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Saturday, June 26, 2021

Caretaker or Destroyer from 2006-- except the hawk

This photo didn't come with that blog but seemed apropos-- how some can be caretakers and destroyers

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Caretaker or Destroyer

Do you ever wonder how some people can do such horrible things to others? Do you try to understand human nature and what makes some work to stop atrocities and others turn away? How do you explain to yourself something like-- Hell comes to Chad?

It is in the nature of animals, human and otherwise, to divide ourselves into groups as we try to stay safe, find comfort zones, and understand life. Our human groupings tend to have a variety of reasons for existing. Menses types want everybody to know how smart they are. Beauty contests label the fairest of them all. Religions divide people into saved and unsaved. Sometimes human divisions are on the basis of birth and can't be changed no matter how someone tries. Sometimes they are a series of choices made to belong to what seems to be the 'right' group.

A long while ago, I looked at such groupings and didn't see it as working for me. I saw that there were similarities between people that went beyond the usual labels. I simplified my division-- Caretakers and Destroyers.

Sometimes, in the beginning, it can be hard to discern where someone fits, but eventually it becomes obvious. Very few people would want to see themselves nor do they want you to see them as destroyers. Most justify their actions-- no matter what they do, they claim it's the right thing. Even less want to think their acceptance of certain things might make them destroyers not by their direct action but by their acceptance of destruction as the price they must pay for their personal security or prosperity.

The Constant Gardner is, in its essence, a film about caretakers and destroyers. Based on the book by John LeCarre, it is the story of a man who wants to live a peaceful life but is pulled into an alternate universe. It is one he might have suspected existed but preferred not to acknowledge.

The film illustrates well how all the destroyers are not firing guns. Some do it through choices they make that lead others to die and they don't care because all that really matters is their own benefit. In The Constant Gardner, the bad guys are on the ground, terrorizing, shooting, enslaving, starving others, but they are also in government offices, in corporate boardrooms where they make decisions to test drugs on unsuspecting Africans as well as give them free medicines that are out of date and sometimes of no use-- except for their own tax write-off. (Read, Pharmaceuticals and Africa, in case the idea of such things actually happening is beyond your imagination.)

Most of us don't know enough about what is going on in the world. We cling to our secure zone and try to tell ourselves the evil being done is not our responsibility. But when we don't do whatever we can to stop such atrocities, are we being silent partners to the destroyers?

Kind of going along with this, the most recent Tony Hillerman mystery, The Shape Shifter, has a character who also divides people, but he does according to prey or predator. That fits fine with my definitions and extends the meaning of caretaker. Caretakers don't have to be weak or prey. They can fight for what is right. Just as destroyers don't have to be strong. Sometimes to be a caretaker requires making the hard choices; but in the end, caretakers work to build life, make it stronger. They are the ones who solve problems, who create worlds that last. Destroyers destroy or enable destruction.

Where all this matters most is when it comes time to vote, but it can be about where we donate and what we purchase, the friends we make or choose not to make. Being aware has always been important but maybe never more so than today.

Years ago, we had a beautiful example of a caretaker personality here on the farm. It was an Appaloosa horse named Kitty Dawn. When lamb or calf would be born, if the mother was not right there to take care of it, Kitty would forcefully guard that baby from all that might endanger it. She would stay by it until we saw the situation and took over. It wasn't part of her herd-- except in the broadest sense of the word. Too bad more of us don't see our herd in the broadest sense of the word.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

best laid plans

When we got to the farm, we learned we do have some internet but it's slow and has to be shared with others, which means limited usage. Still nice to have a bit but glad I had the older blogs to be shared as anything big is not possible. 

Here's where we are. I won't get started on all the problems getting here as not feasible with limited usage. It's been an experience is all I'll say and some jobs are being done-- with more heat coming than we had expected for living in this travel trailer with limited a/c...

All I will say is-- best laid plans of mice and men :)

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Mysticism and what is it from 2006

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Mystic Northwest

That could have as well been spelled mist-ic this week as the clouds hung low over the valleys and sat on top the hills. We don't often see traditional white Christmases in northwestern Oregon, but we do see a lot of white through frost or fog.

The fog can be so thick at night that it's like pea soup, but the day before Christmas, it was light, serving as a reminder of the mystic feeling of the coastal range where I live. The hills are broken by river valleys that sometimes run west directly into the Pacific Ocean. One hill over, they might flow east to larger rivers that head for the Pacific by a different route. These hills, from northern California up into Canada, are the fertile soil for many myths of the Native Americans who first lived here (First Nation as they are called today in Canada).

When the Luckiamute band of the Kalipuya peoples lived in the area I now call home, cedar forests towered over the land (where the people had not burned them off to enable the Camas roots, berries and other foods they depended on to grow).

Some would build cedar longhouses; and in them, the people would sit around the edges and watch as storytellers with wonderful robes and masks retold the myths of how their people came to be and of the dangers that lay beyond the firelight.

There were stories of Big Foot throughout these hills, but also a wild woman. Dzunuk-wa was a creature of huge size with a black hairy body twice the size of a human and red eyes that glowed. Her lips are shown pursed in the masks that are still made to depict her. "Uh, huu, uu, uu," the people would hear in the distance and know that the one, who came with a basket on her back to steal away children and eat them, was nearby. The children always outwitted her due to her poor eyesight, but she had powerful knowledge of the forest where she dwelt and was much respected-- and feared. Was she a female Big Foot? Who knows...

She is only one of the many inspirations for carved masks that depict the myths of the people, myths intended to teach people (as they are with most Native American stories) the wisdom they need to survive in a world that could be dangerous to those who were ignorant and unwary.

