Tuesday, September 29, 2015

"Wouldn't It Be Nice"

About twenty years ago, Kathie and I were invited by Phil Gonring to be his guests at a gala dinner for Denver's movers and shakers honoring important teachers out of their pasts.  We met Phil at the old Hilton ballroom and sat at a table with, among others, Jared Polis, who at that time was just a fabulously wealthy internet entrepreneur beginning to get interested in politics, education in particular.  I remember Katherine tried to hit him up for a grant, but to no avail.

It was a lovely event.  It was unlike most events I've been to honoring teachers.  We didn't have to walk through a line and put slices of pizza on our paper plates, and instead of a giant transparent tank of punch in shades of pink, we were served wine and could even go up to a bar and get a drink.  To top it all off, there wasn't a power point projector anywhere in sight and no butcher paper.  Bill Cosby spoke instead.

We were looking forward to The Coz, but his speech was the only disappointment of the night.  He got up on that stage and commenced to commiserate with all of the noble educators gathered there.  He praised us for our determination to fight for the kids in the face of antediluvian authorities who are systematically bent on destroying public education.  He praised us for performing in appalling conditions, in over-crowded classrooms, and in buildings falling apart for lack of care.

As he was talking, it slowly dawned on all of us that this man had no idea what he was talking about.  His descriptions of public schools, dysfunctional buildings, and rampaging kids was right out of BLACK BOARD JUNGLE, maybe TO SIR WITH LOVE, but certainly nothing that any of us in that room had experienced.  Instead of addressing the very real issues confronting education, Cosby just reacted to his Hollywood generated conception of schools.  He relied on speaking points that missed the mark time and time again.  I almost felt sorry for him when he clearly couldn't understand why he wasn't killing.  Judging by recent developments in Cosby's life, you think he would have learned to stop feeding lines and assorted crap to his victims.

He thought if he fed off our anger about education he would be a success.  The thing was that we really weren't very angry.  We were well fed, a little high, and in the company of our favorite people, star students.

I've been taping Colbert and watching each morning.  I have heard him talk to Jeb Bush, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Ted Cruz, and Donald Trump.  And after each conversation I thought of Bill Cosby telling us what he thought we wanted to hear on that night twenty years ago.

I will start out by saying they all seemed like nice people, even Trump.  Jeb and Ted seemed very uncomfortable, as if their staffs had insisted they appear against their wishes.  Joe seemed exactly like Joe.  He was funny, wore his heart on his sleeve and always said exactly what he meant.  Poor guy.  That's why he hasn't a prayer of getting the nomination.  Trump was witty, with a confidence bred of billions of dollars, and he did a nice job of spelling out his fantasy of a 2000 mile wall paid for by Mexico.  Elizabeth Warren was an emotional basket case who actually left Colbert a little embarrassed and completely speechless.

That brings me to Bernie.   I agree with almost everything he says, just not the way he says it.  Quite frankly, I don't see that much difference between his progressive rage and the conservative recalcitrance he decries.

A recent Daily Beast article explains that Bernie has a solid lead over Hillary among college types.  To offer evidence, they followed Bernie to one of his raucous campus events and interviewed a handful of attendees, asking them to explain Bernie's appeal.  What follows is a list of paraphrased quotes.

-I like Bernie's message on the environment and inequality.
-He's not making compromises in his vision
-Wants 12 weeks medical leave
-Wants to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour
-Wants to expand Social Security
-Wants to increase funding for jobs, education, etc.
-Wants to force (!) publicly funded elections by insisting (!!) any Supreme Court nominee pledge (!!!) to undo Citizens United
-Wants to raise taxes on the top tenth of the top one per cent.

Favorite Bernie quote among the audience:  "While they have the money and the power, we have something they don't have.  We have the people."

I agree with almost everything, but I think messages get lost when they are shouted at you.  Now, I believe Bernie's shouting is legitimate rage.  I feel it.  Most people I know feel it.  But it's still shouting and the message gets lost.  Sometimes, like in the case of the Republican field, a candidate shouts because he has no message and he wants his audience to simply feel the rage.  Let's hope they come to their senses and realize their method destroys the country, and it doesn't do the Republican party any good to boot.

