Monthly Archives: February 2012

Leaving Asheville

Linda, who owns Fiddlestix (the first shop to carry my art in Mars Hill) and her helpers, Billie, Jean and Anne, gave me a going away party Saturday night. We drank wine and good beer, munched fresh veggies and homemade chili and mingled the way good-natured people do at parties. Everyone is supportive and cheerful about my hiking trip. They came to pat me on the back and warn me about bears. Linda  stayed after a tiring, busy day, uncorked wine and arranged crackers, cheeses and dip.  Jean brought fresh veggies and hummas. Billie and her husband, Bob, brought homemade chili and wine from Michigan. Donna and Lawrence, from Common Ground, came after an equally tiring day with big smiles and hugs.  My former landlord, Richard, came and reminded evryone he is still planning to meet me in Hot Springs –with beer! Shawn, another outdoor enthusiast made us all laugh with camping stories. Todd, who makes furniture from sticks, much of the time right there in the woods where he finds them, wished a safe trip. Susan and Bentley, who have been so encouraging and happy for me, gave me extra work to help finance this trip. Seth is caring for Annie and lets me sleep on the couch. Sherrye and Benson. Sherrye helped me get in my first major show here. She also gave me a bar of her wonderful handmade soap. Gyspybee.com is her soap company and you should check it out.

I made them all stand still for a couple of pictures. I don’t usually do that irritating picture thing at parties, but I’m going away for 6 months into the woods so it seemed …appropriate.

It was a fun party, it lasted just long enough for everyone to get to know each other a little better, and for me to realize how many good, solid friends I have made here. This is the place I think of now when I think “home”, I have friends to come back to. It makes leaving easier, and harder. Easier because I know they will be saving a place for me. Harder because finding a home as eluded me until just now. It’s hard to leave something you’ve just found.

My little house in Mars Hill was my first real home in the traditional sense, but after I made this decision to hike the trail I gave it up. The past 6 months have been teaching me that I carry my home inside me. It hasn’t been easy, and I fought it a lot of the time. I’m still learning to accept when old habits say resist, but I’m catching myself more often.

I’m still learning to step back, stop judging, stop bitching and let it go. I’m still learning to look inside for home, peace, self-worth.

Seth and I hiked yesterday, a trail that followed the Laurel River at Hot Springs. Even though there are places defiled with graffiti and trash (WTF?) the trail is absolutely beautiful. I realized I wanted to hike it again in the Winter, when the scenery should be spectacular. We talked about other trails, in other seasons, and I said “6 months isn’t such a long time.” I started thinking of what I want to do when I come back. I hadn’t let myself plan to come back until just then. I didn’t realize how much I thought of Asheville as “home.”

I understand that I carry my home inside me, but I also believe, because Asheville has taught me, that there are places that make keeping my inside home quiet, sane and peaceful. My hikes in the mountains have taught me that there is nothing more beautiful than the outdoors, nothing more interesting, nothing more fun, nothing more satisfying. I don’t go shopping for something to do, I go hiking; I don’t  watch TV, I sit by a river and watch what happens. Here you can listen to the woods, smell the juniper and fir, drink spring water cold enough to make your head ache, breathe air so crisp it slices. I can feel my own blood and muscle pushing me up the mountains. All of this I have done here, and it will take me through the Appalachians.

For many of us, Asheville is a place you find, a place where you  can truly live. It’s not a place you ever leave. Not really

MERMAID and other art

I took a couple of photos of the desk and I really miss Eli, the wonderful photographer I have been using. I only have a few weeks before I hit the AT so there is no money for photos. That’s all the apology anyone gets, I’m afraid. Go to Common Ground to see the real thing. It’s one of a kind. When I get back, I am anxious to do so much more art!

The mermaid is even prettier in person!

Top view including shelf.

This teapot belonged to my client’s mother. Whe she passed away, my client asked me  to make it into an art piece for her sister. She is very happy-and so am I.

Another view.

This chair is a tiny version of the oak chairs we had in school-in the old days. This design features the alphabet and lots of color!

From the back.

His wife died

She died yesterday. His wife has been sick for a while, and we all knew it would be soon. Friends offer comfort, using the same phrases we have all used “I’m so sorry” “She’s not suffering now” “You’re in our prayers.”

Everyone means well and what else can they say? I wonder, as he nods and shakes hands, or accepts the endless casserole dishes, if he wishes they would all leave him alone?

