Once More Unto the Breech

Today is July 6, 2020. I haven’t written here in almost 2 whole years. I think I blame a broken heart. Fairie Festival’s burned phoenix and the passing of my dear friend and best (possibly only) blog fan, Rex Matthews. Ever since, my urge to write has either been non-existent or just too maudlin to bear contemplation without drugs or liquor and I’m not at all good at either of those.

GuardianAngelSo, why now? This is the summer of Covid 19. And while that, alone, is not a reason that would move me, it has, in an insidious, and sneaky way, hurled me slowly headlong into some kind of weird, shadowy hole that’s going to take some doing to navigate my way out of. And not just Covid. But in the midst of that isolation and paranoia, my good dog, Thor, is dying of cancer: another slow hurling … too slow … too fast … and my heart is breaking again. No fucking wonder I need a fucking pacemaker. Too fucking much heartbreak in this fucking world. (I curse. Anger is better than sadness. … ? )

And I have not painted a stroke, drawn a line, even set eyes on my easel, since this whole thing started save for a sad quartet of infinitesimal watercolors that stirred from a commitment to “draw everyday!” … which promise, obviously, lasted about a microsecond. I am abashed.

Enter a movie called “The Goldfinch,” yes, after the book of the same name, which I haveCOLANDERTOMATOES150 quoted twice previously in this blog. The book won a Pulitzer. The movie, I think, will not win anything. It wasn’t bad but spoke more to the human condition than to art’s place in it; which kind of missed the point for me. I had put the movie in my Netflix que as soon as it turned up for streaming but had continually bumped it down in the list for fear of being disappointed by the book/movie dichotomy. I guess I was just ready now, disappointments seemingly the normal state of things lately. The movie was better than I’d steeled myself to expect. But it left me longing for the perfect philosophies of the book. So I ploughed through my old posts looking for the bits I’d quoted there… and WHAM! BAM! I’m sucked into writing again, at least for this moment in time; trying to figure out what hole I’ve fallen into and what, if anything, I want to do about it. What’s wrong with a good hole, after all?

This hole seems to consist mainly of the care and feeding of various creatures that, since Covid, have come under my charge, including: fruit trees and bushes, vegetable gardens, herb gardens, 2 different sourdough starters, a ravenous husband and of course, one good but messily dying dog. The gardens want weeding and harvesting at this point. One starter gets fed every day; the other once a week. The husband needs constant attention … when he’s home. And Thor, gets special food: raw ground meat with supplements I mix in and feed to him by hand as often as he’ll tolerate. The cancer is in his lower jaw so his mouth doesn’t work properly making it impossible for him to get his food out of a bowl. Ditto for water so we walk down to the reservoir at least three times a day so he can wade in like a small hippopotamus and get a drink. Things being as they are though, he leaves much bloody slobber languidly afloat in the lake, a fact which the small fish seem to get very excited about and seem to await his arrival at 10:00, 2:00 and 6:00.

My days completely revolve around the needs of all these creatures, plus laundry.

GhostingBones150Yet, for someone who has felt well able to live without socializing in general, I seem to find myself suffering for lack of casual, indifferent, unmeaningful, but pleasant interactions with complete strangers. Part of my self image is evidently dependent on how people whom I don’t know see me in passing. WTF?!

At the onset of the initial lockdown, I didn’t leave home from March, 18 until April 30 when, for my birthday, we planned a valiant though slightly trepidatious grocery shopping excursion out into the wide world to see all the empty parking lots and masked dribbles of people here and there. Since then we’ve been averaging short outings to a very limited number of places: my son’s house, Prettyboy Market for Indian food, Sonnewald’s, Aldi’s, once a month to once a week-ish.

Large social gatherings, people without masks, and evidently my studio scare me.

I am realizing that it has been a very, very long time since I drew or painted anything just for the pure juice of it; forever since an image, without effort or discipline, planted itself in my consciousness and clawed its way out for no other reason than undeniable need; something not done for a show or a festival or a commission or even a bet. Did I regiment that kind of inspiration right out of myself? Did it become so entwined with the demands of my “career,” my “business,” that they’re indiscernible now? I can’t see them for the trees? What would a painting done for fun even look like? Maybe it’s time to find out? What a terrifying thought…

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Knitting IS Knotty


hat_vikingSo says the sticker that my awesome son-in-law, Ben, found for me. When he gave it to me I thought it was very cute though, from a technical point of view, slightly inaccurate. Knitting is actually more loopy than knotty. And up until last winter, I was more loopy than knotty too.

