Over the last five years my dogs and I have created this bond of love. We have come to this understanding of the depth of our ties to one another. This is what it has meant to have two small dogs dependent on me. I have felt like I stumbled into the quintessential master-dog bond, the one anthropologists expound on. I have believed nothing could shatter our little pack.
Then last week I got a bright idea. I was moving into a new studio. Out in the world there were little kittens in need of homes. The word euthanasia clouded my brain. Now I did not like cats. I remembered the one I had tried to keep in Africa. It was so obnoxious I allowed my garden boy to have Kenwa for dinner. I grabbed a pet monkey instead, and lived happily for the next two years.
I spoke to the local humane society.
“Got any cats looking for adoption?”
“Two really cute ones, a brother and sister.”
“Maybe I could take one to keep in my art studio?”
“You will be leaving them alone, sometimes?”
“I think you will want both of them. They are cute. We will pay for them to be spayed, nuetered…….. Come see them. They are really sweet, and full of mischief.
I dragged Patti up to the humans society. There they were. Two little fluff balls. Big fuzzy ears. Inquisitive faces. Racing across the room after one toy or another,
I believed, I knew it without a doubt. Cats could be left more easily than dogs. I knew they were more independent. Give them food and water, keep their litter box clean. They could survive virtually without people around. Probably did not even like peopel. I was only doing these poor, feral kittens a noble favor. I was single-handedly saving them from the dumpster.
I visited them in the humane society a few more times. I listened to instructions for their care, to intimate details of their immune systems. (Those, I learned, can be compromised by being feral.) I was told about their poops.
They are just cats. They will survive. Nine lives and all.
Then I moved them into my studio. That room took on a new identity. Here was a cat paradise. Sticks abound. Some of them stood up. Trees. Twigs lay across the floor. Toys. Mobiles hung in the corners. The eyes on these kittens grew huge. They raced around the room with wild abandon.
I noticed I was beginning to look differently at my furballs. They attacked an assemblage I had carefully constructed. I did not race to protect it from the beasts, I chuckled.
These cats seemed to like the fact I was there. They came and climbed over me as I sanded a piece of wood. They crawled across my back, into my hair. This was not the dog affection I had grown accustomed to. There was a wilder nature to it. I believed.
I finished my work for the day, prepared to leave. I checked their water, surveyed the mess in my studio to be sure I was not leaving out any dangerous chemicals they could get into. I walked toward the door. They looked almost sad, regretful that they were going to be left alone.
I retreated to the comfort of my dogs. I did not tell them about their cross-town rivals. We snuggled into bed as if nothing were different.
The next morning I arrived at my studio. As soon as the key turned in the lock I watched the kittens bound across the room, jump onto the counter so they could get the first view possible of me coming to them. They genuinely greeted me! They knew they were my cats.
Guilt washed over me. What was I doing? I was a dog-person. I had a sweet, lovely pair of dogs at home. I had committed my hearts to them. I allowed them to entwine their bodies with mine as we slept. I couldn’t be intimate with another set of animals. Or could I…….
I worked for several hours gluing sticks together. These were to be my Christmas angels. I needed something to have on hand for the holidays four months in the future. As I worked, the kittens wound their bodies around mine. They bound across the room climbing century plants and batting at my sculptures. I barely flinched when my bobbly-structured piece, the one I had spent hours balancing, became a punching bag for them. After all they were having fun! When I left, I neglected to put my emerging Christmas ornaments away,
My parting was once again sweet. I stroked the kittens soft backs. With another twinge of guilt I rushed home to my small pack of dogs. They danced in joy as I approached.
Is his how men feel when they have secret families? Aah guilt! I know you well!
Those ornaments were now strewn across the floor. My work on these pieces was apparent only in dry globs of glue at what was once the joint between the two pieces of wood. And I did not really care! Dangerous! This was the first inklings of love. Watch out dogs. You have rivals.
I do not expect I will ever share my bed with two cute cats. That space has been promised to canines. But as I stroke my dogs’ necks, scratch their backs, my mind slinks over to my studio where two cute little kittens must curl up together in amongst sticks of dry wood, with no human hand for comfort. I have got to get up, go work in my studio!
For the past few days my dogs have been getting extra-long walks each morning for my penance. No walk today. I must move beyond this guilt, accept the fact it is OK to love both cats and dogs. And, besides, those cats need my company!
