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Stormy Weather

A Ramble Thought, Directed at “No One” in Particular

It’s hard to think what to say a lot of the time lately. There are so many big issues, that I feel angry or sad about, and so many little things that I’ve been dismissing as irrelevant or not worth sharing. But I’m hearing voices from my past saying that I think too much and that I should share more of it.

One of the big issue type things is all of the flooding and earthquakes and storms that are affecting people all around and driving them out of their lives entirely. They’re dangerous powerful forces, that we can’t do anything about. Even my sense of grumpy helplessness which gripes about things like “maybe we should think more carefully about where we live – this is why I’M in the mountains” is out of place beside the guilt of not being able to help people who are in extreme duress. The flood we had up here four years ago is still impacting the city and the surroundings, and it is frightening even from up my mountain to see how much destruction is being caused. I was frightened during our flood, but the rains and storms didn’t last nearly so long. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to try and flee something like that, even with money, and for the people who are unable to move, unable to leave and find somewhere safer it is even more heartbreaking because what can you do when the systems of nature and man both are plied against you?

I’m not even sure how to help. Does it do the most good to send money and then otherwise carry on with my day to day? It feels like not enough. But I know that I also am not in a position where I can uproot and try to go find a way to physically help rebuild what has been lost. And the storms are still flying.

I hear about this maelstrom, and then my ears are filled with the roar of the closing of DACA, the insistence on a wall, the pushing of people who are “not like us, not like us” away and closing the door with curtains drawn. I hear about the fear and uncertainty, the long-drawn-out stresses of not knowing what will happen to you. The exhaustion.

We have created a hurricane of our own lack of compassion and our own fears and engulfed other people in it while we stay indoors. And I do not want to be indoors any longer, if this is what that means. I would rather be in the storm, or better yet, I would like to invite the people outside into that space and send anyone who wants to be separate out to face those fears and understand what has been made.

It’s so wrong, to be denying education and opportunity in a country which has the space to handle it, the dreaming available, the potential.

I heard a woman on the radio explain a new German right whose idea is that “we’re not racist, but-” and that’s when you know that you are, I think, “you care more for the neighbor next door than you do the one down the street.”

How stupid. How petty, how stupid, how shortsighted.

Privilege does not even begin to touch on this idea. Privilege is a right, an advantage, an immunity, given to those who are in a position of power and can have the choice of closing out the world; but in this, privilege is poison. We drink the arsenic words and paint our skin with them so that our eyes appear wide, and then complain that we are being killed by an outside force.

Of course, this is true; the outside force is the hate which is being festered inside. The deadly words that are pointed outwardly like spears protrude from hearts which are too pained to understand that this has been a creation of their own doing.

Of course the monster in the closet is real, if you torment it and repeatedly shut it in the dark. Not even because of what it has done, or not done, but because the story says that it is a monster.

And all monsters are evil, right? Moral high ground. Except you never even gave it a chance. You forced the Othering outwards and isolated yourself. You are the Other on the inside of a cycle that has no use for you because you have made yourself useless.

Why can’t we see that?

I don’t understand why we keep creating these storms. We all pity those caught in a natural disaster, but our society is about as natural if less visually tangible. What does a high-stress environment look like? A flooded street where sharks swim over the sidewalk and trees lie on top of downed power lines that kill like assassins? The world where you are seen as a threat no matter what you say or do, and everything you do must be perfectly choreographed to prevent a misunderstanding that can kill you?

I don’t know how to change closed hearts any more than I know how to repair a state or a country who has been buffeted around. But I would like to know.

And I would genuinely like to understand- what scares you? What scares a person so badly that they can look at another person and see a threat? For me, my past experiences have taught me that certain smells, a certain tightness of the jaw, a certain calculation of the eyes, a stance that towers over me and says “I will overwhelm you because then I can control you”, those things read as a threat. Do not come that close into my space, I think, but at the same time, I read fear from the other side now. “I can control you” means “I need control”. And as soon as I know that, the threat is turned into something I can engage with. It doesn’t make it less, but it does make it conversational. You threaten, and I look to turn you aside until your threat is less and you are willing to meet on a solid ground.

When the flood waters rise, I am glad for any higher ground at all.

But, if you know, please tell me. I do not want to judge you; I want to understand. What makes your life fearful? and if you know how, How can it be lessened so you can be at peace with yourself and the world?

