Life continues to lay it on thick... it seems lots of us are feeling buffeted and blown these days? While I don't want to sound like a grumbling little minion - all things are relative - fact is I've been up on my toes and in a state of high(-ish) alert for toooo many months. If life's a dance, then this year has been one long, rigorous rehearsal. Everything will find its place in time, but today the bones in my feet ache; there's a blister on every toe and no more plasters in the drawers. I'd like to step 'off point' for a while and to cool my feet on dew-covered grass.
Some time soon this extended crazy period will reach a place of pause, but my hunch is 'not yet'. According to my dear friend and mentor LB, tomorrow - 7 August - is going to be one of my year's "energetic epicentres." Oh-oh. My seatbelt's been fastened for a while already - I'm not sure there are any spare notches, buckles or straps left to tighten. I suspect it may pay not to stray too far from home and to make sure my high-pitched yellow whistle still works?
When in doubt, work, walk or sleep? Each of these three have similar effects; they both refresh and energize. And... when you can't sleep, it's helpful to do something impractical or indulgent to distract yourself, right? Right. Well, baking probably doesn't exactly fit this description (?!) but last night I made a lemon meringue pie for my two hungry sons and me. It was seriously scrummy. If you like lemon meringue (do you pronounce it mah-ring-goo, too?) this is probably a recipe you'll want to try. This piffle-y little corner wedge is all that's left of it!
LEMON MERINGUE PHI
180g plain biscuits, crushed
90g butter, melted
1 x 400g tin condensed milk
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tspns cornflour
3 eggs, separated
1/2 cup castor sugar
(oh, and if you like soft, chewy mah-ring-goo - as opposed to crisp and crumbly - sprinkle in a small teaspoon of cornflour when you add the castor sugar to the stiffly beaten egg whites)
Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C.
To make the crust, combine the first two ingredients, press into a pie dish and refrigerate.
Warm the condensed milk with the lemon juice and cornflour, stirring till the mixture begins to thicken. Remove from the heat and whisk in the beaten egg yolks. Pour the filling into the crust and bake for 1o minutes.
Meantime, beat the egg whites till stiff then add the castor sugar and beat till shiny. Spoon the meringue on top of the lemon filling and return to the oven for another 15 mins or so.
While the pie's cooling, unpack a cupboard, fold some laundry or get on with your painting...
The pic below shows the ground I've been laying for the first of my new 'maps' series. You can tell there's a way to go yet, but a fair bit has arrived on the page during the space of the last five days. While I was cleaning my brushes and getting my work bench organized for an early start tomorrow morning, I was suddenly struck by the way mathematics finds its way into my paintings. I don't plan it this way; it simply happens.
This might sound a little off-beat but Phi is my studio muse for now. What an accommodating and challenging studio companion! Phi's here and not here, intangible and an experience at one and the same time. Phi inspires; it coaxes calm out of chaos, introduces harmony and lyricism to dissonance and disorder. Phi is discreet and dependable; it does not violate my space or intrude in my thought processes. Phi facilitates the creative process, respects my need for quiet and does not presume it has a right to clamber into my head to see - or seize - what's in there. Phi does not rifle through my papers or attempt to take over my world. What more could a person ask for from a muse?
When I stepped back to take an end-of-day look at this painting - Waters I have known - it dawned on me that it has sixteen 'windows into weather'. As it happens, I immigrated to New Zealand sixteen years ago. There's an underlying grid of 7 x 7 'pages' = 49. I am 49 for another fifteen days. There are a number of other mathematical 'coincidences.'
It occurs to me that I'm painting a 49-year chapter to a close. Of course, there's a new chapter on the other side of the membrane; a whole new volume about to come into being. Perhaps it'll tell a story of joyful emancipation? I hope so. Meantime, I'm standing on the threshold - a liminal space that feels every bit as poignant and perplexing as it is potent.