You Know That Child-Molesting Cult Dude? When His Wife Died He Swore She Would Remain Uncorrupted, and So He Kept Her Propped Up In His Chapel for Sixty-Five Days.

As some of you may know, I am a collector of taxidermy.  I love it very much and I find it comforting and it gives me the sense that things don’t really die, they just become fur.  But lately I have noticed a disturbing trend on eBay, my go-to source for all things deceased and preserved.  Right there in the taxidermy section they have this BULLWANKY stuff that, I don’t know, you tell me – is it taxidermy?!?  NO IT IS NOT.  It is stuffed animals.  It is plastic heads made to look like lions.  Pox on you plastic lion vendors.  I am fed up to here with that crap.  If I wanted a stuffed animal I would go to Wal-Mart.  (I would not go to Wal-Mart.)  If I wanted a big rubber head that takes up half my study I would go to a party store.  Here, let me show you what I mean:

Oh!  Oh, and how about this!  Here’s some fine fine taxidermy right here.  I was tempted to bid the maximum on this one, which was $1.00.

 

And you know what else puts a shine on my ass, so to speak?  When hunters or taxidermists make novelty items in order that we might make FUN of the living things.  A favorite is to take a deer’s rectum and turn it into a bottle opener.  HAHAHAHA!  I’ll bet you rectum lickers are voting for McCain!  There’s a million novelty items.  Toads playing billiards, 7,432,680 jackelopes.  Explain this to me.  A rabbit is a real animal, right?  And it lives and breathes, right?  And sometimes they die?  So isn’t it just SCREAMINGLY funny to put antlers on them?

Well, for heaven’s sakes, I feel vexed.

Here is my least favorite taxidermy of all time.  GAWD.

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Published in: on September 27, 2008 at 11:31 pm  Comments (262)  

262 Comments

  1. This is why I tend to stay away from EBay when it comes to taxidermy. I cannot ever find what I’m looking for.

    I was at my local antique mall today where I often lose myself for hours. Imagine my delight and surprise when I – and I kid you not – came across a taxidermied mountain goat. I emitted something that sounded like a half giggle half scream that elicited glares from the older ladies looking at china sets on the other side of the room. I would have bought that beautiful specimen if not for a few variables:

    1. Erik, the librarian who doesn’t like to read actual books and who is currently in Vermont playing an Oktoberfest with his German folk band, would KILL me for bringing something of that size into our house.

    2. $650 was just a little more than I was wanted to spend on something that I would have to somehow try to hide from the librarian.

    3. I don’t think it would have fit in the back of the SUV so I would have had to strap it to the roof. Although on second thought it would be quite entertaining to drive down the road with a mountain goat on the roof of the SUV.

  2. And here’s something – you never know where you’ll come across it.

    Summer of 84 I was doing a postgrad course at Georgetown Univ and our vent wasn’t putting out much air in the dorm room. I snaked my hand in there and pulled out a badly-taxidermed 18 inch baby alligator. It looked like a homemade job but it was the real deal, though the tail was worse for the wear. We named him Carl and put him on the tv. He was well-loved but eventually crumbled beyond repair. Shame.

  3. i have no taxidermy stories. i mean, jeez. that’s why i come here.

    moose heads mounted on the wall of a restaurant don’t count, as i understand it. that’s decor.

  4. A house on one of the main streets near our neighborhood had a deer head mounted ON THE OUTSIDE of the house. The kids and I would drive by it and think “what the he!! (edited because children were in the car…wait, they were teenagers, so I think I can say hell) But, still, we enjoyed it. Weird, huh? Then one day it was gone. I mean, how long could we really have expected it to stay there, out in the elements and all. A real deer could stand there for years because don’t they produce some kind of weather proofing on their fur?

    Sorry, that is my only taxidermy story. Sad, I know.

  5. I already told my one and only taxidermy story on another blog. Pity.

    There is an antique store here in the mall no one goes to anymore and the last time I was there they had a large variety of mounted animal heads, but now I’m not sure if that counts?

  6. Linda, that needs to go in a book. I love it!

  7. Jodi, the Rauschenberg goat I would KILL FOR. And I am a Quaker.

    Okay, listen all you people. If you see a taxidermied anything, anywhere, particularly if it’s interesting, write me immediately at:

    dreamandunderworld@mac.com

    I will drive to get it. I will drive hundreds and hundreds of miles. Let’s see, Brandon, you’re in Columbus. I will be in Indiana on the 14th, 15th, leaving on the 16th. If I send you a check, would you buy it, hide from The Librarian, like I don’t know where, and I’ll drive through Columbus and get it? Is this extreme? It’s extreme, isn’t it?

    Kate, hie thee back to the mall. Your two-year-old girl will poop while you’re there, but you’re used to that.

    OHMY GOD YOU PEOPLE.

    And yes, Suzie Q., moose heads are decor. Like paintings or sconces.

  8. Yes, Haven, it’s extreme, and also extremely hilarious. But those fake cats that they put real cat fur on gross me out. It’s big business in China now (dogs too. They grow them to kill them for the fur, so they can make trinkets and fake animals. Why don’t people just adopt real animals from shelters instead of paying for animals to be killed so their fur can cover fake animals? Are they too lazy to feed real animals and clean up their poop? Do they really need fake animals that badly? What do they do with them, pet them? Don’t get me started, oops, I already am.) Whenever I see one I wonder about the poor cat who gave it’s life to make that awful stuffed animal. Ewwww.

  9. Love your new avatar Haven. What a beautiful smile and glow you have about you.

  10. Polly, I was three months pregnant for my beloved, precious, perfect little Baby Augusten. Thank you, sweetheart.

  11. Linda, That is hilarious!

    AngieWoodman, I hope you have pictures of Carl!

  12. what i want to see is a photo montage of haven’s taxidermy collection to date. this would make me happy.

  13. haven has my permission to buy the mountain goat.

    brandon, i expect you to haggle the price down to $550, maybe $500. then you are to strap it on the roof of our car and drive it to haven, because even though she acts all brave and fly, she isn’t up to snuff yet, physically. no long drives for haven. okay? oh and take pictures of people’s reactions to the mouintain goat on the way. stop at many roadside cafes. it will be a lovefest.

    this will be the best mountain goat investment you’ll ever make.

    also, if anyone has any spare painkillers, haven needs them right away. contact her direct at her above email address. our girl is in PAIN. this is,of course,grossly unnacceptable.

  14. i am in agreement about the photos of the stuffed. do you have a large bird of prey? anything baby? what is the most exotic? so moose heads are decor, huh….um, where is the line? i mean the one between “collector” and “decorator”. i am new to the taxidermy world and all the regulations

  15. Haven, oddly my brother-in-law is opening a new store and we are setting it up today. I tok this picture just for you.

  16. So Haven — while we’re on the subject of taxidermy, was wondering if you had any tips for successfully keeping the live animal kingdom and the taxidermy collection apart? My only reference point is this: While on a business trip in the Big Easy I purchased a cute little dried alligator head for my 7-year-old son … let’s just say I hit a home run with that one … it was proudly displayed in his room on a shelf that we later discovered was a little bit too accessible to our mischevious live bundle of fur, Harriet-the-naughty-beagle …. Stan came home one afternoon to find shards of alligator head spread all over the house as evidence of much merriment … it was, I must imagine, the ultimate chew toy. Nonetheless, I pray that you’ve not had any similar misfortune. For now, until I get some good advice on the matter, I’ve decided to limit my collection of dead things to the occasional, unfortunate houseplant.

  17. Haven,
    Have you ever been to the Fort Wayne Diehm Museum ?
    I went there as a child and was just terrified! The entire place is composed of every kind of taxidermed ( is that a word) animal you can imagine posed in it’s “natural habitat scene”! ie. There was a barnyard scene complete with a dog and a cat which my poor mother had to reassure me everynight before bed for a at least a week that they found those animals dead on the side of the road and then stuffed them!

  18. I work in a resturant with many taxidermed (now it’s a word because it has been used twice) animals as decor. There’s also a singing moose head, but it was never alive. When I was little, my cousins were into taxidermy. I remember prarie dogs, rabbits and a coyote. This was in a very small town in Nebraska. I can contact them and see if they have any they would like to part with. Just let me know.

  19. Haven, did you ever see the picture of the venue where we had our high school reunion in Wisconsin this summer? Check this out. They’re not all real but if you dig stuffed animals this should put you in ecstacy.

  20. Amy…I am SO GOING THERE! Woohoo! We have a nature center here with a few taxidermied creatures, including an albino deer. Their woods were overrun with them a few years ago.

    Shea Z (Love your name…Shea is my middle name!!!) I have to wonder about that too. We were keeping my sister in law’s cats for a while and one or both of them had an unnatural relationship with my son’s coon-skin cap. Rugen used to leave it under our Christmas tree and my sons were convinced he was leaving it as a gift for Drake. Anyway, the tail is a little worse for wear, and one of them also gnawed a beautiful little wool bonnet my daughter (who is 16 months, but GIGANTIC) wore last winter.

  21. Haven – I am neutral on taxidermy. However, my former butcher, now coalminer brother runs a seasonal deer processing company. He also traps and hunts.

    What are you missing from your collection, maybe I can put in a request for you??? He does Red Fox beautifully, pelt or “stuffed” (not sure on the official word here. His supplies are Wisconsin, Michigan, Illionis (where he lives), and Indiana/Kentucky. Name your animal . . .

  22. even I should be able to spell Illinois and say it without the s . . .

    hey, I am so happy one of the dudes hanging out in Used World uses the word “acrost” – it drives my Jersey husband WILD when I say that, it took me years to understand that “across” the street didn’t sound like “acrost” the street.

    And he also hates me using “pop” for soda. We used to say grape pop, regular pop (pepsi), rut beer, orange pop . . .

    you know you are from the midwest, if . . .

  23. It’s fantastically creepy Kate..well that’s how I remember it anyway! This was 20 years ago…:)
    Speaking of albino animals..we had an albino squirrel in our yard last month and you would have thought we had spotted Big Foot himself! We watched it all day ( while stupidly forgetting to take a picture and record this for posterity) and then it was gone, never to been seen from again. I wonder if someone has it stuffed on their bookshelf?

  24. Sherfick!!! Rut beer!!!!!! Agghhhhh, you and my fiance need to take that word and destroy it, never to be heard from again!!!!

  25. I just finished Something Rising. Haven- do you think you will write another book with Cassie? This reader would treasure that. Next I shall read Used World but I am not going to start it until I read Owen, otherwise I will never finish that by our deadline.

    Haven, my daughter keeps commenting on how impressed she is with all the reading I have been doing. I wish I could tell her how sobriety and Haven Kimmel go hand in hand for me. Thank you a million times. Thank you.

  26. Amy, do you live near Olney, Illinois? I dated a guy from there once. They used to have a HUGE population of albino squirrels but by the time we dated the population had seriously dwindled.

  27. Also, ’roundabouts where I live ALL carbonated beverages are coke.

  28. Kate-
    No, just north of Dayton, OH for the last 3 years,but fingers crossed I will make it back to Indiana soon! Did you ever see an albino squirrel in IL? They are so bizarre!
    Speaking of Indiana, I finished South of the Big Four on Friday, thank you Haven , it was wonderful!

  29. in reply to suzanne… how serious are we about sending meds? i have no pain killers, but do have muscle relaxers that will make a person sleep the sleep of the… well… it will make them sleep well!

  30. Speaking of meds that will make you sleep, I once went on a trip with my parents to Chicago…my dad was interviewing for Microsoft. I used to get carsick and I was doped up on Dramamine and I slept the ENTIRE time. They passed through Olney and tried to wake me up to see the squirrels…I rather drunkenly rose up, saw a flash of white and then boom! Down for the count. I never saw any when I was dating Johnny Switchblade or whatever his name was, and that mad me sad. Any animal is better when it’s ALBINO.

  31. Suzanne and Amanda, you dudes are going to get this place shut down for illegal activity!!

  32. notes on medications . . .

    I once accidently popped on ambien while on the way to install my thesis art exhibition . . . I thought I had dispensed my daily celexa . . . let’s just say the lines became double and dotted on the way there . . . I ended up sleeping about 4 hours in the lounge on a ratty sofa while the gallery preparator installed most of my show. white pills all look alike.

    my favorite pill shapes: flexeril (look like little houses). Any unused ‘scripts can be epoxied into my sculptures . . . after Haven gets her pick . . . I only have oxycotin (4) left out of an original 15 from 2 years ago.

    ambien rocks.

    Haven – guess where I will be on Oct 16th??? Freaking Rockville IN at the Covered Bridge Festival. It is my mom’s favorite event (even themed her wedding after it) – since she survived her quad bypass and other open heart procedures in January, we promised to go together this year . . . shall I scout out taxidermy?

    will meet in Indy for a hand over . . .

    when is the next novel coming out???? Surely there is one in the works about Lila from SOLACE, as she sits quietly in church with her secrets and what about Cassie and Taos/Thomas . . .???????

  33. Let’s see: Particles, is that coyote for sale? It’s absolutely exquisitely done.

    Steph, I just lost a baby skunk in the last thirty seconds. I’m a tad heartbroken.

    Polly, for that I would attend a high school reunion. I’ve never been to one, and the last time Beth said, “Oh Haven, come on. You’re the only reason people are attending anyway,” I said, “Yes, all the more reason not to go.”

    Sher — here are my dream animals: I would love a full wolf, not just a shoulder mount. I would love a whole bobcat. I would adore a standing bear. The thing is, and I hope you believe me — I would never harm an animal myself. I just love having them near me. And they never, ever scare me. For some reason I look at them and I see complete innocence. They are far more benevolent (in terms of nefarious reasoning) than almost any person I know. This isn’t much of a justification, but any of you who know of people who want to be rid of their taxidermy, I would of course pay a full price.

    Oh, you know what else? You know I sometimes spend 90 hours alone, writing? I’m never alone anymore.

  34. Shea, I’m going to NOLA in a few days — I’ll get you another alligator head. E-mail me at dreamandunderworld@mac.com with your address and I’ll have it shipped from there. Is this for Isaiah? Would you like something for the other baby too?

  35. I personally have no taxidermied species to speak of. I am, however, owned by a bassett-lab mix dog, Sadie, who would sleep 26 hours a day and would easily pass as a taxiderm.

    Ok everyone, last night I finished Augusten Burroughs’ Wolf at the Table. The wolf he spoke of would have been better creature taxidermed, I think.

    Here’s what I thought about Wolf:

    Only this comes: I never understood the word, dread, until I read A’s book. Now I know the dimensions of dread, its nuances and cruelties, its full-frontal assault and its withheld slap upside the face, its
    twisty-turny game with fear and loathing and its tick-tock between certain clarity and opacity that can never end.

    This book was so unflinchingly honest that I felt like a voyeur and vaguely ashamed that I had peeked not just into this man’s room, but his heart.

    And doing so, I was met not with a growl, but a greeting and a glimpse at the other word that defines this book: courage.

  36. Yeah it’s for sale, Haven. We’re in Muskegon, Michigan. 🙂

  37. George – YES on your assessment of WATT by Burroughs.

    His coping mechanisms are stellar – how he gained the COURAGE (as you said) to be so open and honest with the world about his life, it is laudable to say the least.

    One thing I have realized in my life with my own “dark place surviving” (emphasis mine) is that what is experienced by one is not necessarily part of your chosen being – in the sense that children do not choose to be abused, it is enacted upon them, not by them – so there is nothing to hide after you figure out how to deal and cope with the fact.

    So Augusten’s transparency is his statement, to me, that he is in a way, reporting upon events that he did not willingly participate in – like you reporting on crimes/murders. Yes, it effects/affects our beings, but it is easy after the healing (which is continuace) to detach and speak about them without immense trembling.

    Like Pelzer, and, more subtly, McCourt, we can see the past like a crazy movie that segues with humor and passion into a full view of a life, not just a partial.

    I’ve never published memoirs, but I do not hide or am not ashamed of actions that were out of my childhood control.

    Augusten’s voice is so gloriously an anthem of resilience. authenticity. humanness without editing. i can’t find enough words.

  38. Haven – request will be forwarded re taxidermy . . . of course I believe you would never hurt an animal. Are you kidding me? I pick up animal parts all over the place – right now I am looking at a coyote skull, mandible bones, hollow bird bones, and a very lovely cardinal skull complete with the RED/ORANGE beek . . . I prefer bones, you prefer fur – together we could have complete animals!

  39. My grandfather had a stuffed javelina head that scared all of his grandchildren to death — until we saw my grandmother pull a chair over, climb up so she could reach the javelina, and run Vaseline all over its lips and nose. “He gets a little chapped in the winter,” she told us. From then on, he just seemed like one of the family. He resides with my Uncle James now. Aunt Betty is in charge of the Vaseline.

