Magic Shows And Pragmatic Artists

Magic.

Magical.

Magicians.

I am not a fan of magicians.  dscn7954
I am too pragmatic to enjoy the illusion.
I know it is a trick.
I don’t care how it is done.

Bah humbug!

BUT WHAT IF …  I drank the cool-aid?  I saw what I wanted to see?

Would it be different if I were to suspend pragmatism?

I ENJOY CHILDREN ENJOYING MAGIC.

Jubilee and I attended the Texas State Fair in Fair Park Dallas this year and we were captivated by a very mediocre magician’s captivation of his young audience.  The children were enthralled and we embraced their enthusiasm.

dscn7995Silly trick.  OOOOOOOH.
Lame trick.   AHHHHHHH.
Corny trick.  Applause!

The children did not care that his tricks were old.
They did not care that his tricks can be purchased on the toy as aisle at BoxMart.
The children enjoyed not knowing, the brisk fall air, the early rising moon sharing the sky with the setting sun, an outing
with their parents and grandparents on a school night, and being fooled.

dscn7994Our State Fair magician ended with a fine illusion that I thoroughly enjoyed.
A beautiful illusion with a rope and knots and a box.   By then I did not care that it was a trick.  I embraced the illusion.

Akin to the frog who jumped into the pot of cool water and he did not notice,
because the heat was added gradually,
that the water was boiling and he was being cooked alive. 

dscn7989Well poop!

This blog has taken an ugly turn.
I thought I was writing about magic and the difference between magic and illusion.
Turns out I am writing about politics in America. 

I am a Christian.  Not a very good one, either.
It means I read my bible and carry with me a hope for something more and greater.
It means I believe that human beings are created in the image of God, male and female.
The bible says NOTHING about “race” just that we are created in God’s image and God’s image is male AND female.  (Isn’t THAT interesting?  Not say male OR female, but male and female.)

dscn7993The bible commends a childlike heart.
It also admonishes the reader to put away childish things.

There is a huge difference between childlike and childish.

A childlike heart is how and why I paint.
A childlike heart allowed me to enjoy a magician’s performance and the joy of the young audience.

dscn7960Childishness allows a huckster,
like the midway barker,
to lead a nation down a merry trail and to the edge of a precipice.

I am almost 56.
My first memory is of weeping adults in our living room, huddled around the television, watching the news of President Kennedy’s assassination.
I was almost 3.

I feared for the lives of President Obama and his family during their administration.  I prayed and I am still praying.

dscn7986This past year America has entered into times unprecedented in my lifetime.
More recent than ancient history, the times we are repeating are not really so long ago.  .
What is happening on our streets and in our local YMCA’s is reminiscent of stories my parents,
who are in their 80s, told of prejudice and discrimination when they were young adults.

Things are being said and done by average citizens, “good people,” that are not okay.

I don’t know who you voted for and that is probably a good thing.

dscn7996Regardless of who you voted for …
IF you are NOT racist …  now is the time to evaluate who you are and what you stand for before you go over the edge of the cliff.
IF you are NOT racist …  now is the time to get out of the boiling water and speak up for our brothers and sisters of color.

dscn7985Yesterday my cousin and I were standing in line to order lunch and an elderly lady behind us was wearing a huge safety pin in her turquoise t-shirt.  She told us, “It means I have your back.”

It is time to sit down and ask our created in the image of God, American selves,
“Whose back do I have?”
And, “What does that look like for me and my family?”

What To Do with the Flaming Sack of Poo On the United States of America’s Doorstep?

dsc_0027smWhat to do with the flaming sack of poo deposited on the doorstep of our nation Tuesday night?

For God’s sake,
whatever you do:

DON’T STOMP ON IT!

Let it flame out. 

Prepare now for the ensuing mess and clean up.

Hatred and fear won the election.

As a nation we can NOT ALLOW hatred and fear to define us.

The story is not over.
Just a new chapter.

PS.
I gotta go wash off my shoes.

 

Rats Scurry. People Ought Not.

14947789_1325730707479339_9033128899126711905_nI am writing from Holly Colorado.   I am sitting on the second floor (corner room) with a lovely window that rounds what would typically be a square corner.   Since I am working that makes this a CORNER OFFICE!  I. Have. Arrived.

Looking out I see other buildings, like mine from the mid 1800s and all the inner corners facing the cross streets are rounded.  It is quite lovely.

