January 28, 2020


It's cloudy again.  And winter, although we've seen only a light dusting of snow here in Delaware. The rare days of sun, even those days were the sun is out for a five-minute pass-through, these days fill my soul during the interminable grayness of of January and February.
So, I stay inside, reading and writing, and the unending drudgery of unpacking boxes.  Usually unpacking means simply "to put away."  but in this new apartment I have coalesced 20+ years of living and accumulating in a large house into a 1000 square foot apartment.  And what has coalesced into the remaining boxes in the attached garage is purely and simply "art supplies."
The life of an artist is fraught with the overwhelming realization that everything is "art supplies."  empty toilet paper rolls?  Art supplies.  Old earrings?  Art supplies.  Crumpled tissue paper?  Art supplies.  You get the idea.  My Art Supplies garage runneth over.  There's no room for the car, but there is room for more Art Supplies.  And the part that whelms me over, is that sorting through all of those are supplies entails handling them, individually, and usually more than once.  This takes "Swedish Death Cleaning" in a different direction.
Usually the above-mentioned Swedish Death Cleaning involves making hard decisions about purging possessions that the Heirs definitely do not want, need, or desire.  Such as grandmother's china; the silver; crystal; furniture that has been in the family for aeons. 
Sorting Art Supplies is much more fun.  The question of "does anyone in the family want/need/desire this old brush" is moot.  This is now a personal loss of Extreme Magnitude, because I can still USE that brush.  Along with 79 other brushes I have collected over the years.  Collage papers, printed instructions on making quill pens from goose feathers, trying to decide if dried watercolor tubes can be rescued, sorting water containers, old acrylic mediums, emails about shows -- all of this requires introspection, thought, and more than anything else, decision and letting go.
Now, granted, much of this is just "stuff."  Replaceable, duplication, and more-or-less unimportant.  Clothing, furniture, kitchen ware, this can be recycled to someone who can use it.  Much of Art Supplies is unimportant to anyone else unless they are also artists and creators. And getting rid of, recycling, giving away, re-purposing, donating, call it what you will - being shut of - Art Supplies feels like a denial of one's own Creativity.
It's hard.  It's tearful.  It sucks.  It's necessary.  It's drudgery.  It's January.

January 21, 2020

Why I Write

Ok.  I'm not sure what just happened.  Today is January 21, and I SWEAR I just posted my earlier blog only last week.  But, suddenly, it's 19 days later!  What HAPPENED???  Think I've been caught in a time warp . . . where is Spock when I need him?

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, or in this case, the apartment, I've been busy.  We've had unseasonable warm weather, followed abruptly by unseasonable cold.  I'm discovering cold drafts I didn't know existed, but I am watching the setting sun move farther and farther north on the horizon.  The massive exterior repairs on my apartment building, started before Thanksgiving, ended last week (to my great relief), and the new year is definitely upon us.

I've been thinking a lot lately about poetry, how it's written, why it's written.  A friend at my writers' group asked me why I write the poems I've been sharing.  I could only explain, that the greatest impact on how I write has come from the oldest poets, not their personal ages, but the ages in which they wrote.  I love the Icelandic sagas; anonymous Irish poetry and ballads, the Epic of Gilgamesh, and especially, Beowulf.  My favorite translations are the older ones; their rhythm, language, internal rhyme schemes and alliteration.  I was introduced to Beowulf in high school, senior English.  A classmate had memorized several lines of Beowulf and would recite it before class as we were settling for roll-call.  The line that stuck with me for the last 55 years has been "when twilight deepens to dark in the sky."  (This is the J Duncan Spaeth translation, by the way.)  Poetry is aural -- to be fully appreciated, it must be HEARD; to be read with the ears as much as with the eyes.  Withing the somber setting of Beowulf introducing himself to the king, Hgrothgar, this line is inserted.  I have the instant image of this dusk in my mind, thanks to the original writers and to Dr Spaeth, and hearing it recited brings me inner joy.

That's key for me -- image.  A poet must be concise in language, for the reader can tire and move on. I write fairly short poems, usually around 20-24 lines, so I have to get the images across quickly and succinctly.  And, more than anything, I want the reader to think, "oh, I hadn't thought of it that way!"
Our instant connections through internet means we are bombarded with information, news, views, cute puppies, and much, much to ponder.  There comes a time in my day when I simply want to relax, to let images was over me, and ponder, and mull.  Poets, more than any other writing genre, observe.  They observe people, they observe things, they observe their world.  And they share their observations quickly, with force and conviction, rhythm and rhyme, feeling and nuance.  Many of us had to memorize poetry in school.  And whether poetry, or song lyrics, there are memories conveyed within the lines as we remember and recite.

A good line or phrase, whether in poetry or prose, stays with us; and those words evoke other times and places and people.  It is the observation that sticks, whether it's crowds of daffodils, the great silkie, twilight, or a wine-dark sea, we just say "wow."

January 2, 2020

I'm Baaaaack!

I'm BACK.  Yes, it's been quite a while, and all I can say is that Things Happened.  It's been four years - a long four years.  Since last I blogged, there have been a lot of changes in my life, Heraclitus notwithstanding.  Briefly, my husband's failing health resulted in his death in July of '17. Since then, there has been an unceasing progression of change, which sees me now living in Milford, DE, and having my house on the market.
I worked through grief (yes, it is unending, but it changes with time), shifted my art studio around several times, decided to move, joined the Board of the Mispillion Art League, got rid of furniture, minimalized (THAT task is never-ending!), and joined a small group of artists at the Art League in putting on The Big Draw DE 2019.  That last event took place over the entire month of October, involved a number of art organizations throughout the state, and led to 50 free Saturday events for families and minimal-cost workshops and classes for both children and adults. And we're started planning for The Big Draw DE 2020.
Downsizing has its advantages, and its disadvantages:  a continuous evaluation and decision-making Adventure into "do I need this? . . . Really??"; where did I put my . . . ?; and What Do I Want To Do For The Rest Of My Life?
Creativity, as well as decision-making, can be as physically tiring as digging holes or carrying boxes. And I can provide personal affidavits as to the number of naps I am taking now.  Eating for one is a challenge, especially since cooking on an electric range is a new headache.  Making a smaller space work is interesting, since I moved from close to 3000 square feet to just over 1000. So, it's not just about taking my favorite chair, it's where to put it!  And finding the laughter on some days is extremely difficult.  Luckily, there are friends I can rely on to lift my spirits, as well as offer rides to the beach to watch sunrises.
But the BIG news is about Creativity. I am setting the studio up in the second bedroom of the apartment, and planning new work.  I also joined a writers' group - the Milton workshop - in November.  And while their theme is "just finish the damn novel," they are supportive of my poetry.
I've been writing for 40-odd years on a fairly consistent basis,  Most of it has been for personal consumption, and I've never really submitted it.  Until this week. I broke through the wall of my privacy, and sent a submission off.  We'll see where that takes us, but as I hit the SEND button on the laptop, there was a simultaneous feeling of elation and fear. Heady stuff.
Stay tuned! The Adventure Continues!