He Was A Man, Horatio. We Will Not See The Likes of Him Again.

orri-2_2

 

The Train Through North Carolina

            (for Orri J. Putnam)

 

What could contain more mystery

than the angle of that chimney

standing follied in a fallow lot,

no house; no guest; no cooking pot?

 

And what to think (it makes me nervous)

of the Holy Ghost Delivery Service,

its doors nailed shut, the windows blind?

Who’ll deliver the day’s sublime

 

and matchless grace?  or the pressing news

that a flood has left of nest of unreconciled shoes

in a fetid grove of tulip trees

(traumatized, bruised, dropping their leaves?)

 

If the Holy Ghost has gone under, I alone will report

that pregnant girls still stand on porches

studying the trains, both bearing unimaginable freight.

They linger like harvests harvested too late.

 

I’ll write that the cotton is ripe and Selma’s in tatters.

I’d describe the crumbling station, but it hardly matters;

there are points from which one may never depart

nor does one return.  It’s a Heraclitian art,

 

this traveling with you, my sweet friend.

For what if we discover the world upended

and beyond recognition, everything lovely lost

in a wave of surrender, such steep cost?

 

But you aren’t afraid to look:  it’s the same old ruins you’ve embraced before.

The overcome, the collapsed, the world, you, we so hopelessly adore.

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Published in: on November 20, 2008 at 3:52 am  Comments (239)  

239 Comments

  1. gorgeous. touching. unique. special man

  2. I have been so out of touch, but what a beautiful post to come back to. Really, really beautiful.

  3. Haven. I had to walk away and come back. And walk away and come back. Every time I read this, it had me in tears. What a beautiful tribute to an adored and beloved man. I’m overcome by sorrow, for you who love him and have had him in your lives, and for those of us who’ve never had the privilege.

  4. This is lovely. Mr. Putnam must be a very special soul.

  5. Like Carrie, I’ve come and gone from this several times now. It is wry in the most beautiful of ways. You show us every image as clearly as if the chimney and the shoes and the pregnant girls were in the room.

    My prayers are with Mr. Putnam and all who love him.

  6. what a thoughtful tribute. I love the poem, especially the pregnant girls and the train both bearing unimaginable freight. lovely.

  7. *Sniffing and Dabbing Eyes*

  8. I’m slayed.

    unreconciled shoes JOHN M. – we need fainting couches

    and, yes, unimagineable freight that just is so total in it’s limitless encompassing visual. wow.

    also you KNOW, you found THE words that surrounds death, not just for the dying themselves, but for those watching, for those that hear the sudden, unexpected news: wave of surrender

    This poem is being appended to my will. When my ashes get scattered at Copper Canyon – you will be there.

  9. I KNOW Sher – we are totally in the right line of work with the shoes, here.

    I don’t think she’s opened hers yet, though.

  10. Oh – just harrass her and poke her with some tempting words . . . I was in major suspense, hooray! she is going to DIE – imagine the ceremony if she opened it during the Thanksgiving Dinner???!!!!!!

    I know what it is, I know what it is – Haven, open it and do it in front of your computer so we can see your face!!!! Then hold it up and take a picture to share with us!!!! I can’t wait to see you see John’s gift . . .!!!!

  11. John – you were very much a topic of conversation in our meeting yesterday . . . and there were many gasps at the visual of “Armageddon” – – – I’m working it. Ade was impressed . . . now we have had to loan some space for the Jan 15 Reviewer, but – – – she is still coming to the studio . . . I need to finish cleaning that . . .

  12. *blush*

    If I become famous due to a piece called ‘Armageddon in Retrospect’, I’ll owe Vonnegut big time.

  13. I know – it is weird the pieces that grab people – but, keep in mind, it is hard to experience the DNA marching and feel the 12 ft, but Armageddon just POPPED up life-size on my laptop screen – and it was “GASP, wow!” I think it is also the “all american ‘fun’ object, juxtaposed with the nails/screws and you FEEL it coming at you . . .

  14. hey – do a bunch and then suspend them from the ceiling with monofilament – – but then someone like me would be so distracted I would walk right into one and POKE MY EYE OUT like Ralphie’s mom said.

  15. Haven – you have to open John’s box, yep! It will make you do the happy pants dance. But go to the bathroom first so you don’t pee your pants again!

  16. This poem leaves me dizzy trying to reconcile its depth against its simplicity; this may be the best poem I have ever read.

  17. I thought Ms. Outlaw had cornered the market on monofilament – fish breathe sighs of relief when she goes into the studio…

    This is such a lovely poem. It has a feel to it that reminds me of the cadence of Receurdo:

    We were very tired, we were very merry
    We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.

  18. Thank you, thank you all. I’m just like every other fool who walks around saying, “Please not him, please not him.” But of course I would say that about everyone else, too. Every time I walked in a room where he was, he would rise in a very gentlemanly southern way and kiss my cheek and say, “My heart soars like an eagle at just thought of you.” Who will ever say that to me again?

    Kat and I were singing in the car the other day and one of the lines was, “And I know how lucky that I had the chance to have loved this much.” We both got quiet, but that is God’s truth.

    One of the strangest things about Orri’s lightning fast illness is that I got a letter from him only two months ago. KALINE is dedicated to him, and he sent me a card with a watercolor of the Sunset Beach Bridge, where we spent a week or so every summer with our extended family. On the inside he wrote, “As you know, it’s impossible to thank anyone for immortality. Your observation, love, and depth of character are slightly terrifying. I am overwhelmed with gratitude. Your Own, Mr. P.”

  19. Oh, that makes me…oh…

  20. Very sorry to hear about the loss of your dear friend, Haven. This is a lovely tribute to him, and it’s now a part of what will keep him alive forever.

  21. Mr. P – – – he is my favorite kind of a man – sensitive and gentlemanly . . . not that I ever had any of those in my family, they were mostly drinkers, gamblers, gansta wantabe’s in the Clyde category, , , but I can name a few professors and Atlanta attorneys that make me swoon at their debonairness and grace – – – I don’t know if we are raising those kinds of men anymore – now I am a bit sad.

    But I have to decide on a hairstyle because I have an appointment in an hour – teal, pink, brown with RED, it is such a quandry – if I take in a robin’s egg blue crayon, I wonder if they can match it . . . ugh

  22. and, Haven, cornflower blue is my 2nd favorite crayon color . . . blues, blues, blues – it is the sky come down to us.

  23. John . . .

    this is how you can do it . . .
    go
    “Haven, Haven, Haven”
    they way she said
    “Mom, Mom, Mom” in Zippy & Couch . . . oh, god, hearing that just cracks me up and makes me CRINGE (for Delonda’s sake) and I hear this like 500,000,000 times a day . . .the patience of motherhood – – how did we, or these kids now, survive it.

  24. ok – brown gold with pink and teal streaks to match my artwork.

  25. I am abandoned in my hour of need.

  26. sweet jesus in his trough – I just had the biggest scare of my life, I left to do a Jean Nate powder shower and the 700 Club came on the channel I was previously watching and the – POISON – that comes out of that show – – why can’t you block a channel for a certain time slot.

    I am damaged for life.

  27. I’m here for you, Sher. You go girl. And make sure we get to see a picture when it’s done.

  28. Ewww, 700 Club. Gag me with quilt and shame.

  29. Or better yet, gag me with guilt, rather than with a quilt.

  30. amen – people actually watch that show ON PURPOSE – in fact, I think it is where my mom and her baptist preacher husband come up with all that crap that makes me explode through the roof . . . I better start meditating because I will be in the same abode as them on Saturday – – but it is neutral territory, my sister’s, see, I am learning, slowly but surely . . .

    purple?

  31. oh my god – red and white and blue for obama!

  32. Polly – thank you dear heart – I was feeling distinctly alone in this world – everybody works or goes to school! What an inconvenience . . . !

    I’m off to be transformed!

  33. Sher-
    I looooove that Mom, Mom, Mom-that just kills me when she says that. However I don’t have children and cannot comprehend how annoying that must be!!!

