Tuesday, July 31, 2007

a magician of dark and light

July 14, 1918 - July 30, 2007

Film as dream, film as music. No art passes our conscience in the way film does, and goes directly to our feelings, deep down into the dark rooms of our souls.
-Ingmar Bergman

I watched my first bergman film in 1972, I was seventeen years old. the film was ‘the seventh seal’ - I can honestly say I was never the same after that. I went to see the film with barbara, a friend who I knew through work. she was a few years older than I, already out of high school and living on her own. although I haven't seen barbara since 1973 when I graduated from high school and left my job to go off to college, barbara will forever hold a special place in my heart as she was the person who took me to see my first bergman film. I was hooked on bergman’s oeuvre the minute I saw the stark visual beauty of that first film and 'met' max von sydow. in 'the seventh seal' von sydow played the tormented knight who returns home after the crusades to find his home ravaged by the plague and death wanting and waiting for him. like many seventeen year olds I was in the midst of quite a few of my own existential crises – bergman and max (who I instantly fell in love with and became my ideal of masculine sexuality) stuck chords deep inside my soul. barbara and I went back to watch ‘the seventh seal’ three times – at each viewing we would find more and more layers to the film.

a few months later we found ourselves in nirvana when the theater held a month-long bergman festival. over the course of a month barbara and I went to see every film we could. this was no small feat given my age and circumstances. money was scarce and the theater was located in northwest Washington DC a bit of a schlep from my cozy suburban Virginia home. I have no idea how I convinced my folks that heading to DC to watch bergman films was a sensible thing to do on school nights but somehow I managed.

it’s been a number of years since I’ve watched a bergman film. but since those days where I spent many hours in the dark under his spell, bergman has been my celluloid Gandalf. as a director bergman's wizardry unveils aspects of the human condition like none other. although I can't remember the plot-nuances of all the bergman films I've seen, they are forever etched in my memory whereas even the title emits a special kind of power ... 'wild strawberries,' 'the virgin spring,' 'cries and whispers,' 'persona,' 'the passion of anna,' 'through a glass darkly,' 'face to face,' 'fanny and alexandra'.......

Monday, July 30, 2007

signs

So you've got thirteen 10s and you take away seven
And that leaves five ... well, six, actually.
But the idea is the important thing.
-Tom Lehrer "New Math"

either the sign maker was a victim, I mean student, of the new math movement or perhaps just doesn't know what year it is.

according to my research (15 minutes with google) there are eleven states which have towns named friendship. I like signs which include the population of the town, but I always wonder how often do they update the number. also, according to my research, friendship, oklahoma appears to win the award for having the smallest town named friendship - in 2003 it boosted 16 inhabitants. to satisfy those curious minds needing to know friendships can be found in: arkansas, indiana, maine, maryland, michigan, new york, ohio, oklahoma, tennesee, texas, and wisconsin.

pictures: top-lakewood, ohio; bottom-friendship, arkansas. 2007

Sunday, July 29, 2007

be glad!

Be glad of life because it gives you the chance to love and to work and to play and to look up at the stars.
-Henry van Dyke (1852-1933) author, poet, educator, and clergy

picture: amish farm, ohio ~ july 2006

Friday, July 27, 2007

on fat and an unlikely angel

yesterday two articles from the recent issue of the new england journal of medicine received their 15 minutes of fame. one article pertained to research which states that being fat is contagious - no, there isn't a 'fat germ,' rather the research published describes the person-to-person spread of obesity. the study provides elaborate and elegant diagrams, 'maps', and quantifications in examining how social networks (friends, family, and co-workers) influence and spread obesity. I hardly find the research startling; but cool, if giving this research a lot of attention can reverse the epidemic of obesity great! whatever helps! I'm delighted to see that through this research an important 'arm' of the medical establishment (the esteemed new england journal of medicine) has reinforced the importance of social networks and, to an extent, the notion that health is socially constructed. ideas and concepts that sociologists and anthropologists have been advancing for decades I might add!

the other article in the nejm which generated media attention grabbed my interest and stole my heart. this article was written by geriatrician david dosa; through his work at a providence rhode island nursing home dr. dosa met and worked with oscar, one amazing cat! dr. dosa's article is wonderfully touching. I present an excerpt for your enjoyment:

