Supper surprise – limits create art.

Sometimes random things create the best results. We are in a “rustic” cabin. There is no food here save what we brought. Even basics like milk, butter, and seasonings are absent. It means we have to make do with very little and get really creative if we want something palatable.
What was supposed to be the main part of the meal wasn’t. It paled in comparison to what was the side dish. We brought potatoes to cook. We had a bag of new potatoes at home, so I pulled out five large ones. It was definitely time to eat them. They were starting to grow eyes. We mixed in a can of beans from our kit, but it just wasn’t that interesting.
We brought our kit we take to Grandfather Mountain, but slightly modified. We didn’t know what was going to be provided here, so we had to pack a lot. It is really a mind bending experience trying to figure out what two people will need to survive for a couple of days. We can’t take the whole kitchen. What is enough, and what is too much? What is essential, and what can be used for several things?
Our kit has a can opener, a bottle opener, a pair of scissors, clips, reseal-able bags of various sizes, reusable plastic bowls and cutlery, ceramic mugs (good for hot foods as well as drinks). There is also jar of honey, a jar of cooking oil (does not need refrigeration and substitutes for butter in many cases). A can of beans, a can of corn. Triscuits. Tea bags. Instant coffee. A sauté pan, and a pan for boiling or steaming. A wooden spoon, a spatula, a teapot. A pencil sharpener and pencils.
It sounds like a lot. But it all is needed and all will be used. Miss one thing and life could get complicated. No matter what, we are guaranteed to be short something.
We discovered that the lighter I brought had just enough in it to light once. So much for the fireplace. Tomorrow we will have to buy another lighter. My husband has bought survival firestarters but of course they are all at home. We don’t need to have a fire to cook – the cabin has a nicer stove than we have at home. But having a fireplace was part of the selling point of this cabin.
But then again, having a restaurant was part of the selling point of this site. Too bad the restaurant is closed for the season. So now we have to feed ourselves the whole time. We could go out, but then again, we could do that at home. The point is to stay in as much as possible, and to make ourselves make do with what we have.
We went to the grocery store. It was a Food Land, just up the road. Turns out we paid dearly for the convenience. We’ll remember this for the future. Shop at home for the stuff that can travel, and shop local for the perishables. We didn’t have a menu either. We got what looked good.
The result of the experiment the first night was toasted whole-wheat hoagie rolls with melted Colby-Jack cheese, with avocado spread and crumbly salmon. It was fabulous. We never would have come up with this at home, where we had lots of choices.
Now, it turns out that food and art have a lot to do with each other. Limits are good.
I can only bring a very limited amount of beads when I travel. Because of the canvas bag I have, the most I could bring is six of the 18 bins I have. But even six is too much for a trip, so I take one and some essentials. This forces me to edit and limit, and see things in new ways. It forces me to not be so picky and to just create. It is kind of like the challenges on “Project Runway”. You have to make something amazing but you have only three of the six things you need. ”Make it work”, and sometimes they do.
Sometimes having too much choice means you don’t create or innovate. Sometimes it is best to strip away everything and start again from scratch, just so you learn what is really important.

In the privacy of your back yard.

There really is no privacy anymore. Forget everything about the NSA. Just hanging out in your back yard is a public event.

Notice how people put their houses so that the public area is in front and the private area is in back. Nobody puts a deck or a pool in front of their house, facing the road. That is unthinkable. It violates unspoken rules.

The front yard is what you show to the world. The back yard is where you live.

People driving by can’t see your back yard. All the good stuff is back there. They only get to see it if you invite them to your house.

It is part of the reason people don’t put their bedrooms in the front room. When you open the front door to a person’s home, there will most likely be some chairs and a couch. The dining room will be next, and then the bedroom will be last. The house progresses in levels of privacy. The outside of the house is the same. What you see first is public. What you see last is private.

Except none of that means anything anymore. Pull up any internet mapping service and you can see anybody’s back yard, sometimes from multiple views. Sure, it isn’t live. Some of the photos are from a couple of years ago. But there is still an invasion of privacy.

