Gauging A Good Life


A Good Life

The elements of a good life. Very personal. To reflect, to assess our life, a life lived well has got to be an individual view to merit the time worth the look. What we think of what we’ve done is all that really matters.

Easier to look around at other people. The panoply of lives displayed before us gone very public because of skill or notoriety for us to ooh, ah, nod, and approve the choices made. Or head shaking NO!! find abhorrent that lad or lassie’s tilt, tinged with insanity or bravado or something we know wrong. What’s the standard, what’s the measure, or is there such a thing. The basic stuff of theatre, of parable, of song. But of ourselves, back to ourselves privately……..

For me, in my life, cataclysma is not long absent. More like the turbulent stream got diverted on a brief tranquil stretch; then round the bend and upheaval encore. Now a recent jarring has set me to evaluating how I have chosen to live. And to look at the benefits and downfalls of my directions, not for a final steely conclusion but to open a train of thought I may revisit and sharpen.
I am, most of all, left to wonder what measuring stick one takes in hand to hold up against such a galactic review.

I had an older brother whose pathway was chosen young, by him and by competitive family pressures. On the other hand, absolutely nothing was expected of me. Not even a good job, good marriage, prosperity, education, or competence. I was a kind of throwaway. It produces a life-long sad longing that nags somewhere along the back between the shoulder blades, up a bit from middle, now lower, yes there that’s it. It also produces, I discovered at long last, a kind of freedom in that whatever choices I made were not likely to bother, irritate, or delight anyone of any immediate importance or with the power to stop me in my tracks. So off I went willy nilly and topsy turvy. And I’ve been at that a long long time.

I have several very early memories, my infancy recalled with clarity even now. One was, I know, prior to attaining one year of life, and I was being driven through the Bronx Botanical Gardens in a little stroller of plaid cloth. I was very close to the ground and upright. The peat and humus of the greenhouse was intoxicating. The warm air of the glass building in contrast with the crisp cold outside. The colors, the weight of the air. The sound of my stroller wheels on the gravel paths. I believe somewhere in me I was struck with knowing that this was all that was necessary for life to be perfect whatever perfect was.

Another crystallized memory when I am perhaps three years old….I am alone and sitting (legs straight out) in a flowered frock and white socks and Mary Janes, on the floor of my upstairs totally unremarkable plain bedroom on the dark wooden floor and there is a window in front of me and light is coming in and I look up. I have in my hands and around me little square wooden blocks with the letters of the alphabet carved on one side and on the other notched parallel lines by which the blocks may be joined for building purposes.
I look ahead, and sort of out of the blue I have the thought that absolutely anything is possible.

Both these early experiences entered me in a kind of weighty truth. It was not with epiphany, shock, hallucination, laughter, tears. I was alone or had no impulse to share the thought with anyone. It was not instruction. It simply was; irrefutable and profound and I knew it.

In the long and current process of growing up I have lost and regained those important minutes a thousand times. And now they come back to me again in this search to understand how to quantify a great span as good or bad. This will have further to go with me, and I hope you think about it too. But at the moment the conclusion I have is this.

If, at the end of a given number of years, we ruffle the record’s pages and inhale the aroma given off and let go into a purely sensory assessment, and judge by this:

Have the years since birth been more than you ever expected for yourself. Has your life been more wonderful and terrible, more horrifying and gratifying, more challenging and thrilling than you ever dared to dream those many years before you even knew how to find your shoes or blow your nose much less see the road with your name writ on it. Has it been more.

http://thehawksperch.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/levitating-bather-sharp3.jpg?w=479&h=361Well then. Bravo to that. Mine has by leaps and bounds. I hope yours, too. And if not? Get busy. There’s always time, right to the final breath. I’m sure of that.
A surety which I chalk up to wisdom gained by for sure having done something brilliant once or twice on the long and winding road.

ODE to the SKETCHBOOK


She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes     

Ode to the Sketchbook

         ink, Sketchbook and Starlight

The SKETCHBOOK.

Neither diary nor journal, though could be. The bindings as widely varied as snowflakes and often as intriguingly beautiful. Cardboard, leather, plastic, cloth. Industrial, scholarly, swank, artsy, craftsy, cute. The marketplace for sketchbooks has expanded enormously and the styles can barely keep up with demand.

