Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Rock in a hard place

Hello dear brother and sisters,

A few weeks ago, someone -- I think it was Sherm -- copied me a message to a friend in which they referred to me as the rock of the family through Dad's death and all of that. I had appreciated that, as I had tried very hard to just make things work for everyone. I have certainly had plenty of times to feel grief and loss very deeply during all of that, but I have not taken time to process it very much. I've spoken more recently of needing time to process those feelings but of the conflicting need to finish dealing with practical things. Somehow, until quite recently, I felt capable of doing what needed to be done and that my persistence would get me through.

Somewhere about the time that Ian and I went to get Nicky from Canaseraga, I began to have a nearly constant sense of dread and inability to feel that I could get through what needed doing. I don't recall feeling like this for any sustained period (more than a couple days or so) since I was in my twenties. In that period, I had stomach aches almost constantly, could not eat much, and although I never had it diagnosed, I was certain I was getting ulcers. I don't believe I've ever been genuinely suicidal, and I am not so now, but I am having a very hard time dealing with how I feel. I feel like retreating from all my responsibilities, I dread having to go to meetings that I used to at least want to participate in, and I have felt what must be something like panic attacks several times. Things that usually give a sense of satisfaction, don't. My stomach rumbles and I don't feel like eating. I can't seem to set aside a sense of panic and focus on what needs doing. And, as Ian said to me recently, "my hug-o-meter is really depleted". I think this all sounds very much like the classical description of depression. Mike and Audra had come on Sunday and we had enjoyed spending some time together. We planned to do some work on our house Monday and Tuesday.

I had really been feeling badly about Doris Simpson, as I wrote in my last entry here, in part, I think, because it all ties in with losing Dad and our whole situation. It may have had something to do with this sense of being unable to cope as I normally do. Our mortality and limitation just seems to invade my every thought. Then yesterday happened.

Shortly after I had taken Ian to the bus-stop yesterday, my pager went off for a fire, and the address listed was "next to 14 High Street". I dressed quickly, dreading the possibility that it might be Doris Simpson's house. Arriving at the Fire Hall, I drove one of our engine's to the scene and saw a huge pillar of white-gray smoke coming from Doris' house. Suffice it to say that I helped put out the fire, including running nozzles from our ladder truck, and assisted the fire investigators. All the while, though, I was thinking about the fact that cousin Floy's things would be in among the rubble that would just be hauled away, and of how such a loss to Doris, who is in a nursing home, would hit her. Several people at the fire said to me "well, at least she wasn't in the house when it caught fire". I said to at least one of them, "but she may wish she was in the house".

So I didn't catch up with Michael and Audra yesterday, until almost 2:00 in the afternoon. They did come to our house and do some painting that I've not been able to get done, and we all had dinner together and enjoyed talking for a while. But I'm up and at it again today, with a rumbling stomach, a racing mind, and a nagging feeling of being overwhelmed.

I'm thinking of all of you, and take comfort in knowing that you care for me. I will keep on keeping on.

Sunday, October 28, 2007



8-10 PM


T: 323.935.4411 | F: 323.202.1082



Lauren Bon exhibits her first body of new work since her 2005 "Not a Cornfield" public land art installation in downtown Los Angeles, adjacent to Chinatown, where she transformed a stricken 32-acre abandoned railway yard-turned-brownfield into a sculpture of one million corn stalks for one agricultural cycle. In "Bees and Meat," Bon manifests the impact of "Not a Cornfield" through an incorporation of the viewer's five senses, recreating the physical experience of this "metabolic sculpture" where she initially became interested in bees.

Amongst others, the "Bees and Meat" sculptures involve the following items:

- 90 miles of irrigation stripping
- 33,000 pounds of dried "Not a Cornfield" corn kernels
- Two working wild hives and over 10,000 live bees
- A 10' x 3' aquarium of honey
- A dried lamb carcass fountain
- 21 cornstalk bales standing 9' tall
- A gallery of honey jar chandeliers
- A library of honey
- 1200 totems bundled in wood, cotton, and twine
- Beeswax sculptures
- A working study covered in tar
- A corn maiden sculpture
- Two bronze tanks oxidized on a sea voyage from Shanghai to Los Angeles
- 1000 whispered fears
- Over 6,480 hours of "Not a Cornfield" audio and visual surveillance
- 24-hour, streaming audio of living bees in the gallery
- Transplanted earth

These artworks display the outcome of Bon's "Not a Cornfield" undertaking, cumulatively revealing her post-installation insights, such as her interest in honeybees. Many of the rooms are filled from floor to ceiling with her artworks, occasionally spilling into the hallways, and dramatically alter the viewer's auditory and olfactory senses; sound is absorbed, smell is overpowered. Streaming, unedited video and audio of the growing corn supplement her installations, and fully transplant the viewer to Bon's 32-acre tract of fertile, pre-metropolitan Los Angeles land.