I've been working on "Wouldn't It Be Nice" by the Beach Boys.  It think it is the quintessential rock song and should be Bernie's campaign anthem.  But he needs to be careful.  There are a couple of chords in the verse that are nearly impossible to play.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

I Know My Religious Shit

There are these terrific people from St. Louis, Terry and Ellen, who stay a week at Jenny during our stay.  They've been going there longer than we have and they always bring Father Robert (I'm pretty sure that is his first name), a long time family friend, with them and put him up in his own cabin.  If you know the rates at Jenny Lake Lodge, you will agree with me that Terry and Ellen are building up big time points in their heavenly bank account with their largesse.

Terry usually shows up in the lodge around six in the morning to pick up some coffee for his group and we sit for a moment by the fire and visit about yesterday's golf game and today's hike.  My favorite chat this past summer happened the day after Pope Frances compared the excesses of capitalism to the dung of the devil.  Trust me, the vast majority of the guests at Jenny Lake Lodge are raging capitalists or they couldn't afford to be there, so it was clear that Terry was not pleased that the Vicar of Christ had basically condemned his life style (Actually, he only condemned capitalism's "excesses", not the thing itself.).

"Ya know, Christ hung out with rich people too," Terry said with confidence.

"That's right," I agreed, "like when he was kicking them out of the temple or comparing their chances of heaven to camels getting through needle eyes."  I didn't really say that.  I try really hard to refrain from news and politics of any description when I'm in the Tetons, but it took all my Christian charity to refrain.

I can't say I'm surprised by the conservative reaction to Pope Frances.  Rick Santorum must be going crazy.  Bill O'Reilly as well.  All those folks who want to defund Planned Parenthood, build a wall, and deport children simultaneously must be pissed.  The Pope evidently doesn't agree with them.  He even has suggested the possibility of forgiving abortions.  Has the whole world gone mad?

I am also not in the least surprised by the Pope's pronouncements.  I am the product of a Catholic boyhood.  The sacristy at Our Lady of the Mountain in Estes Park was my second home.  I was trained by Jesuits at Regis (You ever notice how didn't just go to a Jesuit school, you get trained by one?).  I hung out with Fathers Boyle and Maginnis at Ernie's at 44th and Federal.  Tom Steele baptized by first child.  So Pope Frances is what I would have expected of a Jesuit.

All the Jesuits I've known (lots) share some commonalities.  They are, to a man, remarkably erudite.  They are articulate.  They care a lot more about Aquinas and Augustin than they do about passing judgement on others.  In their theology classrooms, God was almost an afterthought.  They understood that there are precious few clear cut moral choices.  They drank great scotch and told ribald stories into the late hours of the night.  They were also deeply spiritual.  They knew the theology.  They practiced what they preached.

Frances is just reminding us who Christ really was.  What he really taught.  Contrary to what they would have you believe, He was not a capitalist.  Nor was he a socialist.  He was a humanist; that's what transubstantiation is all about.  At least that is the understanding I took away from 27 hours of theology and one incredibly gruesome reading of SUMMA TEOLOGICA.  He is saying all these great things, these seemingly liberal things, but if I know my Jesuits there is nothing liberal about them.  He's just speaking truth.

There was this great moment on Colbert's tribute to the Pope show the other night.  When Colbert asked Andrew Sullivan (one of my heroes) how difficult it was to reconcile his homosexuality with his Catholicism, Sullivan responded that it was his Catholicism that forced him to "come out."  Sullivan's Catholicism, he said, trained him to be honest, to be a truth teller, and to have courage.

I am not a practicing Catholic.  Far from it.  But I do know my religious shit.  I have Jesuits to thank for that.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Butterflies Get Sick And Die

Ursula is dead.

Kathie informed me about an hour ago and I just this minute walked out to the back yard to confirm her diagnosis.

There she was in the large planter base (or whatever you call the plate things that pots drain into) covered with the grass Willa and Jaydee fed her last Thursday, her larval stage a curled up, withered, and blackened husk of what it was just four days ago.