  34. …they may be gone, but they never leave.

    Two days ago, my Dad, who’s been gone almost 20 years, joined me as I drove to work. He was wearing his work clothes and I could smell the diesel fuel and the laundry soap on his shirt, and saw a clotted nick on his finger, and the country sounds of WROZ came on the radio, and his brown eye and the green one, and the blotch-blue tattoo on his arm, and a darned grin, and our drive between the Potomac and Arlington Cemetery, his voice: “Son.”

  35. Haven –
    I have no idea who your friend Orri was, but he must have been extraordinarily special to give rise to such a poem. His eyes in the photo are soft and kind. I am so sorry.

  36. Oh, George.

  37. That sounds like a good ride, George.

  38. Hey Carrie…you and JohnS were with me this AM drive, but you didn’t know that, didja?

  39. Linda: it was a goodie commute and the traffic was light, too. What more can you ask for?

  40. I’m honored to be even a fraction of your soundtrack, George!

  41. George, I finally mustered the internal fortitude to read your Holocaust piece. Gorgeously understated and touching beyond words. Now I’m weepy again, but at least this time it’s for a finer cause.

  42. Thanks much, Amy. It was understated — deliberately, but mostly abbreviated because I wrote it in less than hour after long interviews and a couple of meals with that dear couple. I felt connected to them in many way, but I was living with a Jewish woman at the time and felt especially connected having been a part of that. Their will to live and bear witness — and fate, luck, and chance — allowed them to survive that hell. Their story of survival in Eastern Europe after liberation was actually more heart-rendering. We are strong and I believe this with every fiber of my being that goodness is immortal.

  43. Tired by Dylan Fick

    I lay awake wishing for moonlight
    As my weary bones shift and moan
    But is not their state that gives me fright
    For it is my time old soul that groans

    The weight of a million possibilities
    Of everything that can go right
    But mostly of the many seas
    full of all that can be wrong in night

    When no pale moon does shine
    For my old and lonely soul
    I’ve seen the blood of mine
    And not just from this body in whole

    No I’ve seen the blood of my children
    I’ve seen the blood of my loves

    For every night I close these eyes
    I live a decade or if I am lucky

    I don’t die for a hundred years

    But these dreams make me

    An old and lonely soul

  44. “Goodness is immortal”

    True and lovely.

    I am going to ponder that awhile. It will keep me from throwing up over the stock market, my current state of unemployment, and wondering what the hell I’m going to make for dinner since I’m still full from the Cheetos I ate for lunch.

  45. Sher- I think you are right about Dylan and Emma having things in common. Old souls, those two. Tell him I really like his poem.

  46. Well, I am headed out into the chilly night to enjoy some Robert Earl Keen and Todd Snider at the Ryman. I will give you all a review in the morning!

  47. Lovely, Sher. I’ve taken a lot of pictures of my beautiful art piece, and I’ll post them on the posse site. And Linda, tell my godson Jack there’s a surprise for him in my new blog post. It’s just a little secret from me to him.

    I’m going to have a VERY hard time giving away the other two pieces. I found myself walking around like Mariah Carey in the clothes of a twelve-year-old, wearing shiny silver boots and carrying a little dog that never poops, thinking, “Oh dahling,that would look so swank right there. My friends have enough art. and besides their breasts point forward, which is TA-HACKY.”

  48. ha! – – – I never had breasts that pointed forward – – sounds torpedo like!!!

  49. Update: I chose blonde hair with teal underbangs and teal peek-a-boo streaks.

  50. what is it with little dogs that never poop – – it is a major problem.

  51. So were you successful yesterday with your pre-cleaning – – it is FUN to clean with friends. That is something we seem to have lost, I can remember my mom having friends over and they would help each other with laundry and stuff – very cozy! Of course, that was when your neighbors lived next door for 40 years or more. And your Aunt and your cousins were next door or one block away . . . waxing nostalgic.

  52. Don’t worry about such dogs, I have a pair who crap enough for the entire canine kingdom. They watch me and snicker as I fill lawn bags with their processed din-din.

  53. a/k/a ‘yard candy’?

  54. yeah, if you’re into Oh Henry wannabes

  55. ever body absconded into the netherworld?

  56. Hi Sher, it only feels like the netherworld! Sitting here with a sleeping cat in my lap which seems like as good excuse as any to avoid cleaning the kitchen.

  57. any excuse is a good excuse to skip cleaning!

  58. I’m also slogging through I’ll Take You There, by Joyce Carol Oates. I love the way this woman writes, she’s a genius. But . . . halfway through her books I want to hide in the bathroom with vodka and a razorblade.

  59. I read somewhere Haven said that she loved her characters too much to give them unhappy endings (I may not be paraphrasing her correctly.) Still, it’s that redemptive quality I love in everything she writes.

    I am a poor sucker for a happy ending.

  60. Another random observation. Artistic people look whimsical and/or anarchist with multiple colored hairs.

    I tried this once in my 20’s and just looked deranged.

  61. I love how joyce carol oates writes, but then the weakness of some her characters (their emotions/ethics) pisses me off. We were the Mulvaneys was TOO realistic for me, I felt like I went to hell rather than escaped my reality. However, I think that means she is an excellent writer – but the books disturb me, they are so characteristic of real life

  62. I hope mine looks whimsical!!!

  63. Yep, this poor character in I’ll Take You There is a penniless girl with exzema and no money for shampoo or deoderant, and of course she lives in a sorority house for rich girls. Reading it is almost physically painful

    Your hair will definately look whimsical. You have that adorable face thing going for you.

    I’m off to feed the animal kingdom that is my home.

  64. hum, I don’t even feed the human kingdom here – it is like a cafeteria most days . . . serve yourself. I can cook, but everyone is PICKY . . . the agony, I love ALL food . . .

  65. Hi y’all. I’ve been gone for hours eating a fabulous dinner in a sparkly sweater and red pumps, but I missed each and every one of you.

  66. Wait…are there TWO SHER’s? I feel so discombobulated.

  67. Kate, I think she changed her avatar to show us her kicky new hair-do.

  68. Yeah, but now there are TWO. TWO AVATARS. I can’t manage that.

  69. Hmmm, you’re right that is weird. You know what the good thing is about this being a slow night in Kimmel-land? I read your blog for the first time. Loved your McDonald’s musings.

    Shameful Admission #1) I’ve missed McDonald’s ever since I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease three years ago. That forced me to eat healthier than my upbringing would ever have intended.

    Shameful Admission #2) Having CD means I have NO SHAME after injesting 1/2 a large bag of Natural Cheetos. They are, after all, my only remaining vice having given up beer and nymphomania well before I turned 30.

  70. Oh – I’m so sad about Amy’s Celiac diagnoses, one of Dylan’s friends has that and it is so hard for him as a teenager, imagine!!!

    I don’t know what is up with my avatar – – I did post a new pic today, but it keeps fluctuating, it is spooky!! Sorry, I’ve double-checked wordpress, it is a total mystery to me.

    I have been Facebooking tonight and helping my hubby with his patient notes, and reading Junie B, and just like Kate, I kept thinking about everybody here!!!

    And now I will be leaving again for a few days – – hopefully my sister is in the 21st century . . . I know she at least has email and a Facebook account.

    Anybody: I will be in the Avon area of Indianapolis and ALL MY FAMILY will be attending the Lion KING in Indianapolis Saturday night, so in theory, I can meet for coffee (I don’t drink that, but…) that night or on early, early Sunday morning BEFORE I head to Louisville for that family gathering . . . just a hypothetical. It would have to be “stand by” because of my issues (family), but I think there is hope with this situation.
    sherart1861@aol.com and I will pass along my cell number . . .

  71. also, Facebook now has the photos of Don vacuuming in his Christmas apron and tidy whities (except they are red) . . . it isn’t x-rated or anything – just funny!

  72. Hi Sher! Celiac is not such a big deal once you figure out what you can eat. It’s tough for a teenager that’s for sure. Good news is they’re working on an enzyme that could allow Dylan’s friend to have beer and pizza in just a few years.

