Something inside me
constantly bleeds toward god.
That's why I keep writing,
slipping messages under the door.
Marrow of Flame: Poems of the Spiritual Journey
Dorothy Walters, the author of the opening poem, is a retired, professor of English Literature.
She taught mostly throughout the mid west, but I had the pleasure of getting to know her while I was attending University of Creation Spiritually in Oakland CA. I have to tell you, Dorothy is an authentic delight, brilliant, deep, and one who carries her joy on both her insides and out. She is round. And she laughs about her roundness equating her expansion to the expansion of the Universe. Early this morning while reading her poetry and thinking of her beautiful mind, it came to me that she is a human mirror of one unit of a Mandelbrot Set. I imagined the infinitely regenerating fractals as maps from her mind and heart. She has a power of thought that reveals a whole world of sacred treasures that are formed in her poetry. (If you’re not familiar with a Mandelbrot Set and fractals it is worth looking them up and watching the “dance.” This dance is in and all around us. (Try YouTube.) I’m sure you will be reading more of Dorothy’s poetry on my future blog posts. Be extra safe, and thank you for checking todays post.
I was four years old when my folks purchased a lot on the North end of Devil’s Lake located literally on the other side the hill from the painting in this post. We owned this property for 60 years plus. Over the years I’ve stored a zillion stories from my childhood, adolescence, and adulthood all imprinted at “the lake,” as we called it. For a short time in the mid 90’s I lived in the house my father had built on that property. It was a wonderful experience. While there, almost every evening at sunset I took long walks with my beautiful Chow dog on the beach at Road’s End. After the last sliver dome of the sun sunk over the edge of the ocean’s horizon I’d then race back to the lake to catch the moon rise over the hills across from our house as it spread its light across the lake waters. The reflection, what can I say, was beyond awesome.
I hadn’t grasped the impact that Place had instilled in my memory – until the day Lincoln City burned, September 2020. Throughout the Covid scares and restrictions, I maintained a moderately peaceful temperament, but hearing there were fires blazing on the soupy, drippy, moldy, never dry Oregon coast, it was unbelievable! TV news showed they had torched the land from Otis to the North end of the lake. Evacuations, really? I was stunned. It felt like memories were burning inside of me leaving a strange dark and empty space. I really had no right or reason to claim this loss, but there it was hooked to some chromosome awakening me to something I had labeled “the past.” Now, here it is, the past all over again reciting its Fierce and Beautiful poetry. The painting is an attempt to honor the smoke and clouds of Roads End. I’m happy to remember that I loved so much.
My header, “Lazy Summer,” doesn’t actually describe my recent days here on the East side of the Cascades. I’ve been keeping myself pretty busy since late 2019 resting and revitalizing my life following the removal of a tumor from my spine, then followed by radiation treatment- which I found exhausting. Now the focus is on another recovery. About two months ago I had a procedure to shunt fluid from one of the ventricles in my brain into my peritoneal cavity. The latter has been the most challenging. George Burns said something to the effect that growing older isn’t for sissies (actually I think he claimed, ” it ain’t for sissies.) All that aside, I’m doing pretty well and have my sights set on showing, through my art, friendships, and community connections/Zooming, that I’m very happy to be here on Earth – in these fierce and beautiful times of change and unknowing.
I wish you all good health, prevailing patience, and deep understanding around today’s challenges.
I painted this little piece for my good friend who flew, without haste, to sit with me while I passed through a dark episode of the biggest “ouch” I’ve ever known. It’s so hard to ask for help, but sometimes you’ve got to get over yourself and pick up the phone.
Greeting cards are fun to make, and sometimes they take the same amount of time as a full painting. It’s always fun and very special when I, personally, open a hand painted card from a friend. This went to my Spiritual Director who has offered invaluable companionship and help as I deal with my acceptance of being older.
Speaking of spiritual direction, I am also a trained spiritual director, which is more aptly called “Spiritual Companioning.” A few weeks ago I had my little, 77 square foot, tool shed converted into a space I call my “Hermitage.” It sits on the edge of the most beautiful part of my garden, an area which cannot be seen from the house. It has a lovely feel, and I am hoping to “Companion” a few folks in that space.