But not so long ago, the sketchbook was singularly the serious art class companion, or the private studio portfolio kept close at hand where intimate challenges were explored: the length of a forearm, the profile of a forehead, the dip of the clavicle, the distance between chin and nipple, the turn of a leg, the form of a foot, an angry hand, an open hand, a thunderhead cloud, a stormy sea, a rained-on blossom….kept and revisited through a day, through a life.BILOXI WINTER, LOW TIDE And 20 or 40 or (if you’re lucky) 80 pages of a time so specific that to pick up and look again is to slam the owner into a time, an immediate turn back to a piece of land, a city block, an infatuation or deepest love, the history of a beloved cat or dog, faces, dishes, chairs, gardens, Pen & Ink Robindson Canyon Rd Spring, Sparhawkthoughts…..all of it the very most personal. Because it is one’s own landscape.

To carry a sketchbook under arm or stuffed in a pocket was the equipment, the sole province, the badge of an artist. And to carry such treasure and not be an artist would have been as much engaged in fraud as publicly parading pink satin ribbon tied ballet slippers over the shoulder of a 2-left-footer never dancer. Sacrilege.
So much to learn about the sketchbook.ink, Angels Dancing in Treetops, Garland Park

Angels, Dancing on Treetops “Angels Dancing on Treetops”, the sketchbook drawing above, the oil painting below that. (**See note below)

There weren’t tutorials, you discovered marvelously obscure art supply stores or school shops and checked out the stock. For one thing, an early find, the paper varied in weight and roughness or smooth surface. There were sketchbooks with pure white papers, or gray, or browns, kraft or even black; useful depending on your medium of ink, pencil, chalks.

Some sketchbooks had a ribbon tie, or three ribbons! Some had spiral bindings, in color! Some cloth bound like books. Some five inches square, some 10 by 15 or 18 by 20. Long, tall, wide, fat, thin.

Now, confronted with a small, bound, blank paged, ready-for-action treasure, with its simple cotton gross-grained ribbon to be used to tie shut your private work and thoughts, is thrilling.

It is a tribute to bright ideas, to learning, to invention, to anything is possible in the human experience. Dr Manxi, Bench closeupIt is also, after all, the central reservoir of Leonardo Da Vinci’s fertile mind, and more recently the place that the father of Indiana Jones drew his maps and figured his findings.

I have a more liberal view these days than when I was a student so jealously guarding what identified me to the world. I would allow, these days, a sketchbook in every hand! In the hope that wonderful thoughts, the bon mot, the botanist’s heart would find fulfilment on the magical pages awaiting their ideas. bonbonI would allow the song writer, the poet, the rocket ship designer a welcome into what was once mine and my fellows alone.

And to all, I suggest, in my more generous and kind older age, go forth and get you a sketchbook. And a pen. Or a pencil. And keep it with you until the one day and moment you see or think something you absolutely cannot afford to forget. DSCF4301And remember with a light heart and total delight that there is a sketchbook in your pocket ready to record it.

To develop it. To hold the fine treasure of your thoughts.

*************************************

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**(End Note about “Angels Dancing on Treetops”:  This is a perfect example of the benefit of sketchbooks. I was having a rough go, living with friends, and all of us on edge from it. I drove to Garland Park in Carmel Valley, warm sunny day and I wanted to be alone.  I sat in the front seat of my big ancient suburban, relishing the privacy and looking at the view.  The trees in front of me were moving in the wind.  I looked closer.  They were moving vertically, not horizontally swept by breeze but rather in a kind of bounce from the top! What on earth, I thought.  Then I realized, obviously angels dancing on the treetops, pushing the branches up and down!  I did the sketch, shown above, I didn’t ever want to forget it. Four years later after moving to Big Sur I painted it from the sketch, and from the stirred memorty. Thanks, Oopsjohn.)

Tommy Jefferson, Most Excellent Cat, R.I.P.


