The Long Hot Summer
At the beginning of August, I was playing with watercolor, working my way through a book I had ordered from HamiltonBook.com with the intriguing title “Painting Your Way Out of a Corner” by Barbara Diane Barry. I’d read a section at lunch time, and then in the evening paint the exercise, such as “Start with a line and let your brush wander around the page.”
Always before, I would start with a careful pencil drawing, so this was new territory for me.
The days were too warm to be out in the yard during the day time, so about August 7th I began cleaning out file drawers. This is an item that has been on my To Do List since sometime last year. I was a full-time student from 1984 to 1991. I still had papers written during my time at San Jose State earning my BA, and from J. F. Kennedy University working on my master’s degree. In those days, I used a computer as a word processor to write my papers, thankfully, because I was a horrible typist.
I also cut out magazine articles of interest and filed them. By now they are all out of date.
I also went through a drawer of recipes from magazines and newspapers. I haven’t looked in there for years because I’m cooking very little, make my favorites again and again, and it is faster to find recipes online.
It has been a very warm summer, with 2 – 3 days of triple digit heat every other week. In my house built in 1947 with no central air conditioning, by the third day the heat builds up and it is very difficult to cool it down at night. We had 10 or more days of 100+ starting about August 12. On Monday the 17th, I was hearing about numerous lightening sparked fires around the Bay Area and along the coast. Tuesday evening, I noticed that I could not see Jupiter and Saturn which I have been seeing most nights in the southern sky.
The next morning, my yard man told me he was not using the blower because of the ash. By afternoon, everything was covered in black particles, and white, and grey dust from the fires. We are not near any of the fires, thank the Lord, but Stockton is sort of in a basin that catches smoke and ash from all directions. With that much smoke in the air, using my attic fan to cool off the house at night is not an option.
Cleaning out the files has been my main activity all month. Once I finished with the watercolor book, I didn’t start any new art because the file cabinets are in the studio and I was sorting through them on my work table. It was an interesting journey to read those papers I wrote. To think about what I had done and why.
I found a note I had written with a quote from Madeleine L’Engle in her book, “A Circle of Quiet”, published in 1972, where she uses the example of our bones as our structure that gives us freedom to move, to dance. . . She said,
“We are a generation which is crying loudly to tear down all structure in order to find freedom, and discovering, when order is demolished, that instead of freedom we have death.”
She wrote that 48 years ago.
To quote my exasperated dad, “When are you gonna learn?”