Her existence was in question from the moment Willa found her crawling toward The Girl Garden in the back yard, Jaydee prompting her along with a blue Tonka mini pick-up.  Willa quickly bent down to show her sister how to pet the little crawly thing and she was really gentle with the beast until it slithered onto the palm of her hand.  It was only a little flinch, but the would be butterfly was dashed to the ground.

I transferred the creature to the plant thing in hopes of prolonging her life long enough for Willa and Jaydee  to get a good fix of Nature and gathered them around to look at it as though in a frame.  Willa dubbed her Ursula and the two girls spent a good fifteen minutes gathering grasses from around the yard to put in Ursula's new home.

During dinner later on, we all took turns looking in on Ursula.  She didn't move much and when she did it was usually to flop on her back, little feet wiggling in the air.  Jaydee ignored her, moving on to other things.  Willa was determined to prod her back to a more lively state. Ken was skeptical.  I, having been to a butterfly farm in Belize where the guide assured us over and over that butterflies--all of them--get sick and die, was more resigned to Ursula's fate and poured myself another sangria.

The problem is I pick Willa up at school today and take her to our house to hang out until one or both of her parents picks her up and I don't know what I should do about Ursula.  Katherine is in favor of tossing Ursula into the bushes, betting that Willa will never notice.

I am more apt to take the Jack Nicholson approach to this situation:  "While transferring the insect out of the planter, Colonel Martenson, is expedient and efficient, it isn't exactly the American Way!"

No, I think this might be a great moment to teach Willa (Jaydee might be a little too young for the lesson to really sink in) about the ephemeral nature of life.

"Gramps, where's Ursula?  What happened to Ursula?"

"Ursula's dead.  She got all black and dried up and I threw her in the bushes."

You don't want to pull any punches when you're teaching kids a lesson.  Just lay it out for them.  But be compassionate.  You'll notice I'm not going to opt for the make-her-feel-so-guilty-she'll-crumple approach.

"Gramps, what happened to Ursula?"

"You kept touching her and she died."  

A little harsh you think?  Hey, it's a tough world out there.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

"I Walking"--Lessons in Living in the Moment from Jaydee & Santa Fe

Good Morning.  It is Katherine today.

We just returned from Santa Fe.  I learned so much.  Part of the learning process was the six hours of riding in the car on the return trip.  Jim did the driving.  I just rode along and thought about stuff.  This time I made shawls in my head and painted our house in my head and moved paintings from various walls to other walls in my head.  I kept trying to look at the scenery and pay attention to where I was, but my mind kept jumping hither and thither.

 This ride I found myself searching for ways to keep myself in some sort of Zen life "in the moment."  Pretty ironic.  You can't analyze living in the moment.  You just kind of do it.   I still analyzed it anyway while endless New Mexican plains rolled by.

I figured out that Jaydee is a pretty nifty teacher for living in the moment.  All I have to do is keep a one year old around all the time.  Not happening.  The kind of awareness Jaydee uses and takes is exhausting.  That's insight number one.  Living in the moment wears you out.

Jaydee forces me to live in the moment simply because of her age and language abilities and her total lack of concern about her physical being.  Jaydee has no auxiliary verbs.  She talks up a storm in two word sentences that point the way to seeing the world without future or past.  "I scary."  "I running."  "I excited."  "I funny."  "I sorry."  I could go on and on.  She has lots of these sentences and each is executed exactly at a perfect point in time and simply tells you what she feels or what she is doing right at that very moment.

I love  it when she says, "I funny!" the most.  She tells numbers of jokes.  One of Jaydee's favorites involves offering a tidbit of food or a toy to someone she loves and then withdrawing the tidbit with a simultaneous giggle of satisfaction at having pulled off a very funny joke.  Then she says, "I funny."  There is no judgment or concern.  Jaydee is simply reporting the truth.  "I funny."  She is right.  She is funny.  She is truly one of the funniest people I know.

Mostly Jaydee just lives.  She does stuff and reports it and feels stuff and reports it and she moves on.  It's a way of life I've been trying to figure out for most of my life.   That's lesson number two.  I need to report my life and not label my life.  "I funny" can work for me too.