  40. Any chances of a stuffed armadillo showing up?

  41. You are so smart, Sherflick. And your bringing up Frank McCourt in Angela’s Ashes was a parallel I didn’t see immediately.

  42. We also have a Pheasant

  43. Apropos of nothing, here’s a really horrible bat story.

    http://apnews.myway.com/article/20080928/D93FE5JG0.html

  44. Particles, it’s for sale?!? How much is it? Where in the world is this crazy Michigan place?

    I must get my driver’s license back. After my seizure they took it away and now I am like a something without a necessary something else.

  45. Apropos of something, I forgot that my friend Sarah and I once had an intense conversation about whether or not jackalopes were real. I leaned towards no, but she had two compelling pieces of evidence: her father had once seen a REAL stuffed jackalope at a truck stop, and then, of course, there were those footage of them on America’s Funniest Home Videos. I am one of those people who, while being technically “intelligent” also tends to be rather gullible, which I blame on reading too much about strange phenomena. I mean really, anything is plausible, even a rabbit with antlers.

  46. Okay, nothing to add regarding taxidermy, but what was the verdict on the book club?

  47. I believe in jackalopes as well as Santa.

    We all need our tenuous hold on myth – and it is the name of my favorite store in Albequerque – where I purchases MANY of my aforementioned bones.

    I am also a “freak” freak. My favorite museum is the MUTTER in Philadelphia, filled with Taxidermy, bones, and bizarre biological oddities . . . just delicious.

    Penchants for curiosities – you must read UTZ (but I can’t find the book, actually I think I gave that to Matt Sigmon, but any way) it is a brilliant piece of – I don’t know what it is about . . . but buy it, ok??? Lots of mentionings of stuffed, dead, previously alive, beings.

    I’ve said enough.

  48. Sher is singing my song.

  49. I love this conversation going on about taxidery pieces. For some reason hearing other people’s obsession and passions just entertain me. I too would also like you to gather your taxidermy family together Haven and make a Christmas card.

    Sam

  50. learning to type in this century would serve me as a wonderful tool. I’m just not there yet.

  51. sO HERE is one more freaky thing . . .

    I love anything to do with LITTLE PEOPLE…I was in HEAVEN when they started that show on TLC . . .

    I also love all things about/for/looking act/hearing Matthew McCoughnehey(sp?) – anyway he has done a movie with HIM (obviously) and little people . . . my husband saw me watching it and he was like – did you have that movie made for you, it was so ME . . .

    will look up the name . . .

  52. ok – 2005’s TIPTOES (also has Kate Beckinsale) . . . weird name, but good movie (for me).

  53. sam, don’t feel bad about slow typing . . . many people have problems with that – I once got a job as a paralegal only because I would still take dictation for the old, senior partner who refused to even have a typewriter in his office. But, have you tried any lessons?

    obviously this is the wrong night to stay up, because no one is hanging out with us . . . I have made 24 (oops)

    homemade muffins (just burnt the last batch)

    oh well

    will check in tomorrow/errrr, later today…

  54. kate . . .

    want a burnt apple cinnamon muffin . . .???

    night chickadee

  55. Sher…I had caffeine. I am here, and I am bored.

  56. I don’t know if you’ve ever read any of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum comic mysteries/thrillers or however they’re classified. Their titles are “numbered,” kinda, starting with One for the Money and on up. The most recent paperback, Lean Mean Thirteen, features a taxidermist as a secondary character.

    Ho-hum so far, right? But he does what he calls “performance pieces” (as well as stuffed pets and so on). He picks up roadkill beavers and groundhogs and squirrels and such, and stuffs them. Oddly, though, the performance pieces have three eyes instead of two. Of course the uninitiated can’t help touching the one in the middle of the forehead — not knowing (unless they’re paying attention, but even that doesn’t stop them) that it’s labeled “BANG.”

    Yeah: It’s a pushbutton. And yeah: The performance piece blows up. Not with enough violence to hurt anyone, except through loss of dignity. Just enough to cover them with (say) beaver fur and beaver hide and this pinkish foam-type stuffing he uses.

    You might not think an exploding beaver would make a good addition to a home-security system. But you would be wrong.

  57. If you look at the palm of your hand, Muskegon is below the Pinky-finger just south of the Heart Line, right on Lake Michigan. heh.

  58. OMG I just figured out why I can’t leave Muskegon.

  59. Kate – oh man, I logged off and read for 3 hours (sawtelle), now up after getting monkeys off to school . . . I did not give in and eat even 1 muffin . . .

  60. Haven, i am very sad to hear of the loss of your baby skunk. i think i would like taxidermy, i just need to get my A game on so i can learn all the ins and outs. so when someone makes a rug out of–say–i dunno a bear or a leopard, that is a whole different thing, right?

  61. Sher, Little People, Big World is one of my favorite shows. That and 30 Rock. Wildly different, I know–but Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin have me falling down laughing.

    Did everyone see Tina Fey as Sarah Palin on SNL? so so so so so hysterical. http://www.nbc.com/ it is right there…headliner

  62. Oh Sherfick the issue isn’t slow typing, it is most definitely sloppy typing! I have no technique and just throw random fingers across the keys hoping that the results are words….or at least resemble words. I don’t use my thumbs and or pinkies at all. just my three middle digits like a child plunking notes on a piano.

    Sam
    PS. Has anyone seen Miracle at St. Anna yet? I really want someone whom I can discuss this movie with. It was odd, moving, and simply tragic.

  63. Steph,

    “Todd and the kids love central park and that crazy evolution museum.” TINA FEY IS PURE GENIUS!!!!

  64. It has taken me days, but I am finally tackling Jodi’s serious question about the “fur” art . . . if you are not interested, skip this post!!!

    Here goes . . .

    any type of expression is art. A fun game to play is “Is this Art?” on http://www.ovationtv.com
    link for Robert Rauschenberg
    http://www.ovationtv.com/programs/14
    the documentary they just did on him is phenomenal (I am so sad he died, I’ve never met him, but I was in his presence in 2004 at the Whitney Biennial opening and he was in a faux purple lizard leisure suit) and he actually tells the story of finding the goat in a thrift store in NYC, he was supposed to pay $50 but the guy went out of business before he finished paying . . .
    and, he did many versions before the tire was the “one” . . .
    what is important about this type of art (I would categorize it as DADA) is that the focal object is transformed – just as in Oppenheim’s “fur cup” the utility of the object is negated and the artist (manipulator), [think of Marcel Duchamp’s Bicycle Wheel and Man Ray’s “La Cadeau” – these can also be referred to as ready mades] . . . creates a new reincarnation

    to me this is almost a bigger talent than creating something from thin air, because you have to KNOW the essence of the item, deconstruct its tautology and change it enough so that the alteration stands up equally to the original inference.

    There is a syndrome that is a strong, fervent reaction to art: Stendhal syndrome, Stendhal’s syndrome or Florence syndrome, is a psychosomatic illness that causes rapid heartbeat, dizziness, confusion and even hallucinations when an individual is exposed to art, usually when the art is particularly ‘beautiful’ or a large amount of art is in a single place. The term can also be used to describe a similar reaction to a surfeit of choice in other circumstances, e.g. when confronted with immense beauty in the natural world. [wikipedia definition]

    So I have had 2 episodes of Stendal – one was at the OLD (my preferred) MOMA in NYC, standing in the DADA room, I thought they would need to call an ambulance.

    After studying art for years, I expected (and thought they deserved) for each piece to be in an altar or alcove all its own. I was stunned that the pieces were just squished together and grouped in vitrines . . . happy to see them, but felt that they were diminished by their placement. Note: The new MOMA is a thousand times worse. It is beyond bad. The architecture itself is great, but the way it is dis-organized and crammed, paintings grouped behind vitrines and propped on shelves – I am desultory.

    2nd episode – last year standing inside the Romanesque cathedral at Ravenna, Italy. Victorians would have said I got the vapors (but I think that means gas, and that was NOT the case) – Donny took a photo of me with my mouth hanging open and tears streaming down my face, I looked like that all day. I am getting chills just thinking about it.

    I have used fur in some art work – it is very effective.

    my 4 cents . . . inflation might make it worth a dollar . . .

  65. ha – go LITTLE PEOPLE . . .

    for oddities, look at this lecture I am attending wednesday:
    _____________________
    “Clones and Chimeras: Medical Monsters in Literature and Film” with Jay Clayton, William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor; Chair, Department of English

    Can novels, stories, and movies do more than scare the public about the important challenges raised by stem cell research, cloning, organ transplantation, the use of animal tissue in humans, and other developments in the biological sciences? Do the arts have a role to play in helping people consider the complex ethical and social issues posed by the latest science? Professor Clayton will examine the important role the arts have to play in helping people consider the complex ethical and social issues posed by the latest science.
    Wednesday, October 1, 2008; 12:00pm – 1:00pm; Nashville Public Library; 615 Church Street

    he would be so comfortable at the MUTTER. If anyone is near Nashville, join me at the lecture . . .

    ps if any of you BLOG BUDDIES ever come to Nashville without contacting me, Linda, or Jules we will just die.

  66. Also FREAK LOVERS – watch these movies:

    Fur, a Fictional Autobiography of Diane Arbus (with Nicole Kidman and Robert Downey Junior)

    Green Porno, directed/acted by Isabella Rossellini tres fablique

  67. Amy, that skit was so funny. but sarah palin scares the shit out of me. i think she is truly the opposite of progress and feminism. i have watched the skit a thousand times and i still laugh (but inside i am thinking good God, this woman is INSANE)

  68. tina fey is genius for sure. i would go gay for fey

  69. Sarah Palin is insane! I was laying in bed Saturday night just in hysterics thinking ” oh lord in heaven, how did this woman ever come to be in the position she is in”!
    Tina Fey rules.

  70. I love Tina Fey too but I must also confess that when I watch these skits all I can think is “this would be really funny if it were not so damn scary.”

  71. Sam, about that typing thing: it’s hereditary, som (I mean, son.) I am finishing up here in Florida and heading back to DC.

    Here’s a story about typing (Sam, I probably bored you with this one.):

    When I was at The Indianapolis Star, we always used to get our paychecks every Thursday and the copy messengers would also drop them off at the desks.

    One of the messengers was what we now label as developmentally delayed. That was basically a misnomer. I think he was just hanging back.

    Week after week. He asked me what I was earning.

    “It’s a secret,” I say. Or, “not nearly enough.” Or “none of your business.”

    This went on for years.

    Then, one day, the check stub arrived and I opened it. Well, something happened or I had to go the john or something, because when I got back, the copy messenger was standing by my desk.

    “I saw what you make a week,” he said.

    “Did you now,” I replied. “Were you surprised?”

    “You make more than me, George.”

    “Well, that’s because I have been doing this kind of work for a while. I also went to college. You know…” I said, trying to be diplomatic, and, to tell you truth, I didn’t care that he had looked. It was, afterall, my own business to peek into other people’s business.

    He looked at me and said, “I bet I know why you make more than me.”

    “Oh yeah.”

    “You can type,” he said.

  72. George, in the vein of your story about the copy editor, I recently read this story about Jack London:

    “When Jack London had his portrait made by the noted San Francisco photographer Arnold Genthe, London began the encounter with effusive praise for the photographic art of his friend and fellow bohemian, Genthe: ‘You must have a wonderful camera… It must be the best camera in the world… You must show me your camera.’

    “Genthe then used his standard studio camera to make what has since become a classic picture of Jack London.

    “When the sitting was finished, Genthe could not contain himself: ‘I have read your books, Jack, and I think they are important works of art. You must have a wonderful typewriter.'”

    Cracked me right up.

  73. Ack…George…what a fabulous story!

    I was interviewing a group of hard-working German Catholic upper-middle class farmers a couple of weeks ago. The battery on my camera died and I didn’t have a replacement, but one of the guys had some in his truck and offered them to me. Someone incredulously asked if the newspaper didn’t provide my batteries. I said no, it’s my camera, and my batteries. Then another gentleman said “So, you just make the big bucks, huh?”

    Wow…I could not believe he said that to me, someone who was on food stamps up until about 3 months ago. “You’d be surprised…” was all I said.

    Point being…it’s not your business (even though I am not at all private and I tell everyone everything about myself.)

    Also, Jes, I love that Jack London story!

  74. Great Jack London story – we are as good as our “equipment”??? Guess I should buy more expensive brushes or something!

    I agree that salary is nobody’s business.

    A very good acquaintance/friend (I thought) recently asked me how I was doing (artwise) and I was like great . . . this, this, this

    and then he had the gall to ask how much I made per illustration. It was in a very confrontational way, just bizarre.

    I just replied “enough.”

    Enough said.

  75. completely forgot to mention this in the fiction section, but will go back and see if anyone else did… The Sparrow, by Mary Doria Russell. I cannot put into words how much this book affected me.

  76. Ms. HV –

    I kid you not – I found you a taxidermied coyote w/a pheasant in his mouth!

    No joke.

    Check your e:mail.

  77. Haven, I’m keeping good thoughts and lots of healing light around you. Rest and let everyone wait on you, hand and foot. A Queen would never let such a rare opportunity go to waste … =0)

  78. Hello, Haven’s peeps? I am on a work deadline and I am so bored…please entertain me while I slog it out…

  79. Okay. Stone me now. What is up with the taxidermy fixation? I just got back from Idaho where I got to shave the head of my surrogate mother because she has cancer, and bury the family dog, who died unexpectedly. I actually dug a hole with a shovel and tried to write something meaningful to ease the pain of a family that hunts but understands that animals have a soul. Haven, did you enjoy those rabbit heads nailed to the wall so much that you had to keep one and have it stuffed? I just don’t understand how people can be so macabre.

  80. But I do agree with what George Stuteville said about “A Wolf at the Table”. Even though I think that that book gives wolves a bad name. And they are infinitely more wonderful alive than stuffed.

  81. Kate Cake –

    I am up, blurrily because I went to a bubble bath with red wine without scanning and emailing the illustrations which were due at 5 p.m.

    Now I can’t sleep – WHERE is everybody, is Haven o.k.????

    I am also immune to caffeine . . . I drink (don’t tell anybody) like 8 – 12 diet cokes per day. I know because I have to drink from cans because I keep drowning my cell phone in the ice/glass/diet coke combos . . . if you are bored you can read this account at my blog, under 40th Birthday Fiasco, sometime in December of 2007 . . .

    http://www.sherfickart.typepad.com

    Maybe you can give me a scrap and leave a comment . . ????

  82. See, to me Dorian, taxidermy doesn’t have to be macabre. I have always found a well-stuffed animal to possess a nobility and grace. It is not often that we can gaze upon a wild creature…usually there is only a chance for a fleeting glimpse. But an animal that is preserved gives you an opportunity to pause and really observe. Where would the museums be without taxidermy to bring life to their nature scenes? I have always felt solemn when I gaze upon something like that. I will never meet a Kodiak in the wild, but I know what it feels like to stand next to one.

    But bad taxidermy can be macabre, and that’s where we must really part ways. My heart belongs to creepy. I found the most hideous stuffed squirrel today, and it was just ripe with black humor.

  83. Sher, I have added you to my RSS feed. I know you won’t disappoint.

  84. folksies,

    IF YOU DON’T LIKE VISUAL ART, DON’T READ THIS:

    I actually did this huge post today on Jodi’s question about, when is taxidermy art, is Robert Raschenberg’s “goat” or Oppenheim’s “fur” cup art . . . ???

    and that is when my words went POOF into the wild blue . . .

    will try again . . .

    Re ART

    I believe any type of expression in art (whether it is theater, writing, dance, visual . . .) IS ART. So given that test, THEY are art.

    But I think this type of art we are questioning is special. I would categorize it as DADA art, post-surrealism. (although officially, RR’s piece chronologicall fits into Abstract Expressionism, I am more thinking of the process).

    DADA takes a product and deconstructs its tautology, runs it through the artist’s manipulation, a reinterpretation or reincartion (if you want to be romantic). Therefore this object is REMOVED from its “everyday use” [think Alice Walker’s Everyday Use short story, where DEE removes the quilts and churn from the house, thereby making the items impotent].

    I think DADA, when done right and not as a gratuitous “avengarde” is one of the most diffiult forms to express. You can’t just pull from the thin air, you have to reassess a pre-supposed and pre-determined element.

    so is Oppenheim/Rauschenberg (god rest his newly departed soul, I am still in mourning) ART? YES.

    It is fun to take this daily test at http://www.ovationtv.com, also, program 14 is an interview with Rauschenberg wherein he discusses his acquirement of the goat (found in NYC in a thrift store with an agreed upon price of $50, he never paid in full because the owner went out of business before he paid). So he goes through tons of versions before he hits it with the tire, both objects become transferred in their union.

