I love the wild parrots!
This is a very controversial statement to make in LA, where the racket of these birds roosting by friends homes is a sore spot. I do not live in proximity to a rookery, and encounter the parrots at the height of golden hour when they head home. Their sound is loud, but not like passing ambulance sirens. It causes me to look up from reading and away from the computer. It is a natural noise, in the manufactured landscape. The parrots are an indicator of this other life that continues in other rhythms, a life that adheres to something other than a syllabus. The parrots cacophony is a delightful alarm clock going off and reminding me to delight in the changing of the light.
The wild parrots also remind me of Mary Olivers' Wild Geese:
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting -
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
May you experience the delight of having your place in the family of things announced.
I have just started my second quarter at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. In my first quarter I encountered many thoughts and ideas. The most readily applicable to the majority of people is the Rule of Life. This phrase is frequently used to describe the guidelines used as as the construction blocks for your time, actions, interactions, and resources. Encompassed in the Rule of Life are concepts of rest, simplicity, lament, honoring the body, listening, stewardship, solitude, silence, guidance, and discernment. I have been creating a Rule of Life for myself for years without calling it that. I venture to say that with some reflection you have too, consciously or subconsciously. I crafted my first overt Rule of Life in 2012 and called it Rules for Healthy Living. It was followed by a revised list in 2014. My current list is very much streamlined as evidenced by the image about, but no less comprehensive in scope as each word is an inclusive umbrella term encompassing many regulatory elements common to the Rule of Life ideology:
Read: Guidance, Discernment, Lectio
Pray: Listening, Guidance, Lament, Discernment, Examen, Stillness
Rest: Honoring the Body, Stewardship, Stillness
I encourage you to consider what rules are governing your life. Are they taking you in directions that are helpful and constructive? Do you want to be going in another direction? Prayerfully ruminate on what your Rule of Life is. Write it out and place it somewhere as a reminder of the direction you want to be moving in. I made a little sticky note on my computer desktop since as a student I am looking at that screen for hours every day.
As I have started feeling better I have begun reading books again. Those of you that know me well, or have known me for a long time know that I LOVE BOOKS! Always have & always will. When I was younger the most grievous punishment my parents could inflict was to ground me from my extracurricular reading.... #NERDALERT I hadn't even realized I was no longer pursuing long form reading, thinking that perhaps my interests had shifted & that I was no longer into books. Nope, that was pernicious bacteria taking over. I LOVE BOOKS! Some wonderful books I have read in the past few months include, Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card, The Dirty Life by Kristen Kimball, Dirt Work by Christine Byl & Midnight in Siberia by David Greene.
The crux of each book
Ender's Game; "When I understand my enemy well enough to kill him, in that moment I also love him." I recommend reading the entire series!
The Dirty Life: Sometimes the life you think you want is not the life for you. And the life for you might be much more complicated & hard, but it will be satisfying.
Dirt Work: What does it mean to labor? Is there value in physically draining work?
Midnight in Siberia: Excellent perspective shifter on Russian values.
John Green posted a Vlogbrothers video this week that I have included below. It is the inspiration for this post.
I think it is fun to look inside artists sketchbooks, so here is a glimpse into mine for the past two weeks. I worked on developing an alphabet alongside my usual pattern & face doodles. Happy Tuesday Y'all!
I love seeing where other people work & how they have their studio layed out: this extends to beauty collections on youtube. I always learn something about their process, hence todays studio snapshots. It is half of a two-car garage & I love it! I have been working here for 1.5 years so things have crept onto the walls & some clutter along with the work. But mostly the chaos is kept at bay. One thing I have found most useful is always having fresh water & paint ready to go. That way the second I walk in I can work & not have to worry about getting supplies ready. Happy Monday Y'all!
The entire time, prior to my month hiatus in the ADK, I was working on the aerial views I thought I was drawing inspiration from my time spent in the LowCountry waterways. Then I drove up to camp. As I entered the mountains I saw the forms that I have been laying down open up in front of me. I have been painting variations on the mountains & that has created the waterways. I find the interconnectedness intriguing. Happy Friday Y'all!
This summer I learned how to make strawberry jam. I have made it a few times before, but this summer I feel like I really understood the process & could make it by myself, if I was inclined. There are many steps, but first among them is acquiring strawberries in bulk. The most delicious way to do that is pick them yourself. I do not remember the last time I ate something as tasty as the first strawberry. You have to test the strawberries, in the field; it is important to choose a strawberry you think will be good & then find out if it is, so as you go along picking you will have an idea of what to look for. Truly the warm sweetness that cascaded in my mouth was a version of Beulah. If I had not had an expert jam maker leading the process I would have been lost. I would not have know to test a strawberry, just how clean to make the jar tops, or a half a teaspoon of butter in the berries before the pectin makes all the difference (because butter makes everything better). All of these things are critical to a successful finished product. Expertise, know-how, knowledge, whatever you want to call it, is as crucial to this process as it is to art-making. You need to approach with a beginners wonder & openness and take in the knowledge & process of a pro. Sometimes you can be your own teacher thru trial & error, but other times you can learn from a master & then take what you learn & make it your own. Thank you Mary for teaching me about jammin'. Happy Friday Y'all!
The radical of one century is the conservative of the next. The radical invents the views. When he has worn them out the conservative adopts them. - Mark Twain, Notebook, 1935
I am not suggesting, by pairing this painting with the Twain quote, that my work is radical or new, in any way, but I have been thinking about what behaviour, or ideas, are considered extreme, which are blaise, & what does it mean to be a radical? Happy Thursday Y'all!
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