I’m standing in the prettiest part of the yard just outside the new window. Not smart from a photographic point of view. If you want to get a shot of something, don’t stand in the middle of it. Oh well, it’s so peaceful out there and a fun version of a vacation.
Roses in Bend are a Miracle
This is a little rose garden is just outside my bedroom slider. The fenced yard keeps these miracle, for Central Oregon, flowers off the deer’s dinner menu. I think a deer can smell a rose from about 10 miles away.
There’s an unfinished poppy painting waiting for me in my art room, so I’ll sign off hoping to push all the right buttons and get this posted. Be well and take good care.
With more time on my hands and with the sheltering in challenges, sometimes my emotions take on an entirely new dimension. Occasionally I experience a sense that I’m lost in a world completely unfamiliar to me then a “strangeness” washes over me. Usually it’s easy to regain my footing , but not always. When I’m having a “corona moment” its time to dive hard and heavy into gratitude, to find just one thing I’m grateful for. That seems to pop me back into the bright side of reality. Yesterday’s post depicted 17 years worth of gratitude in my life. It’s Ellie. I’ve been blessed to have her near since the moment she took her first breath. She was surrounded by her loving family in her first moments, and that has not, and will not change.
More gratitude. An organized and cleaned up art space is not a good sign. To all my artist friends and to me it means no art is on the easel. So yes, I am grateful, kind of, for this forced time to get busy and mess up my art room.
This image has emerged from a reference photo taken some 30 years ago. It’s been waiting to be painted but simmered on a back burner for two reasons. One, I didn’t want to tackle the detailed challenge it presented. It was a rather difficult piece for me. Secondly, my readers aren’t required to go along with this idea, but I believe that art has a deep intelligence and quantum relationship with the artist. A piece will emerge when its time is ripe. The title I’ve assigned it asks a relevant question, “Locked In or Locked Out? I think it has an answer, and that’s “Yes.”
Over the years I’ve accumulated pounds and pounds of family photos. This week I tackled a small box, that I could barely lift, and came up with a blast from the past…reaching way back to high Jr Hi, and High School days.
A few years later:
Recently I have, once again, kept pretty busy healing from another bout with cancer and now normal pressure encephalitis. Since my beautiful white Chow lives on the other side of the Moon, I needed fur. One of my fondest memories of childhood up through college was life with my best friend Corky. He and my dad were great pals too.
This animal is most highly recommended for folks allergic to cats and/or those who don’t have the energy to feed them and deal with a litter box . Her name is “Me Owe,” because she doesn’t know any other words. She shakes her head, licks her paw, rolls onto her back, purrs and closes her eyes and goes to sleep…when she gets bored. I have videos which are very darling, but they won’t play on my blog site…yet.
Take care and find something to be grateful for every day, no wait. How about each hour in these strange times?
Watch for more paintings and conversation from the East side of the mountains.
“When someone asks what is there to do, light the candle in their hand.“
Jalal al-Din Muhammad Rumi was a thirteenth century Sufi mystic who left behind an extraordinary body of luminous poetry filled with profound spiritual insight.
My favorite translator of Rumi’s poetry is Andrew Harvey, a brilliant past professor. He authored, “The Way of Passion: A celebration of Rumi.” This book is rich and deep in thought-filled passages and love, Rumi’s declared religion – Love.
From the internet, I’ve taken this copy of, possibly, one of Rumi’s most best known poems.
This journal includes entries that, on each page, contain a few meaningful moments I’ve found myself passing through in the later years of my life. They are significant to me and somewhat personal. I invite you “In” or offer clear understanding if you move on. Abby of the Arts, named on the cover, is an online program focusing on spiritual growth. Its teachings are largely grounded in Celtic expression. They are based in Ireland and headed up my Christine Valters. The image on the front was done by the late Susan Shedden Boulet, who painted, so very beautifully, Native American power animals… with their people. This is an image I pasted from one of her many calendars. Tomorrow I’ll open the cover and display a few of the beginning pages of the Inner Work expressed through calligraphy, which means beautiful handwriting, and collage.
This is an important question as a painter works with any subject. What is it that first draws your attention when looking at a piece of art? Where does your eye want to return to? What is the focal point? Attention can work for or against the design. For instance, what first captures your attention in this experimental piece? I can guess. In this case it’s a misspelled word.
