stories

42 Dogs and the Art of Repetition

42 Dogs by Michele Bledsoe

 

There are books on my shelf that I have read dozens of times..

maybe hundreds.

I could say the same for certain movies.

Experiencing such a deep passion for something

will do that to you.

Maybe it’s just me.

 

The painting you see is called 42 dogs.

I wasn’t trying to be cryptic

or intentionally weird..

the title is actually quite literal.

While painting it, I listened to Pink Floyd’s “Dogs

42 times in a row.

 

 

 

 

SEEDs for Autism and the People Who Inspire Us

As the Newsletter editor and instructor at SEEDs for Autism, I always encourage my students to share their stories. Expressing themselves through writing has been an empowering experience for these talented adults on the autism spectrum. It helps them understand that their thoughts and opinions matter, they have insights and wisdom worth sharing and that their experiences can help inspire others.

THE PEOPLE WHO INSPIRE US

Success isn’t just about what you accomplish in your life, it’s about what you inspire others to do.

Inspirational people help us believe in ourselves and motivate us to strive for excellence. These rare individuals make us want to reach further, do great things and take ACTION! Although there are many inspiring personalities in movies and television, it is the ones we encounter in our own lives that make the greatest impact. We asked SEEDs participants to tell us about the inspirational people in their lives. 

JOSE
My mom, as cliche as it is, is the person who most inspires me. She is the sweetest, coolest and most creative person in my life. She has the ability to listen despite how hard she works. I feel alone when I’m away from her and she is always there for me when I have to do things that are hard. She prays for me and she listens to my problems. I am happy when she has my back, in the toughest of times. Sometimes, when she is away, I have to learn how to be a grown man. It is hard. She taught me a lesson early on that I’m a special important person and I’m there to help people so that’s why I have to be a grown up even when she is far away. A lot of times she will tell me things that are hard to hear but she only says it out of love. My mom has the best way of expressing her love. She will have little sayings like, “Hike up your britches”, “I have a hug in my arms”, or “I am in awe of you, Jose” that’s a special way she lets me know I’m her good son, whom she loves.

I look at the strange days that have passed me sometime ago. There were always these moments when I couldn’t lift my head up but mom would not let me give up!  And the hard days were there because I was supposed to power through them. At the end of the day, I remember having a good feeling because my mom and I got through our day together. My Mom inspires my creativity, positivity and hard work. My family is important to me and my mother really inspires me because she is the person I most admire.

ANNA
My dad inspires me because he is in a wheelchair but he doesn’t let that make him not go to work. He is probably the hardest worker I know. He often gets no sleep but goes to work any way. And will often help me in any way he can even when he is tired.

JAKE M.
I am writing about someone who inspired me in my life. That person is Officer Franklin Marino. Officer Marino was an adult member of Boy Scout Troop 30. When I was younger and got into trouble with my peers in Troop 30, Officer Marino was there to pull me aside and talk. I didn’t always appreciate it at the time but as I got older I started to understand his methods. Some of the things he instilled in me were to respect all my peers, parents, elders, and people of authority. Other things he taught me were skills like coping skills and when to remove myself from troubling situations and people with a toxic attitude. He also wanted me to come to him if I needed help. Finally the most important thing he told me was that I can only control my actions. Having a guy like Officer Marino in my life was crucial in my development as a person.

The Resurrection of Gilly Bagoon and the Art of Keeping Promises

Gilly and Church relaxing at home.. circa 1986

Many years ago, my sister Patricia fell in love with a feral cat and named him Gilly Bagoon. She desperately wanted Gilly to come live in the house with us, but we already had a cat.

Ironically, his name was Church – after the resurrected cat from Stephen King’s Pet Sematary. Church was a handful. Crazy… and a biter. He used to climb my youngest sister like a tree – leaving gouges and scratches all over her legs and arms. She was covered in band-aids for most of her childhood.

Suffice it to say, my father did not want to bring another cat into the house. But Patricia was relentless. She was certain Gilly would get hit by a car and die.. and she fearfully explained this to my father every single night when he came home from work. This went on for some time.

