All posts by Phoebe Sparrow Wagner

Artist, author, poet

PHOEBE WAGNER’S ART ON DISPLAY IN BRATTLEBORO, VERMONT

In addition to July as Artist of the Month at the Harmony Collective, all proceeds from sales in July will go to benefit Groundworks Collaborative. You can find out more about Groundworks by going to http://groundworksvt.org

“At Groundworks, we are steadfast in our dedication to our mission — working with people and systems to end hunger and homelessness for all people in our region– and we will not fail. Stand with us.”

I hope in addition to displaying and selling my MAD ART paintings in July I will also be able to keep my 3-D art, which is presently on permanent display. Everything is for sale, in case you are wondering.

Do stop by the Harmony Collective Gallery if ever you visit Brattleboro. It’s a wonderful site where the art is hugely diverse and you can find something that pleases everyone there.

HISTOIRE COURTE/ SHORT STORY (Edited)


FIRST FRENCH ORIGINAL , THEN ENGLISH TRANSLATION (largely by Reverso Context)

CAMBRIOLEUR OU PAS?

Elle me dévisage. Son regard est froid.  « T’as la frousse tout d’un coup?”

Nous pensions cambrioler la maison de ses parents et elle me demande si j’ai peur. 

« Tu as déjà fait ce genre de choses? T’es une cambrioleuse expérimentée? »

« Non, je n’ai jamais cambriolé, » dit-elle en fronçant les sourcils, « même pas mes parents, mais cela devrait être facile, je crois.  Ils ne verrouillent jamais leur porte et ils laissent les choses de valeur partout, même l’argent. »

J’ai vraiment la trouille, mais je ne peux pas l’avouer en face d’elle. Je fais semblant d’être insouciant, et je lui dis, « je suis étudiant en médecine et je n’ai peur de rien. Mais je ne veux pas être pris la main dans le sac. Est-ce qu’il n’y a pas de système d’alarme? »

« Je crois pas.  Mes parents s’attendent à de l’honnêteté de la part de tous les gens, comme ils en attendent d’eux-mêmes. Ils ne s’attendent pas à être cambriolés. Et ils ne font rien pour l’empêcher. Je voudrais leur donner une bonne leçon. »

« Ils font  souvent l’expérience des cambriolages quand même, non? Les gens ne sont pas très honnêtes en général et s’ils savent qu’une maison n’est pas verrouillée… »,

« En fait, ils n’ont jamais été cambriolés  que je sache. »

« Ça m’étonne. Jamais auparavant d’avoir été victimes des voIeurs, ils ont vraiment de la chance! »

« Si, si, ils ont été volés, mais ils ne s’en sont pas rendu compte. Moi, je leur ai souvent dérobé des choses. De la monnaie et des petites choses qu’ils ne ne remarqueraient jamais. Comme cette bague. » Et elle me montre la bague, sur une chaîne autour de son cou. Elle me la donne, comme si elle voulait que je la garde. « Ils n’ont jamais remarqué que quelque chose leur manquait. » Elle parle d’un ton décontracté comme si c’était une chose normale de voler aux parents. Puis elle dit d’une voix blanche de colère, « ils sont trop bons. Les gens comme eux, je les haïs.  Les gens bons ne me remarquent jamais… » Elle rit jaune.

Si j’avais la trouille avant, maintenant je suis vraiment pétrifié. J’ai une peur bleue. 

Je ne veux plus cambrioler la maison de ses parents, je ne veux plus rien avoir à faire avec cette jeune femme dont je connais si peu de choses.

Elle me parle tout d’un coup d’un ton changé. Elle a l’air triste, comme si elle broie du noir. C’était cette tristesse qui m’a attiré dès le début. Je pensais que je pourrais lui remonter le moral. Mais ce changement soudain me fait peur. Elle est si lunatique, son humeur tellement  changeante, que je ne comprends rien sauf qu’elle n’est pas qui je la croyais être. Je la regarde, sa tête enfouie dans les bras, l’image de quelqu’un de tourmenté.