(There are many images of the Wild Woman in museums and shops in the Northwest. This image came from Free Spirit Gallery.)

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Creativity and its other side


Thursday, November 03, 2005

the other side of creativity

For me, creative expression is the wind beneath my sails. It's what I do, how I feel good, how I express me. This comes through writing, sculpting or painting, but I have tested the waters shallowly in many mediums-- made a few quilts, sewed, done some macrame, tole painting. My creative expression shows up in my home, garden and lifestyle choices. When I explain who I am, being creative is high on the list.  

Lately I haven't done much sculpting but these are some of my clay sculptures. Most set in the attic as I have not been successful in selling them, but then I haven't put the effort into selling that I did into creating. I feel a mix of emotions about them and my other work-- a stack of paintings are up in that attic as well as 11 completed manuscripts on my hard drive (ranging from 85,000 to 140,000 words). I feel proud of what I have done-- finished works, skills learned-- but not so proud that I haven't worked harder to get them out into the world. I have done a lot of things in my years but marketing well is not one of them. It feels like a mix of failure and achievement when I think on my works. Like I let them down. 
 I don't have one clear reason for why I have not been better at doing what I see as the other part of creating. Some is not fitting the market. I can say that about the books at the time they were rejected-- those that ever got submitted. 
When we hope to trade our artistic work for someone else's dollars, we have to meet their needs. I don't blame the market when what I have done didn't succeed in that. But that's only part of it. Part of it is I haven't tried hard enough and this goes back to another part of creativity. We create it and then we put it out for the world to judge through sales, showings or even contests. These paintings, manuscripts and sculptures are pieces of me. They are my babies and when someone else looks at them and says pedestrian work, not enough interest to them, it's like they are saying it about me. 
An artist who has the whole package believes in their work, believes enough to get out there and send it again and again to publishers or to galleries. Maybe I'm not a true enough artist or maybe it goes back to the recent reading I received from the medium where she saw the negative patterns in my life. Number one was I didn't trust enough, that I felt I would lose whatever I gained; and number two was I didn't have enough belief in myself or my abilities. I would guess that's true of a lot of us and the way past it is to take the risks and keep taking them until the barrier is broken-- but the reason we don't goes back to the patterns. Sometimes not believing in my work is not a mistake. I mean it's not wise to kid myself on what I'm doing. I am not as gifted a painter as my friend at Golden Acorn. I don't know if I never quite developed the craft side of painting or just don't have the gifts, but it doesn't stop me from enjoying painting. It does cause me to often not show it to others. What ends up on the canvas has not yet been what I had seen in my mind. 
When I got online for the first time some years back, I learned how many people can write well. It was an eye-opener. The main difference between those who have published books and those who have not is at least to a degree marketing skills. I intellectually know the process, have read how-to books, talked to agents, other writers, but it is one thing to know what you should do and another to face your baby (and creative work is your baby) being rejected yet again. Wait a minute. Those characters were good. Didn't you laugh at that part? What was not to like? Sometimes an editor says you can change this or that and we'll consider again except either you can't do it or it goes against your sense of what the work was supposed to be about-- creative integrity vs marketing reality.
I am working on getting past these blocks. My problem has not been in having ideas or finishing my projects. Or maybe it is. Is it really finished stacked in a dusty, cobwebbed attic or will it only be finished when it has moved to someone else's hands?

Saturday, June 05, 2021

Dreams from 2005



For years I have gone through periods of time where I get dreams that are vivid, in story form, and applicable to either my life or creativity. I have dreamed story ideas, paintings, seen troubling options illustrated for their consequences and very much enjoyed the times of the vivid dreamworld. 
The idea for this painting came from such a dream where the woman had feathers, was like a kachina or Isis and it led me to rereading who Isis was, some sketches and finally a couple of paintings that varied around the dream. I believe it's important when I first wake to try to retrieve any dreams that are lingering and sometimes I lie for a few moments putting together the stories, the colors and any images that are clear. Most times there is nothing important to remember. 
This week I had ones I call medicine dreams (as in their meanings go beyond what I was doing and are for helping me). Two mornings I could remember the important aspects but not today. Although I remembered it when I first woke, by the time clear awareness came, it was gone. All I know for sure is it was negative and not sure why I lost it. The earlier dreams illustrated current life situations-- one night being full of barriers which I have been feeling a lot in my life and the world at large. 
Sometimes without any help I can come up with the meanings of the dreams but other times by looking in a dream dictionary I can consider meanings that would not have been obvious to me. I went looking for that site after the night I dreamed of a skyscraper, elevator, dragon, and a couple of other symbols that were not part of my regular life and seemed odd to be in my dream. I live a certain kind of rural life that normally is used in dream illustrations. I have come to believe for the most part that in my dreams the people in them aren't as critical to the meaning as what happened. I think my subconscious uses whoever is handy to illustrate the needed lessons. 
Although I do not, as some do, keep a journal alongside my bed to write down everything, usually in the morning when I am up, I do write down the gist of the dreams as only a few will I remember well years later. The dream dictionary was a helpful source when I had a dream where I was going to jump from a rocky ledge into bright red, molten lava and then opted to decide that would hurt too much and reconsidered it with instead throwing myself in the cool blue of a beautiful ocean. Both were symbolic of optional ways of solving life problems and actually could be figured out for myself if I stopped to think-- anger vs peace. I have never had truly prophetic dreams but I often have very illustrative ones of what is going on with my life, and I try to remember and use them.