The bees' essential role in the aerobic manipulation of "Not a Cornfield" inspired Bon to research bees in ancient and world cultures, and her findings fueled much of her "Bees and Meat" artworks that ubiquitously employ honey, honeycomb, and beeswax. It is interesting to note that the fruit of the bees' labor is the only organic material that does not decompose.

Lauren Bon was born in 1962 and lives and works in Los Angeles and London. She received a BA from Princeton, a Master's degree in architecture from MIT, and spent over a year at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London.

© 2007 ACE GALLERY All Rights Reserved.
Dear sibs et al--
Had to share this notice on a show. For the bee bit, but also Cornfield. Haven't thought of Carol Cornfield in a long time!!

mom, memory, music

This afternoon, I went to Carnegie Hall for a concert by the Orchestra of St Luke's with Joshua Bell (violinist) as soloist. The first piece was called "In memory" by Joan Tower (Ms Tower was in the hall). The piece was lovely, with instruments joining in on top of others in a rich way. Tower started writing it in 2000 or early 2001 about a friend who had died recently and then it was still underway on 9/11 and shifted with the attacks. So, a combination of personal and social. The orchestra and Joshua Bell next played Barber's Violin Concerto, a piece I'm quite familiar with. It was starting out lovely when below me a ways, a man walked out silently with a young girl. I was swept by a wave of Mom and her love of music and how much she might have loved going to Carnegie Hall. Or not maybe. Anyway, when I see a child in a cultural setting here in NYC, I am often struck by the glory of it and wonder how I developed a strong taste for classical music even though it wasn't really in our upbringing. And once when Mom and Dad visited us in Cleveland and we went to the museum, Mom asked if that was a real Rembrandt. So clued into things and still so not.

And all those thoughts of music so soon after Cathy said she needed a buck up and Doug suggested music. Music does, as they say, soothe the stressed spirit or soul. At the moment, I have Beethoven's Diabelli Variations in the CD, with Piotr Anderszewski at the keyboard.

Doug, Jeanette, Ian, good luck with the dog. And please introduce us to Mr Allen. I was dreaming something rather furiously this morning but can't remember anything about it. Usually can't, unless I write it down or at least re-think and re-imagine it repeatedly.

On to Dawn Upshaw's "Voices of light."

Your description of Doris's story of folks laughing at Cousin Floy's diaries is certainly bittersweet. I've kept a journal of sorts since moving to NYC, often just events and not reactions to them, occasionally general thoughts or concerns. My friend Christie whose mother died a couple weeks before Dad wants to start a group to look at getting your stuff in order. It might be just Christie, Janet and me. Janet, alas, was diagnosed with a longstanding case of MS just a couple weeks ago. C & J don't have wills. At least, I've got that and a living will. The group would have focused discussions every few weeks with one person responsible for homework before the discussion. That is, if it was living wills, the focuser would provide some links or photocopies or book titles for the others. And we'd all encourage each other to keep going. While I trust I might be able to do it with any of you guys, there is something about it being "local" and something about the neutrality, if you will, of friends rather than family. I hope that doesn't seem mercenary because it certainly isn't meant to be and I don't think any of you would be bloodthirsty in these matters. When Christie first talked about this, I started relevant clippings in a folder called "Letzte Dinge" (last things). I'm not sure exactly why it came to me in German. I just looked for a relevant book title that might have taken me there and it is probably some remnant of having studied medieval art.

And thinking of odd birds, Carol once said she wanted to be the eccentric old lady of Alfred. This was before she was up in Branchport. And I sometimes think any number of us could end up being the eccentric old ladies of Alfred. But Cathy, Carol and I have a good distance to go before we catch up to a couple people I've seen recently. There was a woman in front of a coffee shop nearby recently putting on pinkish purple cheek coloring so heavily that she looked bruised. Or maybe she was bruised and was stroking the bruises. And there was the guy in a dress the other day. I don't really have a problem with it but it was peculiar. A couple weeks later, I saw a guy who is the same one I think and, this time, he was in a sort of netty tanktop that didn't meet his short shorts, and a bit of jewelry. It wasn't very pretty. Rather scary .... perhaps any of us could turn into makeup-wearing becostumed eccentrics without so much effort. There but for the grace of whatever go I.