I walked out of my studio in Jerome High School for the last time today. I grasped three baskets of beaver sticks, a package of plastic storage containers and kicked a bundle of banker boxes ahead of me. I came to the dreaded stairs. I pushed the banker boxes down first. They slid to the landing with a whoosh. Tired, I grabbed the bannister and gingerly traipsed down the 14 steep stairs, one-by-one.
As I stumbled out of the building I reflected on my 16 months in this sturdily-built edifice. I moved in only three months after discovering my love of creating art with papier mache and desert woods. Larry was still coming to my house every night for dinner, staying around for a couple of movies. It was a heady time to fall in love with art. I rapidly made one structure after another. Two or three pieces a day. I brushed away dirt, threw down a hunk of papier mache and stuck the wood onto it. The work was too dirty to do in my house, and the romance of having an actual studio called to me.
It was all about production and distribution. I moved myself quickly into three different galleries. I tried different techniques. Slathered acrylic paints. Shiny lacquers. Copper wires. I was turning 70. Only Grandma Moses could pull off entering an artist’s career when she was older than me!
Larry abruptly departed for Seattle around my birthday. Without anyone to cook for, nobody to share movies with, my home seemed empty. I spent more time in my studio. I made friends with other artists. There were brisk walks at sunset over to the state park, then up the hill into downtown Jerome. The sky’s colors, the moon coming into view. Breathtaking. One night a young man, maybe in his early twenties flirted with me, begged me to come away with him to a national park in Nevada. I felt so flattered. I remember storing the times in my memory, savoring the laughter, the camaraderie. I did not have time to miss having Larry around.
And, I moved on from cooking paleo for Larry to cooking vegetarian for Christian. Grits, lasagna, corn pudding, forbidden foods when Larry ate here, bubbled on my stove for dinner.
I learned to relish dirt. I went out into the desert two or three times a week to find woods. I sloshed through mud after a monsoon, picking up roots among the Palo Verde trees, climbed up and over gullies along the Verde River in search of interesting pieces of Cottonwood, scrambled down creek banks on Beaver Creek for knobby white-barked Sycamore. Then turning on my dremel in my studio, the dirt flew off the wood as I cleaned up each piece.
I got the idea for a collection of my poems. Since I was showing my art in studios with a lot of color, what if I wrote a colorful book that had no visual color in it, only verbal color. Christian designed a cover for the book. I love the book. It is exactly what I wanted it to be. But, because I did not devote any time to marketing it, because nobody “likes poetry” it has not been successful. I have sold maybe 20 copies of it.
Walks shortened as the evenings grew shorter. Sue came up to my studio to help me design a webpage. She stayed around, first to become my friend, then my next-door studio mate. She was young enough to be a daughter. I loved her ready laugh, her sexploits with men almost young enough to be her sons.
I learned more about art. I learned to look deeper into my work for the lines I created between the branches of wood I was bonding together. I learned to evaluate my work better, to determine what worked aesthetically and what didn’t. I put away garish colors of acrylic. I learned terms like Outsider Art. I experienced rejection from artists who had been in the field for longer than merely a year. I was rejected for “Made in Clarkdale”, a venerable show. Here I lived in Clarkdale and my work was not good enough to get in! I worked to sell my pieces in galleries where customers were looking for souvenirs of Sedona. They could not be convinced that a piece of wood from a tree that grew in Sedona red soil could be proof of a visit to Sedona.
In the winter my dear friend Judie, living in Florida was taken into hospice. Mortality felt closer, my own life became more precious. I savored every conversation she and I shared. She lived long enough to guide me through a potentially devastating visit with my sons at Passover.
March saw Don drive into Jerome. Don, the grandson of a desert survivalist, a survivor, himself, of a brutal father, a true “desert rat,” arrived at the high school in his noisy pick-up with a sweet dog and a load of Manzanita. He quickly became a mentor to my art. He moved into my studio.
He brought along with him rusty bedsprings and a myriad of ideas for improving my work. Overnight my art became more interesting, my mastery of my medium became apparent.
My idyllic Jerome studio life changed when Don arrived. Christian did not like Don’s fumes and his noise. When I did not ask Don to move out, he quit speaking to me. I have always cultivated friendships. I did not know how to live with enemies. Don clashed with the landlords. When he was unfairly attacked verbally by them, he took off and was unable to return, comfortably, to the studio again.
About the time he was made unwelcome at the high school, Don met up with my good friend, Susan Zalkind, a master Alabaster carver. He moved onto her property seven miles beyond Camp Verde, in the shadow of Squaw Peak. I went down to visit them regularly, picking up Alabaster for my art, riding up the washes on Squaw Peak to find fabulous Mesquite burls, and talking and laughing with both Susan and Don.
