February 14,2020
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THANK YOU FOR READING THE STONE AND CANVAS TRILOGY AND BY THE WAY, WHICH TALE DID YOU PREFER? 

 

                               NANA AND CHARLE


Posted by Charlotte Madison at 11:30 0 Comments
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February 14,2020
#48 THE ART EXHIBIT Part 2

             #48 THE ART EXHIBIT - Part 2


The gallery director and his wife welcomed us, but in an aside to me he mentioned that the paintings were not priced. “The name tags are up Charlotte we just need you to price the inventory sheet, then mark the tags.” When he saw the terror on my face, he added, “Just a moment.”

            The director hurried off then reappeared with an art professor from N.A.U. to whom G.B. and I were introduced. “He’ll help you price them Charlotte.”

            I turned, reached out to take G.B.’s hand, but he was edging back, “Y’all go Charle.” And when I pleaded he shook his head and said firmly, “No.”

            After we had priced Pat’s work and mine, people intercepted me, friends from Ash Fork and strangers, Flag residents and visitors to Arizona. They made interesting comments and inquiries about paintings and the health of Pat and me.

            At one point Lorraine led me over to three long white draped refreshment tables. Tempting substantial sandwiches and hors d’oeuvres on one table, incredible petit fours and an imaginatively decorated cakes on another. Beautiful stem glasses sparkled, bottles of Champagnes were being popped and at the end of that third table they had placed an immense, sparkling cut glass antique punch bowl. Scoops of ice cream and raspberries floated in pink ginger ale and topping it all was whipped cream replicas of the nearby mystic San Francisco Peaks.

            My thoughts went to G.B and I gazed around the room, hunting for him. I was surprised to see him sitting alone half way up the stairs which led to the loft, I couldn’t climb the stairs so I stood on the floor beside him and offered him refreshments, but he replied softly, “No thanks Charle.”

            I had never encountered this mood before and while I was devising a method of attack, Shirley and Lorraine came to drag us off for pictures. But again, G.B. refused. Now I was hurt but the girls made short work of that mood. I was passed from one person to another and received warm appreciation and interest.

            A sweet, elderly woman walked up to me and asked, “It’s rather quiet, don’t you think? Would you like me to play the piano for the gathering?”

            “Oh that would be lovely!” I replied accustomed to the virtuosity of my family, Then like an electric shock I recalled an elderly man who pulled the plug on a juke box while everyone danced — he sat down at the piano and began to play every wrong note he could find. He had cleared the room in eight minutes.

            This woman was elderly, she might make mistakes! She might play mournful old pieces or inappropriate hymns or just play badly! Oh what have I done!

            I ran to G.B. and pleaded “G.B. I need your help! I told an elderly lady she could play the piano! What if it sounds awful?”                                                                                                                                                                                                

            “Wayll now,” he drawled while he rose and descended the stairs. “After the first song, if it’s real bad I’ll get to talkin’ with her. Don’t y’all worry Sweetheart.” He was needed!

           There was a fan fare on the piano and that dainty refined lady let fly with the most rousing rag time music I’d ever heard. She was spectacular and a shaft of electricity shot through everyone in the gallery. But again, G.B. was sad.

           I stared at him and thought, this is nothing if I can not share it with my love. If this becomes a sad memory, we will never be able to talk about it, laugh about it or be proud of it. It will represent failure to me if I can not draw his spirit into this night — and I do not know how to do it.

            Then like Cinderella’s fairy god mother, a beautiful older lady walked up to us, she smiled at me but addressed G.B. “How do you do Mr. Madison, I am Alice Babbitt.” She was matriarch of Governor Babbits family. G.B. was mightily impressed. Fortunately she turned her full attention to G.B. asking him about his wife and the Arizona quarry paintings. I often wonder if she had been watching him and saw in his body language and facial expressions, his need for special attention.

             He was soon a-goin’ an’ a-blowin’ with every person in the hall. He greeted ones he knew and gave each stranger a blow by blow account of his quarries and his strange Canadian Painter lady. He went on to describe how “I sent her out to paintin’ an’ set the carpenter to framin’ an’ kept her at it when Pat got poorly an’ she wanted to give up. I sent people to Prescott to get her paint, an’ sent her friends out with her to keep her at it. She gets scared real easy an’ needs a little poosh once in a while.”

            I watched Lorraine - beautiful in her cherry colored sari - warm and gracious, floating with a watchful eye from one person to another, charming them all. I coped well with people’s enquiries and when I felt a need for help it only took a look to bring Shirley or Lorraine to my side where they skillfully diverted the attack.

            I passed close by G.B. and heard him saying, “As well as Charle’s quota, we did fifteen extra paintin’s in thirty-three days! Now y’all come down to Ash Fork an’ I’ll show y’all my li’l town an’ take y’all out to m’ quarries.” My sweet Ol’ Okie boy was back and he was the star of the evening. Now I could have fun.

            G.B. was elated when he saw his employers, Dina and Whitey Webster and realized they had taken the time to drive up from Phoenix in the storm. He was amazed when he learned they were planning to purchase several paintings.

            G.B. and I were enjoying a Pepsi when the director Doug Raide walked up to me and announced “Charle, even if we don’t sell any more paintings, we have sold enough to rate the show a success.”

            And G.B. dropped me like a hot rock so he could hurry off to spread the news. The exhibit had been an adventure and discovery for both of us but the deepest emotion I felt was the joy I experienced watching G.B. charm everyone in the room and bloom like a rose as he took credit “fer the whole dang thang.”

             On the ride home he took the front passenger seat, glowed with pleasure and began to slowly and methodically review the evening but Shirley and I were far beyond being patient listeners and like over stimulated children at the end of a long day, we met his every word with bursts of hysterical laughter.

            “Weyll Godamit Charle what the hayll is the matter with y’all, an’ with y’all too Shirley. WHAT’S FUNNY?” I wish y’all’d tell me so’s I could laugh too.”

            I looked at his dear face, lit in splashes of color as we sped past Flagstaff’s neon lights and I saw hurt and confusion. I realized his father never would have allowed him to experience the hysteria in which Shirley and I were indulging. Truly, G.B. did not understand our laughter.

            I leaned close to him and spoke tenderly, “I love you G.B. Thank you for coming with me. I needed you so much. Thank you for enduring all the inconveniences this year, and thank you for all your enthusiasm and the endless ways you helped to make the art show a success. There wouldn’t’ have been an exhibit — without you Sweetheart.”

            In the rear view mirror I saw Shirley snuggle up to Bill and quietly giggle.

            My dear G.B. stared at me with a tender smile that shot through me with a fiery bolt of love, as he declared loud enough for all the world to hear, “I love y’all Charle” then in the next breath my wild ol’ Okie boy was a-goin’, an’ a-blowin’ an’ a-braggin’ — all the way home.

 


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February 14,2020
#48 THE ART EXHIBIT - Part 1


                                        Excerpt from
                                STONE AND CANVAS©️
                                         Written by
                          Nana Cook and Charlotte Madison
                                     Copyright 2019 

 

        #48 The Art Exhibit© - Part 1

 

I could not believe the words I heard G.B. speaking. We had planned all this together and as any wife would, I took it for granted that I would walk into this exhibition of my work, on my husband’s arm. I stared at him wondering if he saw himself stepping out of his element into an unknown world. Had the attention shifted from him to me during the last few hectic days? Or at some point had I begun to put the show before him?

            “G.B. it’s all for you. I want you to see I can do something well, see my paintings have value. I want you to be proud of me the same way I’m proud of you and of all you accomplish.” I tried to strike the right note to undo whatever damage I had done. I was frantic and desperate but I did not have time to plumb his thoughts. It was time to leave.

            “Please G.B. — please.” I looked at him with all the disappointment I felt. He stared at me, deflated, defeated and unusually silent, and then he turned and waked away to shower and dress. Moments later he was ready to go and I silently screamed “NO!”

            He was wearing his khaki uniform pants an old short sleeved tan check shirt, casual suede shoes and no tie or hat. My heart wanted to burst.

            Day in and year out I had endured the monotony of his khaki attire without comment and on dozens of occasions where khaki was extremely inappropriate. But a thousand times I had envisioned and anticipated walking into the Art Barn with him wearing shiny black shoes, a light grey suit that hung unused among others in his closet, a crisp white shirt, a striking tie and G.B. topped off by my birthday gift to him the Stetson hat.

            I had to think fast, if I protested I would undoubtedly go alone. If I grabbed his Stetson and tie, he might put them on as we arrived.