J’y vois mon opportunité et je la prends. Je m’enfuis, c’est -à -dire que je l’abandonne,  triste ou faisant semblant de l’être,  sur le banc dans le parc. Je ne sais pas ce qu’elle va faire, si elle cambriolera ses parents ou pas. Je ne la comprends pas du tout. 

Je rentre soulagé chez moi, avec l’intention d’étudier. Je ne suis pas un cambrioleur, je ne l’ai jamais été, je ne le serai jamais. On peut dire que ce qui m’est arrivé n’était qu’un cauchemar, quelque chose comme une mauvais rêve. Peut-être. Mais je porte toujours sous mes vêtements une chaîne avec une bague autour de mon cou afin de ne jamais oublier mon échappée belle.

BURGLAR OR NOT?

She stares at me. Her eyes are icy. “You’re getting cold feet?”

We were thinking about breaking into her parents’ house and she asks me if I am scared. “You’ve done this before? This sort of thing? Are you an experienced burglar?”

“No, I’ve never burglarized before,” she says, frowning, “not even my parents, but it should be easy, I think.  They never lock their doors and they leave things everywhere, even money.”

I’m really scared, but I can’t admit it in front of her. I pretend to be insouciant, and I say, “I’m a medical student and I’m not afraid of anything. But I don’t want to be caught red-handed. Isn’t  there an alarm system?”

“I don’t think so. My parents expect honesty from everyone, just as they expect it from themselves. They don’t expect people to steal from them. And they don’t do anything to stop it. I want to teach them a lesson.”

“They must often be victims of  burglaries anyway, right? People are not very honest in general, and if they know a house isn’t well locked…. “

“In fact, they have never been burglarized as far as I know.”

“I’m surprised. They’ve never been robbed before? They’re really lucky!”

“Yes, yes, they were robbed, but they were not aware of it. I myself often stole things from them. Money and little things they would never notice. Like this ring.” And she shows me the ring, which is on a chain around her neck. She hands it to me, as if she wants me to keep it. “They never noticed that they were missing a thing.” She talks in a casual tone like it’s normal to steal from one’s parents. Then, her voice goes toneless with anger, “They are good, too good. I hate people like them. Good people never notice me.”  And she gives a hollow laugh.

If I had cold feet before, now I’m really petrified. I’m scared to death. 

I don’t want to break into her parents’ house anymore, I don’t want to have anything to do with this young woman I know so little about.

Then she speaks and her tone is completely different. She looks sad, as if she’s suddenly down in the dumps. It was that sadness that attracted me from the beginning. I thought I could cheer her up, even save her. But this sudden change scares me. She’s so moody, I don’t understand anything except that she’s not who I thought she was. I look at her, her head buried in her arms, the image of someone tormented.

I see my opportunity and I take it. I run away, leaving her, sad or pretending to be, on the bench in the park. I don’t know what she’s going to do, whether she’s going to rob her parents or not. I don’t understand her at all. 

I go home relieved, intending to resume my studies. I am not a burglar, I have never been one, and I never will be. You could say that what happened to me must have been a nightmare, a really bad dream. Maybe. But under my shirt I wear her ring on a chain around my neck so I never forget how close I came to disaster.

by phoebe sparrow wagner 2022

EASY VEGAN SPELT BREAD RECIPE (edited)

4 cups spelt flour

3/4 cup raw sesame seeds

1 tsp salt

1.5 tsp baking soda

2.25 cups full fat soy milk (or another plant based milk)

1-2 Tb maple syrup or molasses or vegan ”Hunny”

Mix all dry ingredients including sesame seeds to make sure they are well blended

add wet ingredients and mix until a thick batter forms.

spoon into well greased loaf pan or one lined with baking parchment.

bake at 350F for 50-60 minutes then remove from pan to cool. (To know how long to bake, when top is brown and has split, the bread should be ready.)

