life imitates art freshly painted signAt my ranch, Las Tortugas, I find that life imitates art these days.  What, you say? I thought the phrase was art imitates life.

 Apparently, the argument has been around for a long time, way back to Plato and Aristotle. Plato felt that all artistic creation is a form of imitation (think photocopy machine) while Aristotle felt that a skillful artist imitates the “action” of life. I.e.: not a mere copy.


Then Oscar Wilde comes along and throws a monkey wrench into everything. In his essay, “The Decay of Lying- An Observation,” he wrote, “Life imitates art far more than art imitates life.”

 According to Regia Marinho, Wilde asserted that what is found in life is not what is really there but what artists have taught people to find through art. Wilde pointed out that fog has been in London for centuries but it took the poets and painters to teach humans its beauty and wonder.


Meanwhile, back at the ranch. In my upcoming novel, Tough Trail Home, the Dunwhitty family arrives at their recently inherited Central Texas Ranch to find it—well, let’s say a money pit, to put it kindly.

 There it was! The old JF Ranch sign had seen better days. Barely readable, it swung in the wind. Just past the sign, Lisa spied an oil well. Its gigantic torso, flecked with rust, stood idly as if frozen in time. Further down, weeds clogged the sides of the gravel driveway that led to the gate.




Now back to real life. My ranch sign was a mess, paint flaked off, moss growing on the metal, and faded from the sun. The pergola from which it hangs had two rotten logs that could have fallen on someone, leaving me vulnerable to being sued big time. The picture you see is the restored sign.

 In fact, we had so many projects to bring Las Tortugas back to its glory days I finally relented and hired a handyman to help. We had so many small projects he brought a crew. They have zoomed through replumbing, repairing my windmill (fake—it pumps no water—but it looks cool), repairing the tractor, taking down the tree house my teenage grandsons no longer use— the list goes on and on. Frankly, Las Tortugas has turned into its own money pit. The bill for a crew working three days has me frightened. If you hear I’ve had a heart attack next week, you will know why.

life imitates art windmill

 Oh, and the oil well. I used to have one on my property. It only made enough money to buy a couple of McDonald’s Happy Meals a year. About two years ago, the operator quit pumping. Per my contract, he was supposed to clean it up and restore the land to its original condition. But you guessed it. Although the operator kept promising to clean the thing up, it never happened.

 The rig has been removed, there’s a big hole in the ground, and the dirty oil tank has overflowed, spilling oil onto the property. The operator was cited by the Texas Railroad Commission. (Y’all, it’s a Texas thing. The Railroad Commission oversees oil and gas production and has nothing to do with railroads!)

 I filed a complaint, and the Commission ordered the operator to clean the site, but he has not shown up. I am now getting ready to put on my boxing gloves and go to war again.





I agree with Oscar. When we write, we take bits and pieces of life, adding nuance and meaning to the things we experience. That’s why I love the process.



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