Thursday, March 09, 2006

Michaelangelo of Medicine Bow

Just when I am at the most homesick, God just does really neat things by giving me a surprise that makes me smile and feel grateful.

We drove out about 40 miles from town to go to a Council of Governments meeting at the Dip Bar and Diner. Dip is short for Dip-lo-do-cus (the o's are long o's). That's the big ol' dinasaur that, among others, left his bones deposited not too far from town.

Entering the Dip Bar, row upon row of western carvings, down to the tiny duplication of rope harnesses greet the visitor. Beyond the display of the amazing wood carvings is a huge bar - made entirely of different kinds of Jade. It is entirely gorgeous.

Once past the bar paintings of rural scenes, mostly ranches, cowboy life and native wild animals cover walls and ceilings as stately as any paintings in the cathedrals in Europe. I asked the "Michaelangelo" if he lay on a scaffold to paint. No, he painted them with his arms raised over his head, his head crooked back. Considering that, the proportions are even more incredible.

Friends hanging out in front of the Jade Bar, after the meeting.

Hmmmm, now I think I might just drive on out there Saturday for a hamburger and a visit with "Michaelangelo."

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Old Buildings

I love old buildings. They speak quiet stories through my mind. This building stood in a village of similar buildings. As a little girl I remember horseback riding in the area. As a little girl I thought they were mysterious even then. The history of this old frontier town is as rough as the finish on the building. And some of the town's secrets are as securely boarded up as the window. I guess because of the "oral traditions" of this town the secrets are not secrets, only conspiracies of silence. I used to make up stories that these buildings might contain. Now, as I reflect on my history in this town, I have stories of my own.

We think we have to have so much now. I remember living simply - a three room house (my grandmother's), a wringer washer, hanging clothes out to dry (of necessity), of walking to town and carrying home groceries and a watermelon (no car). Excursions to the "dump," now called a landfill, to look for items to recycle. I thought it was fun and a treat, those trips to the "dump." Crazy quilts made of old woolen garments to keep me warm at night, rugs woven skillfully out of rags on linoleum floors (not vinyl then). Buttons cut from coats, shirts, and blouses and reused. Pillowcases made from the unworn parts of sheets.

Woven into the fabric of that life are the conspiracies of silence of a family. I think we all have them. I wish we didn't. It's not fair for children to be left guessing. They often guess the wrong things. But it is life. And it is families. And it is generations.

When my husband and I moved back here in the late '70's, still before the time of the "landfill," my grandma wanted to go dumping. So we loaded her up and off we went. We found quite a cache of blue jeans, with an odd stitching on the pockets. Taken home, and washed and sanitized - my husband wears them until my cousin tells him they are from the "pen." (The penitentiary.) In horror, they were quickly disposed of much to my thrifty Grandma's dismay. Now, I am smiling - they would have sold on EBay for a fortune today.

And the missions people were afraid we wouldn't make it in Albania - they didn't know we were from Wyoming! We were used to squatting to pee alongside the road - there were no rest stops then. Not much traffic either. We knew how to pump water, and how to walk instead of ride, how to settle for something in the meager selections of goods in the stores. How to have patience. We'd seen and used an outhouse or two. We had pulled our fish from the streams and fried them over an open fire. We were tough.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Apartment Cat

This is an apartment cat. A cat who does not go outside except for an occasional boarding when I travel. This weekend I have been doing a friend a favor by feeding their apartment cat while the friend & husband are out of town. After seeing THEIR apartment and comparing it to MY apartment, I am wondering if I have a deviant apartment cat.

The friend's apartment is tidy and clean. No litter tracked from the box to the other rooms of the house, no poopoo stuck on the wall & floor by the box, no masses of hair clinging to carpets, furniture, curtains, no food scattered all over the kitchen (food was neatly in the bowl where it belonged).

This cat, Spot a/k/a Ms. Meowi is a smart cat. I have finally taught her that she is NOT allowed to reach up and dig big ruts in my thighs. She has learned that she cannot jump on me and take my food away, nor steal it from the table. Why can she not learn to be tidy? All she has to do is walk across a room and it will need two hours of cleaning.

In fact, in my friend's apartment there was no trace of a cat. It apparently hid when it heard the key in the lock. I stayed a little while in case the animal was lonely and wanted a petting. Still no trace. Spot a/k/a Ms. Meowi would have instantly greated a newcomer, sharpened her claws on their thighs (knowing they would be too polite to whop her) and jumped up (all 27 pounds of her) on their shoulders to smell their breath to see if perhaps food was a possibility.

Spot thinks she's a dog and will not leave my side. Did you ever hear of a cat shedding when its 5 below zero, and believe me, my apartment does not go much above 60 degrees. I can no longer allow her to sleep on my bed because inhaling the loose fur causes allergies. At regular intervals she wakes me up, wailing outside my bedroom door. I constantly trip over her as I clean up after her. Oh, Spot a/k/a Ms. Meowi, what am I going to do with you?