 

It was also disorienting during the night trying to find the bed  in a room with five walls instead of four.    I was the thing that went bump in the night.

This morning I am brewing PG Tips tea in a clear water bottle sitting on my corner window ledge.  It won’t be ready until this afternoon, but today I am not participating in the rat race.

Today I will not scurry.  Rats scurry.  People, while more than a few are rat-like, ought not to scurry.  Nothing good comes from the scurry.
For the past month I have been scurrying.  Yes, I finished three paintings, but the scurry did not get them done.  Actually, IF I had avoided the scurry I am certain that at least one more would be complete and possibly one or two more.  Scurry shuts down the brain’s ability to truly prioritize.

The urgent obliterates the important.

I KNOW this and yet….dsc_0126

Today I am on my way to Denver to spend time at the Denver Art Museum (DAM) and the Stills Museum next door.  Maybe some Red Rock hiking.  We will see.  We will see.   Instead of scurrying out and speed (not speeding!) towards Denver I decided to sit down. I am sitting in my simple corner room and watching my tea begin its slow brew.

It is quiet except for the occasional passing pick up truck.  The sunshine is nice.  Breathing is nice.
(Wow, that last pick up had a muffler!)
Carley Hughes, our priest at Trinity Episcopal Church in Fort Worth, challenged us to take 30 seconds- just THIRTY SECONDS- five times a day and be still.  I wanted to do it.  I was certain I could do it.

I have not done it yet.

It has been two weeks.  TODAY I am taking my 2 1/2 minutes to just be still.  Maybe I’ll talk to God.  Maybe I will just listen.  Maybe I will just be.

My art comes from connecting with the world around me.  From readi
ng.  From journaling.  From connecting disparate ideas and concepts.   I can’t do that scurrying.   I have to be still.  In my mad dash to “get it all done,” to “do it right,” TO JUSTIFY MAKING ART I have cut myself off from the joy of what I do and who I was created to be.

Scurrying is not good for anyone.  dsc_0102
It is not good for me.
It is not good for my family.
It is not good for my art.
It is not good for my community.

I wager that it is not good for you.

Give Carley’s challenge a go this week.
Thirty seconds, morning, meals, bedtime.
Find two and a half minutes to connect with yourself and your greater purpose.

A purpose beyond politics.

Time to check out.  (Literally, it is check-out time at the inn.)

PEACE!

Whiteness

Perspective by Gwen Meharg 22 x 20" watercolor on paper
Perspective by Gwen Meharg 22 x 20″ watercolor on paper

A conversation with a friend from Germany.
She speaking of her German heritage.  lederhosen.  name days.  Learning to knit in public school.  Tales of her mother’s Bulgarian heritage.  She was proud of both.

I had nothing comparable to share.

I could talk about being Texan. 
Pecan pie.  Fried okra.
Fried cornbread.  Fried chicken.
Fried green tomoatoes.
Border collies.  Rattle snakes.  Horses.
Armadillos.  Hereford cattle.
Sheep Spanish goats.
Fishing at the tank.  Chasing horny toads.
Peach trees.  Chiggers.

22 x 30 acrylic on paper by Gwen Meharg
22 x 30 acrylic on paper by Gwen Meharg

I knew a few stories about my dad’s family. A great grandfather (or great great grandfather) O’Dell came from Ireland and jumped ship to stay in America.  An Irish family named Hannan showed him kindess and he took their sur name.  My maiden name is Hannan.

My mother, a Simpson. seems to be of English and Scottish origin according to my internet search.  The internet mentioned fair skin which I interpret to mean “burns easily in the sun.”

Basically, if it burns, surely there is a dash of it in my DNA.

German?  Maybe.  Definitley German on my husband’s side of the family.  And English and Irish and Scottish and Scotts-Irish.

Print by Gwen Meharg 8 x 10 inches on paper
Print by Gwen Meharg 8 x 10 inches on paper

I just remember my great grandmother.  My mother’s mother’s mother.  Momma.   I remember visiting her in the hospital in Goldthwaite.  There was not a nursing home or care facility so the small hospital doubled as such.    I remember her skin being very soft.  Translucent.  And she smelled of powder from a circular cardboard box with a big poofy puff inside.  She wore lacy bed jackets.

I know my great grandmother’s stories from my mother and grandmother.  

One story is of slaves celebrating their new freedom down by the creek.  It was my great grandmother’s birthday.  She was very young and she thought they were celebrating her birthday.

