Grapes of Wrath in Reverse, 2.0: The History of the Mother Road

Amarillo, Texas

Note to Self: Stop at Jack Sisemore's Traveland RV Museum 

Our long drives skirt Route 66, known as the Mother Road. Mike reports on the appearance and disappearance of the old road as we fly along at 70 mph. He bemoans the collapse of old houses and stores that boardered the route before the interstate took over. 

I've never been much of a camper, but the romance of the road pulls at me. There was a time in the 70s when I longed to travel the country in an Airstream. It seemed part of being in the West, A way to hit the road, but have stability. Now it just seems like another home to care for, but I haven't given up. My neighbors Nancy and Lisa in Lexington often take their camper to not far away places just to enjoy the great views. I had a vision of traveling in my Honda Element when I first got it, but that has become a distant desire. Still, there is nothing like cooking in outdoors, the smell of fresh air and freedom for breakfast.


Art (and green chiles) Saves Lives

I had a rubber stamp I often used on mail art: ART SAVES LIVES. My artist friend, Ken Campbell, asked me to give it to him when he came from England. "Art saved my life," she said undramatically. Coming from a fractured family situation, working my way through the university, my entire career path could be summed up in a single plan of action: Keep making art for one more year. 

The time I spent in New Mexico in grad school started strangely. I found myself on a bus from El Paso to Las Cruces, a place I had never been. Most of my fellow passengers didn't speak English. I had signed up for an adventure, and was very unsure of where it would take me. 

So here I am in New Mexico all these decades later. My year here was one with more than usual unknowns, but it turned out to be one of the best of my life. I felt a certain freedom in the desert. I spent most of my time working on art. I sat up late at night, waiting for the salt kiln to reach temperature. I read Anais Nin's diary. I started searching for material on the history of women's art, eventually teaching a class with Christie Kruse on what we were finding. I learned to love green chiles, avocado and ham sandwiches at the Kentucky Club in Juarez, Mexico. For that year, I was unfettered. The feeling lingers, disappears, returns to me at odd times. 

Grapes of Wrath in Reverse 2.0: Rocky Road Day 2 ½

Day 2 1/2

Rocky Road was the theme of the day, from the wonderful early morning visit to Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West made from local rocks and concrete, hours and hours of driving up hills that were almost too much for Mike's Civic, to the disappointing election returns 400 miles later. 

Mike and I are starting a new chapter: his retirement. I'm sorry it is under this cloud of post election instability. But sometime between 4 and 6 this morning some thoughts about creativity in the midst of adversity came together. I've often wondered how artists (architects in this instance) managed to keep going during difficult times. When Wright started Taliesin West he was 70. Slept in a tent that leaked on his sleeping bag when it rained. Just like the his apprentices. When he started this project, in 1937 the American economy was suffering an extended depression and the threat of the next war (WWII) loomed on the horizon. 

Times like these try wo(men)'s minds. In a perverse way, the election has clarified my values, for my work, my relationships, and what I want to see in the world.