Posts Tagged ‘figurative’

“Yes, the wind came up–” Mrs. Sharpe began. She paused. “And changed us all,” Petra said softly.” ― Blue Balliett, The Calder Game

Eyes Wide Shut, graphite on paper, A4 (8x10)

Eyes Wide Shut, graphite on paper, A4 (8×10)2015 —

The story Continues….

In my 3 decades as a professional artist, I learned that no one survives on talent alone. It takes sponsors with connections, galleries with connections, and other artist willing to bring you along with them up the ladder, and most importantly it’s all about timing.

I knew nothing of these things in those early days as I was wrapped in the warmth, comfort and magic of the great grandfather mountains of Santa Fe, my illusions were undauntable, my addictions intense; because for me it was all about the paint. I jumped into that rich emulsifying pool of art and swam with the sharks never realizing that what I was painting was unique and would give way to a lifetime of exploration, adventures and more failures and rewards than I could even imagine.

Those first years I rode the western wind which allowed me to define what I would paint giving me my women in robes who took center stage and brought much acclaim as I participated in multiple shows dealing with women in art. My landscapes of Stairs and Awnings brought my first exclusive contact with a gallery. Everything clicked; I was in the right place at the right time with the right stuff. I became a member of a very small group of 5 artists called the Multi-Cultural Artist Group and we painted large murals on the sides of many buildings in Santa Fe. The one on the old Records and Archives Building on Guadalupe St is now considered a local landmark. In addition I was elected to the Board of Directors of the Santa Fe Society of Artists. I began teaching on the side to mostly young and talented teens. My reputation was growing, and it was quietly said I had created a new genre.

Five years in Santa Fe and then we moved to Tijeras, New Mexico. By then I was represented by 2 galleries in Florida, one in Houston and a third small gallery in Albuquerque. My work was too different to be considered “New Mexican” and I rarely sold within the state. Aside from the galleries, I was getting into multiple competitions nationwide taking many awards.

Twelve years later as my work was continually growing and evolving with the times, the west wind changed course bringing a warm southernly breeze that entered the window one cold Thanksgiving and a seed was planted. It was watered by my love for the woman who was my aunt but whom I thought of as a mother, one who came to me and begged a favor.

When I could not say no, another path opened, this one darker. In my Pollyannaness, I did not know at that time it would require every ounce of my heart and soul, every fiber of my being in order to accomplish was was set before me, and to survive the battle to come. My husband would latter say that my whole life was leading up to this point, and was preparing me for the final confrontation with Capitán.

I would not pick up a paintbrush or a pencil for the next five years.

“ …and a new day will dawn, for those who stand long, and the trees will echo with laughter.” Led Zeppelin

Girl with Bird (2008) conte crayon on paper 22x24

Girl with Bird (2008)
conte crayon on paper 22×24—

 

The story continues……….

Funny how when I look back on my days in the Galapagos, I never realized at the time that I was the only woman running any kind of boating operation.  There were lots of women there doing wonderful things from scientist to photographers, shop owners to hotel managers (there really were 2 hotels!), it just all seemed natural.

So, there I was managing 2 boats and an all male crew of fifteen.  Actually I gained the respect of the captain and cook of both the boats and they in turn kept the unruly crew in line, I only had to intervene a few times.

Six months after my arrival construction began on “the road”.  Steps would be built down one side of Baltra Island and up the side of Santa Cruz Island; a small makeshift ferry would unite the two landings.  At the top of the stairs on Santa Cruz Island homemade “buses” would carry the tourist across the island down to the bay.  The road was poorly built to begin with, using red scoria as a base, which under the heavy rains would melt into pools of rusty-red giving the impression of a bleeding wound in the land.

Better material over time would be brought in, better busses enabling more traffic; and with more traffic came the first murder, the first rape, and the first outbreak of measles. A jail had to be built for the drunk and disorderly that the potential of tourist dollars attracted and at the same time little bars and restaurant sprouted up hoping for its share of new source of income.

Our business was booming, the company growing in fame and fortune, which made Capitán happy and kept him completely off my back, which made me happy. I went out with the one of the boats whenever I could but mostly my work became managerial with the exception of meeting each group of tourist as they arrived and getting them settled either on the boat at Baltra Island or bringing them across land to pick up the boat in Santa Cruz depending on their scheduled tour.  I fell into a routine that would vary only slightly from my morning meet with the milk truck from the highlands to afternoon coffee with the Port Captain who was the highest authority in the land.  Those afternoon coffees were most pleasant conversations on just about any topic. The Captain turned out to be a former math teacher of mine, I did not remember him, but he said he always remembered me as “La Dorada” (the golden one).  The nickname took and it was by that name I came to be known and respected.