THOMAS JEFFERSON

FELINE SMOKE-TABBY EXTRAORDINAIRE

Gone from our lives this week

August 2000 ~ September 2014

The Golden Cat on SilkThis is Tommy very new to my life, the early years, cozied into an orange and gold silk robe.  He always seemed the Golden Cat to me. Symetrical beautiful plush he was, especially his throaty thick ruff that rolled out over his tucked under paws. Tommy had a poster with his face and statistics up on the Post Office Wall in Carmel Valley. (about 5 yrs old, 21 lb. biggie, very healthy, golden eyed and beautiful. It took me some wavering but I said yes. Then I had to prove my worth.

Tommy and I moved from Carmel Valley’s Lower Circle near the River, moved to Big Sur Tommy on the Bedand Sycamore Canyon
& Pfeiffer Beach. He met his first Vietnamese Pig, Labrador, Pug, Whippet, Rocknroll musicians, Rottweiller, Bull Frogs, seagulls, Great King Heron, Trout, and ocean. On Clear Ridge he chased everything that moved including I’m pretty sure one day a FOX. And he had his own garden. In Big Sur had a massive house and gallery and woods to explore, then we opened a gallery in Mid-Valley, and he had a meadow too. Thomas J. patioTommy never much showed any signs of illness, nor complained but about a week ago stopped eating. Bob, and Bob, and Valerie and Mike, and so many of Tommy’s friends stopped in to help out making easy swing shifts. But we lost the battle two days ago.  What a cat.  I’ll miss him forever.Cat Who Loved Flowers, best, detail, TJ, galleryThomas Jefferson Really Loved His Garden.

RESCUE DOGS of 9-11


Lest we forget ~~  THE RESCUE DOGS of 9-11

http://www.dogster.com/files/post_images/96374f066ee222b25cbdab3d3fa18d00.png Border Collie ~  “Cowboy” ~ 9-11, NYC

http://www.dogster.com/files/post_images/487456092ba904e6b0b5a36088e8f03b.png  Debra Tosch and her search-and-rescue partner, Abby, searching at the World Trade Center disaster site.

A rescue dog is transported out of the debris of the World Trade Center, September 15, 2001.  (REUTERS/HO/U.S. Navy Photo by Journalist 1st Class Preston Keres)


  I got to meet Erick and Porkchop when I lived in Yosemite in 20002-3.

“The last surviving 9/11 Search & Rescue Dog has died. Porkchop was only one year old when he heroically aided the search at Ground Zero. After the World Trade Center attacks, 13 Search Dog Foundation teams were deployed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help search for survivors. These teams offered hope in a world that felt somber and hopeless.  Over the intervening dozen years, the dogs have passed away from old age.  Porkchop was the last.”

RIP Splendid hero, all the heroes, the dear departed innocent Americans.

Joan Rivers, American Comedian. Enter Laughing. Keep Em Laughing. Exit.


JOAN RIVERS.    American Comedian.

I didn’t know her but there she was, the burgeoning 50’s comic rubbing funny bones with Lucille Ball and Ethel Mertz, Phyllis Diller, Bob Hope and the boys, there she was my whole life. Full of shtick and noise and Brooklyn, risking every bit as much as Lenny Bruce.

This might be the summer the laughter died. We lost Robin Williams, now Joan, polar opposites ~~ buzz saw wits. Years back, Joan made a cottage industry of ridiculing Elizabeth Taylor when Taylor became a Virginia Senator’s wife, bored to tears and gained a ton.  One Rivers’ joke was something about going to Sea World with Taylor, and they’re in the front row and Shabu the Whale does a leap.  Taylor, says Rivers, couldn’t take her eyes off the whale and leaning over, whispers to Rivers, “Does that come with fries?”   I can’t help it,  I still think it’s hilarious. (And I love Taylor, miss her & all her  excess).

The deadening damp of political correctness and the draconian, stupid Washington, DC have outlawed comedy and satire and fun, and miracles. I don’t see any fearless, critical observers of life in our midst replacing her.  And boy, that’s one reason alone to miss that gutsy broad.

Peggy Noonan, who did know Joan Rivers, wrote a sterling tribute to her today on her WSJ blog.  >>>(Noonan Tribute to Rivers, here)<<<   Worth a read.

