Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Vote No for Tim, Yes for Rhett

The Ohio debate between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama didn't show me much more than how good they both are with rhetoric. We watched it live online and put up with the sudden silent gaps and mismatched sound/visual sync due to streaming. But, the most frustrating aspect for me was Tim Russert of NBC News, who, apparently is taking himself quite seriously as America's watchdog against Clinton. I got the impression he was debating Hillary instead of that being Obama's job. In past speeches I have heard more substance from Clinton than Obama, but like a lot of what Obama says. "Says" vs. "will be able to do" and "how he will do it" is the big question for me. So far I'm not excited about a candidate in either political party. I'm wearing no buttons yet.

Maybe we need someone like the unflappable Rhett Butler, who had a cool head under pressure, could quickly cut through the BS, was good at diplomacy and working a deal, was disgusted with the war, discerned the true character of others and the reality of the situation, and cared about people as individuals rather than perpetuating the prejudices of his day. (Most of society didn't like him at first and certainly wouldn't have voted for him. It was time for a change back then, too.) I think Rhett could do it.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Having fair skin and growing up in a sunny climate where as kids we were always outdoors, has put me at risk for skin cancer. This is the 2nd episode which has required more than freezing for troublesome spots. I wish I could say I breezed through this one, but there was pain, Tylenol, and crabbiness involved. I also slept in a recliner chair a couple of nights--sort of. Thankful to have gotten my stitches removed today, I can now leave for the homeland looking a little less like Frankenhead. I think I am on the mend and so can focus on getting packed for our GA trip. We are going by car and are taking photos along the way. Our first main stop is to see friends in KC, and hope to tour the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis on the way down or on the way back to CO. This is completely unusual for us. We never slow down or sightsee for any reason (especially when T. drives :) and the trip has always been unbearably long and tiring. It will still be long, but should be more fun. Before that I have to figure out a good system to keep my indoor plants hydrated and fish fed the whole time we are gone, pay bills, do some more clean-up around here and find something to pack a few art supplies in. Leaving means lots of work! I had to get all my graphics finished for the visual pieces for the Easter series at church that begins this weekend. Yesterday we got most of them printed after a few big glitches. I think my Frankenhead gave me Frankenbrain. It should have been easier than it was.

If you have suggestions for things not to miss between CO and GA, please comment.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

When cards won't do

I can spend a long time looking through greeting cards at the store and never find one that fits. They are dorky or don't say the right thing. So instead I spend even more time making my own, as in this case. Since T. likes Dwell magazine and didn't have a subscription, I decided for Valentine's Day to surprise him with one. I designed a "Dwell" cover for him for the front of the card. The photo is of my parents' lake house in GA and the text areas are mostly in jest. He didn't realize it wasn't real until he looked closely, so I felt successful. The first magazine arrived yesterday, so it was pretty good timing.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

It's correct- no matter how wrong it is

The Associated Press offered me some amusement today as I read about GA's water troubles. Apparently my home state has a "generations-old claim that its territory ought to extend about a mile farther north than it does and reach into the Tennessee — a river with about 15 times greater flow than the one Atlanta depends on for its water." I will cut out the fat and quote some of the other pertinent statements slightly out of context:
If Tennessee's southern border were the 35th parallel — as Congress designated in 1796 —Georgia would have a share of the Tennessee River...

"It's never too late to right a wrong," said Georgia state Sen. David Shafer, whose bill would create a boundary line commission that aims to resolve the dispute...

Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen's reaction: "This is a joke, right?"
...Just in case, he added, "We will protect our borders here in Tennessee.

Several neighbors from a border community gathered to vent about the Georgia proposal..."That would be ridiculous. I'd have to move my phone line and everything," said Joe Dugger, a 63-year-old Tennessean.

"It's correct — no matter how wrong it is," surveyor Bart Crattle said.

Now that last statement struck me as being really messed up! What kind of logic is that? That seems to be the same kind of logic organizations/parties in power/certain races/genders/churches/nations use to keep things status quo. I have seen a lot of really bad behavior by people in power--people in authority who perhaps didn't understand that their position was one of service and care after the model of Jesus, and not one of control. Under their leadership real people (i.e. church members, employees, minority groups, etc.) are hurt. How do you treat people in an evil way and say, "it's correct--no matter how wrong it is?" Correct to whom and how did it become correct? I suspect it's the same in many industries and professions. People are forced to toe the line of correctness (no matter how wrong it is) or risk losing face or even their job. This makes some kind of twisted sense in a competitive society that depends on marketing to stay on top and spin doctors to alter perception. But where does that fit in the church? I often think of a verse where James says, "...Brethren, these things ought not be." There is another way of living (and leading) that is contrary to grasping for power and control. The way of the kingdom is the way of love. How does the way of love work to tip the scales away from correctness and toward what's right--no matter how hard it is?
Kathy has written a great post about individually standing up against oppression and injustice because we are connected to the rest of humanity and to their oppression.

