It is hard to feel sorry for extremely awful, obscenely rich people – particularly in the middle of a cost of living crisis – but I found myself feeling weirdly sad for the Trumps this weekend, after reading about Ivana’s opulent but miserable send-off.
Donald Trump’s first wife, who was found dead at the bottom of her stairs this month, had a gold-hued coffin (of course), but the speeches were the real centrepiece. Her kids and a former nanny all gave eulogies that were bizarre and tragic in equal measure.
Let’s start with the eldest: Donald Jr. The warm memory of his mother that he chose to recount at her funeral? The time she disciplined him so hard she had to stop from exhaustion. Once, when they were kids, said Donald Jr, his sister Ivanka accidentally destroyed an expensive chandelier. Ivanka – it will shock you to hear – lied and said it was her brother’s fault; Ivana then pulled out a wooden spoon to teach Donald Jr a lesson. Continue reading Can’t Look Away: Ivana Sleeps With The Sharks—Scenes from Her Funeral→
I went out Wednesday to get some groceries, and when I turned toward the garden, a small yellowish blur flitted past me and landed on a plant nearby.
I recognized it, and out came the phone/camera.
It was a Skipper butterfly, probably of the “Fiery Skipper” variety. The camera’s zoom lens worked fine.
Usually they skip away quick. But this one stayed and seemed to preen, opening its segmented wings to the sun, and it was still there when I got in the car.
Skippers are small — tiny, really, maybe an inch. But they can be vivid.
A couple miles away, we passed a familiar sign, bearing a sirptising and unfamiliar number.
Good grief. Was it real?? Again, out came the camera, to prove I wasn’t spreading disinformation.
Since the Fair Wendy bought an EV last December, this sign has become less central for us; but most of the country is still fixated on it.
I checked when I got home: in North Carolina it was early March when gas prices here broke the $4.00 barrier. That’s eighteen weeks flirting with $5. Yesterday the June inflation number came out very high. Today the president is in the Middle East, trying to turn some of it around.
Maybe at least one part of it has now peaked?
Friend Arthur Fink, who told acquaintances he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, has passed away. The obituary below is borrowed from the Portland Maine Press-Herald:
Noted Peaks Island photographer
Arthur J. Fink dies at 74
He had an enduring connection to the Bates Dance Festival, where he served as resident photographer from 2005 through 2017.
Updated April 26 2021
By Dennis Hoey Staff Writer
Arthur Fink, photographed in December 2016. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer
Arthur J. Fink, a noted Peaks Island photographer who maintained a longtime connection to the Bates Dance Festival in Lewiston, died last week. He was 74.
Fink died Wednesday, April 21, , but no other details were provided in a notice posted on the Jones, Rich & Barnes funeral home website. Fink revealed in a Facebook post last month that he had received a “likely diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.”
On his website, Mei Selvage, research director at Gartner Inc.; information technology executive in enterprise information management, said “Arthur Fink is a multi-talented person with fabulous creativity and heart-warming compassion. His talents, and his dedication to foster creativity and to nurture creative communities, are well known in Maine. He is a creative photographer, a highly experienced IT consultant, a visionary who wants technology to be simple and usable, and somebody who serves for-profit and non-profit organizations alike by asking incisive and helpful questions.”
Several years ago, while visiting France, I was taken to Rouen and shown the cathedral in their old city square. I was told how the Impressionist artist Claude Monet (1840-1926) painted a famous series of canvases there, capturing the cathedral’s changing look as the daylight shifted and waned.
The idea of pursuing the ever-changing daylight and its visual impact was intriguing. But despite Monet’s achievement, Rouen’s cathedral, as such French edifices go, was in truth visually no great shakes.
The Rouen tourist bureau must have figured this out, and tries to divert the attention of visitors to its more famous landmark, the spot nearby where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake in 1431. There’s a new modernist chapel marking it.
But memorials to the fiery execution of an underage woman for, among other trumped-up “offenses,” dressing as [gasp] a man while doing her country the service of saving it from an English invasion, somehow did not appeal.
“But it has great stained glass,” I was told. Of course. So call me a philistine peacenique americain.
Anyway, all that (except poor Joan) came back this morning, when I looked up from my chair and saw a mostly familiar sight: The rising sun filtered through the closed blinds behind me, reflected on the living room wall.
When I moved in here, at first I thought I would hang a rotating gallery of my own art collection, posters, photos, kids drawings, whatnot on that wall.