Evenings were either spent at my house with a good book or with friends on one side of the island or another, good conversation, wine, food and laughter melted the nights.

Two wonderful years full marvelous adventures, some heart breaks, much joy, unique and fascinating people both natives and tourist from all walks of life filled my experience file and gave me great joy.! I felt I had finally found a home, a place where I could stay forever, a place where I was just one more different person among many strange and different people.

That was unfortunately an illusion.  Unbeknownst to me, the money Capitán was making off the two boats was being re-invested (with the help of a few associates) into the refurbishing of an old cargo ship into a cruise vessel that would enable him to carry 125 passengers at a time for one and two-week cruises. During the last trip into Guayaquil for a re-fit, I was invited to dinner with him and his new partners.  The people he would be working with on the new ship and the people to whom he had just sold the business along with the two smaller boats.  I was informed I could stay on with the new owners or join him and work on the larger cruise boat.  It would mean leaving the islands and living in Guayaquil. I told him I would give it some thought and let him know.

The new owner of the island business was an Englishman married to an islander. He was a fanatical re-born Jehovah Witness zealot who had harassed me every chance he could get on the islands for my manner of dress, mainly shorts.  Although his wife and I were friends, I could not tolerate this sanctimonious man and his died in the wool religions convictions.

The writing was on the proverbial wall and I certainly did not want to work on a large cruise ship.  Never liked the big boats, and I did not want to live in Guayaquil. So I searched around the island for alternatives and was offered a position at the Darwin Station, which I thought I might accept, until the nightmares began.

The first dream came and I saw myself lying in a coffin, peaceful, but there was terrible sense of foreboding and I was afraid.  In the second dream I saw myself standing next to the coffin looking down at myself and I was crying. Again, the same sense of foreboding and fear.  In the third dream, I was standing next to the second me with my arm around her shoulder, as we looked at the first me in the coffin. In the dream I told the second me, in a very sad but comforting voice: “It’s time to go now.”

I turned in my resignation the following week, contacted my aunt in New Orleans who screamed “yes!, yes! Come!” Within the month I was on a plane bound for Louisiana.

 

 

 

“As happens sometimes, a moment settled and hovered and remained for much more than a moment. And sound stopped and movement stopped for much, much more than a moment.” ― John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men

Yellow Feather (2001), oil on canvas, 77x102 cm (30x40)

Yellow Feather (2001), oil on canvas, 77×102 cm (30×40) —

An aside to the story…….

On September 30, 2013,  a moment expanded. I was rushed to the emergency room, ashen colored, low blood pressure, difficulty breathing with pain in my lower lungs.  They thought it was a heart attack. They ran every test. They sent me home saying nothing was wrong probably just stress.

Four days later I was back in the emergency room, the pain increasing, the breathing more difficult.  They ran even more test.  They concluded I must have had a Copd flare, even though I did not have Copd.  They gave me a steroid inhaler and sent me home.

That was on a Monday, I went back to work and by Friday I could barely walk 10 feet without gasping for breath, by Sunday the pain was intense, I was panting continuously with every movement. The morning of Monday, October 9th I knew something was very, very, wrong and went back to the emergency room.

As they checked me in, my blood pressure dropped dramatically and my lungs started to collapse.  For the first time in my life I was frightened. Frightened because I did not know what was happening, only that people were swarming all over me, working to keep me alive.

Ten hours later, now stabilized, I was admitted to the acute care wing of the hospital.  There I stayed for the next 8 days.  It took another 6 weeks to recover.  I had pneumonia coupled with acute pleurisy. The pain in my lungs was caused by the air sacs collapsing; I was having trouble breathing because my lungs were filled with fluid.

The fact that I almost died gave me pause and I noticeably changed.

All of us are in a constant state of change. Every word, every action, every incident we experience changes us in some form or another.  We are not the person we were yesterday nor are we the person we will be tomorrow.  Seldom are we aware of what is transpiring so caught up we are in our own lives.

What triggered my change and my awareness was not so much that I almost died but because in the all time I was gone from work, off line, incommunicado, no one called or wrote or e-mailed to see if I was OK or ask: where are you?  Of all the people I know, of all those I communicate generally by e-mail or online daily, no one in that week, or the next, questioned my silence.

When I did go online to Facebook, before I updated my status, I saw there was one message waiting for me from a friend I had never met in France, asking how are you, where are you? I stood corrected, there was one person who cared. It made me smile. It also made me aware how very insignificant my life had become to others. How very shallow all our lives had become.