It seems to me that there are also some micro steps toward tipping the scales that go under the radar, but make a lasting difference. Some of them start with our willingness to be inconvenienced. Like the Tennessee man quoted in the article about the state boundary, we might have to "move our phone line and everything!" That made me chuckle, but how true to life when a big issue comes down to how it affects me and my lifestyle. What are some micro steps that you think are part of the way of love? How has someone else's micro step affected you?

Collaging the new year

How do you go about expressing what you want in your new year? The workshop participants today seemed to have little trouble getting at it and going to it! Most came armed with an assortment of items to personalize their collage and were not too daunted by a blank canvas. I encouraged them to get some color down and not worry about what was going to come next. I shared a few techniques and styles for building in texture, color, photos, outline, wording, etc. and offered some books for inspiration. They only asked a few questions as they rummaged through magazines, paints, pastels, and papers in search of just the right thing.

Creating something within a group is a great way to have a focused time of work while connecting with others. Even if some are more skilled there is kind of an equalization that happens as each person is starting at square one and is validated and not judged in what they produce. The results are each unique and so fun to see. At the end, we took a little time to listen to one another's hopes for the new year as we shared as much as we wanted to about our collage.

Wow! I'm really proud of these collage artists for the gusto and guts they put into it and for being willing to share their stories with us. Way to go! I love seeing how art can be a catalyst for community and connection.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Collage and the vortex

A salvaged canvas with a background already painted, some old photos and copies of metal signs and I'm on my way to a collage about my new year. I'm moving elements around to find how I want to place them and deciding what text to add. I will attach a puppet of young me over it all when I feel "done." Just getting a head start before the collage workshop I'm leading tomorrow. Can't wait to see how this turns out. Should be a fun small group of people gathered who don't ordinarily do visual art. I am always amazed at the variety of expression that comes out. I will post results.

Collage is sort of keeping me alive at this moment. Can't seem to keep my head above water for long without suddenly going for a deep-sea dive into a watery grief place. Some days I'm fine. Some days I wake up thinking about my dad. Not the good memories, but the ones from the hospital the last day. I keep thinking I'm done with that piece. It keeps saying, "not yet." This week at the chiropractor I was connected to the electro-stim machine and the neck-stretcher vice (my label for it) and while lying down listening to relaxing music, I smiled as I thought of a little girl I had seen. She was in Hobby Lobby with her grandpa talking it up. We were on the same aisle and I was hurriedly checking out the clearance stuff. She asked, "what does 'valentine, it's your time to shine' mean?" He just chuckled as it became immediately obvious to her, "Oh, I know it means just be your self! Just be yourself and shine!" Next she was saying how even the girls love Mickey Mouse, not just the boys. "How could anyone not love Mickey Mouse?" I was so amused by this tiny little free spirit I was thinking of her an hour later during my appointment. Instead of closing my eyes and totally relaxing (hard to do when your neck is in pain) I looked around as far as I could without being able to turn my head. I could see the skeletal chart directly above and behind me. I tried to read the upside down letters which formed the unfamiliar medical terms. Then, I slid toward the hole in the floor, the one that sucks me in to unbidden memories. I saw my dad in the hospital bed. Tears came quickly to the corners of my eyes. I had flipped from smiling about a pleasant experience into the vortex that Joan Didion speaks of in The Year of Magical Thinking. No matter how you intentionally avoid it or distract yourself, all roads somehow lead back to the subject of the loved one, the loss, the images of the last days, etc. There are invisible dots that form a trail of connection. It caught me off-guard. Most of the time I am focusing on all the things I am excited about doing and have going on-- especially the creative stuff. Right now it's the collages, the web work, and designing visual pieces for experiential worship that have my attention. I want to do so many things, but I know that some of my energy is going into the vortex and I will just have to be a little bit patient. It's hard. It's frustrating. It's what is. But, at this moment I want to think about that little girl and Mickey Mouse. Hmm, maybe that will become a collage.