    The bummer for me is that I’ve always been thin, no matter what I ate. Once I stopped eating wheat I gained 20 pounds and my hair and nails beacame really healthy. I’m sad because now I really have to watch my weight. My husband is happy because now I have long hair and boobs. Just goes to show, you can’t please everyone.

    And, I feel I have really ruined this thread that began as an homage to a lovely man. So let me say this: Haven, I loved the poem, and it made me wish I had met Mr. Putnam. Such kind eyes.

  73. George, sleuth extraordinaire: do you recognize this photo?

    http://theeveryman.com/84.php?id=821&cat=1&per=25

    I participate as a judge every year in this amateur photo contest, and every year some schmo tries to smuggle in a photo not their own. This one looks right mightily familiar.

  74. Amy, I’m so with you. I wish I knew him.

  75. Disclaimer: Sometimes I am as articulate as a brain damaged dog, but here goes.

    I read your poem last night, but I didn’t respond, because I didn’t know how to .. I’ve come back to it though several times, and it is so clear how much you love him, and that he’s a man deserving of that love. Also, the quote at the top of the page … all of it is a beautiful tribute to your friend.

    I would hesitate to call it a prayer, but I guess that’s what it was. It was for him, that he wouldn’t be in pain, and for you, that somehow you will be okay through everything, and for all of your family, just .. peace and light and happiness. Also for your mother, that her pain stops and she feels well again.
    I know I don’t know you from a hole in the wall, but, my thoughts are most definitely with you.
    :: hugs ::

  76. Jim and other Evita lovers –
    Someone beat us to it.

    http://www.wikio.com/video/538358

  77. Craziness.

  78. Scott- Todd Snider was outstanding. He only got to play for one hour but I think we all would have liked to listen to him all night. Here is a youtube video of Peace Queer, from his latest cd.

    Where do you live Scott?

  79. Sorry, forgot the link:

    “fighting for peace, that’s like shouting for quiet”

  80. Speaking of music – I have just learned the wonders of playlist.com. While you can’t get *every* song, it’s still damn good, as far as I can see. It’s free, if there are strings attached, I haven’t encountered them yet, just pick a username and password and you’re set to go. Enjoy!

  81. Ooh- found another great video on youtube. It is from 1996 but it is a great song AND about half way through there is a VW bug with big 70s flowers on it that reminded me of Delonda’s VW in Couch!

    And, finally (then I will stop talking about Todd Snider)I did not realize he lives here over in east Nashville. How cool is that? Now I am going to scope out some local shows. I bet he plays little gigs when he is in town.

    Review on Robert Earl Keen to follow. He is one fine storyteller.

  82. Good grief- I keep forgetting to add the video links.

  83. Wow, Kittery, thanks for the playlist.com tip. I love to just listen to lots of random music while I work. It keeps me sane (and awake).

  84. Happy to help. :)

  85. I am listening to a Robert Earl Keen song on playlist.com right now. Oh happy day.

  86. Linda,

    Glad you liked Todd. I’ve yet to see him do a bad show. Tomorrow night will be number 10 for me. I love that video. He gave the entire album away for free on his website which I thought was a damn cool thing to do! I’m in Richmond Indiana, home of Earhlam college where Haven attended seminary.

    I can’t wait to hear about Robert Earl King.

  87. So yesterday (November 20) was the anniversary of my mother’s . I thought about her all day, laughing and tearing up the way you do. Errands and tasks kept me moving all day, but I wanted to go to the cemetery with mums (her favorite). [Why do I need to go to the cemetery? Dunno. My daughter told me a long time ago, "She's not there -- it's just her bones." Which is true, but I still like to go. Like is not the word, and need isn't either, and should definitely isn't it, but going to the cemetery occasionally is good -- for me, anyway.]

    So like I was saying it took a while for me to get there, and by the time I arrived it was dark (Quantico National Cemetery: lovely, serene, peace-filled — and patrolled by Military Police). I drove through the gates and past the sign that told me “Hours of operation are from dawn to dusk.” It was prom night in the deer community, because they were strolling by the dozens. Breathtaking.

    I got to the section where my mom is buried, and it’s a military cemetery, right? Think of Arlington — identical white headstones everywhere you turn. I had no idea which grave was hers, especially since (here’s the military family summed right up) her name is on the back of the headstone. My father’s name will be the headliner when he dies. So the stone that marks her grave is completely blank on the front.

    Well, I stumbled around for a while, laughing at myself, but getting more and more anxious at the idea of being locked in by the MPs, until I finally just picked a grave and left my flowers there. So either I found my mother’s grave (how likely is this?) or I left flowers at the grave of a WWII sergeant or of a Captain killed in Iraq. All of these are fine options.

    And then I came home and read your poem, and was so moved, and glad that I read it on November 20. I think it will become my November 20 poem from now on.

    Thank you so much.

  88. Hehehe .. I’m still trying to get as much of the Lord of the Rings soundtrack as I can. ;)

  89. I absolutely devour your prose, in great, greedy, sloppy spoonfuls. I gorge myself on your books. But your poetry just sits me back. A small gasp, a deep sigh, it is just… very much. Not just too much, but it is very much. That is a beautiful tribute.

    I am one of those people with a wide breadth of knowledge, but very little actual depth of knowledge in anything. So, my son who is shockingly thin for the amount of food he puts away, got my wheels turning and I decided he had Celiac’s. I rushed him into the doctor, who calmly told me, “Nope, he’s just thin. Be happy he isn’t fighting weight.” The unsaid message was… you reactionary freak, leave your kid alone. This was further evidenced when he shot up, like, 3 inches in 3 monthes and his rib cage became oddly pronounced and I decided he had marfans syndrome. He doesn’t; I am apparently a reactionary freak. Oh, well, he is really smart and will probably get an academic scholarship, thus freeing up his college fund for the therapy he will undoubtably need.

  90. That is a nice story, Liz. I am sure your mother appreciated the flowers even if you left them with a soldier.

  91. Robert Earl Keen had this group, the Greencards, come out and play with them on several songs as a special guest. http://www.thegreencards.com/music.html

  92. I’m checking them out right now. So far I like what I hear.

  93. Hey Scott- I hate to take up all of Haven’s space with our music ramblings. Email me your email address and we can chat more off the blog.
    linda.l.carter@vanderbilt.edu

  94. check your email. I just sent you mine. You are right about not taking up space. Good call.

  95. Love the latest quote, Haven. How true. Touch is so important to people of every age.

  96. Carrie: I went on a couple of photo archives sites but couldn’t find that picture. It may be legit, probably is. I want to thank you big time for turning me on to the Everyman site. Gorgeous photos…good I love photography.

    Liz in VA: I loved the tone of your post. So peaceful. Prom night for deer. Deep honor for your mother — or a Marine — they both gave all. I pass the Quantico exit off I-95 often on my drives down to NC. The new building gives me vertigo, especially at night. It would be cool to make that place a special destination and then go have dinner someplace near.

    EVERYONE: I spent a lot of time last night on Scott Browning’s website. There is something magical and transforming and disturbing and peaceful about his incredible films. Go there if you get a chance.

  97. Liz – I was very touched by your experiences and thank you so much for sharing them. Graves and cemeteries draw me to them – – I know, like you said, that ‘they’ are not really there, but there is something so tender about them. Even though I will be cremated if anything is left after organ and tissue donation, I think it is healing to ‘visit’ our loved ones.

    Whenever I am near my homestate I want to visit the graveyards where generation upon generation of my ancestors are located. There is something about even touching the etched names on the cold granite. I feel that way when I am at the Vietnam Memorial in DC, brushing my hand along the carved indentations of my surnames, with my image reflected in the polished black night stone. I can spend a whole day in a cemetery, trying to imagine the histories and life stories of the people.

    I think the fact that you left the flowers, to honor someone – I am just so touched and feel lucky that you are alive in this world, and that their life is blessed by your tender gesture.

    Yes, this poem was heartwrenching and to use Haven’s word ‘heartsweetening’ – I’ve re-read it again and again, I think I have it memorized now.