My sisters were visiting their grandparents when the prophecy was fulfilled. Gilly Bagoon had been hit by a car and died. My father was beside himself.

He explained how he heard a car screech outside and KNEW immediately what had occurred. The poor young lady driving was horrified.. crying as she and my father examined Gilly’s limp body lying in the road. Too miserable and stunned to react, my father said nothing as the girl scooped Gilly up and drove off.

He readied himself for the wrath of my sister and the inevitable “I told you so!” he deserved and was prepared to endure for the rest of his life.

It was so sad. Poor Gilly. Patricia was heartbroken, inconsolable. Over and over she asked my father a single obsessive question.. demanding his response again and again:

“If Gilly was alive, could he live in the house?!?”

“Yes! Yes!” My father replied. “Of course he could!”

And life went on.

MANY MONTHS LATER…

I was doing laundry in the garage with the door wide open when a car pulled into the driveway. A young lady stepped out carrying something wrapped in a green towel. Unaware of what was coming, I walked out to meet her… and stopped dead in my tracks.

The girl was speaking.. I saw her mouth moving but I didn’t hear a word she said. Sure enough, the thing in the towel was Gilly Bagoon. I stared in shock as the girl set him down on the floor of the garage. I noticed that Gilly’s head had an odd tilt to the left as he limped slowly toward me.

The girl kept speaking. Something about injuries and inner ear damage..? I think I managed to thank her before she left.

After the initial shock, my thoughts went immediately to Patricia. We brought Gilly with us when we picked her up from school. It was a magnificent reunion.. and when we got home Patricia scooped Gilly under her arm and marched into the house without hesitation.

And then I remembered my father! I had to warn him of what was waiting for him when he got home! This was long before the age of cellphones, so I desperately tried to reach him at work before he left.

It was too late.

When I heard my father pull up in the driveway I ran to the door to intercept him, but Patricia was faster.

My father opened the door to my sister standing triumphantly in front of him with Gilly in her arms.

“GILLY’S ALIVE NOW!” she declared, “YOU SAID HE COULD LIVE IN THE HOUSE!”

My poor father.

Somehow, he managed to say the words:

“Yes. Yes, of course he can.”

Promises kept.

 

 

 

 

Golf Pencils and the Art of Restaurant Dining

I usually don’t like going out to eat.

But, much to my delight..

a waiter handed me a piece of paper

and a little golf pencil.

I’d rather draw

than order antipasti.

.

.

 

Negative Space and the Art of Being Yourself

 

The Church of Instinct, As Above So Below and From the Old House by Michele Bledsoe

Just as the negative space

around an object

will define its shape..

You can tell a lot about a person

by what they like.

These things reveal something about us..

 

But art is different.

 

More than just a human-shaped outline

formed by the things we respond to..

When you create art

it IS you.

 

 

Steve Gompf, Oreo Cookies and the Art of Constructive Criticism

Portrait of Steve Gompf by Michele Bledsoe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 2018, the world lost a great artist

and I lost my friend.

A true creative genius..

Steve Gompf was one of the most wildly imaginative

and passionate artists I have ever known..

and he taught me the true meaning

of constructive criticism.

 

When we shared a gallery years ago

my work had become very gray.

Soft tones and faded colors..

I was struggling with my palette

and I had lost my way.

It was Steve who brought me back.

 

Wonderfully eccentric,

playful and engaging..

Steve was also as blunt as a sledgehammer.

 

He marched up to my work

and held an Oreo cookie against a “dark” area

in one of my paintings..

“That’s not dark!” he exclaimed,

THIS is dark.”

I was floored.

He was absolutely right.

After this artistic epiphany

my work improved dramatically.

 

When Steve asked me to paint his portrait

I had no words..

but I was thrilled at the opportunity

to pour out my love and gratitude

in a way we would both understand.

Remodern America and the Art of Divine Intervention

 

My husband Richard’s book is now available on Amazon.

Remodern America is educational, entertaining and inspiring..

Almost equally inspiring is the story behind the book.

It is an epic tale of detached retinas,

aquariums

and divine intervention..

but most of all,

it is a love story.