Rain Dances and Fire Angels

18 June, 2021: The unexpected 3 hour rain and hail storm began in the mid-afternoon and came on the heels of my rain danced prayers and calls for precipitation. The rains stick I purchased in 1996 at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival served as my percussive instrument as I danced my way around the perimeter of my good friend’s cabin. Had the storm not saturated the ground, I would not have been granted permission to build the small fire that you see in the photo. If you look closely, the outstretched wings of what we call the cabin’s fire angel can be seen in the fire’s flame.

I can appreciate the skepticism of the notion that a rain dance can help elicit precipitation, and that my efforts are a ridiculous and futile effort. But there have been other instances, and witnesses to them, that have been successful to varying degrees. On that day, the meteorologists forecast of another week without rain in Northern California was proven wrong.

Today, nearly three months since it began, the Dixie Fire still burns. My friend’s cabin was miraculously spared, but the shed that stood just 70 feet away was destroyed. My heart aches for those who were not as fortunate. I remain in awe of the firefighting crews that continue to battle the seemingly never ending fires of increasing intensity. Let their prayers also be heard and may their fire angels remain vigilant.

© 2021, Theresa Mae Funk. All copyrights reserved.

Scenes from Dreams: Preludes to Reality

In my quest to understand why I continue to resist the calling to create original works of art in service to others, I discovered Steven Pressfield‘s books the War of Art and The Artists’s Journey: The Wake of the Hero’s Journey and the Lifelong Pursuit of Meaning. Discovering Steven’s work was initiated by a series of dreams I have been having since abandoning my art practice over twenty years ago to pursue a passionless career in “the real world”. In these dreams, the Muse arrives as a renown artists offering words of advice, or expresses disappointment in my lack of confidence and courage to trust what I have always known to be true: I am an artist. But what is it that the universe is trying to express through me that has yet to be realized? Who am I meant to serve?

Scene I

In this dream, I’m in a bar that used to be named Gallagher’s in Waitsfield Vermont. (At the time that this dream occurred, I had just stopped playing live music with three other local musicians due to “creative differences”.) I’m tuning my guitar near the back of the stage when the neck of my guitar starts bending backwards. I’m in a panic trying to correct the problem before the bending breaks all of the strings when I see Tom Petty and Jerry Garcia on the other side of the stage. It’s then that I realize that I’m the opening solo act for the musical legends which intensified my anxiety. “Hey, girl,” Tom said, “Don’t let us old guys intimidate you.”

Scene II

I’m waiting on a train station platform in what feels like France for northbound train. I’m craving a cup of coffee but am thinking about tea. A woman wearing a watch cap beanie and oversized pea coat sits next me. I shift myself a few inches to the left to put more space between us when I realize the woman is Patty Smith. “You’re Patty Smith!” I said. “I very much enjoyed reading your book M Train, and I’m sorry about you losing your camera.” She quietly thanked me and then said “What I’d like to know is why you stopped writing poetry for your guitar.”

Scene III

I’m walking with my guitar strapped to my back through a maze of tour buses, pop-up tents, and vendors. I am disoriented as to which direction to go to get back to my campsite, beginning to worry about the safety of my unattended art supplies that I’ve left in my tent. As I round the corner of a tour bus, I see Flea from the band Red Hot Chili Peppers sitting on the ground, disheveled and dusty from a wrestling match he had just had with Anthony Kiedis. Flea was trying to roll himself a cigarette but is using twigs and grass instead of tobacco for the filling. “Is there anything I can do to help you?” I asked. He replied “Don’t you have a painting to finish?”

Be well, stay healthy. And thank you for your continued support of independent artists!

Untitled, a current work in progress. 11×14 Acrylic on canvas.

~T.

© 2021, Theresa Mae Funk. All rights reserved.

A Light at the Tunnel’s End

The historic Donner Pass Train Tunnel Trail in Norden California, September 2020.

In the 90 plus days since my last post, much has happened in our world, and to each other. A seemingly unending global pandemic continues to rage as we mourn the loss of lives, of loves, and belief in the certainty that “everything is going to be alright” because “this too shall pass”. But there really is a light at the end of every dark tunnel and we can step into it if we just keep walking.

An easterly external view of the historic tunnel. Smoke from the numerous wildfires obscures the autumn sky.

We walked four of the nearly six mile hike, stopping frequently to marvel at some of the graffiti and mural work of various artists. I pondered the treacherous labor involved in the making of the tunnels and laying track that many Chinese immigrants endured leading up to its completion in 1867, and wondered what they might think of the artform.

Urban artists tagging a section of Tunnel 6.

We turned back after walking through the most inky darkness I have ever experienced. I was unnerved by the complete absence of light and shuddered in the cold eeriness of the moment. Rather than turn on a headlamp to dispel the fear tingling the hair on the back of my neck, I let myself feel the fear and kept walking forward. Ten steps letter, we spotted the first thin slice of light which then multiplied into twenty, then into the light at the end of the tunnel.

My sculpture “Haphazard” was made from materials found within the tunnels, now hangs on a wall inside Tunnel No. 6.

For more complete information about hiking the Donner Tunnels and other historical places worthwhile of exploring, I highly recommend checking out a few of my favorite resources for other recreational activities in the Lake Tahoe region:

https://www.calexplornia.com/
https://tahoetrailguide.com/hiking-the-historic-donner-pass-train-tunnels-in-truckee-ca/
https://www.parks.ca.gov/

Special thanks and gratitude to those who continue to support the work of artists. It is at times such as these that we are most needed to bring more light into the world.