So I laughed, and I laughed, I shook my head, and said to the universe: thank you for that extended moment in time, thank you for the awareness, now lets get to work on what is really important.

Not sure what that is but I know the others out there are no longer very important to me, what I do from this point forward is focused on what is good for me and improving my quality of life so that when the important stuff does come sometime before I die, I will be ready.

You may think that is selfish. Perhaps it is, perhaps for the very first time in my life I care more about me than other people.  Unheard of for an Aquarian! Perhaps it will only last for a short while, perhaps forever but my light is shinning so very bright right now it’s almost blinding.

Whatever I am moving towards I travel slowly, steadily, quietly with a smile caught in a new extended moment of time filled with joy.

That is not too shabby.

 

“A single slim trunk – Branches that bow in a storm – Green, leathery leaves with a soft centre – Glittering against blue sky – White bark scarred, bleeding – Heart wide-open – Bandaged, but upright she stands… ” ― Fadia Faqir, The Cry of the Dove

Traveling on the Spine of the Dragon (2005)- acrylic on canvas - 182x137 cm (72x54) -

Traveling on the Spine of the Dragon (2005)- acrylic on canvas – 182×137 cm (72×54) –

The story continues……….

There was a bit of  trouble writing this part, unsure as to the feelings my memory evoked, words eluded me for a while, I was interrupted by the holidays but clarity returned and I condensed it all…..

My friend who had sold my car met the plane and after one look rushed me to the hospital where I was loaded up with antibiotics.  Confident I was on the road to healing I asked him to drive me down to Galveston where I would stay with my grandmother until I was better and could make some clear-headed decisions.

When we arrived, he said he would wait to make sure she was there and everything was all right, so I headed up the walk, onto the porch and rang the bell.  My mother answered the door with “ You! And what are you doing here?”   Surprised and a just a little miffed, I explained I had just gotten back from my sailing adventure, managed to get a massive infection and was planning on spending a few days with “mawmaw”  to heal and rest until I could make plans.

“Well you will have to make other plans,” my sweet mother said. “Your grandmother died two months ago, I now own the house, your sister is living here and there really is no room for anyone else.”   “Well, then,” I commented, “let me get my things from the attic and I will be on my way.”   “I sold everything.”  My mother said.  “Why?” I asked.  “We had no idea when you would be back and those two boxes were taking up room I needed.”  “I see”, said I, “well I will just leave you to it and move on, nothing here for me obviously.”  As I headed down the walk back to the car she called out “Let me know if you need anything.”   All I could do was laugh.

Quietly I closed the door of the car and asked my friend to just drive.  Once we were headed back to Houston I told him what had happened.  He said his wife would be glad to have me at the house and offered to put me up for a few days until I could find a job and a place to live.

The next day I bought a few clothes and started the search for a job. The Sunday classifieds offered a position with the University of Texas School of Public Health (now the Health Science Center) for an administrative assistant in the International Health Module.  I set up an interview on Monday and was hired that afternoon. I would be working with two professors: an epidemiologist and a demographer.  By Wednesday I found a furnished garage apartment walking distance from the school and moved in the next day.

I loved everything about my job, my bosses, the students, the Dean, the environment, I felt most fortunate.  I even was given the opportunity at night to teach a non-credit language course in Spanish and in French for use in rural communities.

The more involved with the school I became, the more I wanted to continue my own education.  My other sister had been in touch with me letting me know that when my grandmother died she had left a sizeable amount of money in a trust fund for her grandchildren’s education.  My mother’s brother had been made executor of the trust and I would need to contact him to apply to the board.  He was a captain on one of Lykes Lines cargo ships and it was not difficult to find out his schedule and arrange a possible meeting the next time he was in port.

Two months later I received a call from my uncle inviting me on-board for dinner, the ship would be in Houston in 3 days and we could discuss the trust’s provisions.  At the appropriate time I took a cab out to the port and went aboard.  The captain’s cabin was quite large with a small office/dinning area.  The meal was wonderful, the conversation informative and I was looking forward to having my expectations fulfilled when my uncle asked me to come over to the desk so he could give me forms to complete and send in to the board of directors.

As I approached the desk he turned to face me, grabbed my hands with one of his and slapped me hard with the other knocking me down to the floor. He then proceeded to hit me again, pulled up my skirt, ripped off my underwear and while I lay there stunned, he raped me.  Climbing off of me he said, “ You are not the good little whore your father said you were, so get out of here! …and don’t expect this family to do anything for you.”