Why does skin temper your views? What price is it to be a different shade of paint in the mixing swirling morass? What does it mean to be someone else? Why is the level of complexity that seems to come forth from one person thinking of another only to think ‘enemy’ or ‘good guy’ or ‘hero’ or ‘demonic’?

What is your own soul worth? Is it worth the fear and hate that drag you down and down and down? Or would you rather have it filled with beauty? I cannot imagine that you would not, even if you don’t agree that you have a soul. I cannot imagine you can’t want to see possibility stretch before you like a million million stars in the galaxy, for you and for those close to you.

Tell me your fears, please. Help me understand, so that even if you can’t reach out, I can do it for you. Or at least, we can sit with them together and help them quiet.

Sending love and hope that recovery for those in the storm, and solid footing, will come about soon and be stable and fruitful.

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The Process Continues!

As you know, O Reader, I am continuing to make my wedding dress from pages of books. I have made some progress since the last time that I posted, and I thought I would update you!

The front of my dress is largely made; the three panels will be attached together and form a sheet of fabric, essentially. The end result of the overlapping flowers I used for this part is a very tough textile that has a lot of movement and flexibility. It’s about as sturdy as a heavy canvas, and both heavier and lighter than I anticipated. I think it will work nicely. You can also see in the pictures above that the panels have a really nice texture of shadow and light with the petals. I put a 24-inch ruler down for a size estimate since I didn’t have a yardstick, just so you can have an idea of how long the panels are. I used all of Dante’s Inferno and most of a Native American Legends and Myths book, interchanged for a subtle pattern by the darker flowers. It’s interesting because if you read both of the texts (I’ve read them in full before, and read snippets of them again) they both include focuses on transformation, the journey, and finding appropriate guides.

So that’s cool.

 

The pictures of the bodice are a little blurry but on the left are pictures of the bodice before I started adding the extra outside ‘fabric’. I’ve used Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales for this piece.

I took some pictures of my process. The little, rounded pieces of paper have slits on their fold lines, and I took those little wibbly bits and interwove them, creating the heart shape. I have no idea how many of these I made since I forgot to check page numbers, but it was a fairly complete copy of the “Canterbury Tales” so the answer probably is “a lot’.  It’s rather soothing folding these. Cutting them was a bit harder since I wanted to cut the pages in batches instead of individually (because perfection takes too much time?)  and the paper would slip and move as the scissors went through the layers.

The hearts are based on a pattern my mother showed me when I was younger. The hearts are great for Valentine’s Day, because when you weave them they form a little pocket, and you can tuck candy or cards inside and give them away. Not to shamelessly promote candy giving. I just really like candy and want other people to have as much as they like too!

I originally thought about gluing the hearts into the scale pattern that’s sort of happening, but when it came down to it glue was going to make the papers much too stiff and crackly. So instead, I’ve sewed the hearts together and I am sewing those strands onto the bodice itself. The layers are very thick and support themselves, and the thread holds them very steadily to the framework I have. The strands are also flexible, which makes me have hope for the more curved parts of the bodice. I will let you know how the negotiations with that particular challenge later.

As you can see, I still have a long way to go, but it’s really coming along nicely and is much stronger than I had hoped for.

So, that’s the update! I hope you have enjoyed it, O Reader, and I will let you know as soon as I make more noticeable progress!

Simply A-Maze-ing!

Take two! I had something all written up for this, but I apparently did not save often enough. So, once more into the fray.

Yesterday, I watched a fabulous movie called “Dave Made A Maze”. Here is the Trailer:

It’s a story that uses a simple design to tell a really compelling story. The set design is largely beautifully creative cardboard, tissue paper, and paper confections of imagination; everything from tubes to corrugated cardboard, to long streamers of sheer fabric with delicate lights brightening the room through a gentle mist that permeates the maze. I felt like the trailer didn’t spoiler the film either; the best moments were definitely not mentioned, but it still gives a really good feel of the wonder in the movie.

There are elements of almost cartoon horror; as the labyrinth begins to attack through multiple booby traps, red confetti and streamers are used in place of blood in all but the earliest instance (a paper cut). It was a surprise, but it brings forth the questions as soon as it happens; are injuries and fatalities permanent? If you die in a dream, do you die in real life also? How afraid should we be? There’s a sense of consequence, but ambiguity as to how heavy it is, at first.

