We’ve had our substantial snow. Substantial. It seemed sudden. I moved enough topsoil in those last “bald headed days in November before the first snowflakes sailed” that the snow settled as impediment to a timorous ninety point turn in the driveway, which is the size of a church parking lot and holds one car, seemed small wet white beans indeed to shovel. Until the fourth clearance.
There isn’t paint white enough for the glorious glare outside the window today, at high frozen noon. Winter. Done like Flynn, the shift of painting indoors, the radio muttering ills that must comfort or would not be so pervasive, in other rooms, the cat flung to her waterbed lair, the well, if somewhat skeptically intentioned setup of fireside projects. The jigsaw puzzle under the tablecloth…I suppose to be flung back in joy for cocktails, is more indicative of early cabin fever than it is of any intention to actually assemble what I believe is the entire saga of robin hood and every leaf on every tree in Sherwood forest.
I’m inarticulate with apathy and isolation I suppose, at least that’s the party line this morning on my silence. On all regretted human silence. There remains the radio. It is worried again today that facebook is haunt of child serial killers. Or serial child killer bulllies who play video games with strangers or something. What should Canadian listeners think? Facebook, twitter, what shall we do. Maybe fiddle with the dial. I have been familiarizing myself with promising document management software and have set myself the antsy snowbound task of transcribing, from pencil on brittle yellow paper, promising short stories fading in my possession. But for my familiarity with the writer’s cryptic hand, accurate transcription would be unlikely. I’m finishing up some small paintings too, images incised on wooden panels with a surgical scalpel long ago by the same friend – at his leisure at first, and later at a pace to complete the peaceable vision condemned. And that’s been rather fun once I started. The carvings are good enough in themselves for the most part to give me pause in any approach to embellish them with paint, a five year backwoods pause but that was in another country and the bastard is dead.
For myself, I paint buildings and portraits, small beans, guiltily completing summer’s work as my niece hangs her Christmas lights alone up the street this vivid afternoon, hurrying to have them hung before the kids are home from school. The yellow school buses stamping and steaming in the parking lot at about three. I heard myself rather curtly pointing out the other morning that I went to the same school and walked the distance there in my day as these kids do today, with nothing but a lard sandwich in a paper bag and plastic shopping bags for winter boots, and I never whined a bit. And we used a board with a nail in it for Nintendo. I have a horrid feeling I’ve become merely spry, or will have to do so. Alas. I smile when I say.
My grandmother’s little apartment is snug and warm, the sun room poised anxiously awaiting for sun like a doomed Anita Brookner heroine. My mother, in the main part of the shanty rises cast iron again after her dramatic summer illness. There is much to be thankful for and you have to tell her flat out. The remainders of her close family, sisters man the phones for the cynical daylong domestic reportage their dialing plans afford them. Their conversation runs like a cnn news strip through my days. Cousins giggle through the house as ever, mocking the furniture. Not enough cousins really… there used to be fifty of us kids at Christmas, on the farm. With snowmobiles. We were wondering yesterday how none of us were ever killed. Or why. At birth. My email is bloated with their pictures. Facebook is an absolute nightmare. My aunt Sandra says every time she sees me “well here’s Norman Bates” but then she’s only married in and never really felt like she belonged, as she always says at dinner with thaty smile that maybe just for a moment knows she is our delight. Anyway, seems you can’t climb a flight of stairs these days without a lifestyle helmet.
We knew my mother was well again when she bought herself a second hand Hammond organ while visiting her sister in the chateau. it was out in the hall. As these things should be. She told the great grand children she’d play away with her old arthritic fingers by the window and give concerts for the poor children over Christmas.
So There’s still hope here in these troubled fields.
Nevertheless, tilting my banjo aside, I am very glad that my friend, the city mouse and trumpeter, Bill has not renounced, or abandoned, painting, let alone done with the little studio we’ve taken on in our little home city, which is my last fucking grip on sanity some days I tell ya, that old view overlooking the quaint city square with its ducking pond and crackheads. What hilarity. What with the long nights here with the unshared sky hard and cold and brilliant as a Finnish fairy tale illustration, what with the diplomatic silences, the eloquence too, of the living and the dead. And my own. And all the clumsiness.
I grow as weary as anyone I suppose of fortifying the unsustainable, triviality, of pretending it is practical, the right and only thing to do. I’m sick to death of soothing the wounded sense of entitlement of spoiled television shoppers. of never saying you’ve had too much, there is not enough, the poor are with you. I am tired of Christianity twisted to justify the worst thing. And the muslims. I am tired of praising famous men. I am tired of the artist Britney spears. I am up at six in the morning, sickened by Blackwater. I am up late at night, making luxury objects, though the actual act of painting is the enemy of the tidy sort of house proud. here at mission control these precariously perched trays of dreary octaves of wet paint, tilted upon synthesizer cables and wireless clutter, among painted panels, surrounding my central monitor on my own Formica dining table provide a fence against any but the most graceful of perched elbows, my cat’s, The guitar string that will not remain coiled, ever in the middle of the still life. a few others.
Yes, The company here that isn’t family here is rare but excellent. . … a nice young man comes now and then and takes me for a walk along the lane to the shops. I talk too much, I think afterward. Some kind agency I think sends him. People call. A foreign sounding man on the phone last weekend was trying to herd a few of us together at a barn dance down snow banked back roads.I could see us, dressed for mardi gras under parkas, hauled over to the crusty ditch by a Christmas cop ride program. It was a tempting vision. He said that I didn’t know a damned thing about running a posse and I wouldn’t last five minutes in Jamaica, that I was pathetic. You could tell he’d been thinking. I blame this Obama victory.
People write, respectable vicar types check in, not my snake handling relatives either as one neatly pointed out. Shoppers are rushing right out to invest in art certainly now we acknowledged we’re in a real American recession, so I’m just rolling in money. I have hopes of Ikea convenience and minimalist eternal youth. Things aren’t bad, I don’t think I’ll snap in under a year, but it does me world of good to know that when I get back to Moscow there’s a worktable and not just a yellow cafe table to settle me. I miss the people with fanciful hair I know there. The festivals of culture and tourism and that smoking elegant cat on whose company so much of my own inability to feel a complete exile depends.
I put up a new flash site at the url
I’m doing a little Christmas show at the gallery up 62 north and hanging around there on Santa clause parade weekend,
and here’s a link to info about that. There may be dancing at the hotel. There will be music.