Red Mountian, M.V.Frances Barkley and me, Part 2

Thank goodness I haven’t blown up yet I am safe and sound on the outskirts of Port Alberni.   I’ve just swung the van into the tourist information parking lot and it’s around 5 pm.  I think I left Victoria somewhere around lunch time so my guess on my timing was just about right.  Before I had left Victoria I had called and talked to the nice lady at Lady Marine Services and she told me the drive should take about 2.5 hours.   I chuckled and said “Perfect! that’s about 5 hours for the Red Mountain and I.”    There was a pause on the other end of the line and I quickly added “I like to take it slow.”

I am thinking it might be a good idea to ask someone from the tourist bureau where I might find a good spot to camp for a couple of nights.   Looking around I see that the parking lot and the building look brand spanking new.   The lot is only half paved and when I pulled in dust billowed into my open windows. Now I’ll probably be chocking on it the rest of the night in bed.    When I jumped out of the van I was hit with a blast of light air that carried a sweet scent of wild roses in the sunshine.  Giving my legs a good shake I headed towards the building and the washroom.   I am just like a kid when it comes to having to pee.

As I entered the building a young First Nation’s girl was bending over the counter locking up the cabinets for the night.  When she heard the door open she looked up and flashed me a wide smile “Welcome” she says cheerfully “can I help you?” I instantly thought what a nice girl because I am sure she was really thinking   “Damn it, its closing time and I want out of here on a hot sunny day.”   I told her what I wanted and we settled on the Somass Motel and RV Park.   It’s close to downtown, the river, and not too far from the boat.     If I wasn’t so tired and if it wasn’t locking up time I’d like to have had a good look around this fancy building with its First Nation’s atmosphere.   But instead, I thanked the pretty girl and jumped back into the van, started her up and left a cloud of dust behind as the Red Mountain and I headed down the hill into town.

This is my kind of place, the Somass Motel.   The motel is full of working men and the parking lot is tight full of studded, 4X4, pickup trucks.  Strangely enough most of them all seem to be the same brand and colour of truck, grey Chev’s with thick layers of dirt and grim embracing them.     Also there are about four BC Hydro trucks lined up in the driveway, two abreast, a couple with buckets and equipment, extra amber lights mounted on the  tops and sides, and a few mud-crusted others parked in front of individual units. Most of the boys have there doors open and I can see them sitting on the hide-a-beds and kitchen chairs, some guys are standing around, beer in hand,  bare-chested and some are in white tea-shirts with jeans watching the hockey game.   The evening air is filtering out there laughter and clanking of bottles.

There are only 6 RV spots tucked in behind the Motel.  The sites have flat gravel pads and luscious grassy spots sporting large green picnic tables.    The tables aren’t wobbly and the place is well tended and clean.   There are four spots across from me with an open yellow grassy field behind.  A small cloud is stretching across the peaks of a line of mountains in the near distance.   To the right of me the sky is a deep ultramarine blue with golden ringed clouds dotted about in it.   It’s getting near sunset and the warm yellow light is lighting up the tops of the hills making the mountains bumpy looking.   I am surrounded in trees and now that the sun is coming down I feel like jumping back into the van to find my sweater.

Where the van is parked there is only two spaces.   I am tucked in backwards in a treed alcove and have my own private lawn area.   Just past my grassy spot is the back of the shower, washroom and laundry building.   Every time I go to the bathroom (which by the way is the cleanest washroom I’ve ever experienced in a campground) I have to walk the gauntlet past the boys in there rooms.   They can’t seem to help themselves when they see me coming they stand up, lean on the door frame and watch me walk by.  It amazes me that even an old gal like me can still attract a little attention from the boys.  Most men just can’t seem to help themselves when it comes to watching women.    It must be a habit that they just can’t shake no matter what the women looks likes.  Oh well, it’s a habit I like as it helps me forget how quickly I am getting older.

