Saturday, March 27, 2010

More instant happiness

I got around to downloading photos today and found these last few from our very last snow fall. I had NO IDEA there were orange salamanders in our neck of the woods!(It has turned cold here the past fews days and I have to admit I wish we'd get one last snow storm. I know, it costs MILLIONS each time it snows but I can not help wanting to see more snowmen and women. And salamanders.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Memories of trees...

...I have the most vivid memories of my childhood Christmas trees . I can't give you the year or my age:my memory does not work like that. But I can recall the searching through the woods of New Hope PA. & the "Motel In The Woods" where we would stay when we went to pick a tree . I remember the decorations - some made by my parents who are both artists. My dad treated Christmas trees like they were works of art-one year he did a tree entirely covered in silver tinsel. That was the one and only year a tree of ours had a strand of tinsel on it. The tree looked like a sea monster covered in silver seaweed.
In my memory it seemed like my dad always waited until Christmas eve to put up the tree. And we always left it up -sometimes for months. I can recall it being up (and decorated for) one Valentines Day. It also somehow managed to last until Easter one year.
Since "we" are products of our parents it only stands to reason that I do something very similar - our tree was "procured" on Christmas Day (in the pouring rain) and it never really got decorated this year because of it's late arrival. But I did cover it in homemade hearts come February and it technically made it into March this year:
Last weekend I cut off all of it's branches. The needles had gotten to the point where they would fall off, en masse , if -by mistake of course-a small cat toy happened to be throw at it. Imagine a raining down of needles, cats standing there covered and stunned. It was fun but it was also time for it to go. So I cut everything off late one evening and -being my parents child and an artist in my own right-I saved some of the needles in the tallest vase I could find and arranged some of the branches in another vase. I love nature and since I live in an apartment these little touches are my way of bringing the out door in.
The de-branched trunk stayed in the tree stand for the week-atop the dining room table. The artist in me pondered what to do with it each breakfast. That is what artists do-we ponder what to make of the things that come our way. At its worst-it can be a disease of sorts , leading to a unhealthy collecting of things and plans that never see fruition. At its most functional it is one's take on Robert Rauschenberg's & Joseph Cornell's fantastic assemblage/collage/boxes.
Back to memories of trees: my other strong memory is of the weekend day when my dad would finally take the tree down. He would spread out the big canvas paint clothe and haul the garbage can into the living room and turn on the radio and cut the tree apart-a lot like I did last weekend-minus the drop clothe and garbage can.
I knew I would be making more of last year's candle sticks out of this years trunk. I envisioned a forest of candle sticks grouped together on the dining room table.Late this morning I got out a plastic dry cleaning bag I had been saving and covered the kitchen floor. I sawed the trunk into sections and dug up my Uncle Peter's drill and the largest bit I could find(3/8") and got to work making holes for thin candles. The smell of the tree resin was momentarily wonderful. Sap covered my hands. It was fun and once done I assembled the sections on the table and fell in love with the look-the forest on the table top.
I realize I am the only one in the whole world who still had their tree up so this next part is pure silliness but: next year-try this with your tree. You will love it. There are no other candle sticks on the face of the earth that I would rather have and I love that they are made from Christmas trees and required so very little , resources wise. Photos to come...

Friday, March 5, 2010

interesting reading

There is lots of stuff going on in this world of ours. None of it new. Little of it good. On the subway ride home today I pulled out the latest copy of AUDUBON magazine (March/April edition) . I used to always read on subways rides - in fact this used to be how I got the bulk of my reading done as when else is there time!?! But I have gotten out of the habit lately, preferring both to carry a slightly lighter back pack & to rest , eyes closed , on rides to and fro.
Audubon is great reading and has delicious photos :this month's cover shot is a black and white classic of an elephant that looks more old time fashion shot than nature photo...actually it also looks like it could have been taken at the Museum Of Natural History from one of their dioramas I LOVED as a kid!
Inside was an article on endocrine - disrupting chemicals . They are everywhere, are largely unregulated and are thought to be having a terrible impact on the health of both humans and animals -an impact that might be long lasting if not irreversible. My heart sank. I got sick to my stomach. It is not that the information is new to me. I have heard it all before. It is just that the cumulative effect of what "we" are doing to ourselves and the earth is really weighing on me.
I know we can do better and need to do better. What stymies me is that "we" know what needs to be done-for our own good-and yet we are not doing it. I know it is tied to profits and convenience -the great loves of the modern world. But when the consequences are spelled out I am left wondering why "we" decide to take the self destructive path almost every time. "We" are brilliant and can solve these problems-if we decide to tackle them. And the resulting solutions will, no doubt, end up creating profit and giving us a different kind of convenience so why are we resisting this beneficial path that's win-win?
During my (brutal & disillusioning ) yoga teacher training course we were taught about "resistance". It is a complicated concept that vaguely explains why we resist what is good for us. But as I get older the idea of resistance seems such a poor excuse for not taking responsibility and doing what is right for all.
This is a long way of saying there is no excuse for our lax "Toxic Substances Control Act" and there is absolutely no reason why these substances-known to be harmful with well documented side effects-are still being included in an array of products (from cleaning products to food containers to lotions) . The Audubon article states that other countries are leading the way in this area and it actually hurts me to know my own country (and the big businesses that make the products we use daily) do not care enough to do more.
You can go HERE to check out Audubon's magazine and this article in particular and read back into their archives for more on issues like these. If this topic is new to you this might serve as a wake up call but if you are like me this will be old news that will make your stomach turn...