|"Happy Service Animals"
* Note: The following blog post was written in May of 2019. In it I somewhat humorously describe what at the time felt like a seriously life-threatening experience. However, for many others who came down with that same strain of the influenza virus last year, it was no laughing matter - indeed, between 30,000 and 60,000 in this country alone would never laugh again. This year's new and novel super virus is at this moment hitting the world like a modern-day Black Death plague, and it's all many of us can do on a daily basis to hold off fear and panic, and continue living our lives secure in some knowledge of, and hope for, a happy and productive future. As I write this, on Friday, April 3rd, 2020, our family is getting ready to celebrate the 20th birthday of our shining son, Take-o (nickname Tayo).
About a month ago I came down with a bad case of the deadly Influenza. The same disease that caused so much misery and tragedy in the early 20th Century, depopulating many towns throughout the US, it's still with us today. But now, we know how to deal with it, and very few people ultimately die as a result of contracting the ever mutating virus.
And no, it's not because of the "flu" vaccines that local supermarkets are happy to inject into you. Read the fine print on the label, and hidden in all the legalese jargon, it not so clearly states that the vaccine doesn't actually prevent contracting influenza, the manufacturer never specifically made any claims that it did, and you have no basis for any legal action or recourse whatsoever in case you sicken and die, so go talk to your own personal savior, amen.
What we actually do know now, that we didn't in 1918, is that the most efficacious method of recovery is to stay hydrated, and get plenty of rest in a clean and quiet place. So that's what I did, and it's hard to believe how many hours one can sleep through the course of a day when you have a fever over 101 degrees.
After almost three days of that, I felt well enough to sit at the kitchen table, and have a cup of soothing tea, while looking out at the springtime garden. There was a bundle of mail, and while going through it, a bunch of loose advertisements fell onto the table - stuff from a farm and ranch store, a couple pizza joints, an insurance agency, a store specializing in really crappy quality tools, a mail order cigar shop...
It was all so colorful laying there in a random mess; it was hard to stop staring at that cheerful pile of paper. It's been said that often, the most effective and compelling art is made during states of mental imbalance (or a short lifetime of it, like Van Gogh or Schubert). In my still feverish mind, I thought it would be fun to set myself an art challenge: What can be created from a very limited palette of material, in a very limited time, such as two hours?
I found a pair of scissors, a glue stick, and a sheet of blank printer paper, and got to "work". In spite of my best efforts, including making quick and imprecise cuts, the clock went about five minutes over, by the time the project felt done. So technically, I lost the self imposed challenge, but gained a strange and weird collage. It's the second collage I've done; the first was about a hundred years ago in a college art class. Since it's the product of a feverish (and thus unbalanced) mind, it must be art.
Here's a link to a fine web (and print) magazine devoted to the art of collage: "kolaj". It's made and curated by real collage artists (unlike, let's say, a random half-crazed guy hopped up on chamomile tea), and features the work of today's best and brightest practitioners of the artform.