It seemed like I worked on it for ages… and yet 8 months has flown by.
I was nervous, and then I had it in my hands. And now, I love it so much.
Thank you Vici Johnstone, we did this together.
I am trying very hard not to be disturbed by today’s event. After all, it is just another day of bloated pomp and circumstance.
Except, that it is not.
I was, by fate, born in America to an American father. My Canadian mother brought me and my two brothers back to Canada when I was seven years old. By choice, since 1978, I remain a proud Canadian. But I don’t feel very perfect and my heart hurts today for myself, for good friends and relatives, and for this planet.
I roamed around the house awhile today, thinking many thoughts, some good and some unworthy. I scootered back to a (very) dusty, but beloved bookshelf, in a messy, unused room. I was only looking for Thoreau – to find this quote:
“When a man is warmed … what does he want next? Surely not more warmth of the same kind, as more and richer food, larger and more splendid houses, finer and more abundant clothing, more numerous, incessant, and hotter fires, and the like. When he has obtained those things which are necessary to life, there is another alternative than to obtain the superfluities; and that is, to adventure on life now.”
I was looking for the fine Americans… the fine humans… that I know are out there.
I found, conveniently, prophetically, sadly, and hopefully – these books shelved next to each other. Aging pages, readings from my past.
John Boswell, died so young of AIDS.
bell hooks. Shoving racism and feminism in our faces. She knows.
Helen and Scott Nearing. Vermont and Bernie know of their bravery and good sense.
George Woodcock. I can still hear Naomi Klein at Sechelt Writer’s fest saying “Oh, you should give Anarchy a chance.” With the sweetest smile.
So five Americans and a Canadian editor form my reading now. Five of the six are dead, their works left to me to glean for seeds for the future. Will it help how I feel today? I don’t know. These books speak of thrilling, important ideas and it isn’t easy to watch them fail, crushed by much more than one sickening orange man. I hope from looking at them again, I can find some encouragement, find the great thrill they once gave me. And my own country has a sweet leader who thinks he can rule and fool the masses. He must be corrected. Much work of world importance is started, and many have been working doggedly for years. And that is as it should be. For me, here at home, I’m looking for ways to put ideals back on the rails. I’m nervous, and I’m excited. I get to draw my own line in the plastic littered sand and say “No more”.
Weren’t you bored with your hotter fire anyway?
Wouldn’t you rather be Adventuring on Life?
I find many gifts from birds in my back yard. Being enclosed by Cedars, Maples, Fir trees and Alder, the circle of grass attracts quite a lot of bird drama and I have found all kinds of feathers. Even once, while wandering with the dog, my eyes to the ground, I discovered an entire tiny nest, carefully woven together with a shred of plastic construction tarp. Still perfect.
But a few days ago, in my front yard, I was startled by an unusual visitor – a full grown Heron landed in the tangled mid-branches of the towering cedar tree, right next to me – perhaps only 10 feet above my head!! I think I might have said “Whoa – Hello!!” as it shifted and shuffled, and maybe something else like “Be careful there…” since it seemed a danger for long wings to be so tight in the tree. I know for sure, after gazing at it for a few eternal moments, I said “Could you leave a feather for me please?” Then it squawked and flapped and lazily flew.. away.
The next morning…..
Heron Magic, if you ask polite. 🙂
So Max proclaimed, and it was true. Also true is what Julie said to me back in Florence just a couple of days before we left to go home. “Oh, you’ll be happy to get home, but about February, on a cold grim day, you will feel a deep unquenchable yearning in your soul for Italy.” OK, maybe those weren’t her exact words, but very nearly. So, in an effort to recapture some whisper of the flavour of that time, I have turned my eyes to coffee. Luckily, I have many, many pictures of it to choose from.
I dream of espresso, aromatic and sharp, but sweet. Sipped from thick, white porcelain cups. Even at the gas station, they would not serve a “To-go” coffee – Paolo brought it out in its perfect little cup with saucer and I drank it by the pump. It was all so delicious, every one. But the best was in the piazza of Santo Spirito, or the Boring church as Max called it.
