there is enough unhappiness for all. Strange, to start the day with a glass half full. Three starlings harrow the sky with their urgent cries. A dun-colored bird is hopping from branch to branch of the groomed pine tree, then dissapears as if the tree were a hungry mouth. The bird has not emerged these last few moments of unblinking observation. Perhaps it is nestled against the tree's trunk. Perhaps it slipped out through the back branches. It did not signal its leave. A door opens somewhere in the house, footsteps upstairs, and a rush of water in the sink. A dove lights onto a branch and rolls its body against the prickly leaves, like a dog making its bed to lie down. I am irritated a magpie interrupts this ritual, but the dove remains in the glove of the branches, and begins cooing its sorrowful dirge.

Poem Therapy at 9:29 P.M. - Julie Williams

Coming Up Into the Light
Julie Williams

You can only hunker down so long & then the wind dies
or rushes on to some other place to do its damage
& all that time you've been huddled there together
holding your breath, hoping against

wildest hope that up aboveground
nothing you love has been
blown away

hoping with a deep longing
the wind has cleared
the air &

the new

Two quail ran across the road this morning on the way to work. I slammed on the brakes and my purse and the books on the passenger seat flew onto the floor. I was certain I had hit at least one of the fowl, but both quail were safe on the sidewalk, curled head feathers bobbing.

With the last few poems I've chosen, I see a theme emerging.

"Quail" will come out of nowhere. Sometimes you have to slam on the brakes to avoid disaster. Sometimes you just have to keep going and look at the wreckage in the rear view window. Sometimes you just have to tell yourself that the sun is here to stay, and make yourself believe it, knowing full well a cloud is darkening on the horizon.

It doesn't really matter. The storm will come. But the sun will eventually shine again.

The sun will come up tomorrow, come what may.

Poem Therapy at 9:09 P.M. - Kevin Clark

Parallel Paths
Kevin Clark

Today you're lucky, in love with your wife
for the first time in weeks, both of you
out for a walk in the overgrown park.
No need to hold hands
like that sadly animate couple
you can see through a clearing
on a parallel path.
She lets
go and turns from him. You notice
how in their weather misery hangs
faintly familiar in the cold shadows.
As if having recently unlearned
the habit of empathy, the sky
over their forest seems to laugh
at whatever they say, a woman
turning from a man, their dog
flexed on a heap of duff
pretending to study the sparrows.
Now the woman feigns confidence,
stepping gracefully
away. Two lives severed
Such a capricious drug,
the present. Look for instance
at this woman's immediate future.
Like yourself once, she will forget
the names of old haunts, her voice
a clever imposter, someone else
filling her mouth, not with words,
but vocables intending her own worth.
Or right now: how all of these thoughts
have occurred to you in a flash.
When you look up, your wife's vanished.
But really she's there, of course,
off the path, among the ancient
waist-high grasses, holding out to you
a single mutable wildflower
burning in its own ochre light.
From here to that flower exist
no guarantees. Best to get on with it.

Life turns on a freaking dime. It's not personal. It just is. You think you'll have tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow to figure things out, but there's no guarantee.

Eat, drink, and be merry, really makes sense. So does, live for today, get on with it, oh bloodee! oh blooday!, fiddle dee dee, tomorrow is another day. Okay, then! time to just get on with it. Life is random, the meek don't inherit a damn thing, playing it safe in love is just stupid, life is not suffering, it's beautiful, and it's so short, so what are we doing not living the life we really, really, really want? And why are we eating so much fiber and nuts and berries, instead of ice cream and creamy pastas, and loads of dark chocolate, when it really doesn't matter in the end anyway, huh!

Free spirits, hedonists, head to the nearest spa, Baskin Robbins, whatever,and wherever delights you. It's time to get our groove back on.

Voodoo Collages

Voodoo Collage #1 - Danna

Voodoo Collage #2 - Danna

I posted a Voodoo Collage tutorial some time back. Both of these are from older pieces that I've reworked digitally. I'll have to spend a little time with them to see what they mean in a broader context. Perhaps an oracle will present itself.

What I Made Today - Etched Metal & Pearl Necklace

I etched an Art Nouveau design into metal using ferric chloride, then soldered a sterling silver bezel on the surface to hold a pearl.

Poem Therapy at 1:07 P.M.

