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Sunday, April 30, 2006

Balance Within The Wall

During the summer two years back, I used a crowbar, a chisel, and a hammer to remove ugly, badly applied tiles from the retaining wall at the back of our lanai patio. It had taken me three years to move from inspiration through the how-to research, acquisition of tools and materials, to actually cutting and placing pieces on the wall.

I had always wanted to do some mosaic work and the Cedar Fire that burned down most of our canyon community in 2003 became the catalyst for my artistic adventure. Eighty percent of the pieces in the mosaic pictured above were collected from the ash covered landscape that surrounded our house. Other pieces were given by friends or found along the road. A small portion of the materials that make up my freeform design were purchased from art suppliers. The core design pictured on the left represents the Phoenix of our fire destroyed-community rising from the ashes.

Last summer, my husband, and sons built a new lanai over the location of the mosaic so I did very little work on it. The fall and winter were filled with busy days and weeks of bad wet weather. Now that there is the hope of spring, I am longing to wield my tile cutters, mix mortar, and place each piece of colored glass, ceramic, tile, stone, and rusting metal where it tells me it wants to be.

The process involved in creating art is as necessary to me as the process involved in breathing. The process of creation is my way of meditating. I become one with what I am doing and expand within that universe. That the mosaic is located outside, is a plus, for I am able to feel the sun and the wind, smell the sweetness of blooming flowers, and listen to
the daily performance of our local bird choir accompanied by the rustling of the leaves in the trees.

When I am working on such projects I know that I am balancing my energy well. I have not been successful at balancing my energy very often during my lifetime. It is only at this late age (almost 56) that I am understanding the necessity of balance and have finally learned to discriminate between postive, invigorating uses of energy and the wasteful, depleating effects of negative demands. I have learned to say NO and have been conserving and focusing my energy in a more healthy manner. Balance between the mind, body, spirit, emotions, personal relationships, and ones relationship as a human animal with the surrounding natural enviornment, is crucial to a positive, well-lived life.

Recently, I have been spent from wasting my energy with unnecessary worry and conflict. Getting older causes one to re-evaluate how one uses one's time and energy. I feel better now because I have eliminated some demands and narrowed my involvement to what I feel is the most important and postive use of my time and energy.
I have traded balancing acts. I far prefer juggling to walking on the high wire. If I fall out of balance and drop something, I can choose to pick it up or juggle something else in its place, whereas, if I fall out of balance from a tight rope to the hard ground below, it is all over.

I write this mostly political blog because I think that it is important for a different view to be expressed in light of the backward wave of Bushist destruction and indifference that has washed over this country. I am a progressive, a political activist, and a member of the world community.

I also volunteer as an art docent and literacy tutor at a local elementary school every week and have done so for several years.. As a mother, grandmother, spouse, family member, and friend I have many emotional involvements and responsiblities. The duties of chief cook and bottle washer are mine and I am the supply sargent who leads the hunting and gathering expeditions to various stores to replinish food and household supplies. Housekeeping duties such as dusting and window washing, and so on, I no longer do frequently. I have chosen instead to simply feed the dust bunnies and use my energy in productive and interesting pursuits like preparing art projects for the first and second grade children to enjoy.

I consider writing "The Dishpan Chronicles" a creative endeavor, however it differs from doing art (working on the wall) in that it is much more structured, detailed, and labor intensive. I would describe writing this blog more as a labor of love than meditative or restorative. I intend to continue to write even if a little less often than in my first year as a blogger.

Right now the world is out of balance. Right now, our whole half acre is overgrown with weeds. Every time I go out to the wash house, clothesline, or to take the dog out, I pull some weeds while I say to myself, "every little bit helps". That has been my multi-tasking approach to working and doing chores for many years.

I think that by speaking my mind in this blog, I can help improve the situation in this country and for others around the world because "every little bit helps". Like the little bits that form a mosaic, the humanists and progressives who write or give of their time in the community, will help to design a more balanced, peaceful world. We can look for inspiration to anthropologist Margret Mead who said, "Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world - indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

The Phoenix has risen from the ashes in the core design of my mosaic. This spring and summer, the design and I will take flight and flow, seeking and expressing balance within the wall.
.........................Kitchen Window Woman........................


Blogger zenyenta said...

Your wall is wonderful. Balance is tough. It's a constant adjustment to keep from listing to one side or the other.