I can capture that same in-the-moment feeling Jaydee models sometimes when I leave home.  When I am away from home, life is newer.  Doing the laundry is rarely new.  Trying to revel in the moment when I'm moving a load of towels from the washer to the dryer is something for a Zen prince--I just can't do it.  Paying attention to a hail storm hitting you sideways as it blows in from a Teton canyon is easy.   Picking out the correct setting on the dryer--not so much.

That's lesson number three.  Living in the moment is easy when the moment is new.

The trip to Santa Fe was a real in-the-moment experience because is was new.  This time Santa Fe kept me awake to reality because walking there became very Jaydee-like and I kept saying "I walking" over all the uneven surfaces.  And then there was the opera.  I don't know how anyone can go to a really fine opera and not be overwhelmed by the moment.

None of the sidewalks or floors are even and flat in Santa Fe and pretty soon "I walking" was my mantra.  Walking from place to place was a balancing act in Santa Fe.  Really.  The streets are made of concrete or bricks, but are not flat.  The wooden floor in our hotel room was uneven.  It rained one day and after the rain, the sidewalks were pocked with water puddles where tree roots or haphazard construction created dimples and dips.  On the stairs to the opera, the rain moved east to west on the stairs and puddled on one edge.  No parking lot, street or sidewalk was even.  There were a few moments walking the Plaza when my mind drifted and I inevitably tripped.  Living in the moment while walking is a real safety necessity in Santa Fe.

The opera is a very in-the-moment experience as well.   The theater itself is gorgeous and worth just looking at.  When the opera begins, there is just so much going on.  The orchestra conductor is a joy by himself.  The fellow who conducted Rigoletto had a left arm that just made me happy whenever he flourished it around.  Then there are costumes and dance and the voices and the music and the set and the actual content of the story.  You hear words and music flow by and you read the script as it flows by on a small screen in front of your seat.  It takes an ability to let your right brain relax and capture the whole aesthetic experience while your left brain makes some attempt to make sense of the experience and classify it in some appropriate spot in your mind.  There is so much that it makes your head explode with awareness.   There is so much that is new that it is impossible to miss the moment.

We spent three days in Santa Fe toddling along the uneven sidewalks and watching opera.  When we returned home, we spent a day watching Willa and Jaydee and I'm full to the brim with lessons about staying in the moment.   At the same time,  the mundane chores of my life are piled high in front of me.  I need to tackle them with joy.  I want to tackle them with joy.

We will see.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Senescence in Santa Fe


The more I travel, the more I realize the ravages of aging.  For example, this was the second four or five hundred mile drive that did me in.  That never used to happen.  K and I could drive straight through to Santa Fe, or Jackson, or Sundance and hop out of the car, get a few drinks at the nearest friendly bar, hang out a bit, and then have a big dinner with a bottle of wine that night.  The next morning?  Nothing.  No big deal.  We'd go off on a hike or something.

But when we drove to Jackson Hole last month, I had to excuse myself from our dinner with David half way through the first course and I didn't fully recover till lunch two days later.  Of course, the bottle of Veuve Cliquot on the porch when we first arrived (a tradition we are not willing to forsake) and the Margarita I had in the lodge before dinner were probably contributing factors.

And then there's these last few days.  We drove to Santa Fe, hydrated constantly, stopped for small bites now and then, and peed at every opportunity.  In other words, all things were pretty much normal.  But then we got to La Posada de Santa Fe and things changed.  We had a couple of Margaritas (they were so good we had to order seconds) at the Staab House, did a little shopping on our way to the Cantina at Coyote Cafe, had some killer apps and, yes, another drink or two.  By the time we got back to the room it was early evening, we hit the sack, exhausted, both to wake sporadically through the night to vomit that day's intake.

And the next day I was on the verge of nausea all the way till the opening chords of RIGOLETTO.

RIGOLETTO, that brings me to the real topic of this post.  The opera was wonderful, but that's not what I want to talk about.  When we got back to the room and I took off my coat, I discovered that my iPhone was missing.  I instantly knew how it happened.  Gilda finally died after a few closing scales, the cast bowed, I stood up, and the lights rose.  Since, the walk back to the car promised to be chilly and damp, I took off my jacket and draped it over the back of my chair so I could put my hoodie on underneath.  The jacket promptly fell off my chair and I, with people impatient to get past, picked it up and threw it on in a hurry.  Unfortunately, my phone was in my inside pocket.  It evidently fell out and was currently resting under seat 103 in the second row of the balcony.