Right now, I am going to go to the store and buy a new pooper scooper, litter, floor cleaner, and scrubbing clothes.

Saturday, March 04, 2006


Dolls-few little girls grow up without owning a
doll, or many. My artistic life encompasses a fascination with dolls as subject matter. I don't understand it, as I am fascinated with the process and outcome of the art, rather than the beginning or any relating in the present to the doll.

This has led to some thinking about dolls and what do they mean to us as we grow up?

My dolls were never the baby-doll kind. I was not into caretaking (at that time), but into dreaming of being a beautiful creature like my dolls. The dolls became sort of an "other" for me, an alter-ego sort of persona that allowed me adventures that went far beyond my house and yard.

Often the Sahara called, or Hollywood, or perhaps the distant Himalayas, or perhaps India.

My heart's desire was to own a Shirley Temple doll. My mother thought they were ugly. There began one of the first family system "triangles" that I remember. Me, my mother, and, of course, "the right doll." My mother won, and instead of the dark haired, dark-eyed Shirley Temple doll who looked like me, I received a tall blonde, blue-eyed ballerina on pointed toes for Christmas. My little sister was blonde, now I wonder about the meaning behind that doll-gift, and remember all the struggles of self-differentiation as I grew up. A light bulb comes on, and I think of the meaning of dolls as both an extension of myself and, at the same time, a means of self-differentiation. Anyway, I recovered easily enough and moved on to the Stage and beyond, magically floating off the stage to become a dancer on the backs of the seats in theatres.

In the past few years, I have regathered my old dolls and we meet across the drawing board. Some critics find the art disturbing, not many can say "I love it!" Yet, a few find a disturbing emotional connection to the art. And that's what art is about - that emotional connection.

My granddaughter collects dolls. Her favorites are American Girl dolls. They are lovely. She has dolls that look like her, and dolls that look like other little girls in faraway lands. Sometimes, though, in the night they frighten her. I think the next time I see my granddaughter we will have a long talk about what her dolls really mean to her.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Medicine for Body & Soul

Oooooooooooooh, the bug has bit. Influenze type B, secondary bacterial infection, croup! Went to doc who did blood tests, he's so cool, won't give antibiotics for a virus. I knew I didn't feel too good, but didn't know I felt THAT bad. Too much cell phone stress, late nights doing websites and blogs. Oh well, its FUN.

Two shots, cough syrup, and a one-smack antibiotic dose, a nap, and I think I feel better. But I haven't been out in the cold and wind for the last 6 hours either.

Flu, bronchitis, and other named and unamed illnesss have turned our workplace into an infirmary. Yesterday I sent a gal home who looked like she was going to slide under her desk, and she had "Community" pnuemonia. I think that's a new medical term for pneumonia contacted in a mileau in a workplace. We probably should have the building shut down, and have someone come in with in protective gear to sterilize the place.

I have been craving comfort and artichoke hearts, turnip greens, romaine lettuce, (anything GREEN) and homemade chicken soup which I am too ill to make.

Comfort memories move up into the mystical electrical paths in my brain and come floating in gently and almost work as a substitute for the lack of people around me in the here and now. As a child when I became ill, my Mother would bring me lemons and salt, and monster comic books. Grandma would throw one of those old remedy
"mustard plasters" on you and only but the most entrenched lung problem would RUN. To treat fever, Grandma would turn up the heat to 85 degrees and bundle children and grandchildren in blankets. Then the sweat would come, and the illness would leave. Sometimes I really miss her. I miss sitting in her tiny kitchen with homemade curtains and smelling the familiar smell of "Grandma's house." She could make a meal appear out of nowhere when company showed up. Even one grandchild would qualify as "company." The food usually was good ol' Southern cooking - fried chicken, mashed potatoes with lumps, the best white gravy in the universe, leaf lettuce from the garden slightly wilted with "bacon grease." Often a home made pie was there too. Grandma made the good kind of pies, using lard in the crust. Oh, yeh, cholesterol, but how did she live to be 102?

In a fit of nostalgia, I mentioned to my younger daughter that I would like to teach pie making classes. Her answer, "What on earth for, when Walmart is around the corner?" Well, she had a point, but I really think the "for" is to be measured with the love that puts the home made pies together. They might taste the same. But doesn't the extra love make them taste noticeably better? I like to think so.

And my Grandma always did the best thing that Grandmas do. She loved me unconditionally, always, as I love my grandchildren.

Speaking of "comfort," am going to go crawl under that down blanket and maybe sweat.

Hmmm, now I am wishing I had someone here to baby me a bit!