Thursday, March 13, 2008

Facing the West at Sunset, Book chapter 6 unedited

Good grief. I must have landed in paradise. I only meant to visit the painted church, drive to City of Refuge, and go to the Kava Bar.
Instead, I toured the grounds, found the picnic area and a table next to the sea where I think and write. A Hawaiian family is spearing in a small pond close by, the sea waves and roars, and the sun is about to set. I paid a $5 admission and I can come all week for free. What a great place to write. A picnic table with my feet in the sand, the hand painted sarong under my computer. I will come back here and spend the day writing tomorrow. Who needs to distress at the Kava Bar? What stress?
I did have a moment of panic when I was walking through the royal grounds and my cell phone rang. It was my husband telling me about the weak condition of my checking account. It is not empty but the tank is low. Luckily, the shop is not closed and Ian is doing a payback and loving it. It does make me nervous. My first thought was run home and start making pots fast. Can’t do it. I am waiting for my pots to dry in the studio of a friend and giving them a well-deserved rest from my company. So changing my ticket is not an option and
I only have 19 days left to fire twice and finish this book. Next thought, Kava Bar. Probably not. Decided to drive to picnic area and I just cannot leave. Next thought, plead with my friends to go to my shop and buy something. I have more pride than that. Final thought, don’t panic, open your eyes and see where you are and eat cheap (not easy in Hawaii). I wonder if that Hawaiian family has any free fish. Thank God this is all deductible.
Making pottery and making a living is like running a Marathon. You gotta pace yourself. I could not believe I could somehow spend my life making pottery and sculpture. I must have done something right, I have a shop and it is open and I am sitting on the beach in Hawaii writing. You must have faith in your abilities, jump the hurdles if you really want to do it and endure.
A little nest egg or a small loan may be all you need if you can think creatively about how to finance your art adventures and business. One of the great abilities of a creative artist must lots of times be how to also creatively solve your financial needs. There is also some adjusting to your living style necessary from time to time.
Lucky for me I had my education complete and I had been buying basic art supplies about $15 at a time and eventually I had the base of what I needed. And my long lost Grandfather sent me $1000 out of the blue. That was like a small business loan to me.
At first I worked in a bedroom with bad shag carpet for a couple of years. I found a kiln for $50, bought some clay and was off to learn about marketing one step at a time.
Later I told my husband I wanted to start a business and he said, “You will never find a place you can afford to rent.”
That was all I needed to hear. Challenge accepted! Three days later I found an old abandoned shop in Meadowview Virginia for $50 a month. I guess the landlord thought it was some kind of joke or he liked me and wanted to help support the arts.
Still, with my cautious personality, I got a job at the local pizza parlor to make sure I could pay the rent all the other things that go with starting a business.
I bought 5 potted marigolds, stuck them in the window and had four years of running my first business.
I paced myself. I did not sprint into financial debt. I was patient accumulating stuff for my shop. I took it, as Anne Lamont would say, “Bird by Bird.”
There are new challenges everyday as an artist and unfortunately most of them deal with time and money. You just need to think creatively and use your resources. Friend’s advice, taking and leaving it as necessary. Trading with those who have skills you don’t have. Do not spend to excess. Used stuff is great and less is more. I have even been known to dumpster dive if it is worth it but would not advise that on a regular basis.
Patience and face to the west.
I was so busy typing for hours on the beach I almost missed the sunset.
The setting sun popped out from the gray blue sky and is setting in the west, again.
Yes, I even with my poor sense of direction I can tell which direction is west. It is right there. In front of me. The sun is setting quickly and I better come back tomorrow.