Where I am sitting in my striped Canadian tire fold up chair the lawn is full of tiny white daisies with pink tips and yellow centres.   Underneath the bushes along the edge of my site are golden-yellow five pedal flowers on green vines.    As the sun falls these pedals are closing up in shapes like tiny yellow roses the size of the end of my pinkie finger.   The flowers are packing it in for the night and that’s just what I feel like doing to.

But here I am with my ass up in the air and sticking out the side door of the van when I hear a slight knock behind me.  Then I hear a heavily accented male voice through my open side doors.   “Hello in there” it says.   He couldn’t have caught me in a more inconvenient position as I was bent right over with my rear end pointing straight into his face and my head titled sideways on the floor.   My head was crocked with one eyeball closed and the other was squinting down the hole of a little box thingy at the bottom of my fridge.  I was having a bitch of a time trying to see if my pilot light was lit.  My food was warm in the fridge and I was trying to see if the light was on or not.    There is a little reflective mirror I should to be able to look into and see the reflection of the lit flame.  It’s hard to tell what’s going on down there as no matter how much I tried to block out the light coming into the hole from above I just couldn’t tell if the flame was lit.    You have to see into the box thingy ass backwards to see if you can see the light coming off the lit flame.    Whoever the dumb ass was that invented this system must have been dyslexic because it all felt backwards to me and I am dyslexic.

Not only did this male voice startle me but my heart jumped right into my throat.  “What the heck” bolted out of me before I even knew it.     “Now what!” I thought to myself as I brought my butt back in towards the fridge and stood up.   This isn’t good; I can see it’s the old guy from the worn out RV across from me.   I think he’s German.    I noticed him earlier staring at me from inside his tinted windows as I ate my hotdogs outside at my lovely green picnic table.   I could see him hovering around in behind the window on the driver’s side with his straw sunhat leering at me.   He gave me the creep factor then and more so now that he was at my van doors.    As I turned around he asked me nicely” if I liked Hockey?”  Before I could reply he added “Would I like to come over to his place and watch the game with him?”  When I hesitated further he stiffened and proudly said “I have Air!” I thought to myself “well tell someone who cares.”  You’d think he’d come up with a different pick-up line when he saw me standing there in my orange hand-knit sweater.  I glared at him.   I wasn’t in the mood to be nice, I was tired and I didn’t like the idea of him invading my personal space.  So I stood tall and said “Yes, I like hockey but not now, I‘ve got stuff to do and I am exhausted so “No Thank You.”   He slumped a bit and opened his mouth to say something else but I turned away and gave him the cold shoulder treatment.  He got the message and left.  I did feel an ache of sadness in my bones for him as he did seem a bit forlorn in his big motor home.   Heavens knows how long he’s been living in there by himself.   His faded rig was outlined with old plywood skirting to keep out the winter cold.     Maybe if he asks me again while I am here I might chance a visit with him.   His image would create an interesting portrait either to paint or to write but for now I really am, truthfully, too tired to be social.

After I chased my visitor off I tried again to light the pilot light on the fridge.   Down on my hands and knees and peering down that hole I just couldn’t tell if it was burning or not.  So I gave up and headed down on foot to the 7 Eleven to grab a bag of ice.   The ice should do the trick and keep me from food poisoning until after my boat ride tomorrow.

Off I walk past the boys, the work trucks, the motel office and up onto the highway.   Along the riverside of the highway is a gravel path and on the other side is a paved sidewalk that leads the couple of blocks to the 7 Eleven.   Since I have a thing about being on the water I naturally chose to walk the narrow path along the edge of the highway by the river.  Just before I was going to cross the highway to the store I felt movement on the water.  I turned and my eye’s instantly spotted two Merganser’s swimming in the swift current.  They had four orange youngsters floating in-between them heading towards me.   I don’t know why but I was really surprised to see these tousled headed guys here on the river.   They haven’t been around Victoria harbour for a while so I had assumed they were off on summer holidays wherever ducks go for a break.  Who would have guessed Port Alberni was on their holiday hit list.