Stories of her hiding with her siblings  from the Indians on her way to and from school.   
I doubted the veracity of this story until I read  “The Captured: A True Story of Abduction by Indians on the Texas Frontier.”

wildflowers in salt shaker on painting
wildflowers in salt shaker on painting

Set in the same neck of the woods where my great grandmother grew up, her stories ring true to the stories in this book.  The time period is the same.  My great grammie most certainly hid from Indians as she was coming and going to school.

The O’Dell turned Hannan grandfather’s story is laden with death, abandonment, extreme poverty, and abuse rape by an elected officials.  Tales of standing in the back of the church, a widow and ten children, standing because they could not tithe.   (I don’t know why they kept going.)

That pastor missed more than a few chapters in his bible!

Lots of stories.   No origin stories.
Nothing before arriving on our hallowed American shores.
No tartan plaids.  No four leaf clovers.
No stories or foods reminiscent of  homeland.

No before.
Just Texas and Maine.
My mom from Goldthwaite, Texas and my dad from Liberty, Maine.

That was as far back as our history reached.

Small collage on paper 4 x 4 inches by Gwen Meharg
Small collage on paper 4 x 4 inches by Gwen Meharg

My cultural heritage is divided.
North and south.  Salt and sugar.
Slow talking and fast talking.
Sunfish and pickerel.  

One side of the family puts salt on tomatoes while the other side uses sugar.
Same for watermelon and grapefruit.
One side salts and the other sugars.
One side of the family makes savory beans and the other side sweet beans.

My cultural identity:  Salt or Sugar.
White or white.

I read an article delineating how white folks became white.
A tale of white evolving to include and to exclude.
A narrative of power over.  Hierarchy.

The article woke in me the memory of that conversation with Monika.

“I don’t know, Monika.  I am just – white.”

22 x 30 inches acrylic on paper by Gwen Meharg
22 x 30 inches acrylic on paper by Gwen Meharg

I said that.
Out loud.
I had no idea.
I did not make the connection to racism.

“We don’t know where we come from.  Nobody remembers or thinks about it.  What we know doesn’t mean anything.   My equivalent of Lederhosen would be a cowboy hat and boots.”

White history is shallow.
White history is grave.
It is time to dig up the shallow grave and sift it for bones and treasure.

I know race is a cultural construct.
I know the consequences of that construct to be real.
I know that the consequences weight most heavily on those who are deemed not white.

Winter Thaw 30 x 22 inches acrylic on paper by Gwen Meharg
Winter Thaw 30 x 22 inches acrylic on paper by Gwen Meharg

I had not considered WHY race was constructed.
White was constructed to replaced cultural identity to consolidate fair skinned minorities against the slaves.
Whiteness was constructed to create polar opposites.
White and black.

White was invented to lord over.
Slavery has a long history.  America was the first nation to base slavery on skin color.
Before prisoners and the impoverished were enslaved.   But when the indentured Irish woman ran she could disappear into the general population.  By confining slaves to a dark skin color it was easier to find them when they ran.

White evolved.
There was a season when Irish was not considered white.
A season where Hispanic was white.
Still  many see Jewish as apart.

Seasons pass and we do not even know what we do not know.
Seasons pass and we forget that there was ever another way.
Seasons pass and the aberration becomes normal.

Strength Triptych each section is 40 x 25" acrylic on paper. Framed
Strength Triptych each section is 40 x 25″ acrylic on paper. Framed

Construct.

Deconstruct.

Build up.  Take apart.
Push back.  Pull together.
Add a layer.  Remove a layer.
More of this.  Less of that. 

It is what artists do.
We explore surface to discover depth.
A pathway to deep.

Race is a construct.  A construction.

What does the deconstruction of whiteness look like? 

30 x 22 acrylic on paper by Gwen Meharg (I have not figured out a title yet.)
30 x 22 acrylic on paper by Gwen Meharg (I have not figured out a title yet.)

Salt.  Sugar.
White privilege.  White supremacy.
White washed tombs?

Watching.
Listening.
Studying.
Speaking out.
Shutting up.

What cost? 

Irish?  German?  Scottish?  English?

Whiteness.
Blackness.
Construct.
Construction.
Deconstruction.
Deconstruct.

RE-CONSTRUCTION!  Let the RE-construction begin. 