    It is.

    Sometimes I have to paint or create something from discarded items, usually because I can’t pull from the dictionary, and arrange in this manner, the words that capture the emotional intensity – somehow, Haven, has this gift and I am so happy to be a witness. She can verbalize the unspeakable and the spirit of humanity.

    I am reading Wally Lamb’s new book and it is very much about death – so my brain is just circling with the causality and consequence of our mortality.

    I am not afraid to die. But I am afraid to lose my beloveds. No matter how you believe in the rightness of passage, it is still heartwrenching to watch the pain and feel the sorrow of the passing soul.

    My thoughts are with all of you who are experiencing this in your immediate life. I cannot even allow my mind to reach back across the fog of sorrow I experienced with the loss of particular loved ones – – letting go and remembering is a delicate balance. Something else that comes to mind is Maya Angelou’s – I speak your name homage.

    Orrie J. Putnam, Haven speaks your name
    Orrie J. Putnam, I speak your name

    I know not your name, but I speak your name
    Unknown soldier, I speak YOUR name

  98. I love visiting cemeteries too. I like to honor the lives of people now gone.

    Sher- field trip idea. Let’s make a list of graveyards to visit. Have you ever done work based on graves?

  99. Hiya, it’s Maureen between classes. I wanted to let you know that my being around you all in this blog influenced my dreams last night.

    I have a recurrent dream that I call the Big House dream, which has evolved over time. I know that the house symbolizes my soul or my psyche or my “me” or whatever. Over the 20 years since we moved here, the dream house has changed from a warehouse with a small corner curtained off where I lived, to a somewhat redecorated house with entire floors that are horrifying, to a nice house surrounded by a poisoned lake, to a house that is fairly nice with about 15 little bedrooms where the “foster kids” sleep. Over the years it has gotten nicer and bigger with fewer scary corners.

    Yesterday I had been reading about Haven’s writing barn and then I visited Sher’s unbelievable site with all her glorious art and Suzanne’s site and I realized how much I have cut the creative part of myself off. I was actually an English and Fine Arts double major in college, but when we moved here I was all business and all do-whatever-it-takes to get the farm going. So I became a teacher and was moving toward administration! Gads!

    Not that I EVER fancied myself a visual artist – my strengths are more linguistic than artistic – but I have shut down some of my right-brain unrestrained side. Being around you all here reminded me of that old me.

    So …. long story short … in my dream, my house was a quite nice Federal with two beautiful floors, and then I realized I had a third floor that was OK, just needed some minor repairs and it could be a creative place for me and my boys for music and whatever.

    It was like the Melendys’ room in Elizabeth Enright’s book The Saturdays? There are the four siblings and they have a room at the top of their house for creativity: Mona the actress and poetry-reciter, Miranda (Randy) the dancer and artist, Rush who plays piano, and little Oliver, the philosopher. They have that whole floor of creativity on the top floor of the Four-Story Mistake. That’s just what my third-floor was going to become in my dream.

    Anyway, I wanted to thank you all for your generous creative spirits. Life with an Aspie has honed my rational side, but my dream life and being around you folks is telling me to remember my other side.

  100. Maureen!!
    EXACTICKALY!

  101. Linda, George, Sher — Thanks for your kind words. Tender is a great word for visiting cemeteries, Sher. And George, I love the Marine Corps museum; the building is so dramatic, and the history inside is also. My dad is a soldier, not a marine, but my mom chose Quantico over Arlington when she found out her cancer had returned and would probably win their long-waged battle. She said she loved the quiet of Quantico, and didn’t like the idea of all those tourists chewing gum where they shouldn’t.

    The notion of maintaining the graves of our loved ones over a long period of time is powerful for me. At Quantico, as at all military cemeteries, the responsibility lies with the military, and they take it very seriously (ask anyone whose child has ever misbehaved at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington!). But my mom’s people in Oklahoma go regularly to the cemetery to weed and trim and prune. It’s tender — that’s just what it is.

    I like to think the soldiers and marines who maintain cemeteries for our heroes (here and in places like Normandy, Okinawa, Belgium) do it with a sense of tenderness, or with a sense of the honor and privilege it is for them to provide this service.

  102. Maureen – – wow on your “rehabilitated” dream abode – – I have watched my abodes transform in my dreams as well and I am so excited. It is so hard to label, but I am glad you are reaching over into your left brain! (I’m sure you already do that in your creative classroom ideas . . . we create more than we recognize sometimes). It has been the greatest therapy in my life to be able to channel and express my tumultuous emotions into something tangible – whethere word of form.

    Linda- yes I have used many rubbings in my collages and also copy many epitaphs into text imagery . . . most of my textures refer directly to archeology (though more about the unearthing of the people/objects, than the internment). I have thousands of rubbings that I have yet to use, some are so precious that I will probably make color laser copies to use in the artwork so the orginals are “saved”.

    I am motivated to open an etsy shop and I am going to be doing some custom orders for ‘portraits’ and ‘passages’ – – – for example I have “birthday girl” on my website which is a self-portrait collage of me on my 3rd birthday . . . I want to start doing more hands on art vs. the technical illustration as a support mechanism. it is almost me overthrowing convention even more and truly trusting in my ability to support me. This blog has helped me not only believe in myself more, but I have been challenged to ‘run with faster horses’ – and confrontations have made any even stronger, more ethical person.

    Growth can be rather, um, shall we say, uncomfortable sometimes – I guess that is ‘growing pains’?!

    So – thanks! again. again. again.

    Linda – yep to GRAVE hopping . . . my son also loves this, maybe he and Emma can tag along . . . and, hey, SITAR is open on Thanksgiving day . . . see if everybody else didn’t want Turkey, I would go THERE!!!

  103. Liz – – sorry, I submitted before I commented back. I’m so glad you shared all that information, my son is in ROTC and one of his favorite things is to attend the graves in Franklin, TN of many unknown Civil War soldiers. It breaks my heart and makes me proud to watch him in his uniform amongst the gravestones. I know of all our ancestors who served, died or were injured in the name of our country, and to see him growing into a man during another war . . . it stops my heart with pride and pain.

  104. Carnton is so interesting. I am sure you have been there, Sher.

    Maureen- I am experiencing the same thing. I have buried my artistic side so deep away that I had forgotten it ever existed. The urge to create again is slowly…s l o w l y…. resurfacing and I know with that urge will come the motivation to clean up my house and make a space.

    Speaking of space…for years now I have wondered how one might come upon space that could be used as a studio in exchange for help. I have always thought that there must be an elderly person nearby with a room over a garage or something – just sitting there unused – that I could make into a studio and use for free in exchange for helping the homeowner – you know, like helping with shopping, cleaning a little. I don’t know – it has always seemed like an idea since space is so very limited in my tiny house.

  105. We can all thank our dear Haven and this great blog here for rekindling the art within us — maybe not Sher so much who is a functioning artisticolic type of person. I know that I will be giving thanks next Thursday for this wonderful person, her family, and what she has created in books and on this special site with you GREAT people.

    There, that’s my blubbering for the day!

  106. Aw, George, your blubbering is sweet. :)

  107. Well…I wanted to be a writer of books and poems and such, but channeled that dream into being a newspaperman. I’ve been out of journalism for six years and the dream was fading until a good friend left a copy of Haven’s book, Used World, on my chair last summer. that book led me to the blog and the blog sent me to y’all.

  108. …and the dream is still there, possibly stronger than ever!

  109. :D

  110. i have always loved graves and graveyards. last weekend we took mason (son) fishing and then had a picnic in the cemetery right next to where we fished. my husband grew up directly next to a graveyard and he and his friends played there all the time.

    i had a history teacher who took us to one of the oldest cemeteries in new england (durham, ct) and we did grave rubbings. i love the old graves. i love the feeling and mostly i am never spooked–except at night…

  111. Glad to hear the dream’s alive, George. Chase it, my friend. It’s within your reach.

  112. I am truly being irresponsible today, but my brain is estrogen-depleted and I can’t think enough to grade papers.

    So, I am working on a Google Earth map with pushpins for everyone’s location so we can see how far we are spread across the country. If you would like to be “pinned”, tell me where you are. Eventually I’ll add it to the yahoo site.