Battle of Will & Exhaustion, Mother & Child
Jenny Factor

Two knights surrounded by dinosaurs
are cornered in the kitchen--all threat and bluster.
Action figures always act
even as night tries to soothe them under.

I am the one who laid a nervous hand
on a child's exhausted threat and bluster.
The bunk bed creaks as the story settles,
as night's cool hand tries to soothe us. Under

a Seussian drone I am thinking, anxious,
about someone with a nervous hand.
Will he sleep? Will he sleep? When will he sleep?
The bunk bed creaks as the shipboard settles.

What is the myth of a woman alone
who's thinking through Seuss? Her thoughts are drones
serving a terrible queen of their own.
Can she sleep? Will she sleep? When will she sleep?

The toilet's crystalline drip and the ghosts
of the walls are a myth. And this woman, alone,
is a captain steering too close to the rocks
where the ocean is serving a terrible queen.

Up on the cliff of a Friday midnight
the toilet's crystalline drip and the ghost-
ly snore of the sleepy one riding his dragons
can steer this sad captain away from her rocks.

"Rock me to sleep," cries the wild girl at twenty
up on the cliff with a young man at midnight.
Far below, waves from the sea of Alaska
snore back and forth filled with moon's breath and dragon.

Up on the cliff of a Friday's midnight,
rock me to sleep with the sound that the fridge makes.
Warmth of a tub, hole of a drain.
Memories sleep in the seas of Alaska.

Action figures always act
upon the cliff of a Friday's midnight.
Warmth of a bird's heart. Chill of a stone.
Two knights surrendered. The dinos snore.

The Chinese symbol for war is two women under the same roof. My daughter is in that twilight state between adolescence and womanhood when the day's light is transforming into evening light.

I wouldn't say that war is the correct description for our living arrangement. Yes, she lives with me, but we've never been territorial or adversarial. Battle or siege aren't relevant either. Scrimmage is more fitting.

I am beginning to believe that life out from under my wing, would be very, very good for her.

This Moment - May 11 10:43 P.M.

The sky is a blurred eye. The dense clouds of mottled white and gray have imprisioned the sun. I am waiting for a ransom note. I will pay the demands without reservations. Earlier this morning a bird called the day into being with its singsong. No call to begin anew now, only silence, save for the constant rhythmic tone of compressed computer keys. A kind of darkness permeates as if it has woven its fingers through hair at the base of the neck and is applying subtle pressure, signaling a threat to pull.

This Moment - May 8, 9:07 A.M.

A glut of leaves crowd the tree's branches as do the nascent buds, hinting of the blooms they have secreted within the cocoon of themselves. The cellphone is playing a sentimental concerto, demanding my attention. I ignore it as jeeps, trucks, and a host of cars speed down the street. A cyclist in flourenscet yellow tempts Fate by pedaling his vehicle down the middle of the street, as if encased in the same steel shell as the occupants of the cars, which slow down and indulge his hubris. He is saved for one more day, or for the small space he occupied in my life, viewed from my bedroom window. The cellphone insists. Again, I ignore the prevasiveness of technology, but only for a few more moments, curiousity and paranoia are surfacing. The dog is chewing a plastic bottle he has ferreted out of the trash. His young teeth are sharpening. He abandons the bottle for paper and rips, chews, ingests, until he tires of this and saunters out of the bedroom. He returns and stands before the French doors, then settles into a comma on the rug beside the bed. The world is alive and green. Even the weeds are welcome now that the hail, sleet, rain, and snow of the last week have departed. The apple tree's blush blossoms flutter in the slight breeze. A magpie, out on the front lawn, struts a semi-circle, bending to peck the ground at intervals, the black coattail of it's tail feathers jutting delicately up and down. It flies away.

Sterling Silver Mosaic Gemstone & Pearl Necklace

This necklace is my first attempt at combining pearl & gemstone mosaic with my own metalworked sterling silver chain and clasp.

Mosaic Pearl & Gemstone Necklace & Earrings

I'm creating jewelry using the ancient art of mosaic.

Etched Metal, Gemstone & Pearl Necklaces

I've been busy etching metal in ferric chloride and then creating gemstone and pearl necklaces.