As I was standing there staring one of the ducks high tailed it over towards the shoreline into a little back eddy leaving behind the chicks and other adult duck. Then it called for the chicks to follow over towards the shoreline.   Which they did, gliding away from the other duck,  lining up one by one like little fuzzy soldiers marching in a row.     The left behind duck just kind of circled around pushing water with its red feet watching with one eye the chicks as they scooted over towards the other duck. Then the duck with the babies twirled back and forth gathering the kids together and then pushed each chick, one at a time, up on to a wet rock.  There fuzzy dis-proportioned bodies slipping and sliding as they tried to scale the rock with there floppy big feet.   Two of them kept falling back into the water with a fanfare of flapping and neck stretching while the other two explored the rock by stomping around in circles.

It just goes to show you looks can be misleading because next thing I know there’s a ruckus going on.   The duck with the chicks starts displaying concern as the other duck starts paddling towards it and the rock.   It is stretching its neck out and flinging it around like a piece of string shaking in the wind.  When all of a sudden with its head just above the water it attacks the other duck with a vengeance.   Its wings flapping, waters splashing and beak quacking and the worse part is that the children are watching from the sideline. My mind is trying to figure out what went wrong.   Two minutes ago both ducks seemed to partners in life, raising a family like the rest of us struggling with our own rough waters. I had just witnessed them shuffling the kids safely through strong currents by tucking them up close and in-between both of them. Now one duck was over by the kids all puffed up and the other was back out in the current with its body pointing downstream but its head is turned back facing the rock and the chicks.   It’s like its taking one last longing look at the group.

The vicious duck once again starts wagging its head and circling.  It looks like it wants to round up the chicks that are off exploring the rock and shallow water.  One is strolling on top of the rock in the last of the violet light taking bites at invisible bugs and things, its little spiky body in deep shadow and looking like something out of a prehistoric period.

I am not sure what she is thinking but Mrs. Duck, I am pretty sure now that she is a girl, loads the chicks up on her back and heads back out into the wicked current.    In the last of the yellow light I can see chicks dropping off her back into the fast flowing current and floating away.   There tiny wings would flap like hell and little bodies would lift and skim across the water top.  Somehow they would manage to catch up and jump back up on to her back.   Once in awhile she must have felt the slipping off of their little bodies as when one would drop she would stop, turn her head around, circle, and gather it up in a flash. She had a parent’s strong awareness of who needed extra help and who could make on their own.

In the meantime the other merganser was still keeping a healthy distance from the other.   But he never took his eyes off her and the kids.  I am assuming he is a male just because of the way he hung around in the distance watching, protecting, and keeping an eye on things.   I could feel his compassion as he waited until they were all safely across to the other side.   Once he knew they were safe he gave one big flap of his wings and lifted off downstream and away.   There was no looking back just a low flight over the top of the river with his wings beating and a hint of sunset on his butt and darkness in his wake.

That’s it for me, I am done, and it’s time for bed, I will get the ice tomorrow.    I’ve shaken the dust out of my sleeping bag and it is lying out and waiting for me back at the Red Mountain.   I hope my weary legs will hoof me back.  Goodnight folks see you in the morning if all goes well.

Janet

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Red Mountian, Frances Barkley and me

I’m on my way to Port Alberni.   Last night sometime in the wee hours of the morning I decided enough is enough – it’s time for me to get in the Van and go somewhere.   So now the Red Mountain and I, minus Ceilidh are on our way up Island.   Tomorrow I am going for a boat ride with “Lady Rose Marine Services” out of Port Alberni.   It’s a cargo hauling workboat called the “M.V. Frances Barkley” and it goes to Bamfield and back dropping off freight along the way.   Ceilidh has to stay home as I will be on the ship for the whole day and dogs aren’t allowed.

