4 June 2020

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive. — Dalai Lama

Had a day of work training, all virtual, today. It’s been a long week and yesterday I allowed as I had hit the Wednesday wall. I was sure that others had too although I had no way of knowing what proportion their mix of work-anxiety to world-anxiety was. I couldn’t really tell what mine was.

Today was better work-wise, for me anyway. I found some hooks to use that gave me some grip of what is to come. Others sounded frantic and I thought – look at you MB, you’ve gotten over that Wednesday wall and found Thursday.

At the end of the day we had just an open talk session, unexpected but going on all over my company. People shared, offered support, cried. We talked about self-care and being aware of our needs and the needs of others but that idea that in order to help others we need to put our own oxygen mask on first. Be strong for ourselves so we can be strong and make things happen in the world.

I thought back over my long years at Apple and of times when my co-workers gave me unexpected but appreciated support and times when I stepped in to help someone else. Because, that’s what you do, right? You care about people and how they’re treated by the world and you try to do the right thing for them. I’ve told customers to leave. I’ve told customers – you’re sick, too sick to be worried about buying a new computer right this minute. Go home and feel better and come back. I’ve told kids – stop whacking your little sibling, because that’s not nice. Like I mean STOP it. Or, those are inappropriate comments and I’ll ask you to stop. OK, you don’t want to stop, I’m saying we’re done and you can leave.

So I pondered these things while listening. And I realized here I am, about to start in a new area of work, feeling very anxious and the world’s not helping me out. In 2001, my hire date for my new job was September 4 and my training was pushed back because our store wasn’t quite on schedule. The training started September 17.

I remember walking in and being so unenthusiastic about the whole thing. I remember thinking – just don’t quit. You need a job. You’ve been unemployed for a long time and you need this job. Don’t walk out. Everyone was so cheery and excited and I couldn’t make it happen. I remember how anxious I was because I really had no idea what the moment to moment reality of this new job would be. We all got through it, and it turns out that’s pretty much a daily thing, more often than not.

There’s been a lot of cheeriness this week but nothing over the top. I think most people have been worn down by the months of covid-19 and being home and moving from one crisis to another. We’ve spent a week together trying to learn virtual things in this new virtual world.

I’m sure it won’t be the last time of overlapping anxieties but let’s work to make the world good, as best we can, where ever we can going forward. Be kind folks, be kind.

All of my unedited cloud photos from today:

clouds 4 June 2020//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

4 June 2020

NaPoWriMo – Day 24

It was another rainy cold day and again the sun came out again at sunset time. No big sunset or anything, just sun and not much time to enjoy it. Well perhaps it’s part of the plan to keep us home and self-isolating.

Truth be told, this poem was twice as long as I wrote it and sent it off, but I remain unconvinced about the second half but felt pretty good about this half so here you go. Afterwards a few photos, one from yesterday and three from today.

I imagined a survey asking how I felt:
politically hopeless
but my painting is going well.
Because, frankly, we’re messy
all of us and all of this
so if I’m speaking honestly
if not to you then to myself
(that is what you’re wanting, right?)
I can truthfully admit
yes, I was dressed for that
online meeting but my hair
was uncombed and I
wanted to finish my oatmeal
so I kept it audio-only.

We become what we think about all day long. — Ralph Waldo Emerson

NaPoWriMo – Day 24

In other news

We can’t go anywhere too exotic but we can dream…

Veggies and fruit arrive by fedex now:

The worms have arrived! (also by fedex, but yesterday)

Vermiculture 2020//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Other things you can do with an assortment of fruit:

In other news

Ah HA! The Job of the Artist

I started reading “No Time to Spare” by Ursula K. LeGuin and what a read it is. A blurb on the back by New York Times Book Reviewer Melissa Febos promised “The pages sparkle with lines that make a reader glance up, searching for an available ear with which to share them.”

And so dear reader, since the cats sprawled nearby look confused by my fist pump just now, this share is for you! (emphasis mine) Ursula writes about that question writers are asked: what does it mean? She encourages readers to seek out reviews and other analysts of writings if they can’t decide for themselves.

It’s a job I do as a reviewer, and I enjoy it. But my job as a fiction writer is to write fiction, not to review it. Art isn’t explanation. Art is what an artist does, not what an artist explains. (Or so it seems to me, which is why I have a problem with the kind of modern museum art that involves reading what the artist says about a work in order to find out why one should look at it or “how to experience” it.)

I’m on page 42 of this slender volume and this just stopped me in my tracks.

You may now return to your regularly scheduled programming.

Meanwhile, today was a gray rainy day, not for painting, but I managed to buy some new socks. I also managed to go into an art supply store and leave without anything. I got an EZ-pass thing for my car after finding out from a co-worker that you can buy them at drug stores and grocery stores. Well, you buy it but they put all the money as a credit on the pass so it’s all good. Did some wash, did some reading, watched a favorite movie.

Yesterday I tried again on the scene I’d painted two days ago. Trying to figure out if it’s the change of paper (at least in part), paints getting rehydrated (they are now), me being rusty (yes and yes) but anyway here’s what happened. No explanations LOL per Ursula. Done from photos I’d taken of each scene.

