Wednesday, November 28, 2007

'My painting carries with it the message of pain.'

So, I'm reading in front of the fire at Caribou Coffee yesterday when I see a jolly old guy bending over, looking at me closely. 'You looked just like my daughter sitting there and I just had to make sure. She'd have been reading a book too.' I apologized--because that is usually what I do, and I had a mouthful of pumpkin bread. [why?] That's what he asked too. 'Because I wasn't your daughter, I guess,' I mumbled. He assured me it was o.k. to be me [what?] and that in fact, he had just seen her on Thanksgiving; just didn't expect to see her here. Long, boring story short, it pays to look people straight in the eye to see if they are who you think they are. Incidentally, a corollary to 'don't believe everything you think.'

Turkey Day has come and gone, now just a sweet/savory memory. Sadly, our table was short one place as Erica had to stay in D.C. to prepare for exams. Audrey arrived on Thanksgiving Day and spent 4 more days. While here she and I made a pilgrimage to view the travelling Frieda Kahlo exhibit at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis in honor of the 100th anniversary of Frieda's birthday. Not only were there many of her unique self portraits but there was a collection of never seen before photographs from her personal albums. Some of them showed her in traction after her accident when she was 18 as well as other candids with Diego Rivera and even Leon Trostsky. Seeing her works, born out of her pain--

“I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone, because I am the person I know best.”

with her signature tiny brush strokes and sometimes surrealistic landscapes and still-lifes was such an emotionally charged experience for both of us, sending us straight away for tea and cookies.

While I write, at 5 am, this is the weather report in our part of Minnesota:
10 °F / -12 °C
Windchill: -5 °F / -20 °C
Wind @13 mph from the West (from Julie in N.Dak.!)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Over the river and through the woods

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of
our treasures.

Thornton Wilder

The season of the rolling out of pie dough begins, chopping celery and onions for dressing, listening to the cranberries pop as they cook, and all the while remembering those near and far with great fondness.


from my house to yours!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

What I carry

Legs straight as tree trunks
Endurance tested for
High hurdles and escape
Tears collected in a flask
Ragged suitcase handles

Fear of the wolf
Not enough

Dealt a hand,
A life arrayed on a table.
Gypsy woman, child
Searches the heart of loneliness
For home.

See what other writers carry at Sunday Scribblings.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

'We're all fools for something.'

Today dawned cold and windy, with scantily clad trees, snow flurries and heavy gray clouds. But never fear. I've luckily found a new place to walk when the weather is obnoxious--the Roseville Skating Center. This is an indoor hockey rink with a free walking track around it covered with a rubber surface so its easier on the ole' joints. One mile equals seven laps. Outside the building is The Oval. And little known bit of trivia: The OVAL is positioned in Roseville, MN at a latitude of 45 degrees 02' North, longitude 93 degrees 12' West elevation 906 MSL. Roseville is located half-way between the North Pole and the Equator, which puts me that much closer to Santa's workshop, don'tyathink? But the best part, besides getting a better workout because I don't stop to look at every wildflower or bird, is that I can watch local men's hockey teams play pickup practice games and I can usually catch a glimpse of my beloved Electric 552 Zamboni. Who can resist guys with helmets on skates hitting a tiny disk around on the ice with funny big sticks? So now I just have to be careful to not fall down into the bleachers.

What better to do on a cloudy day than play with my button collection instead of the vacuum. These are some magnets I've made using vintage buttons on a great old tray I found at Salvation Army for $1. I have been inspired to collect old buttons ever since I saw Karen's booth at the Taste of Shoreview this summer. If you want to see some really cool buttons and artwork, check out her site at The Junk in My Trunk.

On fortune's
cap we are not the very button.”
William Shakespeare

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Call me ambidextrous, but call me!

Life is a series of ups and downs for sure. This littered path has birthed a wealth of philosophical admonitions and quotes, all influenced by what part of the compass the road runs.

It’s always something! If it isn’t bedbugs, its roaches!
Might makes right.
Six of one and a half-dozen of another.
Look both ways when crossing the street.
Right jab, left hook, then keep your fists up.

My grandmother Philomena, taught her children to be careful because ‘people are mean.’ A lot of the reasons she felt this way went to the grave with her, along with her old country ideas, memories in steerage and experiences with English speaking neighbors in her new home. Her life had been one of extremes.

