Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Vamp Disquised as an Old Lady

What I think of a favorite album, there are several that come to mind but a couple stand out as ones that I can depend on to get my energy moving and my spirits uplifted.  And these two happen to be soundtracks from movies. Maybe I'm attracted to sound tracks because of the visual images that accompany the music.  I know, the music is designed to accompany the images but for me it's the reverse even though I'm a visual artist.

 First of which is Mama Mia.  Images of Meryl Streep and the whole crew dancing in Greece come to mind and I am there yelling "Mama mia, Mama mia," and waving my arms in the air.  I'm smelling salt air under blue skies, watching waves rolling in and looking forward to a plate of moussaka served under the branches of a twisted olive tree growing above the stones of a well washed patio.  Now who wouldn't want to join in?  Add in the memory of seeing and enjoying the movie with my granddaughter who was young enough at the time to still enjoy going to the movies with her grandmother and I'm on a high.

The other album I adore is older and sexier.  I loved the movie "The Full Monty" and laughed til I cried and loved the sound track.  Somewhere in this old woman's aging body is a vamp that gratefully has not totally gone to sleep or wrinkled and dried up into nothing.  I love "The Stripper" by David Rose.  Put that music on and suddenly I am wrapped in black fish net stockings hung from a red garter belt under a bright red teddy and ready to gyrate in red high heels lost in my fantasy.  Of course, a feather boa is draped around my neck and I bump and grind around the room accompanied of course, by imaginary applause and "The Stripper" going full blast.  This is guaranteed to give me a boost of energy.  I think every woman has a vamp inside that begs for a venue however imagined and maybe that is what made this movie so popular with women.  Maybe we weren't just attracted by the possibility of some fine looking bodies stripping down but realized something in ourselves being sparked to recognition.  Love this film and the whole album.  Maybe I will just have to buy a red teddy, rent the movie and watch it all over again while I fantasize my stage and audience.  I might need the teddy to pose for a calendar that my 65+ girl friends and I threaten to make...will keep you posted on that one.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Day 16 Coldest night

Somewhere in the mid 80s I began reading a lot about Native American spirituality.  I read Medicine Woman by Lynn Andrews and all the rest of her work.  Somewhere in there I recognized something in myself.  I was working at TRIMS and had an apartment in Rice Villiage to save me the miserable commute in from Clearl Lake and from some of the craziness that was going on at home.  I think I felt the need for a spiritual connection that I wasn't getting from religion as I had known it.

I was so taken with the connection with nature and its rythym that the Native American culture had and with their concern to maintain respect for all living things, the care and respect of the land and all its inhabitants.  There were few people I could talk with about all this spiritual stuff that was going on with me but my friend, Ann, a fellow artist and art therapist in training, was interested in the same stuff.  She was a single mom and in the process of discovering who she was to be in the world.

In January out of the blue I received a letter from Dick Prosapio, a therapist in New Mexico, inviting me to come to a Long Dance in Chaco Canyon in March.  To this day I have no idea why I got the letter or from whose mailing list it came but there it was.  The Long Dance was a Native American ritual to celebrate the Spring Equinox and invite one's cleansing of old stuff and honor of new beginnings.  The dance began at sunset and ended at sunrise with a sweat lodge.  I was fascinated but didn't want to go by myself so I recruited Ann to go with me.  We each arranged for a week off from work and got busy with the preparation.  We were to bring camping equipment, food, and water for a week and to prepare a banner to be hung from a pole and something to wear while dancing all night.  We designed these full dresses out of muslin with symbols painted on them and fringed at the bottom.  They were large enough to wear over layers of clothing if it was cold.

The day finally arrived and we packed my little Toyota sedan to the hilt and took off.   Arriving in Albuquerque the day before the arrival day, we stopped at a Motel 6 to get a good nights sleep and shop at KMart.  I had brought the makings of my banner with me but was clueless as to what I was going to put on it.  That night I woke up in the middle of the night with a clear image.  I bought spray paint at the KMart and while Ann shopped for food and ice, I laid the banner out in the parking lot and painted it added a moon and stars and a hummingbird with acrylics.  And we were off to northern New Mexico.