It’s been a challenge getting ready. I’ve been running around like a chicken with my head cut off.   Sometimes a person has to wonder if it is  worth all this work just trying to get away for a few days.  I watered and tended the garden and scrubbed the house down before I even started packing the van.    I haven’t used the van this season so I loaded her up with all sorts of crap I’ll probably never use but will worry about if I don’t haul it with me.   The weather is supposed to be sunshine and calm winds all the way but I’ve packed gravol and imodium just in case the weather guy is wrong.   I am not the best sailor so I like to have drugs that cover both ends of me.  I felt I was finally done once I emptied and cleaned the porti-potti and stuck it back in its little cubby-hole.  As I pulled out of the driveway my little girl of a dog stared sorrowfully at me through the cracks of the fence her beady eyes watching intensely as I slithered away.

Within 15 minutes of hitting the road the van and I were stuck in road construction on the Old Island highway.  I didn’t mind the wait at all.   There was a lot to admire all around.    All I can say is that there is something about all those red and yellow vests, heavy equipment and trucks, multicoloured hardhats and jeans that give me that tugboat feeling.    The one thing I noticed pretty quickly while sitting there was that the van felt empty and lonely.  There was no dog in the back doing a travel road dance.   She likes to huff and puff while jumping up and down off the bed.  In-between the up’s and down’s she’ll bark, snap and run back and forth from the front of the van to the back.   So basically it’s up, down, and all around causing lots of commotion as I try to ignore her while I drive.  I never thought I’d say this but I miss that irritating racket but I think this is the first time in 11 years she hasn’t joined me on a van trip.

Well, so much for the weather man’s clear sailing report. In the distance over the Saanich peninsula hung a few slightly grey puffed clouds in a clear cerulean sky.  But up above me was one granddaddy of a dark cloud. It poured buckets as I drove over the Malahat.  My windshield squirty thing would not squirt.   So when I turned on my wipers I had lovely streaks of dark mud smeared across the glass.  In-between the wet dust and dried up dead bugs I could barely see the little white sailboats and one man fish boats skimming across the water below me.

When the rain hit the Van it was chilly but I couldn’t turn on the heat as I was afraid my engine or radiator would blow up.   You see my coolant from the heater under the dash is slowly leaking into the passenger side of the van.   If you lift up the floor mat there is a steady drip line down the front, under the dash towards the floor.  Not much but enough to worry me that if I turn on my heater something would let loose.

The reason I’ve got this in my head is because a mechanic told me something to this effect when he gave the van a $500 tune up last month.   He told me I needed to fix the problem or it might blow up on me somewhere along the line and I’ll have a huge mess.  As he told me this I could picture myself standing on the side of the highway trying to flag down a serial killer who would drag me off to some nasty place and probably a much nastier end.  My legs quivered as I reached for my keys and I told him it would have to wait until another time.   He had quoted me another $500 to fix the leak.

The Red Mountain has a slanted windshield that I don’t really like as it’s low on the top and the seats inside are high.  When you’re looking out you feel like you have a ball cap on when you don’t.   I want to cut out about six inches of the top so I can see more of the sky and get more light into the cab.  The rain continued to belt down from above which cleaned my window and I no longer had to crook my neck to see.   I made it without running into anyone to my first stop in Mill Bay at Serious Coffee for a coffee and treat.

I swung the van sharply into the parking lot and jumped out.    I have on my worn Keen sandals, a light pair of cotton army green pants with the patch pockets and my black CBC T-Shirt.   My right sandal is broken so I’ve tied it together with a multicoloured rainbow, foot long shoelace.   I’ve weaved the lace in and about my Keen shoe to try and hold it together for one last summer.  The coffee folks sitting at tables are staring at me as I stand in line .   They see a worn Red Mountain outside in the lot and an aging old gal standing in line eyeballing the gluten, dairy and sugar free treats.   I am not suppose to be drinking coffee but I order a regular one anyways and a delicious looking lemon poppy seed treat, gluten free, so I feel I can indulge safely.   I feel carefree as I stare out the window sipping my drink and savouring my treat.  I look out at the old girl waiting in the parking lot and a swell develops inside of me. I know I am one lucky darn gal to be hitting the road and going on a boat ride to boot.