Mazes and Labyrinths in mythology often have elements of concealing and revealing. Dave’s maze is no different.

Dave is an artist who has difficulty finishing any of his pieces. Left alone to his own devices, he builds from torn up bits of cardboard and origami. He becomes trapped in his own creation, unable to get out. It separates him from Annie, who returns and is, perhaps understandably irritated that another incomplete project is between her seeing him. Annie humors him until she also steps inside and realizes the depths that she has come into.

Annie, in many ways, is Dave’s strength. She pushes him to want more than what he knows he can do, and at the same time is the support structure that he needs to grow. Annie is also the furthest thing from a damsel in distress. She takes matters in hand, and is completely uninterested in playing to the camera, even when the enormity of what Dave has accomplished strikes her. Even when she accepts help from other characters, it is in the same way as any of them might need and not based on her gender. She isn’t superwoman, either. She has her limits and she is powerful within them. She knows Dave is capable of wonderful things, and the two clearly have a long and complex relationship which is presented in few words, the making of a sandwich, the unspoken communication that happens physically between the actors. Meera Rohit Kumbhani and Nick Thune do a remarkable job in contextualizing the couple’s dynamic in the way they behave around each other, with simple gestures such as holding hands or eye contact.

The story between these two is not just a revelation of what is being hidden in Dave’s life, his fears and worries overwhelming him artistically, and preventing him from completing anything. It’s a question of whether or not the couple can survive the stresses. Dave’s decision to finish the maze, despite all odds, creates possibility and changes the dynamic. It’s a really well developed and familiar storyline in the sense that it feels like a real relationship, not only one you see in the theaters.

Dave’s friend Gordon is also wonderful; a mix of supportive and smart, brave and also humorous, he clearly cares about both of them and is one of the first people to realize how dangerous the maze might actually be. He and Dave also have a great patter back and forth which I really think serves Dave as a point of restfulness; they play off words and silly rhymes which sometimes make you groan with the dad-jokeness of it all.

The trio of the documentary crew are great comedic relief, but the way that they continue to try to document the storyline raises questions about what we’re seeing as well. The director, Harry, is a friend, but he also is so single-mindedly focused on scripting reactions and creating scenes that it begins to make me question what we’re seeing as the film outside the film. What is scripted and what is a genuine reaction?

The cameraman is so devoted to capturing everything on film; he shares Harry’s determination to record and preserve that he sometimes misses what’s right in front of him. There were moments where my Fiance and I were shouting at the screen because he wouldn’t interact with the world he was in. He creates a dilemma because although there are moments he takes the camera away from his eye he constantly focuses on the narrow vision of the camera view and not on anything else around him. I began to think about how in the same way as the film Harry will present is different than the one we see, more constrained in many ways, there are also sections that we are not party to, that we don’t get to see, and that maybe add more layers to the entire labyrinth. You can only really take one path at a time, even when you’re watching a movie.

The sound guy actually turned out to be one of my favorite characters. He’s very understated, and at first it seems like he’s just going to follow the cameraman around and listen to what’s going on without engaging. But he is in an interesting place because he can hear what’s happening as opposed to just seeing it. He begins to change what’s happening around him and becomes as invested as anyone else in completing the labyrinth.

There is a great cast of other characters, but the core group was powerful enough to drive the film even with the focus shifting from one view to the next, with comedic relief and setting placement driven by the ability to expand what the audience sees in the labyrinth.

Slight spoilers follow.

All labyrinths have at least one beast lurking, and the classic minotaur makes an appearance here as well.

This has got to be one of my favorite depictions of a minotaur. It’s classic in design, and the combination of flesh and cardboard (You’ll have to watch the film to get the full effect!) is delightful and whimsical, as well as terrifying. He looms in the shadows and drives the characters to press the limits of what they can or are willing to do. He provides a perfect example of how your fears can overwhelm and destroy you. And on top of that, the artistry of the bull head in cardboard is fantastic! The texture is just amazing, and I love the details that go into it.

Dave also begins to meld with his maze, and again, the interplay between flesh and art really got me. Where is the division between art and artist? and what does it mean when they overlap? What does it mean when the beast of your fears becomes more real to you than your success? Seeing how your art and hopes and desires can divide you from the people around you is terrifying.

