Weekly photography Challenge: Chaos

I’m in the process of moving 15 years accumulation of art supplies from the sunroom studio out to the shed studio, inspired by an increasingly mobile and curious grandchild to remove all those interesting and possibly hazardous things from her sight and reach. This process has produced plenty of chaos for this weeks photography challenge!

I found the Martha Beck quote scrawled on an index card, appropriately, amidst the chaos of the old order.

Meanwhile, in the garden, a much more pleasant version of chaos. I read a quote somewhere from a children’s book writer who said that a good story needs a balance of “chaos and control”, and I firmly believe the same rule applies to gardens!

Friday Poem:Spread My Wings

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It is 21 years this week since I sat down on an ugly-but-practical brown couch and watched a Rage TV special – Nirvana Unplugged in New York. I’d heard of the band, I knew how the singer died, and I wanted to know what all the fuss was about. I know it’s cheesy, but it’s also true – that record changed my life.

I wrote this poem during the following year, expressing frustration with the constraints of my ordinary life. Nirvana fans might notice the influence of “Sappy”, but there’s a dash of Hank Williams in there, too.

cologne-s

This jar is far too small.
There is no room for my wings;
There is no room to fly;
I want to spread my wings.

I’m not a moonbeam in your jar;
I’m not a pretty toy;
I need to move, I need to breathe;
I want to spread my wings.

These air holes are too small.
You must not smother me;
I want to take the air,
I want to spread my wings.

Let me loose, what’s the use
Of keeping me in here.
I might not fly away,
But I want to spread my wingsa-collage-2

One of the things I did as I escaped from the jar of proper lady-like behaviour, was to stick anything that appealed to me on my wall. Nowadays, that’s an “Inspiration Board”, but twenty years ago, it was weirdly adolescent for a forty-year old woman with 5 kids…At some point, the collection came down, and was upcycled into a series of collages, of which this is one. There’s an apt quote on there-

“Our lives improve only when we take chances – and the first and most difficult risk we can take is to be honest with ourselves”

Walter Anderson.

I also got rid of the brown couch, and as much other ugly-but -practical-with-kids brownness out of my house, and started surrounding myself with things that I actually liked.

After ordering and waiting patiently for “Nirvana Unplugged in New York (on cassette), I expanded my music collection, my library and my stash of art supplies. I now have the Melvins “Gluey Porch Treatments”, and  I’m reading  Bessel Van der Kolk’s ” The Body keeps The Score”, about the ongoing effects of trauma. When Micheal Azzerad asked Kurt, “Is your’s a sad story?” , he hesitated, and said “…No…”, going on to say that the events of his childhood were commonplace, which, unfortunately, they are. But it is a sad story, they are all sad stories, which Dr Van Der Kolk and his colleagues are learning to address with proper treatment – too late for Kurt, but there’s hope for another generation to have more than numbness – they will be able to spread their wings.

Friday Poem

I wrote this short poem years ago, and I wish it wasn’t relevant any more…DSCF4507 (Large)

“Peace!” is my battlecry,
With love I taunt my enemies,
And when they writhe in travail
on the floor,
I ache with empathy.DSCF4509 (Large)

The images here are from an artist book I made with an inspiring quote from Ian MacKaye,and the last one from an altered book. I learned about the concept (and reality)of dominator culture through reading Derrick Jensen‘s book, A Language Older Than Words. It was a challenging read, but well worth it.

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Only love can conquer fear.

Weekly Photography Challenge: Half-Light

I love the slanting, fading light of winter evenings, so I thought “Half-light” was a straight forward challenge…but then I saw that we are also invited to choose a favourite poem or lyric as inspiration for a photo, not necessarily half-light…How to choose! I thought of “Bird on a Wire”, which I love, and I have taken pictures of birds on wires, but where in my vast archive are they? Not labelled “bird on wire”, that’s for sure. I searched for Emily Dickinson’s poem, “There’s a certain slant of light…”, and then I searched for the photos.