Be well, stay safe.

~T.

© 2020 Theresa Mae Funk, all rights reserved.

A Return to Lassen County

Smoke veils the late afternoon view of Reading Peak and Mount Lassen on September 2, 2020.

The invitation to spend eight days at a dear friend’s cabin near Lassen Volcanic National Park could not have come at a better time for me and my dog, Stella. Daily bouts of anxiety, depression, and disappointment were beginning to adversely affect my well being, my relationships, and my ability to joyfully create meaningful art for myself, and my patrons.

Daku stands guard while Stella excavates for lizards.

Since I would be spending the first four days at the cabin alone, Sandy agreed to let me take her dog, Daku, with me. Having his big dog energy was reassuring to both Stella and I, and we genuinely love him.

Hiking the trail to Devil’s Kitchen in Lassen Volcanic National Park.

Rarely do I leave the property once I have arrived but a Saturday morning hike to Devil’s Kitchen with my husband would afford my friend a day of solitude at the cabin. I applauded his willingness to give the 4.2 mile hike a go despite the discomfort that would likely result from him walking the distance in mismatched boots! Impressive, on a couple of levels.

George on the boardwalk, discomfort from his mismatched boots not yet impairing his gait.
We yield the path to a Drakesbad Guest Ranch trail guide as we make our ascent.

Drakesbad Guest Ranch, located within the park, offers trail rides to a number of geothermal sites. The guide said “Looking out across the broad meadow, you can almost imagine the Cartwright brothers from the TV show Bonanza to ride into view.” Different mountain range, I thought to myself as I snapped the cowboy’s picture.

One of the many fumeroles viewable from the Devil’s Kitchen loop trail.
Volcanic gas escapes into the atmosphere below a Pine and Incense Cedar tree lined ridge.

Steam vents, boiling springs, and bubbling mudpots are indicators that the volcanic center still smolders. And such has been the rhythm of my creative flow. It smolders. Slowly. Steadily. Although there is no way to predict when the next eruption will occur, we know that it will.

Be well, stay safe.

T.

© 2020, Theresa Mae Funk. All rights reserved.

Redeeming the Discarded

44″ x 54″ Tempura paint on cardboard.

We found the untitled work in the garage when we bought this house. Wrapped in black plastic, it leaned against a wall with other leftover materials and bric-a-brac that we inherited. I was thrilled to discover it, and immediately moved it upstairs to my work space for safe keeping and daily appreciation. Whomever the artist was, we shared in the value of redeeming what would have otherwise been discarded, destined for the landfill or recycling center.

Spontaneous Landscape No. 2. 12″x10″ mixed media on paper.

My attempts at converting reusable material into works of art doesn’t always result in a piece worthy of framing, but the process is cathartic.

Be well, stay well.

T.

My Plum Gig: Harvesting Nature’s Candy

The Plum tree in the back yard has been steadily ripening for the last two weeks, yielding enough fruit to, so far, make two batches of sauce and three small jars of preserves. Today’s harvest will be the last for the season.

The moring’s harvest, freshly washed and ready for processing.

I referred to The California Native Plant Society’s Website to help me identify the type of candy we’ve been growing and discovered that Sierra plums are supposedly a good source of vitamins C and A and fiber. It is likely that Sierra plums were a part of the diets of Native American tribes in Northern California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains.

And so with my newly gained knowledge about this season’s candy harvest, the mess and tedium of prepping today’s harvest for the next batch of tastiness will be met with aplomb.

Be well, stay joyful.

~T.

Disconnect to Reconnect: A Visit to Mount Lassen

I took a trip to Lassen County three weeks ago at the invitation of a friend to get away from the Sacramento heat for 6 days, help with some cabin chores, and free myself from the distractions that I’ve been allowing to thwart my creative endeavors. She was absolutely right about the distractions. How could I refuse the invitation?

Looking West from the cabin. Snow pack on Mount Lassen, 28 May 2020.

The beauty and solitude of the place is glorious. My iphonography skills don’t adequately capture the divine spirit that abides in the natural world and this particular little plot of heaven on Earth, but the images will suffice as reference when I attempt to translate the experience to original works of art on paper or canvas.

Kelly’s Lodge

Before leaving to return to our “normal” lives of responsibilities and obligations, we took a tour of the surrounding parcels of land that have been in her family since the early 1900’s. Hearing the stories and feeling the history of the place still captures my imagination, and I look forward to disconnecting to reconnect again before the summer ends.

Be well, stay safe.

~T.

© 2020, Theresa Mae Funk. All rights reserved.

Flower Portrait No. 33

Delicate clusters of aromatic blooms on the back yard garden’s Meyer Lemon tree.

Life may give you lemons, but what you do with the zest from the lesson is what dictates the outcome.  

Staying positive in times of uncertainty and turmoil can be tiring, but my determination to keep my optimism and sense of humor intact when faced with difficult situations has, thus far, endured. I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given to overcome challenges, fortify my courage, and comprehend the lessons that are meant for me to learn.

Be well, stay healthy.

T.

©2020, Theresa Mae Funk. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

You are Your Own Anemone: Flower Portrait No. 32

The purple Anemone I planted in the garden last week recovered from the recent torrential downpours that we were blessed to receive. The rain drenched and delicate petals reflecting the afternoon light bolstered my resolve to be less of an enemy to myself so that my art practice and creative purpose has a stronger chance to more fully bloom.

© 2020, Theresa Mae Funk. All rights reserved.