Neighbors Near and Far

A few days back, I heard a very loud and scary crash outside our home… somewhere down the block.  I yelled for hubs and we both went out to see if someone needed assistance.  Doors flew open and neighbors noisily poured out of their houses.

I heard what sounded like a gunshot and hubs saw a car speeding around the corner on three tires.  “What’s going on?”  “Everyone okay?” “Call 911!”   Someone near the corner rang out “I got the plate number!!” and we all cheered.

A car had just plowed into two cars parked on the street in front of our neighbor’s house. One car was pushed so hard that it almost landed on the sidewalk as it damaged the second car.

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While we are standing there, a car speeds down our block, does a U-turn and flies back down the street.  Curious.

We all had our smart phones out and were comparing stories…..”What did you hear?” “Who’s car?”   It appears our neighbor a few doors down had two guests over and their cars were now destroyed.  They just stood there and we tried to make encouraging comments.  They were thanking everyone for mobilizing so quickly.

But the story is not over.  I don’t know how many noticed the car that made the U-turn, but when the car returned I recognized it.

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A kind young man, Robert, stepped out and shared his story.  He was not from the neighborhood, but when he turned down our street he was face to face with a car on three wheels driving like a bat out of hell.  He knew someone was up to no good.  Once he made the U-turn he followed the vehicle for a cat and mouse chase around the back roads, alleys, etc.  The hit and run driver even tried the old “turn off the lights and drive very slowly” trick, but Robert was determined not to let this guy get away.

Robert stayed in communication with the police until they joined him and stopped the hit and run perpetrator.  Knowing we were a curious bunch….he came back to tell us that the guy was in police custody.  We all cheered!

Clearly, you don’t have to live in a neighborhood to be a good neighbor.  An officer arrived and we all said our goodbyes and let the officer talk with the two car owners.

Thank you, Robert (no idea his last name), for being our neighbor.

Reflecting on the Women’s March

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Much has been written about the Women’s March on Washington, the day after inauguration.  People wrote about it if they were there or not, supported it or not.  My husband, my friend Susan, and I attended the Salem, Oregon march for as long as my health would allow.  It was worth it.

There was such a joyous feeling.  Strange, since this march was partly born from a woman’s sadness on election day.  To win the popular vote by so much then to lose through the electoral college….she felt helpless.  So she decided to do something.  She set up a facebook events page inviting people to march the day following inauguration.  The LA Times said she went to bed with 40 people joining and when she woke up, there were 10,000.  If there is ever a lesson on wondering if one person can make a difference, here’s a good example.

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This is the first sign I saw, and it struck me as a fitting way to begin the march.  Love, not fear; bringing together, not pushing away. A sea of pink meant to me that we would stand up for those marginalized and insulted by our new president.  We would stand together.

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I love this picture. (I did not take it.  I tried to find the photographer for acknowledgement.)  It was said to be taken at the Portland, Oregon march.  I am proud to say that throughout the country, there were no arrests, no destruction of property, and no break-out riots.

As I said before, for me it was joyous.  There was such hope in the air.  Women, men, children, and several doggies in attendance.  The young and the old, united to say….we are together.  We can make a difference together.  We are united with those across the country, even the world, to say that fear and hate will not win.  Not on our watch.

 

It’s about time…

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WE NEED A NEW FLOOR !  We have been saying that for the last 8 years but finances and time never really came together.  After our washer flooded the floor recently, it was time. I hate making the kind of decision that you have to “live with” if you make a mistake. It gets my stomach in a knot.

I needed help.  So I sent two samples on twitter and FB and asked for a vote.  I also dragged in as many family members as possible for their feedback as well.  When it voting was added up, it was EXACTLY EQUAL.  Had to laugh.  Although the “why” people said “A” or “B” helped in our final decision.

The company workers arrived in the morning and started moving the utilities.  Seriously, the amount of dirt under the refrigerator…  (Let’s just not talk about that.  But for you out there who move your large appliances to clean under them, I salute you.)

Next came the task of pulling up the old squares.  They had been glued down 15 years ago when my husband had done the floor.  But through the years the squares started lifting, looking dirty, and tripping me from time to time.

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Then came the sanding and a light layer to even out everything.  While the floor dried, the vinyl was roughed out in the street (which was a bit unnerving for my husband who had one eye on the traffic and one on the clouds).

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Next came the glue, and then the precision work.  It was all done in one day. Wow.

I want to thank those of you who participated in the vote.  The floor looks lovely.  Here’s a before and after snap.

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Deborah Unger – Feature Artist

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Deborah Unger: Featured Artist

Wood sculpture, Printmaking

Home: Mt. Angel, Oregon, USA

Website: http://lunariagallery.com/lunaria-artists-2/deborah-unger/

Email: Deborah.unger@yahoo.com

During a recent visit to Lunaria, a lovely gallery in Silverton, Oregon, I came face to face with delicately carved figures with hand sewn clothes.  I was struck by the artist’s ability to combine realism with metaphor.  Each sculpture was a short story…and at the same time open to interpretation.

I contacted the artist, Deborah Unger, who was willing to be this month’s featured artist.

Do you have any early memories of doing art?

Growing up, I always enjoyed drawing.  I remember drawing a fish in a fishbowl with a crayon and for some reason, I believe I was four at the time.

