Painter of the mystical, otherworldly, sensual, and whimsical.

I'm a painter living and working in the beautiful finger-lakes region of Western New York State. I am also an avid gardener and nature lover, so the lush green rolling hills, gentle streams, and majestic lakes that surround my home in this world often appear in the fantasy worlds of my paintings.

Many of the pieces draw inspiration from folk tales, myths and legends. These "teaching tales" were what drew us together around our hearth-fires for centuries, and I believe those stories still carry power.

I enjoy looking at these ancient tales, through my eyes, and painting what I see, no matter if it's beautiful or disturbing. But what's more fun is when others can see those same paintings and find something within of value that speaks to their soul directly. I do not plan for this, but am honored when it happens, and, oh, yes, do love hearing about it every time that it happens. It reminds me that maybe we are not so different after all.

Glad to meet you, and please enjoy the paintings!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Kittens, and their use in Repelling the Devil

A kitten is licking my face.

My eyes aren't open yet, but I know it's morning. I also know it's going to be a bad brain day. Hold perfectly still, don't move, don't twitch, wake up slowly, take stock of every sensation. My mind is screaming, but, apart from a snoring husband, the giant cat sleeping between us, and the tiny face-licker, nobody else is here... nothing threatening, anyway...  It's safe to move. Move slowly.

I stretch. Giant sleeping cat stretches, too, and snuggles further into me. Does he know it's a bad brain day? Can he feel, maybe smell, the chemicals that nature already released inside my skull? Is that why he's here? Not important right now. Open your eyes, dammit. Breathe deeply. You're stronger than your biochemistry. Ask yourself, “What do I have to do today?”

Not fail. Not completely fail. At Life.

The devil pulls the chair out from my drawing table and sits down. He looks pretty comfortable.

“Just here to help,” he says “You're planning out your day, and that's being productive, healthy and functional. My friend, you're trying to take control of that brain before it takes a hold of you. So, what would you say 'not fail' includes?”

Rectify all of my past wrongs, accomplish everything today that I need to accomplish, and anticipate everything that could go wrong in the future so that nothing ever will. Today. By the end of today. Yes, that's what the world would expect.

The Devil slowly lights a cigarette. “What if you fail at this, too?”

My brain shudders like it's been hit by a blast~wave, and I close my eyes. Of course I'll fail at this... but my mind is on fire, and there is no sense of reason. All I know is that I have to fix everything in the world, today, right now, and, dammit, it's just not possible.

I never want to open my eyes again.

I keep my eyes closed, but it's too late. The other fuzzballs have seen movement. They know they can play with me, and, with feline-single-mindedness, attack my face in licking and purring. Do they know it's a bad brain day? Could they tell before I opened my eyes, like I could?

They're still licking my face. I can't concentrate on anything else. This is perfect, since the Devil hates to be ignored. (Pride...) Focus on the kittens, you can do this. Nothing else really matters right now. This is pure joy. Know that even if you feel that you've failed everybody else in the entire world, you saved the lives of each of these tiny fuzzballs, and watched them grow into beautiful young cats who see you as the source of all love and safety in the world.

You. Yes, you, right now.

Gently displacing kittens, I sat up and put my feet on the floor. Lying in the muddle of the open doorway into the hall was my copy of  the Power of Now by Eckhardt Tolle.

I looked at the kittens, now jumping off of the bed and racing each other to the door. They're known for moving stuff, but it's usually hair-ties and favorite toys, not books. Besides, kittens can't read. Pure coincidence. Coinci-Dance? Synchronicity? Does it matter, if the message is good? Take what works, throw the rest out.

The Power of Now is a favorite book, but maybe I need to remind myself of the book's message; maybe read it again. I can't atone for everything in the past, nor can I possibly anticipate everything in the future. I can not possibly accomplish everything that I would, ideally, want to accomplish, in one day. I can only handle one day, and that's today, one moment at a time. I can handle Now, and, right now, that's going downstairs and making sure these little creatures have everything they need.

I'm the source of all love and safety in the world, remember? I've never failed them. They believe.

This is the power of unconditional love. While I may never completely understand the science behind it, a pile of kittens is one of the best tools in my toolbox for fighting a bad brain. A wise, kind woman told me once, “If God is love, animals are angels.”

Yes, I just repelled the Devil with the power of kittens... The anxiety and self-loathing that pulls us away from the unconditional love in the heart of the universe was sent away because, right here, right now, none of that matters. A stupid idea, if it works, isn't stupid. Holy water? I suppose, from a certain point of view, all life is mostly water. The most sacred holy water is the blood flowing through a beating heart that lives because of you and loves you completely. Purr on, little brothers and sisters. Lick my face every morning for the rest of your life. You're a gift from something greater than myself.

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