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Uchuck III – Sketch 2

 

No matter how dificult and how much I wanted to pack it in I told myself I had to come home with a sketch.  So for today this is the best I could to do.   Hopefully I’ll get the chance to try again tomorrow and just maybe that fellow will come back and tell me what’s up with the Uchuck.    

Cheers,

Janet

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Uchuck III First Sketch

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New news and new boys

Since I am now the feature artist for the Shoaling Waters Review I thought I’d better get out and sketch over at the base.   The review is a new magazine for Esquimalt and the surrounding area.   If you can try to pick up a copy of the May/June issue.   There is one of my paintings on the front cover and a wonderful two page article about me written by Rebecca Kennel (author of the book Bench by Bench).   You can find copies at the coffee shops and in the library.  It’s an informative read and a terrific magazine.   Check it out for yourself.

 Just thought I’d share.

PS  My spirit picked up fast while sketching  on the rocks at the base.   All those chiseled military boys were milling  about where I was buckled down on the bottom edge of cliff being battered by the wind.   I love that rawness guys in their uniforms display.   Their features are wide open like the prairie landscape and I can feel the honesty and  character in their faces.   Boy, I am now itching to get my hands on those guys, (not that.. shame on you)  – I was thinking  drawing or painting  portraits of the boys on the base.

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Head First into the Wind

I am sitting at a coffee shop downtown trying to get my breath back.  My heart is still jumping about somewhere way up in my chest.  I am tucked away in the back of the cafe trying not to let anyone see or smell me. There’s nothing like a strong cup of black tea and a chocolate cookie to put a girl back together again after a head first chase around the harbour.

I was bombing to town on my bike  a couple of hours ago when I spotted the boys.  There they were!  My boys!  Radiating up towards me from the waters below.  As soon as I came around the corner and down the hill by Fol Epi – in my opinion the best organic bakery in the city – I could see the deep reds of the tugs across the water from me.  I was on my way to town and I was feeling like you do when you’re on a road trip in your car and you don’t want to stop for nothing, not even a pee break or a bag of chips. On top of it all it was a freezing blustery day.  All I wanted to do is get down to the art store, grab some paint, and get back home.   Done!

But I just couldn’t do it!  I couldn’t keep going.  I had to  blinking stop!   The guys were there and I had to honour the moment while I had the chance whether it was convenient or not.   So I flung myself off the bike and hauled the heavy beast up over the curb through some prickly bushes towards the banks of the harbour.  What’s that pukey smell?  I looked down to see that the bike and I were covered in manure.   I’ve got big junks of it clumped on to the bottom of my boots.  Then as I hauled my bike through the thorny bushes my bike tires sprayed it all over my jeans.   Oh Great!

No time to fuss about the mess now as I could feel my stomach start to tinkle at the sight of those tugs.   Across the water by Island Paving I could see the shinning red floater jackets of the skippers.  Both of the captains were perched high up on top of the tugs at the controls.  Below them bright red stripes  circled the boats  and balanced a perfect match with their lifejackets. The Cates 4 was pushing nose first, full force, at the wood chip barge.   He was bellied up about half way in the middle of the barge with black smoke spewing from his exhaust stacks.  Meanwhile the Foam was circling around towards the back spinning white spray tails in semi-circles.

It now dawned on me I should get closer if I wanted to take photos with my pocket camera.  So I yanked my bike back onto the path and headed down the sidewalk at full tilt.  Folks along the sidewalk were giving me some eyebrow lip as I looked for an opening in the chain link fence around the shipyard.  Ignoring the No Trespassing sign and Hard Hats Only (would a bike helmet due?) I snuck in through an open gate to try and get closer to the water and the tugs. To my surprise inside the gates tied up to pilings were two out-of-town tugs, the Furious and the Storm Spray.

