Artists are frequently asked to provide an “artist statement.”
In it the artist describes his or her viewpoint or points about his art, how those points fit into his or her larger view of life and the world, and maybe touch a bit on the technical system used to produce the artwork.
Done well it is extremely enlightening, revealing the intellectual part of the art work, as well as a few hidden motives. Done poorly it can be full of nice words with little insight.
It seems such an “statement” would be good discipline for non-artists as well.
I don’t have an art show coming up any time soon, and I have not written a real “artist statement” in a while, but I need to write and rewrite my “life statement,” from time to time. Now seems to be the time. Done well it will help me in unmeasurable ways. Done wrong it still has merit!
Lately many of my values have come into question. Not the kind of question that will result in my abandoning those values, but maybe I can and should shuffle them a bit, raise a few in the bottom third of the list up a bit and demote a few that I thought were very important, but may have lived their useful lives.
One reason I keep a journal is to help put thoughts and ideas and concerns into words. That still is not easy.
My major professor in art school used to scold the sculptors. Get a bunch of us in a room together and it is not long before we are talking shop (the how’s of our work) rather than the big concepts of the why’s of our work.
Pat Robertson made some comments the other day about Alzheimer’s disease. Pat often says things that rattle others, and this time was no exception. He did, however, bring up some really important questions.
We did some tile work for my sister a few years ago.
She wanted ceramic tile on her office floor so we went over and spent a few days doing the job. Miriam helped. She would run the water saw (Ceramic tile is cut with a saw blade that has industrial diamonds imbedded in the steel. To keep it all cool, so those precious diamonds won’t wear out prematurely, water is constantly running over the blade, hence the name.)
I would mark where I wanted the cut to go, and I had to mark which piece I wanted returned. Often she made a nice cut and brought me back the wrong piece. It was a good system.
So, we did this job for my sister.
I wouldn’t take her money for the job, but she bought us a big down comforter for our bed. Actually she intended it to go in the Teardrop trailer, but it never quite made it that far.
Down is a wonderful material. We sleep under the comforter in the dead of summer, it is just barely there. In the NW we have cool temperatures every night, and even in winter, it is our primary covering -- until it gets pretty cold.
It was on our bed in Idaho, but last trip I took that bed apart, loaded up the drawer boxes under the bed and brought the comforter to the motor home.
Ahh, such joy. Such wonderful sleep and dreams!
It may not just because of the down, but I like the idea.
Maybe I just was going soft, I don’t know. I am not 70 any longer, for sure, but the house and the garden and all was taking a toll. I, of course, did not notice, but friends and family did.
Daughter one saw disaster coming and in consultation with her sisters, she stepped up and offered a simple solution. It was as beautiful as it was simple and it was generous to a fault.
It was like a big puzzle, and quite quickly piece after piece fell into place: there was a buyer for our house; a friend offered us the use of his vintage motorhome; the state of Washington was ready to do what they could; daughter was approved as a caregiver and it was possible for me to get a break from caregiving when things get a little tight.
So we all gathered at the house we have owned for 35 years. The only house we have ever really owned. We, about 11 friends and family, packed and decisioned and threw and gave. We were fast and we were efficient. Miriam and I were going to downsize dramatically and suddenly.
That happened as we had planned. All was going according to that big plan.
Then the buyer got cold feet and decided he wanted to back out, it was his right and he exercised it.
I suppose I could bemoan the “things” that were given or discarded, but I refuse. It was a good purge, I am glad it happened, but that did not solve all problems. It just made my head work better.
The reality is that we have both a borrowed motorhome in Washington, but we still own a house in Idaho, on an acre, with orchard and shop.
Now what do we do?
If it was too much for me at one point, how will it be to combine that with place with the garden here in Washington state. We are still thinking, and working on that one.
Nutty as it sounds, I think I can do both, be healthier for it.
It is possible that just because I am old and should be wiser that it actually happened.
Miriam has 3 sibling, all with the same mother and father.
There are step brothers too, a total of 4 of them, but that is a different story.
This week we got news that her oldest half brother Wayne had died. He was one that was not recognized as part of the family until very recently, since his mother did not marry his father. One of those old family secrets that is not really a secret for as long as the principles had hoped. We only saw Wayne a couple of times.
Would we contact Miriam's other 3 siblings.
So I called her little sister. None of them are too good about keeping in touch, btw. The phone number was no longer in service. The last time we saw them she had obvious Dementia and her husband, who was older than her, had had by pass surgery, had lost a hundred pounds and looked really bad.
It is my fault I did not keep in touch with them. Sister's husband used to call me from time to time, but not recently. I will always regret that one.
So what do we do? I tried to get in touch with the next sister: Ellen. We had a couple of old phone numbers, but I looked her up on the white pages and found her address and phone number. The address was the same she had had for many years.
That number was not receiving calls, I was told. Sounded like it could be true, and I had no other number.
That leaves Miriam's only full brother. He does not have a phone. I will call the place where he used to work full time and now works a bit now and again and see if he can shed any light.
I am not optimistic.
So, Miriam has lost a big hunk of her family. Neither of the girls have children we can contact (only one son between them and he has been on the lam for decades.
Miriam cried tonight as we talked about it. I won't bring up the subject again.
This blog began as a spot to vent about my life with Miriam and her time with Alzheimer's disease.
She was diagnosed in '99 and her decline has been quite slow. In fact some of our best years of our long marriage have been these recent years.
Alzherimer's, at least her version is a disease of waiting. One shoe drops and it can be a very long time before the other one drops.
So life goes on.
At the beginning of this blog I told the story of our courtship and marriage, about out family and our personal journey with this disease. The part that scares the most is the anticipation as the disease slowly progresses.
So, I will touch on that subject from time to time, but the entries will tend toward comments on life. I'll leave politics and religion for others to worry about, not that I don't have strong opinions!
I have my hands full just looking after my wonderful Miriam.
We met when we were 6, began dating at 15 and have been together since. We will have our 56th anniversary this June.
We have four wonderful daughters. Smart, independent, awesome. They have given us 7 grandsons and 4 granddaughters. None of them are little any more. The oldest is 28 and married, the youngest is 14.
Until this last fall we lived in a hosue I designed and built in the '70's and it is pretty weird and wild, but very comfortable. Last summer the girls came to the conclusion that I really did need help dealing with Miriam. Now we live on a couple acres with daughter 1.
Life has been good. There is not much I would do different even if I could. We are rich beyond belief but chronically short of cash!
And, unless stated otherwise all the photographs are mine.