            If worse came to worst, no one ever seemed to judge me by his peculiarities — I had enough of my own. All that mattered was to get the man into the car, gather up Shirley and Bill and hope G.B. would not blow. An explosion was unlikely when he was insecure and apparently abandoned by his excessive confidence. I settled for my rough old rock man and let my well dressed, prosperous, oil well and property owning Good OL’ Okie Boy fade back into my dreams.

            Lorraine had gone on ahead to supervise the caterers and with the Director, welcome early arrivals. Thank heavens Shirley and Bill were able to ride with us.

            For the first time in his life G.B. chose the back seat of the car and told Shirley to sit in front with me. That was disconcerting but he had no idea how much I appreciated the chance to gab and dump onto Shirley, all the thoughts and concerns filling my head. She was there to keep me calm, and watch for antelope, deer, polecats, rabbits and murky hitchhikers that appeared abruptly amid the torrent of monsoon rain bouncing in the headlights.

            The drive to Flagstaff is a blur to me, but Shirley recalled the drive with crystal clarity:

            Charle needed to calm down, unload worries and be reassured. Instead every time she began to talk, G.B. bust into the conversation. He was frantically tryin’ to turn attention back to himself but Charle was past humorin’ the old boy and I was the target trapped in the middle of two loose cannons firein’ at everything in sight.

            “Shirley, no one’ll come. In Vancouver we ignore rain but people here hide from it and this is more than rain it is a monsoon downpour.”

           “Shirley, did y’all know we’re openin’ up the New Quarry this week an’ I gotta hire . . . .”

            “Shirley, no one will face this fifty mile drive in darkness and monsoons . . . .”

            “Shirley, y’all know how much rock I shipped today?”

            “SHIRLEY! I forgot to price the paintings! How can they sell my paintin’s without prices? Who’s goin’ to do it?”

            Before I could tell her, G.B. busted in again.

            “Shirley,” he raised his voice to compete with the engine hummin’, the rain drummin’ an’ Charle’s risein’ panic. “Did Bill tell y’all what truck Bob is workin’ on these days? It’s that old Jimmy dump that’s set out there fer years, at Geronimo . . . .”

            “Shirley, that humongous building will be empty!”

            “Shirley, y’all listenin’?”

            “Shirley, I rushed through those painting so fast. They’re terrible! I’m just goin’ to embarrass myself! I don’t want to go!”

            “Shirley! — Shirley! — Shirley!” I knew it was comin’ an’ Charle finally said it, “I can’t go!” But thankfully she kept drivin’ east.”

            For fifty miles through a monsoon I rode with a temporarily insane woman and the town idiot who was waiting for the right moment to self destruct.

            “Shirley,” Charle asked, “I told Lorraine if I look wide eyed with fear, move in and carry away the conversation. But she might be busy, so will you take people away from me if I give you a look?”

            I jumped in to say, “Charle! Talkin’ to people is the point of the whole thing. You’re goin’ so’s ya can talk to everyone.”

            “Shirley, back in the old days in Ash Fork — back when me and Whitey . . . .”

            “Shirley, I’m not going!” Charle was about to snap. “I’m not going! I can’t do this! It will be an empty room! Oh and what if nothing sells! Ohhh. How embarrassing — I want to go home!”

            Why did I trap me ‘n Bill in this car with these two . . . two . . . fools. I should’ a known better.

            “Shirley, we’re here!” Charle announced as she swept into a forest driveway, “Oh look at the Ponderosa Pine trees in the floodlights. Doesn’t the Barn look lovely? It’s so beautiful at night with all those lights shinning on it. And listen — the other building — there’s a reggae band playing!” How lovely!”

            The music worked magic on Charle. She’d forgotten all the worries she’d driven me nuts with and suddenly she was — ready to boogie.

            She stepped out of the car, grabbed G.B.’s arm, leavin’ him no chance to escape, encircled his neck with a already tied necktie (an’ damn near choked him in the process.) She plunked a big Stetson hat on his head, linked arms with G.B. on one side, an’ me an’ Bill on the other, an' we swept through the doors into the Art Barn, makin’ a real dramatic entrance.


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February 13,2020
#47 SARIS


                    #47  SARIS 


Nana, a dancer, had shown me saris she had purchased for costume fabric in Vancouver. I was impressed with their beauty and the idea caught in my web for Lorraine and I to wear saris to the art exhibit. I wanted to thank Lorraine for all the help she had given me, so I asked her if, in appreciation, she would let me give her a sari. She was extremely enthusiastic and decided a deep cherry would be becoming with her dark hair.

            When the saris arrived in the mail, mine was sheer white silk with a broad silver threaded border design. Lorraine’s was a vibrant deep magenta with a multicolored embroidered border. They were gorgeous. Nana had chosen well and pleased us both.

            We were delighted with the idea of wearing them, except — there was no shape whatever to them — just six yard of fabric and neither of us had time to sew. We had the saris but we could not decide how to wear them and time was short.

            We were nearing panic when on a shopping trip to Flagstaff, Lorraine and I spotted a motel maid wearing a sari! I jammed on the brakes and swung into the motel driveway. We both lunged out of the car and ran toward the girl. She was startled by our strange approach and fearfully stepped back against the wall. Lorraine and I began to laugh and apologize. When we realized she did not speak English we compounded her fear by gesturing and reaching out to her sari.

            From a shadowed passageway her employer, a tall dark-eyed angry man appeared. Immediately I had visions of him calling the sheriff. Instead he spoke with the voice of reason and listened with an open mind as we explained our predicament. He marveled at our unlikely request, then translated it for the beautiful young woman, who smiled openly, then patiently demonstrated how to hold, fold, tuck and drape the fabric.

            As we drove home I felt a strange wave of insecurity as it occurred to me, unless I’d misconstrued one of her rapid movements to secure the fabric, G.B. stepping on my hem could peel me like a banana. What held it on? From that moment on, I was anxious; I procrastinated and didn’t do a “dress rehearsal”.

            Finally I draped the garment around myself, loving the soft sheer silk fabric and the glistening silver border. I turned and posed for the full length mirror filled with the sophistication, vanity and self satisfaction of my urban youth, only to be revolted by the image reflected before me. The woman in the mirror was not the stately, dramatic eccentric I had envisioned. Instead she was a cross between a beekeeper and a bride.

            Instantly I had two problems: find something to wear, and tell Lorraine I would be casting her adrift, alone in her sari.

            Since neither G.B. nor Shirley volunteered to phone and tell Lorraine, and it was not something I could forget to do, with great difficulty I forced myself to pick up the telephone and call her.

            “I am disappointed Charle, but I will wear mine.” She was too nice to show me the extent of her disappointment and she was wise enough to know her sari was becoming and a beautiful garment to wear.
Now what should I wear? I did not own summer weight slacks. In summer I wore shorts and sundresses and because our lifestyle was rustic, I was now oblivious to any fashion trend which might included long skirts, which also I did not own. But I needed something long as possible to cover the final bandages and my clumpy sandals which I had to continue wearing.

            I chose to wear a black velvet pant suit on a hot, humid, Arizona August night and the now “famous” white satin blouse. To distract from my inappropriate attire I began to add a Navajo Squash Blossom neckpiece, silver and turquoise earrings, bracelets and rings. Suddenly the Navajo jewelry equated my winter weight velvet and satin blouse, with the beautiful, crushed velvet and satin worn by Navajo ladies. Happily I discovered, if I could keep heat and Monsoon rain storm from flattening my hair and smearing my makeup, the outfit was going to work!

            As I put on my earrings I wandered over to G.B. and reminded him that it was time to be showered, shaved and dressed.

            “Y’all don’t need me Charle. I’m not a-goin.’”
I was stunned and felt tears begin to boil behind my mascara.

 

 


Posted by Charlotte Madison at 01:57 0 Comments
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February 13,2020
#46 CACTUS

                                       Excerpt from
                                STONE AND CANVAS©️
                                       Written by
                         Nana Cook and Charlotte Madison
                                   Copyright 2019 

  

               #46   CACTUS

I mentioned Cactus the burro, but I may haVe forgotten to tell you who he really was.

           When G.B. rented a house a few blocks away from our house, he bargained with the tenant. “Y’all can keep Cactus in y’all’s yard in trade for his manure. I will use it at my rent houses.”      

           Some times the tenant tethered him to graze on a weedy triangle where Old Route 6 split to east/west traffic through town.

           Sometimes, on occasion when weeds were high, Lorraine would take me, set up my chair, easle and paints, then leae me there to paint and pet sweet Cactus.        

           Have you ever heard a braying burro?  

           Have you ever been close beside a braying burro?

           Locals were accustomed to Cactus, but when I was lost in thought, close against or painting him, he would suddenly comment about nothing in particular so loudly and prolonged that it peeled my skin and shattered my brain and my scream outdid his bray.