The directions sent us through Cuba and then onto a dirt road out in the boonies.  There were no houses, no cars but we were to look for a red, yellow, white and black streamer on a gate.  Finally we saw it and turned and headed down a smaller dirt road wondering what the hell we were doing.  I was afraid we were going to drive up into a circle of Winnebagos with their air conditioning and music going but not so.  As we drove up, a tall nice looking guy with a mustache walked out of a circle of tents and small campers to greet us...Prosapio otherwise known as Coyote Man.

Ann and I unloaded the car and got busy setting up camp.  I had brought a little tiny pup tent and finally got it upright, Ann set up her tent and after laying in sleeping bags and blankets, we made a makeshift table.  Others had been there much earlier and were getting busy working on a sweat lodge and digging a latrine out somewhere in the brush.  The sun was shining brightly and the sky was a brilliant blue and we started a stew on our little stove. 

I think we were the last to arrive and soon Dick called a meeting to tell us the agenda and what we would be doing for the next couple of days. He warned us about snakes and things going bump in the night, to wear plenty of sunscreen and drink lots of water. It sounded so exciting.  First order of agenda was to build the sweat lodge.  He had brought the materials for it...long poles, blankets and black plastic, string and a shovel and large volcanic rocks.  After dinner in the dark near a big fire in the middle of the camp ground, it was time to hit the sack.  There was to be an early rising to greet the sun as it came up. 

It was already getting pretty cold out and Ann and I were really tired. Dick had warned us all to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration and I was glad that we had loaded up.  The dry air left us parched most of the time.  I said goodnight to Ann and crawled  into my itty bitty tent and wriggled out of my heavy jacket and crawled into my sleeping bag with all my clothes on including my socks. A breeze came up and my tent didn't want to stay up but I finally managed to anchor it and crawled back in.  It was getting colder and colder.  I zipped my sleeping bag up to my chin and fell asleep for a little while but then needed to go to the bathroom.  So I grabbed my flashlight, found my boots and crawled out of my tent and made my way through the brush in the direction of what I thought was the latrine.  Damn but I was freezing.  My hands were so cold I could hardly unzip my jeans to squat over the hole.  I am a miserable squater and was terrified that I would get my pants wet or that something would crawl up them.  I worked as fast as I could and hurried back to my little tent and crawled back inside only to have my tent cave again.  I was freezing, god, I've never been so cold in my whole life.  I finally gave up, made it out of my collapsed tent and went to Ann's tent and woke her up.  Help, I said, can I join you?  I am freezing my ass off and my goddamned tent has collapsed.  Besides you will be warmer, too, if there are two of us in there."  She was good with that and I threw my sleeping bag in beside hers and crawled in.  It took me a long time to get warm but I finally got a little sleep before we were called out to begin a new day. 

When we crawled out of our tent that morning, we found our 5 gallon water bottle had frozen during the night.  It took a full day of sun for it to all melt.  It must have been at least in the 20s that night.  Brrrrrrr.    The next night was the dance and though it was cold, we were moving all the time, either dancing or drumming.  But I will never forget how cold I was that first night and miserable. 

Monday, September 13, 2010

Day 11 About something "broken"

The first thing that comes to mind on this day, Sept. 11, are things that are broken about America, the society I live in, "the land of the free".  All this furor about Muslims building a mosque 2 blocks from Ground Zero.  I don't get it...they own the land and they want to build a community center.  What if it had been some deranged Christians that had done it?  Would we be burning the nearby churches?  America was founded on religious freedom, to worship as we please.  How sad to label all Muslims because of a few deranged radicals.  And this crazy preacher in Florida who has set the Muslim Middle East on fire!  That is all we need to increase the threats on our troops and create more crazy radicals.  Radicals produce radicals.  Has he even read the Koran?  I doubt it.   It certainly doesn't promote violence.  Idiot.

