Saturday, December 10, 2016

Suddenly December

The weather has gotten colder and rainier over the last couple of weeks, with mushrooms burgeoning into colorful existence along the forest paths. I spent one week at our second site, which is primarily oak woodland, and this week at our main site among the redwoods.

The Death Caps seem to be everywhere this year. I've seen them at both sites.

At our second site, the ground is alight with Jack O'Lantern mushrooms, which are also poisonous, but not quite at the level of the Death Cap. I read that eating one will make a person "open up at both ends", but at least one will live to tell the tale. The other interesting thing about this mushroom is that the gills of fresh ones are faintly bioluminescent. I have yet to see this though.

The wet weather also inspires the newts to be out and about. I don't often photograph them these days, but when I find one in an interesting location, I can't help myself.

I got my car back in the middle of the first of the two weeks chronicled above. The fuel pump was under warranty, so I didn't have to pay much. Last weekend, I took part in a craft boutique masterminded by my friend Bat. Awhile back (years ago, actually), I had the inspiration to make some cards out of some of my old photographs. At the same time, Willow drew some cards as well. More recently, I carved some rubber stamps, so I quickly made some cards using those too. Jeanine, of course, had a stash of Christmas-themed cards that she had made, so I added them to the pile. Between the three of us, we made a whopping $24.00. I also traded some cards for a nice collage made by my co-worker, Acorn, who was selling them at the table next to mine.

Oh yeah, it was my birthday last weekend. Jeanine arranged a set of clues for me to follow in order to find my presents. One was even in the chicken coop. It made me smile.

Putting a damper on the day was the news of the Oakland Ghostship fire, which claimed the lives of 36 people, and obviously exponentially affected the lives of many, many more. In addition to the immediate tragedy, the fallout from this has arrived in the form of the shutting down of DIY art spaces. Being an artist, especially one who (rightly) steers well clear of the mainstream, is hard when it comes to finances and basic survival in the world we find ourselves in. Being one in an area that is rapidly being gentrified is even harder. Moving out to the country isn't an option either. Can you imagine trying to attempt anything provocative in a red state? It's a catch 22. It's hard to live where you can thrive, and you can't thrive where you can afford to live. People are forced to live illegally in spaces that aren't zoned for habitation.

As for the immediate tragedy, my brother lost a friend, and so did a lot of my other friends. I'll share what I wrote on Facebook in reaction to all of this:

I find myself spending my birthday reflecting upon the Oakland Ghostship fire, and the people who headed out to the show without realizing that their journeys were almost done. A good night out quickly became something other. For me, this magnifies my usual birthday thoughts about mortality. We celebrate our beginnings, but never know where it all ends. The clear conclusion is to not put off those things we plan to do. Don't wait until tomorrow. Live. Celebrate lives. Tell people you love them. Be kind. My heart goes out to those who are left behind. I don't think I knew anybody who went to the show, or if I did, they were people I might have met briefly, but ultimately, it makes no difference. A lot of people are never coming home from the show. Sure, this kind of thing happens every day around the globe. People die in great numbers, either by accident or by design, but I feel like these were my people - many of them, although I didn't know them, were in my network of friends, attending the kind of show that I might have attended (I didn't know the artists involved, but I've been to plenty of shows like this one). We pick up the pieces as best we can. Love to all.

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