            When startled, I have always been a screamer, so our duet terrified east and west bound traffic and his manure made the sweetest corn, spondiferous vegtables and   .   .   . strawberries!

 


Posted by Charlotte Madison at 01:13 0 Comments
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February 12,2020
#45 IT IS PAT!

     
                                        Excerpt from
                                STONE AND CANVAS©️
                                       Written by
                         Nana Cook and Charlotte Madison
                                   Copyright 2019 

 

                 #45   IT IS PAT!

 

Shirley slammed into the home office, looked at G.B. and me, and said in an unusually stern tone, “Charle, I just settled Pat back home with oxygen. He’s been in hospital with congestive heart failure. He had problems but it was breathin’ fumes from the damned printed circuits and acids. He’s real sick.” G.B. slammed shut his ledger book, took my hand and headed for the car as Shirley turned to leave.

            G.B. was unusually quiet on the trip out to Pat’s house. I did not have any idea what congestive heart failure was and I expected to see him at death’s door but as we both hurried in expecting the worst, we were happy to see him in his bed leaning on numerous pillows slowly breathing oxygen but surprisingly alert.

            Margaret was puttering in the huge open area room and as we all spoke softly to each other we gazed through the window by Pat’s bed — an inspirational wall of glass, that looked down to the Arizona valley land below and any passing wildlife Pat loved so well.

            The visit soothed all our hearts and while I wondered whether he had done paintings, I certainly was not going to ask. I would know soon enough.

As we rose to leave “Margaret,” G.B. asked “how’s everthang down to Phoenix? Did y’all have a good school year? Are y’all here for the summer?”

            Margaret and Pat had a fascinating approach to life. She taught school, maintained their home in Phoenix and reared their children, while Pat came and left in bursts of domesticity. Holiday time Margaret came and left Pat’s current place of interest. They each lived as they wished, yet shared each other’s life and children in marriage.

            As we reached the door Pat told G.B. to gather up every rock and any painting he could find in the house and breezeway and take them away. There would be no more. Then he said to me, “Charle I know your work, you love Arizona the plants and rocks, if paintings need a touch up, go ahead and finish ‘em. I trust you.

            I was aghast, either he really did trust me or he was much sicker than he looked, because artists are more likely to let a stranger tinker with their teeth than allow anyone to work on their paintings.

             We left with ten stone and moss rock paintings including the suggestion to borrow and tag Not For Sale, a beautiful canvas rocks-cape he had given to Lorraine. That left us short 14 canvases as well as the ones I had yet to finish for him and the last once-over on my paintings. Hmmm.

            G.B. dropped me off at home and he prepared to take Pat’s work over to the framing studio where I could work on them I was thinking, “I have approximately 6 weeks to design, do and send the invitation list, submit the bio, write a blurb for the newspapers, finish Pat’s pieces touch up some of mine and do fourteen more paintings. I absentmindedly kissed G.B and as I flapped him off, I calculated that would be the equivalent of three per week — every week for six weeks.

           I chased the pick-up down the driveway hollering out to G.B. “DON’T LET THE FRAMER LEAVE TOWN!”


Posted by Charlotte Madison at 01:01 0 Comments
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February 11,2020
#44 DUMB LIKE A FOX.

 

                                     Excerpt from
                            STONE AND CANVAS©️
                                    Written by
                     Nana Cook and Charlotte Madison
                               Copyright 2019 offices;


                              #44   DUMB LIKE A FOX©

G.B. loved to find visitors and newcomers to town to whom he could boast and brag.  With only five hundred townspeople, most of whom were his employees, tenants, when he found a couple or individual passing through Ash Fork, he gave them the grand tour of his property. 

            He would hunt me down and say, “Charle I’d like y’all to meet these people, they’re from New Jersey – I’m a takin’ ‘em out to the quarries.  We’ll be back in four hours, if y’all need me.”  Then to the people: “This is my wife Charle, she’s a strange English type Canadian painter lady – she paints rocks.”
 
           With a kiss and a big smile filled with enthusiasm, he was off!  He gave the people a never to be forgotten tour of his property, wonderful insight into the flagstone industry, a tour of the beautiful countryside and an inspiring and knowledgeable discourse on the flora, fauna, geology and history of the area.
 
           On his night prowls after sending home teenagers, and watching for drifters he could always find a transient working as cook or dishwasher at Alice’s, thus providing himself with a captive audience.

            One such gentleman had parked his old motor home on stone yard property while working in Ash Fork so the man was obligated to humour G.B.  In the discussions G.B. registered the fact that the man had been a cabinet maker in the early years, and he might need him to work with Wayne on the houses and . . . He had his framer!

            “Charle, got somethang to tell ya’ll. Somethang y’all’ll like real good.” He raised his hand and wagged his index finger side to side in my face. I got y'all a framer!”

            A vacant apartment in his old building behind the 76 station was opened as a workshop; supplies, tools and tables were set up for efficient use.  I could drop off the day’s en plein air production and find them ready to hang when I brought in the next day’s work – all for minimum wage!


Posted by Charlotte Madison at 04:00 0 Comments
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February 10,2020
#43 FRAMES

 

                                        Excerpt from
                                 STONE AND CANVAS©️
                                         Written by
                          Nana Cook and Charlotte Madison
                                      Copyright 2019 

 

                   #43 Frames©

 

“Charle, how many paintin’s y’all needin’ to frame?” G.B. and I were stretched out, he on his “sofa” and I on my chesterfield.

           “Well,” I replied, “twenty-five in all. With Pat’s twenty-five we’ll have the fifty required, then he can add as many moss rock paintings as he wants and I may do a few stone ones on patio.”

            “I know all that.” He snapped impatiently. “What I need to know is how many frames y’all a-gonna need! An’ what do those thangs cost?”

            “Well, I framed the Quarry Girls in oak and suede and that cost two hundred, ten dollars at the gallery in Flagstaff.”

            “GOD DAM ALMIGHTY CHARLE! FER A PICTURE FRAME WITH NO PICTURE IN IT? AN’ Y’ALL’RE TALKIN’ ‘BOUT TWENTY-FIVE A THE DANGED THANGS?”

            He rose up on one elbow to stare at me and take in some deep breaths.

            “Y’ALL KNOW WHAT THAT’LL COST ME?” He did not need a calculator for that one, adrenalin multiplied it for him. “My God Charle,” he gasped, lacking air from his last exhale, “THAT'S FIVE THOUSAND AND FIFTY DOLLARS — plus THREE HUNDRED AND SIXTY-SEVEN DOLLARS AND FIFTY-ONE CENTS . . .” He gasped for more air, flung himself back on the sofa and added, “TAX!”

            “But Honey, that frame was special. When the framer showed me the beautiful oak frame and burnt sienna suede matt, I couldn’t resist. It had a rustic look that went so well with the flagstone and quarry girls.”

            G.B.’s eyes bulged out from under his lids as he bellowed, “Y’ALL MEAN TO SAY THAT Y’ALL’D PAY THAT GOOD MONEY FER —RUSTIC? I GOT SOME RENT SHACKS HERE IN TOWN THAT COST ME LESS THAN FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS, AN’ IF Y’ALL WANT RUSTIC, Y’ALL CAN TEAR ‘EM DOWN, AN’ MAKE Y’ALL’S OWN GOD — DAMMED — FRAMES!”

            “Don’t worry G.B.” I said gently as I slid off the chesterfield and crawled two steps to snuggle against him . The end table lamp shone a harsh light down on his anguished face. I touched his cheek and stared at him, loving him and taking in his agony, then I cuddled close and said, “In Phoenix, big lumber yards sell unpainted ones starting at two dollars and fifty cents each. “Kiss me G.B. . . . .”

          He did, then he interrupted the kiss to add with desperation, “But I’d have to take off a day’s work an' burn gas, to go to Phoenix!” He heaved a great sigh, hesitated a moment then added, “I’ll figure out somethin’ fer ye Charle.”


Posted by Charlotte Madison at 12:27 0 Comments
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February 09,2020
#42 TWENTIETH CENTURY ALCHEMIST

                                         Excerpt from
                                 STONE AND CANVAS©️
                                           Written by
                       NANA COOK AND CHARLOTTE MADISON
                                 Copyright 2019 offices;

 

#42   TWENTIETH CENTURY ALCHEMIST

 

“Charle, I’m gonna make a fortune!

            Guess what I’m gonna do?” Pat Big Deal McNeill asked as he blew through the front door of home.

            I laughed and shook my head unaware.

