Myopic and Astigmatic Observations: political & social commentary


A. Why I do not want to be taken care of:

It’s true that there is a need for a mental health network.  We need to support and to take care of those who need this care.  Even so there is an over-dependance on the system.  Those who are supported by this ponderous and heavy handed mentality are encouraged to do nothing and be nothing. In the medical model we are told that mental illness is all biology. It’s a matter of treating it with medication and chemical healing.  Even so the medical model needs to be balanced with the environmental model.  We need to have more than just forced submission and dependancy.  We need more then drop-in centres and clinics. We need more than doctors and counselers who ask questions once a month.  I do not want to be taken care of!
I need to have self esteem and pride.  I need to feel like I’m contributing to society.  I need to know that I am accepted by others.  I do not need to be given gifts.  If the hand that feeds you is all you have -what is the other hand doing?  I want to rise up from my knees and take what’s mine.  I want work and labour.  I do not want to be taken care of.  I want to be self-sufficient and strong.  I want to be known and not forgotten.  The Gallery Gachet is the alternative to the orthodox way of things.  It is a way of giving power to the disenfranchised.  It is a vital and working process whereby we release artists from the slavery of pity and fear.  We do not give water we dig wells.

B. What I need in my life:

1.    Reunion with the community:  In the past I have fallen into trauma and madness. I was a solitary soul, without any sense of social ties.  In my pure and terrible alone-ness I had been set apart from others and pushed aside.  It’s not that it was done on purpose -it was a natural inclination.  Those who are involved in crazy behavior are viewed with suspicion and distrust.  Even so I hope to return to the crowd and be a part of it’s encouragement and mutual self-regard.  I want to be accepted not as Outsider Artist but a member of society.  I want to be joined with others and do the work needed.  I see work as a human right and an imperative.  I seek reunion as a necessity and an inevitable concern.  I want to be active and not passive or submissive.
2.    Empowerment:– I want strength and spiritual growth.  I do not want to be offered freedom without fighting for it.  I feel that in the world of argument I am a vital partner. I have a talent and a skill that is needed by others.  I would put forth my point of view and stand up to be counted.  In my pride I hone my craft and art.  I seek to fly on my own wings and live under my own efforts.  Empowerment is a thing whereby I am rewarded for good work as I value what I do and how I am presented.  I pay attention to the details and I learn the business of art.
3.    Collectivity: I speak of collectivity as a social network.  In this gallery we make decisions about our policy as well as our reasons for existence.  In collectivity we balance the individual with the larger framework.  To live in a social network like this we must sacrifice our point of views for the will of others.  In the Gallery Gachet we do not behave as a bureaucracy or a hierarchy.  All is a smoothly running machine made of the sum of its parts.  Collectivity is needed as a way of feeling like you’re involved in a larger scheme.  This is also a part of pride and of generosity.  We give and are given in return.  There is always a relationship and this is a thing of pleasure and gratification.  Responsability means to respond.
4.    Political Will: The dissident voice is a muscle of society. The radical point of view is the shadow of the orthodox rule.  I do not mean to say that we are all radicals. Good art is a subversive thing and always involves a certain provokative bent.  In this way we question and ponder the mysteries of expression.  The artist throws sand in your eyes in order to make you see.  Political will is a thing of creation.  As Pablo Neruda said; “I’ve never been one to seperate politics from art.”   In this way we are always striving to make our voice known to others and to struggle for dignity and self-respect.  Political will is always on the side of the marginalized.  All poetry and art is in some sense a compliant or a protest against injustice and oppression.
5.    Freedom to Create Art: If we are to make art and sell it we are indeed full of self-esteem.  If we make art but do not sell it, we find that the payback is in the work itself. To have the resources and be able to have the time to express is a vital part of our lives. If we are not able to fulfill our function we are depressed and unhappy.  We must have a place for social inspiration and mutual connections.  It is all more than just having the tools:  canvas, paint and brushes.  We give to the pool of imagination and are given in turn.  Freedom to Create Art -is indeed a human right in itself.  We who are artists know that art is an obsession.  It rules our hearts and leads us to meaning. We need Art!  Not only artists but the those who take the excesses of our creativity. Society needs art and always has.  If we do not have art we have sorrows and degradations

