SUMMER 2013 STARTED WITH THE 6,462 ROAD TRIP IN MAY AND JUNE. AUTUMN 2013 WAS OCCUPIED WITH GLOBAL DANCEFEST’S GRAND FINALE AND A TRIP TO CALIFORNIA. HERE’S THE BETWEEN.
BACK IN THE MINNESOTA SUMMER, WE VISITED THE WALLEYE ARTIST!
Dan and Nancy Root are among Robert and Marsha’s (bro/sister-in-law) best friends. Now after all these years of knowing them and admiring their creativity and lifestyle I hope they won’t mind being my friends too.
Dan is a fish sculptor. Well, he creates these beautiful wooden fish that are sculptures but also real lures and decoys. I guess. I mean they float and so forth but I’m not sure what you do with them otherwise. Obviously I’ve never fished in my life.
I think these fish are the perfect representation of art for beauty and fun. First because they are graceful and colorful and imaginative. Secondly they are just so Minnesota! In fact Dan’s fish embody the state perfectly—Minnesota supports the arts better than most other states because of a tax on the sports of hunting and fishing. Yup, serious about outdoor sports but love our arts. Voila…Dan’s Art Fish. We Minnesotans are sober serious people with a weird sense of humor and a cynical, slightly wacky sense of life. Comes from that Scandinavian adage to not think too highly of oneself and from Minnesota winters and from a lifetime of mosquito bites.
Dan gave me a pet this summer, a bright and charming walleye. I suppose I’ll call him Wally, not original, but he seems comfortable with it. Wally lives on the table next to but pointed away from the stove—forever fleeing the frying pan. He doesn’t understand that he is wooden and just wouldn’t taste like his free-range cousins anyway. Also Wally’s much less bother than a dog or a cat so I’m doubly appreciative. Dan’s website is www.LarryTheBear.com
So thanks Dan. Love from Marj and Wally.
SOON THERE MAY NOT BE A MORNING PAPER ANYMORE.
2016. A post of which I’m proud—although my faith in ‘commercial’ journalism has dropped way down since I wrote this three years ago. For newspaper lovers you’ll mourn with me. I’ve now cancelled everything, newspapers and TV, to avoid the orange shyster’s photo everywhere. Yeah, mourn with me.
It used to be the newsboys
would sell the morning Sun.
They’d call out “get your paper here!”
To people on the run.
Some boys would take a paper route
and bring it to your door.
But soon there may not be a morning paper anymore.
No, soon there may not be a morning paper anymore.
They put the news on MTV,
They twitter and they tweet.
The blog is now the focus
Of the new reporters beat.
The boys don’t call out
Get your paper! Like they did before.
And soon there may not be a morning paper anymore.
No, soon there may not be a morning paper anymore.
I just re-subscribed to the Albuquerque Journal this morning because of the absolutely brilliant, moving, scary documentary about the Rio Grande Sun, “The Sun Never Sets.” A story of what still exists in some obscure corners of the world called fearless, truth-telling, hard-hitting journalism. Really? In Espanola, New Mexico? And for how long anywhere?
I re-subscribed to the Journal, not because it has any of those aforementioned attributes in great quantities…but it is a morning paper…it is a newspaper…it is paper with word and coherent sentences and informative paragraphs you can hold in your hands comfortably over the first cup of coffee or last thing in bed at night and fold and crease and wrinkle up to clean the windows and from which you can cut out important articles for later perusal and besides…soon there may not be a morning paper anymore..
I previously took the Albuquerque Journal for years but it is actually not a great newspaper, leaning fairly far right, and being awfully thin in content and pages, with poor international, arts and travel coverage. But then I tell myself if not enough of us buy it soon there may not be a morning paper anymore.
The New York Times is delivered to my door every day—and I always mean to read most of it, but it tends to get away from me. Sometimes I have a big reading morning on the weekend and sometimes big untouched bundles end up in recycling…unread. Nevertheless I believe in the NYT and consider it the closest thing to the truth one is likely to get in corporate America and soon there may not be a morning paper anymore..
Most of us over 20 probably have newspaper reference points in our lives. Mine include dad picking up the Sunday Minneapolis Star Tribune after church. I seem to remember comics but not much else? Dad read the paper and mom did Prizeword Pete in case she should get lucky and win some actually cash, which god knows there was little of around the house. It was the closest she ever came to the evils of gambling! But we almost always got the Sunday paper however poor we were otherwise.