My “young” friend, Sue, began coming down from Jerome to take showers and do laundry at my house. I was thrilled when she began borrowing my clothes, one of the things I believed I missed most because I never had a daughter of my own.
But Sue was my only friend now up there. The onsite maintenance guy verbally attacked a friend who had come up to visit me. She would not return. Then the same guy treated me weirdly. I was uncomfortable in Jerome, too. I looked for another studio, another place where I could continue to improve my art.
I found 432 C 6th in Cottonwood. A suite in an industrial building, it is in the center of Cottonwood activities. Friends who never drove the four miles up the winding road to Jerome did drive down 6th to go to the recreation center, the library, the post office.
I gathered up my stuff. Moving day was arduous. Don was unable to help much with moving the two loads of stuff down the three flights of steep stairs and into the twelve-foot van. After climbing and descending those stairs continuously for eight hours I fell into bed, slept non-stop for another eight hours.
I adopted two darling kittens to come and live on 6th street. I feel like a mother with two families now, sneaking off from my doxies in Clarkdale to be with my kitties. And then leaving their disappointed looks to go back to the dogs.
Already three friends have dropped by 6th just because they thought I might be there. Other friends are making arrangements to come visit. It is nice to be a part of the Verde Valley again.
And I have discovered a ceramics studio in nearby Sycamore Canyon. For forty years I have been longing for an appropriate space to do clay work. And now I have it! In ten days I have gone out there three times, constructing two bases for my sculptures. Heaven!
I moved to the Verde Valley almost seven years ago, looking for life after retirement. After moving here I changed myself from a shy recluse to an author and instructor in a lifelong learner program. Now I have transformed myself again into an outgoing, happy artist. I treasure every day I have with my dogs, my kittens, my wood, my friends. And I know 6th Street is another wonderful step on this journey.
I closed the door in Jerome this morning. I drove down the hill with a load of boxes, sticks and storage containers. I opened the door into my new studio. Mannie rubbed against my leg, jumped into my lap as soon as I could sit down. Junipurr watched with interest. Friends welcomed me home! And I feel ready to meet with the jury for Made in Clarkdale this fall!
Historic fiction. Romance. Page-turner action and suspense. Set in ancient Greece? Not the kind of book I would normally pick up, certainly not the book I would choose to read cover-to-cover in only a couple of days. But.
Elena Douglas is a childhood friend. Our creative story-telling powers connected us well over fifty years ago. We created secret languages, and babbled to one another as we rode buses across Berkeley. We passed notes to one another written in upside-down-backward script about the terrible plot our mutual social studies teacher had unknowingly stumbled into. A wink of bright pink slip peeking out from under the black dress of the matronly Latin teacher became the fodder for a plot so far-fetched the note earned me detention in the tenth grade. Elena egged me on.
Before I moved away from Berkeley, over forty years ago, Elena told me of the plots she was designing for books set in Atlantis. She faithfully went to writers’ groups to develop her skills. This book, and several others she has written in the intervening years, were conceived and polished in these writers’ groups.
So, with a bit of misgiving, I picked up her book. The book jacket, a striking portrait of a young woman, a blurred landscape in the background, perhaps two figures climbing down a hill, allayed my fears of a bodice-shredder interior.
I opened the book, began to read. By the second page Ms Douglas had set up the plot. She didn’t fool around with the rising action one comes to expect with any novel. A young girl, chosen by lot to appease the goddess Athena, is ripped from her family and sent off to Troy for a year, just as her father promises her in marriage to a wealthy, older, vintner. Slave Arion is appointed to escort her on her voyage across the Aegean. Can Marpressa survive?
While a summary of the plot makes her story sound somewhat predictable, the twists and turns Ms Douglas incorporates, jump out in an exciting sequence. Will they survive the dangerous voyage? Will they flee villains? We know Marpressa and the slave Arion will fall in love, but can that love be sustained? And what of the plans of Klonios, the wealthy vineyard owner? And there is the overriding question. Ms Douglas begins her book with an ancient curse of the goddess Athena. Will Marpressa and Arion, by the end of the book appease the goddess, end the terrible plague brought on by the curse?
One device Ms Douglas incorporates throughout her book, which intrigued me, moved me to turn page after page, is her tremendous ability to use vocabulary to paint rich images, create deep characters. Elena is trilingual. Her command of language is extraordinary.
