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By Marylin

Recently, my daughter, a friend and I were on our way to our Chiropractor, who lives and has his practice in a small town east of our homes in Cody, Wyoming. We arrange our appointments on the same morning, and enjoy our commute together. However, this particular morning was different. My daughter was the driver, and it was our first trip in her new car, “Crystal Blue,” a cute little car, so named because, as she drove it off the Dealer’s lot for the first time, the old tune “Crystal Blue Persuasion” was playing on the radio and Tracy took this as a sign to name her car, as it is a beautiful, bright blue with a sparkling undercoat that gives it a depth, like looking at fresh, unspoiled snow on the ground when the clouds have gone and the sun first shines on it.

There is nothing in between these two towns, threaded together by a two lane highway, taking infrequent travellers east and west across the high desert landscape. The land is mostly rough, sparse clumps of sage and some native grass, that in the fall of the year, is almost as brown as the rocky soil. There are a few small farms still in evidence, many already abandoned by the rugged homesteaders, who tired of waiting for the promise of success, touted by Buffalo Bill and his vision of an irrigated paradise. The only evidence of life we see that day is a herd of graceful antelope in the distance.

“I don’t understand why we’re not getting any heat,” Tracy commented. She had just returned from Billings the day before, having taken the car in for its first “check-up” (like a mother taking her new baby to the pediatrician after the first six weeks). She no sooner had spoken, when the car began shutting down…all the needles on all the gages dropping backwards, simultaneously! She pulled off the road onto the shoulder, got out of the car and opened the hood to a cloud of what was steam or smoke, hard to tell which. She came back to tell us that the cap was off of the radiator, but she found it, and stated that it would probably be best to let the car cool off before trying to start it.

Almost immediately, a van pulled off the road in front of us and a man got out and asked if he could help. Although he was headed east, as we were, he offered to drive us back to Cody. We were about 25 miles out of town, and I was amazed that this individual would take the time out of his work day to do such a kind deed! He did not act in a manner that suggested that this extra “jog” in his journey was even the slightest inconvenience to him, although we all knew that it must be.

He apologized that the interior of his vehicle was “kinda’ messy,” as he scrambled to move empty plastic juice bottles, spare gloves, maps, etc. from the seats. He was as cheerful as though he had planned a rescue of damsels in distress as part of his day’s routine. We kept thanking him profusely, and his only response could have come out of an old Western movie, as an “Aw’ shucks, ma’am, ‘twarn’t nuthin’. To quote the Bible, ‘The Lord loveth a cheerful giver’.”


Marylin did this 15-minute writing practice based on the post WRITING TOPIC – KINDNESS & POLITENESS

About writing, Marylin says: I guess I’m a “dabbler,” as far as writing goes. My first work was done for North Hollywood High’s weekly newspaper; reporting and editing; good training. I enjoy both non-fiction (mostly in essay form) and fiction; short stories, song lyrics, one billboard (it was a Prairie Public Radio contest). I’ve written some poems (still into rhyming) and even a play, as yet, not produced.

My Grandson, after graduating from the Kansas City Art Institute asked if we could collaborate on picture books for children. So far, we have completed two, and are looking for a publisher. While living in Simi Valley, from 1997-2000, I published five essays — all humorous, tongue-in-cheek — in a weekly column in the “Ventura Star Tribune.”

As an adult, I took a course in Journal Writing, in which we used Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down The Bones. Now, I am writing childhood memories. I decided to do this after realizing, in doing genealogy, that I longed to know how it felt to be living in a certain time and place, and wondered why my family moved from place to place. Simply listing dates and places does not satisfy anyone’s curiosity! 

I recently joined the Cody Writers, an informal group of women who enjoy writing and sharing what they write. We meet once a month. I introduced them to Goldberg’s “laws of Practice” at our last meeting. We all wrote like mad for ten minutes and then shared what we wrote. I know we’ll be doing it again!

