power to the people

I like DIY projects. A couple of years ago I started to make my own garden pavers with concrete molds. It started with Buddha head molds and a small bag of concrete.



[Oops! There's my toes in the bottom of the image. Hey, I think I like that shade of nail polish. I'll have to go find the bottle.]

Then when winter hit, the Big D took over the mold and made some frozen ice sculptures. Last year I discovered concrete poetry kits and started taking quotes and short poems and stringing them together, laying them out on patches of the lawn.

Could this be Art? Lawn Art? art with a capital 'A'? Or just a way to cover the front slope of the yard where the grass is withering away and being taken over by weeds? Whatever it is it sure makes people pause as they walk by our house.




Somehow I'd forgotten about these when they were covered in three feet of snow. This week as the temps rose into the 60's I saw again how people would pause in front of our house. I went out to check what the heck it was and delightfully found again my attempts at art. Ok, now I've decided that it is art with a lower-case 'a'.

It was nice to move on to a project that entailed physical labor - mixing the concrete, pouring into molds, etching letters into the bricks, and experimenting with concrete dyes to find swirly effects. I had spent ten years struggling with the mental labor required to complete my dissertation. Working with concrete brought balance to my life. Sweating out the toxins of stress with the exertion of physical labor was exactly what I needed as I contemplated what to do with my post-doc life. It literally brought joy to my life, something that was in short supply during the graduate school years.



And for me, this project on the front slope was a tribute to Obama and multicultural America. The experimentation with concrete dyes created a range of "skin colors" on the Buddha heads.



I thought that perhaps I would make poetry bricks to pave the path through my garden, or even the paths up at the woodland retreat in Wisconsin. And I made huge progress in making the bricks, but after I laid them out, I realized very quickly that they are very breakable. It only took one step to reveal the fragility. I don't know exactly what to do about making them stronger, less breakable. Maybe I need some different concrete, maybe they just need to weather and age before I walk over them.



See? I broke this one about one minute after I laid it out in the garden. I was pressing down with my foot to bury it down into the dirt. "Love as thou wilt" is the sacred precept from the Kushiel trilogy. Placing it here in the garden adds a new dimension as the garden wilts to its Autumn state of being.

As the weather warms, I wonder what happened with my plans to make lots of poetry bricks throughout the winter. It is a great hibernation project, but somehow that got away from me. I guess sub zero temps make the garden seem like a dream from long ago.

The garden is still a dream that won't come alive for at least another month. Now I will resume my plans. Hopefully it will fill that increasing need to dig in the garden, keep me occupied until Spring comes to stay.

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