Just then a terrible roar split the air—a many-throated bellow of challenge, of triumph. The invaders had breached the walls,. Their barbaric war cries grew louder every instant, their heavy tramping feet pounded like the hooves of horses galloping nearer, nearer, She heard fearsome thuds and clangs of metal on wood as the Trojan men ran to meet them, only armed with staves and clubs, and fell back with terrible cries. Wounded, dying.
As a word-o-phile myself, I turned page after page in awe of this use of vocabulary.
Another praise to heap onto this book is Ms Douglas’ attention to detail. The book ekes historic accuracy. She costumes her characters with Greek clothing. arms them with battlements of the day, sets them across territory so accurately described I can only imagine she, the author, fought right there, among her characters.
As a history buff, I moved from chapter to chapter, wrapped in the actions, the experiences of Marpressa and her colleagues.
Just as Ms Douglas did not fool around with “rising action” at the beginning of her book, the plots’ complications do not resolve themselves until the final page of her well-written adventure. By that time I, as a reader, had grown to appreciate these well-rounded protagonists. I am ready for their next intriguing crusade. And knowing the fertile imagination of this author, you can bet she has another adventure waiting for us. I cannot wait to read it!
Monday. Today is the day I will gain occupancy to my new studio. I stop by the space, stop in to talk to George, the original tenant, proprietor of Appliance Junkies. He gives me the key. I open the door. Such an empty space, so pregnant with possibility. I shut the door quickly to be sure all those creative sparks stay within the space.
Tuesday. I drive down to my new space on 6th Street. Darlene is waiting. We have arranged for her to bless the space, work her sacred magic. She goes into the space by herself. She emerges with a clean report and we move on. We smudge the entire space with sage. We put garlic, Alabaster chips and seeds in the corners. We walk through the space with a glowing candle, then extinguish it with prayers for peace, creativity and prosperity. We end the morning with Violette’s muffins and coffee, and a friendly chat.
Wednesday. I notice a post from a fellow artist in Jerome, Robert Jackson. I know he is active with the Jerome Humane Society. He has statistics on euthanasia for unwanted cats. The figures are appalling. I remember George has a rescue kitten living in his space, and therefore must be cool about keeping kittens there. I call the Humane Society. They invite me up to meet the kittens ready to adopt. Although they have a litter of nursing kittens with unopened eyes, they direct me to two absolutely darling kittens cavorting in the other room. I immediately christen them Junipurr and Manzanita. I cannot bring them down the hill until they get a clean bill of health.
Thursday Moving Day. I arrive at U-Haul at 8:00. Chris a local veteran, is there. We sign paperwork for the 12 foot truck. Tom joins us. We drive up to the Jerome studio where Don is already dismantling his worktable. We need two trips to get all the wood and furniture down the hill. Don and Tom depart at noon. Chris and I continue to carry stuff down the steep stairs most of the afternoon. We dump the stuff into the studio. By the time Chris and I finish at 4:00 we are filthy, and thoroughly exhausted. I go to bed at 5:00 and do not wake up until the following morning.
Friday. Forty years ago I took an adult education class and discovered sculpture. I loved it. We moved from place to place after that and all I could do was affirm that someday I would find the right place to work with clay. I drive out Sycamore canyon to investigate the ceramic studio of Don Reitz. The potential for expanding my art here overwhelms me! I arrange to join the community and return Tuesday for my first lesson in using a pottery wheel.
They sat clustered around one table in an expansive, sterile dining room. No pictures hung on the white walls. A nondescript dull, neutral carpet, just laid yesterday, still emitted its fumes. Dietary workers scrambled to remove food, sweep under tables. Their shift ended when the room cleared. They were eager to go home.
Five elderly women remained around one plastic-topped round table They picked at chunks of lunch meat on wilted iceberg lettuce.
“Netflix tonight. My room!” The lady whose husband and dog died ten days ago in a bizarre auto accident smiled beatifically. Some women acknowledged her invitation as other women kissed her.
“I will bring watermelon to the movies,” one chirped A bowl of diced watermelon sat on a cold table across the room. “I know you’re moving. We gotta get the movies in first.”
“I am so happy! I go next week to live with my daughter in California.”
“My how lucky to get to be with your daughter.”
“I heard you were moving out, too.” The women’s focus shifted, settled on an attractive older woman with neatly coifed hair.
