altered book

Yellow as glimpsed in or from the studio

Wewillsurvivesisterhood[above and below:  pages in an altered book project - the first I began and will probably be my last to finish or leave behind in progress. I took my hardback copy of Dreaming the Dark and turned it into a personal rumination on The Sisterhood as I've experienced it throughout my adult life.]

YellowspotscaterpillarEnjoyed finding a whole series of this busily defoliating caterpillar while tracking down yellow flower images yesterday.  Am planning a painting spread in my sketchbook based on the images.  jude had a great post years ago based on this 'un's patterns and coloration...

Whatdowedountonfound in a homemade knockabout/everyday sketchbook

Pornographysilencedefinitely one of my writing/philosophy mothers ...

Yellowcalendulabloomspickedthat time there were so many calendula flowers I was giving friends pint jars of tincture-in-progress as Harvest gifts ...
Yellowdandelionquiltcenter of a small art quilt celebrating the dandelion medicine spirit made on request by J.

YellowsilkhankieSilk throwers waste

Yelloworangebuddhalucky capture in my home during a different winter season

Sacredyangsourcethe archetype i use to access my inner yang/sacred male nature.  I spose for times when St. Francis is not enough ...

SehkmetSekhmet - Egyptian Goddess of the sun.

Yellowinsightart journal from 2015 or early 2016

Yellowbeesandsunflowerfrom SL2 on Lammas '05

Solarflares o l a r    f l a r e

TinlittlefindhornYellow daisy-like flowers traded as pot-luck bare rootstock.  And friend ...

YellowartjournalsafeYellow is my personal safety color.  there is a story there ...

when everything mixes itself together


Electric Warrior

what else


This is a piece of musical past tense that generally rides everywhere with J in his truck.  But.  J. is rarely in his truck these days.  I originally asked if I might borrow it because I'm a person who believes every book - fiction or non but perhaps not poetry - has its designated album accompanist.  So I've been listening to this off and on every once in awhile with writing as the background purpose.    Now - just because of my personal timeline associations with the songs - I've been listening to it while mourning the end of someone's life by recalling a time in our shared existence and birthplace when we rose up - along with many others who walked around feeling extremely other-ish - in a collective kind of swagger and said okay we are this new thing.  I can get the same feeling from Ziggy Stardust and also the David Essex single Rock On.

remembering things about someone who was adamant in his wish to re-main un-eulogized.  Lots of them.  perhaps the most important being the all caps bolded email he sent around to a disparate group of us about a month ago:

do not emote over me on the internet.

so okay.   Instead here's a few paintings by an artist we both admired and studied somewhat obsessively both independently and together over the years of scattershot and deeply rooted connections.

MeditationMeditation by  Magritte

how I am holding myself steady in this moment I always fully believed would go the other way around.

Paintedplastermaskrick's favorite Magritte painting.  started saying in his teens that he aspired to becoming this specific projection of himself.  i said but it's a Painted Plaster Mask and he said exactly.

Yesterday I 'admitted' my grief process in a comment on Mo's blog and her reply referenced an Edvard Munch painting The Scream as a surrogate for where she was the day before within a similar process.  And how the release pushed through the emotion and reached pro-activity.  I sat for a long while at the table staring into space thinking about the fact that my experience is proving to be a lot more like this:

which happens to be my own favorite Magritte, Homesickness  Have always identified strongly with the black-winged man longing to be somewhere else.  Still do.  But in the months of knowing this was coming and what it might be like moving through it, I feel like I became the lion my friend has always seen me as being.  But I was also that lion particularly to myself.  So that I could get here within my soul and spirit.  While now, more than ever in my life, identifying so very strongly with the homesick man from another Place entirely.




below September 16

September26and stitch a collaged mandala of memory, emotion, and the shared ongoing life swagger of what we perceived an electric warrior to be.  To become more of who I am by living in a far greater degree of Solitude.

Solitudeby Jean-Leon Gerome

This is my favorite painted lion.  It used to soothe me tremendously and then the more people (including J) who tell me I'll be the last one standing in our group the more I've seen the painting as a challenge to embrace what might be.  It's weird to be told that time after time.  Especially when I've so often been the most sickly.