HOWEVER …and of course the hard way … I discovered that there IS a level of accuracy to the “knotty” bit that I hadn’t recognized at first. In the course of knitting an insane number of Viking hats mostly for the Christmas season last year, I actually tied my left shoulder into a solid and excruciatingly urgent knot. It got so bad that I had to curtail the number of things I made for Fairie Festival and as soon as I’d finished commissions from that weekend, I closed down my Etsy store so I could give my shoulder a rest. Unheard of! But, thank Goodness, I was also able to treat myself to the incredible TLC of Susan Chalker’s massage therapy skills and now my shoulder is the best it’s been in 4 years! Yay! F you, F’ing old age!

So now, my Etsy store is re-opened! You can, once again, order a Viking Hat … in August! I know you’ve been waiting for that. Avoid the rush! (The first two Viking Hats of the season have actually just gone out the door today!) … And if you don’t want to order one now because you’re afraid you’ll do what you always do: lose it or give it to them early … let me know and I can postpone mailing til whatever date you specify. I can even remind you in the fall that you already ordered it so you don’t forget and buy them something else. But I’m not begging. I don’t beg. Do whatever you want.

But, y’know the “fearful purchase” … how we’re willing to spend money on things like doctors,  insurance, car repairs, etc. because we’re afraid of the consequences of not making that purchase?  I’m introducing that here.  Be afraid.  Be very afraid!  If you don’t buy a Viking Hat today, you or your loved ones could go Viking Hatless for another entire winter.  And who knows what all evil will come of THAT!!

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Soloing

Solo:
ORIGIN: Late 17th century: from Latin solus ‘alone.’
noun – 
a thing done by one person unaccompanied
adjective or adverb – for or done by one person alone: [as adj.]: a solo exhibit
verb – (soloes, soloing, soloed) to perform something unaccompanied

Ok … so you already knew all that.  I’m sure you use that word all the time …
everyday even. It’s an everyday kind of word.

But let me tell you this, when you’re actually doing it?  Soloing … yourself … all by yourself? There’s nothing everyday about it. It’s the tight fist that grips your windpipe. It paralyzes and catatonifies … dries up every drop of saliva you ever had in your whole life. It’s terrifying. Gut wrenching. Spinal tapping. You feel like you’ve jumped off a city building without wings or parachute or even clothing; unprotected, undefended, unsupported by anything save whatever gumption you begged, borrowed, stole or convinced yourself you possessed … which is how you got into this soloing fix to begin with.

For me, it’s usually flattery that’s gets me in trouble. “Oh, Bim, you’re so good at this! You can do it! You’ll be great! …” What’s the saying? Pride goeth before a complete and total bare-assed mortification?

So here I stand … before the fall … ass in hand, so to speak. The paintings have been painted and dried and framed and logged. They’ve been on Facebook and Instagram and http://www.bim-jones.com. People have seen them and been incrediby supportive and appreciative. Many even expressed a wish to attend the opening and you first 10 (to which this private venue limits me) are now officially on my guest list; duly confirmed and apprised of location, date, time and dress code (aye yayay!). Now all that’s left is to hang the show and ATTEND THE OPENING.

And, as quoth Shakespeare, “there’s the rub” … the exposed and vulnerable scary rub. Sure, I’ve been nose to the grindstone, painting my heart out for months and am very jazzed and happy about this body of work. Sure, Facebook and Instagram have flashed my work all over the world wide web-iverse already. BUT I didn’t have to see the people’s reactions. I don’t have to know that even though oooo-gobs of lovely people “liked” and “loved” my paintings online, that there were oooo-gobbier gobs more people that were not impressed at all; or, god forbid, were repelled by my efforts. I don’t have to know about them. And I don’t have to make small talk. I am soooo not good at that.

Here’s me making small talk:
Hi. How are you? I’m fine, thanks. Yes, this is my work. I did it on … some days. It was fun. It keeps me out of jail. Yeah. Excuse me. I have to go to the Ladies Room now.

At a solo show, you see it all: if anyone is interested enough to attend; who will look,  who won’t look and all the reactions. It’s all on you. You can’t even pretend that any distasteful faces and hand-hid whispers are about someone else’s work because all the work is yours.  … All THIS work is MINE.

There it is: my fear … my awkward, childish, unprofessional, completely human fear: naked and afraid. (… my brother’s favorite reality show… HE should come to the opening.)

Awkward silence.

Still … that said … my ever faithful Mom will be there! … And my husband/agent /biggest fan (who is a saint!) … And one of my 5 favorite sisters! … And some of my most dear and treasured friends, no few of whom are driving a good distance to attend.

