Wednesday, November 22, 2017

it's been three years


dear dad,

it's been three years now since you left us, which both seems like an eternity and just yesterday. as you know, i mostly talk to you in my head when i'm out in my garden, but i've been a bit absent lately as november is the darkest, most dreary month in denmark. it won't be that long before we go back towards the light and i'll be back to my usual conversations with you as i dig and plant beans and weed the asparagus.

i think you would be sad about mom's decline, but probably not very surprised. over the past year, she's lost her driver's license because she became a danger to herself and others on the roads. she had likely been that for years, with her distracted driving habits, donut in one hand and rooting around in her purse for lipstick or her glasses with the other, but in january things got serious. it took three cops to pull her over, despite driving on the shoulder at a crawl, and she was wearing slippers and no jacket and the windows were rolled down on a bitterly cold january day. some kind soul from platte gave her a ride home that evening, but everyone knew it was time for her to stop driving. the state agreed and took her license.

not driving meant her days in the house were numbered, as she couldn't get anywhere to get groceries or socks or menard's mugs or whatever else she felt obsessed to buy. but her cooking abilities had declined so dramatically after your death, that she wasn't cooking for herself much anyway and her diet was terrible. she'd always had a cavalier attitude to questionable canned foods, and her alzheimer's did not improve that. she wasn't taking very good care of her diabetes and her poor diet didn't help that.

so we found a place for her at tlc. they are kind to her and feed her three solid meals a day. they remind her to take her pills at the appointed times and she's in good physical health. helmet-clad, she rode her bike all summer, going out to the house when she wished. but then people began to call and report that she was in the middle of the road, not off to the side and they were worried about her safety. they reported it to the police and not that long ago, some busybody from the city office had the city's lawyer send a letter, asking for her bike to be taken away. the cow person in question enlisted a relative's help in obtaining moneek's address, but did that relative give her a heads up? no, she did not. that didn't feel too great.

as mom's confusion grows, she gets weird ideas in her head - it's her brain trying to make up for the gaps, to fill them in with something, anything. and it doesn't always make sense. recently, that resulted in her deciding to walk out to the house in the middle of the night - seeking home on some basic level. the police brought her back to tlc and safety, since it was a cold night and she was walking, no longer allowed to ride her bike. and then this week, the state paid a visit, given a heads up to a potential problem with mom by, probably, that cow in the city office. happily, they found only the truth at tlc - happy, content, well cared for residents.

and i'd love to be able to talk to you about it. i'd like to know what you would think. i think you would be disappointed. the supposed christians of that small town, indulging their righteousness, rather than kindness and compassion. all their kind words and admiration of you do not extend to mom, especially not as she loses herself. it makes me sad about platte and think that once she's gone, i may actually never go back there. as i feel now, i certainly feel no desire to do so. i think if i did, i would probably march into the city office and give that busybody a piece of my mind.

but if i look deep inside myself, i have also had trouble finding compassion for mom. she so willfully, studiously avoided being self-examined all these years, tho' she didn't avoid being selfish. it's been hard to watch and hard to summon compassion. but when i think of all she's lost since she lost you three years ago...her driver's license and thus her freedom, her home (it's still there, but she doesn't live in it), her horses, her mind, her memories, her friends (it's hard to be friends with someone with alzheimer's), her phone (she never knows where it is)...i do feel sorry for her. and i think it would make you sad too.

we miss you and we also miss her, even tho' she's still here in body. but i'll tell you more when i'm back in the garden.



* * *

and for something completely different:
these pictures are very striking.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

art journaling lately











a limited palette. a feather as a brush. painting with acorns. white and gold gel pens. my art journal as of late. a kind of meditation. letting it carry me where it will. payne's grey. astoriabraun, bordeaux. ink.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

#metoo


the whole harvey weinstein thing has opened the floodgates. i wonder why his was the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back? why wasn't it last year's pussy grabbing candidate who instead was elevated to president? was it because we care more about oscar-winning actresses than we do miss universe contestants or slovenian (super?)models?

on monday, i awoke to countless posts in my facebook feed with the #metoo hashtag. the idea was that if all of us who had experienced sexual harassment or discrimination posted that, we would show the world how widespread it was.