Segue segue. Did you read about the chemistry professor that retracted an article from the mid-1950s that is now being cited by creationists as evidence of intelligent design? The professor also found it flawed from the distance of 50 years.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Update of the update

I had started a blog entry on Sabbath (it's the one called "All Kinds of Changes Happening"), and stopped to help Ian make pancakes, but didn't get back to it until now. I had gone to take our new dog, Nicky, out for a walk and she slipped past me at the door and would not come back to me (we'd only had her overnight). I went to the Eisenhardts' and found her there but she still wouldn't come to me. Ian and I walked and drove all over but didn't see her again, so I e-mailed and phoned people and we went on to church, hoping that she would come back later. Half-way through church, my cellphone vibrated, so I ducked out and answered it. It was Nicci Graves, telling me she had found her a couple miles down VanderMark Road and had put her in our house. Of course she let Nicci walk right up to her, at that point.
Since then, we've kept her on a leash or in the house and we're hoping she'll settle in with us. She's quite sweet, but LOVES to run, and doesn't seem to be afraid of any other animal -- only of humans (she started out at a farm, and the third owner says she was afraid of anyone with a hat at first). After the farm, she stayed in Angelica with the mother of the guy we got her from. He lives in Canaseraga. She's only five, but has already had quite a life, we gather. We all took a hike on Sunday on the trails, and she was ready to mix it up with the dog three times her size, that came by with its owners, and would have charged the four horseback riders we encountered, too, if I hadn't held her back. There are pictures of us with her at the Shutterfly link I sent to all of you, in the "Clarkes Latter 2007" album. Right now, she's curled up at my feet . . .
Last week I was trying to battle a cold (and it got the better of me for several days), but I worked some on preparing to make a foundation so we can close in under our west porch. Have any of you heard "An un-medicated cold lasts a week; a medicated one only seven days"? I'm trying to finish that up this week, along with hanging sheetrock in our "new" bathroom downstairs, and get wood stoves ready for the season. I've still got to get the chainsaw ready so I can start cutting and splitting wood for the stoves. And make meals and do some cleaning and try to generate some income . . .
Thursday morning of last week I woke up having been dreaming that Woody Allen was in Alfred and had bought a place. We were both at the Old West Food Company bar, talking, and I offered to check on the place for him while he was elsewhere, and he said something like "lets look at these insurance policies" and turned to do something on his i-Book. Then there were lots of young folks doing some some sort of drinking game, and I woke up . . . so I'm rubbing elbows with famous people in my sleep, at least. I'm working on a poem that was partially formed another morning when I awoke, about the old homestead at 33 S. Main.
On Sunday evening just past, we were invited over to Donna and Keith Rogers' house, as we often are when her mother is in town. When we got there, I talked with Frances about Dad and she said she was sad to have missed him several times when she's visited, because of him being in SC, etc. We talked about how it was John who called us the "Walking Clocks" and Mel picked on him for it. She reminded me about Bert and Don running together for a while, and we talked about Mary Wells and her Dad, and about Mary's brother who died. Did any of you know him? Would he have been Paul Hummel, Jr.? Anyway, she said Mary had to be the boy of the family, as a result. She recollected that Dad and Paul went hunting and I reminded her of Dad riding up to take salt to the cattle at glacier elevation. I need to write Mary a long letter, and Bucky, too. Frances said Mary was the only one left who remembered the Boulder folks taking down the rock and windows and everything, from the first S.D.B. Church that was on Broadway, and moving it all to Arapahoe and Ninth by the wagonload, and setting it back up. It was good to get to reminisce with her and Donna. There are pictures I took of her and the others, at the Shutterfly site.
Today our ambulance was toned to Doris Simpson's house, as the Meals On Wheels deliverer had found her on her porch, having fallen. He helped her up and apparently reported it to someone else, who called 911. Once we have been toned, we are required by law to find her, evaluate her, and either transport her to a hospital or get her to sign off. Doris was in Dad's class or the one after his, in school.
Her house is really full of stuff and it's a wonder she gets around. The last time our ambulance was toned, she got embarrassed and angry and the police tried to get Social Services involved. She was embarrassed again today, but relented to being carried out (there was no way we could get a gurney or anything in there) by me, after her heart was checked and her doctor called.
I shudder to think of what's in store. Her nearest relative is a brother in Colorado, and there are things in her house that were our Cousin Floy's (Doris has told many times how when Floy died there was someone skimming her diaries and tossing them into a burning barrel and laughing). Floy was an "odd bird" who had lots of animals and lots of rumors spoken of her, but she was Mary Veola Kenyon's niece, Forrest Babcock's daughter, and I have a few of her things, including pictures of her. Floy's house on Reynolds Street was originally willed to Gram, but a later will left it to someone else, and it's now one of the ones the Simpsons own and operate as student housing. So I'm going to write to her brother and see what can be done and what arrangements have been made, as her health is quite uncertain right now. I can too easily see someone hired to clean out her house, laughing and tossing Doris' things into a barrel. And today is her birthday.