  113. Several of us are in Nashville, Tennessee and the surrounding area.

  114. Bangor, Maine, please. :)

  115. spring hill, TN for me!

  116. Evansville, Kentuckyana. (Ok, it’s really Indiana)

  117. Cool. I’ve got ya.

  118. Alexandria, Va.

    KITTERY: did I tell you I once lived waaaay up there in Maine, in Aroostook County, Fort Kent. I worked for the St. John Valley Times back in those days. Spent four winters there. Did a little stringing for the Bangor Daily News and Portland Herald. I think it was a five hour drive from where I lived down to Bangor, maybe more. I do hope to get back up there again sometime in my life. I would like to look up some of my articles from back then. I did make it over to Nova Scotia in 2005. Took The Cat ferry from Mt. Desert to Yarmouth.

  119. Kansas City, MO for me.

  120. My ex-husband’s parents lived in Wiscasset, Maine for about 10 years. We went up there one Christmas and OMG was it cold. And icy. And, did I mention cold?

    But, very pretty and very quiet. They lived right on Route 1 so when the summer tourist season hit they would watch a nonstop line of cars and motorcycles drive by, bumper to bumper going to the coast and then 6 days later driving in the other direction.

    I still get Yankee magazine. Used to get Downeast but then I decided one yankee publication was enough for this transplanted southerner.

  121. raleigh, nc

  122. Englewood, OH for me

  123. George, I did remember you posting that, although you didn’t tell me directly.
    What did you think of Portland? I used to live there (and loved it) much more than the “Greater Bangor Area”, lol. Your name is incredibly familiar to me .. perhaps it’s because I’ve seen articles of yours in the past??

    Linda, yes, dear. It IS cold. :D And it will be icy. We don’t have snow yet (although northern Maine – George’s stomping grounds) have already .. let’s keep it that way. :)

  124. I have some beautiful pictures of a graveyard in downtown Charleston, SC. I will add some to our group page in case anyone wants to see them:~)

  125. If I can email you, I’ll tell you where in the GBA I am .. I trust everyone here, but .. those flies on the wall, lol .. I’m slightly paranoid in that regard. ;)

  126. Richmond Indiana for me and Scott.

    I’ve been lurking all week – busy working and grading here, and no time to write. But I want you all to know I enjoy the interacation, the sharing, and the ideas – I just love this happy group! And I, too, am thankful to Haven for bringing us together. Steph

  127. Kittery: I rarely got down that far south when I lived in Maine. Saw some amazing sights though during those winters…Northern lights, snow blowing down from N.B. on a starry, below zero night, overnight snow drifts of six and eight feet, ice floes the size of semitrucks on the St. John…

  128. You guys wanna see something gross and funny? Watch this video and check out the guy in the background whacking the turkey…

    http://www.google.com/ig#restore

  129. George, you make Maine in the winter sound romantic. If only I wasn’t sitting here curled up in a fuzzy blanket..still freezing.. :)

    Yeah, along with those eight feet snow drifts comes the piles that don’t completely melt until June. ;)
    It is nice though .. on your rare trips to the south, did you ever get to see Acadia National Park?

  130. I sent the wrong link….

    go here:

  131. went to acadia many times…guess i did make it sound romantic…that’s easy to do I suppose when you aren’t shoveling your roof!

  132. Hahahaha .. yeah. Or having hours of shoveling ahead of you ’cause you have a long driveway and places to go? And it’s one of those really heavy snows – perfect for building snowmen/snowforts and snowballs? But each shovelful weighs about twenty pounds? Yeeaahh. :)

  133. I just put the map so far on the yahoo page. Let me know if you want me to add you or if I missed you.

  134. Hah! There I am .. all alone in the middle of nowhere.

  135. Maureen:
    I am in Prescott Valley and Prescott, Arizona
    Lonely for the midwest and loving y’all.

  136. Oh me! Waverly Hall, GA. But if you can’t find that, then Columbus, GA will work for me.

    What a cool idea, Maureen. Cool cool cool.

    Hey–thanks to whomever posted the greencards music site. I am enjoying it very much. It’s restful music and it’s been a hard week.

    Haven, you’ve been on my mind very much the last 24 hours. One of my students yesterday sobbed for an hour in my classroom and wouldn’t tell me what was wrong until after school when she said she was thinking about committing suicide. She’s only 11. I wonder what you would have wanted someone to say to you when that dreadful, hateful woman was torturing you. All I could do was hold her and tell her that eventually, she would feel better and that her parents and I wanted nothing more than to love her and help her.

    I felt so terribly inadequate. It’s a hard world where babies feel they have no options or help.

  137. Umm .. a lot of you pray and such .. umm .. my sister and I have a very, very .. strained relationship, but .. she just found out she has cancer. She has five kids and pregnant with another … my sister has cancer.

  138. Oh, God, Kittery. I am so sorry. SO SORRY. Praying for you and your family.

  139. Dear Kittery my heart aches for you. I will also pray for you and your family.

  140. Is there anything I can do for you, Kit?

  141. I don’t think so .. I just keep sitting here. Staring ahead. I .. I’m kind of numb. I’ve known this was going to happen. At the most random times lately, a thought would pop into my head, “while she’s at the doctor’s for the baby, they’re going to find cancer.” I just kept thinking this.
    I think I should call her, and I don’t, because I’ve been so angry with her lately. I … haven’t been able to put up with her bullshit. And believe me, there’s been a lot. I don’t know what to do.

  142. Obviously, I don’t know your situation intimately, but could right now be the time to put the past on pause? (not forget or ignore…just pause). Maybe you could call her, just say you love her? Like I said, I don’t know your situation, but that might be a starting point…

  143. And you can always tell me to shut up.

  144. If you wanna email or AIM or yahoo! messenger instead of posting here, I’m available.

    mollyhtouchton@gmail.com
    for AIM mollyhel
    for yahoo! messenger sereneselene

  145. I’ve had a swamped day today (as Amanda can attest) so I’ve been out-looped. However, I must say that George Stuteville will write his novel or I will know the reason why. The reason why is because there isn’t going to BE ONE.

    The second thing is I wonder if I might ask a huge favor of all of you most devoted. I’m going to post my mom’s mailing address on the yahoo site, and I wonder if you would send her a card or any small thing, to let her know how much she’s loved, and with what astonishing courage she’s facing this monstrous pain.

    I’d like to welcome a fabulous new poet to our group, Nicole Cartwright Denison, who kindly sent me her brilliant chapbook, Recovering the Body. I have a lot to say about it, but I’ll read it a second time before making with the jibber-jabber.

    I have a new blog post going up tonight, and then I’ve composed a series of interview questions for my sister. If she dawdles in responding to them, I shall answer for her, and in short we shall be filled with the joy joy joy down in our hearts.

  146. Haven – I’m sorry for your loss. He looked like a very sweet man. As always, you write wonderful poetry. I can’t (Or won’t) try to write my own here but its always nice to see so many of your babies do it here.

    Amy – Are you Amy in Ohio? I’m very sorry to hear you have Celiac. There was a bad week this August where my doctor thought I had it. Bread and chocolate are my two loves. I’m glad to hear you seem adjusted to the diet. I tried it and cheated miserably.

    Steph – I love graveyards, too. Boston has some amazing ones, have you visited?

    LighteningBug – Wow, you had a hard day with that child. I’m so sorry to hear it. My friend’s ten year old daughter hung herself last year after getting into a fight with her siblings. The funeral was the most disturbing thing I have ever seen. Her mother was eight months pregnant and aged at least ten years overnight. And her thirteen year old daughter gave the most beautiful speech I will ever hear at a funeral. I guess reading that brought up a lot of disturbing memories for me.

    Kittery – My goodness, your poor family. I have no idea what to say other than I am sorry!