Goodbye and hasta la vista, baby. In her last book Rivers said for her funeral she wanted hoopla, Hollywood fanfare, and a windblower so her hair would look like Beyonce’s.

Joan, Can we talk?   Ghost up the Senate, straighten out the middle east, save Israel, finish off ISIS, and tell Melissa to carry on.  We’ll see it.  We’ll know it’s you.

SPARHAWK ART on LABOR DAY ~ the painter celebrates joys of labor all the damn time


Levitating Bather, sharpHAPPY LABOR DAY WEEKEND

         OH the rapture and joy of the 21st Century! 

We may be back on 60 hour weeks, either never having left if you’ve got your own business or nose to someone else’s grindstone so we can still afford the butter for our toast, even if we can’t cover the electric bill there’s hopefully a wood stove. And 4 and 20 blackbirds baked in a pie is starting to look good (it has a happy ending, they fly off but there’s still the crust).

           SO….in celebration of a rotten economy and acknowledging I feel your pain and hope you might briefly consider my own, I can help!  YOU NEED ART!!  I HAVE FABULOUS ART!!   Night, Outside Inside, Detail 2and many other lovely things for hearth and home and garden, Dior Jackets, Carole Little Jackets, Indoor/Outdoor iron screen with ELEPHANTS & PALM TREES, Hand Painted Signs, Pen and Ink Drawings, old chairs, Books, Cards, Uggs (1 pair, tan, gently worn, size 8, discounted @ $50), painted stuff, seashells…..COME TO THE HAWKS PERCH FOR A HOLIDAY DISCOUNT!!  (Mid-Valley, Carmel Valley Road 5 miles east from Carmel, Robinson Canyon Road turnoff at THE HISTORIC FARM CENTER!!)

AND……….

my splendid Australian site for Sparhawk Merchandise  >>>REDBUBBLE<<<

is having a 15% off EVERYTHING SALE THIS   WEEKEND ONLY!  Outside~Inside. Day and Night. Detail II by Barbara Sparhawk  You can now get beautiful, original, one of a kind Sparhawk Paintings (Florals, Animals, Billboards, Portraits)  on T SHIRTS (even Racer-Backs), Outside~Inside. Day and Night. Detail II by Barbara Sparhawk  HOODIES, SWEATSHIRTS. TOTE BAGS, THROW PILLOWS, I-PHONE COVERS, PRINTS, CARDS,   ALL 15% OFF THIS WEEKEND ONLY !!!

                    Lots of NEW items !!!!!

 

AND anyone coming into the gallery who reads this on my blog gets a 15% discount from me too!! On everything in the shop!!  Outside~Inside. Day and Night. Detail I. by Barbara Sparhawk   Second Detail, Garden Gone Wild II by Barbara Sparhawk

 

Hope I make your day.  Come for a visit, say hello, have a look around, bring the family, and bring something GORGEOUS home to cheer your life! 

 

                  Can’t wait to see you…… 

THE HAWKS PERCH ~ MID-VALLEY

THE HISTORIC FARM CENTER, 9700 CARMEL VALLEY ROAD

                              OPEN THISHeron-Otter on Wind, Night Sky, Pfeiffer Beach

SATURDAY, SUNDAY, MONDAY from 10 TO 4.

AND  SHOP ON >>>AUSTRALIA’S REDBUBBLE<<< FOR ALL SPARHAWK CLOTHING, PRINTS, TOTES AND MORE!!Cat Who Loved Flowers, best, full, TJSEE YOU SOON!!

MONGOLIAN PONY EXPRESS RACE ~ The Fabulous Stuff of Adventuring


(photos by Charles Van Wyck, The Adventurists. Blue text in quotes from National Geographic , August 6, 2014, by Ashleigh N. DeLuca)

A photo of five riders on horseback finishing the Mongol Derby in 2010.BE STILL MY HEART………….Hello Genghis Khan, Mongolia’s Wild Horses, Centuries Old Postal Run, and a test to the body and spirit of 21st Century Riders.  On a wing and a hoof and a prayer, $14,000 entry fee, you too (if you pass muster)  can sign on……………

A photo of three riders on the Mongol Derby stopping for water with their horses.