When I lived in the Philippines the Manila Times was delivered to our door in Angeles every morning. Since I had a maid/nanny for that brief moment in history, my morning routine was to sit on the patio eating mangoes, drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes and reading the Times. I cannot help but remember that newspaper very fondly whether it was a good paper or not.
Nowadays there are a whole bunch of entities who want to tell me about the world every morning: Old media like chatty or belligerent television personalities who yell or cook or giggle most of the time (with the exception of BBC or Aljazeera I should note); or new media such as the Huffington Post and a multitude of other websites—right wing, left wing, silly, ponderous, perhaps truthful, perhaps not—and all delivered on hard surfaces.
Okay so I’m a cranky old luddite. But let me tell you my children your smart phone will never give you the same pleasurable experience as sitting on the patio with a giant cup of fresh coffee and the Sunday Times all spread out around you! So—if it’s not too much to ask could you all subscribe to some actual paper papers just until I go to the nursing home and believe my bingo cards are actually sharing the news with me. Soon there may not be a morning paper anymore but I won’t know the difference.
THINKING ABOUT NELSON MANDELA.
Last night my friend and I tried to name world leaders from any time in history that we would place on a pedestal with Nelson Mandela. I am sure Mandiba (his clan name and a term of love and respect) has not been perfect but we could not find anyone that came closer to that sought-after 10 than this man.
Of course I am not South African so it’s not possible to experience the depth of love, hope, trust and respect he represents to practically all South Africans, black, coloured, of Asian heritage or white. However I have been to South Africa a few times, have gotten around the country a little by bus and car, have read newspapers and books and talked to people and I believe Nelson Mandela has come to represent everything that’s good and hopeful for South Africans.
South Africa is such a big and important country with a history not so very different from ours. The same kind of discovery by white men, the same sordid history of slavery/apartheid, the same rainbow of people (and under President Mandela named itself the Rainbow Nation), the same wealth and wide open spaces, and dense and sometimes dangerous cities.
So this guy, this political activist lawyer, was imprisoned for 27 years in an Afrikaner-ruled police state. He never stopped learning, teaching, politicking, speaking truth to power in all those years. Then to be finally released and have the intelligence, strength, grace and compassion to lead South Africa into democracy and serve as her first president. Wow. And since then to have been a quiet support for the good voices rising to the forefront of South African politics and a gentle reprimand to the less well-intentioned.
Back to our discussion last night. Great world leaders. GREAT world leaders. Who’s on the list? This one led us into war, that one out; this one improved the lives of his/her people, that one moved all the people’s money to the Cayman Islands…it goes on of course. But there are a few standouts. George Washington for example who was honestly quite brilliant in getting something called the United States of American launched. And Abraham Lincoln. And Winston Churchill I guess and in a way Charles deGaulle. Let’s see Catherine the Great was a force. I could name a few potential greats from South American and Africa but in many cases they were killed off in coups—frequently instigated by our very own CIA. You know I think Nelson Mandela may stand almost alone on that pedestal. Shall I put Washington or Lincoln up there with him? I don’t think so…at least not until he is no longer with us and the world is through grieving.
Hard to predict the future of South Africa. It is so very critical to the future or at least the near future of the continent. The Rainbow Nation has held together for quite awhile now but it feels like a crucial juncture is approaching. It also seems like it will be harder to keep that rainbow in the sky without Mandiba’s guidance.
SOME PHOTOS FROM MY TRIP TO CAPE TOWN (THE MOST BEAUTIFUL CITY IN THE WORLD) A FEW YEARS AGO. THIS IS THE ROBBEN ISLAND TOUR.
WILL IT PROVE TO BE SIX OF ONE, HALF DOZEN OF THE OTHER? EGYPT THE UNKNOWN.
In honor of the Egyptian Army getting rid of the Muslim Brotherhood I decided to post a few photos from my trip to Cairo in 1989. It is a sad state of things when an army coup might be a good thing! I think I posted these sometime in the distant past but probably you did not see them.
I am the director of a small art center that includes a black box theater. Because the center is primarily staffed by art teachers who work all week with our many talented artists (who all deal with some form of disability) those of us who do not teach do a little bit of everything else.
Today for example I’m the manager on duty for a staff member’s wedding in the theater. Pretty Marisol is wedding handsome Devin. Marisol’s dad, Omar, also works with us so it really is a family affair.