C. My Story;

How has my life been improved by Gallery Gachet?  I have been a part of this community for twenty five years.  When I began my relationship with this place it was a mere drop-in centre for artists who had a mental illness. Over the years it grew into a complex entity. Now its a smoothly running engine powered by the members.  It is no longer just a place for people to meet each other.  It is a vitalized and deeply motivated society.  I know that if I drop the ball someone else can take it further.  I feel the support and motivations of others.  I feel proud that I am a part of a larger meaningful scheme. I have had a history of isolated trauma and troubles.  When I come to the Gallery Gachet I feel a vibration of such a moving cultural thing.  This feeling is a thing of protection, a circle of energy that vitalizes me and challenges me.  I feel this as a state of learning.  In this way we educate ourselves and also educate the public about stigma and stereotypes.

We are also inspired by the artwork that has hung on the walls, how it feeds us and becomes a part of our own strivings.  I have been so proud of the various forms of vision that I have known in the gallery space.  These visions are worthy of the society at large.  These visions are deeply evocative and bring forth echoes in my own mind.  I am galvanized by the work of others.  I am infused with a spiritual growth -as I face these revelations.  So the work itself helps me to create with principle and dedication.  I have functioned in the Gallery, enlarged and expanded by this ever-evolving wheel of concourse.  My life has been improved by the Gallery, as I’ve known times when I was unaware and involved in my madness.  I was alone but now I feel that my activities in this mileau have brought me out of the suffering of isolation.  I have grown in the arms of society and been taken into the inside once again.   The Gallery Gachet is needed for me to take part in this forum of give and take.

D. The Consequences of Over-dependance.

We need work because it gives us strength and togetherness. Over-dependence is a problematic flight into passivity and complacency.  I believe that every problem is a solution in disguise.  When I heard the news that our funding was cut off by the powers that be -I was scared.  I felt that the hammer had come down on me and my associates.  I was expecting it of course -but when it came it was not easy to take.  Even so this might be the best thing to happen to the Gallery Gachet.  We must awaken from our empty shells and deal with this inequity. I think that this business will galvanize the radical network and help us to realize that nothing’s to be taken for granted.  We must join together and deal with this very dangerous thing.  If the government spends its money on suffocation as well as repression -things will only get worse.  The danger is that we give in and allow them to take away all our freedoms.  We will be enervated and drawn out of ourselves.

We will be forced to deal with hard questions.  We will realize that freedom that is not fought for is not really freedom at all. We will know that we are now on our own.  The ones who decide who gets what and who is denied -will not be there for us.  I am calling out to the community to think seriously about the ramifications of this dirty business.  I am not pro-psychiatry or otherwise -but I believe we must have choices.  If there are no choices what do we have but the sleep of detachment and pity?  We must understand that the Gallery Gachet is another way of doing things.  It is a progressive and revolutionary process and it fills a niche and position.  We must know that there is a need for this kind of thing.  We must look both ways and see the balance of it all.  If the orthodox point of view is  the only rule, there is no place for the unpredictable.  Art in itself is always an anomaly -a thing of strangeness and abberation.  Against the efficient system there is a need for the alternative.  Beyond the tunnel-vision of those who govern, we need a different side of things.  The Gallery Gachet is the other view and is a new kind of possibility.  We are the alternative and we are needed.

