Tuesday, April 14, 2020

The Opening Sky

                                The Opening Sky oil on panel 20x16 inches, 51x40.5 cm

 Well, that was/is terrifying! When I wrote six weeks ago that I`d rather take my chances with the virus than live in fear, I was an idiot. What made the disease so scary was reading the accounts of people who had it. Once I knew what was possible, it got personal. I`m older, with asthma and my husband is a nurse in a hospital. I felt like a target.
 Hospital staffs were warned to expect thousands of Covid patients. Clinics and other large buildings were to be turned into makeshift hospitals, the governors emergency decree allowed for redeployment of personnel wherever they were needed, personal protective gear was in serious short supply and there was a sense of martial law in the preparations.
 And then it hardly happened. At least at the predicted scale. Oregon stayed home, flattened that curve almost into a line and saved thousands of lives. I`ve never been so proud of my state.
 We ate out for John`s birthday March 2 in an empty restaurant.
No one really knew how effective the isolation would be. If people would observe it. But they did.
I am so grateful to the families with small children especially. It has to be extremely hard.
 I`ve been tripping over my own privilege all month. We have an extra bedroom I`ve been sleeping in for safety, a yard, a paycheck, delivered groceries and proper heath insurance. And it still shook me to the core. For the first time ever, it was imaginable that we could both die soon. For the first time in my life I had to really think through my death. What needed to be done? How could I hold my  ground while looking this in the eye?
It`s said, gratitude is the antidote to fear. For me, accessing it takes time and concentration. It`s not like a grocery list I jot down. I wanted the experience, to feel blessed all over again. So I spent days lying around sifting through memories, recalling the people who gifted me their attention. Remembering situations where only grace could win the day and it did. Many old friendships came into view, most from work or school but rich nonetheless. The wisdom and sacrifice of my parents is clear. So many beautiful landscapes I was able to walk in. The constant sense of purpose my painting has given me. That I`ve always had love to support me.
Nothing needed tending, no unfinished business. It has been a full life. I only want more.
I suspect my fears were/are everyone`s fears. Sure, 80% only feel slight or no symptoms, but they were not telling their easy stories. No, what I kept seeing were tales of week long fevers, fighting for breath after the simplest of movements, and chaos at the Emergency Room. Death and the dying are quite different.
 The Himalayas are visible from Delhi a hundred miles away, the sacred Ganges is drinkable in places, dolphins swim in the canals of Venice.
Surprising and good things will come from this.
Let`s never take cashiers, repairmen, warehouse stockers, farm workers, delivery drivers, ........ for granted again. All deserve living wages, healthcare and paid sick leave. No exceptions. The 'humble' essential worker has kept this country afloat for a month. By themselves! Let`s not forget them. Especially in the next election. Like my Dad told me, Democrats are for the little guy.

                                          Winter Shore watercolor on Yupo 11x14 inches

 My first plein air painting of 2020. Painted on Feb. 28, still way too cold.

                                  Easter Monday watercolor on Yupo 20x10 inches, 51x25.5 cm

 Just finished and painted in a manner of work I did 35 years ago in New Mexico. The state is mountainous and one is always looking out, up, or down. I would take features in the landscape and stack them into a tower.
Spring in New Mexico is about the tenderest most delicate thing you can imagine. If the howling winds finally stop.

 One of the first hippie cookbooks was called Diet for a Small Planet. It was filled with things you would never want to eat, trust me. But it did have a great recipe for chocolate chip cookies. These are special, maybe perfect for contemporary waistlines. Good, but not so much you want to eat ten. Two will do. These cookies contain a gram of complete protein in each one. They could be dinner if the power goes out. I like them best frozen.

Cream together;
1/2 cup of butter
1 1/2 cup brown sugar

Add and beat until fluffy;
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup of instant dry milk  [this is the only weird ingredient but it is available in grocery stores]
1 tbs of water

In a separate bowl mix together;
21/4 cups of whole wheat flour
1 tsp of soda
1/2 tsp salt

Add to the wet mixture;
12 oz chocolate chips
3/4 cup of chopped peanuts
1 cup of sunflower seeds

Combine the wet and dry mixtures, drop by tablespoons onto a greased cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 10-15 minutes

It seems everybody is baking during this lockdown. John made astonishing bread the other day without a recipe! The artist within must be free!

                                                                    Don Gray

 My pal Don Gray was featured on a local public television show recently called Art Beat. They chose to air it during the middle of a virulent global pandemic but you can`t have everything. This is truly one of the best such profiles I`ve ever seen. No narration, just Don talking!

 Seen in Taos NM last weekend. Sacrilege? Or an indictment of consumer culture?

                                                       Carter watching Jo Jo Rabbit

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