            “Well the army needs to get rid of some obsolete printed circuits up in Utah — truck loads full of ‘em, and I plan to buy ‘em an’ move ‘em down here onto my place, under a big canopy. I’ll lay a fire, get a cauldron, an’ after a hot burn, I’ll render ‘em down — I’ll make a fortune.

            My vacant expression told him this needed more explaining, so he continued.

            “They use valuable elements in those circuits, sorta like you use solder. You know what solder is don’ cha? Well I’ll use acids and whatever it takes to separate those elements. I’ll be rich!”

            Once Pat got going on the printed circuits, G.B. and I took a break from work and painting so we could head out to McNeill’s ranch to check on “Big Deal’s” painting progress and see for ourselves whatever it was he was doing to the printed circuits.

            Big Deal McNeill struck a mighty pose beneath an immense canopy that billowed and flapped in a high wind, He stood behind a humungous cauldron wearing a dark stained smith’s rubber apron and high, black rubber gauntlets. With the sight of it all I could almost see Arthurian Knights materializing between the trees. As he stirred his elemental brew the heavenly aromatic Juniper smoke from his fire swept me back to starlit nights atop my butte.

            The vapors rose around him, until at one moment he was almost hidden, at another seemingly fading away into the mist that encircled him — that beautiful mist, that insidious mist, that toxic vapor.


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February 08,2020
#41 BRAGGIN'


                                         Excerpt from
                                STONE AND CANVAS©️
                                          Written by
                          Nana Cook and Charlotte Madison
                                       Copyright 2019

 

                  #41 BRAGGIN’

I loved Sunday drives with G.B. On the routes he chose, crossing ranch land and traveling forest service roads, it was not unusual to drive all day and never see another moving vehicle. One Sunday on such a drive, our first stop was the Santa Cruz quarry.

            G.B. and I were strolling across the floor of the quarry enjoying the fresh pastel morning, when he abruptly left my side and walked to the canyon edge.

            I watched him stand arms-akimbo, the backs of his hands pressed tightly against his waist. As he stared down the canyon, his fingers moved in jerks and flutters, marking his thoughts.

            He turned to face me, “Charle, y’all never will brag on yerself when I tell y’all to . . . . Do y’all thank ah’m a no-good, braggin’, struttin’ ol’ thang – like Howard Grey’s fancy blue bird?” The humour of his analogy to Howard’s peacock was voided by the sadness in his countenance.

            “Oh Honey, don’t be sad G.B. We’re different and that’s the fun of it. We . . .”

            “Charle,” he interrupted taking my hands and staring at me – his eyes filled with desperation. “Charle, if I don’t brag on myself, how will anyone ever know? What’s it all been fer?”

            We walked side by side to the quarry face. He stared along the massive angled steps of unquarried champagne coloured stone. “Sweetheart, I’ve worked so damned hard all my life. I’ve suffered, I’ve hurt an’ my heart has busted more times than a man could count. I miss m’ kids Charle.”

            “When I first come out here in nineteen and fifty, times were, I couldn’t stop thankin’ ‘bout ‘em. I’d get in m’ pick-up an’ drive clear to the top a’ Bill Williams mountain. I’d set myself down facein’ due east, lookin’ straight towards Oklahoma an’ I’d cry fer my babies ‘till all the tears was gone.” As he spoke, he was oblivious to tears still streaming down his dear face.

             “They know Sweetheart.” I reassured him. “The kids love you dear and all our kids are proud of you.” G.B. frowned at me as I continued, “Oh you blow like a rocket and you wouldn’t hesitate to chase anyone down the street with a pitchfork. Your emotions hurt people but your bluster is part of your charm and you are a good man G.B. I have seen you be more forgiving and more giving to people in need, than any person I have ever met. Life would be awfully dull and a whole lot harder for everyone, without you, Love.”

            “Y’all thank so Charle?” he asked like a little boy smiling hopefully through his tears.

            “Oh yes.” I answered emphatically, “I love you G.B.”

            “Wall . . .” he pondered with fresh enthusiasm. “We didn’t talk to Brownie at the station this mornin’, let’s go back to town. Maybe Spence or some of the rock doodlers are there an’ I could tell ever’one ‘bout the house we’re a-gonna buy – come Monday.”

            And my dear sweet Okie-boy was off again, “a-goin’, an’ a-blowin’ an’ a-braggin’


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February 07,2020
#40 G.B.'S NOSE

                                             Excerpt from
                                     STONE AND CANVAS©️

                                              Written by
                               Nana Cook and Charlotte Madison

                                            Copyright 2019

 

              

                    #40   G.B.’S NOSE 

 

G.B. carried himself with the confidence (sans ego) of a handsome man, but never having seen a snap or photo of him before age and a “hard life” carved in his maturity, I could only wonder.

           Eventually his son showed me a photo of G.B. as a young man and he was beautiful. Nature had gifted him with black curly hair, wild and wonderful turquoise eyes, dimples, a cleft in his chin, a sensual mouth and - a slim straight nose!
     

            He was one of those Madison Boys,” successful men but “rip snortin’” brothers and he readily admitted to being a fighter. More often than not he was a looser, but that never did stop him swinging the first punch.

            Later as a man, his reputation included the tale of him limping home bloody and beaten, to be bandaged, cleaned up with a change of clothes, only to head back “sos I can finish the job.”

            Being punched in the face had taken its toll and left his nose a little bulbous. It bothered me as my father had had such a classic profile.

            One day G.B. and I were walking up the parking ramp between the garden and the back door, when we each put one foot under a vine, and stepped on it with the other foot. We plunged in tandem to the cement. I broke my fall by twisting sideways. G.B. broke his fall, with his nose. The impact split the bulb and he gushed blood and curses as he rushed inside to tend it.


            I pleaded in vain with him to go to Prescott for stitches, then I watched the healing of the nose like a hawk, terrified that it might remain, double its size.

            Instead I was delighted by the end result. The scar ⎯ eliminated the bulbous end by creating a dashing cleft ⎯ matched the one in his chin.


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February 07,2020
#39 KITTENS

                                         Excerpt from
                                  STONE AND CANVAS©️
                                          Written by
                           Nana Cook and Charlotte Madison
                                    Copyright 2019 offices;

                     #39 Kittens©

On occasion I caught sight of the kittens but the entire family bolted the moment I appeared. I knew the mother was dining with Mrs. Nickson so I was not worried.

            I looked through the glass doors onto the carport and noticed the mother cat sitting staring at me. I walked closer and closer to the doors and she did not move. The three kittens sat primly and closely bunched eight feet away from their mother.

            I decided to see how close I could get to the beautiful mother. If it was possible to catch her, I could get her spayed. Slowly, I pulled open the door. She did not move! I stepped through and although I was barely four feet from her, she only stared at me. I wondered if she was injured and as I wondered how close to step, she turned to the kittens and spat at them. They did not move. Their mother abruptly stood and revealed a dead bird lying in the gravel by her side. She continued to stare at me, then walked away, leaving three kittens and one dead bird — I did not realize the bird was payment for feeding the kittens for the rest of their lives. It was months before I saw her again.

              I ignored the incident until I noticed the previously fuzzy, round, little kittens were always in sight ungroomed and getting thinner every day. Suddenly I realized I had not seen the mother with them. They were starving to death! I headed for the kitchen and prepared a little milk mixed with an egg on a large flat plate. Their fear kept them afar but after I returned to the house to watch them through the window, they slinked toward the plate several times then finally flicked a paw into the milk, stepped in and began to lap in frantic bursts as they eased their painful appetites and thirst. When they finally ran away they were wearing food enough for a snack.

            G.B. always kept a big water bowl filled for passing critters, thereafter I kept a shallow bowl filled, freshened and sneaked portion of every meal we had — to the kittens.

            I was bewildered, how long could I hide the fact from G.B. that he was the father of three tiny kittens. Then I had frightening visions of a future hunting behind furniture in nine rooms for three big cats who might have sneaked inside the house while G.B. screamed at me to “MOVE!”.

              A couple of days after I began to feed them G.B. walked into the house and said anxiously, “Charle I want y’all to go over to Zetler’s and get a big sack a cat food an’ start to feedin’ an’ waterin’ those kittens. They can live in the shed. Be sure y’all feed an’ water ‘em every day. Them blue bowls’d be good to use — jes’ don’t wash ‘em with people dishes. Sweetheart they’re a-gonna die if y’all don’t get some food to ‘em. Here — till y’all get to the store, give ‘em the last of my supper.” I was speechless! “Ther mother must a been killed. They need help Jes’ don’t let ‘em in my house.”

             “What are you saying G.B.? If we feed them they’ll think they belong here.” You don’t like cats and this is three cats!”