    I have had an episode of Stendhal Syndrome(footnote #1) standing in the OLD MOMA’s DADA room. I thought they might need an ambulance . . .

    I was overcome with the display of genius and spontaneity and the HORROR I felt (especially at the location of the “fur cup”) at the overcrowded, under “worshipped” display of all things DADA – I thought each piece would be in a stand-alone niche or something. That was bad enough, but +cross myself+ I hate the new MOMA lay out (love the architecture, but it is not condusive to art viewing). It is WORSE. We need a DADA museum, then I will be happy.

    2nd Stendhal Syndrome – last Summer standing at Ravenna Cathedral in Italy. Tears streaming down my face, my mouth hanging open (all day) . . . I am getting chills right now!

    Note: other than the amazing collection of RAPHAEL’s at the Uffizi, that place just annoyed me, their labels were 50 years old and peeling off the walls, the paintings were 50 ft. in the air, and they had a plywood stained “exhibition” hall for the traveling exhibit – it was desultory.

    Anyway, FUR type movies: SEE :

    FUR, with Nicole Kidman & Robert Downey Junior (fictional autobiography of Diane Arbus)

    semi-related,
    Insect (not INCEST) Fun:
    Isabella Rossellini’s GREEN PORNO, she directed and acted it out, complete with costumes . . . it is TRES FABLIQUE!
    ____________________________________

    Footnote #1:
    Stendhal syndrome, or Florence syndrome, is a psychosomatic illness that causes rapid heartbeat, dizziness, confusion and even hallucinations when an individual is exposed to art, usually when the art is particularly ‘beautiful’ or a large amount of art is in a single place. The term can also be used to describe a similar reaction to a surfeit of choice in other circumstances, e.g. when confronted with immense beauty in the natural world.

    It is named after the famous 19th century French author Stendhal (pseudonym of Henri-Marie Beyle), who described his experience with the phenomenon during his 1817 visit to Florence, Italy in his book Naples and Florence: A Journey from Milan to Reggio.

    Although there are many descriptions of people becoming dizzy and fainting while taking in Florentine art, especially at the Uffizi, dating from the early 19th century on, the syndrome was only named in 1979, when it was described by Italian psychiatrist Graziella Magherini, who observed and described more than 100 similar cases among tourists and visitors in Florence. The syndrome was first diagnosed in 1982.

  85. Kate Cake –

    you rock. and roll.

  86. oh my goodness, I think I just posted for the 2nd time and I must have exceeded the word limit, becaue my “IS IT ART?” posting disappeared again.

    It is NOT meant to be . . .

    I am depressed now, going to bed (to read, not to sleep) . . . toodles . . .

  87. kate –

    we were the last hold outs . . .

    hang in there, maybe they will come back tomorrow . . .

  88. Copy and paste, Sher!! Those blog comments can be finicky!!

  89. Hmmm. Kate. Nobility and grace. Seeing something dead is very different than something alive. My grandmother alive had nobility and grace. Dead, not so much. And I would never want to stuff her and have her head mounted next to my computer. Call me crazy. I hate Moose heads. Those glazed eyes make me think that warm blood that mattered to someone ran through those veins. Sorry. I am in too vexed and crazy a mood tonight to be rational about anything. But thank you for calling me by my name and responding to a stranger in the wilderness.

  90. Well, I guess we feel differently about death. I wouldn’t want to keep my grandfather, but I did kiss his waxy cheek as he was laid out. If anything he looked too good, and that disappointed me, because I felt his healthy appearance was a lie after what cancer did to him. Life was very hard on him, cancer destroyed him, but death was peace.

    Anyway, aren’t we talking about animals??

    Haven??

  91. And I am trying to train my cat Niko, adopted from Greece as an emaciated stray not to kill the mice in the ivy outside my front door. I know I saw a picture of a supposedly rabid and dangerous rat on this thread, but he actually looked cute to me. In all actuality the closest thing I have done to taxidermy is too clip a little of my best cat Pip’s fur when he suddenly died because I just could not bear to part with that sweet cat and I put the fur in a little box with his kitten picture (starving orphan that he was, Mrs Havershim or however one spells it.) Officially rambling and certainly not making sense. I promised myself I wouldn’t do this. Oh well.

  92. See…that thing was no rat. It was a TAXIDERMIED, I don’t know, hamster? Groundhog? I’m not good at zoology. See, you LOVE taxidermy!

  93. and again, the cancer thing is what gets me tonight. I am not talking about animals. I am talking about life and death and people I love. I can’t face this.

  94. I just re-read what you wrote…I’m sorry if all this mirth is hurting you. Death sucks, no doubt about it. I think that when we do things to preserve what is left it’s just our way of whistling in the dark…I’m sorry you are going through this.

  95. Okay, Taxidermy can be fine. When kids in the inner cities do not know what a coyote looks like and one happens to die of natural causes. Good. Go for it. There are probably lots of other good reasons that I can not think of. I just could not wait to put that sweet dog in the earth and no matter how much I have loved any animal, be it a hummingbird, a moth, a cat or the freeking 11 baby ducklings that drowned in the pool I do not want to see them stuffed and put on a plank. I did save the last duckling. I wish I could have shot her parents and served them for dinner. I named them after my own sweet mom and dad. The next time they landed in the pool I took all eleven ducklings to the wildlife rehab I used to work at probably contributed to ruining the gene pool for the next generation of ducks.

  96. Some good books on death and loss and how to cope?

  97. Wow, wow, wow.

    Dorian, I want to say something and I want you to read it in the manner in which I intend it, which is with compassion. These are things I never tell anyone, but you deserve an honest response:

    1. If you are grieving so fiercely you cannot distinguish between animals and people, you need to find a very good grief counselor. They are miracle workers.

    2. In my lifetime, I have buried: my high school boyfriend, a woman I grew up with in my Quaker Meeting who was shot in the back by her husband, who then blew his own brains out in front of their daughters, who were four and six.

    3. One of my closest childhood friends, who was diagnosed with incurable liver cancer at 29, when she was four months pregnant. They kept her alive long enough to deliver the baby. Her husband never left her casket, and he never put the baby down.

    4. My beloved grandmother, who was the only person on my father’s side of the family who made us feel loved.

    5. My aunt, and one year later, my uncle.

    6. My brother-in-law of twenty years. My sister, I believe it is safe to say, lost her mind. I was so afraid she would kill herself that I drove from NC to Indiana, 700 miles, eight times in 12 months.

    7. My lifelong Quaker pastor, who happened to be the father of the woman who was shot by her husband.

    8. One of my dearest friends from high school came home from work and found her 17-year-old son had hanged himself in her closet.

    9. Three of my favorite high school freaks committed suicide immediately after graduation.

    10. I lost a baby in my second trimester of pregnancy.

    11. I lost a second baby.

    12. As Kate will attest, I loved my father so purely and with such respect that I adored even his crimes, his faults, his dangerousness, his failures, his impeccable style, his droll wit, his physical strength, the sentimentality he kept hidden because he was A Man. He had beautiful handwriting. He had beautiful hands. He could whistle classical music. His dogs were the best trained in the world, and he did it by rarely speaking to them and never being cruel to them. He trained a cat to perform tricks. He let me have any pet I wanted as a child, including chickens and rabbits and ducks and a hamster, and an entire wall covered with aquariums. He was, perhaps only with the exception of my mother and my sister, the most fascinating, rare, unlikely human being to ever live. I couldn’t write She Got Up Off The Couch until he died, because I couldn’t bear to harm him even with my sympathy. We buried him on May 13th, and I had exactly 40 days to write that book, and I did so, and there was not one day I didn’t sit at my computer with tears streaming down my face and my stomach in knots.

    All of those animals I loved as a child? Dead. The majority of my family? Dead. You are fortunate you had sweet and loving parents — not many people can say such a thing. You are privileged to grieve the way you are, rather than in anger over what was never said or resolved.

    As for my love of taxidermy, I believe you are deeply confused about my motives. The ‘rat’ you saw in the blog is actually a lemming. It was used in veterinary school in 1890. Those veterinary schools are what keep our pets alive now. The little monkey is 175 years old and no one wanted him. I love these animals. Not one has a bullet hole, or the mark of an arrow. Many died by being hit by cars, or by other animals, because there is simply no way around it: nature is indeed red in tooth and claw. Unless you are a vegan, and maybe you are, what happens to cows and pigs and chickens is so unspeakable I can sit right next to this skunk — I can pet him, I can give him Beauty Parlor — but I will not for one moment consider the demonic facts of our food industry.

    I stopped fishing with my father when I saw the hook in that delicate skin of the fish’s mouth.

    I spent fifteen years rescuing dogs. I got the crazy, the neurotic, the abused, the ones that wouldn’t stop vomiting, the one who chased his tail incessantly, the vicious, the sublime.

    I understand you are grieving. I have grieved so violently at times in my life I couldn’t imagine going on living. But you must decide if you are a member of the human condition or if you stand outside of it. Every person on this earth is suffering, in one way or another. You are suffering in a specific way. My constant companion Scott just lost one of his dearest friends to leukemia at 43. Would you like to know what her self-composed obituary read? “Leah died at her home in Brooklyn yesterday at the age of 43, and not, as she intended, in Paris at the age of 44.” The day before she died, her brother was hit by a car on his bicycle and was pronounced brain dead. Because he was in Boston and she was in an oxygen tent in New York, Scott and all her friends gathered around her as they counted down the minutes until his life support was unplugged.

    Someday there will be no wolves. There will be no polar bears, or badgers or beautiful little ermine. There will no bobcats, or red foxes. If I’m alive when that day comes I will sit in this barn and marvel at the wonder and complexity of God’s handiwork; the wild diversity, the genius instinct, the languid mountain lion lying in the sun, when there were mountain lions. I am not a collector of anything but books and kindred spirits, but I love these animals. I love them. I honor them.

    I’ve never found a truly fine book on death and loss, and I looked frantically for my sister. I would, however, highly recommend two Buddhist psychology texts: Thoughts Without A Thinker, and Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart. They are entirely accessible and helped me immensely.

    And finally I would recommend that you take that energy, the energy that is wounding you so deeply, and turn it toward those who are in even worse shape than you. Help them. Listen to them. My husband volunteered at a homeless shelter for AIDS patients for years, and he watched the people he loved die one by one. But I never heard him complain about his own losses in that time, not once. Plant an insanely complicated garden. Volunteer everywhere you are needed. We are all shocked and appalled by our own mortality, and the death of our parents is that letter you don’t want to open; the one that tells you you’re next. If you are treated unkindly, respond with grace and humility. Tell yourself every day that the very fact you walk this planet is an inexplicable miracle, and that you will repay the miracle by concentrating on the evolution of your soul. For me, that evolution meant simply accepting that I would lose the people I loved the most. I would be subject to the news of the world’s atrocities. But my soul is free, and I will accept the terror of being alive, and I will cry for forty days if I have to. Most of all, I will do my darndest to love more fully and with greater tenderness, and I find good humor anywhere I possibly can.

    I apologize from the bottom of my cowboy slippers if I offended you or broke a fragile thing in you. We are in this together, and I’m sorry.

    HK

  98. Dorian, without revoking a word of my apology, you need to back your tongue up from that statement about the rabbits stapled to my neighbor’s barn. I was six years old. My neighbor was an alcoholic, a sociopath, and had an IQ of about 65. I had no idea what I was seeing; there had been no such cruelty in my life. I was traumatized for weeks.

    And I would like to make one more thing very clear before anyone else decides to pick up that thread and follow it to where the Minotaur of Harsh Judgment is waiting. Unless you grew up on a farm, outside a town of 300 in the 1960’s; unless you saw dead baby pigs tossed on a frozen pile in the winter because those farmers were desperately trying to keep their families and homes intact; unless you helped drag 1,500 pound, dearly loved horses across a field in the dead of night to give them a proper burial so the county wouldn’t take them; furthermore, unless you grew up in poverty so dire you all lived in one room, because it was the only room with heat, and also you were without running water for three years? I really really would not call a six-year-old child on her way to Quaker Meeting who happened to see something she could not comprehend macabre.

  99. For me, writing about grief helps way more than reading about grief. That could be why my commentary about many books, including Haven’s always ends up about me. I spent too many year trying to find my way out of the painful, icky part of life, when the answer is right here and now. Living in the moment while hanging onto precious memories, and letting go of the mess that was me.

    http://particlesofspirit.wordpress.com/2007/02/15/spared-and-squared-grief/

  100. Dear Dorian,

    Next time you ride back into town in the middle of the night, half-blind with grief, head on up to your room in the Haven o’Rest Hotel and DON’T STOP OFF IN THE SALOON. Miss Kitty Kimmel, the proprietor, wasn’t lookin’ for a brawl but dang if she didn’t get one. Cowhands ‘round these parts know Miss KK keeps a .44 in her bustle, and she might not look it, but she’s the sharpest shooter this side o’ the Rockies. She shot you clean through the heart and you never even knew it before your poor body hit the floor. Here’s a motto we cowhands live by: Check to see who’s wearing cowboy slippers before you start blogging.

  101. Dorian, I can’t recommend any books about death specifically, but a book that I found comforting and helpful at a difficult time in my life is The Art of Resilience by Carol Orsborn. I am sure you can find it on Amazon. At the time I read it Carol was at graduate student at the Divinity School at Vanderbilt (where I work)or she had just graduated. She wrote it, in part, because of what cancer made her face in her one life.

    Thank you for your words, Haven. I found comfort in them.

  102. Dorian, You stumbled upon maybe the best blog ever created with commenters that have formed a tight-knit community with Haven being our Matriarch. We share the stories of our own lives and offer differing opinions, but one thing that we, as a “family”, cannot tolerate are remarks of any kind that can even be remotely construed as critical of Haven or those she loves. I can’t speak for everyone else, but I found Haven’s first two books at a difficult time in my life. This period was easier to cope with by reading her stories filled with such candor and humility about events we typically do not wish upon any child. Zippy and Couch, especially, taught me that I COULD get through anything by looking at the story of life with the even the little gems it gives us. Read every single one of Haven’s books and you’ll find coping mechanisms. Some may be subtle but they are there. If you have a copy of The Used World pull it off the shelf immediately and read the last sentence of the last page. It is the truth.

    Kate, I had a similar experience with my grandmother; a woman who NEVER wore make-up. When she died after an 11 year battle with cancer the funeral home made her look like a…well, a street walker.

    Haven, Thank you. Thank you for your honesty. I’m sitting here crying for your losses and pain, for all our losses and pain, and I never cry. I was always told it was a sign of weakness.

  103. Wow…what HAVEN said. Yeah.

  104. I’m just going to put in my two cents before heading off to work (ugh!)… Please, when you read Dorian’s remarks, keep in mind that they’re from a soul in anguish. As the great community we are, try to understand that in the throes of deep grief, we sometimes can misconstrue words or meanings or even actions. Someone very wise once said to me when I was feeling particularly vulnerable and needed advice to “do no harm, and that includes yourself.”

    Dorian, I’m terribly sorry for your losses. Give it some time and I think you’ll find that here, in Haven’s world, we’re all here to help each other through this, whatever it is. ( I think Vonnegut said this or something similar.)

  105. grief is such a surreal emotion, or maybe it is too real…i am not sure. this conversation got very heavy overnight and i wanted to weigh in my two cents.

    Haven, it is clear that your compassion and love for taxidermy is real and i am unsure why it even got to the point of the rabbit comment.

    i currently have a friend who has been in the hospital for over 6 weeks as he waits for a heart transplant due to a hereditary disease. he (will) lost his father to this disease 6 months ago. will is 31 years old and his own heart that is keeping him alive now is only functioning at about 21%. he is over 6 feet tall and they doctors have decided that the only heart that will work for him has to come from someone who is equally tall. he had the opportunity to have a heart last week, but it was from a woman and it wasn’t large enough for his body.

    what i am getting at is that everyone must suffer at some point in his/her life. it is unavoidable, and frankly i think it is an important process in life. it isn’t fun, that’s for sure and i can easily say that grief is the hardest emotion i have ever had to cope with (a preposition is poor to end a sentence with, i know, but deal).

    my husband went to rehab when i was 7 mos pregnant. i spent most of the time reading, learning, attending Al-Anon. it was that or wallow, which i also did a bit and not a day passed that i didn’t bawl my eyes out. my dogs were my strength and i have always found unbelievable compassion and empathy in animals.

    my grandma (GMA) died in december of 2001. she was the coolest lady i have ever known. she was wrought with distress because 9/11 happened 3 months before she passed. a huge part of me wishes GMA died prior to that day. it was all she could think about on her death bed. it was the only time in my life i have questioned bringing children into this world. how could such a thing happen? yet it happens all around the world, everyday, on a much more enormous scale, and i rarely think about it. shame on me for that.

    i hope to raise my family with compassion and love of course, but for me, the most important thing you can instill in your children is empathy. my mom did it for me and i hope i can do half as good a job as she did. my dogs have helped me learn that even more. being able to “put yourself in someone else’s shoes” is a gift that my parents gave to me.