i copied, pasted and made the post my own then deleted it, in doubt whether to post. twice. and then i thought, fuck this, we've been made to feel we can't speak for too long and now it's time to finally speak, so i posted it. adding the hashtag #misogynistdinosaurs since my particular version was more sexual discrimination than rape.

at least what i was prepared to admit both to myself and there on facebook, in that moment.

and i saw as the day progressed that my friends had copy/pasted my post, including my #misogynistdinosaurs hashtag, and i was glad i had posted. it made me feel less alone. but at the same time, i was a little shocked at how many #metoo posts were filling my feed. so many women that i know have been sexually harassed in some fashion. it's sobering.

i pondered it all day and eventually felt that i had to admit that i had hesitated to post it myself. both because i wasn't sure i wanted to admit it so publicly and because i was finding it hard to respond with an emoji to the posts that were in my feed. thumbs up seemed wrong. crying seemed too depressing and a heart emoji seemed to convey that i loved that they'd been abused. what i wanted was an emoji that would express women standing in a circle, holding one another (and i'm not a hugger, so this is big for me), in deep solidarity and sorrow over a shared experience. but facebook gives us a limited range of emoticons (and possibly emotions (undoubtedly the stuff of a different blog post)). eventually, i did settle on the heart emoji, because i felt it could also stand in for the love and support i felt towards my fellow women (there were no men in my feed admitting sexual abuse/harassment, but i do recognize that they can also be sexually abused and i would feel for them as well)).

and of course, i thought about my own instances of sexual discrimination and harassment. the first that sprang to mind was that misogynist dinosaur that i encountered in DNV, as well as the troglodyte who was both misogynist and xenophobic towards me on the local board on which i served. close behind was the mansplaining i've experienced over the past couple of years (and my whole life, actually, but it's only in the past year or so that we (women) began to put that name to it).

but the sexual harassment aspect of it also crept into my memories...that creepy asshole at the university of iowa library who was masturbating in the stacks and who made sure that i saw him. his disgusting trail of cum on the floor, dried as white droplets, visible for months afterwards in the PG section, ensuring that i couldn't forget. i reported him immediately to campus police, but they came too late to find him in his dirty old sweats and ratty hoodie. he was never caught to my knowledge, but there were multiple reports of him, i knew this because part of my college job at the local newspaper was to go to the courthouse and get the police reports. and actually, i thought of that asshole recently, when i saw dried white droplets (admittedly probably yogurt) in our stairwell at work, so i never quite shake him off. i wonder where that creep is today?

meanwhile, very good friends were openly admitting on facebook that they had been sexually abused as children, raped as young women, and harassed throughout their otherwise very successful careers. it was sickening, how much we women had endured in silence, feeling somehow guilty for what had been done to us.

sobering, i say. again.

and then i recalled how my relationship with the man who eventually became my first husband started out with an unwanted sexual situation. and i went on to date him for 7 years and yes, even marry him. and sex continued to be fraught with him throughout. and yet i must have thought that was normal, acceptable. what the fuck was i thinking? and where did i get that idea? even tho' he had forced himself on me and then wooed me with hangdog apologies, he also actually said to me that he "couldn't reconcile the good girl he wanted to see me as with a bad girl who would want to have sex." and i married that asshole? what was i thinking? how on earth did i ever think that was ok?

i'm not to the bottom of this yet, but i think it's a very good and therapeutic can of worms this #metoo hashtag has opened. #silverlining


Monday, October 16, 2017

ways of saying goodbye


i went to a funeral recently. it was someone who i had served on a board with, not a close friend, but someone i liked and enjoyed spending time with. not all that long ago, she got a cancer diagnosis and it was aggressive and swift, clearly leaving her husband of 57 years and family reeling. she was the type to be organized and plan everything, so the funeral, which she planned herself, was truly beautiful - the songs she had chosen poignant, the way her family carried her casket out to the gravesite and and how it was lowered down in the grave while patsy cline's version of just a closer walk with thee, was played on a tinny old tape player from the 80s. patsy's dulcit tones on that old player were somehow perfect and i even got tears in my eyes as we stood there on a sunny, beautiful autumn day in a picture postcard-worthy little churchyard in denmark. 

