Friday, September 18, 2015

Back in the Summer of '15

The summer of '15 has been a season of change, letting go, and holding on.
And some fun along the way.

Above is a self portrait of sorts from the '80's, done at UW-Stout,
Menomonie, Wisconsin.
It was in the house of my ex-husband Rick, 
the house he is leaving at the behest of his children so he can live closer
to them in Madison.

I help him get his stuff ready to move in early August.

Since his kitchen fire a while ago he's been "camping" inside his house.
I sort through the burnt out pile in the back yard for salvageable stuff for his new life,
like a few of the remaining Franciscan dishes with the flowers that we got as our wedding set.

This melted clock in his kitchen is quite a metaphor. I think the spider is long dead.

The house has seen better days.

Some people ask why I still play a role in Rick's life. Well, he's family, I guess.
Till death us do part and all that, in spite of our divorce lo these many years ago.

I still had some stuff stored at his house, like a box full of old high school stuff,
including a couple diaries. Above, among all the references to boys I was apparently hanging out with,
was the day, December 29th, 1965, or maybe '64,  
when I got a visit from "Denny" who was actually Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys.

(online photo)

There are several references to him in this journal.
He had relatives in Minnesota and we hung out now and again,
 doing things like making out in the back seat of his cousin's car. 
He called me from Minneapolis once and asked me to come to see him
at the Beach Boys concert but I didn't have a driver's license (not yet sixteen) 
and my father wouldn't take me.
(I think I may have told this story before…)
So there went my big chance to royally mess up my life with that crazy bunch! 
I would have to find other ways to mess up my life.

Here's a story I wrote in high school about a man who was in a prison run by the Russians
who had invaded the US, and he tried unsuccessfully to escape on a spaceship that he mistakenly thought was going to the moon…

"A Death for Freedom" from the days of Cold War paranoia and the post-Sputnik space race…
It's all so much better now, with Putin and the Russians now playing war games in the Arctic,
to prepare to take over the northern shipping lanes when the ice melts for good and all…

Here's another self-portrait of sorts, surreal and eerie.
I had a lot of paintings, taken off their stretchers long ago,
stored at Rick's house in a bundle.

All my various painting explorations and experiments.

So I photograph them all and toss them in the dumpster!

Easy come, easy go.
Actually that's not true.
It's been a long strange trip, and nothing about it either came or went easily.

After helping Rick pack up, I spend some time with my mom nearby in New Richmond.
I go to a thrift store where we donated some of her stuff in July when
we moved her from her apartment to the nursing home.
It's kind of shocking and sad to see her things on the shelves with everybody else's discarded stuff.

Here she is in her new room: "Shirley with Gladiolas" in a Photoshopped version. 
Thus the art continues, no dumpster needed for this kind of work.

In New Richmond I stayed with my brother Dan who has a Mustang -  here's the view
of his garage from the screen on his dashboard.
This would have (maybe) helped me to avoid lopping off rear view mirrors
and putting long scrapes on cars doors.
I totally ruined my father's Mustang back in the day, letting a paranoid stoned loser drive it
up a curb late one night because people were "chasing" us. 

Dan and Angie give me a ride to Winding Road Farm where we hang out with Paul
for a while and he advises Angie on some of the finer points of gardening!

There are bees galore at Winding Road! 
They are thriving in this little green spot in the middle of the world.

Dan and Angie have a lot of bird visitors on their deck,
including this beautiful Pileated Woodpecker.

At my mother's complex, the lawn mowers make art.

Elliott also makes art - you can see his additions to the blackboard 
right behind his head. Pure abstract expressionism. 

We spend some time visiting Shirley who wears her pretty new shirt for the occasion.

Andrew manages to stuff my suitcase in with all the rest of their stuff.
He's like, never mind, I can do this alone. I often do.

Then we drive north to the great shining big sea water.

(Photo by Frank Lind)

Elliott's first glimpse of Gitche Gumee!

(Photo by Frank Lind)

Andrew has always built tall sand castles, but this year his creations fall prey... someone who has other ideas of what to do with sand.

Elliott manages to keep busy both on the beach and in the house.

We watch the Alpena arrive in the Duluth/Superior port. 
This ship was shortened in 1991 to carry cement
and is much smaller than a lot of the "lakers" that travel the Great Lakes.

And later listen to some cool music.