    Dorian, the pain lessens, the tears dry up, but the memory lives forever. it is ok to cry. it is good to cry. when the tears are over, i feel relief…even if only for a few minutes. it does get better.

    my husband has been sober for 26 months and that is a gift he gave himself and our family. i couldn’t be more proud. he is an inspiration.

  106. oh, and yes, a therapist helps. A LOT.

  107. This is the whole conundrum about the fire shadows in the cave – are you supposed to go out and spread your discoveries? I tend to hold off when I am feeling confronted or judged and that is something I need to work on.

    It is a hard one because, ultimately, one’s evolution must be personal. I love the fact that everyone is so passionate.

    Always remember to look and love deeper than at first glance. If I came across a woodpecker (especially the newly discovered, previously “extinct” ivory billed), I would definately buy it to honor its existence. Also, I would love an AUK (as mentioned in THE SHORES OF SILVER LAKE, by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

    To me, Haven is literally rescuing discarded animals.

    Dorian: Go back to the Desiderata in a former posting, Max Ehrman’s philosophy/poetry has kept me from falling over the edge many a time.

    Haven, I am so happy you are ok and I am so proud of you for explaining the depth of your connection to wildlife. A very specific art review I did in April 2007 “Beauty: Byproduct of the Grotesque” is on my blog. The artist had recreated a smoking shed she had come across in the woods of Michagan. She was just a little girl and played with her friends in the woods (racoons, squirrels, deer). She walked in the shed and found all her friends bleeding, hanging, desicating. Her recreation was amazing and hit every sense (including olfactory) – I believe this directly relates to the issue of your attachment to taxidermy.

    To Dorian, this my favorite “struggling” poem:

    love and faith

    you are not poor if you
    love something, someone,
    humanity maybe, and have faith
    that you will somewhere,
    sometime be satisfied, though you
    know not how.

    You may even feel that your
    sorrow is but a school to teach
    you the virtues of sympathy and
    gentleness, that will avail
    you hereafter, though you know
    not where.

    I am not always on the highway
    that leads to this hilltop,
    but I have seen the lighted road
    stretching on and on;
    sometimes I have even fancied
    that I saw the windows of
    the castle all aglow.

    And I have hastened my steps
    to be in time for the feast,
    and taken counsel of my courage
    lest I falter and fall on the way.

    May I keep this vision of
    the castle ever before my eyes,
    and a belief in my heart
    that THE JOURNEY IS WORTHWHILE,
    and the castle and the glow
    in the windows not all illusion.

    (max ehrman)

    Also, as a teenager when my beloved, imperfect grandfather died I read “How to Survive the Loss of Love” – it is applicable to divorces, as well, but it is a small book and helps guide you in writing and working through the biggest pitfall of grieving: anger.

    When my stepfather (who had raised me from the age of 4) died, I was glad they embalmed him so I could say goodbye. It was not him, but just his shell, and THANKFULLY they couldn’t get the grease of a hardworking life out of his hands or from under his fingernails – I caressed and held those hands, cold as ice, to say my goodbyes. Since we slipped into dead people, I just had to add that – because I do get the comfort that Haven can get from being surrounded by her beloved creatures.

    I go in peace.

  108. Sorry about the double ART comments, they returned from whence they went – blog comment pergatory?

  109. a very famous one, i know. shakespeare’s sonnet #30. i had to memorize it in some lit class in college and it is seared in to my brain. i thought it was definitely appropriate for grief and i think it is just beautiful:

    When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
    I summon up remembrance of things past,
    I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,
    And with old woes new wail my dear time’s waste:
    Then can I drown an eye, unused to flow,
    For precious friends hid in death’s dateless night,
    And weep afresh love’s long since cancell’d woe,
    And moan the expense of many a vanish’d sight:
    Then can I grieve at grievances foregone,
    And heavily from woe to woe tell o’er
    The sad account of fore-bemoanèd moan,
    Which I new pay as if not paid before.
    But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
    All losses are restored and sorrows end.
    –William Shakespeare

  110. Good morning campers!

    And now the news…

    A wonderfully wise woman of the gentle Quaker persuasion once told me that Quakers are humble.

    That fact about good Quakers probably explains why we have not seen OUR OWN Brent Bill in here broadcasting the fact that he was quoted in AARP Magazine, a publication that reaches 24.3 million. Yep, that MILLIONS, folks.

    Brent was quoted in the Sept./Oct. issue on page 53. This page is guaranteed to be seen by tens of millions because there is a big picture of Paul Newman there, who as we all know, passed away last weekend, God bless him.

    What Brent was quoted as saying might offer some spiritual Vaporub at this moment. Here is what he says:

    “The older I get, the more I realize I don’t know everything. And that makes me spirituality sensitive to others. I’m less dogmatic, more open to other people’s experience of the divine. As we age, we experience things that aren’t easily explained—tragedies, failing health—and we become more reflective. There is so much more to learn about the mystery that is the divine, and I’ve got this thimbleful of knowledge, and I want more. Earlier, a thimbleful was all I could handle. Not anymore. Our spiritual life has a chance to be richer now, with so many more life experiences to reflect upon.

    —As told to Lynne Meredith Schreiber. Brent Bill is a Quaker minister in Mooresville, Indiana, and the author of Sacred Compass: The Way of Spiritual Discernment (Paraclete Press, 2008).

    http://holyordinary.blogspot.com/2008/07/old-age-officially.html

    ———————-

    DORIAN, there might be the beginning of some solace for you there, too. Wander over to Brent’s place. Also, please know this: there is no meanness here at Haven’s place. It’s a kind of, haven.

    STEPH, thanks a ton for that sonnet. Have you considered that it was for this moment that you memorized it?

    HAVEN, forgot what I was going to say, sorry.

  111. George, i hadn’t considered that. perhaps it was as this poem jumped into my head immediately. everything happens for a reason.

  112. I do believe that everything will happen for a reason and everything has happened for a reason. I factor in some quark-level divine intervention but even that was planned for and, inexplicably, accomplished. Of all the things I don’t and can’t understand, what I marvel at most is divinity’s total presence in and out of time.

  113. George: so well put

  114. Yes, Haven is our HAVEN and I have been thinking that all day. It is a sanctuary where we can bare our souls and trust that drops of wisdom and love offered by the fellowship will welcome us.

    This is a safe place and our ultimate goal is the furtherance of our spiritual evolution. Plus, one of the tools we use is humour. It is so HAVEN-ly!!

  115. George, I spent all night last night reading poetry, because I wanted to send something perfect to you, and something perfect to Brent and to my Cupcake Kate, and to brilliant Sher and Linda and Brandon and Jim Shue. And then you know how that is, how you end up reading like 452 poems before you know what’s hit you? Then at about 3:00 I got an e-mail from Kate saying Dorian was in trouble so I signed over immediately. I would never have guessed that she would focus her grief on my private hobby, and on the remains of the blessed beasts I love.

    That said, I have a horrid unChristlike temper and I try everything in my power to control it. Well, except there are problems, like I’m a woman, I’m 5′ 8″ tall and I weigh 126 pounds, so naturally I carry a carbon-steel switchblade and heaven knows if I were threatened or my CHILDREN were threatened? Goodbye, Quakerism. Like dear Franny in Franny and Zooey I pray without ceasing that I will be unfailingly kind and compassionate, that I will feel deeply and love without reservation. As some of you know, I am as loyal as a friend or mother can be, and my feet are swift. If anyone of you called and said you needed me, I would barely bother to pack. We have only each other; the rest of the world thinks Dick Cheney is just dandy.

    I should explain what pushed me over the edge, Dorian. I wrote those two memoirs and I did so for a reason, and then I put them away. I have the right, as an author and a human being, to subject myself to certain elements of my past. But I won’t do it a third time, not in memoir form. Because I will never cause that child to suffer again. I have made her safe; I have saved her life by the force of my will alone, and for a stranger to take a cruel and cavalier tone about the circumstances of my childhood is, you know . . . . what on earth could cause a person to do such a thing?

    But as my dear JimShue said, I hope you recover, I hope you grow in wisdom and grace and that when you’re feeling better you’ll rejoin us.

    H.

  116. George, I know exactly what poem I’m sending you. You just opened the door and poetry strolled right in.

    xo

  117. Can’t wait, but in the mean time, could I just have that switchblade or maybe just borrow it? My own Swiss Army knife with the cuticle thing and the corkscrew just ain’t up to warding off all the dangers this 6-1, 215 body must contend with. I’m right there with you though on protection of loved ones, and that does include those innocent little kids who were us, whom we tucked safely into our souls at some point before we sweetly kissed them nighty-night now and promised to be there waiting for them in the mourning.

    Meanness simply isn’t tolerated here and that’s about the only thing that’s not.

  118. dude, wtf is happening here? Can’t we all just read owen meany and get along? I have sooooo many strong, strong opinions about what’s been said here, but since I’m so new to the party, I will, instead, share a tidbit about myself. My mother was homeless when she killed herself by driving her car (which was also her residence) into a telephone pole. I’ve been carrying her ashes in the trunk of my car for the past 8 years. Clearly I have some serious dead mother issues. If there is absolutely nothing humorous about this situation to you, we are probably not going to get along.

  119. Oh, my, our litte children selfs.

    I once had the amazing dream of finding a naked, broken girl form abandoned by a river, my grown up self walked up and cradled her in my arms while she died.

    I’m hysterical and balling now.

    It doesn’t take much to awaken the broken children and I think it was unexpected in our Haven/Sanctuary. Haven, Bless your mother for choosing such a perfect, prophetic name.

    I tend to withdraw (which is what I did last night). I just honestly didn’t know what to do. Kate was smart to email you; but I was really worried you, Haven, were really sick or resting . . .

    as we have been informed, this is a public forum where we risk being extremely honest. Just as this credo of authenticity/self-awareness is envigorating to us (unofficial members)it might be greatly disarming to the newly arrived.

    Dorian found us, it shook us up, she and we will be stronger for the encounter.

    When my childhood self has been attacked (such as when finding out the abuser was staying at mom’s house as a guest, or when he was invited to the wedding my sisters and I were throwing for my mother 3 years ago, or when I see pictures of my mom eating fried chicken with the guy at the Family Reunion . . . or when somebody inadvertently says “good girl” to me [the same that was said to me if I performed a particle sexual act on said abuser] . . . egads). Yes. The lioness comes out. I actually left a message on my mom’s phone regarding the wedding thing “if that man lays his eyes on my daughters, I will go into the church kitchen, get a knife and slaugther him in front of all 500 guests – if you want that man that taught me how to give good blowjobs when I was 7 at your wedding, then it will be without me, without my children, and that is it.” And it was. I was done. It was him or me and my family. Gratefully, she chose us.

    But I wish I hadn’t had to ask. She still sees him when she might see her sister, but she knows not to expose my children or me to him or to talk of him. She is in the main power position to slay me at any moment. It is scary having an executioner over your head.

    This is the lie that gets me through the day: It is not her or anyone else’s intention to hurt me. Because I just couldn’t continue day-to-day if that were true.

    That is probably all to soul baring . . . but I bother with small talk

    Love you guys.

  120. I’m a believer in the panacea that is kindness & laughter.

    I’ve found more of both here than I ever expected.

    This blog is part of my “daily rounds” that includes Cute Overload, “Pictures for sad Children”, “The Fart Party” and Odd Todd.

    Y’all are brilliant.

    p.s. I’m still hangin’ on to that taxidermied rooster, wildebeast & coyote-with-a-pheasant-in-his-mouth for our beloved authoress…(and I swears – I am not making this up)

  121. Shanna –

    that is the key, there IS something humorous about that. And heroic.

    when you find the right spot, you will know and; in the meantime, maybe she is most comfortable riding around with you in your car (and I mean that in the most loving, slightly wry way).

    I am so glad you have a way to cope with your losses, it is a daily issue here and everywhere.

    I am amazed everday at the soul-jarring stories that each of us carry inside.

    It is not always so raw in Havenland; in fact, many times we are just giddy and silly. Raw nerves can be twinged at the must inconvenient times and we just

    cope

    I am re-reading Owen Meany . . . and USED WORLD . . . and first read of Sawtelle.

    how far are you ya’all on OM?????

    George, are you getting through the first few chapters, or are you still frozen by the CAPITALIZATION (which, I agree, is thoroughly annoying in the book, but not annoying on the BLOG)?

    Must needs do evening nurturing of family body and soul . . .

  122. Shelly –

    somebody gets us! yippee!

  123. Haven –

    off topic – re IODINE and other of your tomes, what about blog threads that are “Enter at your own risk, only if you have read __________!” that way we could discuss the books with other enthusiasts without worrying about giving anything away, but if they do enter, it wouldn’t be our fault!

  124. Wow. What a gorgeous and moving collection of posts — every last one of you responding to Dorian could teach seminars on how to be; I was in tears by the end of the thread. Brandon’s was especially on the money as to how most of us likely feel about this place. And Haven? Your response(s) took my breath away. I’m reading that second to last para of the first one every day until I can recite it. (“If you are treated unkindly, respond with grace and humility.”) In fact, I’m reading this entire thread every day until I can recite it.

    Steph — lovely sonnet, thanks for putting it up here. Sher — so glad those two long posts came back. I love that you know this stuff. (Stendhal Syndrome??!! Does this apply only to visual art?)

    You are all just so beautiful.

  125. Sher: just saw your little children selves post — I want to amend my comment of “I love that you know this stuff” to “I love that you know what you know.” What a dream. (I think it might be described as a power dream by some.)

  126. Carrie –

    No – that is the glorious thing, Stendhal can happen with any type of art (I am a broad definer of art = human expression). It can happen during a symphony, I saw this happen at the Bruce Springsteen concert, and I think all those films of hysterical girls at Elvis & Beatles concerts were that overwhelmed (maybe thier libidos as well):) !

    I also have it during nature interaction – such as one time atop Sacred Mountain in Sedona, I totally was “out of body” with joy at the vastness of the eternal, internal, and visual landscape I found myself in.

    Hum which brings up another ecopsychological quest – don’t we all need to know that there is a wild tiger somewhere in the world. That is free and living its life within nature? Is this Sam Keen? Will have to look that up, because I think it touches upon the sacredness of the animal spirit that Haven and other animal lovers treasure.

    I was so crying when I heard about the living ivory billed woodpeckers, it was like, unbelievable and my nature spirit was so uplifted. I’m feirce on that extinction thing. (even the lowly cock roaches have a place in the circle of life, but danged if I want them in my house) . . .

    Can anyone think of other instances of what might have been Stendhal Syndrome in there life?

  127. I borrowed the audio book of “Iodine” from the library and am listening to Haven read it. It gives so much more meaning to the book. I’d advise everybody to borrow the the audio book from the library. I still have quite a few questions, though. If you ever have a blog about “Iodine,” I’m in.

  128. I copied the second part of Haven’s response, I was so moved by it.

    …and by the gutsy revelation in Sher’s post. I will be braver in what what I write because of what you wrote.

    …and Brandon said it precisely for me.

    …and just this about anger:

    Every reading I take of the Christ at the temple scene yields an an insight. Lately I am thinking that J was reacting to what he knew was about to happen
    to him. Who can not respond to death without rage? It’s the ultimate injustice to we, the living. I think he was angry often about a lot of crap, but it was tempered with a profound kindness, willingness to change his mind, and the power to act immediately with no fear.

    ABOUT OWEN…I am fixing the seat on my bicycle and getting ready to pedal over to the library. I am going to overlook the CAPS and who knows? I might just get it on tape if it’s available.

  129. Carrie –

    had that “little child” dream about 10 years ago while I was attending a 6 week “dream interpretation” group. We met once per week, each of us brought our dream journals with us. The first thing we would do is go around the group (about 6-10 of us) and give a 10 minute “what’s up in your life” update. Then we went around and read our dreams and had discussion.

    Most of the idea was based on Jung’s dream therapy as to archetypes, anima/us, shadow selves, etc.

    What was astounding is that it seemed we all sent the same message to the universe/divine that we were READY and we had amazing dreams with the same symbols, etc. I truly felt like I met some “soul” travellers from previous lives there. Instant click. Like, oh, there you are! where have you been? [which is how I felt when I read Zippy, or just when I saw her baby face on the cover].