Humiliated, shamed, in pain, and partial shock, I straightened my clothes, gathered my purse, held my head high, left the ship, found a taxi and went back to my apartment where I laid in a tub of hot water shaking, unable to feel clean, unable to get warm. I called in sick the next day and the day after.  The swelling around my mouth had gone down but my mind was in turmoil, shadows flooded the dark memories, but I could not hold onto the whirlwind in my heart and soul, so I let it all sink back into the darkness.  As I lay there, in that dark dank cave, I looked up, found a shred of light, pulled up my socks and just moved forward. It was the only thing I knew how to do best.

The months passed, work consumed me, I made new friends, I joined groups, I spent my evenings in the bowels of Rice Universities’ library where I read every book I could find on cultural anthropology, my favorite subject.

December arrived and with it a phone call from Capitán offering me a job as Operations Manager for a Yacht Charter he had just established in the Galapagos Islands with two diesel-powered 60’ converted fishing boats.  He was having difficulty finding someone to handle the job as well as the crew and I was, he said, his last resort.

I have no explanation for what I did next.  I accepted the offer.   The only thing I can think of is that at the time, my torn, battered and broken mind was damaged beyond any reasonable repair.  The invisible bandage I wore covered my delusional state, and in that twisted madness, I saw his offer as an opportunity for my personal redemption.

I hung up the phone and cried, making small cooing sounds like the doves that sat on my windowsill each morning.

Within the week I was back in Ecuador showing no sign of what the past year had wrought.

 

 

“There are people who come into your life just to strengthen you so you can move on without them, they are supposed to be part of your memory, not your destiny.” Rashida Rowe 

Alternate Realities #4, 20012, graphite on paper, 46x56 cm(18x21)

Alternate Realities #4, 20012, graphite on paper, 46×56 cm(18×21)

The Story Continues……….

 

The two guardian angels my grandmother saw standing on either side of me, must have put their heads together and created a small miracle.  My first impression of the cold canyons of NYC did not encourage me nor make me to want to stay.

Somewhere here was my mother, but that thought was fleeting and I discarded it as quickly as it came.  So, there I was walking down, or maybe it was up the street, intent on finding a phone booth (quaint isn’t it now a days?) so I could locate the bus station, to see how far my $50.00 would take me when I heard a distant voice calling my name.  Not really sure I was hearing correctly I kept on walking and the voice became louder. I stopped, turned around to see a woman running towards me waving her hands and calling my name.

I just stood there not believing what I was seeing; it was my girlfriend from the high school in Houston.  She grabbed me and pulled me close, thousands of questions and I with few answers.  She was working in NYC and had just taken a 30 day leave of absence to go to Florida to care for her mother and I was coming with her, finito.

It was during the drive down to Florida the reality of my situation came to lay its arms around my mind and heart.  This was a rescue but not the answer, because the one thing I had not told her or even admitted to myself until this point, was that I was pregnant.

The house was on a sandy street near the water, the air warm, salty, moist, like breathing though a damp sponge.  It was your classic 50’s style Florida concrete house with an enclosed lanai, a palm tree in the front yard, lizards dashing everywhere you looked.

Her mother was in her late 60’s, had been ill and was in need of a little more care than her stout Baptist Missionary Church could offer.  She also collected dolls.  Entering the house was just a bit spooky.  The curtains drawn against the sun, light filtered in through cracks leaving bright streaks across the wood floor, dust mots floated in the light.  The entire living room, dinning room and part of the kitchen and lanai were covered with wall-to-wall glass cases filled with dolls from around the world and every century. Beautiful and eerie, it was a dedicated museum.  Larger dolls sat in small rocking chairs, or around little child sized tables dressed with tea sets.  There were dolls on rocking horses and dolls on small teeter-totters. And there was one special doll to whom I was introduced.

Her name was Querette, after the letter “Q” stamped on her porcelain head.  She was child sized and sat in a little rocking chair.  She had blond ringlets with ribbons and was dressed in traditional French fashion of the 20’s complete with little black patent leather shoes whose soles were scuffed.  It was the first thing I noticed and when I inquired why, my girlfriend laughed and said it was because sometimes Querette walked around at night.

I slept on the sofa in the lanai and the days passed quietly with restless nights, the house filled with the soft little voices of the dolls. However, my condition was now 7 months along and my friend and I sat down to discuss a plan of action.  I could not go back to New Orleans and I could not go to South America.  She was heading back to New York and her mother would not allow me to stay because of her religious beliefs; there was only one option remained.  I called Garry in Houston.