But I digress.

Thank you to the crew who made such a fabulous movie, and for Solar City’s generosity in having their back; this film’s cardboard was from recycling dumpsters and scrap cardboard, and Solar City offered them their leftover when they ran out of their first source. Part of what makes this cool is that all of the cardboard in this shoot was free. I love the recycled elements, which is such a cool eco-friendly way to make a movie!

I cannot recommend “Dave Made a Maze” highly enough. I don’t think it’s something I would recommend for kids, but it’s definitely a movie I will watch again and again.

And I want to make a maze now, too! I think I’ll try and make a kid-rated one for Halloween. Better start collecting cardboard!

 

Change

Today at work we had to call an ambulance for someone who fainted. Let me first say again thank you to the men and women who work as EMTs to help people who really need it. I was grateful to know that the patient was going to be taken care of, and that it was going to be okay. I am also grateful to my coworkers who handled the situation gracefully, quickly, and professionally. 

But it made me realize today, that I have changed a great deal how I respond to emergency situations from how I did when I was younger. When I was younger, my brother was diagnosed with grand mal seizures, and epilepsy was a common household term for me. Grand mal seizures include full body convulsions, and I remember my brother even having the type of seizure where he just dropped to the ground and started shaking. With or without warning, they were very scary and at the same time familiar. I knew what to do. I knew the process, I knew how to respond, and I knew how to get out of the way once my help was no longer needed. I realized that I had developed a pattern of calm during the crisis, and then an emotional breakdown afterwards.

 I was used to hospital visits lasting from hours to weeks, and a list of doctors who had various suggestions and prescriptions to try and solve the disorder that affected my brother most directly, but also the rest of my family.

But today, it was different. My coworker called for someone to dial 911 and in part my CPR first aid training kicked in, as I autopiloted through checking the area to see that it was safe, to see that the patient was safe, and then as my manager had at that point already called 911, I brought the family to the patient, and then flagged in the responders. But for a second, my brain didn’t automatically jump into action. It stopped.

I had a second where it wasn’t the most comfortable situation that I had been in, it was something that made me stop and think about what I needed to do next, and if I was doing it correctly. I don’t remember ever having had that happen before. And on the one hand it scared me; I want to be able to be in a position where if someone needs help I can give them that assistance as quickly and safely as possible. But on the other hand, it was a relief. My nervous system isn’t automatically set on high alert at all times, it isn’t set on responding to an emergency on a daily basis anymore. And that was comforting to me, in the aftermath of cleaning up and making sure that all the pieces were put where they needed to be after the patient had left, and generally making sure that we began to run smoothly again as an office. 

It made me think, because even though I will go back and get recertified every year at the least, hopefully every six months, I don’t have to live like that anymore.

So I guess, generally I hope that whoever you are, if you are living in a situation where you’re on high alert all the time and ready for any emergency on more than autopilot, living in the state of almost-perpetual, almost-emergency, I hope that changes for you too.

I remember back to Thanksgiving when year, when my brother had to be rushed to the hospital, and I was alone and crying. I thought a lot about that this morning. And I don’t know if telling myself when I was younger that I would get to this state would have helped, but for me right now knowing that I feel safe enough to not be perpetually on guard to have to do an emergency action is such a relief that I don’t even know how to express it. 

In light of the fact that I would like to speak to my readers more (thank you for your patience, O Reader), I thought I would just put this down and leave it. There’s nothing really like a moral here, or I feel like anything interesting particularly, but it meant something to me today and so I’m sharing that.

So yeah, I guess that’s that. Good luck to anyone who wants to see the solar eclipse this weekend, and I will try to write more soon.

 

Copyright © 2017 Anastasia Barnett

 

It’s never a bad time for a Snoopy dance! I love Peanuts, so I am really happy I could paint one for my coworker’s birthday. He’s always so wonderfully delighted with everything. We need more Snoopy days in our lives.

Edit: point of clarification! I do not have any rights or anything RE: Snoopy. The copyright is for my blog only. Snoopy belongs to the amazing Charles Schulz and all credit belongs to him. If there are any issues with my display of this character, please let me know and I will act accordingly. However, my words are my own and I would like to keep that credit for myself. Thank you!