But then, maybe due to my Quaker plain predilections, I found I preferred the wall unadorned. Uncluttered, if thee will. (The rest of the place, not so much.) And soon Nature, which I’m told abhors a vacuum, stepped in. Or rather, shone in.
Near the top of the image is a filmy version of an eye-shaped piece of stained glass that hangs in front of the blinds, placed by the Fair Wendy. As the sun rises, the whole image “sets” and sinks into the blue of our couch, gone in half an hour or so.
I call these “sun paintings.” I’ve watched them many times. They offer flashes of relief while flipping through online newspapers, catching up on yesterday’s disasters.
What was different this morning was, well, the couch clutter. It added a (to me) eye-catching variety of colors. And as the window-brightness shifted, I decided to bring out the phone camera, and do my own momentary turn as a kind of Monet manqué.
I’ve read that Monet rented a room across the square from the Rouen cathedral, and set up a dozen or so canvases in it, keyed to the hours. He went from one to the next, painting a patch on each as the daylight changed and waned. It took awhile.
My effort was not so strenuous, or extended. I did get up to shift a couple of the items to keep them in the light longer. But my “sun paintings” are always fleeting, especially if clouds are drifting past the sun.
No such issues today; right across from me was the face that’s launched a thousand ponderous metaphors. Long gone now, and but for this brief bloggery indulgence, it’s back to the day’s disasters, national and local.
Here’s our own stained glass “eye”. Nice, yes? It sees all; but fortunately it keeps quiet.
This is a Megabus, seen from the upper deck pretty far back. It’s heading from Fayetteville, NC to Durham NC, just after dark Saturday December 7, 2019. This ride finished up a long and full day for me.
The day started with a chilly sunny gathering at the cemetery of the VA hospital in Fayetteville. I joined in with nine other stalwarts huddled around the grave marker for Beryl Mitchell, for the 12th in a series of annual outdoor gatherings.
That autumn, Beryl’s daughter, Christine Horne, called me at Quaker House in Fayetteville, asking for help with planning a proper memorial for her mother, including the placement of a formal marker. In turn, I asked for help from the kick-butt feminists of the Fayetteville Chapter of National Organization for Women, and we did help. They are a remarkable group, and have been for decades, (They were social justice warriors long before SJW was cool.)
At the conclusion of the memorial, a group of us gathered at the new marker with a wreath and released a bunch of lavender helium balloons.
The whole experience, while very solemn at one level, was also exhilarating for us all. And we decided that those of us who could, would regather there yearly and remember Beryl, and the many other victims of domestic violence against women, both generally and especially in connection with the military.
I missed this meetup the last two years, and was determined to be there this time. It was a bigger deal for me to get there now, due to health problems which prevent me from driving, along with the general complications of life. But I made it. (That’s me holding the round NOW sign.)
Also there, with other old friends it was wonderful to see again, was my particular buddy Debbie. (She’s in the middle, in the black tee shirt with the peace sign, and the windblown hair. It was cold.)
From the cemetery we went to a leisurely lunch, and then Debbie took me to her house to chill for awhile until the Durham bus was due. On the way, though, she made a detour to a friend’s place where an acquaintance had rescued a possum with pups, and asked Debbie to add it to a menagerie in her mini-wildlife preserve/backyard, which she was glad to do.
Debbie has lived on the outskirts of Fayetteville for decades, on a sprawling lot with many trees, with her husband Chuck (that’s Chuck Liebers, not to be confused with Chuck Fager). They’ve raised several kids there, who are all out of the house now.
Debbie is relieved to have the children elsewhere, but she’s hardly finishing raising things . Besides a flock of chickens, a couple of dogs, cats here & there), there’s now the brood of possums (their preferred cuisine, even the little ones, she tells me, is raw chicken wings, of which they eat every bit).
Debbie has also raised considerable hell hereabouts: domestic violence is but one of her many issues. We’ve already seen her concern about domestic violence, and there’s lots more; we’ll mention a couple presently.
Indeed, one appeared not long after my arrival, when I looked up at a TV screen as we settled in what she calls the Daddy Shack, and saw this brand new report:
I thought at first I might be hallucinating, but others (and my camera) confirmed that it was for real.
Well, with politics out of the bag, and those of us remaining confirmed liberals, I also showed them this new ad, the first “Liz-mas Carol,” which is rapidly going viral, and, regardless of candidate preference, I think is hilarious:
In fact, by Saturday night, there was a second “Lizmas Carol” up, which you can see here to the tune of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” if you want additional guffaws. (Speaking of Saturday Night, the highly paid SNL crew will be very hard-pressed to produce more laughs in its cold open than 45 and the Lizmas Carolers did today, likely both for free. UPDATE: They flunked.)