ASIDE (if I remember from studying Shakespeare, this is when the actor talks to the side so the other actors can’t hear him with his hand cupped over his mouth)
So I decided to stop writing using the sunset as a whistle to stop working and be there. After all, I nearly missed the sunset because I was having so much fun writing. Am I easily entertained or what? I love writing and I so rarely get the chance. Everything I saw reminded me of something else to write about, some evidence of listening pays off, but I could not get to the notebook fast enough to write it all down.
Here is what I saw next.
I walked out to the ocean’s edge on the lava and was astounded. Everywhere I looked, I listened and saw unfamiliar things.
The ocean is so damn powerful. Sure it is Caribbean blue. Looks harmless enough but the truth is, it scares me to death. I read somewhere; don’t turn your back to it. Good plan. It will lift you off your feet and throw your head into the sand if you are lucky and lava if you are not. The rhythm and the sounds are incredible. It is no wonder Mark Twain came here planning on staying for one week and ended up staying for over a month. It was his first attempt to see the world and this is where he started. And to think I have come for 6 weeks!
Listen to what the ocean says. “Don’t turn your back on me!” What does it mean? The force of art is powerful too. If you don’t understand it or what you are doing, will it toss you on your head and you will be afraid to return to it? Or do you just need to stay aware? Aware of what? The undertow?
Undertow. Hmm. Remember the book talking about the undertow? The child misunderstood and thought it was a creature in the sea that would get you. So when I moved from Austin to Norman Ok at Christmas and noticed no one smiling or enjoying life outwardly, I figured I had met the under toad and he lived in John Steinbeck’s poor old beat down Oklahoma. The contemporary under toad lived in the drains and sewers underground in the streets and I warned friends if they did not want to be had and get that look on their face, stay away from street drains! It will grab you by the ankles and suck you in! Step back and stay positive.
I stared at the ocean picked up a few coral pieces, one shaped like a heart to remind me I love writing and the second an arrow shaped piece of coral to point the way back tomorrow. These pieces of coral are on temporary loan from the protected beach and will be returned before I leave unless a friend convinces I it is ok otherwise. I have always wondered if anyone is really allowed to own rocks and coral? Doesn’t everyone on earth own them?
I walked to the pond in the ocean, a lovely lava pond on the edge of the ocean, protecting the Hawaiian children snorkeling and fake spear hunting. As I approached them a 3-year-old boy with a fishing pole was on his own adventure, bare feet grabbing the lava as he walked. His dark brown skin and black eyes were to be envied by a plain old white girl. He was searching for imaginary fish or maybe whales. It was fun to watch his energy. He turned on his toes and went back to his family. Whales can be spotted from this beach and I hope I see one tomorrow. What happens when you listen to whales? What happens when you are 3 and you listen to imaginary fish and sharks?
The rest of the family waited for the waves to work their way into the pond and jumped and responded to the energy of the ocean. It was a beautiful sight. Was it ancient spirits calling them to their roots or was it just another day in the park?
I meandered my way up the lava from the ocean to the picnic/writing area and saw the lovely woman who took my picture in front of the ocean. She was alone as well on the beach and was obviously enjoying her reading and relaxation retreat. She was a fit woman and appeared to me to be “special.” Sometimes I think my guardian angel meets her description. I would describe her as a small short-gray-haired woman, fit and full of energy and not a game player. She reminded me of Sonja Johnson whom I accidentally met at the hot springs in Ojo Calliente, New Mexico. Sonja had just purchased with her partner a small Hotel near the springs and in a short conversation, half dressed and ready to leave the springs, she invited me to teach a workshop sometime at her Women-Only hotel. It took my filing cabinet of a husband to tell me who she was. I knew she was someone special. She, as new agers would say, “Put off special vibes!” In fact, she has written several books after realizing her Mormon husband was keeping her in a pumpkin shell via his religion and she turned into an impressive and influential feminist writer. Thanks dear husband who is not influenced by the Mormon Church and who took me to see Gloria Stienham before she was famous.
Well the lady at the beach was not Gloria or Sonja but I think she was special. She recognized I like being alone and might want a photo to send back home. That was how she introduced herself and then we went our separate ways until after sunset. As I walked back from the beach we agreed it was a lovely evening and we began to talk. She told me how the ocean lava pond protected the family inside. I told her I was writing my book and she thought it sounded like a good idea. It turns out she was an editor for an art book publisher before coming to Hawaii. She had lived in Europe for several years and moved to Hawaii 11 years ago because she wanted to be surrounded by like-minded people and wanted to be able to swim in warm ocean water year round. Originally she lived in northern Hawaii but could not swim there year round.
She told me about some local art friends and one of her neighbors is part of the Kona Pottery guild I wrote about earlier and she told me about the community art group supporting local arts located above their shop. She also told me I could snorkel next to the park at two steps for fun if I am not afraid of the ocean. Then, I listened to the wonderful obvious. She said we were standing on ancient sacred ground used for refuge, The City of Refuge. Yes, this is where I need to write my book. I outlined 21 chapters and I only have a few days. I accept the challenge.

And, guess what? I think I am being so original writing at night in this old hotel and she said the Hawaiian novelist last name Davenport, comes to this hotel to write her novels. I should have known, nothing new, this place puts off writing vibes or is at least conducive to want to be writers. Hmmm.

There is a powerful peaceful nature to the native Hawaiians. They remind me of the Native Americans in Oklahoma. May their culture live strongly forever and be passed onto their children. Change. Is it always for the better?


  1. There must be a lot of potters in Hawaii. Have you seen other art forms, how about any fiber artists?

  2. There does not seem tp be much fiber art except for beautiful baskets from natural materials. I forgot to mention the best work of all is the woodworking!