Art as Solace


The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possible can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.”
Kurt Vonnegut Jr., A Man Without a Country

The murders in Las Vegas last week…

The lives, homes, and livelihoods lost to the fires in California… A guild-mate’s son and his wife evacuated from their home…

Puerto Rico and Mexico City and other areas that are still drowning without the basic necessities of life today…

Friends living day-to-day with health issues… And threatening insurance issues…

The anxieties of what seems to be a whole generation of children… Including mine..

Last week we were trying to wrap our minds around what would make one man angry enough to kill as many people as he possibly could. This week: still no answer. Meanwhile the political climate in the country drops farther into the toilet, and a President smugly tells reporters that he has a North Korean secret, Na-a-na-na-na! Americans are a nervous bunch these days.

Art as consolation

Image from http://www.punediary.com/quotes/2016/10/art-life-heartbreak-vicent-van-gogh-quotes/.

Everyone’s worn out from disasters, the natural ones and the man-made. Weekends, I’ve taken to not bothering with the news other than what I read in the paper and see on my home page. I’ve got to take a breather from the barrage of awfulness coming in. I’d much prefer to head off to the mountains – and we’ve got plenty of those to choose from here in New Mexico – to hike and hide in a cabin for a few months days. Not happening. For one thing, my rheumatoid arthritis has been acting up, screwing with my lower back. Time to try a new medication. I’m lucky; I have a good health plan we can afford and a good rheumatologist. But she can’t help with the other problem. Tom and I lost our empty-nester status last week. The kid’s back…

Maybe you read the post on August 16, “Studio under construction.”  Then again, maybe you didn’t. Long story short. Kid stormed/moved out in March. Tom and I left the room for months, assuming she’d be back before long. Finally, in August, we (meaning Tom; I told you my RA was getting uppity) patched the holes in the walls and painted. Because I’ve outgrown my kick-ass walk-in closet and laundry room as far as hooking materials storage goes, I ordered the big IKEA shelves with cubbies. I was getting me a studio!

Art as consolation.

There’s certainly nothing better than God’s art, nature. Is this not a most beautiful rose? It was the only one in the garden at Casa Rodeña in Albuquerque last Friday evening. A little miracle of color and design.


You know, somewhere just after that the hurricanes started. Why, why did I think that it would all go down the way we planned? Even before the shelves were delivered (a few days late, I might add), the stories of roommate and other issues started in earnest. Texts appeared on my phone after 10 p.m. Like a phone call in the early morning, those are never good. And…suddenly she and her minivan were back.

I’ll give her, she’s neater this time. So far. And there’s less yelling. So far. It appears that she learned that Mom and Dad don’t necessarily make the worst roommates. The devil you don’t know can be…the devil! So, no studio. Tom and I are off to Lowe’s tonight to check out shelving for the laundry room. That’ll help with my explosion of t-shirts, wool, ribbon, frames, and other hooking paraphernalia.

In the meantime, I hook. And not just because I have three more selling dates before the end of the year and an inventory is soon due into the Española Valley Fiber Arts Center. Nope. I hook because I can control whether or not I hook and what I hook. Color, design, materials:  those are all up to me. I hook to distract myself from the things I cannot control:  natural disasters; US politics and all they affect; gun violence; illness – my own or others’; my child’s anxieties and her struggle to become an adult. I hook to create something NOT BAD. More than that, I hook to ensure that there’s just a little more beauty in my world today than there was yesterday.

Art becomes diary-like, following and documenting the shifts in popular and not so popular culture, art encourages us to not just look at the past but to look forward to the future and to exist in a moment.

Erin Veness

Art as solace.

Tynan doesn’t make art. He presents it for me. But that’s okay; he and all dogs are their own special form of consolation for human beings.




5 thoughts on “Art as Solace

  1. Sylvia Doiron

    Wow!! Sorry your RA is acting up. Change of seasons?

    Children today are seeking security at home. I agree with you that anxiety contributes a lot and 45 definitely does not help. Hopefully it will be a short stay.

    I’m trying chair yoga and not listening to news. Cleaning up the gardens is a help also.

    Keep hooking and tripping with the two T’s.

    1. LauraS Post author

      I love doing yoga, Syl! But the RA’s and some osteoarthritis in my foot have been making it difficult. Fortunately, Tom’s decided he neeeds to do some for flexibility, so we’re on beginner stuff. 🙂 Wish it was the change of seasons, but in the 2 1/2 years since I’ve been diagnosed, we haven’t been able to get it under control. And I have tried ALL of the biologics they advertise on TV, the ones with all the scary side effects. I love the one: “You have better things to do with your time than RA…” “No shit,” I always tell the television. 🙂 Still, I’m active and intend to stay so, so it’s not dire. The kid. Don’t know what’ll happen there any time soon. Worst thing is that we were planning to head back east (for the first time since we moved here!) next week. If only we’d done it this summer. But we can’t leave her alone here especially for so long. Very bummed… But hooking away.

  2. Gerry Monast

    Sorry for your troubles right now. Having our president has totally changed how I feel about everything and not ina good way. Very depressing.
    The kid is at a very tough age. They stiil need raising until they find what they want to do with their lives.
    We have moved to Fredericksburg VA. It has been a huge adjustment for me. No great bookstores, no great book groups and no great trips to NYC to have publishers feed you and give you books! I carry on and keep calm.
    Same for you.

    1. LauraS Post author

      There’s just a general malaise that hangs ALL THE TIME. And it gets worse every time he tweets.
      I knew you moved, but I need your address. Otherwise how would you get that Christmas card. And how would we find you if we were in the neighborhood? You know, I wasn’t sure where Fredericksburg is exactly. Is there a university in town? For some reason I thought so. At least we have UNM here and lots of arts. It reminds me of Providence in some ways. Minus a couple of colleges and seafood.
      I hook on. Not always calm, but enough to get by. 🙂

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