Archive for June, 2010



the last mile is always the hardest.  when i used to run, true, the first mile was  harsh – out of breath,  joints hurting, side stitching – then you find your breathing, get into an open leg measured stride, find the earth reaching up to push your feet. that goes on for a stretch, wow is it beautiful!, and then it stops, and you feel every pound on your skeleton like a dead weight.  get though that until you can find your pace again.  maybe it comes, maybe it doesn’t.  but there are miles to cover so you keep going.  maybe your knee is popping from a torn cartilage, maybe your heel is bleeding from a crappy shoe.  tolerance to pain.  doubt comes in at the last three miles.  can i, can’t i?  no one knows until you do.


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life and art

i am awesome every day of the week

its kind of funny, ironic.  i am fitting the mats into place, they seem to slide right in, flex to fit the car’s bends and curves.  the mats, with their fringe selvage, are like a slip showing under a dress; not quite ready to go, a little embarrassing if someone would happen to walk by and there you are pulling on your socks while still in your underwear.

now upon one another in their permanent homes, both mats and metal appear content, made for one another.  the former forlorn heap of steel in a shed in eastern Oregon, forgotten even by the wasps, who vacated their paper homes years ago; cut trees waiting on the damp earth waiting to be hauled off to the dump;  both lonely, waiting, wanting a purpose, hoping to be seen.

where do i fit in at the university? one department won’t tolerate me.  hatefulness. the other is still thinking about it.  the third isn’t a department yet.  and me – i just want to do my work.

teaching is a sacred profession, so much is at stake.  research is an obligation to my community-ies.  God willing, some small good may come from it.  but who can say?  i have nowhere to show my dear car, Ladybug, and i have nowhere to be.

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dressing up in my best

cedar, wool, plastic strapping tape clothes, kept in place with oak strips and metal screws.

holes and bolts must  line up, cedar must lie down.  where do they fit together?  a little too long on this side, a little short on that.

where is craft in modern art? traditional aboriginal technology in the post-steel era?  contemporary arts and community engagement? and me and you?

trying to fit together steel, trees, and a dream; industry, ‘progress’, aboriginal  logic.

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i used to say i didn’t care how much pain i was in, in this lifetime, as long as i did not have to be reborn.

question:      suffering = enlightenment

answer: yes ___  no ___  maybe ____

this time is bad enough, the next time will be much worse.
but now with things changing so fast, it is like being re-born into a newer more horrible era without the dying in between. maybe hte collective sorrow and helplessness is a form of death. will the gulf ever recover? what has my driving wrought?

i had a dream that there were many people going into the gulf with old empty tomato cans, filling them with oil, selling them to a refinery.  BP had to pay for it, a few pennies a pint. there were any old containers and people out on the shore, gathering as if plants, or in dingy’s as if fishing, filling up every can, bucket and pot and turning it in for a quarter each. in this dream there was no other food and no other work. for miles along the gulf throngs of people there were so incensed, horrified, that they wanted to do something, alongside others who were hungry and wanted to make a little spare change.

so we dare to recycle our cans, dream our dreams, live with/within wild and be better than we are now, tomorrow.

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from april, 2005

i had been in vancouver since august 2004.  the trees started coming down on campus and i peeled  their skin from their corpses as they rested on mud and ferns. i promised them i would try to make something nice with their bodies, and if they chose to help me, i would be grateful.  i laid my offerings and my prayers.

in a hurry to leave campus (you remember why!) , i split my bark at home.  it seems so long ago!, when i had this idea.

nikko (siamese) died in 2009 from chronic bronchitis.  ginger (spotted dog in background) died christmas 2009 from a disease caused by vaccines.

i am still alive.

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Love Betrayal Art

i do feel betrayed, by someone i trusted, who made professional promises that i based my then-future upon.  the  future is here and i got nothing to show for my work but am older in years.

“Betrayal is the breaking of a social contract, trust, or confidence that produces moral and psychological conflict within a relationship amongst individuals, organizations. …betrayal is  a complete break from previously decided upon agreement by one party…”

so that is someone’s definition, not mine, but it fits and it works and my morale is so low that i am using it because i can’t seem to be as wordy as i wish tonight.

where is the poet tonight? in the heart of a cricket on a warm wall.

someone else on the internet who wrote:

fail: to disappoint, to prove undependable; to abandon.  it’s like the writer of that definition knows of whom i speak. abandoned.  i feel that.

what does this have to do with my art, my being?  betrayal sits on me, a living shroud, and i lie under it barely able to move.

when a student comes to me, when a request comes in, i recall how things like this feel, and i do all i can, because, God, how bad is it, to do nothing?

i went to a counselor. ‘burn out’, she said.  ‘make one office hour per week, and force people to come to see you then, only then.’  no, i argued, cajoled, bargained with her, to no use. ‘one hour a week,’ she said.  i went to work right after this appointment.  i was telling myself, ‘one hour only’,  thinking, this is what i needed, to be in the academy, to be like everyone else, as i am less-than everyone else.  just then, a student came in. ‘annie, dance with me!’ he started singing a song, moving his hips and legs.  ‘dance with my, it is my birthday’. (he had no appointment)  and we sang a silly song and danced and i knew that this was what it was all about: Love.  capital L.

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hand work

thank you, my teachers, bark and sedge

hemp and wool, you, the easy way out, LOL (basket weaver humor) you are so nice!

dear reader, do you believe i never wrap-twined before this car project?

in truth, i had never made a basket bigger than a breadbox, never processed five years of bark for one thing.  ha ha…. (what a nut)

this car is my first attempt at making mats. i heard it was hard, cumbersome, ugh!, to weave a mat.  weavers said  ‘ i’ll never do that again!’, about mat making.  so i was scared a little. it’s like making a pot, Gillian, my dear friend, at the wheel, you have to control the clay with your body, your heart, your mind.  same with cedar. you have to be friends, compatriots.

nothing is as easy as it may seem, nothing is as hard as you may fear. it just takes work, lots of it, the will to un-do and re-do, lots of that.  mostly stubbornness i’d say.  thanks to those hard-headed relations of mine.

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