  147. Haven – What yahoo site? I’m outta the loop. I don’t know what your mom is going through, either. Oh my, I’d send her something. Where do I find the address?

  148. Haven, I’d be honored to send MotherDelonda something. She is an extraordinary woman.

  149. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/havenblogbabies/

    Here you go, GhettoGirl. Gotta have a yahoo sign in to join up, though.

  150. Thank you Lightning Bug!

  151. You’re welcome!

    Haven, will you tell us when her address is up?

  152. GirlfromGhetto-Amy in Ohio and Amy are 2 different people..but hello, haven’t seen you on blog in a few days!
    Kittery, I am so, so sorry for your pain right now, your family is in my prayers.
    Haven-Ms. Delonda’s card went out yesterday and I filled it with positivity and said a little prayer over it before I mailed it…also I purchased Couch audio today in honoro of you both because I just love hearing you read about your mother.

  153. I’m effed up and not thinking straight – thank you everyone, for your thoughts and support. I appreciate it.

    Molly, I don’t have either of those, but I do have gmail. Gmail chat?

    Haven, I would love to help your mother in any way that I can. If you give the address I will definitely write her a little something.

  154. Amy in Ohio – I thought you were two different people, but I had to make sure. Thanks for confirming that for me. I’ve been busy with medical tests and the nausea-related aftereffects that kept me bedridden. Glad to be back online!!!

  155. Does Mother Delonda like cookies?

  156. Hi GhettoGirl! I’m not Amy-from-Ohio, just Amy. I’m actually from California. I’m with you on loving bread and chocolate. Got a few decent Gluten-free flours, and thank heavens chocolate is safe.

    In any case, if a girl can have Mexican food and chocolate how bad can life be?

    I’ve taken to reading the blogs of many who post here. In reference to the latest posting on yours, I’m rooting for your to get everything you want and much, much more.

  157. Damn, I hate when I post and find typos afterward!

  158. newvisionteacher: i live in killingworth, ct. would you add me to your map pin list?

    thegirlfromtheghetto: yes, i have seen and visited many cemeteries in boston…i lived there (surrounding area) for about 4 years. i just love that town! and it has some great haunts!

    kittery: sending love your way. i am sure you are still in shock. i don’t know what to say other than love triumphs and i hope you and your sister have a chance to reconnect. it isn’t too late.

    my own bad news…long story short, 2 positive lyme tests…turns out i have fibromyalgia. it’s not a very easy to diagnose, and even harder to treat–but at least i am getting some answers to all the aches, pain and EXHAUSTION. time to get my buns in tip top shape. exercise is the “cure”.

  159. Steph, thank you so much .. it’s hard, but I’m on the phone with her right now..

  160. Steph, I think you’re in some good company here with fibromyalgia.

    Sending healing thoughts your way, I hope you’re feeling so much better soon.

  161. kittery: no idea what the rift between you and your sis was/is, but i am proud of you for being on the phone with her. i am sure it means the world to her. mortality sometimes whacks you right in the chops. xoxo

  162. thanks amy. i have been trying to figure out what is “wrong” since may.

  163. Steph, sometimes it’s good just to be able to put a name on something so you can focus on kicking its ass.

  164. i know you’re right, amy. it is just a bummer of a disease. i can’t take the exhaustion. the hours i keep are crazy. it has been interfering with work, social life, time with my son….but knowing is half the battle, right?

  165. Steph, it’s absolutely horrible .. I got mono really badly (possible liver damage bad) and the feeling never really went away. Four years later .. I thought I had CFS or EBV or something .. I’m on thyroid medication now and I’m feeling so much better .. not really ready to go out and jog a couple miles or get a job, but maybe those are just character flaws .. :P

    Anyway, you have my sympathy, I hope it gets better for you soon .. it’s a miserable thing to try and deal with.

  166. Maureen, would you please add me to the map? I live in Simi Valley, California.

  167. Kittery, I am going through something similar right now, in that my father who I did not know until 2 years ago and have been trying to forge a relationship with, just found out today his lung mass is cancer and too large to remove. He was given 6monthes to a year to live, and I have no idea how I feel right now. I was still trying to figure out where he fit in my life, and now I am being given a time limit in which to heal the pain of his not being there for me growing up, make peace with that and also prepare to lose him again.
    I don’t suppose there are any words of wisdom I can impart to you in regards to your relationship with your sister, but I would say that just by opening yourself up to our advise means you are ready to do what is right for you. You are feeling pain so you already know what that is, and I will keep you both in my prayers.
    Steph, this seems to be my night for connecting to the posts, as I am having blood work done on Monday to find out if I have rhuemotoid arthritis or something else, which could be your diagnosis. How did your dr. determine your illness, and what are you being told to do, besides exercise? I hope this leads to you feeling better soon.

  168. Blog Babies – I am heading out of town in a few hours, so I have condensed my thoughts into a blog entry on my site: to honor all of you and how you have touched me life. I wish I had time to respond to all of these situations individually, but know that ache with you and for you and I hope I can be there for all of you they way I feel you have been there for me.

    http://www.sherfickart.typepad.com
    “abide with me” – ode to blog babies

  169. Jeez, I’m sorry about what you’re going through too – if you ever want to talk or whatever – I’ll give you my email or MSN … God knows I’m not doing much besides texting a friend and alternating between gallows humor and crying.

    I don’t even know how to feel about my sister. She’s .. she says she doesn’t care if she’s going to die and leave her 5.5 kids alone, she said, “I’m so tired of problems and being put upon.” I have no experience with this kind of thing, but really? I don’t know, I don’t get it. I think a good plan would be for me to go cuddle my kitten right about now…

  170. Kittery, my email is carylhayes@yahoo.com if you need to talk. I am not sure what the situation with your sister is, but it is hard to imagine being in a place where you would want to leave your children. I am sorry for her that she feels that lost. I’m in California so I am up for hours.

  171. Haven – I have something so perfect for Mother Delonda – – can mail it out on Monday when I get back in town.

  172. I’ve been merely lurking and not commenting for quite a while (I was never one of the most active, though, so it wasn’t a huge change, I suppose), but I just had to comment on three things.

    1) Lightningbug, I live in Columbus, GA! I’m a theatre major at CSU. I feel so happy to have a Blog Baby so near to me. Even though we’ve never talked, know that I am close and here if you ever should need anything. Not that you don’t have loved ones to do that, but as we’ve all discussed, the bond I feel with the people on this blog — no matter how little or often we comment — is indescribable. I would come running to any of your rescue.

    2) Haven, that poem is one of the most beautiful things I have ever read. I posted it on my Facebook to share with my less-enlightened (by that, I mean they have never read your books) friends. Hope you don’t mind. I’ve read it approximately forty-eight times now; I still can’t quite wrap my head around it, but my heart is completely wrapped around it, if that makes any sort of sense.

    3) I would be HONORED to send your mother a card or anything at all. Just from reading about her, I feel like she has impacted my life immeasurably.

  173. Morning everyone –

    So sorry for all the sad news of yesterday. My thoughts to everyone. Similar concern here: my estranged older brother needs a pace-maker installed, at age 49, because his heart stopped twice. I haven’t spoken to him in almost two years. No fight between us – he’s just unattached to my sister, mom, and me by choice. Wondering if I should visit or what.

    I will add everyone who wrote to the map and re-post to yahoo. If I can figure out how, I can post it as a file. I have nine 13-year-old boys due for a sleepover tonight, so I may not get to it until tomorrow. Wish me luck and a little sleep.

    Snowing to beat the band here in Central NY.

    Where on the yahoo site is Haven’s mom’s address? I can’t find it.

    Girl from Ghetto – glad to see you! I had an Aspie event the other night that you would have appreciated.

  174. Oh my god. It’s snowing.

  175. Good monr everyone, I don’t see an address for Delonda on the Yahoo Haven’s Posse site. Can someone please post it here, or should we send cards to Delonda c/o Ms. Haven?

