It's all so depressing. And concerning. Trump winning the two Republican primaries to date. That Sanders' grimace and facial anger. The throbbing manic and hysterical absolute of Sanders' fanatics. The entire, intricately orchestrated plan to demolish Hillary (that even intelligent people are buying into) - it all leaves me exhausted, frustrated, and worried.
And so, I have quietly excused myself. Stepping back, it's pretty amusing. It's easier to take an observer's view, and infinitely more interesting to look at the sociological, psychological, and economical reasoning behind the insanity - from a distance. There is so much to life, and life is busy, rich, overflowing with opportunity to make what we can of the little individual space that each of us occupies - and to shine one corner of the world.
This is the last photo of Charlie, taken on February 14. He was a community cat - very social. He found us and chose us in October. He begged to be petted, brushed, picked up. He followed me every morning for more than 100 mornings as I went about the outdoor chores of changing the water bowls, filling the bird and squirrel feeders. He napped on the chair while I unloaded dozens of boxes, until I realized he might never be going home to his home base. With permission from his rescue family, we fed him and kept him indoors in the brutal cold and rains. Still, he grew weaker over time. The vet identified a parasite - but it was too late. Charlie had already stopped eating, and his systems were shutting down. I last saw him Monday morning, February 15th, taking his usual route - making his rounds to head back to his home base two doors down. He never returned. I miss him terribly, my constant shadow companion. I loved him.
After you make a big move, don't be surprised to find the old-school photo albums, from the era before the digital. And also, you may find loose photos that haven't been placed in those albums. I'm finding them in the most unlikely boxes. Above, one such photo. It makes me swoon. From long before my birth, a moment captured in 1942, it's my beloved Grandpa Quessenberry, with the puppy Jiggs, and Uncle Don, who was in the United States Air Force at the time. My grandfather drove cattle from Virginia to Mexico during the era of the Open Range, and became a cattle rancher in Southern California. My uncle was a brick mason who also was contracted to build most of the stonework roadside historic markers for lookout points and memorials in California. My grandfather was 62 in this photo; my uncle was 28. This is how I remember them looking, all through my young life.
This movie. It won the Sundance Film Festival grand jury award for world cinema documentary. I watched it last night, and I was swept away, The story is fascinating and riveting on several levels - but it's the land and the scenery that moved me. It takes place in today's Ukraine where the Kiev battle for independence from Russian authority continues. But it delves into the bitter, tragic catastrophe of Chernobyl and the mysterious, enormous Duga Radar that went live on the date of our Bicentennial in the United States. The film proposes a theory of the meltdown at the Chernobyl reactor linked to the nearby Duga Radar and a high-ranking official in Moscow.
This, the topic of Chernobyl, is very near and dear to my heart. I have three art journals of research notes, sketches, information that I began 10 years ago - including the Belarusian cursive workbook from which I learned to write in the Cyrillic alphabet for Belarusian (and the Russian Cyrillic alphabet, which is similar). In the journals are hand-drawn maps of the beautifully planned community of Pripyat, where the reactor worker families lived. There are experiments in making the traditional Byzantine icons with egg tempera paint. And now, I feel the compelling drive to combine my research and work into an art book, tentatively named Zemli Myrnoho Atoma: The Land of the Peaceful Atom. I was so mesmerized by the Duga radar - and more so because of the lack of information about it - that I was inspired to paint and sketch several pieces. From the second art journal of mine, here is Duga #4.
In this terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad election year I've already established and set boundaries, joined a wonderful book club, set up the laundry room with the new washer-dryer (oh, happy day!), practiced patience and grace, bestowed mercy, and taken pause. I've celebrated birthdays with two friends, Valentine's Day with a sweetheart, Chinese New Year with my sock monkey, used my dabbing dance moves, and toasted Mardi Gras with King Cake and a hurricane. I'm pouring over the Chernobyl-Pripyat journals and planning the art book. My one regret of sweet sixteen so far is that I don't have as much time for blogging as in the past, but I'm still here. Still with you, still moving through time, still learning grace in my stride.