Friday, June 30, 2006

Did I warn you that I have the occasional dark mood? Damn. Last night's post was heavier than an anvil atop a crate of eggs. That previous sentence is a 'Dina-ism' according to Demi. You met her in a previous post. She's the poet hiding out as a school administrator. So. She's in San Francisco visiting her friend Michelle who pays more for renting her loft than most of us do for a mortgage. She calls wanting my infinite guidance. And some of my twisted brand of humour. Demi is angsting over a brief encounter way in her past, why she never got closure and I gave her several more Dinaisms. Here are a few:

  • Honey, you chewed all the goody out of that piece of gum. It's time to take it out of your mouth and stick it under the bench.
  • Processing a failed relationship is like ironing a shirt - you press the collar, then the sleeves, the plackets, then the fronts and finally, the back. It's a process. When it's smooth, you're done.
  • Replace the name of the suspect with the word 'daddy'. That will give you a lot more insight into the relationship than trying to figure out why you never got a call.

I have lots of Dinaisms. It's my love of words. I collect them. You already have a pretty good guess that I feel the human experience needs to be chronicled much more richly than a mere four or five words can service it. I love blending them. I love weaving metaphors, making old meanings into something more. I love to stretch their definitions into something more than mere serviceable. There's the thrill of using them out of context and watching the expressions on people's faces when it hits home. I want words to be all that they can be in the army of life. Because life deserves being painted into something that anyone merely reading about it can understand from a sparse sentence. If you weren't there for the experience, how else can I tell you about all the shades and nuances, the depth of the pain, the little looks in the dance experience that says more than it was a 'good ballet'?

How can we ever tell someone about the depth of our grief, our disappointments, our cringe moments if we don't paint with words? The listener wasn't there to hear the sentence that twisted like a knife after the setup that promised something - an outcome radically different than the one that we had. "He told me he needed his space," stirs one vision.

But when you have some setup details like, "We have just finished making the most exquisite, delightful love after the beautiful dinner he cooked. He had the table set perfectly, too! He sent me the most beautiful roses earlier in the day with this sweet little note. We're lying there in the candlelight, drinking champagne he had chilled. He smoothes my hair and kisses me on top of my head. Then, he murmurs into my ear, 'I think I need some time away from you. I need some space. I'm feeling pressured to make the relationship more permanent by you' ."

See. Now you get it. Now you feel the shock and disbelief. You see that there was this hugely inappropriate setup bordering on passive aggressive behaviour that came from left field. You know the sting of the words I heard. You now feel the panic and disorientation and confusion about what to do or say next. You feel the shame and the guilt. Start thinking about what I did wrong when there was nothing I did that was not out of line with the romancing that has taken place. Up until now. So when you use your own 'isms' in your word paintings, you are being real for that person, really sharing the experience the way that it happened.

Communication is one grand tool we have in our arsenal. It took centuries for us to walk upright and our skulls to shift back on our backbone allowing the intricate development of vocal chords and the ability to speak with one another. Don't we owe it to the further evolution of speech to squeeze the shit out of every word that we utter?

Now. That doesn't mean that some crap comes out of my mouth. I hear/read words I've uttered and scratch my head at the devolution I've committed. But it's part of the process, part of taking small, wobbly drunk, first baby steps towards truly getting IT right.

When we were first gifted with speech, anthropology linguists believe that our first stabs were small, guttural utterances. Over time we began naming things and stringing words together. Then came sentences, paragraphs, storytelling, writing accounts, wills, letters, novels.

Writing to me is a process akin to other creative endeavors. You draw stick figures, start giving them expressions, learn color and perspective and composition. Then you paint Guernica.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

I promise you are going to see poetry and short story writing and jewelry soon! Right now, I'm glamoured by the visual world of painted creativity. Robin Janning sent me a link to a painting she said was inspired by me reviewing her work here on DWJ. I'm humbled! It's called, A Touch Of Kindness. Do you see the heart of it?