No matter.  You reach a point where enough leave-taking and grief find you so you just say, Okay.  You live and breathe and move until you don't.  I've lived a lot of my life like this lion in many other ways. So now this one too.


Three weeks ago I asked via his daughter for an okay on sharing the following story.  I got a thumbs up.


Most of the characters I'm writing about have been around for a very long time.  One of them, who has always wished to be the epi-center of the story is named Carter.  For a long time he was a little boy and then he was a fireman who played pick-up ice hockey games.  Once he made the shift to a thirty something male having trouble crying over the death of his step-father my now departed friend started bombarding me with emails any time I shared drafts of how things had evolved.

I'm Carter, right??!!?

actually - though this part wasn't approved in advance -  those emails have occurred on and on through the years any time I've circled back to these people.

and it wasn't true so I kept saying no.

and then near the end of rick's time here I had seen someone in passing who seeded a brand new character.  Somebody who would be very close to Carter.  Started writing the character based on a 20 second sighting of someone who looked very different the next time I saw him.  and then the next two consecutive times.  As in - I'm not exaggerating - every time I saw him he appeared to be 2 or 3 inches shorter than he'd been on the previous occasion.   And otherwise his energy seemed nothing like I'd felt it to be the day I thought to myself "so he's a character in the book, okay.  I think I'm gonna call him Trevor."

(for people who have ever watched television in the 90's and re-runs since it was exactly like the Seinfeld episode where Jerry dates a girl who looks radically different depending on the lighting.  Only this didn't swing between pleasant or unappealing it just kept getting progressively more ... non-descriptively unappealing.)

So in my head I had erased Trevor's origins and just worked from my assumption that the only thing that might hold Carter's vacilating attention span would be a guy entirely sure of himself who made zero apologies for who he was.  But was normally sufficiently charming or knowlegable to be perceived as a people person despite pragmatic evidence suggesting otherwise.

who was this person?  they seemed really super duper familiar.

I thought Carter would be best served by somebody very close to his own age but also entirely different and so "from out of nowhere" I decided well this guy ought to be a double aquarius.  And by then it was - what.  A month ago or 6 weeks at most?  And I knew pain was winning over smiles a lot of the time so I sent a text:

you are definitely not nor have you ever been Carter.  But how do you feel about becoming a guy who grew up in NH militia country utterly cut off from the normal world until he joined the marines at 18?  He is destined to marry Carter and be legit happy in whatever form possible is that good enough??

about an hour later I got a reply dictated to his daughter who'd read him mine.

I'd like him to have two failed marriages before he figures out why.  Thinking they should both be out to lunch about how real it is.  Have them get married really quickly for something specific they believe to be the reason but other characters and readers will see through it from a mile away. 

[eta:  the only plot-worthy/realistic way I've been able to account for two failed marriages was such an enormous additional trauma (ptsd vet marries clinically depressed first responder) for the character that I also deemed it unnecessary emotional upset for readers inclined to such things without wishing to experience more than is absolutely necessary when reading for escapist purposes.  The second marriage being the only marriage contains more than enough 'material' for both the relevant characters and readers.  Also I thought it was an insult to the intelligence levels of both characters to have them be unaware of much of anything that other characters and readers could detect without actively trying.  So they know more than they don't becaue the drafts where they didn't just did NOT work ... but I'm trying to make it somewhat charming rather than 'how does this fit with the rest of their personalities.  it doesn't.  so why does it need to be happening? it doesn't.' ]

So... a gift of inspired collaboration that has thrown everything else asunder there in the Other Place of fictionland.   From a man who was once a sixth grade boy repeatedly sent to the cloakroom when he couldn't control his strange rocking caws of laughter.

Electric warriors don't just leave the building.  They kick the door down on their way Out.

.8 back to the future, baby


In the early '90's I made a diligent habit of filling a relatively thick 6 x 6 lined-paper journal with my thoughts and feelings.  This is a fact I accurately remembered but I'd presumed to add a third component this journal contained: authentic (if at times ruefully acquired) Experiential Wisdom.  Alas there was not a drop of that except in the ways I instinctively reworked the journal in an ongoing project of soothing a younger version of myself with a whole slew of Just You Wait & See's using collage to talk to this former wired-super-tightly iteration:


The above fragment is highly revealing and I left it in tact without a lot of alteration or second-guessing.  A major part of our Family Legend is that it was J. and J. alone who needed to get out of the city in order to live deliberately among as many trees as possible.  In this oft-reflected version of how things apparently never happened -- I was thriving as never before in the city.  It's how I remember things being so clearly but - SO CLEARLY - only in retrospect.

