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“a little normal would be nice.” [merely-a-thought monday]

normal with frame

normal is up for grabs.

in the middle of my meltdown yesterday, i’m sure i uttered, “i just want normal.”

but normal is subjective now.

there is a deep schism between the normal of the of-course-i’ll-wear-a-mask-maskers and the it’s-against-my-constitutional-rights-to-make-me-wear-a-mask-non-maskers.  a deep schism between the sides of the aisle.  a deep schism over this global pandemic, the economy, healthcare, equality, blatant racism.  a deep schism over confederate monuments.  a deep schism over basic respect.  a deep schism over truth.

a chasm of difference.  it makes me wonder what, if anything, can bridge it, what can create a common story, what can make us a populace that cares about each other?

scrolling through facebook is depressing.  there are people ‘out there’ in our pandemic-riddled country doing normal stuff:  eating at restaurants, having drinks at bars, gathering with friends, going on trips, boating, fishing, at the beach or the pool, all without masks and without social distancing and without, seemingly, a care in the world.

driving downtown is depressing.  there are people ‘out there’ in our pandemic-riddled country just-down-the-road doing normal stuff:  eating inside and outside at captain mike’s, gathering at eichelmann beach, hanging out at the lakefront, all without masks and without social distancing and without, seemingly, a care in the world.

trying to plan anything is depressing.  we need to go to see david’s parents.  i desperately need to see My Girl and My Boy.  there are so many details to keep each other safe.  there’s nothing normal.  it’s freaking confusing.  we plot the trip west, a roadtrip, thinking about 19 hours across the middle of the country, thinking about arriving at my at-risk-in-laws’ house, having not picked up any additional possibility of passing covid-19 to them.  where do we stop safely?  where do we get gas?  where do we use restrooms?  how can we be sure they will not be recipients of anything we bring along?  we care.

and yet, there is the rest of the country – the ones screaming at city hall meetings, the ones seeking judgement against requiring masks-for-safety, the ones who throw pointed word-daggers arguing against the danger of this pandemic, the ones arguing for other causes of death, the ones voting out all precautions for the state of wisconsin, the ones who stand in front of the entire country and arrogantly (and without a grain of truth) state, “we’ve flattened the curve!”  how is it that the leadership of this country gets away with this?  no wonder half of the country wears no mask, states and does whatever they damn well please. WHAT pandemic?

it’s depressing.  missing the moments that make up life – chances to easily be with family, friends.  chances to have a bite out without worrying about aerosols.  chances to sing with others, to sing for others.  chances to go to concerts and plays.  chances to gather around a kitchen table or the island at your best friends’.  chances to stop and hug your decades-long neighbor.  chances to hold your grown-up children and kiss them and make them roll their eyes.  happy hour with friends crowded onto a deck.  parties in the backyard.  normal stuff.

it was on a marquee outside a store, “a little normal would be nice.”

i couldn’t agree more.

i told tom i had a really hard day yesterday.  he said, “you have to grieve.”

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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romper-bomper-stomper-boo. wait. [two artists tuesday]

bcat in the window romper room

i don’t know about you, but when i was little i waited with bated breath for my name to be called at the end of the romper room show.  it never was.

i don’t know about you, but when i was in school i waited to be called on to teams during gym class, the teacher having chosen team ‘captains’ and those captains choosing their favorite friends, a really terrible way to divide up a class without hard feelings.

i don’t know about you, but as an earlier adult i waited to see a single song take off, an album go gold, the writing-writing-writing of a song recognized.  somewhere along the way i realized the sheer folly of that and i knew it was important to be satisfied with something-of-mine that resonated with someone-out-there; it need not be monumental to be monumental.

i don’t know about you, but right now i’ve been waiting to go places.  i haven’t yet gotten my hair cut or gone clothes shopping or been out to a restaurant.  i haven’t gone to the bank or a pub or even a starbucks.  i haven’t ordered out or picked up or sat curbside waiting for, well, anything.

i don’t know about you, but i am still impatiently waiting to see my children.  a city away seems, hopefully, doable in the near future but a trip to the high mountains requires a bit more detail, a bit more planning, a need for precautions and safety-taking.

i don’t know about you, but it all feels like we are on hold.  like we have dialed in and are listening to the interminable muzak-music but, with too much invested, can’t hang up.

we feel like we are looking at life from the inside out.  we are waiting.

we feel like we are looking at life from the inside out.  and we are watching.

we are watching others move freely about in the world and we wonder – are we the weirdos here?  we are watching the disparity between what people say and what people do – those who want to be perceived as covid-safety-savvy but are out tooling around.  we are watching the restlessness and the dismissiveness of a pandemic-weary-world.  we are also watching anxiety and confusion increase, sleep eluding us, plans in disarray – sub-themes of future covid-19 movies.

and yet, we hesitate.  to resume normal.

because these times are not normal.