Aren't all our interactions with one friend to another acts of kindness? I'm not talking about the mean way we may respond to someone who cuts us off in traffic, or the way that we respond to a sales clerk who acts as if we aren't there at their counter with them doing a huge favor to acknowledge our free will to buy there, or to say fuck you. I mean that we treasure our friends because we chose them and they reciprocated and chose us back. You deal with a birth family because that's your karma. Your birth family usually introduces you to the big lesson you're supposed to matriculate in here in this life. Like with mine.

I get that my life lesson has a lot to do with abandonment and dealing with it. Like the fear of being left at the Fun Lan Drive-In when was a kid searching for my family's car in all the othersafter going to the bathroom at the snack stand and just having this gnawing in the pit of my stomach that they have driven off and left me because I was so very different from the rest of them and not finding the car until just about every one else has left. Like Matilda. Okay. Psychoanalyze the shit out of this if you will, but consider. I am the only living survivor of my family of four.

Two died of terrible disease and one of murder most foul. This is the ultimate abandonment. You cannot hunt up the perpetrators like you do a bad boyfriend and give him what for after leaving and not giving a reason other than he's got a need to find himself and needs some space. There's no checker on the square to mark passive-aggressive behaviour. You cannot write a letter notifying him of your discontent and indignation. Not a whit of piety can call back any of the things that they said/you said. There is no asking questions about this part of family story that could be answered, no calling to task for past or future transgressions. No future good times.

Whatever your birth family teaches you as major lesson will come foaming forth in all of your other relationships. Mine is with husbands and lovers who leave me by death, to be with another woman that is more than or younger than me, a child who feels I have outlived my purpose. Yes. This is all whiney pooh drivel. But I make a point here.

What is your big life lesson? Does your sanguine family mirror that which happens in your other relationships? Do you choose friends who do the opposite of what your birth family showed you? Are you nourished by their acknowledgement and friendship in some way? Now. Here's the good side of the coin.

We get to choose. We select our friends. We get to pick out those we want as our spirit family and we get to treat them how we want reciprocated to us. I still have my first friend. Our relationship is 52 years old and I can pick up the phone to call D.J. and not have to explain my history. My 'newer' friends are like this, too. I have durations of 39, 20, 18 years in my friendships because of what I've learned about abandonment. I've learned to treasure the sustainable family. I choose them carefully. You have to nourish and cultivate friends the same way you do a garden. There are flowers and plants that seem rare and exotic but just don't play nice with the others in your plot. So you prune them out. Ah. But the ones who are left are delightful! They deserve all your attention and energy when they need it.

On these you heap praise, love, and acts of kindness - just like Robin's painting. I think that we are lucky to be able to choose and nurture our friends in whatever stage our relationships. This is honorable. Whether new and green or old and venerable, dependable as the sun.

And just one more, or maybe two more things before I go to bed: I'm picking up Sable this morning at 10:30 a.m. from her foray to Atlanta. Phyllis McEwen is Sable, her Right Bank Poets, Artists and Writers Group and Ladies' Tea and Terrorist Society name - Mine is Thelma, Martha is Louise. There is no exposure in telling you this. They are all loving names given to my friends. Other women have other names.

We're going to Peace House for our Friday night bash. I'm going to get Tary and Karole in line for a blog, a website and someplace to sell their jewelry art. So. I'm taking my wonderful little Sony Cybershot, the buss port and the disk that goes with it. I want them to photgraph their jewelry so you can see it. See. If I can show you the wonderful things that they make to adorn Us, you'll have to have them!

Listen. I'm in love with women's art. I'm not hearing from you so I'm going to publish the old stuff from the past issue hard-copies of Deepwater Journal. Maybe if you see that the authors are 11 year olds, nurses, housewives and born again Cherokee women, you'll submit. There are NO turn downs!! No kitchie boards where the judges vote for their faves. Where are your stories? Where is your art? Where are your words? Where are YOU???

Okay. To that end, Marty suggested that I get another blog to log on the word heavy short stories and poetry like The Ballad Of Darlahood which flames over several pages and authored by my Goth Otherchile, Darla. And Phyllis' Bad Ass Women Walking On The Planet Now. There's also text heavy short stories I wrote called, Jimmy Names The Cat, Dreamsong For a Cracker House, and Daddy's Coalesscence. And then there's Annie Shanahan's story about her moma's kitchen. So I think that I'll do that extra blogsite so that the words can go in uncensored. Get up off the floor. Send me your work! Don't lurk-create!!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

And go to see the wonderful links at C. Robin Jannings site!! I've become a shameless blog hussy and love the blitz!! Go here. Listen. This is what it's about. We need to promote each other because there aren't ever enough Gurilla Gurls to go around!

