I'm still participating in Jamie Ridler's Happy Book Club, which meets online on Fridays. Summer attendance has been sporadic - I don't think there's any such thing as "lazy" days of summer - seem to be more of the "hazy" and "crazy" days. And it is flying!
But it's been mostly wonderful and exciting. Wednesday, Ethan was one week old. He continues to be the hit of the household with his brothers and all the rest of us. I put together a little Smilebox slideshow with photos from his first few days. Are you familiar with that resource? It's really fun to do - to put up a little show of your vacation, or family events, art projects - and is relatively easy. It's also free, unless you want a fancier version with customized music, etc. But even then it's very reasonable.
Torn from Home - Diptych
The other exciting thing for me is that I'm getting ready for a solo show - my first. It's just at the Unitarian Fellowship nearby, but the space is lovely, and it has kept me working hard this summer to come up with a theme that will pull some of the various things I do together. I've made some new paintings for it, besides planning to display some previous work. I'm a little anxious about getting the final details in place. But I'm also energized by it. I'm hoping it will give me the confidence I need to try for some other shows and competitions.
Ethan has arrived - a little earlier than expected, but totally welcome. In fact we're all overjoyed. It's amazing how such a little being goes right to the hearts all around.
I was able to be with my daughter through the whole process. She needed to have an induction and was admitted to the hospital late in the afternoon on Monday. I always thought that inducing pregnancy was a pretty simple process and expected that we'd have a baby by the next afternoon sometime. But I was wrong. It can sometimes take several days. And when she still wasn't making much progress by Tuesday afternoon, part of my job was to ease her discouragement and frustration. They took her off the pitocin and let her get up to have a shower, some supper ( she was so hungry by then), and then started the process all over again. In the meantime she had monitors for her contractions, monitors for the baby's heartbeat, automatic blood pressure readings ( those cuffs have a mind of their own and you begin to feel like they're out to get you!), and the IV line in her opposite arm. She was not a happy camper.
But our mantra became - the baby is doing great - he's got a strong heartbeat, he tolerates the contractions well, you're doing fine; so we just wait. Eventually he'll decide to come. But she's now thinking it could still be a couple of days and neither of us is getting much sleep. Listening to his heartbeat one night I thought it sounded like a train on a railroad track - you know how they click over the joint of the rails - ta duh, ta duh - a rapid steady beat. I kept thinking "You're on your way, sweetie - and we'll be there to meet you!"
Wednesday morning the report seemed to be that there was some progress, but not much. But then all of a sudden the body kicked in with its own hormones, they stopped the pitocin, and within a few hours we had our baby.
He came out with so much energy - stretching, crying, kicking, ready to take it all in. I ran to get his dad and then left to go pick up his brothers so they could share in the welcome party.
Shawn held him tenderly - he's 15 and remembers when Marcus was born. Marcus just looked on in awe, not ready to try to hold him, just so thrilled. At one point he looked at Ethan in his brother's arms, looked over at his mom, hugged his dad's leg and said "I love being part of this family!" Perfect response!
Years ago I read Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way, and doors opened. So much of what she suggested makes perfect sense. But I don't practice what I learned frequently enough. I write in my journal (preferably in the morning) occasionally. I have managed to silence some of the "nay" voices in my head. And I am sporadic in making my artist "date" - the times when you take yourself off to look at art, nature, inspiration, materials - any of the things that might stimulate ideas, creativity, energy for your art.
But this Friday I feel like I had a whole Artist Retreat. While it's often good to do these dates alone, this one was in the good company of my friend, Leslie.
We got off to a challenging start. She got stuck in ridiculous traffic and we missed the train. So we decided to have coffee and found a place close to the train station where we pretended this was part of our plan - instead of getting off the train and having coffee, we'd do it now.
Once in New York, we jumped on a subway to SoHo to visit her sister in law who is an artist. Katherine took us to a neighborhood restaurant that was perfect. A sycamore tree was growing up from the sidewalke and they'd built their awning around it - lovely. The food served was bright, fresh, spicy, delicious. Then we walked through the neighborhood to her apartment to see her paintings. Watching the people on the sidewalks and the streets, the clothes, the hair, the postures, the modes of transportation was great fun. And then there were Katherine's paintings! Fabulous! Walls of them. Street scenes, cityscapes, portraits of her friends, luscious color and movement. Just the fact that all this wonderful work was accomplished in a 600 square foot apartment, and there was still room for living and guests was inspiring.
Leslie's shoes weren't working for her so we decided to go to Century 21 to look for replacements and just to see the store. What a wild place! I hadn't been there since just before 9/11 - so being in that neighborhood, passing St. Paul's where I'd spent a day volunteering, brought back memories and images.
Then on to Tu Lu's, a gluten free bakery near Union Square. More fascinating neighborhoods to walk through. And interesting conversation with the young woman helping us.
Finally we caught a subway uptown to end our day at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Met is so huge that I can only take in a couple of exhibits with attention on any one trip. After a brief refreshment in the cafeteria where we planned what to see, we headed for the rooftop where the Starn brothers have installed Big Bambu, a fabulous sculpture in progress. The evening light was golden, visitors were in a festive mood - the whole rooftop felt magical!
Downstairs we visited the American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity exhibit, that was beautifully done. I loved the juxtaposition of costume, film, and text and the opportunity to think about what clothing does to us and for us. Leslie and I could have much longer conversations about this, I'm sure.
There was a quick look through some modern paintings, especially Matisse, but the museum was closing and we had to head for home.
My head is still spinning. I'm eager to spend some time writing about my impressions and then perhaps see where some of this may pop up in my own painting. And I'm eager for another artist date, perhaps more focussed.