it hit me as i stood there at the funeral, tears in my eyes, that i hadn't had the same opportunity with my dad. he died so suddenly and my work life was in such turmoil at that point, that i felt i had to keep my commitment to a big event that was going to go on with or without me. and at the time, i felt strongly that it was what my dad would have wanted me to do. i still feel that. but it means that i missed his memorial service and the funereal shedding of tears that would surely have accompanied it. last may, we buried his ashes in his plot at the cemetery, but i was a beautiful, sunny day and so much time had gone by, there was less sorrow in the moment. my sister and i had had a fantastic road trip with his two best friends and his ashes a day or so before the ceremony, and so putting what remained in the ground was on some level closure without tears. plus, i had a little jar of his ashes tucked into my suitcase, so i knew it wasn't final final. maybe when i eventually sprinkle those on my garden, i will shed the tears i undoubtedly need to shed.

* * *

karl ove knausgaard on never running out of things to write about.

* * *

swedish death cleaning
"it's like marie kondo but with an added sense of the transience and futility of this mortal existence."


* * *

i'm not the only one who has noticed that we can't talk anymore.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

we can't laugh anymore


i am genuinely worried about the state of the world. not only is it filled with the spray-tanned satan's distractions (see the weekend's nfl bullshit), it's also filled with his name-calling threats at north korea, which has another madman at the helm and possesses nuclear weapons. at least the russian noose seems seems to be tightening, which is probably why he's pandering to his racist, white supremacist base so loudly on twitter. do not pay attention to the man behind the curtain...the great and powerful oz has spoken...

but i fear that all of the noise he has put in the air has rendered us all unable to talk or listen or have a dialogue and worst of all, unable to laugh or joke. about anything and everything. we have become strident and righteous and holier-than-thou where our own beliefs (opinions?) are concerned. and even amongst friends, we can no longer laugh or express an opinion that's might not be in alignment with what that friend currently believes.

not that long ago, at a party, i exploded at someone who trotted out that tired line about what a terrible candidate hillary clinton was, so i am as guilty as anyone else. and seriously, has there ever been a person more genuinely prepared to be president? (don't get me started). but genuinely, it's a trend that worries me.

here's an example:

forgetting these righteous times that we are in, i accidentally got involved in a strident exchange on a friend's facebook page about the words idiot, moron and imbecile. she posted that we shouldn't be using these words anymore, we should do better. and she feels this acutely since her beautiful daughter has the extra chromosome of down's syndrome.

in the early part of the last century and probably on through the 1950s, these words were psychological diagnoses for people of an IQ below 50 (and in some cases below 25), and people with down's syndrome fell into this category. i appreciate that. however, they are no longer used in this way in psychology and have entered mainstream speech, on par with stupid and dumb (dumb surely also had a diagnosis attached at one point).

thinking that if we don't laugh about the spray-tanned satan, we must curl up in fetal position and cry uncontrollably (an option i've also tried), i attempted to joke on my friend's post against the use of such words, asking if we couldn't still apply them to him since it was a kind of diagnosis. this is a friend who i have known for nearly a decade and who i know to have a wonderful sense of humor and who knows, in her heart of hearts, that i would never purposefully be mean to her or her child. but it seems that her humor is gone in these days of righteous indignation and so she and her possé of like-minded folks, jumped all over me for my insensitivity and accused me of insulting her child. i was sincerely not insulting her child, i was insulting trump. you see, those words are no longer used as terms of diagnosis, and haven't been during my lifetime, and they have taken on (or perhaps returned to) meanings that pretty accurately apply to the current president. 

the fact is, words often change meaning over time...

Idiot Origin: 1250–1300; Middle English < Latin idiōta< Greek idiṓtēs private person, layman, person lacking skill or expertise, equivalent to idiō-(lengthened variant of idio- idio-, perhaps by analogy with stratiōtēs professional soldier, derivative of stratiá army) + -tēs agent noun suffix

even mark twain used idiot in the sense i meant it: "Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself." - [Mark Twain, c.1882] so perhaps the psychological designation assigned to the word was the aberration.

maybe we need to return to a place where we can talk to one another, joke about things that are serious, not look for offense where none is meant, and thereby cope with these times in a way that helps us all. is that too much to ask?

* * *

these architectural depictions of mental illnesses are poetic and beautiful.

* * *

when in macedonia...
aka, there's an app for that.