Oscar the Cat awakens from his nap, opening a single eye to survey his kingdom. From atop the desk in the doctor's charting area, the cat peers down the two wings of the nursing home's advanced dementia unit…. he enjoys another stretch and sets out on his rounds. Oscar decides to head down the west wing first, along the way sidestepping Mr. S., who is slumped over on a couch in the hallway. With lips slightly pursed, he snores peacefully — perhaps blissfully unaware of where he is now living. Oscar continues down the hallway until he reaches its end and Room 310. The door is closed, so Oscar sits and waits. He has important business here.

Twenty-five minutes later, the door finally opens, and out walks a nurse's aide carrying dirty linens. "Hello, Oscar," she says. "Are you going inside?" Oscar lets her pass, then makes his way into the room, where there are two people. Lying in a corner bed and facing the wall, Mrs. T. is asleep in a fetal position. Her body is thin and wasted from the breast cancer that has been eating away at her organs. She is mildly jaundiced and has not spoken in several days. Sitting next to her is her daughter, who glances up from her novel to warmly greet the visitor.

"Hello, Oscar. How are you today?"

Oscar takes no notice of the woman and leaps up onto the bed. He surveys Mrs. T. She is clearly in the terminal phase of illness, and her breathing is labored. Oscar's examination is interrupted by a nurse...Oscar returns to his work. He sniffs the air, gives Mrs. T. one final look, then jumps off the bed and quickly leaves the room. Not today.

Making his way back up the hallway, Oscar arrives at Room 313. The door is open, and he proceeds inside. Mrs. K. is resting peacefully in her bed, her breathing steady but shallow. She is surrounded by photographs of her grandchildren and one from her wedding day. Despite these keepsakes, she is alone. Oscar jumps onto her bed and again sniffs the air. He pauses to consider the situation, and then turns around twice before curling up beside Mrs. K.

One hour passes. Oscar waits. A nurse walks into the room to check on her patient. She pauses to note Oscar's presence. Concerned, she hurriedly leaves the room and returns to her desk. She grabs Mrs. K.'s chart off the medical-records rack and begins to make phone calls.

Within a half hour the family starts to arrive. Chairs are brought into the room, where the relatives begin their vigil. The priest is called to deliver last rites. And still, Oscar has not budged, instead purring and gently nuzzling Mrs. K. A young grandson asks his mother, "What is the cat doing here?" The mother, fighting back tears, tells him, "He is here to help Grandma get to heaven." Thirty minutes later, Mrs. K. takes her last earthly breath. With this, Oscar sits up, looks around, then departs the room so quietly that the grieving family barely notices.

On his way back to the charting area, Oscar passes a plaque mounted on the wall. On it is engraved a commendation from a local hospice agency: "For his compassionate hospice care, this plaque is awarded to Oscar the Cat." Oscar takes a quick drink of water and returns to his desk to curl up for a long rest. His day's work is done. There will be no more deaths today, not in Room 310 or in any other room for that matter. After all, no one dies on the third floor unless Oscar pays a visit and stays awhile.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

should I pick up

do you think hillary is calling for a lunch date? all I can say is thank god for caller i.d.!!!! I expect a few of us will be getting quite a number of calls over the next 13 months from the likes of hillary, barack, john, dennis, wesley, joe, and chris. (I would expect the gop won't bother calling my house, if they do then we know their intelligence really sucks [oh we knew that already]).

no expectations

Children have no use for psychology. They detest sociology. They still believe in God, angels, devils, witches, goblins, logic, clarity, punctuation, and other such obsolete stuff. When a book is boring, they yawn openly. They don't expect their writers to redeem humanity, but leave to adults such childish allusions.
- Isaac Bashevis Singer (1902-1991) author & storyteller, winner of 1978 Nobel in literature

picture: sharing confidences, cleveland, july, 2007

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

mouse extinction

for me a sign of a good party is that books are a popular topic of conversation. on saturday, with almost a quarter of the guests under the age of eight and all of the guests connected to the 'care and feeding' of children in some manner of speaking, a good bit of our book chatter pertained to children's books. h relayed a story about a favorite childhood book of hers which had gone out of print. although she found a copy through an internet bookselling site and longed to add the book to her family's library, it was a bit too expensive. imagine her delight when the next time an opportunity for gifts came, her husband surprised her by with a copy of this most treasured book from her childhood.