The North Fourth Art Center N4th Theater is always full of action on weekdays with every imaginable kind of dance, theater and music class. The same is true on most weekends with performances, readings, meetings AND WEDDINGS. So…when I work Saturdays I know whatever happens it will not be dull.
The Afternoon goes like this:
1:00 Stop at Starbucks.
1:30 Bookstore for a wedding present. Why invest in the casserole dish industry when you can spend your gift money on a book?
2:20 Guests are arriving but the wedding party is missing.
2:30 Ahhh…here they are. Marisol looks every bit the beautiful bride.
2:24 They’re a little nervous as they take their vows but with giggles and good cheer all around it is soon over. Should I mention how unmoved I am by wedding ceremonies. Nah…that would be tacky.
3:15 Just find out the reception will begin at 5 or so and go until about 11.
Since I am captive staff I shall make the best of this opportunity to collect comp time!
3:30 Talked to my Canadian friend. She sent me this photo of a special Canada Day Doughnut.
4:00 A friend is coming by for a visit. She lives in Belize now and is raising money to help three girls stay in school. My sons and I are going to Central American next April; it will be nice to have friends in Belize.
6:00 Steven and Michele (son & daughter-in-law) come by with a strawberry milkshake and the video of Steven’s birthday skydiving in San Diego. It’s nice to visit with my kids sometimes…we’re all so busy it doesn’t happen that often. Granddaughter Patricia is off to Texas Tech to study architecture soon.
9:30 Isn’t it time for this Saturday to end?
IF I COULD SAVE TIME…
Old photos are an issue, aren’t they? Not the main ones of course, weddings and babies and new houses and new countries but the other ones of everyday life when you weren’t dressed up or posing; maybe a little blurry, maybe you don’t even know everyone in the photo…but it captured a second of life you cannot get back.
You know how some cultures believe you steal a person’s soul if you take their picture. Well I think deep down I believe that you might be throwing away a moment of a person’s life if you throw away their picture?
My goal is to scan every photo I possess that has even a modicum of sentimental value…and then keep them all in some big sloppy cloud file!
Meanwhile I pick up little handfuls of the old pics to sort every time I sit down and invariably find one so beautiful, and so evocative of the best things of my life, that I want to laugh, cry, frame it to cover an entire wall…maybe hear mom tell dad to brush his hair a little for the picture and dad grumble and say it’s good enough the way it is…and you can smell an apple pie baking…and the dog’s laying on the couch and it’s Sunday so there’s a preacher or a news talking head on TV…
HOW STEVEN, SCOTT AND MARJORIE BECAME NEW MEXICANS
This is part of a series of essays about ‘loving’ New Mexico and yes, it is memoir—since the reason I loved this place for so long is because of how I lived my life here, so it is impossible to separate the love from the life. Even though the landscape, however harsh, however magical, plays a role in my relationship to this state, still it is really about how I became whoever I am (for better AND worse) in a particular place (New Mexico) and time (70s and 80s).
A previous post was about being a young air force wife on Holloman AFB, commuting to college at NMSU, and gaining some modicum of political awareness. All heady stuff but it did not make me a real part of New Mexico (air force bases and college campuses are not really part of a place—they’re their own worlds).
The following then is more about the how rather than the where of a life being lived.
Back in the spring of 1972 I completed student teaching at Alamogordo Middle School, received my BS degree in Secondary Ed/History, and Don got orders for an overseas assignment where I could not go. What to do? We owned a small travel trailer so the kids and I moved to my mom’s Minnesota backyard for the summer. I sat over endless cups of coffee with a U.S. map in front of me trying to decide whether I wanted to live back east in North Carolina or in the southwest where I now felt more at home. Late summer I packed up the kids and I’m sure a dog or two and headed west, the decision made except whether it would be Phoenix where my best friend Sue lived or New Mexico which was more familiar.
We drove to Phoenix. I hated it. Years later Scott and Steve told me they desperately wanted to stay because at least they knew two kids there, Kim and Pam, Sue’s girls, and they really did not want to go to a totally strange place. I was blindly unaware of their anxiety I am sorry to say. I feel the need to endlessly apologize to them for not making their needs a higher priority—I thought that as long as they were (relatively) well taken cared for, loved and had some favorite stuff they would be okay. And ultimately they were…and are. In a strange way it has all worked out to the advantage of my grandchildren because, based on their own experiences, their parents have been determined to let them live out their school years in one good home in one good neighborhood in one good school district. I tell myself that if I hadn’t been so restless and had instead made sure my kids had a stable childhood who knows if they would have felt the same necessity to keep chaos out of their kids/my grandchildren’s lives!