“Well this is a banger of a day” I thought as I jumped off my bike onto the gravel entrance way.  But no time to think about them now as the Cates 4 was coming across the harbour full speed ahead.    There was white spit flying up over his bow and along his sides.   “Humph! He’s giving it towards the upper harbour” I said to myself.  In the stern was the deckhand dressed in his bright orange overhauls, hunched over, untangling a rope a  line of some kind.  As he moved his arms about his cool yellow reflective arms bands danced in the grey skies.   To the right and coming on fast from across the harbour was the Foam.   He’s just spun a circle from the chip barge and was heading after the Cates 4 leaving behind a trail of drifting puffs of black smoke.

I hopped back on my bike, sped around, spraying gravel and burned out of the shipyards.  As I peddled a long the sidewalk I clenched the handle bars with one hand and clicked pictures with the other.    Pushing dogs and people out of the way I began a frantic chase bucking into a head wind.   I felt like I was in a gale standing on the bow of the MV Uchuck off the West Coast of the Island.  I swear every time I rounded a corner  the wind lifted my butt off the seat and tilted me sideways.  Bucking that wind I would wobble to one side just like the tugs when they flip from side to side by the forces that battle them.

By the time I reached the Save on Foods wharf I had just missed Scotty on the 4.  He was scooting under the bridge with a nice wide frothy wake behind him.  Darn. I turn to the right to see the Foam gently working her way towards me.     The Tug is giving off an aura of power and pride as it moves between me and the other side of the channel.  The Foam was so close I could see the whites of the deckhand’s eyes through his sunglasses as he waved with his cobalt blue gloves at us.   By this time other spectators had gathered on the wharf to watch.   We were lined up like obedient soldiers with no one moving except for our raised hands, we waved together a salute back to the deckhand and the mighty Foam.

Wherever Tugs go I choose to follow.   I bolted back on my bike and barreled like a bat out of hell down the trail after them.    Motoring along the path my bike rattled, rocked and rolled.  People stared and dogs growled as I whizzed by. I hit the Selkirk trestle bridge as fast as my shaky legs could muster.  My teeth nearly jostled out of my head as I clamoured over the wooden planks to the other side.

Then it was up through a winding grassy path, down onto another wooden walkway bouncing over the water and then back up onto the road around the new buildings in the Selkirk Development.   My trembling legs giving me the best they could muster.   I was finding it hard to breathe by the time I spotted the tugs on the other side of the bay by Budget Steel’s wharf.

Again there they were locked together with the scrap barge.  Here the Bay is small and kind of shaped like a top of a thumb.   David Street wharf is at the far end, Budget Steel wharf across on the right and the Selkirk walkway and development was over on my left from where I parked myself.  I leaned my bike up against the sidewalk railing and clambered myself up onto a concrete piling to get a good eyeball on them.  It was a great spot for watching but a bad spot for me.   I was dead smack in the wind.   My hair was blowing straight out from under my toque and the snot was running out of my nose.  I’ve learned from the past that composition is much more important than my comfort. So I decided to stay right where I was to study the boys while they tugged about.

Both tugs were hard at it grinding up against the half loaded scrap-steel barge.  Radio’s were bellowing and squelching.  Waves of chills ran up and down my back bone as the barge and tugs rumbled, bumped and shifted about.   Sounds were moving fast through the turbulent air clanking, clunking, squealing and squashing.  Black smoke billowed as engines vibrated, revved and winch lines pulled.  Deckhands ran back and forth, side to side, carrying long poles untying twisting wet lines and shouting back and forth.  Smoke was firing up from the stacks, swear words were flying in the air and flags were flapping.   Two geese stretched their necks from the banks edge and overhead hundreds of seagulls gathered, swayed and soared in the wind.

To make this long-winded tale come to an end I stood like a statue for the next 20 or 30 minutes.  I watched the boys move the scrap barge over to David Street where they loaded a loader thingy on to it.   Then they shuffled the barge back over to Budget’s wharf where a guy in an orange suit waited patiently for them.   Then they rounded themselves up like cowboys after securing their herd in the coral and they headed back to town with white foam mustaches in front of them.

