Tuesday, September 11, 2012


This morning I woke up remembering, more poignantly than I have remembered in many years, the wheres and whens from 11 years ago this morning.

I was living on 14 St SW in this awesome little casita apartment in Albuquerque.  I was so confused, frightened for the world, and unsure of what to do.  I felt the distance of my far away family, and wondered, where to go?

I thought of my friend Ronnie.  Ronnie of the brilliant smile, Ronnie of the sparkling clean house and unstained white carpet, Ronnie the mom with the big beautiful safe secure house.  Ronnie of open arms, an embrace of love, Ronnie of heart and home.  So I called and went.

The image that greeted me is indelibly and I'm sure at this point, exaggeratedly, inked into my brain and memory.  I opened the front door, entered, looked to the right into the beautiful bright white living room, and there before me, was my very own Madonna, Ronnie of the Rocks, with every possible cleaning utensil and product in her arms, looking all the picture of "Holy Fuck it's an emergency - CLEAN!"  because as many of us know cleaning is the only form of sanity and therapy in a trauma situation.  And there before her, in his exersaucer, was Kenny.  He was so tiny, and he was so happy, and his smile was so brilliant.  He was bouncing like a maniac, laughing and smiling, the absolute opposite of the image on the tv, that of the Towers smoldering.

I, in my own true form, brought food to make homemade Mac-n-cheese, the baked kind with crunchy buttery breadcrumbs on top because as many of us know, cooking and eating comfort food is the only form of sanity and therapy in a trauma situation.

I spent the day with Ronnie.  More folks came over.  I talked to my family.  I did what many people did, I walked around in shock, acting normal, bursting in to tears, unable to process the day.

Here, 11 years later, I wondered, how do I explain this to my children?  What does 9/11 mean to them? I gathered M & A to me, on my bed.  They snuggled under covers and I told them the story of my morning, 11 years ago.  I told them of my confusion, I told them of my sadness, I told them of Ronnie's open arms and sparkly house, I told them of horrible incidents that inform our daily lives today.

We sat together, in a circle, held hands and said our daily prayers together.  We prayed especially for the families of the 9/11 victims, we prayed for all the people who were there, we prayed for the perpetrators - the terrorists and their families, we prayed for forgiveness and we prayed for peace.

We looked at images, watched some very intimate home video, and then listened/watched a Story Corps cartoon about that day, we watched "Always a Family", you can see that here.

After all that, Augustus was pretty sad, Magdalena wanted to watch more.  I decided we were done with our 9/11 tribute/home memorial, and that we needed to move on.  M & A wanted to watch Michael Jackson's Bad video but I said, uhhh…nooooo, let's watch clips from Singing In the Rain.  We watched Gene Kelly do the title song, we watched Donald O'Connor and Gene Kelly dance and sing with the "speech coach", we watched their favorite, "Make 'em laugh" with Donald O'Connor.  We finished with the final scene from "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World", when Ethel Merman walks into the hospital room and slips on a banana peel and the room erupts into laughter.  We watched it over and over and over.  Then we watched it again.

We needed to laugh, we needed to be reminded of joy and freedom and laughter.  We needed to heal, as we still need to do.  We are going out today into this world of remembering and bringing that healing laughter, that joy, and all our love.

Today we are safe, loved, and free.

Invention & Art: Manifestation, Concrete Action, R/R/R, and an Income

Introducing:  "Upcycled to ART": Create With Heart, This Is Where We Start.

Here's the flyer:

After our summer challenge and blessings from the gods of Pinterest, I was awash in ideas for creating art from what is leftover, discarded, considered redundant or useless or trash.  The classic "One man's trash is another man's treasure" theory.  
First class Friday, August 31.  Class opened with a look at images:  familiar images of painting and sculpture, then onto more collage style work, some "isms" - Impressionism, post-Impressionism, Dada-ism, Abstract Expresionism, Modernism, Pop Art, and Post-Modernism.  We looked at what art is, what it could be, what we like, what inspires us, and how wide and broad the term "art" truly is.  

(from our American Art section)
John Audubon,
Whooping Crane
Asher Durand, The Beeches
Joseph Cornell, Untitled, 1945
Joseph Cornell

Mark Rothko, Number 22
O'Keeffe, Evening Star, III
Edward Hopper, Lighthouse
at Two Lights
Wayne Thiebaud, Delicatessen Counter
Robert Rauschenberg, Soudings

Jasper Johns, Target with Plaster Casts

We looked at image after image: paintings, collage, multi-media pieces, installation art, sculpture, still images from video art.  We ended with the discussion of using what we have on hand to create a canvas on which to make our own art, to discover our own expression.  

And then, we worked!

magazines marked for recycling
advertising pages received in the mail
donated paint headed for the trash
sponge brushes 
sewing machine
Objective:  Create "canvas", an area for expression in different media
Process:  spread a thin layer of paint over magazine page, place another on top, repeat 5 -6 times, let dry, sew pages together
Objective:  Create "paper" for small notebooks
Process:  spread thin layer of paint over magazine page, place another on top, repeat twice, let dry, sew pages together 

The result:

Sewed the pages together and, the finished product:

Just what we hoped it would be.  A perfectly imperfect place to experiment.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Necessity is the Mother of Invention

Yes, I do agree, necessity is the mother of invention.  

