34.7º N 92.2º W. Little Rock, in Central Arkansas, in the United States
7/10/17 – 7/30/17
The Holiday That Should Be
Here is what full summer is like here: It’s been almost 100 degrees day after day. Every afternoon a would-be-refreshing rain shower develops twenty miles away and I watch while it exhausts itself before it gets here. Not a flower is blooming in the yard except for the blessed crape myrtles overhead. Everything that could break in the heat has broken, and the budget is in tatters.
Day after day, day after day, We stuck, nor breath nor motion; As idle as a painted ship Upon a painted ocean.
The last holiday was The Fourth of July, many days ago, and the next is Labor Day, many days away. We need an infusion of festivity here.
Let’s have an additional holiday. Let’s have it August 4th. That’s the midpoint between July 4th and Labor Day, September 4th, and this year it’s a Friday and would give us another three-day weekend! That’s something to celebrate right there, but we can also spice it up with a theme.
By fiat hereby there shall be Do Over Day. Since there are no original ideas, I’m pleased to borrow part of one from the south of France, and change it somewhat. I would like it if our new holiday is about a town parade behind a big, really big, effigy named Mistakes Man. He looks like a mix between a wonky giant and a mess. He is made of water soluble materials. The parade ends in late afternoon in the middle of the Broadway Bridge. There are drums and tambourines and big dissonant alpine cowbells, and all the people, with a great communal shout, join in throwing Mistakes Man into the river. He dissolves completely.
As the last trace of him melts, a new and even bigger effigy is heaving happily into sight: Do Over.
She’s basically the shape of a tomato hornworm but her skin is made of swathy pastel blues, turquoises, golds, and red-golds. She hunches herself toward the crowd, two yards per hunch, and when she arrives all the people turn away from staring down at the water where Mistakes Man was. We gather behind Do Over and follow her toward our dwellings and our festival suppers. We are singing a cappella a sweet simple folk song as the sun goes down.
Back at home we feast, of course, trying not to gobble the main courses too fast in anticipation of our traditional Do Over Day dessert. The Mommyselves have made it ahead of time in skillets handed down through the generations. And finally here it is: Raspberry Swirl Cake!
The recipe is no secret. It has been on Facebook. We want the world to know it:
1.Betty Crocker Yellow Cake Mix and its ingredient list
34.7º N 92.2º W. Little Rock, in Central Arkansas, in the United States
7/5/17 – 7/9/17
The Artists of Enchanted Habitat
Many accomplished artists live in Enchanted Habitat. We could have the highest concentration of any comparably-sized area in the United States, maybe the world. That includes comparison with places famous for being artists’ meccas.
I’ve heard this same observation from well-traveled art world notables. They come here and are surprised at the number and variety of artists.
Speaking for the moment only of art that can be hung on a wall: wherever you go here, if there is public display space you are likely to be able to look at skilled works by local watercolorists, pastel painters, collagers, oil painters, sketchers, and drawers. Not only do public and for-profit galleries host them but also, often, church halls, libraries, restaurants, public buildings, doctors’ offices, hospitals, and on.
And then there are the three-dimensional works: local artists’ 21st Century statuary and sculpted objects grace many of our public and private grounds, and there are wonders, here, of pottery and ceramics.
I am necessarily leaving out some of the other categories of art and artists, but that is not to diminish them.
Why do we have so many artists here?
My considered answer is, Because so many of our artists are also big-hearted leaders who genuinely care about art, and about other artists.
That answer skips over a lot of ifs, ands, and buts. I am an artist and have been immersed in various aspects of the local art scene for more than ten years. I feel qualified to speak.
Most of the artists here did not get their art educations in universities. They largely acquired their skills on their own through reading, long practice hours, community classes, workshops and demonstrations by local and visiting masters, art groups, plein air groups, peer learning, etc. These educational opportunities don’t just happen. People make them happen: unpaid volunteers who are themselves artists.
Every year in Enchanted Habitat there occur national and regional art shows judged by renowned jurors, with thousands of dollars in prize money. These opportunities for artists to show their work competitively to the public are a gift from the volunteer artist leaders who make it happen.
All the different artist-fostering initiatives cost money, and volunteer artists conduct the fundraising. Also they do the banking, account for the money, submit the IRS reports, and write the thank-you letters to the donors. And they secure the venues, bring the snacks, and . . . the task list is long and varied.
Time, to an artist, is the precious commodity. Professional or amateur, there is never enough time to do one’s art. Yet many of our artists have been giving away substantial parts of their time doing this volunteer work, unsung, for years, in the background, purely for their love of art and their dedication to other artists. And somehow when a new artist-leader is needed there is always another to step up to the plate.
These are not fictitious people. I know and admire at least a dozen of them, and there are dozens more. If any are reading: You know who you are, and thank you.
Ah, and that brings us to the final bottom line question. Why do we have so many artist-leaders here?
I don’t know, unless it’s because this is Enchanted Habitat.
From the Green Cathedral
For three consecutive mornings a delightful rainstorm has come before daylight. It is a major pleasure to be in the bed with my warm doggie snuggled against my back, listening to the rain in the dark. Yes, three mornings in a row!
So. Lots of moisture in the back yard, the Green Cathedral. Yesterday morning Beloved Doggie and I waited until the rain stopped and then stepped outside. Here is the little surprise jewel who said hello to me from its new place between the wet flagstones. It was less than an inch wide. (The green leaves that look like a pony’s foot are called, guess what, ponysfoots, officially named dichondra.) By nightfall some small critter had taken two bites out of the pretty mushroom and kicked it off its stalk, maybe in a twit. I hope the biter didn’t get sick. I think the mushroom is Russula emetica, one of the digestively disagreeable kind, though not deadly.
Also three new annuals bloomed this week, and something ate one of them too. That flower was a double daylily which I’ve not seen before in the Green Cathedral. Its predecessors in past years have been single lilies, and I have no way to account for this one unless it is a new volunteer plant. Here it is in full bloom three mornings ago, and . . .
. . . here is isn’t, the next day.
Someone went to bed in their little nest that night saying I Can’t Believe I Ate The Whole Thing!
The naked ladies are here! (Don’t get too excited.)
And so are the lantana, those clever plants!
This lovely abstract landscape card is part of my collection. It is the work of Patricia Ryan Madson of El Granada, CA, presented with her permission. She made it for me and mailed it to me. What could be nicer than opening an envelope and finding this? Thank you Patricia.