Tag Archives: art

Everything is in the Shape of a Bird, a Fish or a Woman


Everything is in the Shape of a Bird, a Fish or a Woman

Look how they frown in the old photograph:
my grandmother, her sister,
her two daughters and her granddaughter.   
All of the women are very stern.
Grandma looks out of her element,
her eyes shielded against the sun.

In the yellowing photo,
“Taken at homestead” written on the back,
They stand, stark house behind them.
From the porch overhang, a sparse vine hangs,
but on the hidden tendril of the vine,
in the dead tan prairie that surrounds the scene,
in the summer grass bent low, I imagine birds.

It is a drying photo—brittle, cracked,
of three generations of prairie women.
Although none there knew it,
a waterhole is in their near future,
and in this stock pond that my dad would someday dig,
would swim perch and crappies,
sunfish, northern pike.

And although none there will ever see it,
in my house, everything is in the shape of a bird, a fish or a woman.
On the wall hangs an earthy goddess–
stolid and substantial. 
Birds perch on her shoulder, arm and knee.
On the hearth, a crow formed out of chicken wire.

A soapstone fish swims the window ledge
beside that aging photograph
and on another window ledge
 are two ancient terra cotta figurines.
The small one kneels in her kimono, playing pipes.
The large one stands wide-hipped
with arms narrowing to points
above the elbow.

In my studio,
a still-damp terra cotta figure
holds a fat plum.
On drying canvasses,
Women recline in their vulnerable states–
layers of wet flesh tones, yellows, purplish reds.

The house in the photograph
has been long-felled by rot and fire and rust.
All of the people except the youngest are dead.
Yet still in the grass, the meadowlark.
and in the muddy pond the minnow.

In the glass of the photo frame, I see my own reflection–
thinning lips pulled into one straight line.
around me is their house, their sky, their prairie grass.
In the glass, my face
turns into the face of my grandmother.
I flinch but do not falter.
I look deeper.
Reflected in one eye, a perched bird.
in the other eye, a swimming fish.

for dVerse Poets Open Links

(To enlarge all photos, click on first photo and arrows.)


Memory Games

Memory Games

Woke up very early today—around six—and decided to stay up since yesterday Jesus had said they’d come earlier next time to beat the midday sun and also because the rainy season is coming on fast this year and they need to finish painting the murals around the outside of my studio within the week. I thought I’d get my blog written, the animals fed and maybe make them a special breakfast instead of the usual cookies or cake or chocolates that I serve with their morning coffee. (I make Jesus and Eduardo, not the animals, morning coffee with sweet treats. Ha! Thanks to Dolly and Irene for setting me straight on my faux pas.) So, all my tasks finished, I brewed a pot of coffee and started preparations for molletes–one way to use all those beans I cooked earlier this week that seem not to be vanishing at a rapid-enough rate in spite of the fact I’ve had them for every meal since. So, I located the beans in the fridge, sliced a bolillo (small fresh bread loaf) buttered one side of each of the pieces of bread and lay half of the pieces butter-side down on the grill, then layered manchego cheese, beans and manchego cheese before topping them each off with another slice of bolillo, butter side up. When they got here, I would grill both sides for an extra little treat. Half molette, half grilled cheese sandwich, it would be an Americanized version of a Mexican favorite.

Putting the grill on the unlit stovetop, I covered the molletes with a cloth, took my meds, instructed Echo to set my timer for a half hour when I would take the rest of my meds and went to check on my blog. Hmm. 9:15. It seemed as though if they were coming early, they should have been here by now, as their usual time of arrival was 10. It was then that I thought to look not only at the time but the day of the week. Sunday!!!

A full pot of brewed coffee and a grill full of potential molletes–and I a person who had done a smoothie for breakfast for over 30 years and who had to give up coffee 24 years ago! I guess there is always a valid excuse for breaking routine, so in an hour, after I’ve waited to take my second round of meds and waited the prescribed half hour, I will be dining on molletes and real coffee. I’ll have my smoothie for dinner and drink extra water to ward off the bad leg and arm cramps I get when I drink caffeine. The world will not end if I break a few of my own rules.

