I have a gift for complaining. I’m known to bemoan the unsatisfactory in any element of life that irks me at the moment, and seldom run out of topics. Why, I’ve been heard to complain about other people who complain too much.

One might almost assume I didn’t have a really excellent life. One would be wrong in that. I’m just curmudgeonly sometimes.

Digital illustration from a photo: The Fabric of My Life

You might think I’d carry my umbrella every single day, the way I can gripe about how imperfect life is, but when I leave my bumbershoot half-folded like this to dry after a real rain, I’m reminded that things are often better than they seem…

I like to think I’m not framing my dissatisfaction as criticism and fault-finding, believing myself too pious and generous for such finger-pointing when I know I’m imperfect myself, but of course, any notion of imperfection implies fault or blame at some level. Therein lies evidence of my fault in this insidious pastime.

So I’m working on letting my Pollyanna side dominate better. I can play my own version of her Glad Game and attempt to divine the positives in the situation and keep my attentions there instead of on the downside. I don’t think it healthy, overall, to put too Panglossian a gloss on things and lose touch with reality, but whatever their relative literary merits I suspect young Pollyanna is the more practical of my fictional companions. Instead of pretending that rotten stuff is good, she exhorts us to see what is good and use that to enlighten and change the rest.

Being grateful for what is fine and admirable and sweet is an invitation to imitate it and to use the power of such goodness to defeat the rest. Time spent in recitation and recognition of joys and strengths is never wasted.

Photo: A Tip of the Hat

…It’s much better to give a tip of the hat to what is actually fine and dandy in life, and be glad of it!

What’s Inside

While fiddling around yesterday with one of the iPad drawing apps I’ve been testing, I found, among the many options for textures with which I could draw, this repeating image of a person holding an open umbrella. I’ve done what were essentially pointillist artworks or, at least, a rudimentary and fingerpainted version thereof before, but not in a long time; this little stamp-like thing seemed to offer a fine opportunity for doing something similar, and taking it in a meta-drawing direction, the idea of which amused me, added yet another layer of entertainment. I am, you know, easily amused.

And of course, the first things that came into my silly brain the moment I saw the image were frivolous references. First was It’s Raining Men, followed in swift succession by Rain Man, I Made It Through the Rain, and Singin’ in the Rain, and on it went. Ultimately, I decided to make a simple reproduction of the original image with which I was drawing into the drawing itself, and not even vary it hugely. It seemed oddly satisfying to make the drawing merely an expansion on its parts, and see what that produced.

As I drew, I sensed that this is a concrete representation of what often happens in my art-making: I begin with a mark or two, or materials or media, of what might be quite random sorts and see what I can both literally and figuratively draw out of them. The parts can tell me what the whole should be. It’s my own form of forensics or archaeology, in which I find little objects and clues that, if I’m on my game and all is going well, will help me to discover and reveal the whole that lies within them.Digital illustration

It’s Early Yet

graphite line drawingBeing an inveterate late riser, and a crabby one when forced to get up before I’m ready, no matter what the hour, I am flummoxed for the most part by those who tout the glories of the break of day. I say, for the most part, because even I have been known to admire the sunrise, and even in my worst and most heel-dragging, snarling moments can see how incredibly pretty and magical the beginning of the day can be. In fact, I can outright admire and relish the whole thing if I know I get to watch the show and go instantly to bed again until I’ve had my requisite number of hours abed.

I’ve a fairly wide variety of reasons for not having children, too, not least among them my aforementioned monstrosity in the beginnings of the day, a time when babies and young persons of all persuasions and personalities are apt to be chirping and squealing adorably and performing all manner of gymnastics and, just possibly, noisy and/or noisome bodily functions that would demand kind attentions from me. I am not that nice at the best of times, never mind any time before I’m willing to rise up and be Awake. You can imagine how the very prospect of pregnancy and its sleep disruptions, and those only leading precipitously to years more of the other sort, would seem to me, most particularly as I was already sliding off the back five of my fourth decade of life by the time I got married and thus would have had any hope of an ongoing partner in the proceedings.

You must know, however, that I think children are a very fine invention and well worth the trouble, and also that I have nothing but the greatest admiration for that mystical marvel that occurs when the tiniest edge of the sun peers over the horizon and then in seeming seconds is blazing up the morning sky. It’s just that I am content to leave all of the heavy lifting in those categories to finer beings for as long as I can. My siblings and other relatives and friends have gifted me with an abundance of outstandingly beautiful, brilliant and engaging children to admire, cuddle, tease, flirt with, trade tall tales with or about, and otherwise delight in before handing them back to their parents just in time for any less scintillating activities to be addressed more expertly and semi-willingly than I would do. And dawn, well–that will likely become part of my repertoire when I hit that Certain Age incapable of sleeping massive amounts any longer, but until then, it belongs to others, except in my imaginings or when I am dragged out of repose by duty or airport hours or some other sort of the unavoidably morning-oriented difficulties life presents.

So I am quite content to enjoy a made-up version of sunrise, even making a picture of it with a very slightly baby-shaped mother-to-be washed in its dainty light as she lingers in some little secret garden. I am not designed either for motherhood or for getting up at the first whisper of dawn, but that needn’t prevent my admiring them both from a safe distance. I can assume my odds of conceiving a child at this advanced age have shrunk to a manageable nothingness by now, and I will count on the passage of my hours, days and years to prepare me for that unthinkable morning when I might willingly resurrect my carcass from the pleasant dead-of-bed state before daybreak. Meanwhile, my fancies are large enough to amuse and amaze me, and I thank the rest of you who have so kindly practiced and reported on either of the foregoing astonishing activities and reported back to me for my edification and vicarious enjoyment. I may get back to you with my own first-daylight infatuations someday, but it’s early for that illustration