I watch the delicate ballet of people moving slowly, the way people do when they get up at night, trying not to wake rest of the household. They are being considerate and kind, and he knows it. It’s all they can do, really, and he knows that, too.

I’m grateful that the usual things are happening for him. Things he can count on, tradition, ritual, expected words and gestures. I know that soon he will be catching himself walking oddly, alone instead of in tandem with her. He’ll throw away countless pots of coffee before he remembers he only needs to make enough for one. How many browning bananas will he throw into the compost pile before he changes the grocery list he’s been using for years?

How long before his friends begin urging him to “get out,” a euphemism for “find someone new.” Will he decide to keep learning the rules of solitaire- living alone?

I, too, am glad she is no longer suffering, but I feel the usual disconnect. This is another experience I won’t have.

My break-ups were devastating. But they were the result of betrayal, abandonment, not the natural progression of life, which is death. After the last, I made a conscious decision to stop trying to do something at which I obviously sucked. I chose to be alone. Now, after several years, I’m poor but man, I could teach a class in Living Alone and Loving It.

I’m not glad that this is something I’ll never know, like childbirth or having health insurance. This is just an observation.

And I’m really looking forward to getting on the Trail.

Countdown

It’s February 15. Mid February. I’m counting in weeks now, instead of months. I have my tax refund, but other things have made serious dents in the money I’ve worked so hard to save for this trip. I don‘t  care. I’ll make every effort to have enough to be comfortable on this trip but if there isn’t much money, I’ll make do with what I have. I mean, it’s not like I haven’t been doing that for…how long now?

In the past few months, I’ve been living in other people’s homes. I try-very hard-to be a good guest and pay my way with housework, errands, cooking, anything to make up for paying with  actual cash. I’ve been more successful at some times than others. I don’t have nearly the amount I thought I would have by now but then, none of us can predict the future. I also would never have predicted some of the situations living in someone else’s home have created.

In fact, I feel terrible even hinting that there has been anything but graciousness toward me. To that end, I won’t post specific incidents, but I will say that I’m never going to do anything like this again. It feels like something else I failed at.  I have spent a great deal of my life feeling like a failure. Failing at marriage, love in general, my graphic design career. Owning a home, keeping a job, I’ve failed at pretty much everything we do as adults to build our lives. Don’t go leaping for the keyboard to tell me I shouldn’t feel that way. Should or shouldn’t has nothing to do with it. Feelings are feelings. We can’t control them. We CAN control what we do. So, every day I just keep getting up and doing my best. Every night, I hope it’s enough. When it isn’t I keep going anyway. I cry, I cuss, I blame the universe, I feel sorry for myself that all my work doesn’t matter…and then I get on with it.

This trip has actually given me hope, a goal, and a chance to do something I’ve always wanted to do, something that can help me define myself in terms other than what I didn’t do.

My art, my writing-my creative life-has helped me see that the other failures aren’t any more important than I let them be. Of course, failing to keep a job can certainly affect where you live, what you drive, etc., but I’ve also learned to just accept being poor and never having anything extra. I don’t want a big house, an expensive car, new shoes every week. I want to be able to keep a little money aside, I want to buy art supplies when I need them, and I want to be able to keep my car running. I have no desire to ever own property. I want enough to spend my days writing, making art, without worrying about rent.

So that’s my long term goal, I guess. A small, simple life that no one can interfere with, or judge.  The past few years have disconnected me to the point I find myself staring at people, wondering why they do it. Old, poor, miserable, panicked. Why? Why do I do it, is the logical sequence and too many days I have no answer. I ache for this time on the trail when I can stop and stare at the sky, listen to birds, drink from a Spring, feel the muscles in my body strain, hear my own breath, open myself to cold and heat and rain and hunger. Feel alive and connected, something I haven’t felt in a long, long time.

New art -Mermaid desk!

I finally finished THE DESK. Donna, who owns Common Ground, has taken a few pictures and I thank her for sending the to me. I’m getting ready to head out to the Appalachian Trail and it takes up a lot of my time. I’m sewing my tent now. And, living in other people’s homes is stressful, as you can all imagine. I am GRATEFUL for the encouragement of people who have opened their homes to me, and I’m sure they understand that no matter how wonderful their home is, I’m still a guest.

Here are photos of the Desk, and I welcome all comments. It’s on display at Common Ground and of course it’s for sale!