But back to the story: After Phoenix we drove to Alamogordo and it turns out none of us wanted to be there—although New Mexico DID feel right! North to Albuquerque it was. I rented a cheap motel room on Central and, before I could even think through the Albuquerque possibilities, a call came from Farmington, New Mexico (in those pre-cell phone days tracking me down in an Albuquerque motel was no easy matter) offering me a position teaching history. It was almost time for school to start so, they said, I needed to come up immediately to be interviewed and fill out the paperwork. I truly had no time to think. The next day Scott was sick so I left my poor 12 year-old under the watchful eye of the (hopefully) trustworthy motel manager (who would risk that these days?) and 9-year-old Steven and I drove to Farmington.
A successful day. Quick interview, accept the position, sign the paperwork, head back to Albuquerque for the night, get Scott and tomorrow move to our new home.
Sounds good doesn’t it? I had just been offered a position in the profession I had studied four years to enter. I would have a stable income. My husband would return from wherever, and I would either stay in Farmington (the marriage was not excellent by then) or go with him and take another position, now as an experienced teacher.
Steven and I are back on I-25 approaching Albuquerque. I have been a little depressed on the way back but maybe I’m just tired. Steven’s quiet—probably because he doesn’t know where he will be living next week. The lights of Bernalillo, then the north side of Albuquerque are glimmering over to our right. Those lights look so beautiful and they seem to go on for a long time. I keep thinking how good they look to me, to Steven too. Bright…like a city. I have lived in Minneapolis and Orlando so I do have some sense of city as opposed to town. Damn they look SO good. I say something like, “Steve, let’s just live here…blah, blah, blah. He probably says okay, why wouldn’t he, at least he’s been in Albuquerque a day and a half instead of just his three-hour experience of Farmington. I’m sorry Steven. I was actually only about a 5 on the motherhood scale at that moment. Please don’t ever tell me it was even lower…
The next morning I called the principal in Farmington and turned down the job. Professionally that was extremely dumb since history teachers were not in big demand even back then…unless you could also coach something. My kids were okay with this I guess…what choice did they have. I mean I wasn’t a bad mom exactly…I did love them, talk to them, feed and clothe them, provide them with a reasonable amount of goodies, worry about them, want the best for them…I just didn’t know who the hell I wanted to be when I grew up…which is very hard on kids. Still I rationalize that they are better parents for all of that!
You know Barack Obama’s mom wasn’t so different, just had her sights set a little higher…on the whole world instead of North Carolina versus New Mexico. Which is why he’s a great dad and no-drama Obama—all because his mom wasn’t a vegetable-cooking church-going stable super-mom! However If she were alive today I’m sure she would still be apologizing… “You know he would have quit smoking sooner; be happier/more relaxed/tougher on Republicans; not be such a smarty pants if I had just been a better mom…” Fortunately my sons are pretty much perfect so… This might be a test to see if they’re reading my blogs.
In Albuquerque the next day I went house-hunting, registered my kids in Bandelier Elementary and Jefferson Junior High, and decided while I was looking for a job I would volunteer somewhere…the McGovern for President Campaign perhaps.
AND THAT MY CHILDREN IS HOW WE BECAME NEW MEXICANS.
ON THE LITTLEFORK (BIGFORK?) RIVER WITH BOSSY MARJORIE AND TRICKY ROBERT.
Robert and Marsha are arriving in Albuquerque today with a huge trailer full of furniture to claim the house they bought on-line. Since they’re known for their propensity to move often in their quest for the perfect house, climate, neighbors and dog-walking area, it’s a little hard to know if they’ll actually unload the trailer or not.
Once, many many years ago they decided to move to Albuquerque and Robert drove down to find work—leaving Marsha at her teacher’s job in Minnesota. He brought along a couch and a few other furnishings for the house they would buy as soon as he had the job. He stayed two whole days, we had a good time, talked, drank a little beer and then he decided Albuquerque just wasn’t going to work after all and took his couch and went home.