Her face glowed. “I found an apartment up the mountain a ways, five miles from here. I have been in this place for eight years. Came first as a volunteer right after my husband died. I am ready to move on. My new apartment will have a kitchen. I can’t wait to be able to cook my own food.” She eyed a stale brownie she had sitting of a pale yellow plastic plate.
“Is this my brownie?” The attention now shifted across the table. A lady with disheveled, thinning white hair addressed the woman next to her, wearing a gray-striped tunic.
“No it is mine. You can ask for one of your own.”
A short, squat woman in a bright blue muumuu pushed her walker into the dining hall. A wait-staff hurried up to her. “Why, Mrs. Jones, you have come back for more food?”
“I haven’t eaten yet today.”
“Oh yes. You left fifteen minutes ago. Don’t you remember I helped you get a brownie?”
“Oh no, I just got up from my nap.”
"The food is all put away now, Mrs. Jones. You have already eaten.”
Sullenly, Mrs. Jones headed back out of the dining hall.
“You took my brownie. You could get one of your own” The woman in the gray tunic addressed the woman next to her again. She moved the brownie squarely in front of her own place.
Another woman, one with thin, straight hair, parted on one side and held with a jaunty little bow, strutted into the dining room. Dressed in a stylish bright blue shirt and white shorts, she sported practical snub-toed tan loafers. She flashed a warm smile toward the women seated around the table. Her right knee was encased in an ace bandage. Her left arm was taped and attached to her side.”
“Goldie! How are you feeling. I heard you took a nasty fall yesterday!”
“Yes. Broken arm, messed up knee. I walked straight into a tree, fell in a bush.”
“I see you aren’t wearing those sparkly sandals today.”
“No.” She sighed. “My daughter took them from me. Said they were too dangerous.”
“Haven’t you fallen three times in the past three weeks, wearing those sandals?”
The warm smile never left her face. She gingerly rubbed her left arm. “Yeah. I guess my granddaughter will be getting new sandals. Much prettier than these. She scuffed a tan loafer across the floor across the floor.” She flashed a toothy, remorseful grin towards the group. “I have got to stop getting so close to the bushes!’
“You took my brownie. I told you that was mine.” The woman with thin, disheveled hair had surreptitiously moved the plate with the brownie wrapped in plastic closer to her. “I guess I will have to get another, myself.”
“Mrs. Jones! You back again for more food. I told you, you have already eaten tonight. Go on to bed.”
“But I don’t remember! I want dinner!”
Three women of the women shuffled out. “Don’t forget, Netflix tonight. See you soon. She is moving out soon, and so are the movies.”
A woman in faded capris and a dull plaid buttoned shirt, oxygen tube firmly inserted into her nostril, pushed her walker by the dining room. She looked straight ahead, oblivious to the stragglers around the table. She was followed by a care-giver in blue elephant scrubs. “Here.” The care-taker spoke towards the gray lady. “You can sit in this room, listen to DVD’s.” She gestured toward a stack of plastic boxes.
The woman with the gray-striped tunic smiled at the gray lady. “You haven’t been here long, have you?”
“About three weeks.”
“How are you doing? Adjusting?”
“Not well. I miss sitting out by the river every day. I don’t like looking at four walls! I can’t stand the bland food.”
“I found it hard at first, too. It gets easier.”
“The bland food? The four walls?”
“Yes. You sorta adjust. The walls don’t look so threatening. The food grows on you.” She patted a rounded hip, giggled. “What if I come get you tomorrow morning? We could walk together.”
“I don’t walk far these days.”
“But we drive the same car.” She kicked at her walker. “It doesn’t go that far, anyway.” She sighed wistfully
“Mrs. Jones! Dinner is over. You ate here earlier. Time to go back to your room.”
It is dinner time. I don’t remember eating.”
“Bland food gets to all of us” The woman in the gray tunic smiled ruefully at the gray lady with the oxygen. She placed the pale yellow plate with a stale brownie wrapped in plastic into the compartment under the seat of her walker. “See you tomorrow around 10! We can walk around the roses in the parking lot before it gets too hot.”
As a young girl, I was molested by my father on a regular basis. The results to my self-esteem and body image have been immeasurable. When I walked alone as a child, I walked with a limp. I believed that if “bad men”, predators, saw me limping they would be repulsed by a cripple and leave me alone. My mother sewed most of my clothes, and those were poorly made. The colors were unattractive. Everything hung funny. These served to camouflage my early physical development. I felt ashamed of my body. I was afraid of looking at people, not wanting to attract attention, so I always looked at the ground. I remember my uncle admonishing me when I walked across the stage during junior high graduation. “Keep your chin up!” he yelled from the audience.