E. We Need Resources:

We need resources in order to survive.  We don’t need help or charity.  If we are working artists we give back to the community.  We are involved in our craft and our dedication.  We need resources in order to continue to express our dreams and aspirations. In this way we return the favour -we are not just recievers of bounty. We do not just take but give as well.  If we share in the benefits of the community we support its well-being.  We need resources to help us to stand on our own.  We need resources to give us the ability to make things and sell them.  We need resources to make us function
and to fulfil our mandate and vision.  We need resources to continue to take our place in the larger cultural values of the local and marginalized people.  We have a reason for existance and an imperative to play a part in the down-town East Side.  We have credibility and power and we use it to reach out to the others who are our allies.  We need resources and considerations;  we live and we prosper only if we are seen as an investment for the future.  Our secret dreams are the fuel for the engines.  Our potentiality should be valued in this way.  We will remake reality with our voices and if you hear us you will know that we must not be ignored.  We need resources to explore the things in darkness that are brought into the light.  With resources we will heal and better ourselves.

My husband passed away in April and I am wondering how long this period of loneliness and mourning will  last?

Other widowed women tell me “six years” or even as long as  “twenty.” Some carry it around for the rest of their lives. For me it’s been painful. And unpredictable. And a few times overwhelming .

But once in awhile the grief has been mixed in with an emotion akin to joy. I’m not sure whether I was experiencing symptoms of insanity or whether I happened upon something wonderful?

Our early years of togetherness weren’t always easy. But eventually it worked. We made some lifestyle changes and our relationship grew into something special.  In about 1995 I wrote “In Search of Wild Onions”   

The years have passed by

My love

We have experienced pain

Bouts of drought

Freezing rain

Blazing fire


Storm drenched desire

Both frigid and torrid


Although altogether

There were infinitely many

More warm cloudless days

Now we are basking under

Calm comfortable skies

We await the sunset

And enjoy each sunrise

Today we climbed a steep hill

In search of wild onions

Something we do every spring

Before the berries ripen

Before the fish begin to bite

Tomorrow we may go camping

And make love inside a tent

And I can honestly say

That I love you


And I always have


Okay, so life goes on…. What’s for breakfast? I suppose one should have protein. What’s in the fridge? Aha eggs! But I hate eggs. I spot the butt end of a loaf of homemade bread purchased at one of the Friday afternoon markets. I carve off two slices and dip them in beaten egg diluted with ½ and ½ cream. Fry them up brown and eat them topped with gobs of butter and rhubarb sauce. (Wished I had some whipped cream.) I wash it down with coffee made in my one-cup coffee maker. Nice healthful breakfast.

Time to check the blood pressure: Doggone good numbers if I do say so myself! My doctor would be proud.

Exercise options: should I strut across the highway to fetch the newspaper or dance aerobically to music in the bedroom? (“Winding up your clock,” as my husband used to call it.)

But first I’ll phone my brother and listen to some guy talk. He tells me about his latest attempt to slim down Rusty his aging, obese dog. It’s called “No Calorie Dog Food.” It’s twice the price of ordinary dog chow but money-back guarantee if dog won’t eat it. And he has a fish story to tell me.

The fish aren’t biting much lately, he tells me. But he did have a big one on the line awhile back. Almost had it to the boat when a loon swam over, dived down after the fish and took it to the bottom of the lake. The line broke and my brother went home fish-less.

That reminds me of a time when we were fishing on Hallett Lake. An eagle swooped down from the sky, scarping up my husband’s catch of the day. The swoosh of its big wings startled me so much I almost fell out of the boat. Husband laughed about that for days!

It’s too nice a day not to be outdoors. Besides, I need to weed and water my garden box. Last summer the deer came and clear-cutted most of the greenery. This year I’ve been spraying with a mix of hot sauce, garlic, egg and cayenne pepper. Seems to be working.

I’ve decided to keep my husband’s scooter. “I’m practicing for my old age,” I tell people when they ask about it. Who am I trying to kid? I’ve already got most of the symptoms. Anyway, today I am bold enough to drive it all the way down to the park to take a stroll along the lakeshore. I manage to avoid the joggers, trains and automobiles and park in full view of a beautifully matched 4-horse team that’s being hitched to a covered buckboard. Amazing how the horses have been trained to back up so nicely in unison! It’s the Fraser Lake Sawmill’s Picnic and I assume the buckboard will soon be loading up passengers to follow the roadway and admire the view.