So the joke is this time they have three couches along, are retired and don’t want jobs, and own a house up on the other side of Tramway they’ve never seen. If it doesn’t work out we are going to take all of the couches to some hidden valley back in the Manzanos and burn them in a huge ceremony of … maybe a little like Burning Man called Burning Couches…it could catch on—OR they will just sign on somewhere as furniture truck drivers and get paid for identical work. That way someday they can afford the PERFECT place.
We are a little bit of a funny family. In some ways the typical first generation children of European immigrants—stolid, sensible, not very exciting people really, but stable—the no-drama immigrants of Scandinavia (Marsha’s family came from Slovakia so she may have a touch more theatrics in her blood being closer to Italy and all that…).
Robert and Marsha are my brother and sister-in-law by the way and I love them dearly. But they really are a little strange. In an appealing way of course. Ahhh…I think they’re pulling up now…
MURDER IN ICELAND
Bob, Teresa and I spent a week in Iceland last summer. We fell in love with this odd and lovely island that still sees Vikings around every corner; is cold and windy and gray but NOT covered in ice; and feeds its visitors fermented shark.
Since Iceland is so picturesque AND because I have so many photos I am hoping to stretch my little essays over several days—off and on/now and then.
To begin exploring murder most northern, it seemed like a photo essay investigating the many places where victims could be cleverly concealed would be appropriate. You see we were there and, while we didn’t find any actual bludgeoned bodies or icy eyeballs we did go on a mystery writers tour which took us to various locations featured in Icelandic crime novels. I am sorry to report that what is a brilliant idea came off as earnest and uninspiring. The two well-mannered young women guiding the walk just could not manage any vicious vibes so we soon went off to have a nice Icelandic beer. I do hope that the suggestions of foul play accompanying the photos that follow will make you a little more leery of Reykjavik’s dark and shadowy corners than what our pretty tour guides could manage.
You can rest assured that Iceland does indeed support several interesting murder mystery writers so if you enjoy the suspicious cast of characters, deceptively cozy scenes or the gloomy landscapes full of deadly potential in days to come, know that you can spend many book-hours deep within these often lethal nooks and crannies.
WHAT DO THESE PHOTOS HAVE TO DO WITH MURDER? LOTS OF PLACES TO HIDE?
A long and exceedingly busy day. Unfortunately I am in Iceland mode so I can’t really blog about going to the Drs. for two different check-ups today–and I am fine. Or tell you that on the way home from the second visit I complained to myself that I had just spent $100 to find out I was fine. Or to finish the story by apologizing to all of the people in the world who came from a doctor’s office today and were not fine.
Since this is part of my great northern murder series but I am all out of words for today how about just a few few photos. Some of which have been posted before I’m sure. There’s no such thing as too much Iceland though…Is this blood coloring the hot springs pink? And how long was the victim frozen in that glacial crevice before winding up here?
MURDERERS HAVE BEEN KNOWN TO DISGUISE THEMSELVES AS PUFFINS.
Today was the day I was going to start writing about the Icelandic crime fiction authors I have read so far; unfortunately I did not have access to my Arnaldur Indridason and Yrsa Sigurðardóttir books. I had intended to bring the stack to work and use them for an essay about Iceland’s place in the literature of Scandinavian death and deception but the books were forgotten at home and besides work (the kind for which I get paid) consumed my day.
Tonight I’m the theater-sitter so there has been time for a little Google-work filling empty spaces remaining in the part of my brain reserved for Icelandic murder. In fact I’ve subscribed to one Scandinavian crime blog today and also discovered the “Nordic Noir Book Club” which is perfect for someone like me—except for the small drawback of all of the meetings taking place in London.
Now it is late and I’m still at work so to make up for my blog-negligence and to keep my Iceland mindset going without really writing anything—yet again, here’s a photo album from my summer 2012 visit to the island of puffins in Reykjavik harbor. ENJOY.
I wasted today. I did read one Danish murder mystery and slept a lot but that doesn’t exactly count as productive. Days like this make me a little depressed I must admit. So before I go back to bed…here are two of my favorite old photos, scanned just for these wordless times.
TRAVELING BACK AGAIN: OVIDIA AND HER SHEEP
Mom always loved sheep; actually she always loved all animals but especially sheep. After she married my dad, she had Tula, her South Dakota lamb, shipped to her up in northern Minnesota. Tula was the foremother of a small herd that mom maintained until she and dad left the farm about 55 years later.