Last fall I asked for transformation with a capitol "T", I wanted absolute transformation: internal, external, spiritual/emotional/mental/physical.  I wanted to transform our lives into that ethereal unknowable always out-of-our-reach life; Ideal Life, as I see it.  Crazy, I know.  I'm asking for the impossible.  An Ideal is an Ideal precisely because it is that, Ideal and "Real Life" isn't Ideal it's LIFE.  

But here's the rub:  Ya know those sayings, like…follow your bliss, doors will open; do what you love, love what you do; Doing what you love is the cornerstone of having abundance in your life; Follow your passion, and success will follow you.

I've always believed all those quotes, and now I get to live them.  On to necessity and invention, and the ongoing transformation, because that's why I'm here, that's what I'm doing, that's what I'm loving, and that's what We're living.  

I know that transformation can (and in my case, must) begin with the tiniest degree of change.  Think parallel lines, got a visual?  Ok, now take one of those lines and open the degree of it just a nano-meter, just a hair, so really at first there appears to be no difference at all.  So what's the big deal?  That's transformation?  HA!  But wait!  There's more…every tiny step each baby step on that new trajectory yields movement in a new and different direction.  Soon, those parrallel lines are diverging, then the one that moved a nano-meter is light-years away, moving steadily along with at times great leaps and bounds, at other times a bit of reverse motion, but still, on that new trajectory.  There, my friends, lies transformation.  

Our trajectory moved ever-so-slightly, transformation began, we engaged in the Barnas Summer Challenge of "Reduce/Reuse/Recycle" - buying nothing new for any reason (ok, except sustenance.  We bought lots 'o food:).  We made gifts from resources we have, we upcycled found furniture (put out for the trash on the side of the road) for our outside kitchen, we commandeered cast out lumber, we received the mother load of hand-me-downs, we stopped by the Thrift Store and perused used goods.  And we have had a Very Successful Summer.  We rose to our motto of "Manifestation Through Concrete Action" to the best of our abilities meaning:  We made a schedule and stuck to it…as we could working around the schedule of La Abuela and El Toro (the papa); we did school, Frida days, HAP, and home P.E. (yay for the pool!).  We are following through on chores, we are living rhythmically and with an underpinning of structure, and we are handling our business.  

All clutter has not yet been "de"cluttered, it is a work in progress.  But as I know we must, two steps forward, one back and on and on and on.  

Now, on to necessity being the mother of invention and all that.  Last spring El Toro (my latest moniker for my beloved husband who is a Taurus of classic dimensions;) asked me, "So exactly what...are you qualified to do?"  I thought about it for a second, and responded "Well, I'm qualified to make art, to pour drinks, to lead meetings, to start groups, and to stand in front of groups and get people excited about projects/ideas/plans etc.  Why?"  El Toro, "So what are you qualified to get paid for?"  "Ummm…art?  Because I'm done bar-tending."  …sigh "That's what I thought."  And that was the end of that, or so I thought.  What I didn't get was that the Toro was actually - through his own form of communication, letting me know that I needed to find a way to generate money, that I needed to get a job, that the money we lost from our Frida time (who knew that what I called our "Frida mad money" was actually about $5k a year and that we would really take a hit when that was gone?  Us, you say?  Well, a reasonable person might say that yes, but a reasonable person also might think that I have any idea of money, which, regrettably, I do not.  I waited tables and bar-tended for a living my entire working life.  Need money?  Pick up a shift.  End of story.  Hours worked?  Paychecks? - mine were always zeroed out for taxes, so paychecks hold no sway over me.) and the recession finally hitting the HVAC world was having an adverse affect on us so we needed another income.  Stop the presses!

I have always said I would homeschool until…until we have a lifestyle change, until we needed to do something different, until until until what?  But I didn't mean NOW!  I didn't mean we'd homeschool until NOW and that I'd run out and get a job!  What would I do for the love of howdy?  UGH.  

Enter the Mother of Invention.  Quite a few people said "you should teach art", I do have a degree, a BFA (Bachelors of Fine Art) from University of New Mexico and I do know how to do a few arty and crafty things, but teach art?  No, that's not me.  What, I'm going to teach drawing 101?  I'm not the one.  
Enter Cali Jess, the Mother of Invention.  The inventor of herself, the original HAP (Homeschool Adventure Playgroup in LA from which HAP East comes), L.O.V.E. Parenting, The Ultimate Parenting Course, her world her life her passion and she says, with a voice full of love and support and genuine knowing, she says:  "No Coco, not drawing 101, but your art, what you do, what you did for the summer, the R/R/R summer Barnas challange, art and ritual, art and collage, vision boards.  The art that you make."  And there it was, that tiny shift of perception, she moved my vision a nano-degree to the left and BAM!  There it was, transformation and invention all in one.  

And the invention is "Upcycled to ART".  Photos, projects, and a description to follow.