All of us need to rattle the windows of the Establishment because the Great Established THEY will never look out!

By Hestia's skirts! I think I finally got how to get over the blip that wouldn't let me load Robin's paintings! You should see Caves of Mt. Carmel on the previous blog entry! And The Still Place with it's grand swirls of lavender and indigo below in another post. Ain't they wonderful? Here's what happened.

I owe it all to George, the cat I inherited after my mother passed. This is Zen, ya'll. She (that's George, not my mom) ferreted out the stash of whole herbs I have and pinched the bag of catnip like it was a 6 month old mouse. She chewed through it, rolled herself a joint kitty style. Afterwards, she did a Tai Chi kata, contemplated her pink toes, did some yoga moves and had a nap. When she woke up, she went on patrol outside.

So. I drank several glasses of a passable California Cab Sav, contemplated my navel, sketched some new designs, then had a nap. When I woke up, I made another stab at the html for loading images and it worked!

I sent off a box of ritual gowns to friend Peggy Hamilton in Virginia. She's opening her store Mugwort and Malachite. The website is still under construction but I'll leave the link up. She'll get around to finishing it.

I sent her six gowns to choose from. She says that her problem is that most of my gowns will never make it to the rack and will end up in her closet. That's as it should be. Everything I make, I ask the three Norns- the Wyrd Sisters - and the Goddess Arachne to see that it gets to the one who's supposed to wear it. I sent her a black gown with back lacing and 14" foullard styled ruffles off of the fitted sleeves from wrist to elbow, a lavender blue with lacing over the hips and Swarovski crystals on the hem, and a rubis red gown with metal rings to lace on four sides, a heart and moon cut out on the wrists above a tippet sleeve and a carved cinnabar ring on the train loop to drape over the wrist.

There was also a peacock teal and tapestry cuffed and frontespiece gown, a saffron gold silk and rayon blend gown with silk trimming in dark navy and old gold lozenges that reminds me of the gown in Vermeer's Girl With The Pearl Earring. I also sent a tunic length of the same silk/rayon with silk trim for those not ready to take a full length with a court train plunge.

Also gone out today is an 1860 replica gown from the American Civil War. I draped the pattern on my mannequin and am pleased with it, although there are some alterations I need to make. More of a pointed waist called a 'Grecian' back in the Day is needed and I'm not necessarily pleased about the way the sleeve joins the armscye. I will use this pattern to fashion a black and red gown for a Vampire Ball in New Orleans this Fall per a request.

I no longer or very rarely take commissions. After 40 plus years in the business, I've developed an allergy to prima donas, bridezillas, and picayune purchasers. Now I just build it. If you like it, buy it. I'm too damn farty and mature to put up with idiots that want my work at a dollar two ninety-eight an hour. I have more hours of learning my craft than a brain surgeon so I won't accept peanuts. I hope all of you value your time and your creative work accordingly. This is my message for tonight.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Let's try this. You know that I've asked for women's words and women's works for Deepwater Journal. Robin has granted permission to include two of her amazing paintings and a statement for me. I'll wrangle with getting the images on. When I tried early this morning/last night, the function wasn't cooperating.

This is Robin's choice of her work. It's titled 'Caves Of Mount Carmel', 40" X 30" mixed media on canvas. I've chosen one that sighs at me like a siren's call titled The Still Place and will post it later. And well, hell. Wouldn't you know that I'm still having labor pains trying to upload 'Caves'. I'll get around it by putting a direct link so you can see it here. But I want the visuals on Deepwater as well because I want us pretty and will keep knocking at it. This is what Robin has to say about her work:

"For me, making Art is about the acknowledgement of holiness present in each moment. Abstract art-line and color that hints rather than insists-allows the expansion or the restriction of physical boundaries to surround, to permeate the Spirit of each moment.Art is the transformation of thought or emotion-an opportunity for growth. It is active participation in the reality of Spirit's presence-the Gathering & Reflecting of Each Thing. As such, art documents both the mile and the milestone of life inexorably pulled by Spirit."