Flowers from the Inferno

This is actually not a post about my garden; it’s an update on my wedding dress.

For my dress, I am taking pages from various texts and … I think the best word is ‘manipulating’ them into a text-ile. (Get it? It’s almost a pun! I’m done.)

For the front of my skirt, I am using flowers made from Dante’s Inferno, and also from American Indian Myths and Legends. I cut each page into a square, and fold it into a flower. Then, I take the flowers and glue them together with Loctite, and form little ten-flower squares.

I’m not quite done with the Inferno yet, but I am getting pretty close.

I picked these two mostly because the books I have are about the same size, so it’s fairly easy to keep the flowers the same size. To make sure I take into consideration paper color difference and the amount of text and handwriting on the pages, I’m planning on making a diagonal pattern where I alternate between the ten-squares of one and then the other.

I’ve come up with some interesting phrases as I’ve done this; I think my favorite is, “No commas in hell”. You can kind of see it in the pictures of this flower square.

I still have a long way to go.

When I tell people I’m using the Inferno for the front of my skirt, I’ve gotten some interesting responses.

“Why not the Purgatorio, or the Paradiso?”

“Is this just because you like the Inferno or is there another literary reason?”

“That’s pretty weird.”

“Oh, cool.”

I could give an argument that the Inferno is a tale of two souls traveling through difficult times together, giving strength and support to each other, before they emerge.

I could say that it’s one of my favorite texts and that it has influenced the literature I read, I write, the images I paint from, the way I view the world around me.

I could say that this is my fiance’s copy, and his writing on the pages leads to beautifully obscure and non-contextualized phrases.

I could even just say that I’m using it because I want to.

But I think the best way to explain why the Inferno, is in the language of the inferno itself. At the end of the final canto of the Inferno, it concludes,

“La duca e io per quel cammino ascoso

intrammo a ritornar nel chiaro mondo;

e sanza cura aver d’alcun riposo

salimmo sù, el primo e io secondo,

tanto ch’i’ vidi de le cose belle

che porta ‘l ciel, per un pertugio tondo.

E quindi uscimmo a riveder le stelle”,

which my copy translates into

“My leader and I entered on that hidden path to return to the bright world; and, without taking care for rest at all, up we climbed,

up we climbed, he first and I second, until I saw the beautiful things the heavens carry, through a round opening. And thence we came forth to look again at the stars.

And thence we came forth to look again at the stars”.

I crewed for my dad’s ultra marathon in Arizona; through the night, I climbed down through the levels of hell with Virgil and Dante, I watched as my dad moved further and further into the pureness of running as opposed to the conscious running; and I waited for him, missing my fiance and the light.  I finished reading the Inferno in the early morning. Just a little while after I read those beautifully constructed sentences, the sun rose, and my dad finished his race.

The memories I have tied to the Inferno are embedded in life imitating art imitating life. I want it on my dress because it is important to me. I want it on my dress because it’s part of who I am in many ways.

 

Towering boxes of cats

This week I have realized that I have run into a burnout. I am tired most of the time and it means that even though I have all the drive that I have in my head is a lot of everything, I can’t seem to get anything done. I kind of seem to be having a hard time getting off the couch. I’m not sure why this has happened, but lo, O Reader, has it ever.

Yesterday, the accomplishment that I achieved was that I built an addition to the cardboard tower that I’ve been making for the cats. I collect boxes from work and home, and duct tape them together. I got a couple of big ones on Saturday, so I upgraded.

The little fluff decided to help by climbing in the box; I’m not sure why she decided this was comfortable, but she laid there for something like a half hour. It was kind of adorable.

IMAG2004

This is the front view of the finished product. The two boxes on the bottom are the recent additions, with the bunch under the second layer box as support. I cut a couple of windows for the cats to peek out the front window if they want, and there are levels for them to sit and look outside with various amounts of coverage.

I took a couple of inside views too:

Chaucer seems largely uninterested in the tower, except when the little fluff is inside. He is very clearly a people-cat. His favorite spot is either two feet away from me, or on the red fuzzy chair.

On the other hand….

I think she likes it. I’ll keep working at it. Maybe Chaucer will like it too, one day. In the meantime, it’s a fun recycling project.

Cheers! and enjoy your fourth of July, to those who celebrate it!

 

 

Copyright © 2017 Anastasia Barnett

La Luzia!!