I have four paintings on easels in my studio as I type.
A fifth finished painting, Pulse, will go back to the easel as soon as I hit send.  It will be the first in the series.

A new series Exploring Whiteness.

This is a painting of the sacrament of Holy Communion. The Eucharist. Lords Supper. 45 x 75 inches acrylic on paper by Gwen Meharg
This is a painting of the sacrament of Holy Communion. The Eucharist. Lords Supper. 45 x 75 inches acrylic on paper by Gwen Meharg

I have never thrown down a new series before starting it.
Maybe this is a mistake.
Maybe it is a delusion.
Maybe the time is now.

Racism is a white problem.
The burden of consequence is carried upon the shoulders of those of color.

It is so easy to think that it is a black problem or a brown problem or anybody’s problem but mine.

Racism is a white problem.

Please, if you are white, follow this link.  If you are non-white, it still might interest you.

Start by reading the linked article.

http://everydayfeminism.com/2014/04/holding-the-tension/?mc_cid=1c4eaee9fe&mc_eid=f571f34756

New Dawn 3 x 3 ' Work in Process. Acrylic and collage on canvas. Not yet finished.
New Dawn 3 x 3 ‘ Work in Process. Acrylic and collage on canvas. Not yet finished.

I believe art can change the world.
Today I believe my art can change the world.
I do not know what I will believe tomorrow.

Today is more than enough.

Down The Messenger Rabbit Hole

Red Rope 24x 24 inches acrylic and collage on canvas by Gwen Meharg
Red Rope 24x 24 inches acrylic and collage on canvas by Gwen Meharg

I have an ipad.
I never quite got the hang of the ipad.
(I kind of hate it,
but I can do Instagram on the ipad so that is good.
Sort of.
I hate Instagram.
Too many rules and not enough suggestions.

The 21st century has been hard on some of us.

In my attempt to embrace the 21st century I have my first smart phone!

Last night, after 11, I was trying to read a facebook message on my SMART phone.
Up pops a box that informs me that facebook messages are going the way of the dinosaur
and I need to get facebook MESSENGER.
At least that is how I interpreted it.

I load messenger app.
Waiting for me are four messages that I have never seen before.
One was for the studio opening of a friend!!!!
Another was a Mother’s Day greeting.
The other two?  Well, it was after 11 pm so I don’t remember.

n1102413009_467690_3194645Messenger invitation went out to a few friends.

One wrote back that she just uses the regular facebook messages because Messenger takes up too much room on her phone!

OH NO!
I don’t want my phone taken over by something I don’t need.
I try to figure out how to manage data and storage.
I can’t figure out how to unsend the invitations.
I can’t figure out how to delete Messenger.
I delete everything I can get to that I don’t recognize.
Games, tv, videos, music, all sorts of stuff that I have not a clue how it got there or what it is.

4x4" acrylic on paper by Gwen Meharg
4×4″ acrylic on paper by Gwen Meharg

Notification boxes flare up telling me that apps will revert back to what was originally on the phone.  Hmmmmm?
What exactly is an app?
If it came with the phone is it really an app?
I delete a lot.
The ones that say deletion will severely impair my phone I leave alone.
I hope I left them alone.

This morning my phone pinged a few times with Messenger messages.
Now I am trying to figure out how to turn off notifications without turning off the ringer.

A Michael Hyatt article shared a studied indicating
the typical office worker is interrupted every THREE MINUTES!
The resulting productivity loss is
equivalent of missing 5 (FIVE!) months of work a year!!!!!

small watercolor sketch by Gwen Meharg
small watercolor sketch by Gwen Meharg

Just think how productivity would soar with interruptions only every SIX minutes!
Would the average office worker get another 2 ½ months of work done each year?
Would America be GREAT again!

Wrap up?

It was good to receive those missing messages, BUT at what cost?
How DANGEROUS is Messenger to my productivity?
How much room does it indeed take up?
IS facebook messages TRULY going away?

4x4" collage by Gwen Meharg
4×4″ collage by Gwen Meharg

And how did we so quickly buy into the myth of Poverty Culture?
Why didn’t we see the flaws in the study when it came out?
One small village and the results was extrapolated to the world!
How can I make a difference to disperse the myths?

Wait that is another blog. 

FOCUS is a splendiferous thing.

Peace out!

I CAN’T, it is NOT an AT&T Phone.

I have a new phone.  Samsung Galaxy 5j.  NOT one of their exploding phones.  (I HOPE!)

