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Happy 3rd Birthday, red Ravine!, Minneapolis, Minnesota, April 7th 2010, doodle © 2010 by Lizzie Bee. All rights reserved.


It was November 2006 when ybonesy and I started planning and writing for red Ravine, fruit from a seed planted in Taos, New Mexico at a writing workshop with Natalie Goldberg. In April 2008, red Ravine celebrated her 1st birthday with the post A Year Of Living Dangerously. When I saw that ybonesy and I were approaching our 3rd birthday, I went back and read some of the comments from 2 years ago. One of the most fun, from Sam, about red Ravine’s Zodiac sign (Aries) sparked a whole conversation:


QM, I looked up a make-shift chart for red Ravine. I went back to the April 7th post, and didn’t see a timestamp, so I used 9am, with San Francisco (WordPress) as the birthplace. That put the Moon in Sagittarius, Mars and Mercury in Pisces, and Venus in Taurus.

But I’m betting that you and YB have more accurate data. You should swing by Cafe Astrology for a free natal chart, AND you can get free compatibility readings while you’re there, too. Then, let us all in on the results.

In astronomy, the zodiac (Greek: ζῳδιακός) is the ring of constellations that lines the ecliptic, the apparent path of the Sun across the sky over the course of the year. The Moon and planets lie within the ecliptic, and are also part of the constellations of the zodiac. In astrology, the zodiac denotes those signs that divide the ecliptic into twelve equal zones of celestial longitude.

When I was in high school, I belonged to a Tri-Hi-Y named The Zodiacs. My Sun is in Cancer, with Taurus Moon and Taurus rising. My ruling planet is the Moon. ybonesy and I haven’t done compatibility readings, but after 3 1/2 years of publishing red Ravine, I’d say our Gemini/Cancer combination seems to be working.

I thought it might be fun to take this opportunity to poll our readers (as ybonesy mentioned in the comment thread on the 2008 post) and see what signs they are. ybonesy thinks we have a high percentage of Gemini readers on red Ravine. But I’m not so sure. What sign are you?





In Gratitude: Here’s to another year of red Ravine. With much appreciation to our readers and guests. You keep the community energy flowing, and help us keep going. Special thanks to ybonesy, my blog partner, an inspiration. And to Liz, my partner in life (who also created the doodle in this piece). I could never have kept going on this project without the two of you.

-posted on red Ravine, in celebration of her 3rd Birthday & Blogiversary, Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

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My favorite thing to do in elementary school was Art. Even when I had pink eye in second grade, and my mom sent me to school because she preferred possibly infecting my entire class to having me around for the day, and the teacher set up two long tables like the ones in the cafeteria, and I sat all alone making my collage at one table while the rest of the class crowded around the other table, I still loved Art!

I learned something from that pink eye experience, which is, making Art is a solitary thing. Even when you’re surrounded by other people making Art, you’re doing your own thing while they’re doing their own things. Which is why I love making Art with other people. You can work separately yet together. You can shoot the shit, listen to music, or gossip. Maybe it’s not so great to make Art with others all the time, like when you’re serious about producing, but working alongside others is Viagra for the creative process. Ideas! Feedback! Fun! It’s like being a kid again.

One Sunday in October I hosted a gathering of a dozen women at my place. They brought fixings for a quick and easy lunch, plus they came with unlimited enthusiasm for doing something completely new.

Ours was a resin playdate. Why resin? I’ve recently begun attending a resin night once a month with my sister and a group of her friends. Resin is so magical and fun that I wanted to turn around and share what I knew with my friends. A word of caution, however: Resin can be a messy and potentially harmful substance. Resin playdates are do-able as long as someone in the group knows what they’re doing and can assist during the process.

While resin may not be the best first playdate to host, there are plenty of creative activities that you could bring your friends together to do. This post is intended to offer ideas as to what some of those activities are and how to pull together the gathering so that everyone has fun. And, if readers are interested, I can follow this up with a later post specifically on hosting a resin playdate.


Just Play


If you’ve had a child in the past 20 years, you know exactly how playdates work. You call another parent, set up a time and place, drop your kids off or stick around and talk to the adults while the kids play, and for however long the playdate lasts, you forget about all your worries. Marvelous things, playdates. They’re not like birthday parties, where surely someone’s going to cry over not getting a gift or winning the prizes.

And so it goes with Art. Often I hear people say:

“I’m not artistic.”
“I don’t have a creative bone in my body.”
“I’m amazed by people who have artistic talent. I certainly don’t have any.”