             “It’s fer y’all Charle I love y’all so much. I recon I can stand a few cats. BUT DON’T LET THEM GOD DAMNED ANIMALS INTO MY HOUSE!”

            They were mine! I walked out and called to them, but it would be many months before I was fast enough to touch one. I sat on the step and watched them as I pondered names. One was dark blue gray long fur and painfully timid and conscientious. I called her Shy. Another was almost identical to Shy but she was more seductive and had a complex design on her nose and brow, I called her Fancy. I named the sleek white male Snow.

             G.B. was not a man to stop for cats, and for a while I feared that he would mow them down as he drove through the carport, but they remained so timid I never did see even a near miss.


Posted by Charlotte Madison at 02:09 0 Comments
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February 06,2020
I HOPE

I REALLY DO HOPE SOME OF YOU COMENT SAYING WHICH TALE YOU PREFER.


Posted by Charlotte Madison at 02:02 0 Comments
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February 06,2020
#38 CUCAMONGA JUNCTION


                                       Excerpt from
                              STONE AND CANVAS©️
                                          Written by
                         Nana Cook and Charlotte Madison
                                Copyright 2019 offices;

 

           #38   Cucamonga Junction

 

My quota for the art show was twenty-five paintings.

            Connie and I met occasionally, she had worked with me making “Madness” props,” so whenever G.B. longed for a Sunday drive or needed to speak to Wayne on off time, he took me out to their ranch where Connie would show me her horse, pet chicken, dogs and cats, her kitchen garden and unique improvements they made on their property.

            I loved to explore her craft house. Wayne with their son had built it to contain all the crafty raw materials and finished objects she had accumulated and made over the years. He had built it with his heart as well as his hands. It was clean snug and brightened by a skylight. It was a studio where she could work and set up finished pieces to assess, store or display.

            The new aromatic raw wood gleamed gold in the sunshine . It had an “old west” false shop front above the windows and for Dandy her horse, a hitching rail ran along the board walk verandah. Hanging on the exterior walls, were old iron findings and a rusty now venerable old pitchfork leaning still ready and waiting.

            Whenever I tried on my own to find their place I inevitably got lost and never arrived. I even had trouble finding my way home. I tried tying hot pink survey tape at each fork in the road so I could retrace my steps if necessary. However I found myself following government survey tapes and still got lost. All the while G.B. would pace the floor in a roaring panic as he waited for word of me.

            The first person to discover I had an impossible sense of direction was my son Lee. At twelve years of age he began to speak out, “Mother we just came this way. Mother the sun’s in our faces and you’re trying to go east. Mother you are going the wrong way.” I struggled like a hooked fish on a deck but finally put my trust in Lee after I circled the state of Nevada following a right turn in the dark of night —instead of going left.
I admitted to being really vague when it came to choosing directions, so it was not unexpected that G.B. would demand I take an escort, female of course, on my painting trips deep into the hills, particularly since I was still healing and unsteady.

            I chose to ask Connie to accompany me as working together on the show made us good chums and I knew she, as a habitual hiker, would enjoy to roam while I painted. She was filled with enthusiasm and the next morning caught a ride into Ash Fork with Wayne, armed with her lunch kit and canteen.

            Each painting day we loaded up the camper and headed out early to Geronimo, Santa Cruz, Supai Red, Golden Buckskin, White Elephant, Mills quarries and Cucamonga Junction — where ‘tis said, “Back in the fifties out to Cucamonga Junction, ya used ta be able ta help yerself, ta all the stone ya needed — fer nothin’ —an’ ya’d get a little hooch besides.”

            We used the camper as it had a high centre and could rock and roll along pot holes, slick high crowned clay, deep dust bowls, and steep stretches where the monsoons had washed the caleeche down to bare rocky tracks —nothing could stop us.

            As soon as I chose our spot, Connie grabbed her kit and canteen, and headed out to explore canyons for cow skulls, mesa tops for antlers, rubble piles for beautifully colored scrap rock, and in special places to enjoy petroglyphs and ruins. I seethed with an eagerness to follow her, but instead I sat inside the open back door of the camper and rather petulantly painted mountain vistas, cactus rock doodlers and quarries.

            Heading home we would lurch to a stop at the sight of any beautiful dead tree, a Century Plant, cow by the side of the road — for the last painting of the day. We always tried to be home in time for G.B.’s dinner but invariably he would be there pacing the driveway or watering the garden — waiting for us.

            If we had not been late enough to make him really angry, he would eagerly scan my work to praise or criticize each piece. It always surprised me that his opinions were so astute, except when he said “Well Damn it Charle, who but y’all’d paint a beautiful valley from atop a mountain an’ then plant a tumble-down, li’l old, pull trailer with a pile of rubble right in front of it all. God Dammit all Charle y’all’re so stupid! Who’d buy that?”

            “It’s so old G.B. — I hate the look of trailers in town, but the old quarry trailers become beautiful in their decrepit condition—in the same way quarry kids, grimy and tattered, glow from play in the dusty red earth beneath gnarled green trees and burning blue sky.”

            I pulled out a sketch I planned to paint and would entitle “The Gathering Bag.” “Look G.B. No glamorized city child has the beauty of that eleven year old with her tousled red curls, long misfit faded dress, oversized boots, men’s sox and her gathering bag. G.B. she was carrying a home made faded old denim shoulder strap bag. She said it was her gathering bag “and Miss Charle it’s filled with my treasures.”

            The next week I went alone to paint “The Gathering Bag,” so I could clear my thoughts for a portrait of the child I had hired to pose with her bag.

            She had been waiting and watching for me down by the road with the bag slung over her shoulder. She held it with such confident dignity, knowing how fortunate she was to own the bag and its contents.

            “May I see your treasures before you pose Honey?” I asked.

             “Yes Ma’am.” She replied and pulled from her bag a large dry insect she had   picked off a truck grill. To protect it from contact with other treasures as she ran across the red earth, she had put sand in the bottom of her bag then pressed the beetle into the sand. There were other treasures: tiny beautiful rocks, a broken arrowhead, obsidian chips taken from the place where the tool maker had labored, then discarded the damaged piece. With shinning eyes she pulled out a six inch piece of string., I did not dare ask what she found to treasure in that.

            “May I bring something for your bag next time you pose?” I asked thinking of the quartz desert roses we had gathered near Phoenix, and obsidian teardrop needles we had found in cone like formations along either side of a dry stream bed.

            “Yes Ma’am.” She replied wide eyed and beautiful. By then her six glorious brothers and sisters had clustered around to show me their favourite things and lead me with such delight, up to their hovel, a small, broken axel trailer. The children dived through the unglazed windows into ratty looking mattresses, and as they considerately waited their turn to proudly show me some treasured finding, they picked at peeling plywood curling back with the dampness of too many monsoon summers and too many winter snowfalls. The father had parked their old hooded pick-up beside the trailer. All this was the family’s home.

            “Anyone want to help me gather wood for breakfast?” Called the father. All the children but the girl with the gathering bag ran to his side as he meandered out into the sunshine from the deep shade of Juniper trees.

            The mother pulled aside a sooty screen cover and stirred ashes in an immense soot encrusted iron pot, she began to throw in paper and faggots, recovered it with the wide screen and then began preparations for breakfast. The little girl and I wandered down to my camper where we would start the painting.

            Much later in the day when I reached home I ran to G.B. kissed him and said, “I love you G.B. You’ve brought such wonderful things into my sight and soul. Do you realize how fantastic life is for that family? They have all those brothers and sisters and their mother and father in reach every moment of the day. They can hear all the family stories and wisdom, at all the appropriate times. They have learned to love and treasure the simplest gifts of nature."

            I was thinking, they see so clearly each reward work brings, and how hard that work can be. They know worry and discomfort but the children have innocence, they know how little it takes to survive, how few possessions a person needs, and how much love, joy and happiness they have in each other. They don’t even know stress. I wish I could see what kind of people those children will grow up to be.

            “God Dammit Charle y’all’re strange.” He said in an agonized whine. “They’ll probably end up like ever other no account, lazy, good fer nothin’ drunk. Get pregnant or get someone pregnant, run away and spend their life hurtin’ people!”

            “Oh no G.B. not that little family, they aren’t drunks, they are beautiful people, like a cluster of angels.”

            “Ohhh.” He moaned in torment as he settled himself on his sofa to dream away the words of his Strange Canadian Painter Lady.

            On some painting trips I was alone, with Shirley, Lorraine, or the group of us all but mostly I was with Connie. She had a gentle, joy filled yet calm way that prepared me well to paint — and paint I did. I reached my quota — twenty five canvases, plus a few rock paintings.