My first reaction was typical, I am told, of me:  "Oh shit, I lost my phone.  Oh well, fuck it."  That reaction never fails to infuriate, or at least frustrate, my long suffering spouse.  She, hopeless idealist that she is, has faith that a person, any person, encountering a lost iPhone would certainly turn it in to lost and found.  Make an effort at least.  In the spirit of full disclosure, her optimism is buoyed by the fact that my phone is so old nobody would want it.

She called the opera, told our (my) plight to some guy in lost and found and let him know that we would be back for that evening's performance of SALOME to see if it had been found.

My second reaction is always a little like Holden Caulfield's would be in a similar situation:  "I guess I just don't care that much about losing my phone.  It's not like anyone ever calls me . . ."

But I do have to admit, I was a little shaken by the idea that some creep could find my phone and start taking credit for my Lumosity scores.

Anyway, Kathie came to the rescue and saved me from my despairing nature.  And then when we got to the opera that night, we checked at the lost and found and there it was at the top of the drawer littered with more phones, a few sets of keys and a couple of jackets.

We walked back to the little food kiosk outside the main gates and I was floating on the largesse of human nature that Katherine always takes for granted, when I discovered that I had lost my debit card!  But again, I knew right where I lost it.  We had lunch at The Inn of the Anasazi just like a couple of boulevardiers because it was the first time our stomachs felt like they could handle it.  I had a great time and evidently left my card behind along with the bill.

My reaction was different this time.  More hopeful.  But when I told Katherine about my second losing incident in as many days, it was her response that ultimately gave me pause:  "Don't worry about it," she assured me.  "I should have been watching you more carefully."

"WATCH ME MORE CAREFULLY?!  Am I really that far along into my dotage?"  I didn't really say that, but I was a thinking it.

As we walked to our seats, I took umbrage in all the old men surrounding me who could barely make it to their seats and I realized it could be worse.  I'll bet their wives carry their check cards for them just in case and don't allow phones.

Friday, August 7, 2015

A Traveling Macho Freak Show

I have a lot of male issues.  I've probably mentioned that before.  About a year ago I admitted I was prejudiced against white males in my age group, especially ones wearing ill-fitting baseball hats. Whenever I see a group of them on the street, I cross over to the other side and avoid eye contact.

That's one of the reasons I don't go to workout as early as I used to.  I'm trying to avoid the gathering of bombastic conservative males who tend to congregate at ridiculously early hours at the Y, standing belly to belly, shaking their collective heads about the latest dreadful thing Fox has told them is looming over this exceptional country of ours.

I've always been more comfortable with females.  I was raised by females (grandmother, mother, aunt, two big sisters, and one absent father), so I suppose that explains it.  There are many "male" things that I just don't get.

I don't choke up when Kevin Costner plays catch with his father at the end of FIELD OF DREAMS.

I don't like special effects debauches like MISSION IMPOSSIBLE.  I'd rather watch THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA at home.

The one time I was involved in one of those stereotypical weekly poker nights with the guys, I stopped showing up after the second night.  It was boring and smoky and the table was sticky.

In RIO BRAVO, in any John Wayne movie, when he hits the guy in the bar with his rifle because he lied, I am appalled and wonder why someone doesn't lock him up.

When Tommy Lee Jones says "I don't bargain" to his newly deafened underling in THE FUGITIVE, I don't get some kind of macho thrill.  I can't help but think the guy is a psychopath.

I can't sustain a conversation about football, basketball, investment opportunities, drywalling, fishing, or hunting longer than five minutes.  I'm always amazed at how long men my age can talk to each other about meaningless bullshit.

I don't like competition.  My goal in a tennis match, for instance, is to keep the ball in play as long as possible.  Tennis, for K and I, is an aerobic activity pure and simple.  I don't even know why we bother to keep score.

I hate seeing couples at a restaurant where the men talk to each other about whatever it is that men talk about (see two items above) and the women talk about women stuff.  I think there should only be one conversation per table and it should include everyone.  Of course, part of the reason I say that is that I can't hear well enough to carry on a dueling conversation.

