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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9 Responses to Once More Unto the Breech

  1. Mary C Gallagher says:

    I feel your pain. You sound exhausted and disillusioned. It is almost like it was when we were unable to think, sleep, create because our kids were little and demanded so much attention. Is that the role of a woman in this life? Is doing something for fun an illusion? Life and death. Are we always on the merry-go-round of living for others and dying to self, only to discover that we don’t know who the self is any more? Please know that you, just being you brings me joy. When I see your paintings in the homes of our siblings and in my own house, they lift my spirit and take me out of the mundane and humdrum. I love you lots and lots.

  2. Debe says:

    I MISS YOUR LITTLE SELF♡♡♡♡♡♡♡

  3. Kathleen Pyne says:

    I am a fan.

  4. Shelly says:

    Bim, so well written. I too find numbness in these times. So much going on in the world today. How do we find the new normal?
    I do not have any creative talents whatsoever, but I enjoy and love my gardens and animals and have gotten to spend quality time with both. I loved reading your blog💕

  5. courtneypsymons says:

    Amen! Creativity is such a tricky beast to wrangle when we’re preoccupied with other things. I love this rabbit hole you’re in. I hope it leads you to art soon! Your work is so beautiful. But everything wonderful needs breathing room, so it’s good that you’ve given it some space. Sending love.

  6. Donna says:

    Hey Bim
    As Mac would tell me ,just be happy
    So I wish you some happiness

  7. Megan Strott says:

    I believe in you! I believe in your ability to harness all the distressing, woeful thoughts and realities, and turn them into something beautiful. You’ve already done this, in fact, just by putting your thoughts into these words. Can I suggest you go into your studio and just aim for making a mess for a while? Just a salving mess.

  8. Carol Courtney says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Sending positive energy your way.

  9. Mary says:

    When I read the part about part of your self image dependent on how people who you don’t know see you in passing – it made me want to ask my friends to FaceTime you & give you someone to interact with randomly… in passing. Perhaps by doing so you will both have a need filled.
    I love you & all the different, beautiful things you poor yourself into! Whether it be a painting, your knitting, your delicious food, your garden, or helping Thor through this stage in his life, or feeding/tending to my future husband’s needs – everything you do, however you do it is
    B E A U T I F U L! I LOVE YOU!

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