Posted by Charlotte Madison at 02:42 0 Comments
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February 06,2020
#37 TIME TO PAINT

                                             Excerpt from
                                      STONE AND CANVAS©️
                                               Written by
                               Nana Cook and Charlotte Madison
                                            Copyright 2019

 

                    #37 Time to Paint!
 
 
During my months of healing G.B. reluctantly accepted the fact that no matter what the incentive, I would not take a shift at the gas station.  “No matter what!”  I could not endure whiffs of gasoline, I consistently and repeatedly resisted his pressure to return to it.  Other than a quick check on operations between patrons to keep an eye on the books, I avoided all gas pumps. 

            G.B. was totally confused and outraged when he discovered I could not make myself enter the stone yard office, even to see the repairs. 

            So now, my phobias and G.B.’s tantrums gave me time to paint!

 


Posted by Charlotte Madison at 02:17 0 Comments
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February 05,2020
#36 YOU IDIOT!

                                        Excerpt from
                                 STONE AND CANVAS©️
                                        Written by
                         Nana Cook and Charlotte Madison
                                      Copyright 2019

 

                          #36   YOU IDIOT!©

 

I had so many quiet, warm, dry, comfortable private opportunities to light into G.B., instead my GRAND EXPLOSION occurred somewhere between Kingman and Ash Fork in the desolation of the newly completed I-40 freeway link. I stood with only bandages and the forlorn soles and straps of my Birkenstock sandals between me and deep cold snow.

            G.B.’s mechanic’s helper Ish and his wife Sharon were driving the company pick up and G.B. and I were returning to Ash Fork with the venerable master mechanic Bob, in his vintage pick up. For some reason which totally escapes me now, we were towing the Buick.

            When we left Los Vegas, where the men had been repairing the pickup in a truck stop, we had been up twenty hours and everyone was quiet and subdued, fighting off sleep, especially the mechanic who was in his late seventies.

            The plowed black freeway cut through deep white snow and we drove silently through the dark icy night headed toward Ash Fork. Every time Bob’s attention appeared to waver, I coughed loudly enough to waken our driver, while I clawed through fabric to skin on G.B.’s thigh. There were moments too, when G.B. felt anxiety and snorted softly, “Way’ll hay’ll.” But he respected and trusted “Ol’ Bob” and couldn’t say more . . . besides he knew Bob would never let him take the wheel of his treasured relic.

            After hours of night driving on the frosty road, the first glow of dawn lightened the sky and the welcome sun rose behind cinder cones and mountains.

            We drove over the brow of a long straight hill which stretched down to a Santa Fe railway overpass and Bob pulled over to park behind three diesel trucks. Ish and Sharon in the pick up and all subsequent traffic lined up behind us.

            “NOW WHAT?” G.B.’s “melodious” voice shattered the hypnotic silence.

            “G.B.” Bob replied calmly, slowly and precisely, “The sun’s rounded the mountain. You can see where it’s starting to melt the ice on the road. The hill’s too steep G.B. That’s black ice. As soon as the hill’s shadow is clear, the road’ll be wet and safe to travel — fifteen minutes at most.”

            “No damned ice is a-gonna tell me what to do. GO!” G.B. commanded and to my distress Bob reluctantly pulled onto the freeway lane. I wanted to say, “Stop, let me out!” but to my everlasting shame, I was silent.

            The chilled sleepy freeway drivers watched as the little antique pickup crawled all the way down the hill in third gear with the Buick in tow. At the bottom of the long yawning slope I realized I’d been holding my breath so I gasped in a deep breath of air knowing we had made the run safely.

            Bob shifted to another gear and slowly we were crossing the long, broad deserted overpass, when the Buick decided to pass us and in its attempt, spun the light little old vintage pick-up toward the cement segmented edge-guard, then drove us straight at it.

            With the weight and momentum of the Buick behind us, our vehicle slammed into the edge-guard heading us into a dive down onto the railway tracks below.

            I screamed to G.B. “You’ve killed me. I have to burn again!” And I froze in terror.

            The edge shifted but the weight of the Buick dragged enough to stop the two vehicles.

            I reached wildly across G.B. and released the door lock.

            He yelled, “STAY WHERE Y’ALL ARE! CARS ARE A-COMIN’ AN’ WE GOTTA STAY OUT’A THEIR WAY!”

            “NO!” I screamed. “YOU IDIOT! GET OUT OF MY WAY — I’M WALKING HOME!” Then adding his favorite word I screeched “Now, MOVE!” He did not move one muscle so I crawled over him and limped into the deep snow by the road’s edge — heading for Ash Fork — forty miles away — afoot!

            Ish had driven down the hill to offer help and he was followed by others who braved the treacherous hill in order to see for themselves just why a woman was ranting about in the snow. I knew one of them would stop in at Alice’s and describe the tall insane red head and the entire town would know some version of it all, before we arrived home.

            Having never before seen this majestic rage and frenzied fear in me, G.B. gave up and stood bewildered and helpless. Ish pulled up beside him and Sharon got out. She came over to me, put her arms around me and softly said, “Charle let Ish drive you home. It’s okay with G.B., he just wants to get you home safely.”

            “No,” I wailed as she walked me close to the open door of the company pick up and then I screamed “I can’t. I can’t trap myself in there.” And I was off again limping through the deep snow.

            As adrenalin subsided, it began to penetrate my mind that I had trudged fifty feet and I was failing fast. I was not going to make forty miles — before dark.

            Still drunk with unaccustomed rage and power, seeing G.B. reduced to nothing under my enraged attack, I demanded that he would have to crawl the pick up at a slow roll on the shoulder. If he promised, I would ride with him. If he show any sign of gathering speed, I would jump out. I had the man in the palm of my hand.

            It was a strange ride home. Every time he weaved out toward a truck in the curb lane, I would gasp; “Ahhh!” and G.B. would growl “Hay’ll.” Each time we hit an icy spot I’d lean forward in fear and he would snort. Every time he speeded up to twenty miles an hour or had to go onto the freeway due to a soft and deep snowy shoulder or an overpass, I’d grab the door handle, prepare to jump in response to which G.B. would mutter, “I’m in this danged pick up too. D’y’all thank I’m fixin’ to kill myself just so’s I can scare the Hay’ll out’a y’all?”

            Finally I saw how funny it was and my laughter began. But that did not lesson my fear or my reactions, it just punctuated each comment G.B. made until I was nearing hysteria and G.B. was close to driving off another overpass on this freeway through “Hay’ll” just to shut me up.

            At last he rolled the vehicle into the carport and I rolled out onto the ground. I spoke with deep earnest feeling, “I’m safe. I survived! I am home.” Then from the ground I let fly with one last indulgence in rage, “NEVER AGAIN! I WILL NEVER GET IN A CAR WITH YOU DRIVING AGAIN! Do you hear what I am saying G.B.? Never again!”

            I tried to rise and G.B. reached out to steady me as I stood and then he held me close.

            “Its okay Sweetheart, ever’thang’s okay. Y’all were just scared Suga. Later this evenin’ I’ll drive y’all out to the Crookton overpass, an’ we’ll look fer antelopees.”


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February 04,2020
#35 DAWGS

                                         Excerpt from
                                   STONE AND CANVAS©️

                        Written by Nana Cook and Charlotte Madison
                                        Copyright 2019

                  #35   Dawgs

 Not long after I arrived home from Canada I felt confident enough to walk alone to the gas station. Within half a block I noticed dogs heading my way. By the time I got to the corner there was a quarry dog having a fling in town, familiar local ones and a strange dog, maybe lost by travellers or abandoned in town.

            They appeared to be heading for me. I felt a wave of confusion. I could not sense their mood and they began to draw together like a pack. I whispered to myself, “Does healing skin smell like raw meat to dogs?” Then I envisioned myself being devoured by them. I wanted to bolt but I found my panic accelerated brain trapped in a slow moving body. I wanted to holler for help but there was no one in sight to hear me. Every nerve below my calves pounded. I closed my eyes and waited to feel sharp, white enamel teeth clamp into my new skin.

            Instead, I felt a wonderful warmth and soft fur against my legs above the bandages. I opened my eyes and saw big dogs and small, circling round and round my legs, pausing only to take deep sniffs at the bandages. The doctor and Shirley had been very concerned about possible infection so I wondered what would happen to me if the dogs marked their territory into the bandages.

            For several moments I stood watching until I could limp on to the station, escorted by my strange retinue.

            During the healing months I had more canine appeal than a pink poodle in the pound. A Great Dane, two Weimeramers, German Shepherds, a poodle, mongrels and a Chihuahua — males and females alike rushed to me day after day. They were so attentive, sweet and gentle, even those who were, in the past particularly threatening — the two Weimeramers and the Devil’s spawn, the Chihuahua.