With playdates, there’s no such thing as talent. It’s not a class nor a workshop. No one’s paying money (except maybe $5 or $10 to cover supplies) and expecting to get something out of it. It’s-just-play.


Don’t Eat the Glue


When you get people together, you gotta eat. It’s what you do. But when you get people together to play with Art, you gotta keep the Eating and the Art separate.

Come up with a simple menu—say, nachos—and ask folks to sign up for the different ingredients: shredded cheese, chopped onions, chile con queso, lettuce, tomatoes, chips. Our friend Linda, who hosts the monthly resin night, does it best. Her menus are easy yet coordinated. One night it’s Frito Pie. Another night, potato-leek soup and salad. Next month: tamales, posole, and taquitos. It’s served buffet-style, and if the weather’s nice, we eat on the patio. After all, we’ve taken up most of the table space for our art.

Once you’re done eating (and we always eat fast, because we want to get to the playing) clear the dishes, and you’re ready.


K.I.S.S.


Pick something you know how to do yourself. Or pick something you’ve always wanted to learn. You don’t have to be expert. There are many simple yet satisfying activities. Here are a few ideas:

  • Collage: Tell your friends to bring a bunch of old magazines, scrapbook papers, doodles or watercolor dabblings that they don’t mind cutting up. It can be cheap picture books bought at garage sales, construction paper, photos that aren’t valuable. Provide a set of color markers, inks and rubber stamps, glue, and cardboard for making the collages. (TIP: ask your friends to bring scissors from home.)
  • Paper products: Buy blank note cards and envelopes, a roll of white butcher paper for making homemade gift wrap, manila folders cut into gift tags. Carve shapes into Russet potatoes or sponges for stamping onto your cards and paper. Use the same basic materials as for collage. Walk away with enough items to hold you over through the holidays. Or swap with some of the others so you each go home with a wide variety.
  • Decorate journals: Ask everyone to bring a composition book, and then do collage, stamping, and doodling or painting in those.
  • Color mandalas.
  • Decoupage something: My daughters taught me this—Mod Podge goes on white and sticky, but it dries clear and not sticky. All you have to do is glue images to, say, a small plain cardboard box like the kind you can pick up at a craft store. Once you have all the images and marker or paint decoration you want on the box, brush the entire thing in Mod Podge. Let the glue dry, brush it again. Let it dry and you’re done.
  • The list is endless. You can work with recycled materials, beads, clay, Shrinky-Dinks, paper mache. Have you seen those beads that are rolled from magazine paper? Amazing.



Space Matters


Obviously, the amount of space you need depends on what you do, but whatever you do, make sure there’s plenty of space for each person to work. And protect the space by laying down plastic tablecloths or newspapers. If you’re using exacto knives, make sure people have surfaces to cut on.

I like the idea of putting the common supplies at one table so that everyone can access them. For example, if you’re doing collage, keep together all the paper materials.

Also, lighting is important. You may need to move lights from other parts of the house to sufficiently light up all the workspace. It doesn’t hurt to also ask your friends to bring desk lights if they have them.


Epilogue


This is basic stuff. I wouldn’t bother creating a post out of it if I didn’t know just how great it is to make Art with others.

When I hosted that resin playdate in October, at one point I went outside for something. I walked back into the house and the place was still. Everyone had heads down, working in quiet concentration. Some folks talked in low tones, and k.d. lang sang hymns on the stereo, but there was a calm energy in the room. I knew then that we were truly playing. Every one of us was a kid again.






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By Buzz
for Rich, September 23, 2009








Hoops



Pass the ball Kansas
bend it low
like wind
hoops wheat

twin soles thrash old grain
splash window see the floor
cold ash burns with pain
twist sap from maple core

pour-sugar-brown syrup down
cough up crack in tree
shinny-slick draw-and-kick
school those milk-fed feet

don’t bubbachuck that shot
jack-brick hoes shuck corn
shoot silk breeze smooth round knees
rim-blown dust bowl storm

plain people use the back-door
farmers sense the rain
screen spills from its spline
but still the spine remains

drive faded Chevy off the blocks
pick-and-roll crash paint
sweat cuts thick in thin socks
gnashed gears slash years change lanes

lace sneaks between hard lumber
post sets wing on high
stolen prayer banks on glass
no free throws paid in life

juke the movie cowboy
look inside for dimes
slip time’s string past tin ring
thread the needle through the pine

score your game in limestone
spin leather seam from rock
drop it soft as chalk Jayhawk
echoes dribble out our clock




Chevrolet, photo © 2009 by Linda Lupowitz. All
rights reserved.




