Sunday, April 12, 2009
Meandering ... the ups and downs
I thought this blue just heavenly...
It's been a while since I worked for anyone but myself, and all too quickly it has been a return to a life of juggling. Forty hours on the new job, Saturdays at my gallery space, and Sundays at the Heritage Center (as I want to maintain my resident artist status) means I no longer have "a day off." I've rarely taken any days off of being an artist, but this is different as it's back to having to be somewhere every day of the week. I know for most struggling artists, this is everyday reality, this attempting to live two lives and maintain two full-time occupations. Just keeping up with things like laundry, vacuuming, and grocery shopping have become a challenge, and yet I must count myself lucky to have this temporary job.
For many years of my young adult life, I lived in the future, always waiting for the week-end, or the summer, or the future, while life went on. I'm not a Buddhist, but discovering the philosophy and practice of "mindfulness" has been invaluable for me. I look for the best in each experience as well as to consciously be aware that my life is each experience.
With that in mind, I've taken my camera and a notebook along as I scour parts of the County to update addresses for next year's census. I've driven down gated lanes lined with landscaped plantings, country highways and graveled roads - and dirt trails that seem to lead nowhere - but might. Some of the places I've been in the past week sadden me: old trailers and falling-down houses with piles of junk and debris and tarps over roofs to keep out rain. The poverty is palpable. Sometimes a door is opened to reveal toddlers and/or pregnant young women and the reek of tobacco smoke nearly knocks me out. This angers me...
But what breaks my heart are the dogs on chains, skinny wild cats, pregnant cats, and staked-out fighting chickens. Fighting chickens - or cockfighting - is illegal. Raising the birds used for this horrific "sport" is not. The birds are kept tethered by one leg to a stake out in all weather with only a piece of tin (and theses are the "lucky" ones) as a rain shelter. There is no bedding, no perch, no protection from cold or wind or heat. Barbaric - as are those who profit from this disgusting and cruel practice.
But it's not all bad. I came across a dirt drive that led up and up and around and on and on... and finally came out at an amazing place. The house, fence and outbuildings were all made from re-cycled materials utilized in the most charming ways. I asked the owner (a widow in her late 60's) if I could take some photos, and here they are.
She told me a wonderful little story. It seems her late husband was born and raised on this land. His family operated a sawmill there from the turn of the century until the 1950's. Before his death a few years ago, he contracted to tear down a gymnasium in the nearby town of Carnesville. He later used much of this lumber to add on and side their little home. She recently learned that the lumber to build that gymnasium had come from this very land back in the 1930's.