the talk of out-of-print children's books started me thinking of graham oakley's marvelous church mice books. since the party was at my house, I ran into the house and hauled outside my horde and conducted a brief show and tell and probably created a new group of fans. in total there are twelve books in the church mice series (alas I am missing the last of the books the church mice take a break, published in 2000 in the UK and quickly out of print.)

if you are uninitiated to these books, the series tells of the adventures (and more often the misadventures) of arthur and humphrey, and the 200 other mice, who along with sampson, the church cat, live in the anglican church of saint john in the small, charming village of worthlethorpe, england. oakley began his series in 1972 with the introduction of the church mouse. I discovered the church mice books in the early 1980s through our next door neighbor and friend hank. at the time, hank was also the parent of a small child and he was also the proprietor the foundry booksellers. the thing about hank was his uncanny ability to connect his friends and patrons to books and authors. hank was probably responsible for setting up my lifetime passion for these whimsical and delightful tales and maybe he's even responsible for contributing to my affinity for small furry rodents. unfortunately, like the church mice books, the foundry is now extinct. fortunately hank isn't.

I find it outrageous that these books have gone out of print given how beautifully illustrated and wittily written they are. does anyone have any idea about how to go about bringing the church mice books back from extinction? if so let me know! also if you have a copy of 'the church mice take a break' I'd love to make a deal, unfortunately, unless I win the lotto, I can't afford any of the books I found via the internet.

In a busy little town, not very far away, there is a church and in the church there lived a mouse whose name was Arthur. Arthur liked living in a church. For one thing, he was very fond of music, particularly if it was loud.

Also, if the verger had filled the font, he could go and mess about in his boat, or practice the crawl, if the weather was warm enough.

But he liked it best because it was safe. Sampson, the church cat had listened to so many sermons about the meek being blessed and everybody really being brothers that he had grown quite frighteningly meek and treated Arthur just like a brother.

But sometimes Arthur got a bit depressed.

One reason for this was his diet. All he ever had to eat were sweets the boys dropped during choir practice. You might say, that it wouldn't make you depressed, but you are not a mouse. It made Arthur fat and bilious and it didn't do his teeth any good either.

But worst of all, he was lonely, for in the whole of that church there was not one other mouse, and when he felt like having a chat, Sampson always seemed to be having one of his little day-long naps.

Then one afternoon, when he was reading, an idea popped into his head, and....

the adventures begin!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

beauty happens

The greatest pleasure I know is to do a good action by stealth, and to have it found out by accident.
-Charles Lamb (1775-1834) English poet and essayist

a pot ravaged by winter is near the backyard bird feeder, seeds take hold, beauty happens....

picture: cleveland, july 2007

Monday, July 23, 2007

sláinte!

where to start? what to highlight? we had one of those weekends where all the elements of a perfect summer weekend converge - friends, fabulous weather, fantastic music, and the pure joy that comes spending time in the midst of a gaggle of laughing and playing children.

the weekend got off to a great start on friday when friends who live in north carolina came to visit their 'cleveland tribe' before they head off on their big adventure; in just a few short weeks they will be heading off for new zealand. n found a locums position as a GP in a small town on the north island and n's husband has one of those marvelous IT jobs which can be done anywhere -'why not,' their kids are old enough to enjoy the adventure but young enough where a year abroad won't be disruptive. on saturday we hosted a good ol' fashioned summertime picnic and potluck and n & m and their kids filled up on hugs and good wishes from as many of their cleveland folk as were around. we couldn't have ordered a more perfect day. the way time flies it will seem like no time and we'll be hosting a 'welcome back' party - all the children will be a year older and significantly larger; but children experience the same magic as adults when it comes to friendship. it doesn't matter how much time has passed, when there is a connection it is like you were never apart!

