Annie O.jpg

Annie Olson

"Artist Musings"

Come into my shell with me! My "Artist Musings" will give you an insight into my inner workings and why I create these faux shells and other works of art.

This essay is for you, Robin. But it should be put on the website. And I will also try to write a short take on it for my personal and Essence of the Spiral Facebook.

The other morning I got up early again. 5:30 or so. It’s been a long month. Getting ready for the library demonstration from 2 to 4. And then 5pm at the Yacht club for my 60th high school class reunion. Making the shells, printing text and bagging them. And then the next day a Baha’i conference in Grand Rapids. And the Sunday before a similar conference in Kalamazoo. Doing the shells too. The one a week ago Sunday was long for this 78 year old grandma and great grandma. Bob Hamilton picked me up at 7:15 am and we got home at 8 pm. And Friday the graduation party for Andrew and Matthew. College and high school. Shells to make for giveaways and veggie platter. Not so hard. Just the mental and emotional aspects of all of these different events has really worn me out. Why I have yet to post on the Facebook pages.

So this morning, as most mornings I sit down with a cup of coffee and Miga, our faithful cat on my lap. The sun not yet up. A dialog with my other self. The rider of the two of us.

You see, Robin I’m a talking horse that also knows how to use this iPad to express my thoughts. Which are just as much hers as mine. I realize I need to give my inner person, the other me a name. Which brings me to the name you gave the website.

Essence of the Spiral

Robin, it’s as if you mind melded with me like Mr. Spock of Star Trek. And took that Knowing. And gave my life story a Proper Name.

Essence is such a powerful concept. People should be required to make maple syrup. Taking the sap from a living, healthy maple tree. Collecting lots and lots of wood to burn. Setting up a large pot over the fire and spending hours to boil away most of the water. To “capture” the essence of the maple tree’s Blood. Only then would people be able to grasp a bit of what Essence means. Forming the shells has given me an intimacy with the very Essence of the Spiral as I’ve created each one.

What my experience in October of 1987 was all about. The boiling away of all the water of our history. Of how we got the Land to be America Upon and With.

And the Spiral! Of course! Not about Shells! But the Spiral!

I realized I needed to start with name of the website on Facebook. So I began with the name. The Spiral, the building block of the Universe.

In the meantime last week at that conference, the meeting was closed by a Local Native woman. She spent maybe a half hour sharing and closed with a Smudging and Water ceremony. Which I participated in.

After the ceremony she put the abalone shell and feathers in her bag. During the Smudging, I wondered, “does she know what a live abalone looks like.?” So when a touched it, this awareness was very clear. The need for Indigenous People in America who Smudge to know the live animal that produced the very shell they use to light the sweet grass or sage. And all the money copies they place on their regalia.

The next day or so I looked it up. I knew abalones were overfished. Endangered. But shocked to see all the extreme appropriation in selling. And same on money cowries

Smudge Kits!

So this is what transpired today. A coming together of words I heard over and over again as I formed shells for people. They heard me speak of this animal, a slug, that is able to make a beautiful shell. This lowly, despised life form.

I remember how shocked I was. Taken aback. Couldn’t comprehend they didn’t know.

Person after person thought the shells on the beach were just there to pick up. Like a rock. Or that the hermit crabs made them. The shell museum on Sanibel had the same problem. In their fund raiser to build the aquarium it’s about a shell museum filled with shells unable too. To get people to realize a live animal makes these shells. The need to see the live ones. Handle them.

So here we are as a nation seeing The Land like an empty shell ready for us to pick and enjoy. Oblivious to the reality that The people who’ve cared and nurtured This Land are here and alive.

So we see a galaxy. And look at it as a shell. That just somehow is on the beach. And acting as if no one made the galaxy in the first place.

So this essay is really about The Unknowable Essence that made that galaxy. But most of all created this Force. The Spiral that is the very building block of our Universe.

So we treat the Universe just like those people on the beach. Ignorant of something so clear. That a powerful entity had to exist to create a beautiful shell. Our Milky Way Galaxy. A Spiral Galaxy

So often when I form a shell, one question people ask me is this. “Who taught you to do this?”

As if I was incapable of coming up with this on my own.

This is strange essay to write. Not yet very clear. The metaphor is right there but will require people to chew it for themselves.

So Robin, I can’t thank you enough for not only listening but Knowing with me! Why you alone had the capacity to name Our Site.

Essence of the Spiral

I wanted to write this before I lost the concept. “A galaxy like a empty seashell. Acting as if nothing formed It. Just like ignorant beachcombers.”

With deep love and hugs


Today in the car going to Grand Rapids to get Phil’s scooter repaired, I saw the name tag with my name on it. Stuck to the window armrest.


As Phil drove us there, it occurred to me. What if I’d been known as Annie all my life instead of Pam?