    So we would read our dreams and some weren’t so clear to the individual, but the group was like, “duh, it means this . . . because you said you were doing this and this person said that and get with it”

    Later on we had an additional dream group wherein we made art based on the dreams (even those who weren’t “artists” [I contend that everyone is an artist] collaged their journals, images from magazines and photos . . . we ended by having a non-denominational medicine wheel conducted by Sweetwater, one of the most mystical beings I have ever encountered.

    if I could only sleep to dream . . .

  130. sweet lord in heaven, IODINE is available in audio . . . gotta order it . . . also, you can take your laptop into the library and download those audio mp3’s or CDs, transfer them to your ipod -or what have you- I never have to check them out, pay a library fee, or return them . . .ha!

    But I must OWN, Iodine . . .

    oh HAVEN, guess what I found in a box last night . . .

    ta da

    my 1986 copy of Kate Bush’s THE WHOLE STORY video cassette/vhs – complete with all of the videos (including the one where Donald Sutherland “plays” her dad).

    Donny thinks I can dub it for you on our dvr/vhs player. We will say this research . . .

    glory, glory, glory . . . I’m looking at the Big Sky

  131. HK – who is your avatar?? Nice, but we miss your smiling countenance . . .

  132. Well, in spite of George’s nice comments about humble Quakers, no one has ever accused me of being humble. Still, to think that 24.3 million people may have stumbled across something I said (if they made it past Paul Newman’s photo) is humbling.

    But, then I just got back from Texas where everything is big except my book sales, so a leetle humility is called for.

    Thanks for the “shout-out” though, George!

  133. Hi Bill! I grew up in Doylestown, PA, which is in Bucks County, north of Philadelphia. There is a good Quaker presence there. My nephew went to Germantown Academy, which I believe is Quaker. If I weren’t Presbyterian, I would want to be Quaker. I don’t think there is a very large Quaker presence here in Nashville, TN, but I may be wrong. I need to do some research.

    Ok, now on to what is bugging me. Haven and George- you both need to gain weight. Especially George because I am beside myself knowing that we weigh the same. AND….AND …I am 5 feet 6 freakin inches tall. Ok, tell me the fairness in that? I need Haven’s mom to help me. I went back to school but I didn’t lose weight doing that – probably because I was still drinking then (guess i am even lucky to have graduated in that state – ha) But, now that I am sober, I have had these incredible sugar and carb cravings. I know this is normal but it is not good. I want to be thin. Maybe I should become a vegan. I bet I would lose weight if I did that. What do you all think?

    Oh Oh, one more thing. Owen is a very dense book. I am reading it slowly. But, I miss Haven’s writing already and it has only been two days so I bought Used World today. That is the only one I have left to read. So, I will read a little bit of that and then a little bit of Owen. Can’t help it. Must be done.

    xoxo

  134. Owen is quite dense…I feel like I have read so much of the story and I’m only 1/4 of the way through!

  135. I don’t think I will finish it in time for the book club review, but that’s ok. I will probably need help understanding it anyway.

  136. sherfick: Stendhal Syndrome: Diego Velazquez, “Las Meninas” when i saw it in spain at the prado. i’d seen loads of copies, but the mirror, the girl, the dog. i nearly fainted.

  137. also, this is terrible…when i was a kid i thought the girl with polio in “Christina’s World” as Jesus. Jesus Christ. i am not kidding. my grandparents had a copy hanging over their fireplace and i would STARE while thinking, “huh, why is Jesus stuck in the field? Was there an accident? Doesn’t he have some disciples that can help him out.” as i grew i learned what the painting really was, and oddly, i was sad. that was Jesus for me. so i guess i had another Stendhal Syndrome when i saw “Christina’s World” at MOMA for the first time

  138. *was Jesus

  139. I don’t know how y’all stay up so late. I am pooped. Of course, I do have to get up at 5:30 but still. I am such a night time wimp. Good night moon 🙂

  140. I am twenty-one years old and have experienced remarkably little suffering myself. That being said, grief is still no stranger to me, but I do know that the grief I have held in my heart is nothing compared to what others have been through. I don’t even consider myself justified to speak on the subject.

    But I just want you all to know that I think you are some of the loveliest and strongest people I have ever encountered. I don’t say a whole lot on this blog, partly because of my age and the feeling that you are all beyond me in many ways, but mostly because I am just too busy taking it all in. I learn more in these conversations than I ever have in school. So thank you all. Thank you, thank you, thank you, for so many reasons.

    Our dear Haven really summed it up, I think: “We have only each other; the rest of the world thinks Dick Cheney is just dandy.”

  141. Kimberly, no one is beyond anyone who is in pursuit of lifelong learning. i just started talking on this blog recently and i can’t stop. it is so interesting. so i am right there with you in feeling inexperienced, but it doesn’t seem to be a big deal in this arena as long as you have something to say 🙂

  142. Sherflick: I am so glad you gave a name to feelings I have had looking at natural things, particularly the sight of water from a height. I think I might have had an episode a couple of weeks ago when I was riding my bicycle near the Chesapeake. I hope so, at least, and I hope I get it again.

    Linda: Most I weighed was 245 and that was right before I sold my boat and started doing physical things again. Who cares about the weight. You have taken off something a lot tougher to lose: alcohol. I am lucky that I have never had that problem because it gives me heartburn. But several people I love and loved drink way too much. I have been to several Al-anon meetings and am transformed each time I go. So, you go, girl!

    Bill: Shout-out is what I do being an old newspaperman. I was so excited to see your name there in the magazine.

  143. Right on Kimberly, Steph..
    I’ve been a silent voyeur of this blog for a couple of months now, only recently getting up the nerve to join in. And far-out brussel sprout, I feel so blessed to have stumbled upon this little crew of kick-arse people! In a world where we are often tight with stress and wary of strangers and neighbours, I find it life-affirming to encounter this collective of people with such dignity and love and empathy for their fellow human beings. I’ll stop now before I become too crystals and windchimes but yeah, the energy of you folks is just magic.

  144. steph – Velesquez, Spain and the Prado are still on my life wishes list – it’s like they have a monopoly of art treasures there . . . what a lucky person you are to not only see the art but to feel it.

    I might add one more Stendhal Syndrome event: seeing Artemesia Gentileschi’s “Judith with the Head of Holorfernes(sp?)” . . as you stated with the Velsq., the dimensions of those paintings where you experience the feeling of really walking through the canvas or coming up on a scene as it unravels . . . wow, wow, wow and HELLO isn’t Christina Jesus? That painting, also blows me away, and I was dying at the MOMA when it was tucked away by a door frame with the a/c controls . . . lord have mercy on my soul, I want to adopt all those pour artworks and give them a proper place.

    George – I am honored that you collected a drop in your thimble from me. You have added many drops to my thimble, so THANK YOU.

    RE weight. I gained 25 lbs when I was finishing my degree – Wendy’s and the pure stress really got to me. I think George is right that there are more important things to consider. My husband is a physical therapist and a perfect specimen of hotness after 18 years . . . it is so discouraging. Now I am trying to round out the last area in my life that seems to be “out of control.” I’ve taken the tests and it seems that my physical health is the weak area, so I am trying to look at it spiritually.

    It has taken me 7 years to reach this state of readiness. I hope I actually get it this time. My body hurts, I LOVE my Wii Fit, so I am in the right direction. But you know what? When the nutritionist took my weight and BMI, I didn’t even look and asked her to hide the information from me. It isn’t about any number. I don’t have to answer to anybody but me. I just want to be healthier and to have more energy for doing what I love. If I end up looking better, what a bonus. Also, Linda, (guys just cover your eyes if you are a “blusher”) women’s bodies carry more percentages of fat and depending on your bra-size, those babies can add another 10-15 lbs, so in my mind, those don’t count!!! Why, oh why weren’t we born during the Rubens years – we would be the courtesans of the time!!!!

    Steph, Tex, Kimberly – jump into the deep end. Most of the time, I don’t know anything, I start typing and it just flows out my fingers. For the first few postings I did, I was logging off, typing in Word, then copying and pasting after doing research . . . and by then, these wild people were DONE with that subject and galavanting (you could hear it) on to the next thing . . . so now I just post, try not to look at my typos . . . and *ta da* I am jitterbugging with the best minds in the world.

    You know what freaks me out – if I saw you each on the street, would I know, would I sense it was you? I usually lower my eyes in public, I’m trying to look and listen deeper, because as you all said “there are these wonderful people out there” – and just 2 months ago I was so much more cynical than I am now.

    There is hope. Because we exist, there is good in the world, we just need to meet each other!

  145. Sher: Stendhal, oh yes. Rush hour, subway tunnel, a girl with a withered hand was singing the gospel a capella, filling the entire tunnel between 7th and 8th Avenues, connecting directly with the Divine, and taking everyone listening right along with her. The hallucinatory part was the physical, palpable light coming from her face. She quite literally was aglow. Till then, I always thought the golden halos Renaissance painters surrounded the faces of holy ones was allusion. When I finally tore myself away, my face was wet.

    I’d love to have been part of that dream workshop. Years ago, I bought these self-divination cards because they were beautiful. They were called Soul Cards — an artist had created the deck with a drawing technique she was experimenting with called “touch drawing.” You used them the same way you’d use any other self-divination (angel cards, tarot, etc. WINDCHIME ALERT, TEX!) — with a layout. It turned out to be specifically descriptive and extremely helpful for what was going on in my life and in my heart of hearts, at the time. What it had in common with your dream workshop was there was a stated readiness implied in the action of the reading itself. I gave away that deck and four more.

    Bill: a large “you go!” on the AARP quote (and quite especially for landing next to Paul Newman). I’ve asked my library to buy your book, and they never say no. So looking forward to reading it.

    Haven’s avatar looks a little like John Irving, doesn’t it? As much as 32 x 32 pixels can look, I mean.

  146. Thanks so much Sherfick, your a real sweat heart!
    It’s funny you say that ‘cos in my minds eye I imagined all you lot, members of the “Haven Haven”, in one room.. what a diverse bunch we’d ( I hope to include myself now) be!

  147. Carrie – re: WINDCHIME ALERT

    he he, you so made me laugh. I’m a bit like Augusten Burroughs in that I’m not into the whole spiritual lexicon thang. I totally related when he professed to hating spiritual gay guys. I’m a gay girl and dykes or indeed any person who is into dolphins and dream catchers and whirling dervishing freaks me out!! No, the truth is, the very shallow thruth is, that it’s an aesthetic thing and I suspect that A.B. would agree with me there. Aesthetically, I don’t want to decorate my house or ankles with beads and stuff but hey, I do believe in nurturing the soul and spirit and if I keep going I will start howling at the moon and really embarras myself, so yeah, over and out.

  148. How do you all change your avatars ?
    Also I am just catching up was there a book to be read/discussed ?

    I was out and away from the computer for a while If I don’t go to the woods every so often for a couple of days I get unhappy haha glad to be back tho !

  149. DORIAN: Breathe in the bad and breathe out the good (I don’t have that the wrong way around). The thing I most appreciate about Buddhist texts is that they can be approached in a non-linear way. They are books that are best not read from start to finish. Total immersion is not necessary (unless you intend to fully follow through and negotiate the consequences.) I like Training the Mind and Cultivating Loving-Kindness by Chogyam Trungpa. Skip straight to “Point Three”, pick out any little piece of verse and let it resonate for you in THAT moment. Then add it to your tool box in the manner described by the manufacturer.

    HAVEN: Cats are probably to a taxidermy collection like is Lou Reed’s Transformer is to a serious record collection. Of course you already have one. But my friend Paul has a special one (we know a taxidermist). I have to tell you, it’s not pretty. I suspect someone’s beloved companion had an altercation with a car. And while I don’t have the facts, this is what I like to imagine.
    The taxidermist fought valiantly to reconstruct the cat to his former beauty but after hours of botched operation he eventually had to call it.
    The grieving family came to pick him up, expecting him to look as cute as those Chinese fur toys. They were horrified at what they’d created.
    I suspect they left poor kitty behind to sit around in the closets and corners of the taxidermy milieu.
    This pet is not pretty. A menacing and deformed snarl takes up more than its fair share of real estate on his face. I’m quite sure any cat would be upset about this. It’s just so unbecoming for such an elegant creature. Kitty is hideous, and as such, one of the most beautiful things in Paul’s house, a treasure trove of bespoke oddities.

    SHER: A dada museum is preposterous! They would have failed as a movement if a structure of any permanence were to proceed. Although I suspect Duchamp would be secretly thrilled. Tzara, Picabia and Ball would torch the place from beyond. This being said, I did fly to NYC (from here in Australia) just to see that show at MoMA in 2006. I just had to.

  150. thanks Sher. i am just letting it go and saying what comes to mind, so here goes: cannonball (HUGE SPLASH) into the deep end! and yes, the prado was breathtaking, literally. i have been there twice at different times in my life. i really loved the Reina Sofia in spain as well.

    yeah, what is the deal with changing the pic? i have tried and have not figured it out. anyone have the info on that?

    oh, and Tex–wind chimes and crystals are cool.

  151. As far as changing your avatar- you need to register with wordpress which is easy to do. If I can do it, anyone can do it (seriously!) Just go to wordpress.com and register.

    When I was 21 there was not internet so I am glad at least this exists now that I am 48. I still have so so so much to learn! I was thinking about this internet thing the other night when Jackson Browne was on the Colbert Report. Jackson Browne was my very first concert – summer of 1978 – Running on Empty tour (remember NO NUKES) Saw him at Robin Hood Dell (the outdoor summer home to the Philadelphia symphony) just a few weeks before I went off to college. Just seeing him from way up on the lawn (couldn’t afford seats back then!) made me swoon. I saw him recently at the Ryman here in Nashville. A little older (and a beard?? hmmm, not sure about that Jackson) and he still got to me. But now, with my new music loves (Tex – are you from Texas? because my new music loves are Texas dudes) I can know what they are doing almost minute to minute. Is this a good thing? Hmmm, I don’t know, but it does satisfy some little part inside of me that might otherwise be lacking. Do I want to go back to the 70s? Probably not. But there were some aspects of living simpler (or was it just living poorer? I may be there again whether I like it or not) that were sweet.

  152. Fossil –

    yes, I know, that is what would be gorgeous about a DADA museum – they were the epitome of PREPOSTEROUSOCITY!

    they weren’t afraid of organization, just the established process (much like the impressionist before them).

    I think they would have continued to evolved as a group/movement if not for the war. Between the war and the later flu pandemic, an entire generation of artists were taken from the pages of our art history books.

    UNCONCERNED BUT NOT INDIFFERENT – was inscribed on Man Ray’s gravestone.

    Love it, if I were to have a gravestone, that would be one of my top choices! As of right now the plan is to donate any working parts, burn myself to a crisp and have my ashes spread at Copper Canyon near Lake Havasu City . . . my heart is in the Southwest . . .

    Off to a day of work . . .

  153. Linda – My Erik lost nearly 140 lbs in one year from watching his diet and working out at least 2+ hours every day (which is just CRAZY). What really has helped him though is Weight Watchers – the meetings really help him stay on track. We have two friends that have each lost 50 lbs by way of WW in less than a year. That being said I don’t think you need to change a thing! We all love you as you are!

    I haven’t even started Owen Meany…I know, I know I’m a bad book club member. I’m one of those that does better under pressure so I’ll probably wait until the last minute.

    Steph & MichaelT – If you’re using WordPress just go to Edit Profile under My Account. There will be an option to upload a picture that will be your avatar. Hope that helps.

  154. Linda, I often think I want to go back to the seventies, but doubtless that has a lot to do with the fact that I did not actually live through them the first time around. The neighborhood I live in has recently taken a sharp downturn, towards hooliganism and debauchery (and not the good kind!), though I guess it started life as an unscrubbed orphan child and never really had a chance, but I am beginning to miss even ONE year ago, when no one was getting shot next door.

    I like the barter system. Can we just all do that again? I have far too many pillows, and I would trade them for some Q-Tips.

    Sher, everyone’s pretty excited about this Stendhal thing (isn’t it nice to know that there are others out there), and I hate to confess that visual arts have never moved me to the shakes, so it’s lucky there is live music for people like me. I once heard a song that moved me so profoundly, I didn’t listen to music for three days afterward. I was afraid that all the rest of the music had been ruined for me forever. I was also a little afraid that if I listened to any other song, it would ruin the feeling of the one that so captured my heart. Needless to say, that was not the case, but it was a frightening week (I got my greedy hands on a bootleg copy of that show, and was surprised to find that the song was as breathtaking the second time around… here I was thinking it was that night’s infatuation with the man singing it).

