hat hot summer between Ira's visit en route from Tokyo to New York in July and the Blackout in September which framed the event, I encountered a bumblebee in the living end of the studio. The bee was circling EZ Meditation, centered as bees are wont to do, on plants where they intend to get drunk from nectar. I am reminded of the story of a bird trying to eat a grape painted in a writer's memory of a great Hellenic Painter.
I watched as the bee zeroed in through the hot colors to Orient Yellow, the cute name for Cadmium Yellow Deep. Occasionally he would stray into white or a cooler yellow or, in another direction, into Cadmium Orange, always turning back to the hottest yellow, expecting to find it blooming with pollen, I supposed. That bee explored that color over almost half the painting before giving up and flying out my window.
Shall I tell of bees on my Marguerites in LA; they checked daily how soon the plant would bloom. And how, by the time one bee had reached the center of the corolla it was crawling from the weight of pollen like a street drunk, oblivious to my 8mm camera lens magnifying him from an inch away.
Six years in L.A and not another memorable moment.
I can recognize a shadow on the wall beside my bed up under the ceiling. It is a familiar shape I locate hanging before a window across thirty feet of studio from my sleep platform under the ceiling. It is moving up down and around on the wall beside my bed, part of the shadowy edge of darkness around a pale wash of light. I wonder where such light is moving outside my window. Some study (by my lines) reveals it is from the buoy off Alki Point, the southern tip of the crescent of Seattle around Elliott Bay. The buoy moves around with the waves beneath it, the rhythm of the pale light on my white wall in a slow-mo shimmy to a silent lyric about the weather out there on Puget Sound.
Suddenly, one night, I see a glowing glyph in the dark of my nighttime mind. A powerfully familiar feeling comes over me, almost indescribable beyond the sense of well-being that traces back to childhood innocence before the habit of piled disappointments has overtaken gullibility, as when, from therapy, I remembered with my whole being, the love my grandmother had lavished on me. This glowing figure was the first I remember building on a morning I remember as the first daytime call we paid on someone besides a neighbor or family. The smell of oatmeal mush permeated all the air of a Spokane Victorian kitchen large as that of Gough Street which arises in my mind as a twin floor plan of the room with table and doors. We are visiting my mother's oldest friend from childhood. She has, among other children, a boy a year older than me, a lifelong, if infrequently met, friend, now of late. This is the first person my age I've met and throughout my childhood, represented in my mind by a glowing glyph (made of morning highlights on his face?) which would come to mind whenever he entered my thoughts. Then, I remember, I had, for every person I knew, such a symbol that came to mind, was how I thought of the person. So familiar are these constructs of light and color, that to recall them, would be to remember the shape of one of my teeth: so familiar and belonging to no one but me, it is as indistinguishable from one memory of one day's (some 65.000 times I've brushed, so far) view of it in the mirror to the next memory or sighting or memory of a sighting.
"Don't you ever just sit in a chair, doing nothing?"
Dr. Reed is impatient, if amused, as he says it. One day though, I was relaxing, standing at a window, watching clouds over Elliott Bay and Puget Sound. In my mind, I was brushing the clouds over Alki Point and Bainbridge Island beyond, into the formations they were making in the windy upper atmosphere. As I stood in contemplation of the sky, unlocking my knees to ease the pain in my back, it became clear what I was doing and accounted for some of my distress. It had always pleased me, when looking at classical painters, to imagine the particulars of their non-verbal mindset as they made their hands push the brush sweeping white paint into wet blue sky as a wind would work clouds.
When I told Allen I hurt my back lifting Nude With Onions, impatient for an assistant's help, he says,
Here I am, I thought, doing it myself, without a brush in my hand, tiring my mind with imaginary work. Later, as I passed an open window at the rear of my studio, peripheral vision revealed a wooden factory palette leaning near the freight elevator across the roof from my studio kitchen. A swift refusal to look at its condition, lest my mind enter that work state I was trying to escape (to improve, lift, repair Aha! Repair. There's a hammer. There's a hammer in my head). To repair 'It'. Unable to resist, I look. Sure enough, one of the palette's slats is broken and I'm already hammering a new slat somewhere in my brain. Now, a new task before me, to work this habit out of my system.
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