Andrew, Jennifer...

…and Elliott all take some time to walk the dunes.

Elliott loves the lake.

And he loves the beach dogs taking their owners for walks.

But nobody better take his yellow ball.

He keeps a tight hold on it while Shannon balances on the beach.

Beach installation and performance piece, above.
Below, Elliott welcomes a visitor to our little bit of shoreline.
Maybe he's a little too welcoming for her taste?

…but fun is had by all!

And here Elliott is happy to see Aunt Courtney!

Courtney and Aaron brave the icy waves,
and Shannon and Michael enjoy the late afternoon rays, and the 
seriously cold, refreshing water...

…as do Ali and Brett.

A great place to keep our wine crisp and cold.

Later I catch a glimpse of Courtney's gorgeous hair through the window.

And we have some fun hanging out…

…and watching Aaron fly his drone...

…which he promises never to invade air space with.

The next day we do some grocery shopping at a place 
where I keep expecting to see Chad Vader, Day Shift Manager, appear,
it is that weird.
Of course Aaron is with us, so perhaps that's why the Duluth grocery store seems like
something out of his strange imagination.

Below is a picture I shoot of groceries that some dude
is returning for cash. Yes, returning groceries. The pickles and the cheese
and the salad dressing that for some reason he didn't really need.
He's in front of us in line, and this transaction takes basically forever.

And at the restaurant where we have lunch, Frank bonds with Bruce the butler.

Back to the lake. Phew!

Where Sherry ends up with the short end of the stick.

It's our last night and we engage in some favorite activities.

How can we leave this?

Yet we must.
The last day dawns overcast and windy.

We bid a fond farewell to the wonder of it all.

The flowers have faded.
These are the flowers we used in the "Summer of '69" photo shoot that I orchestrated
for this vacation, and got lots of amazing pics! More on that later - I've sent away
some of them to an online magazine for possible publication - fingers crossed.
Here are two of them that didn't make the final cut, but are still pretty awesome:

Back at Sherry's house, I mend the jacket that used to belong to Rick, a genuine 60's jean jacket,
worn above by Michael for the shoot.
I then wear it myself! Fun!

I'm into taking pictures of myself in bathrooms for some odd reason.
Above is Sherry and Brett's rental place in Coon Rapids, MN,
below is the summer cabin they looked at for a possible lake home.

Here's a picture of Sherry in the living room area, enjoying a game of cards.
It's a cool place, but probably not quite the right one, right now anyway...

We're back at Shirley's place, and I have to correct Sherry's kind of pathetic phallic symbol
with something more robust.

Later Shirley enjoys the rays...

…then we do a bit of shopping at the local gift shop.

I leave her with flowers, but it's sometimes hard to coax a smile...

…which isn't a problem with Angie! We say a fond farewell and I thank
her for all the hospitality and kale from her fab garden for my smoothies.

I take a last minute segue to Madison to see the cool kids again!

Can't get enough! Elliott practices his "smizing" for the camera - 
he's a natural, right? America's Next Top Model under two?

He won't always be the smallest kid on the playground.

In the meantime, he gets a rare treat from his dad who
lets him and friend Max look at a video on his iPhone.
(Andrew's iphone, not Elliott's.)

It's books over electronic media in this household.

And on my last morning, Elliott is raring to go while grandma gets another 40 winks.
Or twenty. Or none.

I bid a fond farewell to Andrew in his dad's classic jean jacket
with Elliott still practicing his winking that Grandpa Frank taught him.

Up in the clouds, specifically this anvil-shaped cloud over Michigan...

…until I'm back where the hot sun burns down on the streets of Brooklyn.
Home again, home again!


  1. It's always so enjoyable to see joyful pictures of Elliot at the big lake no less. As a digital refugee, I applaud reading of actual books rather than videos based on books. The connection between a person and paper using pen and ink, watercolors, oils, pastels, charcoal vines, pencils, colored pencils, markers cannot be duplicated digitally. Approximated but not the same. I was born too soon to be totally enamoured with "devices". What has this got to do with your blog? Well, the blog took my thoughts there based on seeing Elliot looking at the book being read to him!!

    1. Yes, Nina, I totally agree. Andrew and Jennifer are doing a great job of holding back on the lure of the mechanical device - even TV - which I think change the brain in ways we don't understand, especially in children.