More soon.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

All kinds of changes happening

Hello Family,
I have lots of changes to tell you about and/or to respond to:
First, Bert says she wants a new computer now, so I'm talking with her about getting a laptop and helping her set it up. I'm hoping to help her not feel helpless or incapable or whatever else she is feeling. And I'm hoping our communications will be more regular and "fruitful" as a result.
Second, I have been posting lots of pictures at Shutterfly and will be sending a link to everyone.
Third, I have applied for several jobs recently, including one that I had interviewed for not that long ago and is open again: Alfred U. Equestrian Center Facilities Manager. I don't know if I have even a snowball's chance this time, but I'm applying. I sincerely think I've been black-balled at A.U., and have been thinking more and more that I should just sell books on-line, write articles and try to get them published (or work with my friend and self-publish), sell photographs, and start a sustainability and biodiversity center, here on our land. But for some reason, I'm still applying for jobs working for other people. Inexplicable. Or maybe inscrutable. Just like I root for the Denver Broncos and Boston Red Sox, even though I think it's mostly a waste of time and all the hoopla insults me. I have often said I do such things in spite of my own better judgement.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

The latest from Would Knot and the 33 homestead

It has been at least a month since I've posted anything at this blog, so I thought I should update things a bit. Here are some highlights:

Jeanette's mother came for a visit August 21 to 26, and I had my Endoveinous Laser Treatment of a varicose vein, on the 22nd. We celebrated Ian's birthday on the weekend when Dot was here, when several of his friends stayed overnight. It rained, so they ended up sleeping inside instead of out in tents -- a prudent choice, I think, since there was quite a bit of lightning.

On August 28th, I discovered the van's radiator was leaking. The repairs on that cost over $600.00 and put the kaibosh on going to Mike and Sue's for their fundraiser. It was especially unnerving when I found that it was leaking again after the repairs were effected -- that was the next day, when I went and filed the Small Estates Procedure Act affidavit, making myself Voluntary Administrator of Dad's estate.

On September 3rd, I drove Ian and his friend Rein to Allegany State Park, where we took quite a hike over a hill and back, and then toured several bear caves. They are cavities between very large boulders left by glacial effects. The guys (and some other tourists we "hooked up" with for a while) had some hesitation about getting into the really small spaces, but I had a blast, all the way. One of them is a room-sized cavity with high ceiling, and entry only by stooping down and crawling in on hands and knees. Another is a narrow "hall" only a foot or two wide but mostly standing height, with right-angle turns every 10 or 15 feet. In a couple places, you actually have to turn sideways to get through. I might have had more fun than the "young" guys, but you can ask Ian about that. I'll post those pictures and give you a link to them.

I officially applied for MedicAid for Dad, beginning on September 6th. I later had to fax 13 more pages of information to them, after letting them copy as many as that when I was first there, in person.

I took Ian to Foster Lake for one of Betsy Brooks' bird-banding demonstrations on September 8th, and Ian was thrilled to hold and release an American Redstart and a Catbird. I'll be posting the pictures and video give you links.

Tim Clarke came for a couple days (Sept. 15-16). He and I went to Keuka Lake and saw Dick Sands and his daughter, but he had put his boats away for the season, so we sailed on my little 11-foot Whisper boat. We spent a little time with Carol and Barb and had a nice dinner before he went on to see his brother Steve and head back home.

We've made a little progress on preparing to close in under our west porch, and on setting up our living room and bedroom downstairs.