    It is now officially acting like winter in PA. We have cold cold cold and glorious snow. The boys are all excited about winter play, and I am excited about them exhausting themselves with exercise. I hope everyone has a great weekend!

  176. Maureen, I don’t see your map on Yahoo either. I just see a link for pictures and a link for messages. There’s no address for Delonda in the messages that I can see, and the last message is about Bow House. I believe I’m signed in correctly. Can anyone help me see what the rest of you are seeing?

  177. Polly–I’m seeing the same. No address I can find. Can you help, Haven?

  178. I have a card for dear Delonda all ready to go. I’ll check back here in about an hour. Thanks to anyone who can help!

  179. Hi all –

    Snowing here and cold!
    I’m also looking for Delonda’s address and re-reading Zippy to know her better and think of her.

    I had to put the map in as a photo until I can get savvy enough to figure out some other way.

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/havenblogbabies/photos/album/617486074/pic/list

    I didn’t add anyone unless they gave me the go-ahead, so let me know if and where you want to be on there.

  180. Hi Maureen, I found your map in the photos on Yahoo, but still no sight of Delonda’s address. I want to be on it! You can put me down at Reading PA. That’s the closest large town to my tiny PA town.

    That music by Particles? Killer! I might have to make a CD.

  181. I need my other computer and I’m cleaning for a slumber party tonight so it might be a day or so before I add anyone.

  182. Did you all see Sher’s beautiful post on her blog? She wrote a post about THIS blog and also had one of her fabulous pieces. The face is from her Chrissy doll. My sister and her best friend had Chrissy and Velvet – you pressed their belly button and could pull their hair out. Wasn’t there a third one – Skipper? or was that from Barbie?

    That was beautiful, Sher.

  183. Polly, that music was only posted by me – it’s Haven’s husband John.

  184. Liz, Sher, Linda, George, Haven and anybody else who might be interested, I guess I will tell you about Otto !

    I found sealed away with some district court dockets from 1880, a coroner’s inquest, into the death of Otto Arlt, born Prussia 1830, by being hit by a BMRR train on a tressle over by Roca.

    I guess I am a born envelope opener.

    With it were the personal effects taken from his pockets. Among them was an 1873 dime, a perscription and medicine from a pharmicist in Hermann, Missouri and his Civil War discharge papers. Arlt had served with the 39th Illinois infantry. He had entered the army not speaking English yet. He had just come to America. He was five foot three and weighed 130 lbs., black hair, dark eyes. People were littler then. Is true! You look at the records, most people when full-grown were smaller than they are now.

    Except the Sioux. They were all huge! Scowling giant people.

    Otto Arlt served three years in the union army and re-enlisted. His company “F” lost 128 men in combat and 129 to disease. The 39th was present at Appomatox when Lee surrendered. Otto re-enlisted and was then in the service a year longer, finally discharged in Wisconsin.

    The coromer’s inquest said that he was crossing the trestle on foot, the train came around a narrow curve and there was no way to stop. Hit the air brakes – the passengers were knocked down by the de-celeration. Arlt tried to jump, but slipped and the train ran over him.

    The newspapers had plenty about the poor stranger who was thus killed, noone knew who he was or what he was doing in Nebraska.

    He was at Roca station an hour before he was killed. He spoke no English, and was hard of hearing, presumably from cannon fire during the late war – he was 50 yrs old by then, and walked with a limp.

    Luckilly I found record of him scribbled in a corner of a cemetery record for Roca cemetery, in the potter’s field section. He is in the absolute North East Corner. There is no stone. He was the very first person buried there. We could go out there with a clothes hanger and figure out exactly where he lies. It is narrowed down to an 8′ by 8 ‘ plot.

    I turned him in to some guys that come in to the archives who keep track of veterans buried around here. They will make sure he gets a marker, and since he is a veteran the govt. will pay for a litle stone. A bunch of them like to dress up like civil war soldiers in their spare time. It is kind of odd, I think. Most of them are like business execs and so forth too – not the sort of persons you’d expect to like to dress up in costumes like that in their spare time. They are serious! They have working muzzle-loaders and everything. They fire them over the graves on memorial day and veterans day.

    Poor Otto. I wonder if there was anybody back in Prussia, and after awhile letters stopped coming from Otto in America. To them, he just dissapeared. Noone ever came to collect his effects. It is sad to think about.

    Anyhow, me and my daughter and my dog took a break on memorial day (we get tornados and storms here like every goddamn day in the spring — the whole neighborhood was BURIED in tree limbs) and we drove over to Roca and found his grave (unmarked) and took some pictures (there were brilliant white shrubs abloom) we
    left him a cigar and some peppermints on his ground and we brought a flag (made in China) from Walgreen’s and planted it o’er him.

    THere was a HUGE luna moth fluttering about, prob. knocked down in the grass by the storm and we were going to take a picture of it but it flew up into a tree and
    no amount of bad words would bring it back down to be photographed. Gee I hate that shit.

    I did take some pix of us there and I hope to get them online eventually .

    So: that is the story of Otto Arlt.

  185. Matt–My dad is a veteran, and my brother’s in the service right now. What a sad, beautiful story to share. It’s heartening to know that people care about our military. Columbus butts up against Ft. Benning, and the way some of those Columbusites act towards soldiers…makes me want to scream. SCREAM. Thank you for caring. Thank you for saying his name.

    And Sher–thank you for sharing such a beautiful idea to me. I had never heard of Maya Angelou’s example.

  186. Haven just posted Mother Delonda’s address on the Blog Babies site.

    Also, SKIPPER is Barbie’s Little Sister. I am a PLETHORA of Barbie knowledge.

  187. Also, Sher, your art astounds me.

  188. Matt–you did a lovely thing for Otto, the cigar and peppermints and all, plus giving his name to someone who will make sure he gets a marker.

    The biggest thing you did, though, was live a loving example for your daughter. Fathers like you don’t come alone very often, especially fathers who play a Baldwin Orgasonic Wonderchord.

  189. Kate –
    Thanks on the Skipper-sib-to-Barbie info and the address update. I just remembered it was Cinnamon that was the third pull-hair in the trio with Krissy and Velvet.

  190. What’s up with the stripper names for these little girl dolls?

  191. History like that is so fascinating, Matt. And your telling of it just made it come alive.

    I will absolutely write to Delonda, Haven. I have told you that she has been an inspiration to me since I read Couch. I will tell her that too.

  192. Jerri –

    Just who the hell told you about the O.W.???

    Are you one of these PSYCHICS I keep hearing about?

    Kate, (testing your barbi knowlege) do you know the name of Skipper’s boyfriend?

    Which reminds me – once long, long ago, me and my friends got a spank from an old, old nun. Our crime?
    We abducted the girls’ barbies and kens. They acted all outraged, but thought it was funny. In fact, they provided a shoe box, which we then put the barbies and kens into, after stripping them BARE NAKED. Then we shook the box, jiggle, jiggle, jiggle. What heathen impulses drove us to this hellish stunt? We were only 8 yrs. old or so and I don’t think any of us knew about sex, other than we had seen livestock do their duty. Anyhow, Sister Veronica caught us all, girls and boys, all giggling, shaking the box.

    Then it was hell to pay.

  193. OH my God, Matt, I am laughing so hard. I was a Barbi-aholic, and growing up, my mother made and sold Barbie clothes which were VERY nice quality, so when it came time to put my toys away, I wasn’t allowed to store them in the milk crate with their clothes on…my parents always called my Barbie collection the nudist colony. Now that I’m grown, I wonder what else they might have said about it…

  194. DUH. It’s SCOTT! They quit making him because he was too sexy. Also, all men named Scott are gay.

  195. My brothers used to hang my Barbies. WITH A NOOSE.

  196. LB…my mom did that too! Sold AMAZING BARBIE clothes at Craft Fairs. Oh my gosh…it slayed me. She made them into little packets…she’d tape the outfits onto coordinating construction paper along with appropriate matched accessories (remember how you could buy extra packs of Barbie shoes and purses?) and then she’d title them something like “Evening Enchantment” She’d calligraph the title on a slip of paper and tape it into the corner.