None of the following images are mine; I don’t take pictures or video of Cirque performances at their request. That doesn’t mean I don’t find helpful ones online from the DVD and promotions etc when I can help it.

For part of the proposal my Fiance prepared, he bought us tickets to Cirque Du Soleil. This year, the traveling circus is entitled:

My heritage is of Mexican extraction partially, so this meant a lot just because of that, but also on top of that, Cirque du Soleil has been a part of my life since my childhood and the combination of those two factors and the sheer beauty of the artistry brought us to tears.

The show opens with hummingbirds and a sea of marigolds! The hummingbirds pull out little wagons with robots on them, that are fully functional and interact with the flowers and audience, without people inside of them. And they have watering cans for heads! It’s so cute.

But then there is the powerful presentation of the running woman and the monarch. The woman running was so incredibly beautiful, that I savor the image. She looked so free, so delighted, going somewhere and taking me with her.

Some of my other favorite highlights include:

The hummingbirds! They are all acrobats and they look like they are flying as they fling themselves through hoops!

And some more random parts:

And the singer’s dress started white and transitioned to red during the show so innocuously I almost missed it:

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Let me conclude my brief all-of-the-photos back to the beginning, since that’s how the ending of the show felt.

Cirque du Soleil has been in my life as a powerful imaginative and transformative force since I was a child.

Starting with Saltimbanco, I was introduced to what I have heard called an operatic dream ballet; all I knew was that it was a world where fantasy and reality collided, the impossible was kissed by the sheer skill of the performers, and the costumes allowed my imagination to spin into rainbows of beauty. It’s a world where gender, skin color, background, anything at all that you might bring to the table doesn’t matter; humans and animals and strange fantastical beings intermingle and the only rule is that you contribute to the most of your capability. If you make yourself the best at leaping from one pole to the next, or tossing a soccer ball around, playing music, or directing the lighting from behind the scenes where no one would think about it, sewing or strength, smarts or flexibility or anything at all, that is what you do. It becomes what no one else can do. Sometimes the simplest talents become the most beautiful and valued.

As I’ve grown, I’ve seen more Cirque; my first experiences were on VHS, and then DVD. But when my fiance heard how much passion I have for this circus, he bought me tickets to the traveling show as it passes through Denver.

We went to see Cirque in person.

I have never felt more like a child, like a princess, like a fantasy or a dream. We walked across the parking lot and the music that I heard took us away even before we got inside. The atmosphere is heady; you breathe it in and it makes your chest explode into galaxies.

Amaluna begins with the sound of rainforest and women’s whispers, with a great arch of reeds or poles or feathers of a peacock, and tells a rendition of Shakespeare’s the Tempest which is all about women’s power and presence, their strength and resources, and a beautiful romance. Of all the women showed, and men as well, I liked best the goddess of balance. She stepped forward in silence and the sound of her own breath, took a feather from her hair and one after another built the ribs of a leaf, or a whale, or something unknown. Even the train whistle that vibrated through the silence of every single one of us holding our breaths didn’t distract her.

Of all the women showed, and men as well, I liked best the goddess of balance. She stepped forward in silence and the sound of her own breath, took a feather from her hair and one after another built the ribs of a leaf, or a whale, or something unknown. Even the train whistle that vibrated through the silence of every single one of us holding our breaths didn’t distract her.

See her do it here at Ted Talks (Without the train): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELROG7uppps

The architecture and artistry of the sets, the costumes, the way each story is created wordlessly makes each experience unreal and somehow precious. And as time has progressed, even the traveling shows have begun to incorporate movement of their stage, water components, and other incredible techniques that further the enchantment.

I went home after that night and dreamed of a world of magic.

The next we saw was Kurios.

Steampunk itself as a genre is a place where that which is outcast, Other, unusual, strange, and generally outside the dominant culture is allowed to play freely with questions of sexuality, gender, race, religion, politics, all set back in an unknown Victorian Era. It is not largely expressed in Western society as having roots outside of Europe, but there is steampunk found across the globe, most notably in New Zealand.

As a culture, it blends well with what Cirque does anyway; take the mundane, the strange, the Other, and make it beautiful, unique, worthwhile and familiar.

Needless to say, I loved every bit of it.