    When I lived in San Francisco, I once walked into the parking garage underneath my apartment building and heard a distant drumbeat. Sneaking toward it behind concrete poles and other people’s cars, I finally came across two men – father and son, Sikh men I assume because they wore turbans – dancing in the empty garage around a boombox that was echoing sitars off every surface. It was every cliche you can imagine about the shock of unexpected beauty (stole my breath away, etc); every move they made was a complete mystery to me but they never stopped to consider themselves or their bodies which were moved by some unimaginable force to flow perfectly around one another.

    I will NEVER forget that. Not a single tiny detail of their burnished skin or solemn smiles or bare cracked feet. San Francisco was not a good time/place for me, but standing in that parking garage gave me back a tiny fraction of my belief in power beyond myself, and that spark of emotion in turn eventually pointed my feet down a different path. Praise be.

    Now that my short response has turned into a novella, I’m just going to go start my day.

  155. I too saw the Dada show at the Museum of Modern Art; my very artsy architect brother took me.

    The only — ONLY — thing which disappointed me about it was that they hadn’t (as far as I know) adopted the obvious theme music: “Your MOMA Don’t Dance and Your Dada Don’t Rock’n’Roll.”

  156. Yeah, well that would have been WAAAY cooler than Kurt Schwitters’ Ursonate on repeat.

  157. Sher:
    Dada wasn’t killed by war or illness. It was hijacked by the surrealists 500 years too late and barely revivified by the Situationists decades later.
    I can promise you this: you’ll have your next Stendhal’s relape in front of Bosch’s triptych “The Garden of Earthly Delights” at the Prado. Go there.

  158. I have too much to do today to share all the responses I have to the posts in this topic. So just a few–

    Linda, I read a book this summer called God Will Make a Way which even if you don’t believe in Him, is a wonderful book to read. I was paralyzed–on a couch of my own, if you will, though no pork rinds were involved. That book was like a road map to healing for me and Haven’s book SGOTC which I re-read twice during that period, was like the word of the Lord telling me I COULD TOO walk down that road which looked completely impenetrable. My point is that the chapter on weight was one of the most amazing commentaries I have ever read on the subject–I have a sister and a best friend who have faced those struggles and this book had amazing things to say about being good to yourself in the midst of making change.

    And Haven, I have to say that I had similar musical fixations as a girl and that is why I have to tell you that James Taylor who has walked me through some dark days, has a new album out which includes a cover of Wichita Lineman and which, upon hearing, I promptly burst into tears.

    Sher, I feel ridiculous, but I do not know what this Stendahl thing is and I am going to look it up as soon as I can find the time.

    Finally, I posted my book list so late in the game, but I just have to ask, Has anyone on this list read David James Duncan’s book, The Brothers K? It is in my top ten and much beloved by all I have shared it with. Baseball, big families, spirituality of many stripes, Vietnam, Salinger–I highly recommend it.

  159. Kate- thank you for the book suggestion. I will look for it. Weight has always been an issue for me. I could write on about that for days but since I am taking a mini-break here at work I will have to save that for later.

    I don’t know what Stendahl is either and I went to 2 art schools. Of course I did get a few things from those schools even though I did not graduate from either one of them and that was years and years ago – another lifetime really. I will add it to the list of things i need to look up. LOL

    Brandon- I should go back to WW. I have gone to WW many times over many years and I think it is the best – in the same way AA helps with accountability. Thing is, most of my free time right now is spent in those AA meetings. I think right now i need those more but I have thought about WW on more than one occasion in recent weeks. Same with exercise. We have a membership to the Y and I love going to the Y. When I go. Right now between all the driving of kids, kids getting sick, AA meetings, and this dang thing called work…. BUT- I did not eat any ice cream last night so I am making progress. Progress not perfection. Hmmm, I think I heard that before somewhere…

  160. All you Stendhal groupies might also be interested in the extremely quirky “Pictures and Tears” by James Elkins, a study of people crying in front of paintings. Chapter on one site, thoughtful chapter, chapter on another site…Starts with the Rothko chapel and works back.

    And Kate, anything David James Duncan writes, including shopping lists. The piece on his teenage brother’s death, “A Micky Mantle Koan” (it’s in River Teeth) is the smartest, bravest, piece on loss, and gives some notion of how long a resolution can take — and leaves the reader looking around wildly for someone to force to read it. Like. Um. Y’all.

  161. Dearest Haven, Okay before I read the rest of these beautiful posts I just have to say that I meant in no way to be cavalier about the rabbit. I was shook to the bone by that story. I think what I was trying to say was that you must have developed a different way of looking at life and death by experiencing that brutality at such a tender age. I apologize deeply for any pain that comment caused. The compassion you have is obvious and immense and I meant no harm. I had no business to be posting when I was insane. That being said, I did and when I got back on the computer today and saw the outpouring comments of generous, warm, insanely thoughtful and caring people I wept. Thank you Haven for your beautiful response. I treasure you. Thank you Steph and Sherflek. You all make me hopeful and grateful and right now completely humble. And I for once in my life understand the taxidermy thing. I need to go lay down now. Peace to all you blessed souls.

  162. Dorian: thanks for the thoughtful, insightful post. you are not insane. everyone says something once in a while (or in my case a little more often than that) that he/she is saying out of emotion. i know that for me (and i have been working on this one), anger is the easiest. once you can get beyond anger–and it could take A LONG TIME…you feel different. love, compassion, warmth and a wonderful memory are what shine through. this cloud will pass and the sunshine will be bright. stay tough 🙂

  163. Dorian, sweetheart (and a beautiful name you have), there at the end I spoke with at least as much craziness as you did, and with far less cause. True forgiveness is a sacred act, and I hope forgiving me will bring you peace.

  164. Dorian,

    Seems to me that your anguish gave us ALL who visit here another opportunity to be kind. Each time we practice kindness, we banish that much meanness that has clutched the world by the throat for far too long.

  165. I spent not last night but the night before looking for poems for each of you, and I have found many that were perfect, so I shall be disseminating them soon. What a terrible way to have phrased that.

    I now have a new Mac laptop and there just could not be anything better, except for world peace. ((Stealing from Groundhog Day.)

  166. BUT FIRST! I have an idea. I’ve heard from a number of people that they’re having a slow time of OWEN MEANY, which is fine — heaven knows there are books I could have read more slowly. So I had this idea, because I have to go back in for more tests in two days. How about we do what some of you suggested and have a conversation about IODINE? Then when I’m healthy again and done with my travels we will all be done with OWEN and we will be weeping copious tears of joy and wonder. Shall we vote?

  167. Aye-o-dine! Count me in.

  168. IODINE sounds super. but i gotta keep going with OWEN, too. i will read just about anything and am flexible with discussions, timing, etc.

    Haven, I hope you are feeling better very soon! and yes, there is nothing better than a new mac. we have 4, 3 of which are dinosaurs. my husband subscribes to 2 different mac magazines. he is the biggest mac snob ever and i love him to pieces. at work he brought in his own computer bc he refused to work on a PC. finally the company bought him his own beautiful mac desktop and he is on cloud 9.

  169. there’s my pic. i will conquer this avatar.

  170. Absolutely on Iodine, that gives me a chance to do a re-read anyway!

    Dorian – I am so, so happy you logged back on. Hugs across the universe from TN. It’s o.k., you are a blessing.

    Re Stendhal. Life is ART – it can happen anytime, anywhere. Isabella Rossellini was in a play with John Lithgow in 2004 titled “Stendhal Syndrome” – I was in NYC and couldn’t get tickets – I was devastated. That is when I started researching it – nobody ever mentioned it to me while I was in “art” college or philosophy, but I felt it really applied to many experiences in my life.

    Fossil – Can’t wait to see Bosch . . . I just want to be an art globetrotter . . . Hoving, former head curator at the MET has a great book, Art for Dummies (yes it is one of those black/yellow books!) – it is a great tool while planning travels because he lists highlights of art from around the world, categorized by country/state/city – – – I have found more “unknown” masterpieces than I ever imagined. I can’t say I am over discerning about art because I think it is so therapeutic I see value in most things. Except Keith Haring completely ripping off Man Ray’s “Men Marching to War” as his “signature” figure. I don’t like people that copy other people’s creativity and then sign their own names. In fact I just saw a former professor’s work today that directly copies a work I did in 2005 . . . but truth will tell in the end, at some point somebody will catch on that there isn’t a true voice behind the imposters.

    rams – can’t wait to look up your suggestion . . .yippee.

    RE IRVING . . . I might now be in trouble because he will be in Nashville on Oct. 23rd doing a lecture at the Ryman (on behalf of Vandy’s Outside the LunchBOX series) . . . so, the problem being ** I believe in a previous posting I offered to sleep with him?*** Oh dear, I never thought I would be in the SAME room with him. So I will not promise the same thing for Matthew McCoughney, because, apparently, you just never know! If anyone wants to rendevous in Nashville USA for the lecture . . . it is free and they feed you . . . (and obvious I am not delusion enough to think either of them would WANT to [sleep with me], just in fantasy).

    Today’s lecture on Medical Monstrosities/Chimeras in Film and Literature was stellar. Here is a link to the Vandy English Dept rated reading list on this subject (and many other reding lists as well)

    http://www.literatureandgenetics.org A web site devoted to novels and films that confront the social, ethical, and cultural implications of genetics. These books are rated not only by their subject matter, but by their quality of writing (5 stars is great novel and cultural aspects of bioethics).

    So, I just had the best day ever . . I am just skying.

  171. yeah, STEPH has an avatar!

  172. Haven, you don’t need to apologize for anything. I kind of skimmed past some of it when I realized I had hurt you and understood that I had said something inarticulate and not very well thought through, which I do a little too often. Words are very powerful and this taught me something I needed to think about today. Everyone was so kind and generous I am just keeping that part. I think I just needed to cry and feel like the world was a better place and all your posts certainly accomplished that. I wish I could just skim you all up and make you dinner.

  173. Iodine-yes! I was off line for 2 days and holy crap.. it got deep. Amazing posts and even though discord and all confrontation makes my stomach hurt, what transpired was a lesson for me in handling grief, misunderstanding and forgiveness. I haven’t known alot of sadness in my life, atleast the death kind, but I have something to share about forgiveness.
    Three years ago we were in the process of adopting a baby girl. The birthmother had been in our lives 4 monthes when the baby was born. I did everything wrong- I let good friends throw me a beautiful shower, I bought clothes, all of the things you do when a baby is coming. Perhaps the worse was having my children share in all of this, when I knew, I knew in my very core, this could all go terribly wrong. The night N went into labor, her friend called and told me to come.I drove 5 hours, alone, to get there before the baby was born. Nobody called to tell me when she was, and when I got there I saw her for the first time in the nursery. I stayed there a week, my Mother flew in then left when my husband and youngest son arrived. I held this baby everyday in the hospital waiting for paperwork to go through, overhearing nurses discussing my case and saying”she is never taking that baby home”. I knew they were right but I could not let go, and when the call came from my attorney that N had decided to parent, I drove 5 hours home with my little boy in the car holding, not letting myself cry once. That night I lay in bed and all I could think was ” this is what a broken heart feels like” over and over again I said this to myself.
    When the hospital sent the pictures we had ordered, I knew I had to send them to N, and I knew I had to get down on paper what I needed her most to know. I did not hate her, I knew she never meant to hurt us, and I wanted her baby to have the life we had dreamed of for her, even if not with us. By loving N then, and forgiving her for what I perceived her to have done, all of the cliches came true. I healed.
    I try to remember not to lash out when I am sad, like I walk away from my children when I am too angry.
    p.s. I have the baby I was always supposed to have now. And I have N and her little girl in my life too.

  174. Haven, were there 24 robbers when you were looking for the poems?

  175. Oh gosh yes: IODINE.

    I’ve been skulking about the halls here, lapping up every single word written here either by Haven Her Own Self or by anyone else. And this whole time I’ve been carrying an ugly secret:

    […whispering…:] I haven’t yet read ANY of Haven’s books.

    Now, I know you will all understand, at some level: so many books, so little time, blah blah blah. But boy have I felt like a fraud. A groupie manque, even.

    Which is why I finally ordered IODINE the other day.

    (My rationale for starting with that one: No doubt in my mind I’ll love the memoirs. But Haven has said, explicitly, that IODINE is the book she was meant to write. Under the circumstances, reading her work sequentially felt the easy way out. I don’t want to have expectations set by the earlier work, especially since (as I understand it) IODINE is so different.)

    IODINE will be here Saturday. I’m so happy you suggested this option, Haven. I’ve already got (and already love) OWEN MEANY, would have re-read it eventually, but was really looking forward to slipping IODINE to the top of the TBR stack.

  176. Welcome back, Dorian, and blessings to you. This is a good place to be.

    Back in my drinking days I would occasionally go online and get riled up about something and go crazy on whom ever I thought the bad person was who made me feel that way. Actually, I made myself feel that way. Oh I shudder to think about it now. I would wake up the next day and think “Oh, God, what did I do?” It was like someone had taken over my brain and my body. It was just not be talking in that way. I know that grief can be the same as a bad drunk. Recovery is there for all of us in so many ways. Not just recovery from alcohol. Recovery from all kinds of sad and lonely things. Be brave. Be here. There is love here.

    OK— Iodine. Whoo hoo. I am going to start re-reading it tonight and use my daughter’s OCD (Oxford Classic Dictionary) as a guide. I cannot wait to discuss it with its creator.

    Oh, Sher, I think I remember you saying Mr. Irving would be at the Ryman on the 23rd but I cannot do anything that day as it is Reunion/Homecoming weekend at Vanderbilt and that is an “all hands on deck” alumni event so to speak. So I will be working. blah. But you will tell us all about it, I know, and you will have so much fun. Yippee!!

  177. Oh Dang. I don’t have Iodine. Maybe I’ll actually go to the library.

  178. Hi Dee! (waving and jumping up and down)

    🙂

  179. wow, caryl

  180. Well, heck JES. I haven’t read Haven’s work either. Some sensitive intelligent writerly bloke in MA steered me towards this blog a couple of weeks ago when I began a new and interesting life in liminal space.
    Not to say I won’t read the books in the prescribed order.
    Sher- wow. you and I could have some seriously passionate arguments (the good kind) about art methinks.
    I believe Man Ray would have loved Haring’s adaptation. I don’t believe in plagarism or piracy, that is just ill-mannered,but creative evolution demands homage and ‘borrowing’. It can more evident in music, but still pertains to visual and text expression as well. The author does not exist in a vacuum.

  181. Haha hi Linda. did you answer those questions or did I lose my brain again? 🙂

  182. That George. Man of few words, but packs a whallop.

  183. I love this blog. What a love fest this place is!

    YES to Iodine discussion…YES. I need a primer. I need Cliff’s Notes. I LOVE IT…it’s wonderful, but I know I am only getting the top layer.

    Owen Meany…I can see this becoming a favorite. Yes.

  184. Wow yourself George. Everytime I read something you’ve posted, and especially after you wrote about your son(s), I wish I had had a father like you. In the market for a daughter?

  185. Linda, I ain’t from Texas, I WISH ‘coz I love a southern drawl y’all. It’s my absolute favourite accent of all time! I am in fact from Sydney, Australia but who are these cool muso’s that you’re into??

    Jes, dude, don’t stress. I hadn’t read any of Haven’s books until I recently got my grubby ‘lil fingers on Zippy. So I’ve only got one under my belt so far. However, until that time, I yapped on relentlessly with high-falutin’ superiority about having discovered the most INCREDIBLE writer ever, that everyone else should just put down their pens and so on… and I’d only ever laid eyes on Haven’s blog. Hey, it just speaks volumes about Haven’s delicious talent and hell, we’ve got lot’s to look forward to reading now mate!!

  186. Steph, you are correct. Crystals and windchimes ARE cool. I had a weird experience as a kid where crystals were used to heal my big toe after I had inadvertantly dropped a marble table upon said digit. My step sister’s hippy step mother (not my mother, long story) spent hours waving a crystal around my split open toe in a circular motion. It felt like my toe was in an ice bucket and lo and behold, the next day I was running around and climbing trees barefoot and swimming for hours in the surf, despite a doctor saying it would be impossible. Since then, I really have had respect for crystals and their healing properties. I can’t explain it, but hey, powerful stuff.
    Addendum – I stand by the fact that I still don’t ‘do’ crystals aesthetically. Just a personal thang. i do really love themon other people though.

  187. Okay, Cupcake, do you remember how I just said I never ever get anything right, ever? I cannot sign into my own blog. I have no blogging powers and have no idea where to begin. I might as well be digging ants out of a hole with a stick. WHAT DO I DO? I have poems for you all, I’ve given this a great deal of thought, and I leave town again in a few days. See, my plan was to inundate you with verse, talk about IODINE, give you a chance to recover, get back to OWEN. But I’m not bright enough to do the FIRST ONE OF THOSE THINGS.