It was the last place I wanted to return to, but the only choice I had, so I packed my things and two days later took the bus to Houston.  Garry had sent me money for the bus fare, found me a place to stay to have the baby, arranged for a private adoption, found me an apartment, sold me a car, gave me my life back and a chance to start over.

I did manage to call New Orleans and quietly found out that Dino had indeed gone to California.  He thought I had abandoned him and was already involved with another. I told him everything and wished him well.  I also called my aunt who had suspected the truth and made me promise to call one a week and come back on holidays.

For the next year or so I would be surrounded by my first circle of friends; I would find a good job at an oil company translating seismic drilling reports from French to English; I would meet the man I would one day marry and that Christmas I would accept my sisters invitation to spend the holiday with her in Ecuador.

The wheel of fortune would spin once again.

 

 

“But it’s no use now, to pretend to be two people! Why, there’s hardly enough of me left to make one respectable person!”― Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass

Other Moon, 2013, oil on canvas, 61x76cm (24x30)

Other Moon, 2013, oil on canvas, 61×76 cm (24×30)

“It’s just a jump to the left, and then a step to the right, with your hand on your hips, you bring your knees in tight………,” one moment,  time warp to the present if you please……..

I remember the sound of the incoming evening tide as it swished across the low rocks and shifted the basaltic pebbles in the sand, rattling them around the mangrove roots.  How rich the air was with the smell of salt and fresh bread calling you to make the hike down the sandy path to the bakery and obtain a loaf before they were all gone.  Then stopping for a chat at the bar/gathering place to catch up on the news of the day.

There were no interrogations, no condemnations, no judgements; there was just the doing, the anticipation of the next day, the challenges ahead. We were all in the same boat, so to speak, the same island. The world was different then.

I go back to my island days in my mind and listen to the incoming tide whenever I am feeling trapped.

Not meaning to whine and trying to maintain some integrity as an artist and being a cashier are diametrically opposed forces that are pulling me apart.  Two customers in the past 4 months have reported me to management for being “rude”.  The first was dismissed for what it was, the customer having a bad day, the second, well the second is why I am writing this.

There was a truly crazy customer whom I felt was trying to scam me, and after listening to her rant for nearly 10 minutes about what she wanted, how she wanted it, what she wanted to pay and what she was going to do to me if I did not give her way……well, for some ungodly reason I simply said “no”.  She stormed off saying she would report me.  I called my manager and advised her what had just happened, she told me not to worry. The other customers in line just shook their heads.  But upper management considered it a fatal error and I had unwittingly violated a prime directive…”no customer shall be told no.” Paraphrased, of course.

I was called into the small office with 2 managers present and read the riot act.  I was called in again 2 days later and read the riot act again but this time there were 3 managers present, a bit crowed and slightly intimidating.   They were they said, filing a formal written complaint on my behavior. This was my final notice (I asked where was the first notice), because now I had formed a pattern of bad behavior, and should one more customer report me  I would be fired.  Later that afternoon I went back to ask politely why I was called in twice on the same incident and was once again lectured on how bad a person I was, told they had to run a formal investigation on the incident.  I called HR Corporate Counseling in Atlanta the next day.

My record they said is squeaky clean, no reports, no violations, no nothing, but they would investigate the situation and let me know.  I do not expect any results, but it made me feel better.  My days of employment are numbered, at the whim of the next angry customer.

This incident has changed me a bit, I have now learned how not to do the right thing.  So if someone complains about the price, I just take 10 -50 even 70% off and smile. If someone starts yelling, I call a manager, if someone is trying to steal, I turn a blind eye, if someone is using someone else’s credit card I look the other way, if someone is returning obviously stolen items billed on another persons credit card I smile and refund them the money.  If drug users return items without a receipt, I smile and give them cash…not my problem right?   This is the new retail philosophy in the great US of A, employees are highly replaceable, and at my age, have even less value.

After reality set in, I was saddened when I was told by one of the head Cashiers, to “…..just close your eyes, do your job, and pray for forgiveness every night.  It’s not your store, it’s not your money.”

What is even sadder is she is absolutely right.

An aside to the story.-

“One of the main problems for Empaths is the lack of transparency and honesty in the world and the consequent frustration of having to process all the energy that is not in full view.”  Trinity Bourne

Another Path ©2003- graphite on paper, 25x30 cm (10x12)

Another Path ©2003- graphite on paper, 25×30 cm (10×12)

My paternal grandmother was a large, ample German woman with flaming red hair and a personality that charmed all she met.  Her home was an open door to family, friends and total strangers.  There was always room at the dinning room table, or even the family crypt for that matter, for one more or several as the occasion allowed. I have beautiful memories of her holding me in her lap singing the old country songs.  Special treats were the ends of French bread (“the nose” she called it), sliced, covered in butter, sprinkled with sugar and dipped in sweet coffee flavored milk, now there was true love.

