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Muses & Margaritas

I was born to a father who was military, farm boy, pragmatic to the core, but who had a good sense of humour and an earthy sense of spiritualism - not that he would have called it that. He loved to fawn over a vegetable garden, and milk the cow, and raise beef for the family dinner table, and he knew a lot about gas and diesel engines, too. I inherited a lot of his pragmatism and humour (everyone’s humour is very personal I’ve found, and often cultural; so is mine). I think of my father a lot when I’m out in my studio because I inherited and use a lot of his tools in my work — the ones my brother didn’t yard sale. Today, when I was out in my metal studio, I was feeling in a bit of a funk, because my plasma cutter had “given up the ghost” as they say, and it appeared from online research and talking to local purveyors, that I was going to have to shell out at least a thousand bucks (plus 12% taxes and shipping) that I don’t have, to buy a new one (Read: pressing date of single woman opening show coming up in 4 weeks! OhMFG!) Needless to say, I felt as if my life was on the line. I had to do it. People were counting on me to show up! With major artworks! In four short weeks!

I couldn't think straight. So I went to the East Sooke Grocers and bought a package of Fudgey Cookies, made an Italian coffee, and sat down and ate 9 crunchy/creamy chocolatey cookies in a row without stopping. It was medicinal. And then I sat and prayed to the Muses to release me from this funk. I’m not sure what Muses are. They are not a mood. They are also not voices you hear if you have schizophrenia. But they are somewhere in between. Somewhere in the grey matter between my ears they “show up” as wisdom and insights, next movements, instructional inspirations. For me they may be about setting something aside until another time, or picking something up that I feel I’ve been avoiding, and moving forward with it. Today was the latter. In my work I often say that I “herd” projects forward. Multiple pieces are in various stages of progress at any one time. Some may sit for months unfinished. They are usually something I’ve picked up with a ‘small’ inspiration and they fill a gap. Some have more time invested and must be part of something larger to get to the point of completion. They are part of a series to be shown. They have a gallery that is wanting them. There is a date attached; a finish line to be crossed. When in mid-weld, the Muses “told me” to call the maker of one of the plasma cutters I had found that was in my price and needs range, I did just that. I long distanced the state of Washington and spoke with Chris at Razorweldcut for about 20 minutes, listening intently to his warpish New Zealand accent as he took me through all the reasons why I should buy his company's plasma cutter. I’m a huge sucker for an accent, so he had me at “single phase, low frequency”, but he just kept going for another 18 minutes and answered all my questions, too. Sold! Immediately I felt better for having made the decision. Mel from Princess Auto in Langley, said they could have it on my doorstep in 24 hours. (Getting anything from ‘the mainland’ in 24 hours is nothing short of miraculous so I was stoked!) I’d be up and cutting again by the weekend if all went well! Suddenly everything was falling into place. The bits and pieces of outstanding dilemmas that had been piling up for the last 3 months suddenly came into focus, when previously they had been nothing but a blur. How to approach getting “The Dragons Aunt’s” cloak to fit over the dress; how to paint the hearts in “Bleeding Heart”; much needed photographs of finished works that were all unfinished! Small things and large suddenly jumped to the fore, one by one. My Muses had shown up for me! By 5 pm my body was aching and I turned off the welder, went into the kitchen and put four chicken thighs and veggies on to roast, and made a margarita. (The Muses are fond of Margaritas.) My father would have been proud; though he would have had a dozen freshly dug radishes, and a gallon of the tonight’s separated milk and cream under his arm. And he’d be drinking whiskey.

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