18 February 2018

Crochet Gun With Baby Blanket. Maria’s Vision…

By: Jon Katz

Crochet Gun With Baby Blanket

Maria and I try to live a creative life, creativity is something of a faith we share. Like most people, we were shaken by the killings in Parkland, Florida and struggling to figure out how to express it, each in our own way.

I'm a writer, and so I usually express myself by writing about something, as openly as I can.

Sometimes, a picture will speak for my feelings. Maria is a visual artist, and while she writes often and well, her feelings and emotions are frequently expressed in images, not just in words.

This is how we process the sometimes mad whirl of our minds.

As I wrote earlier, we found a heavy black pellet gun we found in a kitchen cabinet when we moved in, the family left nothing else behind. Until today we had never touched it or thought of it, it is covered by the cloth napkins we use when company comes to the farmhouse.

In bed this morning, watching a video of the very articulate and impassioned high school students calling for a march, and for change, and for their government to protect them, I said I have to go downstairs and write about this, and I did.

Maria was quiet for a while, and then said she was thinking about the gun. What gun, I asked? And she mentioned the pellet gun, she said she had to go to Bennington and the Thrift Store and pick  up an afghan. I said I wanted to go.

I got it right away, she had a vision for doing something with the gun that related to the shootings in Parkland. I know not to press her, because when she gets an idea like this, she needs some time to sort it out, she's not certain herself what she's going to do.

I was coughing and wheezing – still have a cold – but went downstairs to shower and get dressed. This is exciting, this is what we do, what we are about.

We went to Goodwill, and she made a beeline for one rack that had an afghan on it, and I called her over to the other side, where the baby blanket was. She said it fit perfectly with her idea for making something that expressed her feelings about the shootings and the kids planning their March in June. It cost $1.50, on the high end for her when it came to buying clothes.

(I bought two fleece jackets for men at the Mansion, they cost $6.I am a Thrift Shop whiz now)

I took a brief video to show the piece in progress:

We went home, and I wrote about the new movement the high school students were sparking – I plan to march with them – and Maria sat in a living room chair by the window. When I came back, it was finished, and we took it outside to get a photo before it got too dark.

I asked her if the cord was an umbilical cord, because it made perfect sense to me to put an umbilical cord in this work, the cord is all about love and nurture and the birth of life. She said she wasn't sure what was in her mind, she thought connecting a baby blanket to a gun also suggested love and nurture, the beginning of life rather than the end of life, the yarn connected the two thoughts.

I felt good about what I wrote, and Maria felt good about what she made, she turned the tragedy into a piece of art so she could process it. I was able to sort out my emotions and anger about the killing.

It was exciting to see this, and to be a part of it. I've come to be more of a visual person since I started taking pictures, but when I really have to sort out my feelings, use words.

She thinks visually, she sees images, and that is how she expresses herself.

Creativity helps to heal and to think. I hope we won't forget these lost souls.

Posted in General | Post a Comment

Red Truck On Route 22. A Sign of Life.

By: Jon Katz

Real Farms

If you are ever out driving in the country, and you want to tell a real farm from a hobby farm, look for junk. The mark of the true farm is the junk and the detritus that litter the landscape. No real farmer every throws anything away for buys anything new.

I know one farm that has six or seven old farm trucks lying around, over time each one is cannibalized for parts to keep its successors going. There is nothing new in any truck on any farm i know, except for the big corporate ones. it used to look desolate to me to see these old trucks rusting by the road, but now I see it is a sign of life.

It means somebody got or bartered for a newer truck, and the farm life goes on.

The life of the farmer is very hard, and gets harder all the time They just dropped milk prices again, and farm suicide hot lines are reporting record numbers of calls. The small family farm, the backbone of the country for many years, is hurting.

When I can, I try to capture the feel of these farms, and they are rarely pretty, no one can afford to be pretty or has the time.

The mark of the real farm are the shells and hulks and tires and old parts that lie around everywhere. Read farms are ugly, not pastoral, real farms are smelly, not sweet-smelling. The red farm truck in the photo has been lying around for a couple of years. This year the door is open, I'm not sure what that means. Some old tires are tossed nearby to keep it company, it looks like it belongs there, as if it grew out of the winter pasture. Perhaps it did.

Posted in General | Post a Comment

The Winter Pasture: The Yellow Barn On Route 22

By: Jon Katz

The Yellow Barn

The Yellow Barn, one of my favorite subjects, looks good against a fresh snow. The Winter Pasture only has a few weeks, and I don't think I've really done it justice this year, trying to make up for lost time.

Posted in General | Post a Comment

The Winter Pasture, Fading Now. Look At The Light.

By: Jon Katz

Fading Now

The Winter Pasture is beginning to fade. Winter huffs and puffs but can't fool us now. The photographer sees the light in a special way, he or she knows when Spring is emerging, and Spring is showing itself everywhere, even as there are weeks lift of cold and snow. It snowed about four inches last night, but it felt temporal and fake. Look at the light.

Posted in General | Post a Comment

Call BS: Marching For Children’s Lives, No More Waiting On Time

By: Jon Katz

Baby Blanket Quilt. Being Crocheted By Maria

"It may well be that we will have to repent in this generation. Not merely for the vitriolic words and the violent actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence and indifference of the good people who sit around and say, "Wait on time." – Martin Luther King Jr., A Testament Of Hope.

The murder of children in Florida and elsewhere has created a revolutionary new social movement that just may alter our broken politics, shame our leaders and parents, and save the lives of countless children. It's beginning with a "March For Our Lives" in Washington and other American cities on March 24.

Can't wait to start walking.

The brave and eloquent children of Marjorie Douglas Stoneham High School have called us to conscience, and asked us to help them save our children, and I believe we will be judged on earth or in heaven on how we respond.