after saying godspeed on sunday morning to our friends, f & I headed off to our favorite local festival - the cleveland irish festival. summertime brings a lot of festivals to our area, but given the non-stop music, access to guinness and boxty, celtic lore, and fantastic people-watching the clevelandl irish festival remains my favorite. this year there were six stages! my festival favorite was back - eileen ivers and immigrant soul. the line up of talent is always amazing and since this was the festival's 25th year, I think the organizers celebrated by pulling out the stops when it came to booking talent. the downside is that we were only able to attend one day, some of the music we heard this year included: the kick-ass celtic rock group the prodigals; the pure and transcendent voice of maura o'connell, and the lilting instrumental pieces of cherish the ladies.


best stage chatter - a new take on an old joke.
"how many irish mothers does it take to change a lightbulb?"
"none"
"I'm fine in the dark."

sláinte - to your health!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

open sesame

When you follow your bliss and are not afraid, doors will open where you would not have thought there would be doors; and where there wouldn't be a door for anyone else.
-Joseph Campbell (1904-1987) author, philosopher, teacher

pictures: bonnieux, france, 2005 (a beautiful little village in provence which wins my award as the most cat-friendly town)

Saturday, July 21, 2007

go figure!

here we are heading home after a wonderful meal at ohashi, our favorite west side sushi place (24539 lorain in north olmsted if interested) and BAM! what do we see but our beloved dalai lama's face smiling down on us - on a billboard of all things!!! now HH is pretty cool about sharing his image with almost all that ask, but a billboard? how bizarre is that! then again billboards reach a lot of people so why not. when working to improve things, perhaps we should employ every means possible - even billboards and blogs!!

I've seen other billboards by this 'foundation for a better life.' this morning I decided to check out the 'group' and what I learned is very heartening and inspiring. apparently the sole purpose of this foundation is to: "(S)hare about the actions of others to inspire someone to do one thing a little better, and then pass on that inspiration. While a few individuals living values-based lives seems small, collectively they will make the world a better place." to learn more about the foundation and to see more of their billboards (and other things that FBL does) check out their website.

since I mentioned how great HH is about sharing, I'll share an image from a moment that was life-changing and by far one of the best in my life. how often in life do you get to meet a truly great and seriously wise human? from my experience not often....

this moment was made possible by d, my wonderful beau-frère who I've written about before. after e & I met HH, I would joke that the whole reason d met my sister was to set up this moment for us....and who knows with the way the universe works anything is possible.

a lesson from Tenzin Gyatso HH 14thDL:
If one's life is simple, contentment has to come. Simplicity is extremely important for happiness. Having few desires, feeling satisfied with what you have, is very vital: satisfaction with just enough food, clothing, and shelter to protect yourself from the elements. And finally, there is an intense delight in abandoning faulty states of mind and in cultivating helpful ones in meditation.

pictures: billboard- fairview park, oh, july 2007; holding hands w/HH, bloomington, indiana, september 2003

Friday, July 20, 2007

canine sentry

The dog has seldom been successful in pulling man up to its level of sagacity, but man has frequently dragged the dog down to his.
-James Thurber (1894-1961) writer, humorist and cartoonist.

yesterday's cat reminded me of a picture I took last month of rosco sitting in the window of jerman's bar (or mitzi's bar depending on which window you are looking into) . locals know that jermain's/mitzi's is the pinnacle of the neighborhood bar genre. located on st. clair, jerman's has been serving boilermakers to cleveland's working class community since john jerman fled the pennsylvania coal mines to try his hand in something a little less dangerous (however given the stories of how jerman's survived during prohibition that point might have to be debated!) john came to cleveland in 1906 and jerman's saloon opened in 1908. john may have established jerman's but it was probably his daughter mitzi who put the bar on the cleveland's cultural map.

when mitzi passed away last fall at the youthful age of 92, mitzi's obituary made the front page of the plain dealer. I had the good fortune of meeting mitzi and rosco a few years ago when mr. t took the fam to mitzi's for a family night out. we had a great time - mitzi didn't earn the title 'cleveland's friendliest bartender' for nothing I remember chatting up with mitzi (and rosco) for most of our visit. if I've done my arithmetic correctly mitzi was 90 when I met her and still going strong. granted at the time her daughter susie and son in-law were helping out but it mitzi meeting and greeting and making everyone feel special.

