Dance, dance wherever you may be

Feathers, drums, silver heels, swingin’ rhythm, move your hips: it’s Carnaval!  Days and evenings of rehearsals brings the Austin Samba School closer to the grand production in February. No winter blues in this crowd; there isn’t time to get down, except to Samba Reggae. Drummers and dancers alike meet every Wednesday evening at the Austin State Hospital gymnasium to learn Samba drum rhythms and dance steps.  In September all (volunteer) participants are asked to make a serious time-commitment to a grueling rehearsal schedule necessary to create a tight, spectacular carnaval show. I made the commitment and am now in the midst of eating, breathing–living samba. Cautious at first, but curious, I started attending the Wednesday night dance sessions last Summer. Clark has been drumming with the Samba School for several years during which time he has repeatedly encouraged me to join the group.  Me? A 52 year old woman with only minimal dance experience? Oh yes–why not! I am in good company for I have discovered a rich, varied community of women, all ages, shapes, backgrounds, who like me took the samba plunge. In fact, it is astounding what an eclectic bunch makes up the whole Samba School. Our roster includes doctors, lawyers, nurses, counselors, artists, students, musicians, the whole gamut.  It is furthermore interesting how quickly we bonded over the immediate task of learning basic samba steps–and then the challenging choreography for the carnaval show. Considering that the whole operation is a volunteer effort, it is amazing that the school pulls off such stunning, crowd-pleasing performances.  Or is it?  The most infectious, irresistible part of the Samba school is that it is FUN. For those of us serious types, schooled in the Protestant work ethic which regards anything other than work suspect, the fun aspect is a challenge. Questions quickly arise, like: “shouldn’t I spend what precious time I have available volunteering for a more serious cause, one which helps people?” or “shouldn’t I use any extra time I have to work on my art?”

Regarding the first question, samba DOES help people. On a physical level, it gets participants in shape! It also brings me and my fellow participants great joy–and it infects everyone around us with joy. In a world continually traumatized by disturbing events, experiencing joy seems vital, necessary for our survival. Furthermore, Samba is inclusive: everyone is welcome regardless of level of experience, background, race, color, size, age. Any feeling of self-consciousness is quickly replaced by one of belonging and solidarity–that we are all in this together.  For an artist who spends a lot of time in solitude, the community aspect of Samba is most welcome. And, regarding my concern about samba vs. time for artmaking, I can say that my samba experience invigorates me, helps me feel alive, and  has inspired a multitude of  ideas for new art projects. Perhaps most importantly, joining the samba school has given me the valuable experience of being a beginner. When my own students express fear and doubt about the blank page, I can empathize, my blank page being the dance floor. And like my students, if I am willing to keep moving, the fear turns to fun, and the joy of feeling alive is worth the risk of whatever mistakes we make in the process of learning something new.

Well already everyone know that is there a generic cialis detected with ease in the Internet. In specific on our website it is full of it. But you forget and constantly you ask.

Extraordinarily Ordinary

I sat down to write about the post Christmas quiet and its accompanying melancholy when RED flashed in front of me.  My heart skipped a beat as I watched a cardinal alight on the deck railing outside of my studio, a surprise visitor on a gray, dreary afternoon. He was not alone, but  joined by what I imagined to be his family–male and female–all skittering around the slick, leaf-covered deck foraging for food.  Delighted, I stepped outside to take a picture, when as if on cue, they all flew away. Of course I knew better! Magical moments like these must be savored, experienced, not captured, neatly snapped up in a photograph.
Cardinals are not uncommon in Austin, but it is rare to see one in our yard.  “It must be a sign” I thought, that this extraordinarily ordinary visitor appeared exactly when I needed such a boon. Earlier this morning I had been “seeing red” in another way, angry over some hurtful comments someone made about me. It is my “cardinal sin” to ruminate and obsess over such things, about which I have no control.  The cardinals are gone now, flown off to some other yard in the neighborhood, but red is on my mind. Not the angry kind, but that which is associated with passion, life-force, the blood of creation.