* * *

have you listened to alone: a love story?

Sunday, September 17, 2017

the view from sunday night


i doodled this with a feather and payne's grey ink while watching goldfinger with my family. we're making our way through all of the james bond films, from the very beginning. i'm struck by that sean connery wasn't actually that cute when he was younger and he's kind of a terrible actor. the fight scenes are the worst and there are hilarious low budget moments in the film. it doesn't hold up well and yet it's still somehow iconic. i was happy that i was drawing during it tho', i think it might have been wasted time if i hadn't been.

* * *


it was a good weekend - spent mostly in the company of kittens, who are at peak playful. i opened a photo exhibition (more about that below). the afternoon was sunny on saturday, so i mowed the lawn, which makes me surprisingly happy. i only stopped when it started to rain and would have liked to have kept mowing. we have a big lawn and to do all of it takes over an hour, but i'm always a little bit sad when it's done. i made homemade sweet & sour chicken for saturday dinner, which is easier than i thought it would be, even making the sauce from scratch. we had homemade black currant ice cream with hot fudge sauce for dessert. i saw not one, but two tiny baby hedgehogs in the garden. i picked blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and pears in the garden and made them into a beautiful crostata (just another name for a rustic, lazy person's pie). i did all of the laundry, which gives me satisfaction as well, less than the lawn mowing, but satisfying nonetheless. i picked elderberries and made juice. they're small and tho' i picked a kettleful, it only made one bottle, so i'll have to go in search of more, because just one bottle won't do. there's nothing better than a warm elderberry beverage on a winter day.


* * *


i hung some of my photos as an exhibition in our gallery space at our local library. i was a bit disappointed in the quality of the prints i ordered online (photobox, i'm looking at you), but now i know not to order there. it is still nice to see them printed, framed and hung all together - in this digital world, we don't do this enough. i thought i was choosing photos on the theme of "in the wild," with a focus on nature, but they all seem to be rather still and quiet and not wild at all. it's interesting, actually. it must be something i instinctively sought - moments of peaceful stillness.

* * *

i'm really sick of the punditry dissing hillary for writing a book about her experience as the first woman presidential candidate of a major party. of course she should write a book and of course she should analyze what happened and what went wrong. she has every right to do so. she may not have sufficient distance to come to the ultimate conclusion (i don't know yet, as my copy hasn't arrived), but she has every right to write it. she lived it and it must have hurt like a motherfucker to lose to that buffoon. so shut the fuck up already and let her have her say. i can't help but think that if she were a man, there wouldn't be the same snide comments about the book.

* * *

the venerated TLS published a cover story by a nicholas gibbs, who claimed to have deciphered the voinych manuscript. the atlantic (and others) say, not so much. and this guy claims, on twitter, that nicholas gibbs doesn't even exist, and the whole thing is a pale fire-style stunt. whatever it is, that infernal manuscript continues to fascinate.

* * *

they say that postmodernism is dead. but aren't we still living it? what were we thinking, questioning reality and whether anything could be real? what a mess that's gotten us into now, with a post-truth spray-tanned president spewing his daily lies on twitter. could it get any more postmodern than that?

* * *

what happened to leftovers?


Friday, September 15, 2017

sorrow and bile

i just looked at a list of my facebook friends who have liked the spray-tanned satan's facebook page and i am feeling an odd mixture of sorrow and bile. several names were not a surprise, but a number of them were. one feels like a direct provocation towards me, but i have to remember that not everything is about me. however, it may be yet another sign that i need to do a purge on that particular account. there are a couple more on that list that can definitely go as well. some of those that were expected, i fear i have to keep (tho' they were long-ago unfollowed) because they are...gasp...family.

i had a very interesting session today at work with an mbti consultant. and i think that my reaction this evening to that list of cheeto-loving friends, is part of the processing of my session today. it was part therapy and part coaching and it was very good, energizing and positive. i think it came at the right moment for me - at a moment when i am feeling strong enough to take it, but fragile enough to need it. good timing. and undoubtedly good for me.

i gained insight into my own feelings since the election of that clown - because they have been unexpected, surprising and even bewildering in their intensity - even as i live inside them. i haven't solved it for myself, not by any means, but i learned something about them and how to go about understanding and working through them. and that's a start.

but first, a bit of unfriending...