the afternoon I took rosco's picture I had a nice long chat with susie. susie and rosco were carrying on with the family business. I knew when I spoke with susie her mama would be proud as susie also has the makings of being honored with the title as cleveland's friendliest barkeep.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

goddess cat & goddess wisdom

fortunately when ms t and I left the house this morning I prepared for the entire day and not just our morning activities. after the library we had a 'date' to go to the zoo with a couple friends, so of course, I packed up my camera.

it was fortuitous that I did otherwise I would have missed capturing the store cat I've been 'stalking' for quite a while. I have a weakness for animals who live in shops and I love the discovery of finding one in a window. there is a store cat which lives in the 'goddess shop' on the corner of my street; I have walked by this store thousands of times, but if the cat is in the window, I don't have my camera and when I have my camera the cat is not in the window. today cat and camera were both present and what a nice present - and a lovely bit of synchronicity!

since the shop the cat protects is a 'goddess shop' I thought I'd share the 'goddess wisdom' from a little 'wisdom book' a good friend who now lives way too far away from me sent to help celebrate the day. thank you gig for the wonderful box of delights containing this beautiful little book!

Goddess Wisdom
Follow your dreams
Honor your self
Face your fears
Let go of worry
Nurture Creative spirit
Express your feelings
Enjoy your life!

good advice and mighty good mouse medicine!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

munch-kin

Youth is a perpetual intoxication; it is a fever of the mind.
~François Duc de la Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) author and nobleman

picture: a happy version of 'the scream' - cleveland, july, 2007

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

this day in history

july 17, 1955 disneyland opened - two days later a mouse was born - coincidence?
"Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible."
-Frank Zappa (1940-1993), musician, composer, band leader

picture: me (3rd from the left) & some of my buds. anaheim, california. july, 1972

Monday, July 16, 2007

monkey traps

the comic strip funky winkerbean recently used the concept of “a monkey trap” in its on-going story-line of lisa's battle with breast cancer. I found that ‘the monkey trap’ is also perfect metaphor to explain mr. bush’s war in iraq.

there is a kind of monkey trap used in asia. a coconut is hollowed out and attached by a rope to a tree or stake. a small slit is made at the bottom of the coconut and a sweet enticing food is placed inside. the slit is just big enough for the monkey to slide in his open hand, but does not allow for a closed fist to pass out. the monkey discovers the alluring treats, reaches in with his hand to grasp the food but is then unable to withdraw the hand. a clenched fist won't pass through the opening. there is nothing except the force of the monkey's attachment to the promise of a sweet treat that is keeping the monkey trapped. all the monkey has to do is open the hand to be free. but attachment to an idea is a strong force - it is a rare monkey which lets go.

as in the case of the trapped monkey, desire, greed, and stubbornness keep us trapped in iraq. for bush and his cabal of special interests, iraq has long been an enticing reserve of what they desire most - oil and the promise of increased wealth for their selected interests. as I think about the situation in iraq, I find bush isn't the only monkey stuck in a trap. when the u.s. invaded iraq , the bush administration constructed its own trap, they took advantage of the climate of fear that had permeated our country in the wake of the 9-11 attacks. the administration fanned the flames of fear to sell its war and it buttressed this fear with a pack of lies - lies ranging from iraq having a stockpile of 'weapons of mass destruction' to iraq's complicity in 9-11.

considering the ever increasing cost of the iraq war and occupation -costs in terms of human life and scarce and needed resources - it is long past time that the monkeys are freed from the traps. peace will come when hands and hearts are opened and attachment to 'a promise' is let go.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

eyes wide open

I wonder whether art has a higher function than to make me feel, appreciate, and enjoy natural objects for their art value?
- Bernard Berenson (1865-1959), art historian & writer

picture: birch trees - connecticut, june, 2007

Saturday, July 14, 2007

fête nationale

Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité!