And I think our government has some broken parts.  The bureaucracy has become so large that positive change becomes impossible.  Congress is so busy trying to get elected and stay in office it sells out to the highest lobbyist and polarization becomes more evident.  I think the Constitution is in need of revision.  We have become too large and urbanized for the electoral college to be a working model.  We need to go to one vote, one person count....everyone gets an equal vote that counts equally regardless of where they live.

I think I could probably go on and on about this but enough for now...have to get ready to go to my Memoir class.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

From 50/50 Ten things I Know about Beauty

Beauty is in the joy in the face of a 13 yr old granddaughter trying on her first grown-up party dress.
Beauty is in the face of the Dalai Lama.
Beauty is in the billowing white clouds over the water of Galveston Bay
Beauty is in the soft glow of my morning peach
Beauty is in the huge dragon fly the cat brought in
Beauty is in the hand that has held mine as we sit in church for 53 years
Beauty is in the art of Alice Neel
Beauty is in the poetry of Mary Oliver
Beauty is in the suspense stories of Lee Childs
Beauty is in the voice of a son who has moved far away
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder
"Beauty is as beauty does," said my grandmother as I went out the door.
Beauty is in a sunset in New Mexico, Assisi or over Galveston Bay
Beauty is in a dinner party with great conversations
Beauty is in a temple on a Balinese mountain
Beauty is in a jazz concert at College of the Mainland
Beauty is in a granddaughter's practic on her flute
Beauty is in prayer
Beauty is in forgiveness
Beauty is in sitting on a quiet beach watching the waves roll in
Beauty is in a thunderstorm's boom
Beauty is in the quiet time to reflect on what is beauty

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Day 8 50/50 Lead line

The prompt is "He didn't think she was going to answer him."

He didn’t think she was going to answer him. She could tell as he just changed the subject and began telling her what a wonderful job he was doing with the children. She held the phone to her ear not believing what he had just said. Her jacket was suddenly too warm and she was grateful that the little café was nearly empty. She shed her jacket and laid it on a nearby chair.  The pay phone was mounted on a pole in the middle of the privacy for sure.  An old guy with a graying beard leaned over his coffee with his hands wrapped around the mug savoring its warmth.  She was anxious to get her own mug but she needed to take care of this phone call first.
       It had been a long night in the campground outside of Taos. Motorcyclists had driven in around 2 in the morning to a campsite nearby and made a lot of racket. Mary Gray had been sleeping outside but had to come in so she and Betty had to make room for her in the van. At daybreak  they broke camp and drove into Taos to find some breakfast. A small café off the square was open and she was in hopes of finding a phone. Her husband had taken the kids to L.A. on a business trip and because she had been camping, she hadn’t had a chance to check in with him and see how it was all going.

Her trip had been planned for months. She and two girlfriendswere going to NECCA in Ft. Collins, Colorado. They were going to drive her van and while staying in a dorm at the campus, they planned to camp on their way home. About 2 weeks before they were to leave, her husband announced he was leaving on a business trip to L.A. She said, “What are you going to do with the children? I’m leaving and you had agreed to keep them for the two weeks I’ll be gone.” She was so upset as she had been counting the weeks until departure and her friends were counting on going in her van and sharing the expense. She wasn’t going to back down and he got the message. He decided rather than cancel his trip, he would take the kids with him and she left it to him to work it out agreeing only to help the kids get packed.

Because of the time difference she knew she needed to call him early and luckily she had the number of his hotel. Now it was her turn to be stunned as he rattled into the phone about how he had worked it out to leave the kids with his sister-in-law during the day and picked the kids up after work to spend the night with him at the hotel. All this after he announced, “I had a visit with my sister. She is having a hard time and I’m bringing her home with me.” My mind went into overtime and finally I said, “Whoa, wait a minute. You what?”

“I’m bringing my sister home with me.”

“Over my dead body. There is no way that is going to happen. I looked after your mother in a nursing home for 5 years before she died and I’m not looking after your crazy sister. It ain’t gonna happen!”

“Well, what am I supposed to do?”

“I don’t know, tell her whatever you want…that you’re married to a bitch, I don’t care but you are not bringing her home with you. Listen I gotta go, someone is waiting to use this phone and the café is filling up. Give the kids a hug and save one for yourself. I love you but you are not bringing your sister home. Bye, honey. Have a safe trip back. I’ll be home in about 3 days.”