Shoes Homework, drawing © 2009 by Max Lupowitz.
All rights reserved.





Buzz is a healer, husband, father, and friend, etching ethers in New Mexico’s Rio Grande Valley since 1979. He wrote this poem in the fall of 2009, as a birthday gift to his good friend and fellow basketball player Rich Jamison. Buzz had this to say about the poem: Rich asked me to write a poem for his birthday. The poem is about basketball, which we both share a love for. It’s about the pass, not the shot. While the shot carries the glory, the pass, or the assist (“dime”) gives the game its rhythm. So it’s also a metaphor for healing, where the practitioner assists, steps back in the shadows, and allows life to flow.

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poppy-dog

Poppy, brick found in our flower bed, April 2009,
photo © 2009 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.




From a comment this morning, QM writes:

I am heading over to two of our friends’ house to be there when they put their cat Kaia down. She’s been under the weather for a few months. And after the last trip to the vet last week, they have made the hard decision that it’s time. Kaia, bless her heart, is just tired. They think she may have cancer and she can’t be operated on because she’s too frail and has a weak heart.

We stopped by to visit them last night and spend a little time with Kaia. They got her as a kitten (her sister was Emigre, there were two of them) in about 1992 so I think that makes her about 17 years old. Send prayers this morning as it’s the last day that Kaia will roam the Earth in bodily form. Something about the unconditional love that pets give to humans always makes it so sad to let them go.



I only knew Kaia from QM’s writing; QM and Liz often cared for the cat when their friends were out of town. And QM and Liz not too long ago had to contemplate similar decisions when their cat Chaco became seriously ill. Fortunately, Chaco had a near-miraculous recovery.

Jim and I had to put our dog Roger down after he got cancer and the tumors affected his breathing. A good friend who happens to be a vet came and euthanized Roger out in the grass one mild fall morning while Jim and I held him. Later, Jim said he would never go through that heartache again, and when Rudy died not long after, we were able to let him die naturally with all four of us surrounding him. (I incorporated that experience into a short story, which I included in a blog post in 2007, when QM’s Mr. Stripeypants got seriously ill. Fortunately, Pants also recovered.)

It’s rare, I think, that natural causes finally take a pet’s life. Often the sufferring becomes unbearable, and the humane thing to do is to help move them from the physical world onto the other side.

QM and Liz are by their nature compassionate and emphathetic people. That’s why, I’m certain, they were asked to be with their friends while they put Kaia to sleep.

But not everyone knows how to deal with the death of a friend’s pet. I know that even having gone through my own pets’ deaths, I can find myself at a loss for the right words or deeds that might help ease the pain.



Poppy, detail of the grave marker (colorized), image ©  2009 by ybonesy, all rights reservedPoppy, detail of the grave marker (colorized), image ©  2009 by ybonesy, all rights reservedPoppy, detail of the grave marker (colorized), image ©  2009 by ybonesy, all rights reserved




Larry Kaufman, a pet loss counselor, offers this advice to people who want to support those who are mourning the loss of a pet:

  • Take the distressing experience of the mourner seriously. Listen and speak with empathy, understanding, support, sensitivity, and compassion.
  • Ask the mourner about the circumstances of the pet’s death.
  • Encourage the mourner to talk about the pet, to tell stories of the pet’s life in the family. 
  • Don’t ask if the mourner is planning to get another pet or suggest where such a pet might be bought.
  • Avoid the use of clichés such as telling the mourner that time heals all wounds, or reassuring them that they will soon “get over it.”
  • Send a condolence card specifically made for pet loss.
  • Remember dates that are important to the bereaved pet owner, like the date of the pet’s death. Consider sending a follow-up note, e-mail, or card, or making a telephone in remembrance of the day.
  • Send a donation in honor of the deceased pet to an animal-related organization (such as a humane society, animal shelter, or one devoted to improving the health of animals through medical research).
  • After a few weeks or months, follow up by asking how the bereaved individual is doing. (Use the pet’s name and correct gender.)
  • Don’t assume that you know how the mourner might be feeling and reacting. The mourning process can be multi-layered and complex. Everyone is unique, with her/his own needs and preferences. Good judgment is essential in dealing with people in such a vulnerable state.



Just as my prayers go to Kaia, my thoughts go out to you, QM and Liz. You are special people and the dearest of friends.

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