The French revolution taught us the rights of man.
-Thomas Isidore Noël Sankara, (1949-1987) leader of Burkino Faso 1983-1989

in honor of fête nationale (bastille day) and in the spirit of freedom and equality for all people here is france's declaration of the rights of man and of the citizen:

The representatives of the French people, organized as a National Assembly, believing that the ignorance, neglect, or contempt of the rights of man are the sole cause of public calamities and of the corruption of governments, have determined to set forth in a solemn declaration the natural, unalienable, and sacred rights of man, in order that this declaration, being constantly before all the members of the Social body, shall remind them continually of their rights and duties; in order that the acts of the legislative power, as well as those of the executive power, may be compared at any moment with the objects and purposes of all political institutions and may thus be more respected, and, lastly, in order that the grievances of the citizens, based hereafter upon simple and incontestable principles, shall tend to the maintenance of the constitution and redound to the happiness of all.

Therefore the National Assembly recognizes and proclaims, in the presence and under the auspices of the Supreme Being, the following rights of man and of the citizen:

Articles:

  1. Men are born and remain free and equal in rights. Social distinctions may be founded only upon the general good.
  2. The aim of all political association is the preservation of the natural and imprescriptible rights of man. These rights are liberty, property, security, and resistance to oppression.
  3. The principle of all sovereignty resides essentially in the nation. No body nor individual may exercise any authority which does not proceed directly from the nation.
  4. Liberty consists in the freedom to do everything which injures no one else; hence the exercise of the natural rights of each man has no limits except those which assure to the other members of the society the enjoyment of the same rights. These limits can only be determined by law.
  5. Law can only prohibit such actions as are hurtful to society. Nothing may be prevented which is not forbidden by law, and no one may be forced to do anything not provided for by law.
  6. Law is the expression of the general will. Every citizen has a right to participate personally, or through his representative, in its foundation. It must be the same for all, whether it protects or punishes. All citizens, being equal in the eyes of the law, are equally eligible to all dignities and to all public positions and occupations, according to their abilities, and without distinction except that of their virtues and talents.
  7. No person shall be accused, arrested, or imprisoned except in the cases and according to the forms prescribed by law. Any one soliciting, transmitting, executing, or causing to be executed, any arbitrary order, shall be punished. But any citizen summoned or arrested in virtue of the law shall submit without delay, as resistance constitutes an offense.
  8. The law shall provide for such punishments only as are strictly and obviously necessary, and no one shall suffer punishment except it be legally inflicted in virtue of a law passed and promulgated before the commission of the offense.
  9. As all persons are held innocent until they shall have been declared guilty, if arrest shall be deemed indispensable, all harshness not essential to the securing of the prisoner's person shall be severely repressed by law.
  10. No one shall be disquieted on account of his opinions, including his religious views, provided their manifestation does not disturb the public order established by law.
  11. The free communication of ideas and opinions is one of the most precious of the rights of man. Every citizen may, accordingly, speak, write, and print with freedom, but shall be responsible for such abuses of this freedom as shall be defined by law.
  12. The security of the rights of man and of the citizen requires public military forces. These forces are, therefore, established for the good of all and not for the personal advantage of those to whom they shall be intrusted.
  13. A common contribution is essential for the maintenance of the public forces and for the cost of administration. This should be equitably distributed among all the citizens in proportion to their means.
  14. All the citizens have a right to decide, either personally or by their representatives, as to the necessity of the public contribution; to grant this freely; to know to what uses it is put; and to fix the proportion, the mode of assessment and of collection and the duration of the taxes.
  15. Society has the right to require of every public agent an account of his administration.
  16. A society in which the observance of the law is not assured, nor the separation of powers defined, has no constitution at all.
  17. Since property is an inviolable and sacred right, no one shall be deprived thereof except where public necessity, legally determined, shall clearly demand it, and then only on condition that the owner shall have been previously and equitably indemnified.

The above document was written by The Marquis de Lafayette, with help from his friend and neighbor, American envoy to France, Thomas Jefferson.

source: http://www.constitution.org/fr/fr_drm.htm

picture: drapeau tricolore flying over the back entrance of the french national assembly ~ paris, may 2007

Friday, July 13, 2007

clues to the mystery

Stacks of snapshots are like treasure chests overflowing with valuable gems, clues to the deeper mystery of who we are.
-author unknown

too much work to catch up on today so can't write a 'proper' post. instead I thought I'd share a bonne idée. the picture of this good idea was taken at my sister-in-law mary's house. mary is another family history buff and I enjoyed how she displayed some of her collection of old photos.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

home again, home again....

