Friday, January 25, 2019

The Stars Out of Place

The eclipse the other night reminded me of this piece. The sky was so clear - a rare break here in Georgia - I was sorry it was so cold and I was supposed to be working, so I was running up and down the stairs to monitor the progress.

19x17     250.00
"The Stars out of Place" was finished in the spring of 2010.  It was inspired by a nightmare, the kind that is so real that you wake up in a cold sweat gasping for air.

I was almost nine when Sputnik was launched and we had a neighbor who let us lie on the roof of their screen porch at night and watch that tin star crawl across the night sky while we bounced back and forth between AM radio bands listening to Murry the K or Scott Muni.

It all seemed pretty benign to me and I didn't understand how some adults perceived this to be some kind of threat from the Russians. That all became clear to me after I read "Hiroshima" later that year. That damn book sure took all the fun out of Godzilla.

Still I became a night sky watcher for the beauty of it and became intimately familiar with the locations of the heavenly bodies and the names of all the constellations. Total immersion in the Zodiac soon followed.

In my nightmare, I went outside on a crisp winter evening and looked up to find the stars all jumbled and the moon full and leering, too close, in the wrong quarter of the sky  and shedding wisps of pink poisonous looking gases.  The air was too thin and tasted metallic. I closed my eyes so hard they hurt, woke up in sudden disorientation and willed myself awake for the rest of a long night. Despite my best efforts to forget, it was a keeper.

detail 1

detail 3


  1. Potent dream. I have a few that stay too because they were of a particular moment in time and I was a certain person then. I remember Murray the K and Sputnik too...Later when I saw "My Life as a Dog" (a simply deep and delightful film you would love) I thought back to it and about the dog they sent up too. We were all aware of the threat of nuclear war and when we were young, Russia was the devil. These days there's too many devils to name. The quilting is wonderful.

  2. "The air was too thin and tasted metallic" ... reminded me of childhood cautions not to eat snow or lick icicles because they were contaminated with nuclear fallout. But then, what of the rain? Where did our drinking water come from? Don't ask.

    Your cloth, the colors and stitching, could be seen as a whimsical fairy world. But your backstory turned the sky and ground into a foreboding presence, the moon throbbing, threatening.

    We survived the 60s ... but at what cost?

  3. Every time you show this image--I fall in love again. those turquoise dots on burnt orange.

    My memories were of huddling in windowless school hallways with arms shielding our necks and heads.
    Like that was going to help. I loved SPACE and all that went with it. We had the Science channel for many years (then they noticed I watched it--and want to charge me more money to continue) And I could watch the planets--endlessly.


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