You have always enjoyed drawing.  Did this enjoyment lead you to taking courses in art?

I received a Bachelor’s of Fine Art from Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, Oregon.  My major was in printmaking.

Printmaking?  How interesting, because your sculptures are very far from printmaking.  What lead you to that transition?

After graduating I moved to Germany and didn’t have facilities to do printmaking so I tried other media. And though I never considered myself a sculptor, three-dimensional work, particularly Gothic sculpture and altarpieces increasingly compelled me. One day I was in an art supply store and found a piece of linden wood so I bought it and tried my hand at carving. On my first attempt, I was trying so hard to coax a figure out of the wood that I didn’t really leave enough for clothing. Since I sew, I just made her a dress. So I guess I am a trained artist but a self-taught wood carver.

I love that story.  I feel artists will create art with whatever is handy and speaks to them.  Where do you get your ideas?

Because my art is metaphoric and more about the idea than the execution or process, inspiration is key. Sometimes an idea comes as a flash of an image relating to something I’m thinking about. Sometimes it’s a phrase that evokes an image. But sometimes inspiration needs to be helped along. If I need more ideas for work than come easily to me, I think about different images I find evocative and put them together. Often I add something I have a fear of, like fire or heights. That juxtaposing can spark ideas.

From how you talk about the ideas, it seems as if your metaphors or messages are very personal.  Do you collaborate on art projects or mostly work alone?

As most artists do, I work alone. I’ve always thought how strange it feels to make something that can be intensely personal, essentially in secret, and then bring it out to show people. You have to get to that point where you don’t take rejection of it personally, even though what you’ve created is very personal.

There are times when I wish I had some feedback while I’m working. It can help you see things you’ve missed in your own work but it can also lead second-guessing and losing your vision so it’s a bit of a double-edged sword.

Would you be willing to share a few of your works and a little about them?

“The Changeling”

I find mythical creatures which are part human part animal very interesting and think lend themselves nicely to metaphor. That is how The Changeling came about. I was wanting to do some kind of hybrid when “Buck Boy” came to me. As is typical with the way I work, the image comes first and I figure out what it means later. The meaning is clear to me on this one since at the time my son was a teenager.

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I noticed that many of your sculptures have to do with male and female relationships.

 “Hanging On”

This sculpture combines images which I commonly use; houses, relationships between men and women and heights.

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“Blind Leading the Blind”

I’m not sure anymore what made me think of piggy back rides and someone covering your eyes, but suddenly it had a slightly uncomfortable aspect to me.  The not being able to see was what I think it was, so I thought it would be interesting if neither one could see. I think this is a metaphor for relationships in that you never know what’s ahead of you and also about how we handicap those in our lives and ourselves.

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Thank you, Deborah, for sharing your art work and letting us peek behind the curtain of your inspiration.  Thank you for being this month’s featured artist.

 

Remembering a Special Halloween

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A Halloween I will always remember happened when I was new to my present home.  I did not know at the time that I had a neighbor down the street who graciously hosted a dozen or more of her students to her own neighborhood to experience ‘trick or treating.’

They were from the Oregon School for the Deaf, and I would guess 5-7 years old.  Many had never “trick or treated’ outside the protection of the dorms or classrooms.  This was high adventure.

Dressed as ghosts, goblins, princesses, and monsters, they approached the house laughing with hands flying.  They thought I’d be like every other house.  Hand over the candy and nod.  Though I had not expected them, I knew something they did not.

I stepped out on the porch and greeted them in American Sign Language.  “Happy Halloween.  Good to see you all.”

They froze as one and just stared.  It was like they were seeing some kind of strange animal in the wild. They didn’t race for the candy.  They lined up and each took a turn.  The first question is usually, “Are you deaf?”

“No I’m not deaf,” I explain.  “I’m hearing.  But I know sign language.”

Once the ice was broken they smiled and each presented themselves so I could make the appropriate responses to their costumes.  They were more eager for conversation than sweets.

“Oh my….you scare me!  Are you a pirate?”  “What a dress. I love the yellow and orange colors.  Are you a princess?”  “I can see your wings!  Do you do magic?”

I signed with each one until every costume was appropriately appreciated.  Then, they were off –laughing and signing —  to the next house.

I closed the door feeling that I had been on the right street, just at the right time.

Fairbanks, Alaska Part 4: Tourists

Between shuttles, taxis, and planes – we were pleased to rent a car of our own.  Once behind the wheel, we sighed in relief.  We had a mission the first day or two and wanted to find all of Robert’s historical spots, which we did. I shared that journey in “Part 1 Exploring His Roots.”

After that, we could be tourists and just enjoy some of the spots in and around Fairbanks.  North east of town was a little place called Fox, Alaska.  My husband’s last name is Fox, so of course we had to go.  Fox is comprised of two bars across from each other and one small building.

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Bring it on, Sunshine!

Oregon is known for rain, even when most of the state is relatively dry.  The most populated area – the valley where we reside – gets loads of misty, hazy days.  For this reason, I never thought putting up solar panels would be cost effective.

I was wrong.  There is a science to the whole thing and current US incentives have made more folks think about letting the sunshine cut their electric bill.  (Wow, that sounded like some kind of advertisement.)

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