December 08,2019


               #14  London’s Travail


One day when G.B. popped in to see if all was as it should be, he asked, “Have y’all explored the Indian ruin yet? No? Oh ya’ll would enjoy that. I don’t have time to mess with it now, I’m fixin’ to leave. But it’s just past the big mesa, ‘cross yonder. There’s a trail leadin’ up the next hill an’ it’s on the top. But y’all take the van now, it’s a long walk over yonder on foot, carryin’ water fer y’all an’ fer y’all’s dawg.”

            G.B. lit fires of curiosity with that comment, so the next day, carrying water, London and I headed “‘cross yonder” — on foot. I was accustomed to walking — it would not take long. It was not far as the owl flew, but I was wearing dime store flip flop thongs in the vicinity of a cholla jungle. Necessity demanded a devious route, unless London and I planned on cholla acupuncture.

            “London,  HOT”, but it was too late. He had brushed up against a cholla stem and a segment had caught on his flank and then nestled tightly into his long fur.

            “STAY LONDON, STAY!”

            Instead, he sat. The movement involved in sitting caused the barbed spines to pierce his skin. Abruptly and frantically he swung his head and took the vile thing into his soft fleshy mouth, where countless spines imbedded themselves.

            It broke my heart to see him suffering and confused. Wanting to help, I grabbed a mesquite twig and tried to flick the cholla segment from his flank, instead I only managed to roll it deeper into his long fur. I needed more than a twig to help him. We had to get back to the trailer.

            London endured extreme pain during the long, hot walk home to the butte. Every time I looked at him, with his mouth filled with what appeared to be porcupine quills, I thought of G.B.’s order, “Take the car!”

          As soon as we reached the top of my butte, I sat London in the shade of the trailer with a bucket of water by his side. I settled myself on the ground in front of him, with scissors, a pair of pliers a metal bowl, and spoke incessantly to him. I cradled his head, while I cut fur and cholla from his flank. With the pliers I pulled out spines I could see in the short stubble of newly cut fur.

             I gave both of us momentary relief from the stressful anxiety created by my torturous activity by relaxing my hold on his head and allowing him to intently study lick and soothe the wounded area.

            I didn’t know what to expect when I started on London’s mouth, but he understood I was trying to help him. He whined and we cried while I removed endless barbed spines from his lips, his gums and his tongue.

            After more than an hour and a half, I was almost finished. There were two spines left in his bottom lip. I went for one and as soon as I pulled it out he growled. I reached for the last one and London pulled back his head, looked me in the eye and gave one commanding bark, “NO MORE!”

            London rose, and with his head held high and one large spine protruding from his bottom lip like a badge of courage, he trotted across our butte to take his revenge and “water a cactus.”



Posted by Charlotte Madison at 12:25
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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?