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“Your real duty is to go away from the community to find your bliss.” – Joseph Campbell
27 July 2016

The Morning Kiss: Our Pony?

By: Jon Katz
The Morning Kiss

The Morning Kiss

Each morning, I go out to the pasture, but to get in the gate, I have to agree to kiss a pony on the nose. After the kiss, a carrot or cookie. Maria says I am falling for Chloe the pony, but I tell her I am basically a dog and donkey guy. She says I am in denial. It is not just her pony any longer, she says on her blog that it is our pony.

I'm not sure I'm there yet, but I am fond of Chloe. She is one of the proud and strong and loving women on the farm. I love giving her a hose bath every day, and she loves getting a bath, she is out in the hot sun all day covered in flies, I bet the hosing feels very good to her. I do love giving her her daily bath.

I do love Chloe's independence, and I love her sweetness and calm. And she is tough as nails. On the whole, she is far less imperious and moody than the donkeys. They love you when they feel like it, otherwise you can just get lost.

Chloe loves Maria and she loves attention.

She is happy for us to put her fly mask, she accepts the halter with grace, she learns quickly, loves being groomed and is always up for a kiss. Maria is brimming with love, her emotions are on the surface, where animals can see and sniff them.

Mine, I think, are buried deeper. Animals do that for us, they help us understand who we really are.

Posted in General

New Exhibit: The Frida Kahlo Bathroom Gallery

By: Jon Katz
The Frida Kahlo Bathroom Gallery

The Frida Kahlo Bathroom Gallery

I came into our Frida Kahlo Memorial Bathroom this morning to find that it has become something of a gallery, like every sill and open space in our house. Maria and I are both creatures of color and light, but she is an artist and sees the world in a visual way that is far beyond me.

There was a metal glass holder, an old fixture on the right, and we never put a glass there. Maria hangs her earrings there. She uses every space there is, she has a genius for that. But she has gone beyond that,  she is the curator of spaces in our home. She always looks to brighten things up and add color.

Maria found a small blue holder of some kind – she never throws anything away and she put a dahlia and a couple of marigolds in there. To the left is my razor, and a brand new razor holder. In all of my life I have never had a place to put my razor. Neither did I ever have a brightly-colored razor.

I bought my razor and blades and holders from a new company called Harry's, it is revealing of the revolutionary new ideas about shopping and convenience triggered by the Internet, for better or worse. I'm not in the habit of shilling for corporations, but this company was founded by two  young people who believed there had to be an easier and cheaper and more pleasant way to shave buy blades and razors.

Men know that going to the store to buy shaving equipment is cumbersome – blades are all under lock and key – and very expensive.

In this case, this is a change for the better. The razor costs me $15 and is very comfortable to hold, and comes in several colors, the blades are excellent and are $2 apiece. They last a long time, a couple of weeks for me. Ordering new supplies takes about five seconds on their very smart website. It comes in a day or two.

I have to wonder, could it always have been this pleasant, this easy, this inexpensive? And the stuff is very well made, the handle even has indentations for easier holding (I sound like a commercial.) I am rarely so pleased by something as mundane as razors and blades. I got Maria a yellow razor, so she won't keep stealing mine.

I just bought the holder, which cost $15 and I was struck by the symmetry of the razor, the old white tiles, and the new orange ones we painted ourselves for our Frida Kahlo bathroom, so named for the fact that it is the most pleasant and colorful bathroom I have ever used. I love the colors and lines here.

Maria's creativity is part of her soul, she simply brightens every space she enters. It would never have occurred to me to turn the old glass holder into an art installation and earring holder. Life is good here.

Posted in General

Quilt In Waiting: Gifts

By: Jon Katz
Gifts

Gifts

Someone sent an old quilt to Maria, they sent it to the Round House Cafe and the staff held it for us there. Several times a week, someone from almost every part of the country sends Maria something old and beautiful. Maria washed the old quilt and hung it on the line to dry, I think she already has some idea what she wants to do with it, she never talks about that, she just goes ahead and does it.

Gifts used to be a problem for me, people sent me all kinds of things I couldn't use and had no room for, it became a problem. That stopped, and the occasional gifts that come now to me or Maria are thoughtful and beautiful, and I seem to love them all. I can't really account for this change, in the gifts or in me.

(I don't really need any more books on dogs or animals, thanks, I don't like to read other people's dog books, I want my ideas and reflections to by my own. Best send them to somebody who can read them.)

But even I can see the beauty and meaning in an old and lovely quilt like this. I love seeing it hanging out on the line.

Women have a keen sense about old discarded things, often from their mothers and grandmothers, they want to see them loved and shared. Maria loves to do that. Once in awhile it's a problem, we get huge boxes of things, but mostly the gifts are wonderful, and Maria makes wonderful use out of them.

Her art is founded on the idea of making art out of discarded fabrics, as the Gee's Bend quilters do. It's a beautiful idea and we are both happy to be a part of it.

Posted in General

Is Izzy The Reincarnation Of Ma?

By: Jon Katz
MA

MA

Every time I look at Izzy, I see Ma, our wonderful old sheep who barely survived lambing, was a wonderful mother to Debbie and Jake (he did not survive youth) and then died six months later. Ma was old and tired, she came to us as a rescue sheep with a very heavy coat. She and Red tangled for awhile, then worked things out.

Ma was as sweet as she was dumb, and Izzy strikes me as the same. She is friendly, she comes running up to me when I come out, is very attacked to Rosemary and will have some beautiful wool for Maria to sell.

She is just like Ma, I wonder if she is not Ma reincarnated. Sometimes I believe in reincarnation, sometimes not. Mostly I accept that there are things I can't explain, and Izzy's resemblance of Ma in every way is one of them.

Posted in General
26 July 2016

Farmhouse In Paradise Valley

By: Jon Katz
Farmhouse In Paradise Valley

Farmhouse In Paradise Valley (IR Photo)

I call this valley "Paradise Valley" because it is the most beautiful valley around me, and because one of the most beautiful old farmhouses sit down the hill, with a gorgeous red barn to the right. The clouds were astonishing today, a dramatic sky with a strong sun beaming in and out. It looked like a painting to me, and I couldn't quite figure out how to capture this feeling of a farm in paradise. Paradise Valley.

I took my IR camera, and the picture was lovely and very soft, I made it black and white and used a pinhole effect to focus on the farmhouse, the valley and the clouds, to me, an almost perfect image of paradise. I try to evoke feelings in some of my pictures, I think the IR camera may help me do that on some occasions.

Posted in General