As an artist I stay alert for inspiration and it usually comes in unpredictable, surprising ways, like the sight of a cardinal on the deck on a winter’s morning.

 Flashes of red flutter away,
the rain washed deck bears witness to the scene,
sodden leaves mingled with sticks and acorns,
a welcome feast for unexpected visitors.

Well along everyone know of that is there a generic cialis detected with ease in the Internet. In specific on our website it is full of it. But you forget and constantly you ask.

Something Old, Something New

The year begins:  resolutions made, Christmas decorations packed, a deep breath taken, one moment flowing into the next. Typically, I wax nostalgic on the eve of a new year, noting in my journal progress made, things accomplished, dreams lived or un-lived.  Sitting at Starbucks on New Years’ Eve I noted highlights of the 2012 list: Swim a lot–check, get better at African Dance–check; join Austin Samba School to dance–check; Lead Sketch trip to Italy-check; sell more art—check; Make more art–check; Start writing a book–Check.
Finish writing a book…..

That’s where a new list begins.  A Book. Seems large, ominous, out of reach, something others do, what one sees in stores, hard-bound, serious, sitting in rows on shelves. Being in the process of writing one is a no-man’s land of ambivalence, doubt, fear, cautious hope, procrastination, grandiosity and audacity.  It involves hours of doing, hours of thinking and not doing, hours of thinking I should be doing, picking up where I left off a month ago.  A book. Of. Mine.  At the beginning of such an undertaking, there is the realization that it began a long time ago, conceived in the act of making art and teaching it, gestating through countless journal entries and ruminations, nudging me in waking moments and showing up in dreams. Questions remain: will I abort it before it has time to fully develop? Or, despite all my efforts, will it be stillborn? Or, will I give birth to something full, whole, complete that I can proudly present to the world?

It is difficult to be in the middle of anything.

And so on I plod, writing, writing, writing as the new year unfolds, writing for my life.

Well yet everyone be aware of that is there a generic cialis found with ease in the Internet. In particular on our website it is full of it. But you forget and constantly you ask.

Espresso Yourself

I didn’t start drinking coffee until I turned 50. Having always been the one in my family with “champagne taste on a beer budget”, it seemed only natural that my taste-buds are ignited by the expensive Starbucks stuff, not the ordinary cup of Joe. Indeed, I have been born again into the afternoon non-fat latte tribe, and have probably single-handedly kept Starbucks afloat in a flagging economy. A trip to Italy in 2010 coincided with my “taste for coffee discovery,” and seemed the perfect place to explore my new-found love of lattes and cappuccinos. It was at a small street cafe in Rome, however, that I learned from my friend Laurie that Italians consider the  cafe latte and cappuccino to be breakfast drinks only. This startling discovery made me realize I needed to adapt immediately, or be easily targeted as “AMERICAN TOURIST!” when sidled up to a coffee bar in the late afternoon ordering my favorite milk-foamed concoction. Luckily, it was only 10:30 that morning when Laurie set me straight, and I choked down the latte I was drinking. (11:00 am seems to be the cut-off time).  Henceforth,”When in Rome…..”it would be espresso or cafe for me during the day.

When we eventually got to La Romita and began the extraordinary adventure of sketching in small villages and cities throughout Umbria, I happily discovered I could continue to indulge my love of lattes and cappuccinos. Because we arrived by bus in these towns well before the bewitching hour of 11 am, lattes were not out of bounds! We could easily take the time to stake out a cafe, order our foamy coffee drinks, savoring them slowly while sketching whatever was in front of us.  Indeed, it was typically the  first cafe where we landed which would determine the focus or subject of many of our sketches. In Orvieto it was the spectacular cathedral (past 11:00 so it was espresso for me). In Assissi it was sitting on a fountain’s edge, near the cafe, (latte, before 10) sketching a wall.  In Narni it was in the town square, in front of the church near the fountain where all the old men sat shooting the breeze (10:30, cappuccino). However arbitrary or silly this seems, having one’s coffee establishment be the determining factor in making a decision about what to sketch was useful when confronted by a multitude of possibilities ranging from architecture, ruins, fountains, sculptures, people, landscape.