So I guess, really, I won’t be solo. I won’t be alone. I’ll be bolstered and buttressed and beatified. I’ll be shored up and shining. They’ll refer to me as “the artist” not in its usual connotation as a synonym for “not-making-minimum-wage,” but rather as an honorific. And I’ll bask in that for exactly half an hour. Then I have to get up and “say a few words.”

Yikes! Naked again … with black socks and bed-head.

Disclaimer: Any utterance I might make at such times of duress and doleful duty is totally not my fault.

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I’m Not Sad … Am I?

Fairy-Teary

So, you probably know, this is the last year that Fairie Festival will be held at Spoutwood Farm.

I’m old-ish. I don’t like change that much. The uncertainty of the future is … well … uncertain. Still, I’m going through the motions. The same motions as always, hoping that the motions, themselves, will start to generate the happy rhythm that we always dance to this time of year. I even got juiced up enough to make awesome new things that I’m truly excited about. But I think a lot of me is feeling … not exactly excited? Mostly, just sad.

I can’t go to Fairie Festival feeling SAD! It just isn’t done! Fairie Festival is fun! And bright and shiny! It’s makes my birthday last longer! I cheat on my diet! I wear goofy clothes. Hell, I MAKE goofy things! And people like them! People come to fairy festival to BE goofy! Or at least to watch other people be goofy. Right? And just because it’s the last year at Spoutwood doesn’t mean any of that has to change, does it? Does it? Maybe you’d better come and convince me! Or I’m just going to be sad …

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Wild Hawthorn
in the Fairie Garden (nearside of the farmhouse) Fairie Festival at Spoutwood Farm May 4th, 5th, & 6th.

 

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Magic Potion While Supplies Last

MagicPotionsSM

While my stash of Magic Potion was depleted over Christmas, and plants for the next batch are not yet grown enough, there is still a fair bit left.

The poison ivies and oaks are juicing up for you now and the mosquitoes are too. So getcha some magic potion while supplies last and be ready for them.

Also, if you bring an empty potion bottle from last year, I’ll give you a discount on a new bottle full.

The woods are greening fast and I’ll be making another big batch of potion this summer, as well as a batch of super comfrey balm. So, let me know if you’re interested and we can make sure you get some.

 

WildHawthornBannerDotsnberriestranspWild Hawthorn in the Fairie Garden (nearside of the farmhouse) Fairie Festival at Spoutwood Farm May 4th, 5th, & 6th.

 

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Wanted: Preferably Alive

WantedMadHatterWanted: these three individuals, who were spied in the year 2014, letting their Fairy Freak Flags Fly.  Their likenesses were captuired but, sadly, never discovered. If you’ve seen (or think you’ve seen) these individuals, please notify the authorities (namely them) that these portraits exist in case they’d like to get them off the streets to protect their reputations … or the opposite …  As this is the last year at Spoutwood, they also might like to come anyway and relive some memories from 2014.  Their costumes were stellar! Sharing is good.

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Wild Hawthorn
in the Fairie Garden (nearside of the farmhouse) Fairie Festival at Spoutwood Farm May 4th, 5th, & 6th.

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Weather or Not

Long-red-vest-hood-upSMSoooo … I just looked at the weather forecast for Fairie Festival Weekend, (which, as you may know, is now close enough to show up on the 15 day outlook) and it looks terr …. wait, no, it looks wonderful for wearing warm clothes!

That said, you should know that we’ll have new knits including, new hats, more Viking Hats, new hoods, an amazing long hooded vest that made it’s debut at Ramblewood and other shawls, mitties and sundries which you may actually need. (Including handwarmers for your pockets @ $1 a pair). If, by some miraculous chance, it does get hot, I also have lovely hats knit in cotton. Something for everyone, in every weather.


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Wild Hawthorn in the Fairie Garden (nearside of the farmhouse) Fairie Festival at Spoutwood Farm May 4th, 5th, & 6th.

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Making Like a Tree

MakingLikeATreeAs ever, there are new paintings this year!

There are 5 little mushrooms, 2 wee flower paintings and a tree that lives along the creek at Spoutwood.

There is also a new calendar for this Fairy Year (from May 2018 to April 2019).

And of course, there’s a new painting of one of you. But I’m not going to tell you who. You’ll just have to come and see!

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Wild Hawthorn
in the Fairie Garden (nearside of the farmhouse) Fairie Festival at Spoutwood Farm May 4th, 5th, & 6th.