One Small Step : The Conversation

This should link to our hourlong conversation, if you are interested or copy and paste link below.

https://archive.storycorps.org/search/interviews/?q=Phoebe+Wagner

STORYCORPS ONE SMALL STEP

https://www.vpr.org/show/vermont-edition/2021-11-12/vermonts-one-small-step-adrianna-phoebe

you can listen or read the transcript of this 8minute snippet of our hourlong conversation.

check out Violet Protest, referred to in the conversation above. https://violetprotest.com

SAYING YES SOMETIMES MEANS SAYING NO 

Many of you know that I have been learning French non-stop for the last three years, and some are aware that I wanted to go back to France to visit or live. Moving there is not possible, due to the difficulties of acquiring a visa without actually owning a home or having relatives in the country. And these same visa requirements, meant that I had to limit any temporary stay to 3 months or less. I had begun to plan a trip that would have allowed me to visit friends in Paris and Rouen, and near Lyon and finally a month in Guillestre in the French alps, visiting one of my favorite French friends. I had looked at certain Airbnb places in those three regions and was on the cusp of making reservations, when I was temporarily halted in my plans by two small retinal hemorrhages. These likely represent nothing serious, but it did force me to put off planning the trip until after my November 19 appointment with the eye doctor. However, in that time things have changed, or my thinking has. 

I have been advised that my stance is useless, that someone will be in that seat, aboard that plane, if not me then another person, that my denying myself a trip to France won’t make a dent in climate change, that individuals’ efforts are for naught when it’s the big corporations that need to change. Maybe so. As an individual I already do what i can to diminish my carbon footprint: I eat no meat, fish, eggs or dairy products. That is because I have learned that it is animal farming that is at the base of most deforestation and our billions of cows are a huge global source of methane emissions, bigger than all transportation combined, according to some sources. Since methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas than CO2, this is something I encourage in others: cut back on your consumption of animals even if you feel it is impossible to go plant based entirely. I use a washing machine yes, but I dry my clothing on a line. I rarely drive when walking is possible (yes I do own a used car). I have flown in a plane maybe a handful of times over all my nearly 69 years. I keep the heat way down in my apartment, despite the fact that my rent includes heat. BUT…

The things I do that add to my own carbon footprint are typically American. I use a small air conditioner in my bedroom in the summer, just for sleeping but I do use it and would suffer without it as my bedroom gets stifling in the summer heat, even in Vermont. And I confess to shopping online, largely because I do not want to drive to a far-off store or the store is simply too far away to get to. But transportation is transportation whether I do it, or I purchase something that forces someone to drive to my apartment to deliver it. I don’t only buy locally to sustain the local economy, no, as the local prices are sky-high for art supplies that are not the quality I need. And so on and so forth. I’m sure there are a dozen other behaviors I could name that add to my typically American carbon footprint.

But “everyone else” is flying, or would if they could, so why do I insist on not going to France? The French need tourist dollars, I’m told, and they would love to meet someone who loves their language and has devoted herself to learning it. Maybe so. Vermont needs tourist dollars too. In fact many of the world’s local economies depend on tourism just as much as France and Vermont do. Something is wrong with this. It used to be that a town sustained itself with local dollars and local crops and local tradespeople. We didn’t need to order most goods from afar, with invisible energy costs. Local consumption didn’t carry a hidden price tag in terms of the poor people in other countries employed to manufacture what we want more cheaply than we know it ought to cost. We have become addicted to bargain prices, to everything being made cheaply elsewhere and to low fuel costs so transportation doesn’t add visibly to the price we pay either. 

I see I’m going beyond my level of expertise and also straying from my subject. 

Someone recently said to me that if one country does the right thing, in terms of climate change, that could start a snowball effect, with other countries  vying to do the same or better. I believe that individuals can spark this sort of thing too. I’m not going to France, because I cannot “justify” the energy usage. I will be just as happy as i am now, France or no. So, yes, I’m setting an example. Were you planning a trip overseas or by airplane?  Well, maybe we can start a movement by changing our minds and our plans, and saying No. Because every such No — to eating meat or fish, to flying, to excessive energy use, among other things  — is a heartfelt Yes to the world, to the environment and to the planet’s future.

Relaxing Ribbons

These drawings were to help me understand how intertwining works in drawing and painting. how to make things look intertwined etc. it ended up being quite relaxing and even a kind of meditation. i hope you enjoy them. The go from last to first one drawn, starting with last one first. I am still working on a full rainbow ribbons drawing.

This was the most recent ribbons drawing