We had left the RV at 31 South Main for a while and got one serious nibble from Ben Palmer on buying it, but he is not ready to do anything about it yet. I saw Kate Foshee (Kathy Frechette) on Jude's porch Sept. 30 and stopped to talk, and she offered to let us put the RV on her eBay site and try to sell it, but I haven't gotten that done yet.

On September 26th, I drove to Ithaca, met Dorothy Scorelle, and was treated to dinner at "Ling Ling". Then we went to Cornell to hear Bill McKibben speak on "building a movement to combat global warming". I'll be posting a blog entry on that, at my "What's really on my mind" blog, if you're interested.

Carol spent some time sorting and removing her things from 33, at the end of September. She came down for a couple days when she needed to feel near Dad for a while. We had dinner at Cafe Za in honor of her birthday, a couple days before the actual day. Cathy came for her Alpha Kappa Omicron reunion just after that, and we got a little time to talk. That was when Jeanette discovered a painful place above her dental bridge. The following Monday, she had to have a hole drilled through the bridge and tooth so an abcess could drain. She's scheduled to have a root canal tomorrow, so we'll be spending Columbus Day with her in Rochester, getting that done and having her car checked for a noise that could be a problem in the front differential.

On October 1, I received notification from MedicAid that they had determined Dad had "excess assets" and was ineligible for their assistance. The case worker was very nice, but we were unable to find any way to make the numbers come out to our advantage. Barb has offered to help with appealing that. I'm going to see if I can apply for "charity assistance" next. I think I'll be able to do so at St. James Hospital and maybe Jones Hospital, but Packer Hospital is the one that said we couldn't file for that, posthumously. Our lawyer didn't know that we could file for MedicAid posthumously. Our CPA spoke with a lawyer-friend of his, and he feels we should create a Limited Liability Corporation, using the house (33) and stocks, with each sibling being a shareholder (with Bert probably bowing out). That's as far as I've gotten on that. I will be negotiating with each hospital, and doing so a little more optimistically after hearing on the news the other day that haggling is quite effective, since hospitals would rather get something than nothing. That was the case with Dad's surgery at Roswell Park Hospital.

A few days ago, I played just enough of the video of Dad's memorial service to know that I should be able to take what I typed up and edit it to reflect the extemporaneous editing I did on that day. Several people have asked for copies, and I'll post the "final" copy on the blog, too. When I was working on it, I changed it and re-posted it so many times that you would have had to check almost every day for a week or two, to track the changes.

Mike and Sue and all 27 of their "kids", and Carol and Barb, came on the afternoon of October 3rd. We had wanted to give them a send-off, but since they were only going to be here overnight, we didn't plan a big deal. They thanked us for that, saying they had had lots of send-offs recently, and just needed to get some rest before they drove all the way from here to the other side of Chicago. They needed to get to Sue's uncles without getting stuck in traffic, with 27 hot dogs, so we spent some time with them and the dogs, had a nice picnic meal, talked a bit, and they went to bed.
I was back up at 2:30 to make coffee for them, and they were back on the road. I hope the next leg of their trip was ok. At least they have an i-Book and I was able to show Sue how to connect to our wireless InterNet, as they plan to answer e-mail and update the website from Whitehorse, Yukon (they're staying in friend's cabin while they train for the race, and hear that there's wi-fi in town).

Ian just LOVED the dogs, and so did the neighbor kids who came up (and all us "grown-ups". LOTS of people told me they would have loved to see the dogs, too, but I've had to explain that it would have been too much to ask them to go through all those introductions and questions. Mike and Sue wouldn't have gotten any sleep, but I sure hope they can stop here for a week when they come back through!!!

If you didn't see my article (about Mike and Sue, among other things) in the Alfred Sun, I'll send you a copy.

We talked a bit with Carol and Cathy about grave markers at Alfred Rural Cemetery: I am going to have the year of Dad's death put on his and Mom's marker (they bring a stencil and sand-blaster to the cemetery, to do that). Jeanette and I and Carol (and Cathy, too, I think) are talking about getting plots paid for and markers placed, soon. I know Sherm is figuring on a space next to Great Aunt Grace and Dora and George's infant and Mary Kenyon Maxson Babcock's sister, Augusta. We might realize some discount if we do them all at once, so please let me know what you'd like to do. I believe the cost of a plot is about $300.00 (and it can be shared by two people), and the cost of markers varies with material and complexity of design. Dad and Mom's cost a couple hundred, I think.

More soon,