  188. Fossil – oh yes, we would have a smashing time! Whenever I make an opionated statement it is always with the caveat, unless I learn better . . . I love that people are brave enough to have opinions, and allow others the same freedom. And it so much fun trying to change someone else’s mind . . . you sound thoroughly knowledgeable about art . . . contemporary art is just rampant with crap, so it is hard to know what will show the test of time . . .

    caryl
    forgiveness has been a huge challenge in my life. it really takes a huge heart to know that you hurt yourself more by holding on. the fact that you could have enough perspective so early on in your story is, absolutely, stunning. what a heart rending event you lived through and you gave N a beautiful life gift in accepting her decision with such grace and dignity. thank you so much for sharing that story. George, he of the concise structure, said it better than me (and used less typing . . . ).

  189. Haven, is this a neurological, psychological, neuropsychological or technical issue?

  190. Haven – it must be that mac

  191. all of the above?

  192. psychoneuroimmunological?

  193. my husband john had a wart on his foot when he was a small child. his grandfather (grampy) was a podiatrist. after a few gin and tonics, grampy decided he needed a scalpel to remove the foot wart. thank goodness for grammy (sidenote: she is alive and kick ass) who told him he was out of his bleeping mind to attempt such a thing after being clearly inebriated. grampy settled for an old wives tale, but tried and true. he waved a wheat penny around john’s foot three times. this is no joke. the wart was gone within a week. holy moly. holy penny? voodoo? i dunno, but it worked and it is a pretty cool story

  194. Sher, Steph, Tex — thank you. I’m so excited to have found this place where the conversations make me WANT to have things to say, even if I don’t yet. And when I don’t, you all express my unarticulated thoughts so beautifully that I feel like I am learning and marveling and growing in leaps and bounds everyday.

    Dorian, welcome and love to you.

    And YEEEESSSSS to an Iodine discussion. To echo Kate, I am nearly paralyzed with my adoration and admiration of this incredible book, but I know that all of my thoughts are barely scraping the surface of a beyond multi-layered masterpiece. I am so excited to read what everyone has to say!

    My copy of Owen Meany has still not come in, so I can’t chime in with my progress on that front. But I have tech cue-to-cue for my show for the next four days (lonnnnng hours) and then regular tech for a week, so when it does come in, I will have many stop-and-go moments in the theatre during which I will dive eagerly into it. It will stay in my back pocket or waistband, ready to be devoured. Theatre and literature — my two favorite things.

  195. Oh, and Caryl… George really said it all with “wow.” Bless you.

  196. Haven, do you have access to 1,000 typewriters and 1,000 monkeys and 1,000 years? Because then at least we could have King Lear.

    I’m sorry about your technical difficulties. I’d say call my dad, but he is VERY easily startled.

    Half way through Owen Meany. It’s one of those books that is SO good that I cannot devour it. I have to read a bit, and then come back. I could plow on like I usually do but that would ruin it.

  197. dorian

    there’s a wonderful memoir entitled simply GRIEF and it’s recent, and it’s about a man who moved to DC after his mother died, and it also talks about the way mary todd lincoln dealt with her grief….anyway, it’s spectacular.

    i liked The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion a great deal. she lost her husband of many decades.

    i also have an essay on Death and Loss and Grief at my website at www,suzannefinnamore.com. it’s called The Sabrina Letters: Death. it’s very strange,but people have liked it and said it helped them. so.

    xoxo
    sfc

  198. whoops.dorian? you have to click the FINNABLOG red bar on my website to get to the grief/death blog pot. i forgot to mention that.

  199. Sherfick-real name please?? Thank you for those perfect words. Are you so cute in your avitar or what?
    When Iodine first came out, I had no idea a new book was coming. I read everything Haven wrote in 2 monthes last spring, then had to go cold turkey and nothing I picked up was working. I was at the book store as I am once/twice a week, and I almost cried when I saw Iodine in the new releases. Like a gift from God it was, sitting there all lovely just for me. I emailed everyone I knew who read, telling them to please go by this book and a dictionary, encyclopedia, every philosophy and mythology reference book they could find, just read this I said! And then read every word she has written. I told them it had changed my life.
    I wasn’t kidding. I found this blog soon after and now I get to share this book again with all of you. Its like I went on to Matchbook and put in all of the qualities I wanted in a person and got matched with the people here. Sappy…..

  200. Yeeeeesss…Suzanne!!! Yay!

  201. Oh my god Suzanne-your essay is exactly what I couldn’t put my finger on that Dorian needed to read.
    Dorian- The Year of Magical Thinking is another one that helped me, and I also recommend An Exact Replica of a Figment of my Imagination by Elizabeth McCracken. The way both of these woman handle grief teaches us something.

  202. Kate Cake, how do you stay up so late with little ones? I thought I was the only crazy mom who did that..

  203. I take a 2 hour nap every day while my baby sleeps and my boys watch a movie. They are very good boys that I can fully trust not to burn the house down. After the movie they just play quietly, or fall asleep themselves.

    I should not do that. I should go to bed at 10, but seriously? Who am I kidding? 1 am is a big improvement from 4am, which is what I used to do.

  204. I have never been able to wind down easily, but I sleep in so its probably not a good thing Im up this late. Two year old is sick and I do good sick nights though-he’s sleeping sadly on the sofa and I will sit next to him and read.

  205. Haven, use the lost password thing on the wordpress main page.

    http://wordpress.com/

  206. Dee, I have not answered the question but I have been thinking about it.

    Haven- do you think at some point in the future you can post about dreams? I am so fascinated by your writing about them in your books, I would love to learn more and also share about dreams and have others share. Maybe after we review Iodine?

  207. caryl – unbelievably, this IS my real name: Sher Fick . It is horrendous. I have had NO LUCK with last names, I was born with CREEKBAUM, married a HOWIE (a druggie musician), then a FICK (he is amazing and we have been together 18 years and 3 beautiful children). If I had my choice, I would change my last name to LOVEJOY or something great like that . . .

    All: I am so lucky to have INSOMNIA and a huge dose of MANIA. I can go for 4 days without sleep . . . I get very loopy, creative, and am like the energizer bunny. Then I spend a mental health day in bed. I get so much done though, I read, BLOG (obviously) and bake (which my family likes when they wake up and find muffins and cookies fresh from the oven). In fact, I was up until 4 a.m. last night, got up to get my 6 year old (birthday girl today) off to school and now I am headed for a nap . . .

  208. also, this BLOG is posted at Eastern time, and I am lucky enough to be in Central time, so in theory, I might not be as insane as ya’all probably think.

    I was referred to a psychiatrist this year to try to tweak medication so that I can get sleep at the same time as the rest of the world . . . but I decided not to go, this is who I am and it works for me. I would never want to give up those wide-awake, frantic art making twilight hours – it is when I create my best work.

  209. Tex- it is even cooler than you are from Australia. My wonderful beautiful therapist is from Australia. I have a young friend at church who is Australian. His partner is from Canada. I am so jealous of their accents. Keith Urban is from Australia too. He is more mainstream country music than I prefer (thus my love of Texas music) but since I live it Nashville, Tennessee it is a part of life. But, I have met Keith and he is so sweet and genuine, and he is in recovery and I went to the same rehab that he did (not at the same time and then he transferred out to the Betty Ford Clinic and stayed there for 3 months, which, ha, I could never do because I am not married to a movie star) but he is honest and open about it and I like that. Plus, he is really adorable. So, I like Australians. 🙂

  210. My lovely husband gave me a hardcopy, autographed edition of Zippy for our 37th. anniversary (THAT’S how well he knows me!)and then I found this blog, which I check into every day now for my daily fix of warmth and loving sympatico people, so YOU All are my extra gift. Now I still buy any of haven’s books I find in all the used book stores and thrift stores around here, and pass them out to friends and family like bibles. Thank goodness for this blog, it keeps me sane…now I will try to figure out the avatar thing.
    And welcome to Dorian, too.

  211. ok – mania day, can’t nap . . .

    Mirthfulness is the offspring of wisdom and good living
    -Anon

    Fossil: you got me thinking, here is an artist that was a “surrealist” (I actually hate ‘isms because I am against labels, but use characteristics for grouping) amazing for his time and I just LOVE, LOVE funky realism Guiseppe Arcimbobld (1537-93), especially “Summer”

    http://www.abcgallery.com/A/arcimboldo/arcimboldo2.html

    and about dreams/surrealism what about Varo??
    http://www.nd.edu/~sweber/art/varo/#ALCHEMY

    my own artful “jester”: Kerplunk

    http://sherfickart.typepad.com/photos/installations/1sherfickkerplunk.html

  212. I discovered this blog almost a week ago (thanks, Augusten’s website!) and have returned to it countless times since. I find myself stunned to the point of speechlessness at the eloquent words and sentiments expressed herein and hesitate to post anything at all for fear of lowering the quality of the writing. But post I shall, because I just can’t NOT:

    To Haven—I have loved your writing for years, recommended of your books to more friends and family than any other author, and received tremendous joy over many hours reading (and re-reading) your lovely sentences. I wouldn’t have thought it possible to think any more highly of you than I did before coming here, but I do; what a gift you have given all of us who are lucky enough to have discovered this blog. I hope you are feeling better soon.

    General: I started Iodine the other night (should have started it much much sooner!) To have the chance to discuss it with all of you, and Haven…well, I have no words except…please don’t start without me! I know I have no right to ask that, by the way. I promise I will read as quickly as I can.

    To everyone who has commented: I feel like I should be paying tuition or something, as if I am taking an online class (graduate level) in Exquisite Personal Writing. I feel just a little bit smarter at the conclusion of every post. Either that, or I’ve just been invited to the family reunion for People I’m Not Related To But Wish I Was.

    To katemckinneycake: Are you a fellow Kansan? Did I remember correctly a reference to Kansas in one of your posts? Do YOU know why Haven (and Augusten for that matter) haven’t included Kansas on a book tour? Or has Kansas never included them? Now that I think about it, that’s probably the more likely scenario, no offense intended to any present or former Kansans.

    To Linda: I too have met Keith Urban (big fan—rather I am a big fan of his; doubt he is of me) and also love those Texas music dudes—care to be more specific about who? I love Nashville, too; Keith was the reason for both my visits there and I would love to return someday.

    To Kimberly: I’d like to copy yours and just make them mine as I feel the same way. You’re really 21? When I think of what I would have written at 21 (I’m 49 now), well, let’s just say it wouldn’t have been nearly as cool as yours and leave it at that.

    My life took a big leap forward last week when I found this place and it will never be the same again; that’s a good thing.

  213. There are two Kates…maybe the other one is from Kansas? I am in the very southernest part of Indiana, right smack dab on the Ohio River, right across from Kentucky.

  214. katemckinneycake: Ah…sorry, must have gotten confused…that’s a shock, not! If you are familiar at all with Friendship, IN that is my husband’s “home away from home” as he has visited there at least 2x/year for oh, about 15 years now.

  215. Sher – I think I may have you beat on the last name front! RE: Sleep patterns. Don’t bother with changing meds to regulate sleep if it works for you and doesn’t cause any ill effects. There isn’t anything wrong with polyphasic sleep. In fact many are proponents saying that it increases mental alertness and creativity. Thomas Edison, whose birthplace is in my hometown, was polyphasic.

    Kate – I’m with you on needing Cliff’s Notes for Iodine…I think I’ve been over-analyzing it. It was amazing, but I fear I may not be as smart as you, Haven, Sher, George, et al when it comes to literary analysis. I just purchased the audio book for my upcoming travels (I get motion sickness if I read for any extended period of time in the car).

  216. Ok, let’s start the Iodine discussion.

    What was real? What was all in Trace/Ianthe’s mind? Does it even matter?

  217. Nooooooooo I don’t have it yet. waaaah.

  218. Suggestion. Haven, would you put the Iodine discussion on a static page, so those of us who haven’t read it yet can chose not to click on the page. 🙂

    p.s. I’m not sure the Quentin theme has tabs, so you may have to had the page widget to your sidebar from the widget section of your design tab.

  219. i don’t have IODINE yet either. on the way, but not here yet

  220. Brandon – I now have a better name for my sleep type – thank you, thank you, thank you . . .

    so you have to reveal what your last name is – you can’t leave us dangling in the wind like that – how could it be worse than Frankenstein? Creekbaum?

    And do you know there is actually another SHER FICK (is like 26 and a major party girl . . . ) – I swear it is not me! Although I did have a few party days in my past.

    Interested in Literary Analysis?

    re Iodine – I don’t think it matters whether events in Trace/Ianthe’s life is real or not. It was real to her and therefore she carried the events with her – also maybe do a tiny bit of research on jungian/dream theory, especially about archetypes.

    http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/jung.html

    also, when there are objects (rather abstract or empirical), consider whether they might represent an archetype:

    http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americannovel/elements/symbols.html

    In Haven’s, and most brilliant other writer’s work, you might find clues in the names or the characters, even colors mentioned have an amazing connection. I have a very strong theory about the name of the novel and the name of the main character, but I have to save it . . .

    In Haven’s novels, you can basically assume that every word is there for a reason, it circles forward and backward, it has multiple inferences (situational to the “plot”, as loose as that might be, or symbolic).

    I will post an example of a analysis I did of a short story which might help you with an idea on how to analyze a story. NOte – I don’t think this needs to be done to enjoy the stories – it just adds another layer, or reveals an inner layer, to the story (which would then help it relate back to yourself/your life/the universe).

    Also, I am a born teacher/mentor – and I (obviously like to talk) – my private email is sherart1861@aol.com if anyone wants to reach me there. My blog is http://www.sherfickart.typepad.com .

    Thirsting for more is the main step in gaining knowledge/wisdom. So you are ALL well on your way!

  221. Having been all caught up on Haven’s writing (except for her early poetry, and I am trying to hunt it down) I went to the library last night to pick up Owen Meany. I opened it, but fickled out and succumbed quickly to the dual charms of Louise Erdrich’s Plague of Doves and Annie Proulx’s, Fine Just the Way It Is. I’ll keep Louise upstairs on the bedside table and Annie will be downstairs resting on the arm of my favorite chair, which is systematically being deconstructed by the cat.

    Ah…I’m a happy camper. Tried to get Infinite Jest, or anything by David Foster Wallace, but everything was checked out. Haven’s books, too!!!! But there is a new audiobook of Used Things. Confession: I have never listened to an audiobook in my life, yet. I am daunted by the sight of 19 or 20 CDs.

    Ah…a cloud just passed over the camp. Olsson’s book stores here in the DC area closed earlier this week. I thought something was up the weekend before last when I went in and saw NOTHING in new titles. I find this as disturbing as when I hear of another newspaper — especially a small newspaper — closing. There are about 300 sad responses on their website.

    About the only one I know that is left is Kramer Books/Afterwords in Georgetown. If you want to try to find an indie book store near your, here’s a locator and I don’t think it is all that accurate: http://www.indiebound.org/indie-store-finder

    Caryl: I am still wowed by what you had written.

  222. Sher, you could always try the last name Cox for a while. It was torture growing up with that name. My daughter seems to have a lot fewer issues with it than I had. It started in the 8th grade when one of those lovely football player types started the vicious lie that my middle name was “sucks.” I was clueless until that day. I’m now 44 and I still spell my name every time I say it.

  223. Particle – hum, COX, almost as much of an implication of sex as the misspelled “fick” – ugh, I told my kids they didn’t have to use their last names! So far they are using it . . . we’ll see (but they do get teased, my 14 year old daughter replies “your momma does” and “holla at the girl”), the older one, 16 and obviously superior all other humans, says “grow up” and walks away. I just ignore all misspelling and roll my eyes . . .

    For the interested, here is a link to the short story “A Rose for Emily” (Faulker) and the very short symbolic analysis I did on it, just an example of one type of literary analysis.

    http://sherfick.wordpress.com/2008/10/02/essay-aspects-of-time-in-faulkners-a-rose-for-emily/

    George – you might want to check for MP3 formats at the library, they are usually on 1 disk and is much less daunting (and easily transferred, to MP3 devices). Some libraries have then in a separate area than “audio” / “dvd” formats . . . but then most car cd players won’t play them . . . an annoying technical issue.

  224. Sher — I actually know a Lovejoy…and I’ve often wondered if her mastery of any medium (metal, glass, calligraphy, etc.) was a natural outgrowth of her name. And polyphasic (trust Brandon to have the mot juste!), or segmented, sleep used to be the norm in medieval and pre-industrialized, early modern Europe. It just doesn’t suit modern corporate life. And also, Stevie Wonder works the same way you do, and look how prolific he is. See what very excellent company you are in?