I have watched so many Cirques by way of video, being able to actually breathe the air and see the performers, watch their faces and see them pass by me in the aisles is more than a dream. It’s a realization of a phenomenal presence in my life that has inspired the way I look at life and people and culture, the limits of possibility and imagination. It influences my art, and my writing, and my sense of aesthetic. It has helped make me into the person I am.

So today, when I was blessed enough to see Luzia, it touched me deeply because here was a blending of what made me as a child and what has made my family. I saw people like my uncles and aunts and cousins on that stage, I saw beauty and power and honoring in what is created.

If you ever get the chance, O Reader, I really hope you go. Cirque is my waking dream, not just of Mexico, but of what we can aspire to.

Go dream in the sunlight circus.

With silver bells and cockleshells, and so my garden grows!

We’ve had quite a growth spurt in the garden lately, but also in the twenty-four hours since I took the picture of the strawberries some beast in the garden has devoured the leaves – but not the strawberries – off our strawberry pots!!!

Well, such is life. I will hope that they grow back and that we can prevent whatever it was (deer? maybe?) from doing it again.

Our wildflowers are all in bloom; when I look out of my window there are roses galore! Also, we had a surprise lily bloom, with a couple more on the way. It’s such a beautiful startlement of color.

This is our little raspberry bramble we planted this year. It’s already putting out berries and trying to catch up to its big siblings in the front yard. Little overachiever. We’ll see if they’re tasty; right now they’re only the size of my pinky nail. You can get an estimate based on the size of the popsicle stick.

Fiance put up the hanging basket! It has moonflowers and blue morning glories in it. I’m hoping they’ll trail over and bloom like crazy. It would be so pretty to see. Either way, I’m looking forward to seeing what they’ll do.

These are my little wildflowers in a bucket! They have cousins up front in the big planter box which I somehow keep forgetting to take pictures of. These ones seem to have taken advice from the gardening bucket, as they are “Just doing it!” everywhere. They are inviting lots of butterflies and bees and pollinators into the yard as promised, and are delightful to smell.

Our two planter boxes. We have one of our sunflowers getting ready to bloom, even though it’s grown sideways and also upwards only two feet? It’s confused. I am confused. There is much confusion.

As you can see on the left, we also have harvested the chard and some of the lettuce and eaten it already! There is still lots and lots. I am not sure any of us anticipated that much greenery, but that will happen.

The sunflower box also has a LOT of onions growing in it. I also did not prepare for nearly so much onion. I do not know what we will do with this much onion. We may have to give it away.

Fiance and Golden Avenger finished up the garden box in the back! We have planted the over excited basil and tomatoes and marigolds in there. I’m hoping the devouring beast of the backyard will not get into the tomatoes as well.

Isn’t it pretty? It’s two levels of stone that we inherited from my parents so they would stop being part of the ‘burial mound’ in the backyard – aka, a heap of rubble that weeds grow on and no one loves that looks kind of creepy unless you know what it is.

Side note: we have a lot of basil. I’m hoping for good pesto this year.

Our little sprouts indoors (The second batch of seeds, the kitchen herbs, and my little fuschia plant), the lavender, the rosemary, and the little aloe plant are also still hanging in there, though the kitchen herbs and fuschia plant are struggling for life. We replanted the kitchen herbs since the pots they were in were way too small. Hopefully, they will survive the transplant and I can show you hopeful pictures sooner rather than later.

The lavender is thriving in its pot outdoors, and the rosemary is…. well, healthy. It hasn’t done much.

Instead of showing you those, I will save them for another date. I will, however, briefly show a couple of things I saw at Fiance’s parents’ house when we went for dinner the other night.

I’m not sure what kind of nest that is in the tree, because it looks a little smaller for squirrels, but it is difficult to get a good picture of it because of all the trees.

THIS WAS SUCH A COOL DISCOVERY. In the fire pit outside Fiance’s house, there was a pile of ash that had built up from previous fires. It hadn’t been touched for a long time, so when we went out we saw a bunch of little green sprouts that had begun to grow in the ash and charcoal! We emptied out the fire pit, so now they’ll have to take to living in the dirt instead, but I’m sure they’ll be fine. They’re hardy seeming and got off to a good start.

So, these are the garden updates! And now it is time for me to sleep, and my computer as well. We are both low on energy.

That’s how my garden grows!