            Time for the heavy bandages to come off. The soft warm protective cuffs were suddenly gone. Despite warm weather my bare legs and feet in Burks felt so cold, exposed and vulnerable.

            The next time I walked to the 76 station, as usual the dogs headed toward me. Once again I was terrified and concluded, all this time they have been waiting to get at my flesh, waiting to eat my new skin. I was blind with fear and stood, once again frozen to the ground waiting for the dogs to bite. Then a warm soft moist tongue wrapped itself around my ankle and the gang began to thoroughly wash my feet and legs.

            For several weeks, until my new skin kept breaking and needed to be rewrapped in gauze bandages, every time I walked to the station or to Zetler’s I was scrubbed by the best of them and the worst of them: high stepping pedigreed purebreds and bone wracked lost dogs, feeble old dears and roly-poly puppies.

            They all tried hard to make my burns and my heart heal . . . .


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February 03,2020
#34 HOME AGAIN.

                                          Excerpt from
                                  STONE AND CANVAS©️
                                            Written by
                             Nana Cook and Charlotte Madison
                                   Copyright 2019 offices;

                 #34 Home Again©


Two and one half months after the burn, it was seeing the road sign Welcome to Arizona that filled me with the first surge of channel fever. My mother had accompanied me on the drive south as far as Barstow, California. By then she knew I could do the last lap on my own. I had been recharged by my family and found myself filled with anticipation and excitement to be home.

            A few hundred miles and I was watching for off ramp #123 that would lead me back onto Old Route 66, G.B., home and my life in Ash Fork.

            Seven miles west of town I saw G.B. in his little old short bed Ford pick up, waving wildly from the I-40 westbound lane. I pulled over and still bandaged, I stood by the car and watched him disregard all traffic, screech to a stop, illegally bounce across the median, tear along my side of the freeway, skid to a stop, jump out then run toward me calling “Oh Charle, my Charle.” He grabbed me, locked me close and kissed me, “I missed y’all so durn much Charle, I love y’all Baby.”

          “I’m home G.B. I love you.”

            So later that evening he was a “teensy” bit miffed to discover that I was going   to sleep in one of the guest rooms. I still needed a dark uninterrupted sleep, with my legs and feet safe from being kicked.

            At eleven P.M. after the T.V. news we headed for bed, he followed me to the guest room and he was not at all amused when I held up my hand and asserted with laughter “BACK G.B.! BACK!”

            At twelve thirty I was dredged out of my sleep. “CHARLE! GET UP CHARLE, THER’S A FIRE! And sure enough the siren was wailing calling volunteers out of their beds.

           “Oh don’t leave me G.B. the town might burn down!”
“I ain’t leavin’ y’all, I’m here to getcha.”

            Oh just what I needed, a fire . . . .

             “How y’all a-gonna get over this, if yall hide away. I gotta see if one a my houses is a-burnin’ — com’ on.

            ”The next day he took me for a lovely drive deep into the hills where he could show me — an out of control forest fire. He ended up scarring not only me, but for one moment — himself.

            My customary method for healing my thoughts is, once purged, deliberately forget, and do not wallow in the thing I fear. But the persistent memory of the explosion, temporary poor balance and hearing, the inconvenience and discomfort of the burns and a lessening limp, all made it difficult to forget. Plus one other peculiarity I had to contend with that classified me certifiably insane in G.B.’s mind.

            Intermittently, maybe ten to twenty times each day, I still smelt smoke that was not there. I needed people to reassure me then scoff at me in jest, or, tell me what was burning because that smell immediately put me on the razor’s edge of panic.

            Each time my mind touched on the memory of the explosion, I was forced to relive it all. It was like a rattlesnake determinedly and slowly passing ear to ear through my thoughts, over and over all through the day and wakeful hours of the night.

            It wasn’t long until I discovered how I was going to heal my thoughts. I would continue to speak freely to people about the explosion and the burns until neither I nor they could stand one more telling, then with unaccustomed determination and self control, I began to fight back.

            With uncharacteristic perseverance, I learned to struggle with the insidious memory, until I could nip off the last bit of that snake’s rattle and determinedly think of something positive. With time and great relief, I whacked with my mental machete and chopped thin slices off the end of the rattlesnake, shortening the duration of each long hypnotic memory with each cut, until at last I could say of it all, “NO! I will not think of that.”

            Amazinglly the thing which would hep G.B. heal, was the art ehibit. I had lost four months but I decided ass soon as possible, I would go ahead with it. Painting was much more inviting than work and before G.B. could entrap me or lure me back to work, i had a few things to prove.

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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February 02,2020
#33 ESCAPE

                                Excerpt from
                        STONE AND CANVAS©️
                                Written by
               Nana Cook and Charlotte Madison
                            Copyright 2019

 
        #33   Escape©


Leaving G.B. alone for Christmas was not a cruel thing to do. He accepted and enjoyed any festivities provided for him but he was not a festive man. His interest at holidays was for us to operate the 76 station and reap the holiday financial harvest. Besides, I think he needed to forget about me for a while. Knowing I was safe and happy with my family left his mind clear to supervise repairs to the stone yard. He also planned to have Wayne make renovations at home to surprise me upon my return. Best of all he was free to enjoy festive days in the gas station.

            We were loose! Unless G.B. changed his mind and caught up with us, we were on a happy winter’s drive to Canada, with motels reservations and our family waiting for us to arrive.

            There were no doctors or physiotherapists, trips to the hospital or fears. The freedom of travel, our laughter and serenity was my healing therapy — and the air smelled a whole lot better than the hospital.

            Once Kingman was behind us we knew we had truly broken loose and were on our way.

            At the first rest stop Nana dreamed up an odd idea. In order to prevent infection, before she rolled me into the building, she bagged my legs in brilliant lime green garbage bags.

            At the first gas stop the attendant called our attention to the fact that our tires were all ready to be replaced. We decided to poke along to a major department store, till then adding air as needed.

            At Bakersfield, Nana rolled me numb with medication up to the salesman and I glibly ordered the five best tires he carried as long as they fit. The bill total looked a little high to me, having become accustomed to the modest grade of tires and low mark up in our station. Later however when the credit card statement arrived for G.B. the only way he cold deal with this terrifying expense was to endlessly brag on his extravagant wife and the price and quality of his tires.

            It was always my preference to travel any day of the year except National Holidays, that way I could not be a National Holiday statistic. It wasn’t until our second day out that we noticed the inordinate number of vehicles on the road. Gradually it occurred to me, it was —THANKSGIVING DAY!

            Just about that time Nana was able to pinpoint something she pulled from the back of her mind, the name of our night’s destination. She, who had experienced her first earthquake at Coalinga California, was on her way to our motel reservation at — COALINGA!

            As we approached our accommodations, I smelt gasoline then noticed an immense truck-stop and car service station backing on the motel fence. We saw long lines of trucks and holiday travelers slowly moving closer and closer to row after row of pump islands. We also noticed the ongoing succession of — TANKER TRUCKS! They were replenishing diesel and gasoline in the storage tanks.

            Being Thanksgiving we knew we did not have a choice so that night we fell asleep knowing before morning the motel would collapse upon us — just before a gasoline explosion blew us to the stars.

             The next day as we approached the summit of the pass leading into Oregon, Nana suddenly made a sound of distress. While speeding along the freeway she found herself driving on ice, draped in a heavy fog “I can’t see! I can’t see — anything!”

             My spontaneous panic was compounded by my thoughts. Oh my baby and Morgan! If we crash I can’t run! But I saw what I could do “Morgan, Down, on the floor! Now!” it was a command we had taught her in case of danger.

            I spoke loudly but slowly, precisely with an exaggerated calm. “Nana, watch that yellow line between you and passing traffic. Keep your eye on that line — watch the left wheel of that car in front. Ignore everything on the right side, totally. I’ll take care of that!”

            Trust freed everyone to respond. I lunged and with my knees on the back seat, my burns in the air, I hung over the front seat concentrating my gaze on the passenger side road edge.

             Various and horrible sounds of mental stress issued forth from our vehicle, blood curdling screams “HELP ME” and “AAAAH” each time Nana lost all sight of the vehicle ahead of her or as yellow lines were veiled and lost in the fog. Each of us was further terrorized when eighteen wheelers — riding above the problem, raced on past blowing fog and blasting their traumatizing horns.