Having mapping services does make life easier, certainly. It is really helpful when I’m travelling somewhere to be able to see what the place looks like from the street and from the air. It eases my fear about travelling to a new place to know not only how to get there but also what to expect when I get there.

But the more I think about it, the less I like the idea that everybody can see everything. Mapping was great when it helped me. Mapping is weird when it involves my home. It is kind of like how I felt when I was in elementary school and I found a book of ethnic jokes. Boy, were they funny, until I got to the section on Irish jokes. Then it wasn’t so funny because I’m of Irish descent. The shoe was on the other foot, if you will.

What can we do? Not much. Be mindful, sure. That is what we are all learning from all of this recent news about personal information being made public, or at least not as private as we thought. Everything we do can and will be recorded in one way or another. Our lives are being lived in public, whether we want it or not.

I don’t think it is something to freak out about. After all, the very organizations we would appeal to for help are the very ones that are creating the issue.

Movies that make you question reality

Ones I’ve seen and enjoyed –

Dark City
The Matrix
The Prestige
Total Recall
Abre Los Ojos / Vanilla Sky
Alice in Wonderland (Anything except Disney versions)

Ones that other people have recommended for this category but I’ve not seen yet or don’t remember well enough –

The 13th Floor
Jacob’s Ladder
12 Monkeys
Minority Report
The City of Lost Children
Hitchcock – Spellbound
Kurosawa – Rashômon

So, if you want to inspire a sense of alternate reality without doing drugs, watch a few of these back to back.

Art and alternative reality

I could barely sleep last night. The older I get, the harder it is to rest comfortably. But, then the more important it is to do so. I’m not sure at what point the weirdness starts. Maybe because of the medicine I’m on it will keep it at bay.
It sure was weird at Cursillo. I was on my medicine then and it still happened. But then again I think that is the point of that retreat. I think they want to inspire alternative consciousness through sleep deprivation and constant emotional highs.
My only problem with alternative consciousness is that I can’t guarantee when it will end now. I want it to end so I can return to normal. With pot it was about 3 hours. With acid it was about 8. I don’t do drugs anymore. I don’t have to. The madness comes on its own these days if I don’t take care of myself. Perhaps it always was there, and I just didn’t notice it because I was self-medicating.
Alternative consciousness isn’t that great for driving or for work. Somebody has to pay the bills, and keeping up with time and days just isn’t part of the package when your head is in the clouds.
It is why I’m resistant to create before work. Art creates its own alternative reality. That mindset is difficult to switch out of. But maybe that is the trick. Create something every morning and train myself to switch back and forth.
I’ve already written about not waiting for the muse. So maybe this is the other side. Seek out creativity all the time. Do it every day. Write, bead, paint, draw – whatever. Set a time limit. Learn how to switch back to “normal” or whatever suffices for normal in my world. Keep a constant flow of creativity going. Then, I’ll learn how to balance myself.
I think the only thing that separates productive, functional artists and raving lunatics is this skill. I believe that it can be learned and improved upon. I believe that just like shamans, we can go into that realm of spirit and come back different, but intact. I think it is just like yoga – you don’t take yoga because you are flexible and have good balance. You take yoga because you want to have these skills.
The only problem is that I don’t think there is a class on this. I might just have to figure it out on my own. I am coming to realize that this is my normal way of being. That this life, this creative life – isn’t one that has a road map.

Real vs. Digital

The more time I spend with social media, the less I have for other things. I know this, yet I seem to be unable to wrench myself away. I like to check in and see how my friends are doing and what is going on in the world, but I feel like there is too much noise to signal ratio. I have to wade through a lot of stuff to get to the useful bits.

How did I keep up with what was going on before? How did any of us? We did, surely, but we have forgotten the gentle arts of keeping in touch without social media. We used to call or write. We used to make time to see each other. Now that we have the ability to let all of our friends know instantly what we are doing, somehow we don’t have, or make, the time to actually have anything worth talking about.

It is like the difference between roll film and digital film. When we only had 24 shots to the roll, we were careful with our photos. We took the time to choose something interesting, to frame it nicely, and to make sure it was in focus and the exposure was good. Now, with digital film we can take thousands of pictures but only a handful will be actually worthwhile.

With digital lives, we are doing the same thing.