Ah HA! The Job of the Artist

Fifty years ago… today and tomorrow

#winkathemoon #apollo11

Fifty years ago… today and tomorrow

NaPoWriMo 2019 – Day Twenty-Nine

Can’t believe it’s almost over, since it feels like I’m about to fly

Arms outstretched,
as wide as I
horizon line
air and ground
with the sun
so warm in my eyes
my head glows
while my feet
live in shadow
air and ground
Fingers spread
a small jump
let go of
gravity.

NaPoWriMo 2019 – Day Twenty-Nine

NaPoWriMo 2019 – Day One

And we’re off, today taking a quiet lesson from the wee beasts I live with:

This morning, I turned off the radio,
needing to believe that evil will not win.
In the end, it will not conquer.
So, silence the news, the repeated din,
Three cats thumped down the old stairs
just ahead of me.
They’re the old toy, unremembered name,
that clicked and clacked its way down
a slant with baby carriage or barrow.
they wait by their bowls,
three and a snack-spare
accepting my ear rub and food.
The house is still.
Light comes in each window,
dims and returns, a passing cloud
not noted by the feasting cats
who daily rejoice in breakfast
before seeking their spot of light.

NaPoWriMo 2019 – Day One was originally published on

Coping, Dealing and Being Kind

I’m resurrecting this from July 2012 after the Colorado theater shooting, when I reposted it from 2001. We’re all dealing with a lot, coming from all different directions, on top of the normal wear and tear of living.

In the moment, the best we can do before doing anything is to think, BE KIND, both to others and to yourself.

We may not agree with everything everyone else thinks, but nothing is gained by name-calling or accusing others of being crazy etc. We need to be able to live with people and ourselves day to day and months from now.


This was sent to me after September 11 by my friend Gail, who got it from a co-worker. Much of this parallels what is taught to EMS providers about post-incident stress reactions/stress management. Continue reading

Being An Artist and Why Moms Rock

Tonight after we messaged our good nights, I get a message from Mom with a link

6 Ways to Balance Your Day Job
with Being an Artist

It tells of a doctor who also teaches pastel classes and how he combines his work life with making art, in six ways. I’m going to list them here but do read the article for his details. I was so touched by Mom sending me this link and also pretty happy because some of these things I have been figuring out on my own and they’re true! The article discusses these:

1. Do 20- to 30-minute timed studies, without prep work.
2. Always have a palette and painting gear ready to go.
3. Keep painting clothes in the car.
4. Learn to love what’s local.
5. Teach or join a class.
6. Set goals and clear intentions.

1. I used a timer when I quilted both to keep on task and to keep from over-doing and causing injury. Painting, I’m trying to get started sooner, more directly, and do more shorter/smaller paintings. I tend to get too fussy and stopping sooner and staying simpler is a continuing theme.

Sketching in scene at OOMs

2. Gear is in the car and has been for awhile. Recently I moved from an LLBean type tote bag to a backpack and upgraded my tripod. My goal was to simplify my gear – it’s way too easy to bring way too much stuff – to make it easier to go a little distance more easily. The tripod fits into a side pocket of the pack and a couple clips take care of my folding chair. Having it all in the car though means I can stop on the way home or after an errand or I can grab out a sketchbook and small palette and brushes and just go do something. I would add to this: have some duplication of gear if you can so that you don’t have to take everything out of the car if you want to work at home.

3. I don’t keep painting clothes in the car except for big brimmed hat and my hiking boots. My work clothes are pretty casual though and I’d wear them anyway. (I do keep a couple t-shirts in there in case I get called to a current-events type rally/protest)

4. This came up in class today, that you can spend a lot of time driving around looking for places to paint or you can just figure out to paint in your yard and spend the time painting. Although I have painted a little in the front yard lately, I have figured out a few places along my travels and not too far from home to go and paint. I can choose based on light conditions or where I’m going but it saves a lot of time. I figure if Monet could paint a cathedral multiple times I could find something to paint at my local pond or master the geraniums. I do try to take alternate routes when traveling to scout out new places to paint.

5. I can say that I’ve enjoyed each watercolor class I’ve taken locally. I’ve been encouraged and supported and learned stuff. And, even more importantly, it is a commitment to spend time doing this. Side bonus: people think you’re more serious if you say you’re taking a class and that’s ok too.

6. I don’t know if I have set goals exactly but I’m sort of going with – what’s the point of waiting? Do it now.

Bonus: Buy flowers and fruit to paint and use the cats as models. Thanks Mom!

In order to arrive…

A facebook friend tagged me in his post of this great quote, saying it was quoted by the poet Robert Lax shortly before the German invasion of France in May 1939. It’s a keeper, no matter what your denomination.

In order to arrive at having pleasure in everything,
desire to have pleasure in nothing;
in order to arrive at possessing everything,
desire to possess nothing;
in order to arrive at being everything;
desire to be nothing.

Book One Chapter 14 of “The Ascent of Mt Carmel” by Saint John of the Cross