I mentioned this to Phil on the way home. And he, like myself, agreed that Annie sounds much friendlier. When your name is called, Annie comes across so differently than Pam.

By the way, it was a set damaged batteries and they replaced them for far less than we expected. So Phil now

has wheels again!

Thankful to small favors.

So I think today I’m going to look up about names. Not just Pam or Annie. But about the emotional perception of names. Of who we are according to the physical name we’re called by. Not our given name. Name on our birth and death certificates, SS card, driver’s and marriage licenses etc.

Why I took my middle name. Ann. To give a name to my art in 1999 for a artist brochure Phil and David were creating for me. Annie’s Arc. The Rainbow. The symbol of Peace from God after The Flood for humans to see. And a reminder that all life was given that promise too.

Funny! I never have pondered this before. I’ve wished I’d been called Annie as a child. But not about how I’d have been treated and accepted if I’d been known as Annie instead of Pam.

Last night I had a dream.

High in the sky, I saw a mighty eagle. All around him large, fluffy flakes of snow were slowly drifting toward the earth below. The mighty eagle was keeping company with them. I felt as if they knew each other; that they were brothers.

The mighty eagle began to mirror the movements of one particular snowflake. The eagle and the snowflake seemed to be dancing together. The whole sky filled with unbelievably beautiful music as they danced. It was as if their dance was giving birth to the music itself.

So gentle and peaceful were the music and the dance that tears of joy began to fill my eyes. As I watched and listened, it was as if my own spirit had joined with theirs and was now a part of the dance. The gentle, peaceful Dance of Harmony. I felt as if my heart would burst in its joy.

The snowflake seemed to possess power. Power to control its movements and destination. It had purpose. It seemed to know where he was to go and why. It was the same for the eagle.

The panorama of the earth began to come into view. The snow no longer veiled the scene below. It was as if a giant hand had drawn the curtain aside just for me. I realized it was a special scene I was to see. Without it, the Play would lose its Magic. I knew there was Magic in the scene I was to see.

Below was a lone tree. It was a majestic tree. I could see that, even though it appeared withered and almost dead now. Its majesty was not hidden by its present form. It was as if the tree was revealing its true nature to me for a reason. It had purpose. It knew what it was doing and why.

The lone tree standing there in its withered and dying form reigning over its silent subjects.

My tears! My years of Joy!

Please! Please don’t take them away! Please don’t take the Dance of Harmony away! If You do, the Music of Peace will die! I can’t live without the Music! I need It! Now that I’ve heard the Music, I can’t imagine life without It! The Dance! The Music! They were so gentle, so peaceful! Please, I want to keep dancing with you both! Please!

Oh, please! I don’t want to see! I don’t want to see!

Oh, dear God, No!

Magic? How can there be Magic in this? In this scene! Of all scenes, surely not in this one! How can there be Magic in this one? I cannot see It! I cannot see the Magic!

I cannot comprehend how there can be purpose in this scene!

Dear God, I’m not seeing this scene; I’m living it! ‘M feeling their pain; their horror; their pleading as my own! I want to Dance! I want to hear the Music! I don’t want to do this! Please! Please! No!

Their dark forms are coming into view now! Please, I can’t stand this! I can’t stand to see this! The closer we come in our descent, the darker they seem; the more still they appear! Everything is so black! Everything is so white!

Where’s the color? I need color! Color has always Brough me Joy! I need Joy!


No! No! Not that color! Any other color! Just not that color!

Oh, dear God, I shouldn’t have asked for color!

How can there be Magic in crimson beads scattered in the Christmas snow?

I am aware of the presence of my brothers on either side of me. The Mighty Eagle and the Powerful Snowflake. They seem to understand my pain, my hour, my pleasing. They are as gentle as their dance. They offer me their comfort; that is all they can do. They know that for all their might and power, they cannot change the scene.


I want to shut my eyes, but I can’t! I can’t. . . I can’t. . . I can’t. . . I can’t shut my eyes! They won’t shut! They aren’t obeying me! Why won’t they obey my commands? I own them; they’re my eyes! They need to obey me! Why won’t they obey me?

It is as if my eyes, who aren’t my eyes anymore, have power in themselves apart from me. It is as if they know what they are to see and why. They have purpose.

The scene below is right before me now! I don’t want to see! Please, I do not want to see the scene!

Dear God, No!

There is so much blood! The blood is so red! The snow is so white! The contrast! I hate it! Please, take it away! The red blood and the white snow are so opposite from each other! It is as if they are at war! What for? Why? The contrast between them is so extreme! So like the crimson beads we gave them for their land!

How can we ever call this land ours? Every time we call this land OUR LAND, we speak a lie! Oh, the enormity of the lie was speak when we call their land ours!

Where are we going?


Is there any purpose in my tears?

My tears can’t bring their dead bodies back to life!

That dead mother over there! She’ll never nurse her infant son again! Oh, God, he’s nursing at her breast. The white milk of her breast has been replaced! Replaced by the red blood of her heart instead!

