At his annual physical yesterday the neighborhood vet who is almost as ancient as I, by the way, announced that Kodi is not only fit (except for his balding tail) but that his heart and weight are perfect, and that in people years he is now 80. “That makes us the same”, I chortled. “He’s still doing one hour walks twice a week with the dog walker” I reported, “he’s wild with joy at the prospect of each hike and usually he’s not gimpy afterwards”.
Driving the two miles home in Lee’s ’89 pickup (which must be nearing 80 in Toyota years) I smiled at the irony. Both dog and truck are in such fine fettle, full of pep, and here am I struggling to pull my pants over my hips, keep up with therapy exercises for my hurting shoulder, and fretting about my atrial fib. Must be my attitude needs adjustment!
On with the story. I started the painting above in Maui on Thanksgiving day, 2009, my ninth trip, I believe, to paradise, but my first trip there alone. This week I ‘m motivated to get both the painting and the memory out of my psyche. I tried to finish it last Tuesday, without success, by smearing matte medium over parts of it and collaging tissue paper over some of the leaves, for any painter can see I left no whites! There is no center of interest. It’s a jumble of ununified color which mimics my mood when first composed. I call the painting Maui Madness, but other names could be Botanical Bombardment or Makawao Hysteria. Instead of plein aire, I composed it in my tiny apartment gazing out at an unhospitable and unkempt tropical garden. As my head filled with pollen and chemicals (it turned out the building had been tented to kill the vermin just before I arrived) I grew more sick and angry and added more and more layers of granulating paint.
Sight unseen (except for the internet) I had rented a little apartment for ten days, upcountry. In earlier decades I always wanted to live in the islands in retirement, a fantasy I abandoned in my sixties, finally realizing that the beauty of nature there would always call me but that the culture was not a fit for me for steady living. Still, I looked forward to painting and soaking up sun as well as delighting in spending time with loved ones who now call Maui home.
Things went downhill almost immediately, The rental was a disaster. My allergies ended me in the ER after a few days. The trip was a bust. Thus started a year of one health challenge after another, none critical but most draining and annoying.
In 2011 I’m trying to make happier choices. For instance, I’m not going to see the film Black Swan, even though I’m drawn to the acting. Who needs more dark in their life? Certainly not Bonnie or Kodi, who finds nirvana in the simplicity of a heaping tablespoon of peanut butter. Surely its time for a different viewpoint and a happier outlook, leaving lots of empty spaces for the sun to shine through.