Tuesday, February 20, 2024

SOMETIMES A STORY WILL DO...a glimpse into a long ago time


TEA AND EMPATHY:

Fork on the left. Knife and spoon on the right. Plate. Cup and saucer for tea. As I set the table for three, I glance through the sliding glass doors past the kitchen table to the patio. The lengthening shadows stretch through the October light under the canopy of the California Pepper's broad branches. As I watch the dark come, a lone sparrow, startled by something unseen, flits up to land on the brick wall before flying off into the evening sky.

"Dearie? Dinner is ready." My grandmother's voice pulls me back to the room as she calls out to my grandfather. I see him through the kitchen door as he pushes himself up on the arms of his chair and moves to turn off the t.v. His body bent slightly still, highball in hand, he turns our direction. Brown slippers make a scuffing sound on the terra cotta floor as he shuffles into the kitchen and sits at his place at the table.

"Would you get the salt and pepper please, dear?" my grandmother asks me, She is holding the china teapot, setting it down just as she sets her own aproned girth. I sit, too, placing the plain glass shakers in the center of the yellow tablecloth. Without a word, my grandfather reaches for the pork chops first. It is the signal to begin and I spoon into the green beans. The only sounds now that the t.v. is off are those of the meal and the lonesome sound of a whistle as a train works its way up through the canyon below. In silent ritual, my grandmother pours tea for the three of us.

Clink. Clink. Clink. It begins with the three short taps of his silver spoon ob the rim of his teacup. My shoulders tighten.

I wait, not daring to glance his way. It is coming. In my mind I can see his thin, veined hand--almost dainty in its gentle grasp of the teaspoon--hovering over the yellow roses blooming in repose on the china cup. The deep dark honey color of the tea swirls in the cup as he dips his spoon in stirs before sounding the warning clinks again. The moment stretches. Get it over with. Be done. Aw, c'mon. My mind moves over words as my breath holds at attention. C'mon. I know you're going to. I can almost see the gleeful look in you pale blue watery eyes. I pretend not to notice, take a bit of potato onto my fork. Lift the bite--oozing with butter and flecked with black pepper--toward my mouth. Maybe he's not going to do it this time. Maybe it's just a tease. I just sneak a sidelong glance to my left to see...

"Ouch!" The hot spoon on the back of my left hand as I lower my fork smarts for an instant and seems to push the escaping sound out like steam. I grit my teeth as I hear his low chuckle.

"Now, Dearie...," my grandmother's gentle voice chides. Nothing more is said by either of them. We all continue eating silently.

My grandfather, a cold, taciturn man, has played this small trick on me all of my life. I don't think he'll ever stop. Does my grandmother think he will, really> After a bit she asks, with a soft, warm smile on her face, "Don't you both think you're too old for that?" She doesn't seem to expect an answer.

He never looks up, just goes on with his slow, careful bites, chewing and chewing, tools poised and ready for the next bite. His eyes are innocent--almost--twinkling with mischievous light behind wire-rimmed glasses. It is as if the spoon is some kind of jumper cable joining us, sparking some small communication--a link that does not otherwise exist. The small teasing meanness a way to connect, to say I love you without any words. I know this somehow. I, too, can play this game.

Clink. Clink. Clink. He continues to stir, taunting. Outside, the encroaching darkness signals the ending of yet another day. Without looking at either one of them, I set down my fork, leaving the potato I was eating for now. Picking up my own spoon, I stir my tea slowly with my left hand, clinking the spoon on the edge as he does. I am fully enrolled in the game now...a small glow of warmth rests inside my chest. Does he think I wouldn't dare? In fact, would I?

Every movement is slowed to a snail's pace. Smooth and slow. No jerk at all. Stirring....stirring...I can sense their held breath as they watch, wondering. I have their attention. I can feel their eyes. The corners of my mouth itch to turn up. I control them. And I continue to stir, letting my teaspoon just brush against the sides of the cup...just enough....Clink. Clink. Clink.

Then, setting down my spoon on the saucer, I pick up the cup and slowly sip at the hot, sweet liquid within. I smile with my eyes over the rim of my cup, set it down on the saucer without the slightest sound, pick up the spoon, stir again, and...Clink. Clink. Clink.



Wednesday, January 24, 2024

"WHAT HAPPENED TO CHERRIL'S BLOG?" NO ONE EVER ASKED...