She also talked about her Goddess muses and her life in the note to me. I have decided that we could all hang out with this woman and be enriched by it.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

One more thing before I go to bed is this. I recieved a comment from an incredibly prolific artist!! C. Robin Janning is just this amazingly profound woman! Her art is lyrical, lulling and then in-your-face! You HAVE to see her work!! Please go look! Her colors and textures are tumultuous and yet calm. This is what I'm talking about when I say 'woman's voice'. She's a mix of strength and softness. Ms. Janning has captured this sentient voice plus de monde! And you gotta see her digital diary with the zen photographs!! Okay. Here's her link if I can get it to work right.

If I'm on target, this woman will be one to watch in the art world! And maybe she'll consent to a view of what she's doing creatively for Deepwater Journal. I'd be honored!! See Robin here. This is a painting of hers called The Still Place. I am drawn to it because of it's rhythm, the spiraling view of the Cosmic Cotillion that is life. And I love the cool lavender blues juxtaposed against the sexy orange-red!
People. I will post more after I have recovered!! It was hot and sticky as sex at the Square Foot show. The art was just amazing but you couldn't get more than a moment's view of it for all the people. Air was scarce and space to walk and stand rare. Where did all these art lovers come from?!?? In Tampa? You should see some of the submissions - extraordinary, what I could see of them!

I chatted with the live nude model as she was being body painted - a true happening and checked in on her progress over the evening. But I have to admit that I retreated to the air conditioning of the car with our retinue. Old means never having to say you're sorry.

We three came home and read poetry. That is, Demi and Phyllis read their poetry and I collapsed in a chair. This art show stuff is hard!! Be brave and dilligent. Sometimes art is a challenge meant only for the warrior!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Tonight is another of Martha's openings. I'm going with bells on. This is an image from the show called "Tangerine Dream". It should play for about 3 weeks but the opening is tonight. Wine and cheese and all that. It's called The Square Foot Show and benefits a local shelter, Alpha House. Martha joins about 100 artists from around the world who were given 12" X 12" blank canvases and told to do what they do. It starts at the Lyssa Morgan Gallery on Henderson Blvd at 6:00 p.m. Phyllis is going too, along with some of our friends. You've been introduced to Phyllis and her outsider art already.

Demi Wilson will be there. She's a poet camoflaged as a School Administrator. That's "Principal Wilson" for those of us who had visits to these all-powerful folks in our tempetuous youths. I was a frequent flyer. I never could shut up.

I adopted Demi in a class at the University of South Florida titled Third-World Women Writers and we took several more together exploring women's voice with some damn fine professors. I encouraged her to come out about her poetry, networked her where I could, prodded her to perform her work in public. She adopted me as a second mother in return. I like that about her. It appeals to my Cancer sun sign. I'll share some of her work with you. It's raw and edgy and pulls no punches. You can taste a sampling of who she is here.

Tary and Karole Peace will be there, too. We love the women of Peace House. Tary is a poet - you'll find some of her work in the Deepwater Journal as I publish both old and new issues, makes the most bitchin' glass beads and lampwork you have ever seen, and sings like an angel with a voice that should have been famous. I met two Tary/Terrys when we moved back to Florida almost 20 years ago. I always differentiated between the two by saying 'beautiful Tary'. Everyone knew who I was talking about with her red hair and startling eyes.

Karole Peace is a jewelery artist who makes extraordinary peices using some of Tary's original beads: Necklaces that glitter with imagination, brooches that feature outrageously jewelled and wire-wrapped tiny women, earrings that ring of glass and silver, bracelets that embrace your wrist like history. Karole is also my spirit mother. If you ever wanted to see the Goddess Gaia walking, it is Karole with her black and silver hair and beautiful face.

Tary's daughter is Angelina Gualiardo and she is a model, artist, musician, song writer and all around wonder. You can see her modeling some of my past creations on my website Deepwater Trading Company in the gallery. She's the tawny blond creature who looks like she was plucked out of a Renaissance painting in all the dramatic shots. She is also a denizen of Peace House.