I'm saying all this because it informs my feelings about the upcoming (never ending) political season.  Republicans, if they are true to form, are going to nominate whoever is the TOUGHEST.  Toughest on immigrants.  Toughest on entitlements and welfare queens.  Toughest on Iran.  Republicans are going to nominate whichever member of their traveling macho freak show comes closest to saying "I don't bargain."

And the hell of it is that the whole country seems to be moving in that direction.  According to polls, Americans are against the Iran deal by two to one!  Why is that?  Is it because it is easier to latch on to fear mongering sound bites and calls to get tough than it is to pick up on all the nuances of Kerry's accomplishment?

I guess that's my male issue in a nutshell.  It just seems apparent to me that the get-tough-we-don't-bargain stance is one that requires no brains, only balls.  Unfortunately, all the evidence suggests the electorate prefers the latter.

Friday, July 24, 2015

We Are Art Collectors. Go Figure.

Today this is Katherine.  

I'm sitting here looking at one of our barns.  This is The Old Woman Barn (Richard Harrington) and it holds down the fort in our TV room/knitting den.  I look at this barn a lot.  This barn has become home for me.  I put the photo of The Old Woman Barn up before I began so I could look at it while I typed.  It's funny--the walls of our house feel more like home than the actual structure does.  I'm not sure if this is good or bad.

Jim and I have entered our "art" period.  It seems to be following our "food" period.  Fortunately, we didn't have to stop eating or cooking as we moved into our "art" period.  The expense of the "food" period, however, did not diminish.  And the expense of the "travel" period has not diminished as we moved from there to the "food" period.  I am discovering our interests mount up.  I suspect I am not the first person to figure this out.  Our interests increase beyond the increases in our income. This sucks.  

In addition to the expenses of our interests, we just purchased a roof.  It is brown.  The old roof was just old and insurance doesn't cover "old" when it comes to a roof.  It is no fun buying a roof.  Again, our new roof is brown.  That's all I have to say about our new roof.

I have no interest in this new roof and that disturbs me.  I'm at a place where I'd happily trade the roof for a really fine painting.  I think this might be sick and twisted.  

This disturbing desire to have real live paintings has many strong roots, but for now I'm just thinking about how our "art" period connects to Jenny Lake Lodge and the Tetons.  There are other contributors (Santa Fe, Barbara Hauben, my grandmother, and Katie Hoffman come to mind at the moment), but I'd have to say that we buy barns and cowboys (so far) in Jackson because of a series of happy hazards that began at Jenny Lake Lodge.  We are having an "art" period because we return to this boutiquey-cabiny-foodie lodge in the Tetons year after year.  It's there we decided we like being surrounded by art because we ate in a dining room dripping in paintings and there that we met David Hezlep who led us to the Jackson Wildlife Museum and The RARE Gallery in Jackson.  

The dining room at Jenny Lake Lodge is filled with art.  It is all "plein-air" art.  It's the sort of thing where artists set up their easels at spots conveniently located in front of the Tetons and then they paint the mountains they see and try to capture the amazing way these mountains catch the amazing light.  Jim Wilcox is the Jackson big name in this style and we can't afford anything he does.  That's just fine with us.  Jim and I learned early on while having incredible dinners at Jenny, surrounded by "plein-air" Teton landscapes (many done by Wilcox himself), that, well, we didn't ever want to own any of it.  We just aren't "plein-air" kinds of folks.   

We remember a disillusioning moment over the "plein-air" style when some folks we know from DC discovered Wilcox often added or subtracted from a "real" setting to create better balance in a painting.  They own a Wilcox and one of their happy things was traipsing all over the park looking for the exact spot their painting had been created.  A trip to the Wilcox Gallery and meeting Wilcox's son taught the couple the horrible truth and they realized their painting might not exist anywhere for sure.  I'm not sure they have recovered yet.  

We are English teachers.  We suspend our disbeliefs easily.   We don't tie art appreciation to any belief in reality as we know it.  Our barns are, we've learned, inspired by real live barns.  We know we would never ever recognize one of the "real" barns in the flesh.  None of them are in Wyoming.  We're okay with that.  

