Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Therapy Art

This coming Saturday, 29 August, it will be 10 years since Hurricane Katrina arrived and sent our lives in to turmoil and fear. You might find it strange to "fear" since we were safely in our dear friends home in Houston. But the fear wasn't for us ... not only were we safe, but we had friends and family calling from South Africa and around the world to offer help and comfort. When we got to Houston, my friends kindly let me phone my sister in South Africa and she alerted people we were safe and gave the number to a special few.
What we feared was what happened to friends we couldn't find for a few days. Fear while watching the drowned Gulf Coast and thinking where are they? Our phones weren't working well but our text messages got through. I must put a plug in here for Virgin Mobile USA... a day or so after the storm hit, we got a text saying something like, "You are probably going to need more than usual, so here is an extra bunch of minutes free for a month. Be safe." not all carriers were that friendly or helpful.
Finally - locating some took weeks and weeks - but we all found each other again. I remember one day I got a text from friends we thought for sure were lost, I started screaming "they're alive, they're alive" to no one in particular. The day I was in the Museum of Art and got another text saying "I'm okay" and burst in to tears.
The houses and stuff/possessions lost weren't top of my list, it was the lives that mattered. And then just as we were getting our breath and starting to think straight, along came Hurricane Rita. But that is another story.
I am interacting more with friends from our time in New Orleans this week since we're sharing our individual Katrina therapeutic art and memories. But I am finding it hard to cope with the constant reports about Katrina on the media. Some reports have me in tears, so I often just turn the radio off. But still, the memories are crowding out just about everything else at the moment.
We've moved often in our lives, singly and as a couple. Some one asked me how many times, and I lost count while trying to work it out! But I have always moved on my own terms, when I want to and why I want to. I loved living in New Orleans. I fit in there so well.
Yes, it is a self-absorbed place where they believe they are the best of everything in the world. Who cares if they are or not? So what? You don't always agree, you just need to go with the flow and live it. We did. We made life long friends and enjoyed it all.
And we weren't ready to leave.
So, that is the reason why even 10 years after the traumatic event, I still in a funny way grieve for it. Have I moved on? Yes. I don't dwell on it. It often pops in to my head but I'm not obsessed with it.
But it feels like unfinished business in a way. I knew we would leave New Orleans one day. It's a given. We move on.

But not that way. It is not an experience I would wish on my worst enemy.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

The Art of Reality

I've just been away on holiday in West Virginia and I am having trouble getting back to reality. Okay - I am having an awful lot of trouble achieving this reality crap. We enjoyed a blissful 8 day stay in a isolated cabin in the hills, pure silence and peace. The cats were with us and loved it too. Yep, they told us, this is a good spot and settled down as though they'd been their all their lives.
We ate excellent meals in the cabin or at quaint restaurants...visited farmer's markets...explored old towns enjoying a renewed energy. We also toured Civil War battle fields.
Spent an entire day at Antietam. Okay - that's not so peaceful when you start reading the gruesome numbers of the carnage... how do you get your head around 23,000 deaths in 12 hours?
Lee enjoys exploring battlefields. I grow weary of the stupid destruction man reigns on each other. So he wanders off and reads all the plaques and things. I sit and sketch. Then we move on to the next area and repeat. It works well. He doesn't feel rushed and I am not bored.
At Antietam, one of the worst attacks and counter attacks took place in a cornfield. Now looking at cornfields take on a whole new meaning. Just next to this cornfield is an old farmhouse with barns and out buildings. I sat on a stone wall to sketched the house because it was so atmospheric.
It had a row of white towels on the line to dry. It made me think perhaps this is what it would have looked like when taken over as a field hospital. But, in reality, it probably would have been over run with wounded and dying men, thick smoke from the guns swirling around and noisy as all get out with cries of pain and shouts for help.
It seemed so incongruent sitting there in this now peaceful park on a hot summer's day with birds flitting about. The battle was held around this time of year and those young men wore woollen gear and slogged through hell. The thought of the discomfort and the whole slaughter aspect seem impossible.
The saddest thing of all - men have been killing each other in some form or other in war since time immemorial. And it has gotten us no where. Have we learned nothing? I often wonder how we got designated the most intelligent of the species?
See... reality is a difficult thing to deal with at any time.

Now, where shall I go on holiday next? Definitely not near a battlefield thanks.
the farmhouse next to the cornfield, Antietam, Maryland