WHITE 22 x 30 inches by Gwen Meharg Acrylic on paper
Blue 22 x 30 inches by Gwen Meharg Acrylic on paper

I have no contacts as there was an, um, altercation at the AT&T store.
Not so much an altercation as much as the clerk was really pissed that I did not purchase my phone from AT&T so EVERY SINGLE ANSWER TO EVERY SINGLE QUESTION WAS,
“I can’t do that, it is not an AT&T phone.”

Please hear the teenage snark when you read, “I can’t do that, it is not an AT&T phone.”
He was not a teenager so his snarky responses were triply irritating.

After one snarky reply, I was pissed.   Surly clerk.  Surly customer.  BAD combination!

He did not KNOW it was not an AT&T phone when I walked in.
From the beginning he was creepy but with veiled pleasantness.

My new NOT AN AT&T phone uses a micro SIM card.  While transferring the phone number from my old card to the micro card he realized I had not purchased my phone from AT&T.   He has my original SIM card.

The clouds rolled in and darkness and snark descend!
Dum dum duuuummmmmmmmmmmmm.
The relationship sours.

Freedom From Expectations by Gwen Meharg 30 x 22 " watercolor and collage on watearcolor paper
Freedom From Expectations by Gwen Meharg 30 x 22 ” watercolor and collage on watearcolor paper

He told me I would not be able to use the internet with my phone because, “It is not an AT&T phone.”
He told me I would not be able to use the date because, “It is not an AT&T phone.”
He told me he could not transfer my contacts because, “It was not an AT&T phone.”

I said something matching his snark followed by “What CAN I do?”

He said, “YOU CAN LEAVE THE STORE.”

And I left.

It was not until I got home that I realized the jerk still had my SIM card.

(Jerk is a judgmental, immature name calling and yeah, JERK!)

I contacted AT&T and told them I wanted my card back.
I have not heard anything other than they really want to, “make this right and keep me as a loyal customer.”

Yeah (snarky tone) RIGHT!

Lesson Learned?
When creepy guy vibe radar goes off:  DO NOT ENGAGE!

 

Gwen Meharg in front of Transition painting.
Gwen Meharg in front of Transition painting.

May you listen to your “gut” this week. 
May your radar be true. 
May your contacts stay connected.

Confessions of a Cutter

Two Choices by Gwen Meharg 30 x 22" watercolor on paper
Two Choices by Gwen Meharg 30 x 22″ watercolor on paper

Cutting.

It was not a thing when I was growing up.
If it was a thing, I was unaware.
It is a thing now.
Mostly girls.
Cutting themselves where, usually, it is not easy to see.

My favorite art show was Declaring Space: Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman, Lucio Fontana, Yves Klein  Sep 30, 2007 – Jan 06, 2008  at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth in 2008.

By 2007 I was aware of cutting, but unaware of Lucio Fontana’s slash paintings.

The impact of seeing the paintings was visceral.  The emotion.  The shock.  The direct correlation in my brain between cutting and the paintings.   I remember thinking, “If cutters could see this art, hear his story they would understand what they were doing to themselves and why.”  I remember that if they could deal with issues visually they could stop damaging themselves.

Paintings March 2014 I remember BLURTING all this out during a docent led tour.
The docent was not feeling it.
We moved on.
I was deeply moved.

Space.  Opening up space.  Cutting.

Why do people cut themselves?  I kinda, sorta pass out when the nurse takes blood.
Cutting was not an option for me,
but it was for my niece
and for a friend so I did some research.

DSCN9482Why?  There is not an easy answer.
For any single cutter there is not even a single answer.
What I am sharing comes from my minimal research and my personal experience.

Before I go there, do you see what I have done?
Are you angry with me yet?  You probably should be.
For any single cutter.  I have reduced a large swath of humanity to a single word:  cutter.

Black.
White.
YOU PEOPLE!

Do you see how easy it is to ignore the humanity of the other?
Full, complete, complex human beings who I defined by a single action.  Cutter.

As I am writing that there are no easy answers I found it very easy to use a label.  A single label.
I am sorry.
I will not go back and re-write.  (Okay, I did a little re-writing!)  Let us allow it to be a lesson.
A lesson I will most probably need to revisit again today (and tomorrow and for years go come.)

DSCN9445Why do human beings cut themselves?