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

From 50 days/50 pages...the longest week

Oh gee but it is really hard for me to think of a week in the past that I thought would never end.  My usual problem is that weeks seem to fly by...that there are never enough days in each week.  I'm always so surprised to see Sunday roll around again when it seems like it was just yesterday that I was at church.  How did that happen and what have I done to count for those days is my usual dilemma.  So what would make a long week for me?  Probably waiting for a special happening like leaving for a trip that I was excited about or waiting for my son and his family to arrive.  But even then I never seem to be able to get everything done I'd like to in preparation.
I can remember in college when I might have been sweating a grade that the week waiting for grades to be posted seemed long or waiting to see if I got into a class that I really wanted. 
When my children were little and my husband was traveling for NASA all the time, sometimes for a week or two at a time, the week got really long and I was so glad when he came home and was able to give me a break.
The last week of the month, the week before payday seems pretty long sometimes.
When both kids got sick at once with the same virus, the week was really, really long.  Oh boy did the cabin walls get high!  Parenting teaches you a lot about patience and flexibility!

Monday, September 06, 2010

From 50/50 A letter to a place

Dear Santa Fe,

I’m in great need of a Santa Fe fix. I need to see mountains, desert covered with cedar breaks, antelope running along side Hwy 14 to Madras, smell pinon smoke in crisp cool air. I miss you and the friends you attracted years ago.

Remember when we first met? It was Christmas time 1975 and my mom had died the year before and we were all looking for a change of venue for the holidays. My pottery studio was up and running and I was anxious to visit some pueblos where the black burnished ware was made. My dad, Murph, drove up pulling his Airstream behind his Suburban and we followed with the van. Somehow we found a trailer park off Cerillos road close to downtown with a vacancy. It was getting chilly as we settled into camp. The Airstream had room for us all and I shopped for groceries to feed us for the next few days. Ken and the children were looking forward to some possible ski time so the first order of business after a good night’s sleep was to drive up to the ski basin and check it out….not much snow there but that was predicted to change.

Next we drove to the San Ildefonso pueblo, home of Maria Martinez, master potter, and her disciples. As we drove into the pueblo circling the outskirts, I smelled smoke and saw some rising from behind an adobe home and yelled for my dad to stop the truck. I hopped out and ran around to the back of the house and sure enough, a woman was tending the smoking of her son’s pottery…beautiful stuff with a turquoise stone set in the side. I was so excited and the woman must have thought I was nuts…I know my family did. But I just knew there was a potter back there somewhere. The woman talked to me briefly and I went into the pueblo center and bought a little burnished pot by Maria’s granddaughter. I was thrilled. Later that day we traveled to another pueblo and watched the Indians perform the Corn Dance. No one is allowed to take photos without permission (aka a fee paid) of the pueblo but we all had a great time.

The next day was Christmas Eve and it was getting really cold. Big white flakes began to fall at the trailer park. There was a family camping in a tent near us and I worried about them. I made a big batch of cookies in the trailer’s little oven and took a plate over to the tent when I saw the family return. How does one knock on the door of a tent? I called out “Merry Christmas” and someone peeked out. I handed over the cookies to a shocked mom and wished them all a great Christmas Eve. I think they were Jewish…oh well, they appreciated the thought.

Christmas Day arrived and Santa came bringing some fun toys for the kids and gifts were exchanged. Outside the snow was piling up and Ken and our 10 yr old son made plans to go up to the ski basin. I was terrified as we had no snow tires on the van. My daughter and I elected to stay home with my dad and do some more exploring in town. I worried the whole time they were gone but they were fine. Ken drove as far as he could toward the basin and when the snow got too deep, he pulled over, parked the van and he and Chris hitchhiked the rest of the way. They skied all day, caught a ride back to the van and drove in just in time for a hot dinner, tired and happy. I was quite relieved.

Thus began my love affair with you and New Mexico and I would return to you in the years to come but it was so special to share the first experience with those I loved the most.