 

So what did happen to the blog? Ah, the list is long, but bottom line is life just got in my way. Somehow, starting with the new piece in progress shown here got me started again. In the meantime, I finally have gotten homeowner's insurance just under the wire before cancellation of old policy. That was the biggest challenge for the past few months. It feels like quite an accomplishment. Whew!

Winter Fantasy at the Sawdust Art Festival was fun and a great success all around I think. It's always a chance to see old friends and make new ones.

The 2023 Round Robin Journal came to an end and we all gathered to share images and stories. The 2024 journals got started recently and I look forward to another year of creative opportunity.

Hopefully, now that I have started again I will be able to keep this up. Blogs seem to have become pretty passe' but there is still something to be said about the practice. 

Meanwhile, I look forward to a full year of monthly workshops, summer and winter shows, and of course the creative energy that goes into it all.

'Til next time.....

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

THE MUSE, MARY AND ME


 The feet and eyes are for me the most difficult to get right. So it may take me just a bit longer to get this final piece ready for Sawdust Art Festival's Winter Fantasy showing.

Meanwhile, I will continue to look for inspiration and solace in my muse and poet Mary Oliver.

Crisp mornings of sunshine or fog filled with birdsong...aren't we fortunate? I ponder the question of what it might be like not to be able to have these things. What must that mean to someone's life/

And this brings me to poet Mary Oliver and the questions she poses in her poem Gratitude:

What did you notice?

What did you hear?

What did you admire?

What astonished you?

What would you like to see again?

What was most tender?

What was most wonderful?

What did you think was happening?

i wonder how answering these questions, no matter our circumstances, might be likely to bring us to a state of gratitude. So take a deep breath. Listen to the birds, Feel the sun on your shoulders. Enjoy the soft caress of a breeze. Smile at a stranger in passing. Ask yourself these questions from the poem and see if there is even a slight shift in your thinking. Hopefully, you will be brought to gratitude.

Let me know.

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

IF THIS IS OCTOBER....

 

I think I will definitely need at least one of these sugar treats as the month unwinds (or is it winds up?)

As with most months this one brings both joys and challenges. It's the challenges that daunt me on occasion and I am tempted to drown myself in sugar treats (I AM holding back though...so far)

So on a much lighter note...what is YOUR favorite candy? Or do you turn to something else when the going gets a little tough?

I'm trying art exploration since it usually works, but at some point I am going to have to face the challenges head on and that may call for some sweets 😍 I'll try to keep you posted on the progress. In the meantime, I am creating new pieces for the upcoming Winter Fantasy at the Sawdust Art Festival.

Sunday, September 10, 2023

RANDOM THOUGHTS ON A RAINY SEPTEMBER MORNING

 

The rain on the roof this morning surprised me into alertness. What a lovely, soft, gentle patter it was. The humidity factor seemed to increase, but the temperature had not yet reached the point where there was a need to throw off covers. So I snuggled deeper and let my mind wander.

The summer had been a busy one, filled with creating new art and meeting new folks at the Sawdust Art Festival, scheduling and working with the Sawdust Art Enrichment Fund to further fulfill artist John Eagle's vision of providing art for underprivileged while helping to support our local artists. I was tired. This morning with its soft rain was a blessing. I could wait a bit to start the day.

And so my mind meandered as I drifted in and out, imagining new creations and directions that might take me, thoughts of taking care of the little things that tend to slip through the cracks during the summer months, plotting new trails to traverse, and so much more......

What does a rainy morning conjure for you?

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

CROWS, CROWS AND MORE CROWS....

 

Who knew? The summer seems all about crows in my neck of the Sawdust Art Festival. They fly off the shelves almost faster than I can put them there. 

I wonder if they are off in search of shiny things to add to their stash or gift to some person they have befriended.

Maybe I will never know.

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

YOU KNOW IT'S SUMMER WHEN...

 

...the festival season in Laguna Beach begins. And this is the week! Preview nights for Sawdust Art Festival, Art-A-Fair and the Pageant of the Masters make for a busy week.

Planning has taken place often for months as readiness varies among individuals. I found myself oddly blessed to be house-bound with Covid, which gave me many hours of art play in March/April that I might not otherwise have had. I wasn't sick...just kept getting positive tests so, with nothing better to do I played and played. And of course my crow friends showed up often in that play.

If you're around be sure to come see me at the Sawdust at Gallery Wall 11.