  197. That’s awesome. I think my mom just sold them in gallon sized Zip-locks (quart for the smaller ones.) I’ll see if I can find the wedding dress. DEAR GOD my mom was amazing with her sewing machine.

    And my bro is gay so he would play Barbies with me. That’s incidentally how I learned all about sex. though he only talked about hetero…I was pretty young. :)

  198. All right. I have to meet Amber for a movie! She’s pulling me out of my funk. I will be on later I am sure…

    Let me borrow Suzanne FC’s phrase–‘heartbroken babies,’ it’ll be okay.

    See you later!

  199. Okay Miss Kate – Who were Tutti and Todd? They were part my cousin’s Barbie collection. She was older than me and actually had a Midge who also had a boyfriend but his name escapes me.

    My sister’s Barbies were always naked and headless, which I think was a portent to her eventual life of crime.

  200. Kate –

    Nuh-uh. His name was ALAN. Anyway, when we were putting him into the box of jigglage with the others, this girl yelps
    “NOOO! Not ALAN! He’s BRAND NEW!”

    I never did hang a barbi. Of course, there weren’t any around to hang. Me and my brothers had Johnny West tho, and he endured our applications of frontier-style justice damn dear every summer day.
    What a life.

  201. L-bug,

    I”LL SEE YOU IN COURT.

    I am now ruined. I can now longer view or even thing of the words “Evening” or “Enchantment” without going limp with laughter.

    I hope youre proud of yourself.
    M

  202. NO. Alan was Midge’s boyfriend. LOOK IT UP.

    I think Tutti and Todd were either kids she babysat or much younger siblings. Can’t remember.

  203. No!! It is YOU Kate. YOU are responsible for this “Evening Enchantment” nonsesnedlfksfffdlsdddddddddddd

    Oh, damn. Laughing. Can’t typeeklwklw

  204. LOL !!!

    That is hysterical. I was not a doll girl growing up. I was the tomboy. But I did have a Mary Poppins doll. I cut her hair really short and then gave her vaccinations with a permanent marker so I believe she did not go on any dates.

  205. I’ll not soon forget when my daughter was elected governor by accident. She allocated 1.3 million to a barbi river-raft regatta that rivalled the wonders of the world. Perhaps you read about it in the paper.

    At first, people were all in a bundle, it was torches and pitchforks, I tell you. Right up till they saw it. Then it was all ooohs and ahhhs. It was a sight to see – cruising down the Mighty Mo in the sun. Breath-taking.

    I am told that some of them made it as far as Tai Pei, and that a guy off Nova Scotia found one of them in the belly of a cod.

  206. My God, is there nothing that cannot be learned from Wikipedia?

    Thanks Kate!

  207. Kate,

    Who the hell was Alan then???

  208. I TOLD YOU. Do you never LISTEN?

    Alan was Midge’s boyfriend. They got married in the 1980s and I REALLY wanted their wedding set but I couldn’t buy it.

  209. Never, mind, I have followed the helpfull link as provided. Midge (Hadley)’s boyfriend. And his last name is even given: “Sherwood.” I stand informed.

    Anyhow, as a rule I don’t even THINK of the word ‘Alan’ – it makes me too angry. One time, in junior high, we had a spanish teacher who insisted that ‘Alan’ translated into Spanish was ‘Paco’…
    The whole matter seemed so foolish, even now I could just SPIT! How the hell do you get ‘Paco’ out of ‘Alan.’ (general gnashing of teeth)

  210. Must go now.

  211. There is probably a good reason. But why ruin your bitterness?

  212. At work! People!

  213. Matt…me and your daughter? Barbie TWINS.

  214. Kate –

    for years, over in China, every morning someone showed up at his or her station, and as the barbi heads cruised by on the conveyor belt, picked each one up, and, using a brush fitted with only one bristle, dotted the eyes of each and every one of them!

    I would say that is a dedicated pupiler.

  215. This story rivals the production of South Pacific my dolls performed for my Grandma.

  216. Out here we get huge columns of midges! Swarms that
    move along, they are so big you can see them on the horizon. They almost qualify as a form of WEATHER. They look sort of like a slow, wimpy tornado.

    Inside each column are MILLIONS of male midges, TENS of MILLIONS. And, one female midge, calling to them chemically. Wherever she floats, they follow.

    Midges.

  217. aaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

    IS THERE FILM????

  218. Only in your imagination. If it helps, Tropical Miko was Liat, Perfume Pretty Barbie was Nellie Forbush, and Grandfather Hart was Emile De Becque.

  219. I’ll bet your grandma LOVED it.
    Please don’t tell me this was last week!

  220. Wow, I missed the barbie talk? I was the queen of Barbie dolls on my block, as I had 72 various Barbies, Sunshine Family Dolls, Original GI Joe with Kung Foo Grip, Cher and even Farrah. Best part? They are all downstairs in my basement. I LOVED my Barbies!

    Amy (From California) – Hello and nice to meet you. And thanks for what you said about my recent post.

  221. Carry on – I gotta git.

    Bye all

  222. Matt! *Shhhh*

  223. Matt — sorry for the late response, but I am so glad I know the story of Otto. I love that he was the first person buries in the cemetery! Thank you for letting me know about him.

  224. I dunno, Matt–my nudist colony was pretty funny. :)

  225. SHER!!
    Beautiful, Beautiful Sher.
    And something out to Delonda first thing Monday morning and hugs to Kittery and all, too.
    It’s been a really stressful month for all, I think…we need some kind of good health mantra…Oh yeah, the navajo healing prayer again…I swear I will do a piece of art with it. I will post the prayer on the yahoo site on Monday cause it’s in my computer at work. Sweet dreams to the sweet blog babies, I hold you all in my heart.
    Brenda

  226. Tropical Mico Barbie-Apparently in an attempt to break the boredom of my 8 year old existence I decided to draw an ink mustache on her. 20 years later and my mom is still pissed that I did this…she brings it up at least once a year, true story.
    Brenda, what a lovely post!

  227. I had a Barbie with purple ink all over her face. My brother Ian did it. I made the best of it and said she’d been in a knife fight.

    Legless Ken was an amputee from the War, and Headless Ken’s brain fell into his neck so he and Barbie could still communicate. It was your classic Beauty and the Beast type love story.

  228. Matt…I missed this afternoon of Barbies and Otto while I was out in the yard cleaning up after a shedding oak….thanks for that story thanks for that story thanks for that story.

  229. Thanks for clarifying that the music is John, Particles. The words indicated that it was, but I wasn’t sure because it was posted by you. It is fitting that Haven should hacve such a talented partner, and one who obvioulsy loves her so much too. Thanks for sharing the songs, they are beautiful.

    My childhood friend Diane’s Barbies used to disappear, one by one. She could never figure it out, but she was continually heartbroken by the losses so she got her mom to just keep replacing them. Then one day she found them all in a pile, naked, under her brother Bobbie’s bed. Wonder what they were doing there, hmmmmmm?

  230. Kate, I could have played barbies with you back in the day, you had the kind of imagination so few of my barbie cohorts had. Finding the right partner was so important, as I found it much more enjoyable to make my own barbie world and not let anyone in. I loved barbies, but what I loved most was making homes for barbie. I was so good at it I became an interior designer. True story.

  231. I don’t think I have ever heard a story about brothers and barbies that is not creepy.

  232. Caryl YES. I actually refused to play Barbies with anyone else because it made my eyes roll back in my head with BOREDOM. I wanted to play with their dolls, but not with THEM.

  233. Okay, who was Kevin then? I thought he was Skipper’s boyfriend??

  234. How come I have never heard of this KEVIN PERSON???

  235. ‘Cause he was left home alone, Amy. Duh!

  236. Kevin probably came later. Remember, my Barbie knowledge goes all the way back to 1959.

  237. Lol. :) Yeah .. I started with Stacy and Courtney…

  238. Hi mama.
    i have no words.
    I don’t know where that electricity comes from that shoots out of your hands and makes you write things like this…

    love you.
    -burt


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