Just like a hillbilly on the radio

Sol smiles2

My littlest rascal (fisheye view!)

Happy August, lovely peoples. This is such a wonderful month—it’s right smack in the middle of summer, contains my birthday and vacations and barbecues and weekend motorcycle rides into the vast Unknown, and boasts tons of sun, sun, sun. We like the sun here in Oregon. Obviously we don’t hold a monopoly on liking the sun, but on sunny days it seems like it, as we show up outside to worship it in droves. I like that Oregonians tend to venture out into the rain as well, with bare heads no less, not an umbrella in sight. Weather doesn’t stop us from venturing. We stalwart Pacific Northwesterners are a venturesome crew.

Sooo…. how is everyone? I won’t lie: for the past however-long I had not been doing too hot, dealing with the symptoms of perimenopause (this is the period before menopause hits) and the symptoms that occur as a result of the aforementioned symptoms. One of the effects of perimenopause is a very messed up sleep pattern, and man. Stumbling through the days, I would find myself thinking often of The Machinist, the movie wherein Christian Bale is living a tortured existence because he is absolutely unable to sleep. There’s no relief from sleeplessness, no escape whatsoever, no matter what you do to distract yourself. Your whole body feels it, and this affects your emotional state and mental state—in fact, the whole lower 48 gets it in the beezer.

Haha, “in the beezer”… I’ve been watching Our Gang comedies for a few weeks now, immersing myself wholly in their world. In addition to borrowing the collection of theatrical shorts from the library, I got a companion book that’s filled me in on all the salient details, from the days of the Silents to the horrible latter days when MGM took them over from Hal Roach Studios and dragged them into the ground. Farina, Mickey Daniels, Mary Ann, Wheezer, Stymie, Spanky, Alfalfa, Buckwheat… these little kids (and others) rocked the screen then and continue to now, all these years later. In the episode “Forgotten Babies,” in which three-year-old Spanky is blackmailed by the gang into watching all their baby brothers and sisters while they go fishing, he tries to quiet the babies by telling them a story about Tarzan. With wide-eyed enthusiasm and lots of hand gestures he tells them that in an encounter with a lion “Tarzan smacked that old lion on the beezer,” and “then the lion smacked Tarzan on the beezer.” This just makes me laugh. Spanky was an expressive and enthralling storyteller. My favorite Rascal by far, and the most self-possessed little kid I’ve ever seen. You can watch the episode below. It would make me so happy if you watched this. :)

spanky_mcfarland___wild_poses

Yep, I have to say that the Little Rascals have decidedly become a passion, and completely out of the blue. I used to watch them when I was a little girl, on Sunday mornings when I pretended to be sick so I could skip church, but I hadn’t given them much thought since then. Until I was at the library a month or so ago, trawling their used DVDs for sale. On impulse I snatched up a copy of a short compilation of their movies (I say “movies” when most of them were two reels long, equating to around 20 minutes all told); it was only two bucks and I thought, “Aw, what the heck. I have a grandkid now! He’ll get a kick out of them someday.” I had no idea what a raging wildfire they would ignite in my own heart. I’m not even joking. I have researched the best recordings and have a bunch of them on my Amazon wish list. My birthday is this coming week. Guess what I’m going to get?

I love these spontaneous passions that crop up out of nowhere and smack us on the beezer. We should talk about our off-the-wall passions more because then we might actually get to know each other. I get so tired of discussing politics and mortgages and the state of the world and ugh, other people. God, how incredibly BORING. Let’s talk about the stuff that makes our hearts beat a little faster, even if no one else can really contribute to the conversation. At least we’d learn something new, or maybe even spark old memories and make some new ones.

The Little Rascals have been little lights, getting me through the dark spots, and thankfully, the past few nights I’ve finally been able to get regular sleep. What a relief. I feel like myself again and even though I was working fairly steadily throughout the tortured days, now I can enter in to my art work with renewed vigor and purpose. I’m almost finished with my latest painting, am about to make the final touches on the frame for my previous painting, and have Jess on the task of making a very large canvas for my next painting! I’m on a roll.

I dream of a studio… Torie, who moved into our Spare Oom after her divorce three years ago, is ready to make a home for herself again and is looking for roommates. In the meantime, I dream… It’s hard working without a permanent space in which to leave things out. I sit on the floor when I paint and do papier mache because I need a large space and also, I just like the floor. I’m a floor person. So during the days the living room is awash in art supplies and snips of paper and dried paste and drop cloths and bags and bins and boxes of paint, markers, colored pencils, and colored tissue paper. At night, when Scott gets home, I push it all to one side so we have some breathing room to watch TV and also, because I need a break from it. Who wants their work—much as we might love it—staring them in the face 24-7? The dining area is not used for dining because it contains my work table (I have to do some things at the table) and art cabinet. I’m all spread out and the whole sitch is beginning to genuinely not work for me so much anymore and this tells me that a new day is soon to dawn. When we can’t take it anymore, whatever it is—we don’t. Torie’s feeling the same way so I know it won’t be long.

Whenever I start feeling sorry for myself I think about Seraphine Louis, a French artist (b. 1864–d.1942) who labored as a charwoman during the day and painted far into the night in her dark garret room by candlelight! Until she was discovered and sponsored by a German aristocrat, she was so poor she had to make most of her paint from plants and berries she gathered in  the countryside and steal whatever supplies she couldn’t make herself from the local shop. She died a raving lunatic—poor woman—but before this created some of the most beautiful paintings I’ve ever seen.

Searching through images of her work, I found it almost impossible to choose just one to show you.  Powerful and intricate work.

Searching the internet for her paintings, I found it almost impossible to choose just one to show you. Powerful and intricate work. I’m in awe.

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In other news! We’ll be going camping in a week or so with our entire family and this means I will get five whole days of baby-jiggling time! Whee-hee! Sol is coming camping, too. You’d think, at a mere two months old, it would be his first camping trip but NOO, you would be wrong! He went camping with his parents just last week. I love Jess and Lauren—they are both adventurers so Sol is going to have a high time of it in his life. And the nice thing for his Nanna (that’s me!!!) is that his parents also like alone time, which means plenty of babysitting ops. I get to jiggle him again this coming Sunday, all day long! He’s beginning to give us genuine smiles now too, and these little smiles always make us cry. Seriously, every one of us tears up when he smiles. It must be a natural reaction. We love our babies, don’t we? (Okay, not all of us do. Some of us suck. Ugh, I watch too many crime shows.)

Hey, on Tuesday, August 12th, I will be 50 years old! I love it! I’ve already gotten over the “Oh shit” feelings about reaching that age—I spent the decade of my 40s going through those—and am just poised to enjoy. I wish I could post a video of Molly Shannon, whose bold declaration “I’m Sally O’Malley and I’m fifty! Fifty years old!!” has filled me with delight for years now, but I can’t find a good one. Pooh. Thankfully we have a Best of Molly Shannon DVD so I can start my birthday morning off right.

And I like to KICK, and split, and KICK!!

And I like to KICK, and split, and KICK!!

Oh how I love her. I hope your summer is turning out swell! Love.

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