Category: Uncategorized


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.

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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!

 

Patreon

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I have heard over and over from Youtube artists at the end of their videos that I can support them via Patreon. I have also heard of other artists using this platform.

I am interested in experimenting with it.

Recreating all of those paintings looks like insanity. Can you imagine how long that took with oil as a medium?

The Painting is called the “The Archduke Leopold Wilhelm in his Picture Gallery at Brussels”, painted 1647-1651, Oil on Copperplate, by David Teniers the Younger.

Patreon most obviously takes a root from “Patron.” Patron is a word with historical context going back in time to the Medieval and Renaissance eras, if not further. It is a system where a person who is able to becomes a supporter of an artist or a writer, covering their expenses so that they can create. Patrons have historically had influence over what the author (in the sense of ” one that originates or creates something”) produces; because support had to come from the affluent and influential, the author might be limited or redirected.

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That still might be true today. I am open to commissioned works, as a painter or a writer. But I feel strongly that the things I do have an inherent beauty for some people, so in order to keep doing those things I want to do, I am trying something difficult. I am asking for help.

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You can get a copy at her store here: https://shop.amandapalmer.net/

Amanda Palmer gave a really important TEDtalk entitled “The Art of Asking“. In it, she talks about the connection, and the need to learn how to ask when you need help, or to find a way to reach your dreams. You “fall into the audience, and you [trust] each other”. That idea is beautiful. The idea is trusting that what I do is something beautiful, and something that makes a difference in your day, O Reader. And I am going to try trusting that the difference that I make is something that you, O Reader, would like to see continue. I would like to work to a point where I can make beautiful things all day, and share them, give them away freely in the knowledge that someone would really appreciate them. I know I can’t get there on my own, but I also know that I know people who have loved the art and stories I make. So I am asking; it stings a little, but only because fear always stings, and trust is calming.

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If you would like to and are able to, please help support me in my artistic endeavors. Please help me to a point where I can write and draw for you all day, and I will give you my heart and soul on the page. It doesn’t matter if it’s something small; enough pennies can add up to a chai to keep me going during long writing stints, or dinner when I’m home. Raindrops together make the sea, after all. And any support at all has an even bigger meaning to me. It means that somewhere out there, O Reader, you think I can make this dream happen. It means I made a difference in your life, enough that you wanted to let me know, even anonymously. It means that you thought of someone else that you wanted to share my stuff with so their day can be more awesome. Your comments have made me proud and joyful and so thankful that I can’t stand it.  If you can help support me in reaching my dreams, even a little, I will try to give back something special to thank you for the difference you make in my life. Just let me know what you would like to see!

Thank you for reading and for taking the time to see what I am passionate about creating, O Reader. I appreciate you for all you do, and I hope you know it.

Be my patron

Find me here

 

Kitchen Robot!

 

 

 

A birthday card! More to come. I have a lot of May/June Birthdays to paint for all in a row. 😀

Copyright © 2017 Anastasia Barnett

 

 

 

 

Copyright © 2017 Anastasia Barnett

Hello, O Reader! Did I worry you with that last page of only text? I wanted to do a full two-page image for this so I had a little more room. Back to normal again after this. Probably.