Friday, June 19, 2009

Happy Father's Day!

My wonderful father is an explorer, a naturalist, a writer, an artist, a story teller, and one of the most creative people I know.

Scott and I walked through the house, photographing just a few of the lovely objects my father has created for us, like this table, destined eventually for the living room, currently holding a few little starts from my mother on the front porch. The sticks leaning against it are his doing too, left behind after a visit, the sort of interesting detritus he sheds.
The spoons he carved some years ago, during his spoon-carving phase. They are one of my favorite things. There is much power in knowing that the simplest objects of every day life were created by the hands of someone you love. My father taught me the magic in forming relationships to the things in our lives, and also in the little leap of faith it takes to attempt to create these things, practical things, ourselves. It is so meaningful to make a spoon, a bowl, something useful, something you can't really live without. This kind of simple self-sufficiency is so often forgotten, and enriches our human experience if we remember to develop it. I also learned from my father how to make a stew out of bees if I am lost in the wilderness. I prefer the spoon carving, though I haven't actually tried either.
And then there are the spirit-objects, which fall from his fingers like flowers in the fairy tales. These two masks were gifts to Scott a few years ago, and are among the most treasured belongings we have. A Pan-like dancing philosopher, and Scott's favorite, a wind-god.

To my chagrin I couldn't find any of his beautiful boxes in our house. One gets lost in their tiny mystical detail. Broken and lost objects come together to reveal their strange affinities, to show off the new hidden worlds created. I don't have any on hand. Because they are fragile, ephemera, with a tendency to last only so long. That is something my father taught me too: to value the making, the process, the risk of creation, to ignore practical concerns if they in any way confound creativity.

He taught me to be scrappy, inventive, tough, and resourceful, to believe in magic, and to be unafraid to create structurally unsound objects. To see the endless potential in the things other people overlook, to pull things out of dumpsters, that a few hours in the freezer purifies almost anything, to save the tiny bones of smashed creatures, and to climb over the fence at the zoo for the really good feathers. He taught me to ignore boundaries with deep sensitivity, and to see all the world as an invitation to create and to play. He gave me language which is for both of us the first and deepest and hardest medium, and he taught me also to never confine myself to the arts I succeed easily in.

When I asked him a month ago if he happened to have a round table top no more than three feet across that I could have, he magically produced one from the basement. That's the kind of dad he is. Thank you, Daddy, for all the building and the playing and most of all for the wisdom about living you have shared with me. And the endless love.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

A Letter To My BFF

Dear Mary (FMC),

I already have.


Once you told me that your extraordinary mother said that when she looked at you and your siblings she saw you simultaneously at all the ages you had been. When she spoke to you at thirty, she spoke also to a twelve year old you, and that seventeen year old and three year old, and perhaps a projected future you that she saw glimmerings of as well.

And so it is when I think of your hair. I see with equal clarity the surprising purity of your blond when we met fifteen years ago, blond all the way down your back to the abrupt edge that the man at the UFO museum said identified you as an East Coaster, blond, though you said the Portland water made it green, for years until after a ballgown-wearing party you cut it off and wore it like straw for awhile, and then intermediate years when the hemline of your hair dipped and withdrew gently, a quiet breathing, until you put on a red wig and met your future husband; then your hair turned red all of a sudden and stayed for years, and twisty hot curlers appeared in our lives for the first time; at your wedding the slant across your forehead; and then the lightening again, the paling of red toward blond; and I left you there, a little bit of bang cut when I saw you last I know, but the color, the length, a little indistinct.

So my dear friend, it happens that I'm not positive about the look of your hair. But let's say it is due to such sweet familiarity. And I'll bet you're not sure about mine either. How good it is to love.

Here you are, and Josh:
And here you are, pictured with a gigantic allergen:

And here, my artistic interpretation of you being bowled over by kitty allergies:
Love to you.

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Blossom of Someone Else's Labor

Hello peonies! You all were right: the ant covered buds were peonies indeed. The most histrionic of flowers. They're so marvelously overblown, so slutty, really. I am enjoying them a great deal, in all their mauve splendor. I am finding that whoever planted the garden here really went for shades of pink and purple.

The hydrangea:
The camelia:
The roses:

I am personally a red and orange kind of person, with a little blue. Poppies and bachelor's buttons! Begonia and lobelia! Geranium and lithadora!

However, when blessed with a harvest like this, I might come around.