so we take a bit more time to peer through the magic mirror, look out from in, and romper-bomper-stomper-boo wait.  just a little bit longer.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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there is a place, a canopy. [d.r. thursday]

canopy

CANOPY 48″x48″

there is a place on a washington island road where the rest of the world disappears.  you are walking alongside forest and can see the sky as you look up, tall trees framing blue, the sound of sandhill cranes and red-eyed vireos accompanying your steps.  and then you enter this place.  the trees gently arc over the road and you are covered by a canopy; we have sheltered in this spot during more than one sudden rainfall.  even in the bright day, the green above you – which turns to brilliant umber, rich red, flaming orange during summer’s release on the forest – allows for little light.  and at dusk, while the sun sinks into the water hundreds of feet away, walking in the middle of the road, it is dark-dark, the canopy a lure for night creatures, safe in the shadows.

there is a place in a tree in the yard of my growing-up house outside the window of my old room where the branches invited sitting.  for hours i would sit there, write, ponder.  in the summer the maple seemed to grant me privacy from the world, its branches full of leaves and canopying my little spot.  a shelter.

there was a place in the wooden structure in our backyard that had a yellow awning that made a fort.  when My Girl and My Boy were little they would play up there for hours, The Boy lining up matchbox cars, The Girl often reading a book.  a special space, this little fort, it was hard when it was time to dismantle it and pass it on to friends with little ones.

these places of shelter – places of canopy – provide such a sense of protection, a sense of being held from harm – from the elements, away from others, in our own private place.  much like our homes, they can give us pause, a deep breath, safety.

in this time of distancing and stay-safe-stay-at-home, i look around our house and give thanks for its canopy of shelter, for the way it holds us from harm, for the minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years it keeps us safe.

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boundaries. [k.s. friday]

boundaries songbox2.jpg

we were lost when we brought dogdog home from the farm.  it had been a long time since either of us had a puppy; our dogs had long lives and after that it had been years.  the first few days we literally followed dogga around inside the house, like he was a toddler in search of an electrical outlet or a cabinet without childproof latches.  jen and brad brought us pizza and wine and assured our deer-in-the-headlights-look that all would be well.  so we read pretty much anything we could get our hands on and discovered (re-discovered?) the fact that puppies really like confined spaces.  smaller spaces make them feel safe, secure; they are calming.  it worked.  dogdog was happy to be in the kitchen-ala-three-gates-in-the-doorways.  he seemed to sigh with relief at the end of the day going into his crate for sleepynightnight.  he was a happier puppy and we were (legit) back in our bodies.  boundaries facilitated maturing (for all of us.)

there is a whole lake out in front of our littlehouse.  the yard is big and full of green grass and flowers and grasses and trees.  the deck has space and flower boxes.  and then there is the rocking chair.  in between two closely-placed-spindles, perched on the lower rail, this little tree frog found a place of solace.  snugly in this warmed-by-the-sun spot, he lingered for hours, the tight place perhaps restorative for him, perhaps simply a sanctuary, its boundaries affording him the freedom to stay.

boundaries are underrated.  we need them.  to flourish.  the constraints serve us.  our clear boundaries for others create balanced lives.  drawing boundaries.  growth depends on it.

early on, given, say, three chords – and only three chords –  to compose with limits the angst of analysis paralysis.  it gives a place to start, a direction to go, discipline and yet, boundaries that reach only to the sky.  it eases up the balking-at-it of artists.  it facilitates the creation of a composition.  it facilitates artistry.  it facilitates energy.  pushing the walls of these boundaries back little by little opens an artist when he/she is ready, when he/she feels safer.  one step at a time.  one rocking chair spindle at a time.  one kitchen-dog-gate at a time.  one muse at a time.

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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beyond the jetty. [two artists tuesday]

ferry

i wasn’t sure how it would feel to stay in the car on the ferry.  i was leery of the windy, rainy day and how that would play into how rough the crossing could be.  i’m not fond of motion-sickness taking over my day, so i was prepared…bonine: check, motion bands: check, ginger chews: check, water: check, salty chips: check, window open: check.   i was ready.  but still leery.

in the small harbor it was calm, despite the wind.  but out there, beyond the jetty…

when people want to impart words of wisdom about motion sickness, they tell you to keep your eyes on the horizon.   these words are partially true; keeping your eyes inside the vehicle or plane or boat doesn’t do you any favors.  but there’s more to it.  and i was worried about out there, beyond the jetty.

we so often stay protected, inside the harbor.  predictability and security are seeming keys to our happiness.  they are the indicators of serenity.  we venture on small protected side trips, curious to see what we might find.

i am guilty of this as well.  a homebody in many ways, i love the safety of the familiar harbor, the one near and dear to me.  beyond the jetty is unknown, maybe rough waters, maybe difficult to traverse.

but it occurs to me that beyond the jetty it might be calm as well or perhaps more navigable than i thought.  serenity doesn’t stay put in the harbor.  it comes with us.  out there, beyond the jetty.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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the things we do. [two artists tuesday]

Rogue Snowboard Test copy

it was the ultimate test.

we stopped at the snowboard store and asked the guy there if he could bring a snowboard outside.  he happily complied with our request and the last test – making sure a snowboard…The Girl’s livelihood…fit in the vehicle that could potentially become hers.  this was right after we picked the vehicle up from our amazing mechanic who happily checked it over for her.  this was with the cheering-on and support of dear dear generous friends as we searched for the right snowy-high-elevation-roads-with-no-guardrails-appropriate AWD/4WD SUV.