Anyway, if there was any doubt, finding a new occupant for the White House is tops on Debbie’s agenda; there’s no getting around it, but we won’t dwell on it here.
As the clock swept toward time to go, I strolled around Debbie’s back yard to get ready. And I kept seeing very interesting stuff. Like this sign & shrine, with its cat-headed Buddha turning his back on a ringing endorsement of science. Debbie used to be a churchgoer, but she quit a few years back, and says she feels “much more spiritual” now.
Debbie’s place is something of a hoarder’s stronghold, but one which includes a developed, if freewheeling sense of design. The camera came out again when I spied an old wringer washer posing amid a copse of bamboo, it joined the lineup.
When I turned, Debbie’s board fence was revealed to be home for a display for loads of more or less antique tools.
Then a section of the back wall . . .
. . . caught my eye, as it had been made another shrine of sorts, melding sun gods with a slogan tree.
There was lots more, but no more time; Megabus called. I’m sorry I missed the sign at the end of the driveway advertising eggs for $3 a dozen hard-gathered from Debbie’s pampered poultry flock. I need to ride the bus back soon and get another array of photos. I puttered over these most of the way back on the bus, shown here passing under the neon bridge that marks entry to downtown Durham . . . .
. . . All this kaleidoscope seemed to flow together naturally somehow, a day beginning with death, segueing into conviviality, which showed up politics as having crazy comedic aspects, and down-home art all around. Hope your weekend turns out as well.
On this weekend when we’re beginning the work of marking the passing of John Lewis, civil rights icon and longtime Congressman, it may interest some readers to review this account of my last visit to Selma, Alabama This is only one of the cities where John Lewis nearly was killed. It was also where I played my bit part in the 1965 movement drama there.
Below is a news photo from late February, 1965. It turned up a few years back (hat tip to the sharp-eyed Lewis Lewis): it was taken on the steps of Brown Chapel AME Church in Selma, when John Lewis (center-left, with a tie) announced the plan to march from Selma to Montgomery.
The goal of the march was winning voting rights for southern Blacks; but the plan was sparked by the police killing of Jimmie Lee Jackson. I’m at the far right, behind Andrew Young (who is also in a tie).
For seventeen years, I lived in the Washington DC area; in fact, inside the Beltway by a few miles.
Some misinformed persons think this area is glamorous. I didn’t much care for it. Congress and all that didn’t impress me: they were necessary, but burdensome, pretentious, and viewed up close, mostly boring. Likewise for the weather: winters were cold. And summers were particularly tough: long, hot, heavy, humid.
In the early years, my access to air conditioning was spotty; many nights were sweaty and oppressive, with box fans rattling ineffectually by open windows.
Worse, in 1985 I delivered mail from my car on a long rural route, from winter to fall. I don’t recall much of those bookend seasons. But in between, there were six-day work weeks, pushing through the midday highs, as waves of engine heat radiated punishingly across the front seat of my weathered Chevy wagon. Open windows were part of the deal, neutralizing an already tepid a/c.
That seemingly endless summer deepened the dread of those months, and cemented my hatred of the most visible harbinger of their arrival: stands of orange daylilies.
[It’s not easy to keep up with my fellow-traveler/Spirit Guide, Friend William Bartram. He just can’t stay on the beaten path. . . .]
But here he is again, talking about plants, and especially trees. And one kind of tree jumped out at me from his list, the Live Oak. That’s because I’ve seen and been captivated by some magnificent specimens thereof, in a cemetery in Alabama.
There’s lots of human history in that graveyard. But we’re gonna skip all that here, and just dwell on the chlorophyllic history. The place is only a few acres, but I think I could wander in it for hours, maybe days.]
February 2018 , Charlottesville VA – I came here for a panel on Dr. King’s ill-fated Poor Peoples Campaign of 1968, 50 years past and now aiming to be re-launched.
I did my part in the event (having written a book about the 1968 campaign); but I want to admit here that my mind frequently wandered, hankering to head downtown to visit some of Charlottesville’s new & newly-more historic sites while I was nearby.
Two in particular: the shrouded statue of Robert E. Lee, awaiting its fate, and a few blocks away the graffiti wall on the stretch of 4th Street now rechristened “Heather Heyer Way.”