Art and Writing from the Domestic Front by Rachel Barlow
Remember once upon a time, before there was cable TV and VCR’s or Hulu and Netflix, and you had to wait untill Thanksgiving to watch the Wizard of Oz? Then the Christmas specials would begin, and our family would close out the season watching Sound of Music on Christmas night.
I know it was Thanksgiving yesterday, but I was actually thinking about the Sound of Music, and it’s not just because of the foot of snow on the ground urging us to begin the Christmas season prematurely.
It’s because I spent most of yesterday morning watching fourteen year old Thing1 – with only minimal prodding – trudge outside to shovel the driveway so his grandparents could get to the door safely before shoveling a path to my now-collapsed greenhouse so that I could get in and assess damage. With his dad and eight year old Thing2, he helped to move the snow off the greenhouse. After some cleanup, our two good things hopped in the car with us and chattered cheerfully as we drove down to one of the big box stores to deliver some Thanksgiving cheer to people who were working this holiday..
Most people that know me know that I’m pretty agnostic. I’m actually the wisest person on the planet because I can freely admit that I know nothing (I think that’s what some old Greek dude said anyway). I’m happy asking lots of questions, but I know absolutely nothing.
Well maybe I know one thing.
I know that line from the song in the Sound of Music with Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer singing to each other in a gazebo drenched in purple light. You know, it’s the one where she sings “nothing comes from nothing.”
I thought about that all the time yesterday because not too long ago I was leading a very checkered and extended childhood. The things I did may make great fodder for a writing life, but I don’t look back on my early adulthood with pride.
I do look at my boys with pride and also once-unimaginable joy.
And on Thanksgiving I think about wine and how grateful I am and how if there is a God, that being is unbelievably forgiving. Or forgetful. How else can you explain these two people who have taught me to feel thankful beyond words this day and everyday of the year?
Kathy Stiles is the winner of the Thanksgiving giveaway. Thanks for all the suggestions folks. I ended up making corn muffins, banana nut, blueberry-apple and chocolate chip.
I’m loading the muffin tins as I stir the bacon and celery for the stuffing in the bird tomorrow. We’ll take the muffins down to people who are stuck working tomorrow and play Thanksgiving Santa-Turkey (we need to come up with a name for that mascot) and then come home and put our bird in the oven for 5 or 6 hours.
My sister’s family is joining us when the storm in Vermont dies down tomorrow. Usually their family spends holiday mornings at the soup kitchen. I’m thinking of their example this evening and realizing it’s not about charity or assuaging guilt. It’s about connecting with our fellow human beings.
If the muffins are any good, we’re going to pick another set of ‘victims’ for Christmas. We’re thinking the road crew (they don’t get holidays on stormy days. Or maybe our local sheriff or the volunteer firefighters who are on call. What do you think?
Sometimes I think the powers that be are smart asses.
When I was a kid I loved to draw. The first thing I ever drew was a field mouse from a fairy tale I can’t remember. I do remember the field mouse though. I remember how natural it felt to draw and that the end result didn’t stink.
I drew in high school, and, while my work will never be mistaken for a great master’s, I could make a tree look like a tree. I had a few fantasies about art school, but, because I lacked the courage to forge my own path at the time, they never went beyond fantasies.
Then a few years ago, I fell back into drawing. And I can still make a tree look like a tree. And this time, I have had the courage to keep forging ahead and keeping it part of my life.
And then the powers that be said, “Hah!”
June brought news of a degenerative disorder in my right eye. The left eye, not wanting to be left out of the regular poking and prodding the right one now gets, decided over the weekend to join the party.
Part of me wondered if the great guardian of good art in the sky was trying to tell me something. At first I though it might be trying to protect the world from my doodles. It might be, but, over the last few years, I’ve developed a stronger ability to ignore the inner critic who whispers these possibilities in my ear.
So as I drove back today, thinking about adaptive devices and getting my 4th lens prescription in 6 months, I decided to find a more positive message in the diagnosis. It’s the message that says to make hay – or doodles of hay for as long as the sun finds away into my lenses; to make every moment for as long it’s possible.
The future did get a bit cloudier today, but sometimes things are clearer without the white hot sun shining on them. So as long as there’s any light – clouded or clear, I will focus on what is possible now and not on what might not be possible down the road.