Oh God, the symbols of red and white are al around us now!

It is as if the scene that is so real is filled. . . . . . . filled with symbols. . . . . . . symbols of eternity!

Where’s the Magic? I can’t see it! I cannot see the Magic! Oh, God, I can’t see the Magic in this scene!

I must make my eyes look somewhere else! Anywhere else! Just not there!

I must look at my new found brothers instead! I can still hear the Music! I can still see them dancing together! I’m still dancing with you! We’re still dancing together! I’m with you; you’ll protect me! Won’t you? I must focus on your movements that are now my movements too!

I don’t want to see! I do not want to see! NO!

I can barely hear the Music now! It’s so soft now! I can’t hear It! All I can hear now are their screams! Their screams are drowning out the Music! It is as if their screams are like a Mighty Flood upon the Land of Music! Drowning the Music everywhere! Just like the Flood of Noah’s day! Is there no Ark to rescue the Music from the Flood of their silent screams?

I ache! I literally ache to hear the Music right now! Will I ever heard the Music again? As I heard it before? With the Mighty Eagle and the Powerful Snowflake? As I heard it when we danced the beautiful Dance of Harmony? It seems so long ago!

Where are we going? Why are we moving so fast? Why is everything else moving so slowly?

It is as if every detail can be seen at once! Every snowflake! Every drop of blood! I can see them each independently and yet all together! At the same time! How strange to see this way!

The detail is so clear! I’ve never seen things so clear before! The edges of everything are so sharp! It is as if their sharpness is cutting my soul! My soul id bleeding!

My tears, my tears of grief! The blood of my soul! Cut my body instead! Please cut my body instead! Don’t cut my soul so deeply!

You know where we’re going, don’t you! You know where you are supposed to take me, don’t you! You know why, don’t you!

I feel as if my soul is being pulled asunder! A part of me wants to trust You! A part of me doesn’t even know if You exist? I can’t trust in something that doesn’t even exist!



But how can it be good for me to live this scene? Surely, it wasn’t good for that dead mother over there! I wish I could just see the scene! Why must I live it as if it were my own?

How strange all of this is for me!

Oh, dear brother! Mighty Eagle! What’s happening to your feathers? Your feathers? Your feathers? They’re losing their color! They’re turning white! Why? Why are you turning so white? As white as the snow dancing around you!

And your size! You don’t look so mighty anymore! You’re getting so small! You and the Powerful Snowflake are dancing so close together now! The closeness of your dance is drawing me into it! Strange, I’m watching myself dancing with my brothers! How strange!

Oh, I see a man! I see a man over there standing all alone on that high ridge! We seem to be headed right for him! Is he our destination? Were we meant to go to him?

I can’t. . . I can’t. . . I can’t look into his face! I can’t! I can’t look into his face!

But, my eyes who aren’t my eyes, won’t listen! They are riveted on his face!

Oh, God, I have no human words to describe the look on his face!

The horror and pain in his face cannot be described! It is as if his pain and horror are reflected in my own!

All I can see now are his eyes! Oh, the pain in his eyes!

Please! Eighty Eagle! Powerful Snowflake! Please, comfort him, not me! He needs your comfort so much more than I do! He needs to Dance with you! He needs to hear the Music! If any man has the right to hear the Music of Peace and join the Dance of Harmony, it surely is this man!

The Mighty Eagle and the Powerful Snowflake are going right to him! To comfort him! It is as if I’m going with them! To comfort him! To add my own comfort with theirs!

I feel as if I know him! How can that be? I feel as if I really know him! With a very deep knowing!

His eyes. . . I can’t focus on anything else. . . just his eyes! It is as if I can see the whole of everything in his eyes!

I feel as if our destination had been chosen long ago. . . long, long ago!

Oh, my brothers are almost one now! We’re almost to him now! His face is so close now!

Strange! For all the pain and horror I see reflected in his face, I can also see his gentle spirit! To see his pain and gentleness at the same time is a paradox to me!

What’s that? What’s that leaving his right eye? Oh, yes! Of course, a tear! A tear! Of course! Yes, that makes sense right now! A tear!

Oh, I know. . . I know. . . I know how he feels! It is as if his pain is mine also! It is our pain together I feel! The Oneness of Our Pain is Holy!

The Mighty Eagle and the Powerful Snowflake are no longer separate! The Mighty Eagle is so tiny and white! A part of the Powerful Snowflake now! I feel myself a part of them too!

Our destination is fixed! Nothing can change it now!

Oh, I understand now!

That Tear! That Lone Tear! As Lonely as the Tree and the man who stands on his high ridge before us! That Lone Tear rolling down his right cheek is our destination!

We are destined to join his tear! His tear that is OUR TEAR!

Written by Pink Eagle

Pam Thomas (Annie Olson)

3/17 - 3/24, 1993