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StoneHeads (or Crackers & Poo)

StoneHead_Crackers1

Finally … for my heart’s contentment … there are more Stoneheads this year: little guys found hiding in blocks of soapstone and busted out especially for this occasion.

Yet, even with all the chiseling and scraping and filing and sanding, they never seem to wake up. They are SLEEPERS for sure. I’m hoping some of THAT medicine rubs off on me. This one you see here is named “Crackers.” The other one is named “Poo.”  (Now, you know you’re going to have to come and find out why.) 

 

WildHawthornBannerDotsnberriestranspWild Hawthorn in the Fairie Garden (nearside of the farmhouse) Fairie Festival at Spoutwood Farm May 4th, 5th, & 6th.

 

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Wild Things

IMG_5947
It’s amazing how beautiful so many little things are when you’re walking in the woods: cones and acorns, seeds and pods, things that used to be flowers… You can take pictures of them but , somehow, two dimensions doesn’t seem to do them justice.  So sometimes, you pick them up and stick them in your pockets.  I don’t know about you, but I have tons of things I’ve picked up and brought home just because they’re so beautiful.

The idea of making wreaths with them sprouted from when I first came to Spoutwood Farm years and years ago: hired to make dried flower wreaths to sell at shows.  Funny.  Now, dried things, wreaths again … full circle.

When I first started doing this a few weeks ago,  the beauty was my only thought. But as I gathered all these beautiful little ones and started to work with them, I felt their influences in other ways and realized that all of them had that thing that other cultures might call “medicine.” I realized that being drawn to make wreaths out of brambles was a garnering of protection medicine; that other beings that jumped into my pockets and baskets were embodiments of toughness and nurturing and strength and endurance and prosperity … qualities that I wanted. So I thought that perhaps all these little guys were wanting to share their medicine with me and with other people too. So, here they are. Their aim: to pass along to any who feel attracted to or in need of such earthy and arcane things, the power and example of their essences and symbology… or perhaps of just their beauty.

In these wreaths you’ll find,

  • Wisteria, Honeysuckle and Wild Grapevine for persistence and prosperity, even proliferation … and sweetness
  • Brambles for protection
  • Hosta flowers and Japanese Knotweed for burgeoning hardiness even in the face of persecution, difficult environs or the appetites of others
  • The burs of the American Chestnut trees that endure even in the face of disease.
  • Red oak leaves and acorns for their towering strength and nurturing.
  • Rose O Sharon that symbolizes beauty.
  • Pine cones that have been nibbled by squirrels and chipmunks and so nourished them
  • Wild mint for simple joy
  • Mullein for breathing
  • Asters for patience and elegance
  • Dried corn kernels for plenty and prosperity
  • Budding branchlets for new endeavors
  • Beautifully colored bracket fungi, that grow and take life from trees that have died: life come from death… a new beginning from an ending.
  • Plus all the many nameless woods weeds for the parts of us that perhaps the rest of the world would call useless or unimportant but that are nonetheless beautiful and amazing and necessary no matter what anyone else thinks.
  • And, finally, cast off vintage bits and bobs to stand for our old habits, memories and experiences; things that we have discarded or forgotten (on purpose?) … that perhaps we thought we were done with, yet keep cropping up from time to time.   Perhaps we felt we wanted to get rid of them, put them away from us, deny them. And yet, unexpectedly … even unwelcome… here they are again … and again.   Just maybe, we need to honor these lessons or experiences or struggles as parts of us, pieces of our journey.  Schoolings that spiral around to us again and again so we don’t forget or so we can learn to be unafraid of them or even unashamed of them. They are a part of us. And part of what makes us beautiful in the eyes of the universe.

And so, now, this is it: The last year that our favorite Fairie Festival will be held at Spoutwood Farm.

It’s so wild that it’s been 27 years.
So wild that it’s grown as big as it has: 10,000 to 20,000 people attending, (depending on the weather).
So wild that it’s now both the biggest and the oldest Fairie Festival in the country.
So wild … and so sad … that this is the last one that Spoutwood will host.

Perhaps in honor of this event … or because of it … this somber but honorable event … these new wild beings have come to join us in our booth at Fairie Festival: woods weeds, wintered garden pods, wild field fare and a few cast offs that have twisted and wound and bound themselves into spiraling wreaths of beauty, protections, blessings, wishes and intentions.

Come and see!
Come and meet these wild things.
Maybe make a new friend.

Wild Hawthorn in the Fairie Garden (nearside of the farmhouse)
Fairie Festival at Spoutwood Farm May 4th,5th, & 6th.

 

 

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