  • The pain is a distraction from the surrounding circumstances.  Cutting brings the focus, for a moment, completely into the present.
  • When there is no control, perceived or in actuality, in one’s life, this is an area of control over one’s own body.
  • Power/Secrecy. There is power in having a secret.
  • Cutting releases of endorphins.
  • .

So what does this have to do with “Confessions of a Cutter?”

I have never cut myself (on purpose) but I have hurt myself
and my children.

I have cut myself off from things and people I love.
I have done so as a twisted form of punishment/incentive.
I still do it.
I did it yesterday.

We home schooled for 22 years.ArtForStripes013
This is the first year, Fall 2016,
everyone is either in school or has graduated.
I am focusing on making art and developing a healthy art business.
 (It is way more fun to make art than to make art and run a small business, but I am catching on!  If you knows someone who needs some wonderful art  for their home or office or business PLEASE connect us and I will be forever grateful.)
Too often while home schooling, Instead of doing what we loved FIRST we focused on the drudgery.
Instead of enjoying learning and each other and then getting to the less fun stuff, we did the drudgery at the expense of what we loved.
It was wrong.  Too often we never made it to the fun as we ALL hated the drudgery.

I justified it by saying the fun, our passions, would be the reward, the carrot before the horse.
Rewards.  Carrots.  They might work for some.
It did not work for us.
We ended up tired and worn out.
Without energy for each other or for fun.

11055889_810311959062312_632517070_aI am not saying we spent 22 years mired in hell.
For the most part we enjoyed each other and home schooling.
What I AM saying is that many opportunities were lost.

Too much time was spent cutting ourselves off from the better.
Eat dessert first!
Yeah, veggies, too.  And brush your teeth after.
But eat dessert first.

The business side of things are overwhelming right now.
I am finding myself cutting myself off from what I love
UNTIL I have completed xyz.

I say what I love will be my reward
when really I am just punishing myself.

Cutting myself off from what I love.
Cutting myself off from what I need.

Paintings with soft yellows in the top 1/5 and blues at the bottom.  The colors and textures of the blue have been softened with semi transparent collage.  Hidden beneath the collage is a pop of red .  The focus of the painting is to the right where most Western artists  put it left of center.
New Dawn 3 x 3 ‘ Work in Process. Acrylic and collage on canvas by Gwen Meharg

There are a couple hundred paintings in my living room that need to be photographed.
What have I been telling myself?
Gwen, you can ride when you finish those paintings.
Gwen, you can read a book when you finish photographing those paintings.
Gwen, you can spend time with your friends AFTER you finish those paintings.

Guess how long those paintings have been in my living room?
I am not saying it has been a year,
but I COULD say that.

I miss riding.  I miss reading.  I miss my friends.

Last night I walked OUT of my living room and went to this season’s first Tuesday Lecture at the Modern.  It was good.  I did doze off a couple times.  Not because it was not fascinating, I have four pages of notes to prove that it was, but I dozed off because I am wrung out.

Cutting myself off from what gives me energy and inspiration is self-defeating.

I did not self-identify as a cutter until 7:23 this morning.
I was walking Wesley and watching a truly magnificent sky unfold.
As I was watching the sun and the clouds and the blue interact I saw the Lucio Fontana painting from eight years ago.
The memories leapt to the forefront of my consciousness and I knew that the revelation from so long ago was not for cutters, it was for me.

RED.  Acrylic on paper 25 x 40 "  by Gwen Meharg
RED. Acrylic on paper 25 x 40 ” by Gwen Meharg

I am a cutter.
Today I begin a new journey.

Today may we all choose to spend a moment with who and what we love.
Peace.
Joy.
Monarch butterflies.

 

Changing Perspective: A tale of an almost instantaneous change.

Watercolor and Collage Sketch 4x4" by Gwen Meharg
Watercolor and Collage Sketch 4×4″ by Gwen Meharg

Early one morning I found a silver screw on the studio floor.  It looked important so I picked it up and put it “someplace safe” so that I could find it later when I discovered what it belonged to.  Screw, secure in the drawer of lost things, I sat down to work on the computer.

My “office” set up consists of a folding bar stool and a work table.  The folding allows me to quickly and easily stash it out of the way.  My work table is a hand crank adjustable standing table from Ikea.  The sorta sitting and sorta standing combination is perfect for painting and working at the standing table.  The added height is easier on my knees.

Perfect harmony.

UNTIL.

