• Tag Archives Andover
  • Video Phone a Reality At Last!

    Spring                                                            Bee Hiving Moon

    Technological victory today.  Mary (Singapore at 10:00pm), Mark (Ha’il, Saudi Arabia at 5:00 pm) and myself (Andover 9 am) on the same video call.  Three little screens with our talking heads beaming in real time (or whatever you call time in the instance where all of us are in different times).  Skype premium at $99.00 a year allows for up to ten individuals on one call with no additional charge.  Even when separated by thousands of miles and the International Date Line.

    (screen looks something like the pic above)

    That was my entire nuclear family on one video call.  Remember when video-phones were sci-fi what ifs?  Not any more.  And, there’s no phone.  Nothing but net.

    Over the last year Mark and Mary and I have moved closer together, seeing each other in person last July and now communicating more regularly than we ever have before.

    Mark describes Ha’il as like northern Arizona, Flagstaff/Dine homelands/Grand Canyon/polygamist Mormon country.  Come to think of it Islam allows 4 wives.  Maybe it’s the weather?

    Mary says Singapore is hot.  When asked how hot, she said, “Oh, I never know.  But it’s really hot.  I know that.”  According to Weatherunderground the current temp in Singapore is 81 with a dewpoint of 77.  That last is the kicker.  By contrast it’s 84 in Ha’il with a dewpoint of 14.  Just to be complete it’s 54 here with a dewpoint of  48.   Of course that’s a daytime reading for Andover, a night time reading for Singapore and an early evening reading for Ha’il.

    Both Mary and Mark are at the ends of their terms, with exams and grading and all that fun stuff on the other end of the teacher-student relationship.  Mark has a classroom full of cement workers.  Mary teaches students at Singapore’s National Teacher’s University.   Mom would have been proud.

    Forgot to mention on the call, but I have a tour for ESL students tomorrow.  Both Mary and Mark have ESL backgrounds.

  • Mi Casa

    Samain                                     Moon of the Winter Solstice

    Much as I enjoyed the travel, the close time with Kate, the ocean, new cultures and places, I find this computer and my own keyboard, my reference shelf and my library, mementos from past trips, family, collected art like slipping into a pair of comfortable bedroom slippers.  At its best travel allows for renewal, challenge, broadening, but an unexpected and forgotten pleasure, perhaps never noticed before, is this lifting up of home.

    Home as reality and as metaphor carries a special valence for all of us, one way or the other.  I moved so often for the first 40+ years of my life I never had the time, the digging into a place where I could really feel home.  Here in Andover, although the burb itself is nada as place, the home Kate and I have created nourishes both of us.  We have space for our mutual creative work, space for mutual work outside and in, leisure space and fitness space.

    Over the years, as is the case with most family homes, our sons have developed memories here, now grandchildren and in-laws, too.  Animals, both present and past, inhabit the hallways and the woods.  Storms past, challenges met and overcome, Thanksgiving, Hanukah, Christmas, birthdays, honey harvests.  All here.

    Home.  This trip made me appreciate it more than I ever have.

  • An Expansiveness That Opens The Heart

    Imbolc                                                New (Bloodroot) Moon

    Immersed again in the history of ancient Rome, that interesting period when the Republic gives way to the reign of emperors, night has fallen, a clear night.  I’ve wanted a clear night because I want to see the stars here on the prairie, away from city lights.  That’s next.

    Brother Dusty (James) Johnson has lived out here under the big sky of South Dakota for several years now and fell in love with it.  I can see why.  There’s an expansiveness that opens the heart, yet somehow too points back to the very spot where  you stand, a sort of universal and a particular in one moment.

    In Andover due to tree cover our focus is resolute and local.  We see our yard, our neighbors, our woods, our gardens, our bees.  Out here you can see  your neighbor’s pasture, your neighbor’s cattle and their neighbors.  The weather doesn’t sneak up on you here, as it can in Andover, coming up over the woods to our west, it announces itself far in advance, scudding clouds, lightning, wind.  All out there.  There’s a frankness and an honesty in that.

    I only have two more writing days left, Sunday and Monday, but I’m very pleased with the amount of work I’ve gotten done.  In fact, as I hoped, this intense focus on Missing has let me see what I’ve been missing, this anchor to my day, the writing anchor.  I’ve let the ship slip its moorings and float away on the winds of Latin, art, politics, bees and gardening.  I need to bring this ship of daily writing back into harbor, keep it where its protected.

    It means, I know, a change in my schedule, an earlier rising and an earlier bedtime, but to be honest with who I am, I need to make the change.

    This has to be done while not losing the gains I’ve made in those other areas, that will be the trick.

  • Just Another Day in Paradise

    12  73%  19%  0mph EEN bar30.06 falls windchill 11  Winter

                     Waning Crescent of the Winter Moon

    “Paradise is here or nowhere: You must take your joy with you, or you will never find it.” – O.S. Marden

    Salient advice as Kate and I prepare for Hawai’i.  “Just another day in paradise,” is often heard when there, from tourists and locals alike.  There’s another one, too, “Lucky we live Hawai’i.”  Marden echoes Emerson, who said he didn’t need to go to Italy to see beauty, because he found beauty wherever he was.  

    “Wherever you go, there you are,” from the world of AA makes the same point.  We take our conclusions, biases, and perceptions with us wherever we go.

    A trap into which I have fallen in the past and no doubt will fall into again measures home against the temporary pleasure found in any distant destination, from Ely and Duluth to Kauai and Angkor Wat.  Home will always come out second best, because by definition it does not have what Ely does, ready access to the Boundary Waters Wilderness Area.  It does not have the perfect, year round temperature of Hawai’i, nor does it have the ocean.  It does not have the howler monkeys and ancient temples of Angkor.  The Napali Coast fires the imagination in a way different from the drive up Round Lake Boulevard.

    True.  All true.  Compare these far away places, however, to home from home.  Hawai’i does not have my friends.  Angkor does not have the Minneapolis Art Institute and my docent work.  Ely does not have easy access to theatres, orchestras and the Walker.  Kauai, though it is the garden isle, does not have the garden and grounds on which Kate and I have worked for over 14 years.  None of these places have our house, adapted to our creative work and the daily life we live.  Could these other places accrue amenities like these?  Friends, maybe, over years.  The peculiar blend of artistic life enjoyed here in the Twin Cities?  Probably not.  A house like ours?  Probably not.

    Also true.  All true.  Still, we also have, for balance, the testimony of Mark and Elizabeth, who cast off their worldly belongings (ok, they stored some of them.) to travel the globe.  So far they’ve hit Buenos Aires, Peru, Shanghai and head out next week for Bangkok.  Their home is where they are, though they return here episodically to unite with family and friends.

    I had a peripatetic 20’s and 30’s after 16 years in Alexandria, Indiana.  I lived in twelve different cities and rural areas until coming to the Twin Cities metro area.  Even after arriving in Minneapolis and St. Paul I lived in twelve different apartments and/or houses in both cities and two suburbs. 

    The 14 years in Andover has come close to setting a record for personal stability.   The minuses are written in the script of every foreign or domestic destination that has called to me.  They are also painted in lost opportunities to experience other cultures and locales. 

    The pluses though are profound.  Daily life has a routine that frees the mind for creative work.  I know the microclimates and the soil conditions of each inch of our 2.5 acres.  Our dogs and our children have lived their lives here, the dogs their whole lives, the children important parts.  Kate and I know each other as stewards of this land, this house and these memories.  Lucky we live Andover.