Thank you for being you, maintaining the old square and offering a warm welcome to this Texan in need of some clean air and a mountain fix.

Fondly, Kay

From 50/50 "Souvenir"

Down Under Time

On the wall in my office
to the left of my desk is a clock
in the shape of Australia,
covered with kangas, koalas, and eucalyptus,
a departing gift from my next door neighbor,
souvenir of my life down under, friends I made.
What a thoughtful gift of time from one who had little left,
cancer ticking away at his clock.
I think of him, his gentle ways, his music
and I know his time has passed.

From 50/50 prompt "left behind"

                 Evidence of Grandchildren

A sofa cushion covered in apologies
wears a bright pink stain.
Magic Markers gone astray?
Batman and Spiderman sit forlornly
in the bottom of the tub
waiting for another battle with Bubbles.
In a bedroom, a bottom shutter has lost a tooth,
no explanation, suspect claimed innocence.
Under the bed a small sock
snuggles with Polly Pocket and dust bunnies
while hiding from its mate.
Where the children’s table sat,
a mysterious blue drawing
decorates the wall and refuses Ajax cleanser.
Finally Green Eggs and Ham are laid to rest.
“I do not like them, Sam I Am.”
After goodbye hugs and kisses
I am left behind full of love,
a tired but happy grandmother
with a sticky hand wondering
where I got it.
Hope they come again soon.
                                                                         Kay L. Cox

Saturday, September 04, 2010

From 50 days/50 pages...identity object

Let's see what object in my surroundings define me...oh God, it would have to be the clutter, the collection of objects that are laying around representing all my interests and what is going on in my life.  On the table is my coffee cup that I painted.  It is red on the inside with red and black dots on a white background on the outside with GYPSYCRONE label.  Of course, there are a few books on the table: a novel,
a book on spiritual practice (required reading for a class at church) and a book of word search puzzles.  I'm no good at crossword but do love word search. 
To my right stacked on the floor are bins of fabric, remnants of my sewing and quilting efforts.  The bins are looking for a new home in the house.  They have moved from a bedroom closet in preparation for a daughter and granddaughter's move in next month....aiiiyayaiiii.  Perhaps the attic but only as a last resort.  There is alsoo a tub of photographs, another refugee from the potential move in.  But also out in my search for some photos relating to a memoir I'm writing for my memoir group. Project today is to find somewhere other than the living room for these.  I'm not ready to give them up but that might be the solution but houseguests are arriving in a week and the bins were sitting on the other side of the room when they were here last.  At least they moved across the room.
While I'm writing this, a cat whining at the door has just come in from the outside.  Both cats are new to the outside, another preparation for dealing with the cat that is accompanying the move-in.  They have been only inside cats actively observing the birds and squirrels from the windows while wishing to participate in the adventure.  So now we are introducing them gradually to the outside world.  Slick, the black and white, could care less and is always eager to come back into the air conditioning and his food bowl.  Peanut, however, is curious, eager to explore and just as eager to come inside BUT quickly decides he would rather be outside.  He sits wailing at the door until someone comes.
Of course on my studio table is a drying canvas waiting for the collage pieces to be glued down.  All this in prep for the upcoming Galveston Art League show.  Just two more pieces to go and then I'll clean up the mess. 
I did move the pile of cut-up jeans that are to go in a quilt for my oldest grandson to sit next to the bag of other cut-up old jeans.  I told him I would make him a qult of old jeans to take to college.  It's been a year since he graduated from high school but he decided to work for a while and save some money...a good thing on on fronts as I sure as heck don't have a quilt going.  Wonder if my youngest grandson would like a blue jean quilt for college.  I never finished embroidering his baby blanket but forgave myself as when he was born, he got the quilt my grandmother made for his daddy.  No babies coming soon, thank God, though I miss having any little ones around.
Is it any wonder I can't get interested in cooking?  Well, maybe a little interested.  I have a great recipe for hot crab dip that is made in a crock pot.   
By now I think you get the drift...a picture of me.  But right now a friend called and I'm meeting her for coffee.  Wanna come?  I'm always ready for a party.