Today politically we have exhumed the motto of the Round Table that might makes right without following King Arthur's goal of reversal of this logic. We now use this fictional concept to help define our dealings with the world outside our country. There’s that compass again.

My friend from the South who has reached the age of losing close friends and family continually recites the roaches vs. bedbugs quote. Accepting this either, or notion somehow evens the score for her.

Boxers learn early that if a right jab hits you straight on, you might just get the left hook to your chin if you’re not careful.

I believe we are indeed more vulnerable when we’re in transition—and I’m referring to our travels repeatedly from right to left and back again on a daily basis. Life in the middle might appear safer but what we learned in the playground in order to enjoy the seesaw ride you want to grab one of the seats. And I’m convinced that each one of us, when crossing the street, always smiles a bit when arriving on the other side, knowing we made it across safely.

This is my left-handed response to Sunday Scribblings.
Graphic borrowed from comic book genius, Robert Crumb.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

cuppa joe

So I am sipping coffee at a local coffee shop The Smooth Grind because the only things that change there are the homemade muffin flavors. Every Thursday a group of women gather from the Curves down the strip, put two tables together and yammer for an hour or so. I first noticed them at the end of summer because one of the members would bring boxes of tomatoes and zucchini and plastic carrying bags for each friend to take some home. I was so jealous. This Thursday I forgot what day it was but took a chance they were finishing up so I could read in peace. Actually three women remained for the duration so don't blame me for eavesdropping, which I did. I traded peace and quiet for wisdom.
I'm changing the names to protect us all but their story involved a couple named Barbara and Biff. All the women knew Barbara from way back but had really not seen much of Biff because he had mysteriously taken an early retirement and even more mysteriously spent the majority of his days in their basement. Remember 'basement' because it'll make sense later. Apparently B. & B. have been married forever and Barbara hasn't really changed much in her acceptance of life, marriage, and liberation of women in general and of the rest of her friends seated at the Smooth Grind this morning in particular. Her name was lobbed around the table until it reached one woman who spoke for them all by summing up Barbara's foibles: 'her mind just goes only so far.'
They began to whisper and there's only so far I could lean in before falling off my chair, but I did gather 'Lutheran,' and 'made her bed.' Every Barbara anecdote involved her being very attached to what Biff would think or say or do. Much tut-tutting, head shaking and some current psychological babble ensued before the spokeswoman admonished the group: 'Hell, we're all of us roller derby women! Look how hard we've worked to get things our way. And don't kid yourself, so have all the husbands! They got what they've wanted too.'

[ And the words of the poets are written on the subway walls. Thank you, Paul Simon.]

The laughter died down when someone else remembered one more anecdote about Barbara worth repeating. Whenever she's invited to hang out with these women, Barbara gets a certain look on her face then weakly declines because of what Biff might think. Question: 'how will Biff know you've even gone with us?' Apparently Barbara said, 'he will because he won't hear my footsteps upstairs and then he'll wonder. . . ' Well, this friend told the group, "I told Barbara: hire a babysitter to walk around upstairs for the time you're gone. Hell, he'll never know you left!' The laughter was contagious and I had to spit my coffee back in my cup or risk asphyxiation.

So, there you have it, words to live by. And the corollary, pick your coffee shops carefully. But I raise my coffee to all of us roller-derby queens!

Friday, November 2, 2007


Blousy memories upon waking
In the pearl lit dawn.
Coins found under the swing
That hung from her mother’s clothesline.
Or were they from under the tablecloth
Near the cracked pot quietly inched away?
Pungent geranium leaves clung
Lashes flutter open and shut
Fingernail scrapes the window shade.

Bending to stroke her rosy cheek
Garlic and grated cheese lingers
‘Here bambina, you take-a this.’
Opening a black leather coin purse,
Thumb and forefinger magically twist and reach
Her hand cupped in his and then the coolness.
A chief’s profile looks away from them both:
The old man stooped from a lifetime of labor
The newly endowed child forgets her dream.

Some thoughts about money for Sunday Scribblings.
photo by Julia Margaret Cameron
Florence Fisher (After the manner of an old Italian picture), 1872