In 2009, a UK group called The Adventurists brought back, to life and contest, the pony express run of 600 miles that Genghis Khan began in the 1200’s.  “At the postal route’s zenith, a letter could cross from Kharkhorin in the east to the Caspian Sea on the far western edge of the empire, a distance of some 4,225 miles (6,800 kilometers), in two weeks (an average of about 300 miles, or 480 kilometers, a day.”

The Soviets, in efforts to erase Genghis Khan from history and memory, stopped the mail carriers in 1949.   “Further complicating the challenge, the widely varied Mongolian landscape is difficult to prepare for: high passes, wooded hills, river crossings, wetlands and floodplains, sandy semiarid dunes, rolling hills, and dry riverbeds, as well as the famous wide-open grasslands. Of course, all of this terrain is navigated while adjusting to the erratic temperaments of a new semi-wild horse every 25 miles.” A photo of a line of horses awaiting incoming riders during the Mongol Derby.

“But more riders are signing up every year. Last year, A photo of Lara Prior racing in the Mongol Derby in 2013.  (photo, Richard Dunwoody, the Adventurists)

Prior-Palmer (pictured above), a 19-year-old British rider, won the race in seven days, making her the first female rider to win the Mongol Derby. This year’s field includes riders from 16 countries, including Germany, Switzerland, Australia, the U.S., the U.K., Iceland, China, and Ireland.”

Rose Sandler, a 32-year-old biochemical engineer from Pipersville, Virginia, has been preparing for the past four months. She was a last-minute addition to the competition when a place opened up unexpectedly. “I’ve been told that it breaks you down to the basics of human existence,” she says.”

30 horses are used along the trail by each one of the 40 plus riders who sign up.  This year over a thousand horses were made ready. They are stationed along the trails with Mongol herders, to whom horses are a profound cultural presence. They are well-paid for their skills during the races. 

     “High Asia is where horses were first saddled and tamed and ridden, so it’s one of the oldest equestrian cultures, and they really admire and respect the horse in a kind of spiritual way,” Willings explains.  “Every ger, the herders’ portable yurt-like homes, has ropes made from the tail hairs of its owner’s favorite horses, and the countryside is littered with rock cairns called ovoos where herders have placed tails or skulls of particularly beloved horses.”

“Herders write songs for their horses and serenade them as they watch over them or when they are milking their mares. The national drink of Mongolia is fermented mare’s milk, also known as airag. Besides riding for the title of the 2014 winner of the Mongol Derby, the winner also gets the honor of drinking the first bowl of airag.”

A photo of a woman caring for a horse during a break on the Mongol Derby. (photo credit, Quentin Moreau, in National Geographic)

“….the riders are weighed wearing their riding clothes, an empty pack, and an empty water container, while holding their Mongolian saddle and bridle; in total they cannot weigh more than 187 pounds (85 kilograms). They are allowed an additional 11 pounds (5 kilograms) in their packs after being weighed.”

The horses remain part wild, newly caught, tamed barely enough to be ridden if you’re strong of limb and heart.  Riders are thrown often, riders break bone and rip flesh, some sustain punctured lungs, broken pelvises, torn ligaments. 

This year’s winner, Sam (Samantha) Jones, Australian who’s been riding since childhood.

SAM JONES ~ WINNER !!!  ~ MAKES THE FINISH.

“I got lost several times, I was quite good at that but I always found my way back. I never got  really sick, there were times I thought i might vomit, & there were times I thought i might poop my pants, but that’s what you get when you do something as extreme as this, but I never got really sick. I had my share of aches and pains but my body got better and better as i went along & I adapted and yeah, I could happily keep riding. Give me another horse and I’ll go.”

“The 40 year old mining operator chose to ride alone for most of the race. She took the gamble of camping out past HS26 yesterday evening, with only 45 minutes riding time left in the day; despite the knowledge that bad weather was forecast and a lost horse would certainly cost her the race. It was bold decisions that earned her victory as much as speedy riding and good navigation skills.” (From The Adventurists)

(click here for the full National Geographic Article)

This is quite some bunch!    READ MORE ABOUT “THE ADVENTURISTS”  click>>>HERE<<<<,