She had the “sight” as it was called, and she could see right through me or anyone else. What transpired in our house to her, was not an unknown.  She told me everyone had a guardian angel, but that I had two protecting me. She taught me a game where I could become anything I wanted to be: a bird, a fox, a wolf, a bear.  It was not until much later in life I realized the value of this great gift she bestowed for it enabled me to escape the worst of times.

It was in my late teens when I realized I also had the gift of second sight. Unlike my grandmother, I could not “see” vast rivers of possibilities but only what the individual had unconsciously set up for themselves to happen within a short period of time.  I was a feeler, an Empath.

In having conversations with others I would find myself always touching them, on the hand on the arm. This subconsciously enabled me to communicate better, to tell them what they wanted to hear.  I forced myself to do this only selectively when I returned to the States.  Americans do not like being touched.  I also found that with some people I would even emit a minute electrical charge, especially if I was feeling overly sensitive to them or our conversation.

Most kept me at arm’s length because of my vibration, (my aura) which could swell and envelope people without my awareness especially when I was disturbed, irritated or angry even while I was outwardly smiling.  Still working on controlling that, blocking the vibrations I send out and those I receive.  However, as much as I tried, I never gained real social skills to use the information, to play the game, to my advantage, I would just unintentionally scare people.

There is only so much one can learn from books, from osmosis, from observation, when you have no childhood experience, and I needed experience to build a stronger self-foundation. I became a “quick study” learning at a rapid pace.  I could see so clearly at times, I could do almost anything I set my mind to accomplish.

It wasn’t until my mid-fifties that I truly understood what was happening.  It explained why it was never easy to be accepted by others, why I found it difficult at best to get close to people in a personal sense.  I never had more than one or two friends at a time and after a while they too would leave, my honesty, my intensity proving too much for the normal person to bear.

I have been fortunate to be part of a group several times for short periods, enabling me to really work for the greater good. People tend to see me as a leader or a threat.  In truth though, I spent most of my life on the outside looking in. At the same time gaining respect, admiration in addition to some form of success and fame.  I also learned peace in being alone but never lonely.

I think the day I left home I became a very positive person, the worst of life sliding off my shoulders.  Tending to allow myself to be used, part of the abused syndrome I am sure, enabled me to make others look good, and receive the reflected success.  Sometimes I am too positive, moving forward with speed while erasing whatever may have transpired, creating holes, lost time, in my adult life. I still tend to “fade out” every now and again for short periods, especially while driving, ending up miles from where I intended to go, getting lost with no memory of how I arrived.  Always made me wonder who was driving during those times!

My biggest problem was, and still is, in over-intellectualizing everything, desperate to understand the why and the how of it all. So many questions, so few answers!

However, in spite of everything I do smile and laugh much more than I cry.  Crying too much never solved anything, did not necessarily make me feel better and I always thought it was a waste of good water in a drought.

-“I keep turning over new leaves, and spoiling them, as I used to spoil my copy books; and I make so many beginnings there never will be an end. (Jo March)”― Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

Clothed Horse, c 2003, graphite, 22x30 cm (9x12)

Clothed Horse, c 2003, graphite, 22×30 cm (9×12)

-The Story continues…..

She was born the third and last child of a Sicilian mother who spent her life in the servitude of her 10 elder siblings because her parents did not feel she was intelligent enough to attend school. Her father was a Capitan in the Merchant Marines, born in North Carolina, whose British heritage dated back to the first colonist in America.  Her parents met and married while her father was on shore leave in Palermo in the early 20’s.  Upon their return to the US, they established residence in Galveston, Texas where the Sicilian family had already grown roots in the early 1800’s.  This was ideal, since her father would be away at sea, her mother would have the comfort of her family. However, once a servant in your own family, always a servant, and coming to America changed nothing; she was badly treated to say the least.

My mother carried the nickname “Francie” for many years. She was a strawberry-blond beauty that, in her youth, sat for many a famous artist. Very different from her dark-haired, olive-skinned cousins.  She dearly loved her father, but saw him rarely. Her mother followed in the footsteps of her own parents, no kind words were offered, just a cruel verbal abuse leaving my mother with little or no self-esteem, internally fragile. My grandmother favored her sons and ignored the fact that her eldest would repeatedly rape her daughter over several years.  Francie buried her anger and bitterness deep inside of herself, she became the bravest of them all, showing only a surface reflection filled with joyous laughter and a pragmatic but positive attitude. The anger, the bitterness, the pain she carried would emerge much later in life.