Click on photos to enlarge and read captions.

And Owl Moved to Some Other Tree

I’ve been trying to find a place for this hardwood carving of my husband’s for 19 years! It just didn’t go in the doggie domain. It needed its own space. A couple of months ago, I went over the dark wood with a white wash, then painted and wiped or sanded off the claws, eyes and letters. I wanted it to look weathered and friendlier than the rich dark wood had looked. Then it sat in my studio. A month later, I drilled and screwed in screws and wire on the back to hang it from. But where to hang it? The pistachio tree next to my hammock already had a Soleri bell and a little painting of a prehispanic figure in the knothole. (Thanks, Jesus Lopez Vega.) Then as I was walking up to the house, I pulled at the trunk of one of the really tall palms and the wood just gave way in my hands. I peeled off a few of the leaf shafts still clinging to the tree and voila! A space just right for the carving. Today I found a big nail and hung it, sorta tucking it in to the frond shafts. Perfect. With the color, it sorta blends into the tree, but as you get closer, you can read the message, “And Owl Moved to Some Other Tree.” R.I.P. Bob. I hope you are watching.

Click on photos to enlarge and read captions.



For Sunday Trees 445

At Home in the Studio

Click on photos to enlarge.

This forced isolation has given me incentive to spend days in the studio. An artist challenge where we each contributed items to use in a collage resulted in many items left over so once I had completed my main piece, which you may view HERE, I decided to try to make more pieces from leftovers. The four wreaths are made out of 4 inch rings. We have no idea what they were for. I added the wrappings and embellishments. I then decided to make something of the large plastic straws I had contributed as well as the plastic discs with holes in the middle. I cut up and fringed the straws, then stacked them and pushed the bottom into a stack of the disks. Voilá–a cactus? bromeliad? not sure.

For the Home Photo Challenge.

The News

IMG_7460My friends Jesus and Jesus Eduardo who are spending their isolation time by helping to make my house more beautiful. Project still in process.

The News

I swore I would not write about our narcissistic president
or any other White House or Washington D. C. resident.
I’d avoid mention of the Dow and boycott themes ubiquitous,
stuffing down objections to tweets famously obliquitous.
I thought it was a piece of cake I’d slice off with a knife
to avoid this elephant that dominates my life,
but then the daily prompts came in and blew my plans away.
Could it be more obvious what they want me to say???
And so here is another diatribe against the present
truths that dominate our lives and make them less than pleasant.
To compensate I’d like to try to give an antidote,
so go down to the link below and share an anecdote
of something someone’s done that’s helped to make your life worth living.
Something non-self-serving that was heartfelt, loving, giving.
The world is not made up of only villains in the news.
News is only life and we can live it as we choose. 

Go HERE and tell us about something wonderful someone has done for you or those around you in this time of forced isolation. And while you are there, see the good news others have shared.

Prompt words today are cake, boycott, knife, astray and president. See? They made me do it!!!!


Jesus painting door jpg

Yes, we are keeping our distance. They are outside. I am inside. They live in the same house, so no problem with their being in close contact.

Wooden Heart

Photos will enlarge if you click on them.

Wooden Heart

We often wash our minds clean here on memory lane,
so what was a dark portrait is illumined once again.

Daily random memories wash up on the shore

while sadder associations stand waiting by the door.

I do not choose remembering the dark spots in our past.

It is the brighter moments that I prefer to last.

The heart I formed from copper, the heart you carved of wood.

All the broken contracts healed by all the good.

Love stories come in fits and starts and so it was with ours—
we must choose our final endings by our selective powers

to decide what we will sift from memory’s fine sand,

and though the bitter moments haven’t been fully banned,

I daily choose the moments that I will remember—

that March day when our love was young, not your final September.