            “Honey,” I said intensely, “I can see the edge, your are safe . . . just ease a tiny bit left . . .right . . .no go left . . . NOW! A bit to the right . . . okay . . . okay . . . .” I tried to reassure her yet distract her from fear. But in my mind I wondered how long this would go on.
“It’ll only be a few more minutes Sweet. I think we’ve gone over the summit, we seem to be going down.”

            To which she replied, “HELP ME, I CAN’T SEE ANYTHING!”

            And then I noticed beside us on the right, at the edge of the blacktop, a sheer drop off, down the mountainside. . . . .

NANA YOU HAVE TO SLOW DOWN, SO I CAN SEE THE EDGE CLEARLY”

“THEY’LL RAM ME IF I SLOW DOWN!”

SLOW DOWN . . . . WE HAVE NO MARGIN FOR ERROR . . . . FLASH YOUR BRAKE LIGHT . . . A TINY BIT LEFT . . . . NOW EASE RIGHT . . . . KEEP IT STRAIGHT!”

            The veil of fog was abruptly gone to reveal a long ribbon of wet black-top that glistened as it trailed on down the mountain To the east Mount Shasta towered above us, a great and beautiful lady draped in a snowy ermine cape.

            “Let’s stop for a Pepsi and enjoy the view.” I gasped as I melted back onto my seat.

            “NO.” She replied still tense from the trauma. “WE HAVE TO KEEP GOING . . I NEED A BAKED POTATO!”


Posted by Charlotte Madison at 03:00 0 Comments
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February 01,2020
#32 LET ME OUT'A HERE

                                      Excerpt from
                               STONE AND CANVAS©️
                                        Written by
                        Nana Cook and Charlotte Madison
                                      Copyright 2019



           #32 Let Me Out‘a Here©

 

Somehow I, with my gentle family, managed to subdue G.B. to an amazing degree — in their presence. I once told him, “I know you’re sweet and you do not mean the hateful things you say to people. But my family has never heard anyone burst loose and holler at friends and people they love, the way you do. If they actually saw you explode in front of them or at them, they’d go home, be sad and worry about me for the rest of their lives. That would steal laughter from me and without laughter . . . .” The thought of my family hurt and sad gave me courage, and I added, “I would hate you.”

            As a result, in the presence of my family, G.B. quietly left the room when stirred to impatience or rage. He was a sweet, gentle father, grandfather to my family and with my mother he was sincerely admiring of her business acumen so devoted and restrained with her. He opened wide his heart, his house, and the Pepsi closet.

            The relationship with Nana my youngest child was however more convoluted. Being the youngest she was free to visit and spend much more time with us than any other of our six children. On her frequent visits to our home, she traveled with us, worked with us, loved Arizona and all the earthly things we loved. She was intrigued by the interesting characters she met with us and G.B. loved and admired her but young as she was, he was impressed and somewhat intimated by her common sense and efficiency.

            When Nana arrived to “protect” me from G.B.’s unusually eccentric, post-inferno, infernal attitude, he watched her care for Morgan, scrub the burns, drive me through snow to the hospital, cook tempting meals for me, sense my mood, thoughts and need of the moment, and he was content, knowing that she gave me her strength and courage and filled me with her love and enthusiasm. Besides maybe she could help with the payroll and . . . .

            Nana helped me to see the funny side of G.B.’s mood. She shared talk and laughter with Lorraine, Shirley and me — yet eased G.B.’s thoughts and stresses.

            Gary and Nana were committed to a critical business appointment in Canada one month after the explosion. I began to see that deadline approaching and felt panic at any mention of her leaving. Weak as I was, the thought of her going was beginning to dissolve whatever strength had returned. I did not know what to do. I want to go home! But I can’t go with Nana flying —no way will I put my poor sweet feet into an airplane and then go down in flames.

            I wanted to be loved and feel the doting compassion of my mother and children. Instead — I could not walk and I was going to be left alone again with G.B. — and at that point I was not even sure that I ever wanted to look at him ever again.

            I was crying when Nana walked into the room, “What’s the matter — bandages too tight?

            “Nooooo. I want to go home.” I wailed.

            “You are. I’m not going to leave you here! I just haven’t figured out how to do it. First I have to talk to your doctor, to see if he can trust me to care for you en route.”

            “I don’t want to go on an airplane.”

            “Neither do I! After that flight I never want to fly again — unless it’s a life and death emergency.”

            “If we sneak off in the car he’ll send the yard men or the Sheriff to bring us back.”

            “Don’t worry I won’t leave you no matter what.”

            At that moment the door slid open and G.B. — oblivious to our conspiracy asked, “What’re y’all cryin’ fer Sweetheart? Y’all sad to thank of Nana a-goin?” At that I burst into sobs.

            To Nana’s and my astonishment G.B. said — knowing I would not fly. “Why don’t y’all an’ Morgan, take her home on the plane with y fer Christmas. Mom an’ Wendy an’ Lee an’ Gary would love to see ‘er.”

            My first thought, terrifying as it was. Was to ask him to come along so we could drive in the car. But Nana being quicker and smarter than me replied. “Oh G.B. that would be wonderful! They’d love to see her and have her for Christmas, except she is afraid to fly — so we’ll take the car.”

            In one sentence she had cut us loose. When his gesture backfired he was doubly startled to realize he was about to loose his car as well as his wife. Nana added a sweet and sincere “Thank you G.B.” Before he could change his mind, it was settled.

            I had another sample of her developing organizational skills as she arranged a release with the doctor, and medication, daily destinations, driving times, motel handicapped room reservations. She even had motel managers set to boil water thirty minutes before her estimated time of arrival.

            Finally she told me to pack. An hour later she found me crying in Rozinante at the clothes closet, “I don’t know what to taaaaake.” I did not have the strength to decide what I needed to pack —how would I have ever coped alone with G.B.?


Posted by Charlotte Madison at 01:43 0 Comments
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February 01,2020
#31 ROZINANTE

                                          Excerpt from
                                 STONE AND CANVAS©️
                                            Written by
                         Nana Cook and Charlotte Madison
                                        Copyright 2019

 

              #31   Rozinante©

 

 During my wheelchair days a very strange phenomenon occurred. Once my drivers had gingerly settled me into my chair, Rozinante, they lifted the leg supports and cautiously placed my upper legs upon them, allowing my lower legs and feet swathed in great white bandages to be safely suspended in air. At that point I was rolled about and bumped into every obstacle in sight — and these were people who loved me!

            Shirley had often said in reference to G.B.’s driving, “He’s hit everything in town but people!” When G.B. took control of my wheelchair I expected the worst from him, and I was never disappointed.

            Each day, for the long snowy drive to the hospital, I left home bundled into my warm fluffy ivory coat and its soft generous hood, holding a stainless steel bowl in my bandaged hands. Cowardice, exertion and medication gave me a false sense of nausea. Just in case — when away from home I always carried the round metal bowl

            Nana, Morgan and I were met by staff that carefully extracted me from the back seat of the car and placed me in their wheelchair. I immediately pushed back my hood, and then not unlike my heroic knight-errant, astride my bony steed, I placed the bowl atop my head and with a momentary rush of courage, rode into battle against doctors, nurses and one particularly demonic, pregnant physiotherapist — only to escape later, exhausted — as were my protagonists.

            I loved to ride in Rozinante my treasured wheelchair, and knowing the situation was temporary, I made the most of every jaunt. Two and one half months after I was blown up, Nana decided, I was malingering and it was time to walk.  However she had to lock Rozinante in the car trunk in order to set me afoot once more.

 


Posted by Charlotte Madison at 01:27 0 Comments
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Archives
February, 2020
January, 2020
For over forty years, painting related totally to the American Southwest. It was people of the dry hot desert, solid mesas, cacti, stone and canyons that made my heart leap.

When I realized I would never see the desert again, I began a search for something to paint. Nana suggested, B.C, vineyards and took me to Penticton where I did one painting. Nana and Gary then began to take me on Mystery tours of the island and always included a vineyard. But they all were so green! So many leaves so many trees - I don't do trees and I rarely use green - dont really like looking at green, but I got started on a duty series not an inspired series.

I guess it was July or early August when we were driving home from a winery visit. I was grousing about painting the Festive Flying Grape series when Gary said "Start another series, you can work on more than one at a time."

For some reason those words triggered the words "I could paint the Island artists!" Nana and Gary agreed and it was the topic of conversation all the way home

For a while I was afraid I wouldn't get volunteers to pose but it is rolling and each one offers something special to inspire me. And it is lovely to feel all I am doing was sparked by Gary and like all I do, supported by Nana.

April Update 2012 Sixteen fine artists, many of national repute, have posed for Artists of Vancouver Island and many are booked or promised. There will be no poses after June 30,2012. When I have painted all twenty-five I will turn my thought to . . . what next?