One fateful summer on her nineteenth birthday, finishing her sophomore year in college, she joined her father on one of the Lloyd vessels for a sea voyage to Cuba. On board she met a young, dashing first-mate, who promised her the sun, the moon, and swept her off her feet.  They were married two weeks after the return voyage.  I was born 8 months later.

They must have been happy for a while, he was at sea, becoming a Capitan of his own vessel, and she was raising a child.  For a brief period she lived with his parents in New Orleans; but Capitán’s’ siblings were quite domineering and judgmental. The conflicts and jealousies that transpired in those early days with Capitán’s’ family would never be forgiven. When he retired from the sea a full Capitan they moved to an apartment in the French Quarter (I have small swatches of dark memories with loud angry voices, dark stairwells, her crying, she is pregnant with my sister, and she is holding my hand.). Later when the second child was born they bought a small house in the suburbs near the lake.

Upon his retirement he went into a marine insurance business with his brother in-law. It was at this point that the spousal abuse began in force. From then on she was only happiest when pregnant, the physical joy created during that state allowed her to escape his wrath. However, when her child began to talk and show independence, she lost interest and began to think only about the next pregnancy. I was three when my first sister was born. From then on the other sisters and brother were born in close intervals over the next nine years. She had 7 children, one she lost in a miscarriage the other at 6 months due to viral pneumonia.

Smoking and drinking were common in those days but I think she began the heavy drinking when we moved to South America. She did not adjust well to the culture, learning only enough Spanish to get by in social circles. She carried on in a country where revolutions occurred every couple of years, crying and cringing at the sound of gunfire and bombs exploding. After a while the alcohol removed the fear of the country and Capitán enabling her to create an illusion of happiness. But she was falling deeper and deeper into herself and by the time I was in my early teens, she was a full-blown alcoholic.

As a mother she never neglected the basics. We never went without food, simple fare of beans and rice, eggs and potatoes, pasta and sauce. Capitán always had steak, shrimp or lobster ever night. We enjoyed meat only at Sunday dinners which always degraded into both parents drinking too much leading to intense screaming and yelling. One of the children always the main target for something we did, didn’t do or might have done, and my mother getting the sole blame.  We always had clothes on our backs, shoes on our feet, medical care when required. She managed the house and kept it clean, she catered the parties that would also inevitably end in drunken brawls, beatings, broken glass and blood.  Living in a country where as a woman she had absolutely no power, in a home where she had no control, no say, she was quite lost.

Everyone she met loved her; but only a few friends knew the truth and they consoled her as best they could.  It would take many years for her to build up the courage to escape.

 

 

 

 

Capitán

Posted: May 29, 2013 in Art, journal, Women
Tags: , , , , ,

No darkness is so dark to win over the light, no hindrance has the worth to face a soul so bright.” Senora Roy —

 

Dark Vision-©2003- graphite on paper, 25x30 cm (10x12)

Dark Vision-©2003- graphite on paper, 25×30 cm (10×12)

The Story Begins.

My mother use to tell me “If you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything at all.”    So, as a compromise to that idiom, I will start with his best qualities.

He was incredibly charismatic, brilliant in many aspects of the art of making deals, innovative, highly creative, and intuitive. Afraid of nothing and no one. Men respected him, feared him, women adored him. He had the classic features of his generation, that David Niven/Earnest Hemingway look. He had dash, flair and style, cultivated and perfected without equal. The fact it was all an illusion meant nothing, the core him would never be seen by anyone save a select unfortunate few.

As a child my grandmother said he had “the sickness”.  Nothing viral, something more insidious…he had faulty genes, a glitch in his matrix.  He had no empathy.  The strong fists of his older brothers, and even stronger dominion of his eldest sister tempered his inbred anger, violence and radical mood swings.  He hated but respected his father. A gentle, quiet, intellectual of a man who always looked the other way and left family matters and the raising of their 9 children to his wife, a loveable and gregarious woman, who’s love for anything and everyone knew no bounds.

As he grew older his faults became re-defined into a lack of conscious between right and wrong, he was a-moral, clothed in a narcissist personality clouded by his brilliance and charisma. He bordered on genius. People only saw the shine when he entered a room, hung on his every word, believed anything he said, did anything he asked.  He was a con, a pirate, ferociously loved and hated simultaneously by all who knew him.  His immediate family complained about his actions, but always forgave him, giving him silent permission to carry on without any need of correction. He never suffered the consequences of his actions; there was always a rescue.  No one could deny him.