When I met Bob, he was teaching art in Canyon Country, California. One day he brought me this pouch necklace he had made of leather in class. Inside was a wooden heart with his initial on one side and my initial on the other. Yes. I had to marry the man. Later, with his encouragement, I became a metalsmith and formed this heart out of copper for him. The pouch now also contains a lock of his hair, a lock of mine, a miniature bar of chocolate–his favorite food on earth–and a tiny dinosaur carved by one of his small sons in the studio where he worked with his dad. When I admired it, he gave it to me, just as Bob gave to me the family he brought with him when we married.



Prompts today are memory lane, daily, dark, portrait and wash.

Artists as Hoarders

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Fascinating! Click on the following link to see Mirka Knaster’s fascinating story, photos and videos on the topic:http://exploringtheheartofit.weebly.com/blog/artists-as-hoarders?fbclid=IwAR3Cr7Exy9zHXYs4fGVmoGMYVj4A7UqJhzGSzKJw1FpzvNaDtqpkrvYQf9c

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As an old man, he grew his hair long
and wore it unsecured, flowing white over his shoulders,
hiking it back as he walked with one sure toss of the head.
Few except himself would have judged him anything but superior.
His art, original and finely-crafted, showed him as the rogue he was,
yet he pored over art books piled around his chair—
large books rich in imagery and heavy to lift—
a laborious chore to plow through
page by page for anyone except him,
looking for himself in the pages, perhaps,
or looking for part of what he would become.

She thought he thought too much,
looking for answers in books
instead of in himself.
Religion, philosophy, art—
he searched for solutions
in Swedenborg and Picasso.
Compared his poetry to Sarton, Frost and Whitman
while others compared their art, their words to him.

Every piece he completed, he saw himself in as he created it,
but once done, it was as though he’d lost a part of himself in it
and so he started the search again in metal and wood and stone
larger and heavier each time, risking everything
to build himself ever higher.
Seven feet, then twelve, then eighteen feet—
stretching himself to the heaven
that he sought, also, through books.
Searching for what to be.

Wood, stone, metal, clay, glass, paper, words.
None quite solved the puzzle of himself.
Books on the shelf he read again and again
never had all of the answers.
He went as deep into himself as he could go.
Digging for the words he mined
from the parts of himself he most feared,
he often came up empty-handed,
as though he could not bear to see
all of the truth already revealed
in the pure instinctual lines of his sculpture
and those few fine poems he got out of the way of.

A virile man, he worked his angst out
in the shape of children—ten of them
with three different women—going through women
as he went through plasticine or wood or stone,
leaving crumbled remnants to reconstruct themselves
afterwards, as he built poetry out of their mutual pain.
He moved through the world
as most beautiful things do—unaware of his swath.

I rose from his rubble, missing him but remembering
all he taught. The scrape and cut and vibration of a fine machine,
the shaping with hands, the dip of the mold and deckle,
the power of a 20-ton press, the fine hiss of a torch.
Showing me how to get the beauty out of myself,
he formed that confidence within me that he lacked in himself.
Looking in books for what he already had,
looking in the faces of women for love
he never quite believed in,
he never fully realized that it did exist,

even during his worst rages,
right here in the heart
of one who so long afterwards
to sculpt his essence
through these words.


(Click on photos to enlarge.)

Here is also a write-up and photo shoot that a gallery owner did of our home and studio during the Santa Cruz Open Studio Tours a few years before we closed down our house and studio to I move to Mexico: http://www.wmgallery.com/cruz/brown.html

And here is another blog I did on him and his art: https://judydykstrabrown.com/tag/bobs-sculpture/

Prompt words today were hike, write, original and superior.

Paper Art

Karen at Momshieb published a photo of this wonderful cookbook she found in a second hand shop that was made up of a number of pamphlets bound together.  It reminded me of this artwork made in Bali out of rolled magazine pages that I saw in a gallery on Prince Edward Island. Wanted to share it with her and the easiest way was to share it with everyone on my blog. After viewing the photos below, click on the red hyperlink above to see her cookbook.