I had an epiphany!
Not a slow motion epiphany.  A spine crushing epiphany.
In an instant KNEW where the big silver screw belonged.
It had been holding my folding chair together.

Rice paper and watercolor sketch 4x4" by Gwen Meharag
Rice paper and watercolor sketch 4×4″ by Gwen Meharag

Ouch!

I think I might be shorter now.  I only remember landing.
Legs straight out in front of me, still sitting upright on the wooden seat wondering WHY I had not invested some time finding out where the screw belonged.  Just me and the floor.

I was right.  The screw WAS important! 

The first two weeks my ribs hurt when I laughed or drove or tried to roll over.  The next four weeks it hurt to ride.  Last week I was able to ride pain free!  (I hurt like the dickens the next day, but now WHILE I was riding!)

Perspective change?

I have a clear understanding that procrastination hurts.

May all your screws be tight.
May you follow through with the tiny details.
May all your landings be gentle.

 

 

 

YOU PEOPLE!

Last week I was YOU Peopled!

Can You Hear Them? 22 x 30 watercolor on paper
Can You Hear Them?
22 x 30 watercolor on paper by Gwen Meharg

in the Park Cities Presbyterian Church parking lot.

A woman 10 years older than myself with salon blond hair and an old wine-skin mind-set felt obliged to YOU PEOPLE me as I was leaving the parking lot after delivering art.

I use the old wine-skin metaphor for two reasons.  She looked like she had spent a goodly amount of time poolside and/ or in a tanning bed.  Secondly, her old-time religious ideas were so firmly set in stone that she felt obligated, or justified, in voicing her disdain for me.

Her designer clothes, jewelry, and very expensive car all said money, money, money. 

I am more than okay with people who have money, money, money.  Some of them buy art.  Some of them lavish their earnings on charities.  I hope to join their ranks some day!

Monotype Acrylic on Paper by Gwen Meharg
Monotype Acrylic on Paper by Gwen Meharg

Money is not the problem.
Money is not the root of evil.

Money is a construct that works quite well.

And it is way easier than hauling around chickens, precious metals, and beads.

What one becomes when one has a good amount of money is where the potential problems lay.

I know “salt of the earth” people with lots of money.
I know “salt of the earth” people with very little money.

Money, having or not having, is not the problem. 
The problem resides in the heart. 

On a beautiful sun shiny morning last week this woman spoke from her heart and labeled me – wait for it! – liberal.

Her presence in the church parking led me to believe she was quite possibly a follower of Jesus.  A sister in Christ.
Her mouth and judgmental words and attitude implies otherwise.
The exact words out of her holier-than-thou mouth were,

Kept 6x6" watercolor sketch on paper by Gwen Meharg
Kept 6×6″ watercolor sketch on paper by Gwen Meharg

YOU PEOPLE SCARE ME!”   

With my eyes popping out in disbelief, I demanded,
“WHO is YOU people?” 

Bottle Blond with her right hand raised to her heart and her fingers fluttering spit an explicative,   “Liberals!”

And she stomped off in a self-righteous huff.  I really wanted to say something ugly but I had been YOU PEOPLEd!
My privileged middle-class white lady position had spared me  until that moment.  It stung.

What set her off? 
My “Black Lives Matter” bumper sticker.

I ordered “Blue Lives Matter” bumper sticker over a month ago and was going to put them side by side.  My “Blue Lives Matter” bumper sticker has not come.  The Blue Lives Matter bumper sticker people stole my money.

Want to know what is WRONG WITH CONSERVATIVES?
I can clear up a great deal of political turmoil toot sweet.
What is wrong with “conservatives” is that I am no longer considered among them.

Watercolor Sketch 5x4" on paper by Gwen Meharg
Watercolor Sketch 5×4″ on paper by Gwen Meharg

How does one get more conservative than me?

I am a 55 year old white woman.  Southern Baptist until Easter 2014.  College educated at BAYLOR, a Baptist University.  Married 35 years to the same guy who I met in the marching band.  Did you catch that?  The MARCHING band!  David and I both played trombone for God’s sake.  Six children.  SIX!!!  Two cats.  Two horses.  One large dog.  A fish pond, a miniature cricket farm, and a cabinet full of tiny tarantulas.   I live in a suburb of a suburb.  I scrub horse buckets every Sunday morning.  Wear spurs in public.  Drive a 21 year old conversion van.  Don’t smoke.  Don’t chew.  Have friends who do.  Seldom drink.  Own a gun.  Get caught with a knife in my purse every time I go to the airport.  Actually READ my bible.  Pray.  Attend church regularly.   Read out loud to ALL my children.  I have serious body issues but am unwilling to give up popcorn or pie.  I home schooled for TWENTY-TWO years!