When I was married, my husband subjected me to regular modeling sessions. He would not allow me to buy any piece of clothing he had not approved of. This left me with two choices for obtaining clothing. Either he and I went shopping together, where he sat outside my dressing room, waiting for me to emerge, wearing each piece of clothing he had selected, or at least approved. I emerged from the dressing room, twirled slowly several times, waiting for his reaction. Sometimes he approved. Others, he gave his reasons for not approving. “That shade of red makes your nose look too big.” “The dress doesn’t hide your fat tummy.” That bathing suit makes your thighs look like balloons.”
My other manner of purchasing clothing was to go shopping without him. I had to understand I was to return anything he did not approve of. His responses were similar. But, being in private, he had more of a chance to get into detail. “How much do you weigh now? Maybe you are eating too much pasta?” “Remember when you were thin? Clothes do not loom good on your body now, like they used to.
When we first started dating he had said to me, “I am counting on you to look good. I know I am ugly, so what people think of us is your responsibility.”
After I left my husband my weight yoyo-ed. Within twelve years I gained, then lost over 100 pounds twice. My body went from a size 10 to a 2X, then down to a 6, back to a 2X, down to a 4-6, and now has settled on a 10-12 again. Trying to clothe my always-changing body became a challenge. It also meant my body image was in constant flux.
Throughout my life I have watched my body do what every body does—move through maturation. From the time I entered puberty at the age of 10 these changes have embarrassed me. I did not want breasts, and I was blessed with DDD’s. They bulged off a 32 inch chest, so there was no way to hide them. When my first son was born, and I wanted to nurse him, my breasts became engorged. They were so huge it took him a couple of days to figure out how to attach. Getting any kind of help from a breast feeding expert felt extremely humiliating!
Then, after children the stretch marks appeared. My once flat belly became flaccid and pudgy. My stick-thin arms had no place to hang the extra weight that accumulated around them. After I lost 100 pounds the first time, my whole body looked distorted with flaps of skin. I talked to my doctor about getting a breast reduction because my 32 DDD’s looked ridiculous at the top of all the flab, and because I was concerned about pressure they might be placing on my back.
Every woman I know is not happy with her aging body. Having spent decades watching weight come and go, and skin elasticity disappear, our bodies look like they are waiting for the auto body shop. Except we have moved way beyond simple dent removal and rust control!
Within the last year I have gotten to know Sue. Among the many cool things Sue does at 51, is she models nude. “I am an anorexic,” she explains. “Through modeling I have gained a new perspective on my body, and a new acceptance of my pudgy belly.”
I had met John Keehn, the photographer she works with for her monthly photography workshops. Among other pictures of his I had seen was the wrinkly photo of Don Jones. I was impressed by how closely he had captured Don’s soul within that photo. The wrinkles became a window into the life Don had lived.
“John would like to photograph you,” Sue mentioned one day.
“Mmmmmmh,” I replied. I looked up John’s website on the internet. I liked the body of his work. Much of it included young nude women, but the pictures were not salacious. Like the photo of Don, they reached into the souls of his young models.
He also had many photos of flowers and dead wood from the desert. I admired the way he worked with lines and shapes, the colors he found in each subject. His aesthetic was similar to my own.
“John asked, again, if you would model for him. He suggested nude shots.” Sue passed me a day or two later in the hall.
I gulped. I looked again at his other photographs. I thought about what Sue had said about her own body image issues. Maybe this is what I need for myself.
“OK.” I spoke to Sue a day or two later. “Tell him nudes are all right, I think.”
John and I set up the shoot a week or two later. We discussed using Sue’s studio space. I pulled out some clothes, and some scarves I felt might work. The day of the shoot I suggest John stop at my house on his way up to Sue’s space. “I am right on the way,” I said.
John came by. He loved the light in my living room in the early morning. We began the shoot in an arm chair. I was clothed. I was totally comfortable from the start. We moved on to my rocking chair. I removed my top. I was still at ease. John was intrigued by the light in my bathroom with a skylight, and the shooting continued.
I saw the first pictures that evening. I liked most of them. They were tasteful. They emphasized lines and shapes. It took me a bit longer to acknowledge that these were photos of my body, the body I have been ashamed of for 70 years. And now, a week later, I even see beauty in my bulging, aging body.
"With all the beauty surrounding me here above the Verde Valley, how could I not create more beauty?"