My aunt Jane Taggart was a prolific landscape painter, an astrologer, a collector of crystals and all sorts of eclectic passions. And could she talk. She'd leave a message on my answering machine, run out of tape and call back to finish her story. She was the 'resident astrologer' for my writers' group: I'd call her now and then to say Hi and find out when the stars were best aligned to send out manuscripts to editors, and report back to the group. Here we are a few years ago at an exhibit of my work. She was a big supporter of my painting, always encouraging me to keep working and putting my artwork out into the world.
My blog is named after the picture book she gave me, 'The Tyger Voyage",
written by Richard Adams, illustrated by Nicola Bayley. She gave it to me for my 14th birthday. I cried because I loved the illustrations so much, and some part of me knew this was an important moment. I wanted to make books. I still do.
Well, Janie passed away yesterday, at 84 years old, after quite a few years of failing health. I will miss her dearly.
Last night I fell asleep to the sound of helicopters circling overhead, and sirens wailing. I had taken BART into the city to see my friend, Christine Marie 's shadow performance, Four Trains, at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Sadly, it was her last performance. She'll be back - what she does with shadow and light is amazing!
But I digress. Waiting at the BART station, we heard an announcement that the Berkeley station was shut down temporarily, due to protesting. Yesterday morning I read Caille Millner's column in the SF Chronicle. Yes, she is right, I thought. Protest to make change happen is inconvenient. We don't like it. It scares us.
But how else are we to make change happen?
I have friends who are cops, friends who are shop owners and friends who are protesters. I have African American friends, who get stopped just because they are driving or walking down the street. One of my sixth graders came to school the other day with a note pinned to his shirt: "I am not a criminal." He is 11 years old.
Our country desperately needs change. I do not know what is the best way to make change happen. But I know it will be uncomfortable and painful. I support those who are protesting. I do not support those who are throwing bricks at cops, or looting stores. I do not support tear gas and rubber bullets being shot at nonviolent protestors. There is so much fear out there, what will it take to stop this?
I've gone through an enormous, scary change this year. I got divorced, after 24 years of marriage.
When I was in the darkest, deepest hole, I started drawing mandalas. They made me feel better.
I taught my students how to make them. There are two kinds of mandalas, geometric, drawn with rulers and compasses, and organic, which start with a dot, or a seed. Take a look at this: how to grow a mandala
Today I will be drawing another mandala. Maybe it will make me feel a bit better.
I have been absent from the blog for ages.... major life changes kept me away.
It's been a tough year, but piece by piece
I have been putting my life back together.
My family and friends have been amazingly supportive. My kids are grown and both on the East coast, making their way in the world. I find myself starting all over again, making a new life for myself. Alone.
Not the life I expected, but a new, different life. And lo and behold, I find that I am not actually alone at all. I am constantly surrounded by love, everywhere I turn. It's a new beginning. Like the kids I teach, I am excited for whatever adventure lies ahead.
Bit by bit, I am putting this new, challenging puzzle together.
I am finding that starting fresh is a gift I have been given.
I am so so grateful.
Quilt for my daughter's new apartment in Brooklyn.
It all began when my aunt gave me The Tyger Voyage (by Richard Adams)when I was fourteen. Looking at Nicola Bayley's glowing illustrations made me want to paint some of my own. I still love her work, and I still have that book.