HOW MUCH MORE CONSERVATIVE CAN YOU GET?!?

The problem is not money.
The problem is not how conservative or how liberal a person is.

The problem is as it always has been, with the heart. 

It is so much easier to go to church than to love.
It is so much easier to label than to listen.

I have written and painted about the lie of the easy answer.
You people-ing is an easy answer that covers a world of lies.

Money is not the problem. 

Watercolor Sketch 4x4" on paper by Gwen Meharg
Watercolor Sketch 4×4″ on paper by Gwen Meharg

Race is not the problem. 

The heart is the problem. 

Now I am gonna toss out a scripture and see if it sticks:
1 Timothy 6:10   For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil…

It is not about conservative versus liberal.
It is not about haves versus have nots.

It is about love.

It has always been about love. 
It will always be about love. 

Who you love.
What you love. 

YOU PEOPLE,
you have a grand week
and may love inspire you
as you pursue  life well-loved and well-lived.

House Cat, Barn Cat, Feral Cat, People

14099532_110772126046566_1507847828_n(1)Jubilee and I planned to ride this morning, but the horses were out and it was already hot and steamy.  We decided to try again at sunset.

So, what did we do?  We played with the barn cats.

We have two house cats.  We love our cats and their independent spirits.  Some days they love us back.

Fuzzy, our Russian blue master of the house was born on Ruth’s 21st birthday at my cousin’s water well shop in Jacksboro.

(http://erwindrilling.com/?gclid=Cj0KEQjwr7S-BRD96_uw9JK8uNABEiQAujbffIKxSja1jtxQ0iObvNs4IEqSex0DwH5s7De9tMFNibAaAuGX8P8HAQ)

Fuzzy’s momma was feral and only came in for food and to deliver kittens.  She did not tolerate being touched.

Oh, the difference a generation can make.

The new trainer, Liz, brought three cats with her when she came to the barn.  (Liz is a college history instructor at Weatherford College.)  They balance on the precipice between house cat and barn cat.

Shadow is a slighter duplicate of our Fuzzy with a gentler temperament and a quick purr.  Her kitten is a spritely calico pounces on anything that moves.  Crystal has bold black and white markings on her long lean body and Crystal is the most conflicted of the three.  She knows she is a barn cat so tries to be standoffish, but she sorta likes being loved on.  Conflicted.

The other two barn cats are tabby cats.  Lobo, who has been around for years, got fat when he transitioned from feral cat to barn cat.  Lobo doesn’t tolerate, Lobo LOVES the occasional belly rub and indulges us with a deep rumbly purr.  Always on his terms.  Lobo has his dignity to consider.14072774_846073345523798_171062333_n

Notch the smaller tabby has a beautiful golden brown belly.  Notch arrived feral along with a half dozen of his closest friends.  Nah, they were not friends.  They came from an organization that rescues feral cats, notches their ears, then matches them up with rural locations to be mousers.   Notch is the only one who stayed.

Notch is also conflicted.  Notch is transitioning to barn cat.  Today Notch allowed me to scoop him up into my lap.  He could have avoided me, but he deemed to tolerate me if I was willing to put out the effort and commitment towards catching him.

We sat together, Notch in my lap, his sharp claws ever so gently embedded in my knees, waiting for Jubilee.  He never totally relaxed but when I lifted his paws he did not protest and he retracted them making us both more comfortable.  Reconciled to some expert ear rubbing and he almost purred.  Notch hesitated before jumping down and scampering off when I stopped rubbing his ears.

Mostly feral, Notch is moving towards barn cat.

Notch got me to thinking about various people in my life.
Hmmmmm?

13643749_1120035508069944_1948629947_nWhich ones are house cats?
Which ones are barn cats?
Which ones are feral?
Who is moving towards?
Who is moving away?

I don’t have any answers.
Cherie arrived with Sonny Grace so Jubilee and I indulged ourselves in some baby time.  Sonny Grace is definitely a moving towards kind of gal and she isn’t six months old yet.  Jubilee and I were so happy!

House cat.
Barn cat.
Feral cat.
People.

They ALL scratch.

Be careful.