Once again I was off and peddling.   Back, up, over, and along the trail back to the inner harbour where the chase had first begun.   In front of me crossing the path and moving fast was a young mom with a small child in her arms.  I could hear her motherly voice saying,” look honey tugboats”.   Pointing at the passing tugs she followed up with “Let’s get them”.  She clutched the kid hard around her waist, its little jacket flapped open and then the kid stuck its finger up its nose. “Let’s go catch the tugs” she repeated as she ran towards the water.  My heart rang.

All I can say now is thank god my camera batteries died.   The boys were out to kill me today.   As soon as I hobbled myself back to the Save on Foods wharf here they were back over at Island Paving picking up the chip barge and coming right back at me.  No matter how much I care for those tugs I was done like burnt toast.  Bucking that head wind had done me in.

I don’t need any formal exercise classes outside of tugboat chasing. No gym memberships for me, no running groups, no recreational passes, nope, I get all the exercise I need by do nothing.    I don’t even need to take vitamin pills.   Watching the boys on the water gives me all the vitamin D I need.   I just suck up the sun’s reflective rays through my starry eyes.

Today’s been a lesson learning day.   As I sit here in the coffee shop settling myself down by scrawling in my journal.   I realize that I made an important decision this afternoon when I charged after the boys.    No matter how much I wanted to follow my own plans I didn’t. For once, I listened to myself.   Now I feel  my life is much richer  because I took the time to stop.    Whenever I spend time on the harbour my steps become lighter and my heart becomes fuller.   I feel I am the luckiest gal in the world.  So what if everyone in the cafe assumes I am fond of horse barns.    It just goes to show you that a person doesn’t have to go anywhere but your own back yard to find true happiness.  It’s all about bucking down and going head first into the wind.

Oh crap, I’ve forgotten all about the art store.  Later.

Namaste,

Janet

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Beginner’s Mind

This winter I’ve been suffering from a classic case of monkey mind.   I’ve been procrastinating, complaining and belly aching over everything to do with my art.   My taxed brain has been thinking, planning, striving and driving me crazy since Christmas.  My ego has soiled my concentration, drive and artistic spirit.

I am like Humpty Dumpy I am all broken and I don’t know how to put myself back together again.   So many things are unfinished and disordered. I have Blog stories started and abandoned with only sentences left to polish them off.  I am inspired and full of ideas but lack motivation and concentration.

Unfinished paintings hang on the walls in the studio, finished paintings that I am unhappy with lean against the door frames, mucked up paint jars, messy rags, cluttered sketchbooks, paint smeared easels, and all kinds of stuff scattered all over my living room. Yes, my living room, that is my studio, my living room, my paint-streaked hardwood floors, poor living room.

Somewhere along the path of being an artist I got confused of who I really am and how I wanted to paint.   I began thinking, comparing and judging myself.  Along came grasping and wanting and then disappointment and unhappiness.   I clouded up my true artist nature by my own muddy thoughts. My high expectations and sense of self has hindered my personal happiness and satisfaction with my work.

Now the result is I absolutely feel like doing nothing. The last couple of years my art has dominated everything in my life.   Now I just want to sit.  I could just park myself on the deck for the whole day and listen to the birds, scratch my head, stare at nothing and think about nothing. I don’t want to continue to paint or work in the same way that I have been doing in the past.

I feel it’s time to go back to beginner’s mind where I began.  It’s time to get back in bed with Joe Norris and Maud Lewis and paint straight out of my soul like I did at the beginning when painting came from somewhere deep inside me.   Not by the ego or thinking.  The paintings came from just doing.

I think this break has been a time of transformation back to my Original mind.  I feel more aware of my true voice and who I am as an artist.  No more doubt only trust and faith in my true nature as a  painter, to just paint, no thinking, just paint, like a beginner.

Ceilidh must be feeling the shift she is waiting patiently by the door.    It must be tugboat chasing time.

I’ll catch you on the water,

Janet

A mandala for over my fireplace, Arylic on canvas, 36 x 36

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