Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Doors of Perception

 “There are things known and things unknown and in between are the doors of perception."
                                                                                               ~ Ray Manzarek of the Doors, 1967

Art and religion, carnivals and saturnalia, dancing and listening to oratory—all these have served, in H. G. Wells’s phrase, as Doors in the Wall. And for private, for everyday use there have always been chemical intoxicants.
                                                                                      Aldous Huxley, The Doors of Perception, 1954

Doors of Perception

ingredients: vintage book covers, vintage book page, vintage used envelope, image transfers, acetate, acrylic ink, watercolor pencils, metallic and nonmetallic artist pens, mica, leaf, found objects, milagros, stitching, glass beads, brads, beads, electrical resisters, vintage key

If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite. 
For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.
                                                                  ~ William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, 1790


Monday, August 5, 2013

A Long Goodbye

My yard was once an ash grove, full of majestic, mature trees that graced us with their beauty and cool shade.

The largest one, a huge old tree next to the deck in the back yard, was my favorite.

Because of it, the deck was shaded almost the entire day. I used to work out here for hours on end, making sculptures from grapevines and copper.

For the dogs, it made a lovely, cool place to rest up after a strenuous game of  "keep-away-fetch"...

 and for the birds, a perfect spot for their favorite cafe.

But last summer, we noticed the ash trees were not doing well, and this spring they looked even worse. The tree dude (I think the proper term is arborist?) confirmed my worst fears: it was emerald ash borer, and the trees were already beyond help. In case you're not familiar with this problem, here's a short explanation from Wikipedia: "Agrilus planipennis, is a green beetle native to Asia and Eastern Russia. Outside its native region, the emerald ash borer is an invasive species, and Emerald ash borer infestation is highly destructive to ash trees in its introduced range... larvas' bore holes essentially disrupt the flow of nutrients as they rise up the trunk from the roots to the crown via the phloem (the tree's vascular structures) just under the bark. This eventually results in the death of the tree. This can take place over a number of years, and the first noticeable sign is usually some die back in the crown of the tree. The tree will usually be dead by the following year or soon after. In areas where the insect is invasive and has no natural predators, it can and usually does have a devastating effect on the local ash tree population." My trees would have to be cut down, and for the ones near the house, the sooner the better.

I was very upset.  In fact, the lush forest-like yard was one of the primary factors in my decision to buy the house 25 years ago, and I had come to regard the trees as dear friends. People just didn't seem to get it, though. One person suggested that I should, "grow up and get over it", but it's taking longer than I thought it would. I'm working on it.

When I was working on my BFA, we had to keep sketchbooks for virtually every class. Here's a sketch I drew of my favorite tree- well, part of it- the whole drawing wouldn't fit on the scanner.

After I'd finished sketching it, my daughter, who was then about 5, pointed at the tree and said, "Mommy, you forgot something."  I hadn't included the swing in my drawing, and it was very important to her. When my children were too small to get on by themselves, I used to sit on the swing with one of them facing me on my lap, put my arm around them, and swing them as high as I dared. So I added the swing, to please my daughter, and because it reminded me of the happiness I'd felt then.

We had the 3 ash trees nearest the house cut down, and sadly, this is that tree in its current condition. The trunk is 40 inches in diameter- too big to fit through the portable saw mill we hired to cut the trunks into boards.

The yard is almost totally cleaned up now; a couple of weeks ago, the whole thing looked like this.

The saw mill was pretty amazing, though. Here, he's adjusting the log to make sure it's in the proper position.

Here, the blade is just clearing the end of the log.

And here's what our garage looks like right now.

I am learning to say goodbye; it's just going to take some time...