He went from rags to overwhelming wealth so many times it almost became legend. He provided for himself first. When he married and had children the same principle applied, whatever was left went to his family. He was an alcoholic who beat his wife into submission verbally and occasionally physically. He had a gift of words and he used them as a weapon to coerce, demean, and diminish anyone blocking his path; public humiliation was his forte.   Rarely he used words for praise, and when he did, you could not shine brighter as you bathed in the light of his vibration, but that too was a dual edged sword. He was the royal king of all he surveyed; his wife and his children were his property, their purpose to serve without question.  Three of my four siblings escaped his physical, sexual and mental abuse. The first because she was his favorite, his princess. The other because she was the princesses’ servant and protected by her shadow and the third because she was a female clone of him, a sociopath, and could do not wrong.

Everyone who knew him knew him for his cunning, his talent, his unlimited abilities, his twisted form of love.  They also knew his cruelty, his problems, his abusive nature.  No one dared to stand up to him, no one ever dared question him least they suffer the consequences of his retribution.

He was never called father, papa or daddy.  He was always Capitán.

 

 

 

“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.” ― Douglas Adams

Memory of Water ,oil on canvas, 61x76cm (24x30)

Memory of Water ,oil on canvas, 61x76cm (24×30)

Outside of the bowl now, I am drinking what seems like gallons of water, and I want more.  I sense what the land must feel; every drop of water sucked in and ravished, desperate to quench a deep thirst.

Clouds form, rain falls, the scent of moisture fills the nostrils, but it never reaches the ground. Evaporating in mid-air.  They call it “Verga”.  You can look up, see it, smell it, even taste it on a dry tongue, but it will not touch you.  With 4% and less humidity everything is brown, evergreens have a tan cast to them, the drought here is considered medium, I do not want to think what it would be if severe.  The wind howls, dust rises from the grassless, horse trodden arenas that fill this area of suedo ranchers, and seeps into the tiniest cracks of my house. It swirls across empty land or down dirt roads in huge dust devils filled with grit, small pebbles and pieces of tumbleweeds. My truck trembles when hit.

So very little snow this year, hardly any rain, I think about our well. Others in the area have gone dry, from misuse of water, or drying aquifers.  Water hauling has become big business. We are more fortunate than some, situated in a bowl of the valley on a good aquifer, a deep fault, but I do not think our conserving water makes any dent as the consumption around us increases with more houses, more people, more horses.

The world has become that way, nothing is held sacred, especially respect for the land.  Just 20 years ago there was a law here in New Mexico, that there could only be one house per 5+ acres, because of the shortage of water. But that changed as more and more people left the cities for the countryside and housing was built on 1-acre lots. There was money to be made, people were willing to pay for the hard water brought up from deep aquifers so they could plant grass, plant moisture loving trees and plants as if water was without end. Restaurants, shops, schools, theaters, and all the other accessories of life developed around the new housing to fill the needs of the people. More traffic, more roads, more water.

This year the coyotes are gone, the nights are silent. Is it because of the drought? Because of the great coyote kill off by the macho humans with guns pretending to do a community service in spite of a national outcry? I know not. Because they are gone, the rabbit population has increased three-fold, and with lack of grass, lack of water they are eating anything green they can find, including my tulips and now they are working on the emerging day lilies. I will not plant a garden this year. I will grow some indoor kitty greens to keep the cats from munching on the long leaf plants in the house due to lack of any grass outside.

The owls left the year before and the mice and small rodent population increased. However, my cats are quite busy and happy about that situation.

Our regular bird population is changing. A few are still around but there are new birds coming in to eat at the feeder and drink thirstily at the water bowl.

I see a pattern forming and the best any of us can do is to at least try to do our part in this brave new world of changing climate.

But I know most won’t. Sacrifice is not part of our human nature, much less we concede that everything is connected and there are consequences to our actions.  We, as a species, have become quite self consumed and awareness of anything out side of our safe little cocoon is short-lived and unimportant.  No mater how terrifying, shameful or devastating the incident may be. “Tsk, tsk”, we say, then we go back to protecting ourselves, our individual special interest, and the world moves on as if nothing changed.

So it seems.

One day we will all pay the price, after all nothing comes free.  We have evolved great technology, we have not evolved as a species in many centuries; so the odds of us learning anything from the past, is quite dim.

However, if per chance, one day we do wake up, I will be long dead, knowing I at least tried to do my part.

My thirst will be quenched.