Archive | August 2015

NIGHT BEAVER

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nocturnal

Tonight I became consciously aware of the fact that I have seen my reflection in dark windows infinitely more often than I have in mirrors over all my years. Don’t call me a “Night Owl” though. I am nothing like an owl. As a former long-time wilderness canoeist I’m familiar with that predator’s awesome abilities; I share none of them. I am night blind, my vision is terrible, my depth perception and coordination worse, and I cannot imagine killing small animals. The beaver, another nocturnal animal, is much closer to kin. Though I’m not as industrious, perhaps, I am definitely nocturnal, I adore the water, love to play with sticks, and am forever ‘building’ something.

I was born with a severe sleep disorder, one of the main symptoms being chronic insomnia. Through my windows I’ve come to know the routes and routines of all the cats and coons in the area. I also know which neighbours have “special” newspapers delivered daily at 4:30am. One morning I swear I’m going to sneak out to look and see what newspapers they are. Financial Times? Globe and Mail? What? What in the world could be so special that you would pay someone to drive around at 4:30am to bring it to you?

I wondered what the outcome would be if I intercepted the delivery driver at the end of the neighbour’s driveway one morning to ask him how much he would charge to bring me a coffee from the Tim Horton’s just up the road when he passes this way every day? Or maybe something really nice like a macchiato as a treat after a long night of writing, research, and art making? Hey…he might find it funny. Why not? It could be the beginning of an interesting relationship and an enjoyable routine.

Isn’t it amazing that consciousness, simple awareness, like creativity, is limitless? Boundless? It continues to expand as long as we care. That’s the way it works. All we have to do is care, to pay attention. For nearly 46 years I have spent countless nights looking out of windows and seeing my reflection but  only just now becoming consciously aware of how often I have seen myself that way, then making the further comparison between windows and mirrors.

Dusting off my easel and beginning to sort out my work materials I worried that during my long, loooong hiatus my creative abilities and vision had deteriorated as much, or more, than my physical state. What if my creativity shrunk? Atrophied from lack of use?

But that’s not possible. Like I said: Creativity is like awareness, and just as awareness and creativity are boundless, once we become aware we cannot become un-aware; likewise, once we discover our creativity we can never become un-creative.

Placing a partially finished canvas on the easel, a work in progress halted when it became too painful to continue at the time, I discover I have the same problem I’ve always had: so many creative ideas come to me, I see so many options, I cannot easily decide which one I would most like to adapt to the specific piece of work in front of me.

Now I remember what is the most difficult thing for any artist to do: One thing at a time.

FORCING MY HAND

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I could hit “edit” and with the click of a button wipe out those old posts to hide how long it has been since I’ve been active on this blog…or at the art table. Or anywhere for that matter. However, the juxtaposition of the description of my physical state, abilities, and activities 3 yrs ago with what life is like for me today is a story unto itself. More so, it is a large part of what Monkey Hill is all about: “Every one of us has more possibilities than limitations.” It is important that, as greatly as my physical state has deteriorated, I can prove that is still true.

You’ve heard the phrase, “Old age isn’t for sissies”? When I was not that much younger, old age was 86…not 46. Now that I’m 46 I’m trying my damndest not to be a sissy. I’m far too young to be this “old”. Too many body parts are failing to cooperate with my intentions and needs, though I’m grateful none have fallen off yet. I’m exhausted and in pain all the time. And I mean pain. I used to think I was in pain, years ago, but now I understand that I was just aching. There’s a reason the phrase is “aches and pains”…because the two are not the same things, not by a wide margin. Osteoporosis, arthritis, bone spurs, rotator cuff tendonitis, and herniated discs have me crying daily for my mommy, and she passed away years ago. I’ll tell you two things that go together even WORSE than toothpaste and orange juice (and I know you didn’t think anything could be worse)…epileptic seizures and herniated discs. Yup. You can’t heal if you mix those two. So I find out the hardest way. My injuries are constantly aggravated or re-injured, hence, something that usually heals in several weeks has kept me largely immobile for going on a couple of years with no light at the end of the tunnel.

This is the juxtaposition I was referring to. In 2012 I was sitting up all night working furiously on an entire art exhibition, readying a gallery for an opening night, with joy! I recall moving the furniture and art displays around “just so”. Spending delicious hours playing the hostess-with-the mostest after hanging a whole gallery full of art to my satisfaction. Now I can barely raise my arms to wash my hair. I can’t vacuum the rug or pick up a basket of laundry or a bag of groceries. I can manage to get out for only as long as it takes for a dose of pain medication to wear off, which depends on whether someone drives me somewhere and how much walking or standing is involved, and at most it’s 3 hrs on a good day. I keep wondering, “Where is that woman who paddled 50km of river and double portaged a 13km trail in one day after breaking camp in the morning and then set up a new camp that night, gathered firewood, and sat around eating dinner, laughing and reminiscing under the Northern Lights?” Yeah…I want her back. All I have left of her now are her memories and the little stones she brought back from those trips sitting in my kitchen garden. And a great hat. A really great hat that has travelled hundreds of kilometres of some seriously wild terrain that now sits on the head of a woman who don’t live so wild no more.

Monkey Hill Creative Arts is owned and funded by Dorian Hill, founded in memory of our daughter, who’s nickname was “Monkey”. For 15yrs she made everyone around her laugh until they cried and left us all one hell of a lot wiser and more compassionate. For someone who was supposed to be severely disabled, those are some seriously profound abilities. She couldn’t tie her own shoes, but her astoundingly keen intuition would have humbled a zen master. Monkey taught us we are not our bodies; never to judge people by how gracefully they move, or can’t. We are all innately graced and blessed in some way. Look. See. Appreciate. Learn.

Note: I appreciate brevity…I’m just not good at it. If you’re still reading, thanks. I write like I talk and I’ve never had a conversation as short as an email. 

Forcing my hand. The reason for the post title comes from an email notifying me that the web host provider had taken the liberty of renewing the webspace and domain name for another year charging the cost to the credit card on file. This was new. Every year for 15 yrs since I’d first registered the space and bought the domain (worthworks.com) until I sold it to Dorian Hill to use for his business, Monkey Hill, this provider sent an invoice first giving me (now just the web facilitator) the option of declining to continue the service. But…nope. Not this year.

Damn. Wow.

Monkey Hill Create Arts closed its brick-and-mortar business and became an online business intended to sell donated art with the intent to forward the proceeds to charities supporting artists with invisible disabilities in the honour, memory, spirit, and lessons learned from our daughter. I was to be the main provider of that donated art, but I haven’t been able to work in years, and my prognosis is not looking any better, so we intended to decline the services when the invoice came. However, the invoice came “paid in full”. Crap! Simply saying “No thanks. Your services are no longer required” was my coward’s way out, you see. Now, as the facilitator, the contact person, I had to contact the provider and say the words: I quit. I give up. I’m done. I can’t. I can’t do it. I can’t do anything anymore.

Back to the wall…I couldn’t do it. Creativity itself is optimism. And every one of us has more possibilities than limitations.

When I get the website program working, and a few more art pieces put together, the new website URL is monkeyhill.biz. Time for a fresh start. I’m not who I used to be. I never will be again. I need to admit it and accept it. Do what I can with what I have and let it be enough. Until the site is up and running, join me here on WordPress, and I’ll keep you updated on Twitter and Facebook as well. There’s more to life and living than just the .biz to keep us entertained and connected, on many levels.