Part of having an "art" period is knowing what you like and what you don't like.  The Jenny dining room taught us that we like being surrounded by art and that we don't like the "plein-air" Teton paintings.  That's a lot I think.

We've spent many hours in the Jenny dining room with our friend David discussing those Teton landscapes draped on the walls everywhere.  The dining room wouldn't be right without these landscapes.  It's amazing how you can learn to love and appreciate things you don't want to own.  Wanting to own something doesn't have near the aesthetic distance, but it is amazingly satisfying.  

Anyway,  David introduced us to the Jackson Wildlife Museum and The RARE Gallery.   Ritualistically, we visit these places when it rains or we want to rest from all the hiking and kayaking we do.  We love seeing new shows each year at the JWM.  This year a line of huge masks honoring the Chinese Zodiac critters lined the walkway from the parking area to the museum itself.  Artist Ai Weiwei created the masks.  They are wondrous.  

David also taught us how to bring art to the Jenny lobby.  He always bought the coffee table books at the JWM about the shows he saw while visiting Jenny and he gifted them to the lodge.  Those books became the beginning piece of our nightly pre-dining ritual--we have a drink by the fire in the lobby and thumb through one of the "art" books in the bookcase.  We have learned about art and artists this way (Weiwei this year) and once we discovered a photograph of my grandmother in an art class taught by William Merritt Chase in a book devoted to his work.  

We now follow David's lead and gift books to the lodge as well.  It makes us happy when we see others thumbing through them in a communal sort of way while they enjoy the wait for dinner.  Sometimes a classical guitarist plays in the background.  Jenny just drips in art in all sorts of ways.

David also introduced us to The RARE Gallery in Jackson.  It is different than the other Jackson Galleries.  It is more contemporary and more Eastern and more Western and more like a wonderland of things we would love to own.  The walls are not cluttered.  You can see individual works of art.  This is good.

We have visited for many years and were always welcomed by the owner.  She chooses the works based on connections with the artists.  Her knowledge of their crafts and inspirations and aspirations make gallery viewing a new experience.  We just loved going to the gallery.  She never tried to sell us anything.  She taught us about the artists the gallery loves.  It was during this time that we fell in love with the Harrington barns.  We didn't mean to do it.  Really. 

Our story with RARE continued when Chris gave Jim the first Harrington barn.  Jim has told this story in another post.  This seemed to free us and we bought a small Harrington barn last summer and a triptych by a new artist we have come to love (Michael Swearngin) at the RARE.  Then, in another wild and wacky move, we celebrated Christmas and our anniversary by buying The Old Woman Barn. Three of anything is a collection.  We officially have a collection of Richard Harrington barns.   I worry that this pleases me as much as it does.  Is this also sick and twisted?  We are art collectors.  Go figure.

We had any number of rainy days to rest in the Tetons during our just-finished stay at Jenny.  We visited The RARE Gallery as well as the JWM twice this year.  We bought a new Swearngin painting.  Ropers Under Full Moon.  Pretty big.  Swearngin is our cowboy guy and not as pricy as our barn guy.  He's newer.  He begins with a black canvas.  This intrigues us.  We like his "palette."  It feels weird saying things like that.

Swearngin seems to be to cowboys what Harrington is to barns in our life.  We seem to have developed an impressionistic western barn and cowboy approach to art around here.  I'm guessing neither one of us thought it would ever go this way.  

I like entering our house.  I walk in and see the wall with "Chris's Barn" (what we call it),  the Swearngin triptych  (I wish I could remember the title), Ropers Under Full Moon, and my Grandmother Wardin's  pastel portrait of my Uncle Harry.  There is another barn not pictured here--a watercolor done by Jim's uncle and probably the only work that has survived his death in WWII  (a story reserved for the book Jim is writing now).   

I walk in and the art on the wall hits me as soon as I open the door.   I look up at all this art and I feel home.  The cowboys and the barns do a square-dance on the wall that just says welcome to me.  I feel this same feeling of home with The Old Woman Barn upstairs.  

I see home in the art around me and I know a huge part of this is from our home away from here at Jenny.  I am liking our "art" period.