I see his point, but I could never find it boring to sit on steps which felt the feet of Michelangelo.
And I do long to go back……… I knew I would.
It was all very fine, in fact extremely exciting, to wake up in Rome at 4am, have coffee with my companions and leap out into the day… Jetlag! World Travellers have Jetlag, and it is a breeze!!! One evening nap, that was all. So I think, It’ll be the same when I get home – a couple of funny days maybe. Easy.
Well, I have been corrected. I had Grand Designs of catching up on all my posts, sketching reams of drawings, and beginning scads of paintings – all in the first week back. Instead, I wake up at 4am, wander around my sweet warm home in a grog, and turn into a bobblehead at 7pm every night. Nothing can keep me awake, not even a bright crackling fire or pups squashing me, not coffee, tea, a nice glass of Malbec or even the opening game of hockey season. Oh well.. at least finally today I managed to pull out an ink drawing I did from the bell deck at the Masseria and as I added colour, my mind flew back to Puglia.
Cool October breeze, some sun and some rain, I’ll take it easy and soon enough I’ll be back to normal. I still can’t believe I did it. Drowsy weirdness is a tiny price to pay for such an adventure, mine forever now.
And, the good thing about being sleepy all the time – – my dreams are filled with Italy. Slowly, my blog will be too.
My ticket is booked and paid for. I say these words to myself, (and to pretty much anyone else I can pin down) with emotions that streak from thrill to fear in seconds. This MS woman is going to Italy. The dogged determination and kindness of friends will drag my wobbly ass across the ocean to the country that has filled my mind and heart with wonder since my days at Cap College under the spell of the Goddess of Art History, my friend Josephine. So missed.
Julie: “Listen. You have to come. This might be the last time…. I mean… ah… erm… This will be an awesome trip and we will all be there to… uh… Well, you are coming. That’s that.”
I think of past large scale paintings I have done, and present intimate journal sketching I am doing. Ambitions at the mercy of body. I remember my New Year’s resolution – Fear out – Faith in. Holy Crap, it is working. Could I really do it?
I laugh….. I suspect she is a little wrong, though. I think this trip will be the first. If I can’t belly up to the big canvasses just yet, I have other dreams to pursue.
I have Carnets des Voyages to fill. 🙂
My Grandmother Ruby used to carry scissors in her purse when she went out for a walk. She loved flowers, she grew them on her balcony and often had a little bouquet on her table. Over the years we spent many a pleasant day wandering in the garden centre and planting up her small riotously colour-filled boxes. But cut flowers were a different story. Oh she wanted them, in the early spring when the sky was grey, and hers were months from being ready – but she would not pay for them. Besides, she had a Law that if any flower extended into any walkway, it was common property.
That included any that could be hooked with a cane and pulled over to the sidewalk. This could sometimes be an embarrassing situation for me, causing me to rapidly walk ahead, which amused her. I myself, purchased my flowers at full price.
However, I have lately found my thinking to be more in line with hers.
I have looked up that Law, and I believe she was correct.
I call it the Law of Unauthorized Pruning for Art’s Sake.
I have so many art supplies. More than a person could even use in a lifetime, I’m sure. Maybe more than 2 or 3 persons. Oh well, I am in good company with the tool fanatics, and there are worse obsessions. Like shoes. I don’t get shoes. One pair of Keens and yer good to go.
I think about what a wobbly me might choose to take on a trip, and honestly, I know I will pack ten times more than I will actually use. I will pack more than I can possibly carry without tipping over. (Sorry, friends and porters) But it makes me anxious to think I might need all my favourite… somethings. Like a perfect jar of spangly blue ink, or 5 shades of gold acrylic. Paper? Where would I find perfect sketchbooks?? And what if the unthinkable happened.. and they all… got… LOST.
Luckily, almost everywhere in this world, one can find a ballpoint pen. So I’ve been practicing.
I shall channel Andrea Joseph. Or Mark Powell. Nothing beats looking to the Masters when you need to soothe supply anxiety. If it came right down to it, if I can find a Bic and a ratty old placemat, I’ll be fine. Whew.
But I’m still packing the Art Bin.