Etching metal is a very simple process:
1. Draw design in permanent marker on metal.
2. Suspend metal in a shallow bath of ferric chloride, (follow all directions on the bottle when working with chemicals).
3. Clean metal and neutralize ferric chloride with baking soda.
4. Sand & file metal.
5. Drill and attach a soldered jump ring.
6. String chain or beaded necklace through jump ring.

Poem Therapy at 11:58 P.M. - Alicia Ostriker

Mother/Child: Coda
Alicia Ostriker

Fear teaches nothing
that is my message
but O to grow means pain
means division
the crust cracks and the open
organism faces danger
the grass plant bladed and seeded, the forked spruce
burst from the mountain’s northern side that never
asked to breathe, here in this cold, but must.

It is the oldest, saddest story.
The oceans were ebbing.
The climate was chilling.
Anyone who had a lung was forced
to live, not die.
Anyone who had a leg was forced
to leap. The driven soldiers of the cause.
March. Think. Pay no attention to
the corpses. Do not attempt to join them.
March. Your task is to survive. You
are permitted to feel triumph.

Here is water, here is dry land,
up there the kingly sky and queenly moon,
a desire to turn back and a desire
to go on are the permanent
instructions, and we know that this has something
to do with our souls, also that “go on”
for any individual thing or creature
at first means “play,” “multiply,” “strike
deep, aim straight” and “trust,” but that
later this changes and means “it is too late,”
“take your last journey,” “we love you, but goodbye.”
We do not know yet what the instructions signify
for an entire species, a muddy ooze,
and we cannot make any prognosis on those levels
or answer the intimate question
shall all life
perish like us, the perfect crest subside?

I am glad and sorry to give you this information.
I see you know it already.
I want to tell you it is not your fault.
It is your fault.

So from now on you are responsible.
That is what we mean when we say
consciousness is a curse.

Meanwhile we are looking into
each other’s eyes, windows of homes,
and touching, with sweet pleasure,
each other’s downy surfaces.
You will never forget this,
will always seek, beyond every division,
a healing of division, renewed touch.
You see the silver bridge
spanning a flood?
This is what we mean when we say
consciousness is a blessing.

There is no possible way to protect your child from what life has in store for them. This is the burden of being a parent. Life can be a curse and a blessing. Ostriker's poem states that consciousness is a curse and a blessing, and this is so true. Sometimes, the examined life is a bit much to bear. Sometimes, reflection is what makes life bearable.

Before my daughter reached her third birthday, I divorced her father. For what ever reason, he has chosen not to be involved in her life, other than a couple phone calls a year. Of course she blamed me, herself, turned her anger everywhere but at him, and then finally fully at him, until spent, she sent her anger off on a little boat and and wished it safe journey.

Mother's Day is this weekend. I'm more of a mother bear than a bake cookies kind of mother. The Artemis archetype as my style of mothering comes to mind, although the goddess never had a child.

My daughter is strong, independent. She loves nature. She always loved animals and being outside, and at this moment, she's off hiking with her boyfriend.

I think I did the best I could with her and my stepchildren, but you'll have to ask them. I used to tell my daughter that she was "on the pychiatrist's couch for that one". Once, after some infraction or craziness, she turned to me and repeated this word-for-word. I still find it hilarious to remember her tiny sweet voice telling me she was going to need therapy to deal with my mothering.

My mother had seven children. I don't know how she managed. I know I couldn't have raised that many children, even with an entire cadre of helpers. Nine years later, I can say that I am fortunate to have had two mothers in this lifetime. Same woman. One prestroke, and one post. I used to get very angry and ask god and the saints, the stars, whatever or whomever was available, "when is my mother coming back?" The old her is never coming back, and although I miss her, I like the new her just fine.

Spring, Winter, Winter, Spring

A Green Spring - Kate Birch

Last Thursday it hailed, cleared up, snowed, cleared, rained, cleared up again. This past weekend, the wind harrowed the trees until they snapped. Every day brings a surprise. I think the weather around here is feeling a little nostalgic for winter.

The birds and my perennials don't seem to mind.