I found these – two taken at home, and playing on colour, light and shadow. The sunset is from the west-facing balcony of my daughter’s previous home in Canberra. The big windows onto the balcony admitted marvelous evening light in winter, allowing for beautiful side-lit images of little Juniper. She was just one year old in those pictures, in one wearing a gorgeous vintage hooded cape – impractical, but so cute. How time flies!IMG_7483 (Large)

Now she’s two and a half, with a head full of curls and a passion for Thomas the Tank Engine, and all his friends. And she doesn’t mind some raspberry sorbet, either! Like the plums that William Carlos Williams purloined from the refrigerator, it was “delicious, so sweet and so cold”.

Creativity: Playing with Paint(.NET)

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As you may know by now, I am celebrating turning (gasp) 60 by having a punk-themed party. I am also a Nirvana fan, and a feminist…I decided a detail of a collage would add something to the party decor, but the slightly blurry photo wasn’t all that exciting. So I decided to jazz it up a bit, using paint.NET.

posterized (Large)

After fiddling with brightness, contrast and saturation, I played around with curves until I had a look I liked (making the discoloured old newspaper clippings pink and orange). But that still seemed a bit dull, and I felt the dark spaces needed…something.

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Writing using the mouse is a challenge – so I did that. I was surprised how neatly I managed to write the name of my “event”. I filled some more empty space with my “peace love empathy” bleeding rainbow heart symbol, and wrote in the words. Filling in the colours of the rainbow took a lot of effort, and frequent use of “control Z” to fix mistakes…because the original background is unevenly coloured, it was not a simple matter of filling the space between the lines, and the lighter section (the newspaper clipping) read as the same as the heart outline – resulting in the whole thing being coloured in….several times before I gave up and left that corner “as is”. Finally, in case anyone missed it, I underlined the more pertinent parts of the quote about women. I made the collage from bits and pieces that had been stuck on a wall in my studio a long time ago – 18 or 19 years – so unfortunately I have no idea who it was that said/wrote either of the quotes.

Friday Poem: Birthday Obituary

I was eight-and-a-half when my sister was born. There were two brothers in between, so it was good to have another girl around. I remember Mum sneaking into my room in the middle of the night to kiss me goodbye when she went to the hospital. After school the next day, I came home to  a kitchen that was strangely clean and tidy (Mum was never into ‘housekeeping’ – we had skinks living on one of the benches for a while, and she put them there…). My maternal Grandma, and Dad’s Step-Mum occupied the space, having spent the day cleaning and reorganising while Mum was safely out of the way.

In 1964, babies were kept away from’germs’ and relatives for as long as possible, so we kids didn’t get to cuddle her the way my kids held their siblings within 24 hours of birth. She was safe behind glass, in a crib that was tilted slightly so she could be seen.

It’s her birthday again in a couple of days. She would have been 51, which I can’t really imagine, because she was only 27 the last time I saw her – in the same hospital as where I saw her first.DSCF5120 (Large)

 

I remember the pink and white bundle behind the glass,
I remember my sister at my mother’s breast;
I remember the last time I saw her, too.
Her head, bald from chemo, tied with a scarf;
Her dangly earrings, her grey-goose eyes
That were almost empty,
But she squeezed my hand
As I drank her face for the last time here.

I remember the first time I saw her, and the last;
And in all the years since she left,
I have learned to miss her less.
But I have only dreamed of her once,
When we climbed a hill together
And I planned to cook a meal.anniv5

I don’t seem to have a ‘baby’ photo of her – there are hundreds of Juniper, but times, and cameras, have changed. This photo was taken when we were on holiday at the coast – Dad never wore shorts any other time! I’m guessing Merrilyn was two-and-a-bit, and not happy about being sat on the bonnet, for some reason. I vaguely remember the photo being taken – it’s around 50 years ago  (groan).DSCF5121 (Large)

I made this quilt as a memento of her – there’s an outline portrait of her as I last saw her in the quilting. The quote is of Kurt Cobain, and a good summary of my sister’s approach to life and art.