.... jiggity jig! wednesday evening we returned home from our second road trip to texas (within 3 weeks!). once again we drove (I understand driving is not as contributory to the global warming problem as flying; my conscience is eased a bit even though I cringe thinking of all the gasoline we consumed - unfortunately this is not the country of fast and economical trains and three of us on a greyhound - nah!). we covered 4,800 miles of road with all the driving done in 8 days - is there a car equivalent of a bedsore? (I'm exaggerating it really wasn't that bad!)

over the two trips we listened to a couple good books - which always makes a trip go faster - our 'reads' were: "13 moons" by charles frazier (read by will patton) and "dead watch" by john sandford - although very, very different types of stories both were compelling audiobooks and I don't hesitate recommending either. of course, we had to turn the books off periodically to chat, or switch over to the radio to catch a favorite npr show or to tune into the nashville country stations (when in rome....) and then there was that stretch of road on the bookending the border of tennessee and kentucky tuesday night when it was raining so hard we couldn't hear the book, radio, or each other. wish we could have brought some of that rain back with us! I have never ever seen texas as verdant for this time of year. unfortunately parts of the northeast look like texas typically does this time of year -- all in all, just more evidence of global climate change!

a road trip with my family is always a pleasure even if the purpose is one of sad business. the send-off for my mother-in-law was beautiful, moving, and healing. we thank everyone for their words of support and condolence.

pictures: #1- vigil candles @ st. mary of the assumption, fort worth, texas. #2 -I find billboards an eyesore, but did find exception for the one promoting paris, texas (haven't been there) #3 - a burger shack located near mile marker 144 (eastbound on I-30) right behind an official state rest stop (in the past, I have eaten there andit's not bad!). #4 cattle and cattle egrets - the egrets act like little body guards and seemed to follow their beasts about - we had to pull off the highway for a bit to watch the show.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

adieu mere

back to texas to say adieu. the mouse will be back midweek. f & I thank you for all your kind thoughts.

picture: cimetière du père-lachaise, paris may 2007

Friday, July 6, 2007

to the fourth power

what are the odds of two vanity plates proclaiming kimness, a kim driver (kimmee) , and yours truly kim y walking by (& with my camera none-the-less)?

crown jewels

although f and I focused mostly on visiting with family during our recent trip to fort worth we were able to weave in a few other delights including a couple excursions down to the cultural district. over the years fort worth has evolved into a mecca for top notch art and cultural institutions. one of the latest jewels is the modern art museum of fort worth.

although visiting the modern wasn't on our list of things to do as we had visited it fairly recently, when I heard word that it was hosting the ron mueck exhibition it flew to the top of my 'to do' list. if you haven't heard of mueck, I expect you will.

earlier this year this traveling exhibit was at the brooklyn museum of art and I was disappointed that I didn't have an excuse to get into nyc. with all the travel I had going on I couldn't rationalize making a trip to nyc with the expressed purpose of seeing the mueck show. mueck is a contemporary sculptor who creates these amazing hyperrealistic pieces of art. the thing that totally blows me away about these works is the scale of his pieces (the viewer becomes gulliver when experiencing a mueck piece - for the pieces are either gargantuan or tiny and fairly-like). well the scale and the detail - how he captures all the little imperfections of the human body is incredible. I was totally fascinated with the feet.

just a brief mention about the building of the modern which is a masterpiece of modern art in itself. designed by tadao ando the building occupies a prime piece of property within the city's cultural district. if architecture is your thing the modern and the marvelous kimball (which is right next door) are reasons enough to visit fort worth. designed by the brilliant architect louis kahn the space within the kimball enhances each work which is displayed within it's walls. of course the kimball will always hold a special place in my heart. the kimball was the destination for f's and my first 'date' (although I don't think you would have ever had us describe our outings as dates - folks like us didn't 'date'). anyhow f is the love of my life and has been my partner for almost thirty-one years - september marks the 31st anniversary of our first trip to the kimball - magically to attend an exhibition of les fauves. how fitting is that!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