we had help in the quest for this reliable, affordable vehicle for our daughter who needs something worthy of a momma’s trust in the middle of the mountains.  we have been steeped in research, in car-shopping, in internet searches, in spreading the word about this need for safe new wheels.  one of these days all that knowledge will drop into the moat in my brain and i will forget it all.  until then, we name every SUV as it passes us by…forester, outback, rogue, rav4, crv, patriot, crosstrek.  we are grateful to have found this one.  grateful for the help.

and this morning, in between tears as she drove away, i said a small prayer and whispered to IVY, her newly-named-new-used-car, to keep her safe.

read DAVID’S thoughts on this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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flawed cartoon wednesday

49Steps BIGcopy copy 2interrupting is an art form on long island.  i know this. i grew up there.  and, apparently, i carried this forward.  it took d a while (read:  a few years and meeting crunch)  to realize i was paying attention, that i wasn’t ignoring what he was saying when i interrupted…i just knew where he was going with it and jumped ahead.  now, i do realize that sounds pretty rude.  it’s not my intention to ever be rude, so i have tried, in recent times, to w.a.i.t. before i speak…at least a little bit longer.  if you are nearby when jen and i talk, you will think we are interrupting each other, talking in a circular path and arriving back at the point; carol and i have, for decades, conversed in short snippets of interrupted tangents.  regardless of our intent, no one wants to be asked to “pay attention!”

yet, we have all these ways, nowadays (using this word makes me sound old), to not pay attention.   how many videos have you seen where people are walking in a mall (or somewhere) texting or reading on their cellphone and fall into a fountain (or some other obstacle.)  we sit with others and try to hold a conversation, but they are busy on their phone or some device checking facebook or texts or twitter or the news…so many ways to not pay attention, so many distractions.   we see the tragic effects of split focus while people are driving cars.

we are no longer just giving our attention to the moment.  we are interrupting conversation, our work, the activity we are involved in, each other’s safety.  we would be well-served to pay just-a-little-more attention.

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the right place.

allLoveCountswe were on a serene lake…no waves, barely a ripple. the oars sliced into the water next to the canoe with hardly a whisper, the loons in the distance calling. the gunshots in the distance rang out over the still lake and startled us; the loon answered. i counted the number of times in a row the gun went off…not sure why i was doing that, but hoping that it would make more sense if i knew how many times i heard a gunshot. i asked later if there was a firing range nearby and was surprised to hear that there wasn’t. i’m not aware of any particular hunting season right now, so i am guessing that someone was just out there…somewhere…firing a gun just to fire a gun. the juxtaposition of absolute serenity and gunfire was unnerving. it seemed that northern wisconsin wasn’t the right place for that.

we hike there often. we take the blue trail with dogdog; it’s about 4 and a half miles the way we go. we know it well now, but every time we go we delight in the changes each season makes, the changes the weather makes, the changes we can see, smell, touch, hear. we often hear gunshots reverberating out there. i guess there is a firing range somewhere nearby. so people gather to ‘practice’. not having grown up around guns, i wonder what they are practicing for as i hear a rapid fire of shots, something that doesn’t sound like the measured shots of a hunter.   a state park doesn’t seem the right place for that.

my beautiful son is gay. also, he was on the high school and college tennis teams. also, he likes v-neck fitted t-shirts over round neck. also, he used to love ramen noodles. also, he was a fantastic pitcher and an ace shortstop. also, he doesn’t drink the bottom inch from a 2 liter bottle of soda. also, he loves chocolate chip cookies with mint chips in them as well. also, he was the only one in his fraternity who could drive a stick shift. also, he likes to be at the airport well ahead of his flight. random factoids. none of these define him totally as a person. all of them (and a whole lot more) make him who he is.

i remember the day he called me to tell me he was gay and that he was in a relationship. i don’t know if he was nervous or anxious about it, but i suspect that many young men and women have anxiety about telling their loved ones of their orientation. now, i don’t remember having to call my momma years ago to tell her i was heterosexual. why would that be any different?

i cherished his trust – his knowing that nothing i felt about him would change. his choice of who to be in relationship with was just a part of him like his choice of cookie. it changed the picture in my head of the future, but it didn’t change my support of him or my excitement about his future or my love of him.

they – young men and women – were in a bar. in a vacation destination town – orlando, florida. i would anticipate that there was much laughter, much talk, much dancing. maybe there was an expression of physical attraction between people there – a public display of affection. i hope so. i cannot wrap my head around the kind of hatred/discomfort/bigotry that would push a person to take a gun and kill people. shots rang out. people (sons and daughters of moms just like me) died. the surrealness of an individual’s hunting season that had opened at this venue make my blood run cold. a gay bar isn’t the the right place for that.

i am the very proud mother of a gay son. and i, like all mothers, want to believe that he has the freedom to be who he is as long as he is not harming anyone else or himself – just like my rule for my daughter. there is no right place for this kind of maiming and killing. i want to protect them both – my girl and my boy. i try to trust the world around me, around them. i pray for them to always be safe.

and i ask – where is the right place for that??