Once I let-in the awareness I'd been just as edgy to leave - in favor of trees and ponds and maybe even a nearby river and mile after mile of organically rural landscapes - as he was, a great many dominoes fell perceptually.  All I had to do was start turning them around to some Deep Work of great value to me.  I saw and seized the unique opportunity to dialogue back and forth with myself in a way I understood would bring more peace and understanding.  Maybe even some sustainable healing.

[spoiler alert:  it brought TONS of healing as well as tons of respect for the truly limitless work and play collage offers us if we're of a mind to test pretty much any pet or spontaneously healing theory we may embrace.]


In the old days when I excelled at just going so much it often startled me that people even had a name for Doing It - All I had to do was have a tiny spark of a notion and BAM an entire river's rushing waterfall of Ideas was mine for the picking & choosing.  I understood the value of covering 3/4's of the content because most of it related to ENDLESS bitching and legit yet overly lengthy frustration about an inter-city educational liaison committee I was part of for - according to my hyperbolic venting of the time - about three thousand eternities in a bureaucratic circle of hell.  It was actually a period of three and a half months according to the entries' timeline. 

live and learn.  in oh so many ways.  In my efforts I worked with papers I'd made in a Cambridge adult education class during the time frame in which I'd kept this journal.  Within its original pages I expressed Very Upset-ness that I hadn't enjoyed said workshop and that its unpleasantly messy nature was compounded by my good neighborliness helping out the teacher for 20 crucial opening minutes that left me and another oh-sure amiable classmate SOL when it came to working with the "good" color dyeing options.  Nonetheless I persevered in re-writing even that undeniable shard of reality - thrilled that I'd kept these papers for so long even though every time I came across them I curled inward with dislike and silently urged myself to toss 'em and be glad.  Because now I had walnut ink spray inks to alter the colors.  And lordy lou - I had me a mess of stencils as well.


I wound up equally thrilled that i could never convince myself to trade-away my few remaining scraps of a fabric I used to make trousers I wore to the point of shredding 14 years later.  I also commemorated an event this journal time frame didn't include but it WOULD happen right on the cusp of my feeling so unEmpowered and trapped in place:  a carefully planned creative celebration I co-hosted there in the same space where I cried the blues about people I wrote of endlessly then but now cannot pull up a face or any other detail about a single one of their names.




Many of the papers and images, as well as the interests and fascinations implied by both colors and content, were collected and saved/initiated in the time frame I'd been so startled and ultimately disappointed to realize I wasn't very much enjoying - allowing myself to enjoy - knowing HOW to enjoy -  while being smack-dab in middle of the supposedly best years of my life.  I recall fully realizing I should be enjoying them.  I also didn't go much more than a couple of hours without considering myself immeasurably fortunate and blessed.  but I was so freakin' frustrated, concurrently, by so many things involved with big city reality that I am not sure why I contributed heavily to our Legend's narrative of having been thriving there.


Things I instinctively saved from that time now mingle freely with representations, and materials, from the present tense.  I focused on things Back Then me would have loved too much to let terminal over-stimulation and circumstantial overwhelm keep me from smiling and playing.  Are you kidding me?  I would have bucked-up ten ways from Sunday if I'd had even a glimmer of knowing what was in store when I was moving in on being twice the age I was then.


Above:  a close-up shot of a still unfinished page.   The gift paper was saved from my birthday.  I remember quite clearly how thrilled I was to see the wrapping - already planning to squirrel-aside a section before the package was directly offered to me.  Have zero recall what the gift was or who gave it to me.  The paper Thing was already quite well established and I'm glad because it's enriched my ongoing collaging experience.



Unfortunately a lot of broad strokes weren't destined to be hunky dory for Future me because, of course, I live on this planet in these times.  It took me a long while to decide exactly what kind of warning/check I might have wished I could receive if I could have seen what was coming clearly enough to realize I really needed to pay a lot more attention to things Beyond.