munks in the hood

I am a total sucker for cute little rodents and it's been a good year for chipmunks in the hood. here at home we have at least two 'resident' chipmunks - one lives under the front porch and one in the backyard (I can't quite figure out exactly where the backyard chipmunk's nest is). I sure hope I'm not contributing to chipmunk obesity by feeding the front chippy pizza crusts and cheerios; the backyard chipmunk has successfully mastered climbing up the birdfeeder so s/he doesn't get the extra treats. now that it's summer the neighborhood hawk has gone to other hunting grounds and gwen is back from her fortnight foray into feral feline-ness and a cat food diet it's just one big peaceable kingdom around here.

if I locate my animal totem book I will have to look up what 'chipmunk medicine' means, stay tuned....

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

and the cat came back....

on june 24 I posted a tribute to my lovely cat gwen - for four days we searched and called to no avail. after four days of non-stop looking we believed gwen must have decided to cross over the rainbow bridge afterall, she was getting up there in cat years and the normally 'chatty' and ravenous gwen was silent and not coming for food. imagine my surprise when today after nearly of fortnight I came home to discover that gwen did not 'cross over' - although much thinner and temporarily dirty gwen is alive and well!

gwen's return gives credence to the expression of a cat having nine lives - I wonder which numbers gwen has now checked off?

mortality, life and death are often on my mind. I don't know if this is because of being over 50 (and therefore eligible for an AARP membership- a definite sign of advancing years), having aging parents who have lost or are in the process of losing many of their friends and peers, or because my quilting projects often celebrate or commemorate the stages of life. when I piece and stitch I am always mindful of the the life or lives the quilt I am working on is for - a life that may be just beginning, a new union, or a life that may have just ended. or maybe my mind goes toward musing about issues of mortality because I am who I am and I have taken the 'daily remembrances' to heart.

I have been away. the primary purpose of my recent trip to texas was to join up with my husband's family to celebrate the upcoming 90th birthday of my mother-in-law. over the last year my mother-in-law has been growing increasingly frail - circumstances dictated that we have the gathering a couple weeks early (her birthday is in mid-july). if you are a 'believer' you may say providence was at work in the timing of this get together. on thursday, june 28th the offspring (and their mates), grandchildren, and the sole surviving sibling of my sweet mother-in-law, gathered together at the nursing home which has been her home for the last 7 months. during the planning of this gathering our purpose was to have a fun party to wish 'mom' a happy 90th birthday. however, once we saw mom and realized her extreme fragility the birthday celebration morphed into a bittersweet 'thank you, godspeed, and good-bye' party - we did not know exactly when mom would leave this mortal plane, but we knew it that it would be soon.

if there is such a thing as a 'good death' I know my mother-in-law had a 'good death.' she did not suffer. although she was not always lucid or cognizant of what was going on around her, her last days were filled with loving kindness as family came to talk, sit, and be there with her. yesterday morning before f & I left fort worth we went to visit mom we knew this would be our last visit - when we got there we announced our presence, we talked about what we had done since we saw her the afternoon before; we informed her we would soon be heading north; we told her we love her and that she will live in our hearts forever, we told her it was okay that she moves on and that when she got there she should say hell-o to 'dad' (who went to that 'other place' 20 years ago), we squeezed her hands, kissed her and hugged her, finally and reluctantly we left.

the hospice nurse came in while we were visiting mom and took her vitals as a result of her findings she put in an order for an aide to come for 'around the clock' care (subtext- 'it won't be long'). she confirmed what we knew: mom was very weak and it would most likely be just a matter of days before she died. close to noon we left fort worth with a heavy heart. but what could we do?- who knows when the time will be? today, tomorrow, next week? then at five yesterday afternoon while we were driving through arkansas, f's sister called to tell us that mom passed peacefully; the woman from hospice who was to sit with mom had arrived, she took mom's vitals and found a very weak pulse and mom's breathing was very shallow, she left to get the nurse when they returned to mom's side, mom had passed on.

although we have returned to cleveland, we will soon be heading south - again we go to commemorate and celebrate a long life of a much loved woman. unfortunately, unlike gwen this is one cat who won't be coming back.... godspeed sweet mom.