I've invited the two Nunnery women to come as well. These are Paula and Darla. Darla is an artist who studied in Paris after her obligatory stint at school. She teaches art to students of all ages. She's my punk Diva Other Chile and I'm her Othermother. We hang together sometimes going to trendy young venues. She wears black, with her silver-spiked Doc Martens high top boots and I wear my Florida Cracker Lady camo duds. She puts out an occaisional 'Zine featuring Gothic images, radical views on virginity, art and poetry. She's also a renowned henna artist with her Starlight Menhndi Studios. The local Indian gentry hire her for their traditional weddings. She's that good.

Mother Paula is a certified legal assistant and also certified in Florida law. She has a doctorate in history, writes, and is President or main wahzoo for whatever local legal conclaves and a few state level ones as well as teaching seminars for other CLAs and attorneys. Both women are decended from French royalty, are genteel Southern to the core and are perfectly charming, even when they cuss you out for a transgression.

I adopted Paula and Darla as sisters when they attended a lecture on ancient Goddesses presented at my house. The presenter was Willow LaMonte. Willow publishes an international newspaper/magazine on all things Goddess called Goddessing.

See. I'm trying to introduce you all to my posse'. These are the women I hang with, who inspire me. I want you to look at all your friends in a creative light as well. We all have a muse that gifts us with special talents. While we may 'be' a housewife, lawyer, banker or teacher, there is always something that we do well that makes us soar. It can be baking the perfect apple cake and writing about the Swedish mother who shared the recipie with us. It could be inspiration that we find when we go back and read our personal journals. Share yours.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Lives roll on like a river. A number of years ago, I published an all-women's words journal to give voice to the unique experience forgotten in so much of our contemporary literature. I am continually asked what happened to it. I am resurrecting that journal now in this blog.

The journal reflected women's experiences not taught in the rigid halls of academia, the rightgeous big works of European ateliers, the rarefied few who made the grade to have their work be published, judged by some board to be worthy. I solicited real women's voices, their stories and hardships, their joys and sorrows.

I collect stories like people. Recipes, remembrances of cooking in a Chicago kitchen during the 50s, loves lost, an artist's foray into poetry, a girl child's story about a science experiment. So.

Send me your words, your stories, your poetry, your art, and I will give it a forum here at Deepwater Journal. "Is it good enough"? is not the issue here. Will never be the focus.

This first image contributed is titled "Familiar Passage" by American artist Martha Marshall. It is featured in her current show at Corporate Canvas Gallery in Wilmington, North Carolina through June 30, 2006. The opening reception featured a 12- piece chamber orchestra and was attended by some 100 art patrons.

Don't let the word "Corporate" scare you. Martha is an International class abstract artist and friend who salved my soul in the world of administrative assistants and who emerged from the academic world with her own voice intact. She earned her stripes. Martha's work is a composite, a whole. A delightful poet, insightful writer, and world's best sister friend. As an Alabamian home girl, she embraced big hair when it was in and remained real for the duration. Collect her work now. While you can afford it. She is important and will be more important still. For more information about Martha and her work, check out her blog.

I am honored to also feature in this inaugural issue of Deepwater Journal an enormously talented friend, poet, performance artist, and visionary artist Phyllis McEwen, who has just introduced her own blog titled "Don't Get Me Started." Phyllis' incredible poetry stabs through your heart and soul with a honey-laden knife. She portrays folklorist and writer Zora Neale Hurston throughout the United States in the Road Scholars Program sponsored by the Florida Humanities Council. I'm honored to have costumed her character in genuine Blue Goddess garb, lo, these many years, and more honored still to have watched her transform into the real Zora.

I'm introducing her outsider art here, this piece titled "Blondie and Me," a self portrait of Phyllis with her beloved cat Blondie, who lives on in spirit. This piece is ink on paper, 9 x 11, and is available for purchase as a giclee print. I have dibs on the original because I experienced Blondie's healing, unconditional love and burgeoning worldliness and this piece moves me.

Phyllis is emergent from the cocoon of creativity. Oshun directed her and continues to bless. Collect her art now because she is the next African-American Vera and because her art is forward.