BTW, I've been cleaning out the basement on the same "little bit at a time" principle you've applied to the weeds. It works.

6:32 PM  
Blogger Kitchen Window Woman said...

I bought a few ceremic plates at a thrift shop yesterday that are in solid bright colors. I will of course break them and shape them to use on the wall. The weather has been nice for almost a week. I have been weeding and cleaning the patio area (little by little) so I can begin work on the mosaic again. This year will be exciting because I have used up most of the "fire" pieces and will be using a wider variety of colored, patterned, and textured pieces.

I grew up in Detroit and the surrounding communities where everyone had a basement. Basements are rare in California. I wish we had one. It would be a combination music and art studio...and of course storage, etc.

9:38 AM  
Blogger Pat Kirby said...

Love the mural with cracked pottery idea. Wonderful.

10:37 AM  
Anonymous Coyote said...

I concur with above comments.. it really is a wonderful piece of work. Well done.

3:10 AM  
Blogger MsDemmie said...

I love your wall ...........

Balance is fundamental - a fact that is often overlooked.

I hope your fine weather continues

11:26 AM  
Blogger Carol Gee said...

Your post "put something significant" in my "rather empty bucket." I have been struggling with a myriad of physical problems, so have severely limited my political blogging. You have helped me to remember balance as I spend a month with my family of origin. I am so glad I stopped by. Thanks.

1:43 PM  
Blogger Ken Grandlund said...

Very pretty KWW, and having an artistic outlet is very important.

Years ago, I took up pastel drawing and now have an eclectic collection of works I created in my early 20's. I no longer do those anymore.

Then, I designed and commissioned a stained glass piece that I still have in my collection of goodies.

Still later, I dove into performance arts like theater and music.

Now, I drive much of my creativity throguh my paying work as a producer of commercials and PSA's for clients. And of course, as you say, to write is a creative outlet in it's own right.

I always wonder about people who say they have no 'creative ability.' I think we are all creative in different ways. One does not have to be a drawer or painter to discover their inner artist. It could be in the way you design your lawn or organize your own rooms at home. To me it is more important to express the creativity in oneself in your own fashion than to just deny your own creative efforts exist.

To each a different drummer, to paraphrase Thoreau.

4:59 PM  
Blogger Kitchen Window Woman said...

PAT KIRBY...Recycled art. I just hope that it looks like what I see in my head when it's finished...wheneven that is.

COYOTE...Thank you.

MSDEMMIE...It is easy to overlook balance with all of the demands in one's life. I find that when I make an effort to balance, I am better able to function and accomplish. I just have to remember to make that effort before I run off in several directions at once!

1:23 PM  
Blogger Kitchen Window Woman said...

CAROL GEE...I am sorry to hear that you are having struggles with physical problems. So much energy is sapped while dealing with medical problems that it's a wonder anyone ever recovers! Then there is day to day life and other must do's and so on. It is hard to write or be creative at all when you are depleted from struggling with illnesses and using what little energy you have for getting through the day. When I am ill I can't read or even think. I hope you enjoy the time with your family and are able to regain your energy and strength real soon.

Political blogging takes a lot of effort so don't over do..."little by little" works well, too!

1:53 PM  
Blogger Kitchen Window Woman said...

KEN...Good to hear from you. How is your campaign going?

I do some drawing. I am good at collage and like to design based on relationships between different pieces - shapes, colors, textures, meanings, etc. I have also always been interested in stained glass and might try it some day...we don't really have room for me to set up to do that, yet. Sometimes, I think about learning how to weld because I love old rusted shapes of metal.

We are a musical family, too. Singing, guitars, and of course, ukuleles but not much in theater arts.

What an interesting use of your creativity - making commercials! I love to watch the extras on DVDs and will oftern listen to the comments of the producers and directors because find their "creative processes" fascinating. There are so many different types of "vision" and all of the approaches to communicating a concept.

I agree that everyone has creative ablility. I see it in the children that I do art with. Each one has his or her own unique expressiveness and I encourage them to use it. I am often delightfully astonished by where their minds travel and how they "see".

Problem solving is creative, teaching is creative, and so is designing weapons. If only we could get people to use their creative abilities in a positive manner we could work to improve the lives of people around the world...clean drinking water for example, or the end of war as an institution.

3:18 PM  

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