I found this painting by Kate Birch this morning and think it visually articulates the layering of the Wasatch Front's weather lately. I'm happy to discover she is a local girl and will watch for news of upcoming exhibits. If you'd like to see more of her work, check out her etsy site at Here's her bio:

Kate Birch studied painting and drawing at the University of Utah and graduated with a Bachelors of Fine Arts degree in 2005. The pattern and texture in her mixed-media floral paintings are inspired by her love of textiles. These paintings focus on the decorative influence of William Morris and the Arts and Crafts Movement, as well as patterns from the Orient, Morocco and Mexico. Kate is constantly studying pattern and design found in fabric, rugs, tiles and papers as well as more organic floral forms found directly in nature. The creation of her paintings is focused primarily on process, layering stencil and charcoal drawings throughout each piece. Kate lives in Salt Lake City, Utah with her husband and their three children. She exhibits her work in galleries across the U.S. from profile

Poem Therapy at 11:38 P.M. - Peter Cole

The Ghazal of What Hurt
Peter Cole

Pain froze you, for years—and fear—leaving scars.
But now, as though miraculously, it seems, here you are

walking easily across the ground, and into town
as though you were floating on air, which in part you are,

or riding a wave of what feels like the world's good will—
though helped along by something foreign and older than you are

and yet much younger too, inside you, and so palpable
an X-ray, you're sure, would show it, within the body you are,

not all that far beneath the skin, and even in
some bones. Making you wonder: Are you what you are—

with all that isn't actually you having flowed
through and settled in you, and made you what you are?

The pain was never replaced, nor was it quite erased.
It's memory now—so you know just how lucky you are.

You didn't always. Were you then? And where's the fear?
Inside your words, like an engine? The car you are?!

Face it, friend, you most exist when you're driven
away, or on—by forms and forces greater than you are.

It's always been true that avoiding my worst fear is far greater than facing it. Also that in flush times, although an enjoyable respite, nothing of real consequence, on a deep level, happens.

Only when I am nudged toward the fire and I walk through it and come out remade on the other side, do I see who I really am.

In case you're wondering, a Ghazal is a "poetic form consisting of rhyming couplets and a refrain, with each line sharing the same meter. A ghazal may be understood as a poetic expression of both the pain of loss or separation and the beauty of love in spite of that pain. The form is ancient, originating in 6th century pre-Islamic Arabic verse. It is derived from the Arabian panegyric qasida. The structural requirements of the ghazal are similar in stringency to those of the Petrarchan sonnet."

Poem Therapy at 1:16 P.M. - Hester Knibbe

Never Alone Shirae from

Hester Knibbe
Translated by Jacquelyn Pope

It’s a beautiful world, you said,
with these trees, marshes, deserts,
grasses, rivers and seas

and so on. And the moon is really something
in its circuits
of relative radiance. Include

the wingèd M, voluptuous
Venus, hotheaded Mars, that lucky devil
J and cranky Saturn, of course, plus

U and N and the wanderer P, in short
the whole solar family, complete with its
Milky Way, and count up all the other

systems with dots and spots and in
that endless emptiness what you’ve got
is a commotion of you-know-what. It’s a beautiful

universe, you said, just take a good look
through the desert’s dark glasses
for instance or on your back

in seas of grass, take a good look
at the deluge of that Rorschach—we’re standing out there
somewhere, together.

It is a beautiful world, a beautiful universe. Lucky us that "the world offers itself to our imagination" as poet Mary Oliver said in her poem Wild Geese. Also, that regardless of how alone we may feel, the stars are always present.

Poem Therapy at 3:11 P.M. - Victor Hernadez Cruz

Problems with Hurricanes
Victor Hernández Cruz

A campesino looked at the air
And told me:
With hurricanes it's not the wind
or the noise or the water.
I'll tell you he said:
it's the mangoes, avocados
Green plantains and bananas
flying into town like projectiles.

How would your family
feel if they had to tell
The generations that you
got killed by a flying

Death by drowning has honor
If the wind picked you up
and slammed you
Against a mountain boulder
This would not carry shame
to suffer a mango smashing
Your skull
or a plantain hitting your
Temple at 70 miles per hour
is the ultimate disgrace.

The campesino takes off his hat—
As a sign of respect
toward the fury of the wind
And says:
Don't worry about the noise
Don't worry about the water
Don't worry about the wind—
If you are going out
beware of mangoes
And all such beautiful
sweet things.

It is a good thing to beware the power and fury of "all such beautiful sweet things," and also the fury of the whirlwind. And yet, there are those who actively seek to reap the whirlwind. And for this, I am grateful.