As plans for my upcoming sketch/art group at La Romita are underway, I have made a note to myself to include a section in my “When in Rome” Helpful hints information sheet about ordering Coffee in Italy.
Espresso, anyone?

Well already everyone know that is there a generic cialis detected with ease in the Internet. In special on our website it is full of it. But you forget and constantly you ask.

Reflections & Cemetery Wonderings

2010 came and went in a flurry of monumental events. My Mother moved to Austin, I turned 50, I directed my first Literally Letters program at Ghost Ranch, went to Italy with my daughter, I started a new class called “Sketch Austin,” started drinking coffee for the first time in my life, began classes in African Dance. I taught at the International Calligraphy Conference in Boston, was rejected for an MFA program at UT. I was invited to teach in Italy for 2012; I attended a week-long “Process” personal growth intensive at the Hoffman Institute in Northern California, and completed four sketchbooks.

One experience, however, which effected me most deeply, was an accidental visit to the Wimberley cemetery one Sunday afternoon in early Spring. My Mother and daughter and I decided to take a rode trip in search of wildflowers, so I headed out towards Johnson City. On a whim I decided to turn off at Dripping Springs and go to Wimberley where we were disappointed to find that the flowers weren’t blooming there yet. After a glass of iced tea in a charming cafe, we drove through town looking for a place to turn around. It was then that we happened upon the cemetery. Compelled to stop because of the unusual displays we saw on the gravesights, including tchotkas of all kinds, bird-feeders, hand-carved stones, we got out and wandered around, drawn in to this artful, wacky netherworld whose inhabitants clearly had had more than a sense of humor in life–they also had the delightful audacity to know that even death could not thwart their final self-expression and exclamations of “I AM. Unique!”
The most touching part of our self-guided tour through the cemetery was discovering a stone near the entrance covered with toys and other child memorabilia. It was a young boy’s grave who we were told (by the caretaker who conveniently showed up) had died of a heart attack on Christmas eve. She also told us about the first person buried in the cemetery–on the opposite end–the little Wimberley girl who had died of a rabid skunk bite. We were all moved, and our drive home was quiet, reflective. When I came home that evening I wrote the following directly in a little sketchbook:
Cemetery Wonderings

Some people I met today live six feet under, twenty-five miles away near some mighty fine oaks.
A boy, six years old, dead of a heart attack on Christmas eve. His white stone bore the simple epitath (from the movie Toy Story) “To infinity and Beyond.”
A husband and wife buried next to one another, her feet at his head, a humming bird feeder attached to her headstone.

The little Wimberley girl was eight years old when she died of a rabid skunk bite in the late 1870’s. It was her family’s wish to bury the child under her favorite live oak tree not far from Cyprus Creek, and they were granted permission to do so by the Dobie family who owned the property. The girls’ family were among the founders of the town of Wimberley, and her burial under the big oak tree marked the founding of the Wimberley cemetery.
———————————-
Does Wimberley girl know her neighbor “Infinity and Beyond,”
His life summed up in action figures lovingly placed and undisturbed around his still unmoving bed?
A carved stone whimsy of a dinosaur looks on–a gargoyle watchman of sorts–
so near the gate he won’t be running through,
an eternity away from his Mama’s loving arms.
To infinity he rises and leaves us with toys
to ponder his life.
Beyond.

She couldn’t know we’d ever think of her,
this child brought back to memory by a chance encounter.
We went looking for bluebonnets and found her story instead,
a rabid skunk and a town named for her family.
She was…
I am not…
Someday.
And my daughter clung closely to me
as if to stave off the claim eternity has on all of us.

She was only eight after all,
and I miss her full-grown story she never lived,
and yet she grows old along with me
who has just now discovered her to remember.

SZ Spring 2010


Well already everyone be familiar with that is there a generic cialis detected with ease in the Internet. In distinct on our website it is full of it. But you forget and constantly you ask.