The young, fresh from tragedy and shock, and wise in the ways of media and communication, are also calling BS on the politicians who hide and lie and tell them there is nothing to do to help other young people from being slaughtered in their classrooms. Who tell them that everything that should be done has been done, or ask them to pray and wait, and patronize them with cheap cliches and platitudes, and who seem to have been purchased outright by the manufacturers of guns and their famed and fearsome lobby.

Nobody to my knowledge has ever asked me what my views are on gun control, and I doubt they ever will.

I once believed that only the bad guys have guns. In the country, all the good guys have guns. Including me. I appreciate my gun, I do not believe it is threatened in any way by passing a few simple laws that might save the live of even one child, or ask people to wait an hour or so before buying lethal weapons of war.

If asked, I would say this: It is long beyond debate for me.

We should protect our children at all costs and by any means.

Ask me what I would do to keep my daughter or granddaughter from having her face blown office or being crippled for life by any random disturbed stranger while sitting in a classroom? I would do anything to prevent that, you could take all of your amendments and eat the parchment if I could keep that from happening, no questions asked.

Is there no sacrifice, no compromise or adjustment, even the smallest, we can make to save the lives of our children? What political idea is more important than saving them? Can children in classrooms really use prayers to fight off murderers with machine guns? Since Newtown, 400 and teachers have been slaughtered in our schools, almost all dying at the hands of people carrying machine guns.

No sane person doubts that we can do better. In countries that do not permit violent, criminal or emotionally disturbed people to purchase lethal firearms created to kill people, not animals, far fewer children, if any, are gunned down in their schools.

I think of this way. If I wanted to buy an  AR-15 machine gun, and someone told me I could save the life of a single child – perhaps even my daughter or granddaughter – by giving up the right to buy this gun instantly and without question, would I do it? I shudder to think of the parent who wouldn't.

This morning all over our national media, students in Parkland, Florida spoke much truth to power, calling for a new movement to save the lives of other children, something every civilized nation in world history does without being asked or cajoled. Our leaders hid and bobbed and weaved and blustered, as usual.

I was mesmerized while watching these kids. And hopeful. They are making history, I thought. They are Truth Tellers. In her books on leadership, author Dolly Daskal writes of the Truth Tellers.

They communicate and do not hold back, she says. The seek to create a culture of candor. They set high standards, and known down the barriers of lies and denial. In other words, they are not members of congress.

"Communicate, communicate, communicate," shle says of the Truth Teller. "Tell the truth and nothing but the truth. Instead of blaming others, look for solutions." Lead. I believe the kids I saw on TV this morning are leaders. I saw them lead.

The children at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are  more articulate and more courageous than the people in government charged with protecting them.

They shame the so-called grown-up world, cold with cruelty and greed and equivocation,  with their passion and directness. They cannot admit to who and what they are.

This is not the business of children, but it has become their sacred mission, and they uniquely possess some of the most powerful tools in all the world – enthusiasm, passion, ideals.

Our government is broken, choking on money from lobbyists. I am beginning to see who the real terrorists threatening Americans are, they are not the refugees, or the immigrants, they are not the mentally ill. In our times, it seems they are not even the terrorists we are fighting all over the world. Who is is that are killing and enabling the killing of so many of us and our children?

I hope I can help these students in some way. They ask us to march with them on March 24. I will be marching, for sure. Maria dug out the old pellet gun we found in our basement when she moved in, and she is crocheting it, wrapping a baby blanket around it, a poignant statement of  support from a very feeling artist.

I know where I am in life, I know that my generation has failed our children in too many ways to count. I know I am not likely to see the end of this struggle. I know I was silent even as I watched in horror.

Failing to protect out chilren from this kind of wanton and continuing murder will stain us throughout all of history.  This is not the first slaughter, this has been happening now for years, and the toll just mounts almost daily.

All I can do is support the young as they take responsibility for their lives away from the people who have failed to honor their duty and their promises.

i love the idea of calling out BS, because BS is just what it is when governors and Presidents and congressmen say wait, it is too soon, it isn't about guns, pray and mourn and move along.

Be children, they say, and stop bothering us, go back to you Snapchat and Instagram and Sound Cloud.

This is not a conflict of freedom or politics, but of money and morality. The Florida Senator who said yesterday that the issue of gun control and school massacres is too complex for congress, received $31.1 million dollars from the National Rifle Association. Our President, who has sworn eternal fealty to the National Rifle Association, has  received more than $30 million for his presidential campaign.

The children of Parkland have promised to pin a badge of shame on political leaders who take money to tolerate the murder of innocent children in their classrooms. They are going to be plenty busy. Money is the poisoned candy of democracy, it threatens all of us and kills our children.

I am sorry to say that is the heart of it.

BS is the fuel that has created this most awful kind of terrorism – as bad as ISIS might concoct, and calling out BS may be the most powerful weapon to stop it. Those children on TV where there, I wasn't, they saw their friends pray and cry and bleed and die. They have more credibility than any dozen members of Congress.

The children of Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school have launched their crusade, and they are articulate and media savvy. If Black Lives Matter, and Blue Lives Matter, and all lives matter – and they do – then surely the lives our children matter.

Make up your own mind, of course, I'm in in any way they want, knowing full well this is their struggle, their future, their lives. The young, not the meek, inherit the earth, and it is now their glorious turn to try to make a better world and fight for their lives.

I plead guilty to waiting out time. Here is an opportunity to do good and salvage  hope. The beauty of collaboration between older and younger generations is that we combine strength with wisdom.

Together, we can do anything, we are more powerful than anything. Deep under our feet, wrote Isaac Marion, the Earth holds its molten breath, while the bones of countless generations and the souls of the martyrs watch us and wait.

The kids are right. It is time. It is past time.

Posted in General | Post a Comment