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Remington's Studio. May 2007, photo © 2007 by Skywire. All rights reserved.

Remington’s Studio, Cody, Wyoming, May 2007, photo © 2007 by skywire. All rights reserved.


The photograph is of the 1890’s studio of the artist, sculptor, painter, and writer, Frederic Remington.  You can get a sense of how he liked to create while surrounding himself with found objects, paints, artifacts, and sculpture. Though based in New York, his studio was alive with the energy of the American West; the place and the people held great meaning to him.

Remington was also a writer. And along with producing more than 3,000 drawings and paintings, and 22 bronze sculptures – cast in editions, he wrote two novels – one of which was adapted to the stage – and over 100 magazine articles and stories.

Artist or writer? Many times, the two remain forever connected.

The writing topic this week:

  • Choose 1 object from Remington’s Studio
  • Start with a 15 minute writing practice on the object
  • Take an idea or paragraph from the practice, and write a short piece, 500 words or less

If you want something more complex, choose 3 of the objects and weave them into 1 practice. If you only get as far as the practice, that’s okay. You will have started. And the object you wrote about will have meaning to you, resting in your mind and body until you are ready to do something with it. Or maybe you never will. And it will simply have been an exercise in wild mind.

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Below are some facts about Remington that I didn’t know before researching this Writing Topic. It’s good to open to a writer or artist as a person, with a living, breathing past. A person who is much more than the historical image or soundbite, projected in our minds.

  • Remington went to Yale, majored in art, and played football, but did not graduate.
  • Later in his career, he experimented with the perception of color. He lightened his palette and placed his colors as they would be affected by light.
  • He failed as a sheep rancher and then as a saloon owner in Kansas.
  • Remington made his first visit West to Montana in 1881; many more trips would follow to New Mexico, Arizona, and elsewhere, west of the Rockies.
  • In the mid-1880s, after discovering there was a market for his drawings, he turned to magazine illustration full time. His images were of American Indians, cowboys and the West that he believed to be rapidly disappearing, if it was not already gone.
  • By 1887, he was sufficiently famous that another Easterner who loved the West, Theodore Roosevelt, hired him to do the illustrations for his book, Ranch Life and the Hunting Trail. Roosevelt became a good friend.
  • In 1891 he illustrated an edition of Longfellow’s “The Song of Hiawatha.” He also did the illustrations for his own first novel, Pony Traces, in 1895.
  • In 1898, Remington traveled to Cuba for the Spanish-American War as a journalist and illustrator. It was not a good experience, and the artist never got over the horror he saw. In “With the Fifth Corps,” his essay about his wartime experiences, he wrote of the Cuban campaign: “One beautiful boy was brought in by two tough, stringy, hairy old soldiers, his head hanging down behind. His shirt was off, and a big red spot shone brilliant against his marblelike skin.”
  • In 1900, a year-and-a-half after he returned from Cuba, Remington produced his first two night paintings, The Wolves Sniffed Along the Trail, But Came No Nearer and Pretty Mother of the Night White Otter Is No Longer a Boy, as illustrations for his second novel, The Way of an Indian, a brave’s coming-of-age story.
  • In 1908 one of the most prominent writers on art of that time observed in his comments on Remington’s very successful exhibition at Knoedler’s Gallery in New York City that “the mark of the illustrator disappeared and that of the painter took its place.”
  • Frederic Remington was 48 years old when he died December 26, 1909 from complications following an appendectomy.

                                                
-from the following articles:

– Insight on the News,  May 27, 2003  by Stephen Goode
Frederic Remington and the American Civil War: A Ghost Story
Frederic Remington Biography from the  Buffalo Bill Historical Society in Cody, Wyoming


If you want to know more about Remington, visit the websites; they are loaded with information. The studio reproduction can be found at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming. The Center is a combination of five different museums, including the Draper Museum of Natural History and the Plains Indian Museum.

Sunday, July 1st, 2007

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