On my stroll I notice the size and quantity of the saskatoon berries. ‘Tis a good year for the berries. And it’s a good day for me. I am invited to enjoy a hamburger. I don’t have to cook anything for lunch!

Love Don’t get No Better Than That!

“I don’t buy into that Valentines’ hype,”
he growled as he came through the door,
arms laden with groceries
and yesterday’s newspaper.
No flowers,
No chocolates,
Not even a card…

“Besides,” he added
with an ingratiating grin,
“Every day that we’re together
is Valentine’s Day.”

Before I lapsed into a self-righteous pout
I recalled the love song he’d written
‘Specially for me,
And when I’d had that cancer scare
He’d wished that it’d been him.
But the absolute efficacy
The ultimate validity
Of his devotion to me
Was that
He’d always
Bait my hook
And then remove the fish

Love don’t get no better’n that…


I’ve been mulling over what makes a man “special” to a woman (over and above the attributes that make him “sexy”) The longest-lasting drawing card I think is that he needs her – loves her to the nth degree- he needs her so much (really loves her -not just wants her sexually) that he becomes the best person that he can possibly be. His love- and the vulnerability that goes with it- can be irresistible to women (some women anyway)  And it works both ways. She knows that she can trust him whenever she becomes vulnerable; and that he will respect her and his love will not be dampened during the inevitable low points in their relationship.

Women, Yes You Can!

International Women’s Day was first observed in Canada shortly after the United Nations General Assembly invited member states to proclaim March 8, 1977 as the UN Day for women’s rights and world peace.

When it was announced, I remember thinking “What’s the big deal, anyway?” I’d always assumed women were as good – or possibly even better – than our bigger, louder, compatriots. Then I recalled applying for a cleaning job back in 1972. It was for a Federal Government position.

The woman who interviewed me confided that there were actually two positions available on the application form – both for the same job. The one was categorized as “Housemaid.” The wages were 3 dollars and something per hour. The other was for the male equivalent: a position labelled “Janitor” for five dollars an hour.

I applied for the janitor job and was accepted.

Canada has come a long way since legislation was first passed in 1918 to allow women the right to vote. But there were a number of obstacles. In 1928 The Supreme Court of Canada- interpreting the British North American Act in light of the times in which it was written, ruled that women were NOT “persons” and therefore could not be appointed to the Senate.

In October 1929 an assembly of five Canadian women sailed overseas to appeal the case to the Judicial Committee of England’s Privy Council. The Council ruled unanimously that “the word ‘persons’ in Section 24 of the Act included both the male and female sex.…” Canadian women were eligible to run for political office, and to be appointed to the Senate.

In some countries where laws are rooted in religious tradition, women’s rights remain stuck in past centuries. Women cannot be seen in public- except when in the company of a man and draped in such a way as to hide their faces.
But to quote Bob Dylan: “Times they are a-changing.”

Last April there was a newspaper photo of a long line-up of Afghan woman waiting to cast their vote in an election. I was so impressed I wrote the following poem:
Women of Afghanistan

Women queued up to vote
Gather in great numbers despite
Threats from Taliban
Yes, they can!
Draped in hooded burqas, black,
Blue and muted colors
Courageous, collective stand
Yes, they can!
Like large birds, getting ready to fly
Voting in their own land
Women of Afghanistan
Yes, you can!!

And this year on March 15 there was a photo on Twitter of a group of Afghan men wearing burqas to support the rights of women.
Hurray, the Afghan guys are getting onboard!.



Depression is:
Falling off your horse
While riding through the barn yard.
You land on a manure pile.
It stinks awfully, but
Try as you might,
You cannot
Get back in the saddle again
To sing-a-long with Roy Rogers

Anxiety is:
Riding a spunky horse
‘Long a lovely mountain trail
Beautiful day, but
You can’t help
The big rocks, bush ‘n
And the raging river
Far below


Tag Cloud


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 379 other followers