As a former student of calligraphy (beautiful lettering) I learned that paying attention is foremost in lettering. Every line in each letter is a drawing. The artist has to concentrate on shapes, not the word. It’s easy for the mind to drift off to never-never land and frustratingly skip a whole word or letter. So here goes, true confessions: 1. I have a pretty good case of dyslexia. 2. I know how to focus, mostly. 3. Sequencing has always been a problem for me. 4. I DON’T SPELL WELL as you have noticed in the artistic rendering of the word Atumn, I mean AUTUMN.I’m not embarrassed. I once heard another artist claim that if a person wasn’t creative enough to figure out more that one way to spell a word, he or she was lacking in imagination.
Todays page is a typical journal entry. I was experimenting with colors, looking for a brighter red. The chart on the left shows various combinations of three colors, a red, a violet, and a yellow.
My first image reflects years of journal-making and painting. Handmade journals, for me, add one more level of creativity to the birth of a new piece of art. It’s amazing to hold in my hands a self-crafted page and begin a creation that might come to its final hours looking like a chemistry class explosion or on the other hand a piece guided by celestial beings, upon whom I rely frequently. And then there are always those pages that fall between chemistry and the angelic. They remain out of sight and later could be resurrected and transformed.
Throughout the pandemic restrictions, I invite you to take a peek inside my journals. It will feel like a knock on my door and a welcomed visit from another human. Being in touch with my existing community, and new friends, fills the space between us. I look forward to this daily project and wish you all safe keeping and well-being.
Most of these journals are made of watercolor paper, some spiral bound, and other journals are repurposed hard back books. My favorite binding technique the Coptic Stitch, shown on the smaller books toward the bottom.
Below is my “go to” poem dedicated to the bright colors of the season and the act of letting go of warmth and outdoor living. I’m a little late this year. Out my window I see a new blanket of snow covering my back yard.
This season we had a sneaky, early snow storm. Normally I would have been on time posting this beautiful poetry – but what’s “normal” anymore?
These beautiful leaves fell over the fence from my neighbor’s yard. I borrowed them to use as references for this year’s piece. I painted on watercolor paper in my most recent watercolor journal.
Since Covid is causing us to head “within” again, I have decided to feature a watercolor journal page a day. Hopefully you’ll find some images enjoyable. Until tomorrow, blessings, be safe, and take good care.
The other day I pulled out my neglected watercolor journal. Tiring of my usual dainty, pastel colors and Spring flowers I, laid down some dashing deep hues. It was liberating, a bit like throwing a temper tantrum (smile). Isolation, loneliness, and all that goes with sheltering in alone, while at the same time regaining strength from lack of exercise, I dream of an outdoor cafe and a good chat with a friend or dinner at Anthony’s with my “Antony’s companion.” There’s no reason to dwell on our current situation, so slapping colors on a page is a healthy way I choose to go.
It’s been March since I’ve ventured out, except for necessary appointments. Seems everyday is the same. Boredom blocks creativity in everyone. Creating something new, something novel, is a healthy antidote to apathy and discouragement. Create a great dinner, clean house, rearrange furniture, maybe make up a song. Or, you might convert a tool shed into a hermitage or garden get-a-way. My tool shed is now “The Hermitage.” Construction is complete and tomorrow the decorating gets underway.
What a gift. It surprises me when every time I venture out to this 77 square foot slightly lopsided get-away, I feel a little like I’m on vacation. Imagine a vacation 15 steps from your house. A Habitat For Humanity floor to ceiling window overlooks the North garden, not visible from the house, making it seem that I’m perched right in the middle of it all.
Summer is coming to an end and the colors of Springtime have vanished. In a few months a fire will burn in my cozy tiny stove, a good backup in the event a storm knocks out our power. By then the curtains will be hung, paint supplies and some clutter will make the “Hermitage” feel like a well-used respite.
It’s fire season in Central Oregon. The sun is setting casting an orange glow on the city. It reminds me of Fall in Salem, still warm, farmers burning their fields to the East perfuming the air, and football games the Friday evening fun. Such good memories stored away and recalled by a beautiful sunset, now viewed from the East side of the state where the desert meets the mountains. I still love the fragrance of the seasons changing.