    George: I always thought books-on-tape were cheating, never had any interest, till one day I wanted something that was unavailable on paper. Strangely enough, I churned through it in 7 hours uninterrupted with almost total recall. Not a bad way to get through “research” type stuff.

  225. books on tape/cd have been a favorite of mine for years and years. as a kid, my family would all listen on long car rides. when it was over, my dad forced an analytical conversation (starting from when i was about 7 and my sister was 3). he still does this to date, sometimes with songs (i’m 31).

    as it were, it launched me into a lifelong love for reading and books. went to school for literature. i can’t go on a long car ride without a great book being read to me as i drive. and with an ipod, you can fit tons. there are free downloads of “This American Life” too. i can’t get enough

  226. Sher, I appoint you to lead the discussion, wherever it takes place. Of course, I have no POWER to appoint anyone. I just like making extravagant, meaningless statements. But, you do seem qualified.

    Ok, I NOMINATE Sher.

  227. I will have to give them a try sometime — maybe on a long drive or a long flight. My problem is that I am about half-way A.D.D. and I couldn’t imagine hours of uninterrupted time. Also, I have wondered if the voice on a book would just put me to sleep. I do believe in subliminal training…maybe I would conk out while listening to a book and wake up with total recall!

    So, who’s going to watch the debate tonight?

    We’re having some friends over to eat pizza and watch this thing. I am hoping you-know-who has a few Couric moments.

    I don’t think this thing is by any means over, despite Obama’s recent poll resurgence. I took an fairly informal survey earlier this week of about 250 women from 37 states who live in mostly rural areas and McCain was their preferred candidate by a huge plurality — about 55 percent to 21 percent with another 22 percent dissatisfied with both and the rest indicating they won’t vote.

  228. George, I am with you on listening to books, however I think it has alot to do with the readers voice in my experiences. When the cell phone law changed here in California,I had to take a 3 hour drive alone so I picked up America America by Ethan Canin, which I had never heard of but seemed like a good listen. The reader-a man-changed his voice when he spoke as a woman, sort of high pitched? I cringed every time and never finished it. However, that being said, I would love to hear one of Havens books read by her. I would love Haven to come to California and read to us here.

  229. Sher, I meant no disrespect to your name. I love your name. Iam going on your blog right now to tell you that.

  230. caryl –

    don’t be silly – I never thought it was disrespectful!! 😉 Most people are stunned when I tell them my name and I have to repeat it 10 times (my husband thinks I say it too fast) . . . names are so random . . . it would take a lot more than that to knock me off balance (eh hum, I had another bizarre accident Wednesday). But, new location!!!!!

    This time (sorry Linda, very near my new granite/stainless steel kitchen, you must come and decorate holiday cookies with me in it) I was in the dining room!!!!

    1. Hanging the drapes it took me two months to make
    2. and fell off the step ladder (only 3 steps up)
    3. the 9 ft. drapes strangled me
    4. knocked me in the head with the heavy metal pole, and I SWEAR
    5. tossed me through the air until I fell on my hip onto the corner of the VERY hardwood buffet.

    I had an instant angry violet/black bruise (really more of a concavity) and can barely move my leg. Today it is raised up and looks like I have a plum attached to my hip.

    Don thinks it will take months for my body to reabsorb the burst blood vessels – hum, I wonder if it would help to pop it like a blister?

    Now that I have thoroughly GROSSED YOU OUT . . do you still want to nominate me for anything!?

    I can’t highjack dear Haven’s blog, but if she needs help while she is getting better (I am officially, non-demonitationally praying for that), I would be willing to help in anyway I can. Unlike George (who insists on working), I can be flexible from home . . . especially now that I have identified my polyphasic sleep cycles . . .

  231. oops, Brandon gets total credit for identifying my sleep cycle. I feel so “official” now.

    I have been called many things, but medieval??? I LOVE medieval (I once, during my WINDCHIME PHASE in the 80’s was hypnotised and regressed and found out I was named “Carla”, I was a seamstress for Anne Bolyn and I married the Court Jester because he threatened to commit suicide – note – the jester was my then husband, my spiritual guide, Jalom, said I was reliving my guilt, it only lasted 2 years). Mysteriously I have been fasinated with the Dark Ages FOREVER – I have weird pictures doodled in my childhood bible of poofy skirted, embroidered gowns and spectacular headdresses. I don’t know what I believe, but it was FUN no matter what.

    How medieval is this? I have a Rapunzel tower in my backyard, I am literally decorated a Rapunzel tower fondant cake . . . ?

  232. that sounds weird, I mean I am honored to be linked to ANYTHING medieval – yippee!

  233. Okay. Polyphasic is the new word of the day.

    Sher – My last name is Crabbs. I used to get “Brandon has crabs” or people would call me crabby which really would make me crabby. HA HA. I make a point to spell it every time I introduce myself because the 2nd b really does matter. If your stories weren’t so funny I would say we need to wrap you in bubble wrap. DO NOT attempt to pop it like a blister. You set yourself up for a host of troubles with that and I saw a few of those during the nursing days. Thanks for the assistance with analysis. I’m much better at business and medical-based analytics.

    Particle – I have a friend who is a television reporter whose real last name is Cox but he refuses to use it on air.

  234. John Irving read aloud from OWEN and he did Owen’s voice. chills. It was last year in NYC.

  235. George: My problem is that I am about half-way A.D.D.

    Well, then, audiobooks should be no problem. Just listen to them with the other half!

    (Sorry. Inveterate smart*ss.)

    And yes, The Missus and I will be debate-watching. We’re nervous as heck about it — we keep seeing all these reports that the Senator should not underestimate the Governor, and so on. But it’s very hard to watch the Couric moments and imagine that SP is an honest-to-God serious candidate.

    Steph: Irving’s reading in NYC — was that the thing at Radio City, where he shared the stage with Rowling and Stephen King? (Something like “An Evening with Harry, Carrie, and Garp.”) Egad. One of my sisters and a nephew went to that; one of the occasions when it truly killed me to be 800+ miles away from the New York area.

  236. Sher, how deja vecu of you! You have the tower, you have the cake: how about the hair?

    Something a little like your poofy skirts: About fifteen years ago I wrote a song with lyrics that made no sense whatsoever until recently when I started reading books that referenced Isis (The Magdalen Manuscripts, and fictionally via Erica Jong’s Sappho’s Leap). So that’s the name of the song now. Love that somewhat unexplainable stuff.

  237. If only Katie were going to be on camera. There was nothing quite so hilarious as watching her face while listening to Palin: she looked like she’d taken a bite out of a year-old lemon.

    I hope it’s just where you’re polling, dear George. I read after the last presidential election that the votes are split pretty cleanly between rural and metropolitan. References to cities as an archipelago of blue. I hope that’s still true, because I really want to believe CBS news who has Obama by +9% (though most polls have him at +5% — still too close for comfort).

  238. Carol in Kansas – Here I am! See me waving? I am the Kate in Kansas and from what some friends have told me, Haven has been here, maybe before I moved here. If I’m not mistaken she came to Rainy Day books, a lovely independent book store which has extraordinary readings.

    May I second your comments on this group? They are both extraordinarily kind and smart and remember what EB White said about finding someone who was both a good friend and a good writer? About 14 years ago when the internet was new and it took five minutes (yes you youngsters–FIVE FULL MINUTES) to send an email, I was part of an online community–no blogging, it was a listserv devoted to LM Montgomery and her work. It was called the Kindred Spirits mailing list and I have thought of them several times over the past week as I’ve read these comments because they were remarkably like you people.

    Sher, first of all, while I have a rudimentary understanding of fine art, I am stunned by the breadth of your knowledge. When I went to that first page of the artist from the 1500’s my mouth hung open like the village idiot. HOW could he do that back then? Oh my goodness. Then I found your own beautiful piece which is just about my favorite medium ever, I love stories and secrets in art. It was just so lovely. So thank you.
    I have a friend in Nashville who is a musician and works for Legal Aid, but he went to college for fine art, hasn’t done it for years but I would love for him to meet you as he is trying to figure out his life now. His website is charliedodrill.com, but I will send him an email and tell him to check out your blog.

  239. SO. Someone, I shan’t say who, did me a great mitzvah and I slept fifteen hours last night. I got up and found that you’d all been brilliant and busy — thank you. I was going to answer some questions but I forget. Oh yes, if you’re going to listen to one of my audio books, choose either Zippy, Couch, or Iodine. The others were read by people who shouldn’t even be allowed to speak.

    Carolinkansas, welcome and thank you for your extraordinary kindness. Kimberly, you don’t seem 21 at all. Your wisdom shines through everything you write.

    MY WINDCHIME PHASE is my new favorite thing ever. Why, you ask? Because my MOTHER, yes, YOU DELONDA, has never outgrown her windchime phase. They surround her house and one of them is as big as a mature tree. Sleeping at her house is like finding yourself smack in the center of A Clockwork Orange.

    George, no need to hunt for my poems, I’ll put one on the new post. But I hear that reporter sound in your voice, don’t think I missed it.

    xo

  240. Here is a great game, if it is not too late:
    http://palinbingo.com/

  241. Brandon – Dear Boy, I am so sorry. I take back every claim that I have the worst last name. That is clearly unfair and you should, at the very least, change it to Crabtree or Crabapple. I bow to your standing as the No. 1 Best WORST Name Ever. Bowing.

    Kansas Kate – would love to meet your friend or at least connect – I actually know quite a few of the musicians in town and it is an amazingly cultured city if you look past the first glance of Country Music (which is GREAT, I’m just saying there is more to us). I was raised on Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Glenn Campbell, & Dolly Parton, not to mention a big dose of Patsy Cline. My mom’s favorite was Loretta’s D-I-V-O-R-C-E (she had a doozy). 2ndly – I know bizarre things for no reason whatsoever, do you see the similarity between Giuseppi’s “Summer” and Peter Gabriel’s Video “Big Time” (where his face is made up of morphing vegetables) – it is just so much fun to find those little connections . . .

    Carrie – yes, THOSE moments . . . we need an official name for them, too – Brandon, what is that called?

  242. I used to ride the school bus with Elvis Hell, Jr.

    I hope you see the implication that there was an Elvis Hell, Sr.

  243. You do remember that I too am a Jr?

  244. …making a pair

  245. Sher – I suspect Guiseppe and Il Bosco of experiencing mild ergot poisoning.
    Doesn’t explain Kerplunk, though.
    You are indeed a kindred spirit.

  246. Hi back to Kate(in kansas). If Haven has ever been here, I’m sure it would have been courtesy of Rainy Day Books; thanks to them I have heard/met Rick Bragg, Frank McCourt, and David Sedaris and others. We readers are lucky to have them in our “corner” so to speak. Thanks for the welcome, Haven…what a lovely and delightful place this is to spend time…gosh, the internet is a wonderful thing!

  247. JES: that was the reading indeed! absolutely wonderful

  248. Haven, do you think you would get in trouble if you named a fictional character Elvis Hell, Jr.? Because it simply does not get any better than that.

    My husband’s initials spell HAM, and he is a Junior as well.

    My maiden name is Soper…my friend Julie used to say Soap her? I hardly know her!

  249. Haven — so glad someone’s doing you a mitzvah allowed you such a rejuvenating hopefully healing sleep.

    Sher, that’s the actual term — “déjà vécu” (already lived through) is that sense you’ve lived through something before. There are those who live it ALL THE TIME — “Oh, it’s that woman again in the fedora, smoking a cigarello.” They won’t read newspapers or watch TV because they “know” already what they are going to read or watch (okay, I guess they aren’t in the minority there), or won’t play tennis because they say they already know the outcome of every rally. Can you imagine the tediousness, the awfulness, of an existence where nothing, NOTHING, was new?

    Although — I do wonder why they don’t spend all their time at the track.

  250. deja vecu – I now have 2 new “diagnosis” to claim . . . this has been a wonderous week indeed.

    Maybe I can sleep tonight. All is well in the world (except for the Palin issue, and the war, and . . .) ok, all is well in my tiny corner of the world and now that we know that dear Haven is doing reasonably well, we can easily sleep and sleep easy.

    All but me of course . . . I think I deja vecu’d that last line, probably because of my polyphasic cycles (I do dream better and remember more when I sleep in short segments) – my life is liberated from the world dictatorship of the clock.

  251. FOR DORIAN
    As usual I am coming in late on the conversation. I’m sorry you are hurting and so raw, if you need some private conversation, I’m available. I lost my most favorite person in the world at 17, my brother Allen. Then my other brother decided to end his own life. When my Dad died I totally lost it. I felt I had lost my whole family and was totally alone. My Mother was an abusive drunk, most of my life, and now she’s just a selfish nut. This is not to deminish your pain, but to try to help you see that you are not alone. This blog seems to be a soft place to fall. People don’t judge Dorian just let her be for awhile. The best friends are there in the worst of times.
    FOR HAVEN
    Thank you for explaining your like of taxidermed pets. I too am not fond of it. One part of me finds it disrespectful of life and on side of me wants to look at every part of that animal I couldn’t normally look at so close, and yes I really do poke dead things with sticks (closet science nerd). Animals fasinate me, I don’t know why. I don’t think there is a differance between animals and humans, we are all creatures of God, and should be treated with respect, and kindness.
    After my brother died animals where my friends and care takers. They didn’t tell me what a piece of shit I was everyday.
    Brandon, I agree don’t put down others, as in Haven, but disagreeing with her is important. Freedom of speech. When you blindly follow, terrable things happen, ..Nazi Germany, or am I misunderstanding you?.

  252. Haven, I think you should buy our Coyote before someone from PITA throws paint on it’s beautiful coat. Most people love it, but the other night an over zealous animal rights person was trying to force their opinion on my BIL. When word gets out, that it’s in it’s comfy little spot in our mall space, I’m guessing it won’t take long for the picket signs and paint brigade.

    I would even consider delivering it. 🙂

  253. Haven, thank you for those kind words. Being called wise by my favorite author is enough fuel to keep me going for a long, long time.

  254. What’s up from your number one fan[and that’s before I knew you could write]!I just moved from my beloved home state of virginia to be with my father who is ill.It’s just another example of how extraordinary a person he is even in his twilight;if it wasn’t for him I never would have met you or discovered your talent.To destroy books is like tearing the ears off a kitten???That is nothing short of a f****** genius at work,and no matter how long I live or how many books I read,that image will always be seared into my brain.Hippies,not hipsters, rule!-bye from GRAND HAVEN,michigan.

  255. People from Grand Haven always tend to yell GRAND HAVEN. haha

  256. I’ve been out of the loop due to a nasty surgery so I apologize. I just have to say OH MY GOD. I thought I hallucinated the whole ibex-smuggling thing after reading about it last week. Then Brandon came to the hospital and told me the whole story. I laughed my stitches out, but somehow the better-than-morphine drugs convinced me I had hallucinated that, too. I had several hallucinations of running through a meadow with Brandon, Haven and the ibex while Erik played German folk music– very Sound of Music gone horribly wrong. (Please tell me that didn’t happen?)

    (I was also convinced that the happy birthday balloons in my room were Sonny and Cher singing “I’ve Got You Babe” over and over again; and that we were somehow transported to Lawrence, Kansas, which had me so convinced I was sure that Chris Bradley (the local weatherman) had moved there at exactly the same time I went into the hospital.)

    So then I get home from the hospital and start reading Haven’s blog and THERE IT IS, the taxidermy post, the ibex, all of it. I have never been so happy.

    Small steps.

    Haven, if you have time when you are in Columbus I can take you to the historical society and show you our taxidermy collection. We even have a taxidermied two-headed calf.

  257. Oh, SWEET Jebus. How could I forget about the two-headed calf?! Judy wanted to come over to take a ride on Frank “Gary” Capra the Ibex, but Gary said he’s much to old for that.

  258. I went to a two-year college in South Georgia where hanging deer heads on the outside of dorm doors was common — as was calf-roping practice on the quad and the occasional tractor in the parking lot.

    You want stuffed dead things, visit the South. If they don’t have it, someone with a rifle and a pickup will go get it.

  259. I walked into a restaurant in Kingston, Ontario called Tom’s Place that has to be the epicentre of all things taxidermied (word?): moose head, bear, fish (lots of those), weasel(!), ‘possum, fisher, possibly the owner.

    Seriously, you must go there at once. Take my car. Please.

  260. Okay. I found it. Jeesh. I never would dare call you macabre. It was the dead animal heads in that place that I referred to. I am from California and not used to seeing boxes of “Spotted Owl Helper.” I will never be brave enough to read the rest of that thread. I am hanging by a thin one already.


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