Deny It [on Flawed Wednesday]

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Were I to give this image a title it would be called ‘Denial.’ It smacks of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation: a holiday obsessed Chevy Chase pretends he is having the perfect family Christmas even as the house comes down around him. Of course, in Hollywood, denial has a happy ending for everyone but the snotty neighbors. Their suffering makes us laugh.

These days I think almost daily of the phrase Roger tossed out a few decades ago: denial is the most powerful of human capacities. He is a director of plays, a great student of human motivation. People are great at denying what they don’t like. People are great at having one too many drinks and getting behind the wheel, or texting while driving because, after all, bad things happen to other people. People are masters at pretending that they are not involved, above it all, or what they see is not happening. Ask the NRA.

The important detail that Roger understood is that denial is never passive. It abdicates responsibility. It assigns blame other places. Chinese hoax. It minimizes the impact. It paints pretty pictures of ugly situations. It throbs with intention.

Denial: the action of declaring something untrue.

Here’s the question that Roger’s observation invokes in me: at what point do we wake up and realize that we are all the snotty neighbors?

[now, don’t you wish that I’d just written about Hieronymous Bosch like I intended?]

 

read Kerri’s less pessimistic blog post on the PICNIC TABLE

 

 

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Plan To Try Again [on Two Artists Tuesday]

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20 and I sat in the Adirondack chairs in the sun, eating chips and drinking wine, and watched Trevor and his crew put the finishing touches on the dock refurbishment.They’d been at it for days, leveling and reinforcing the existing structure, cutting pieces and installing a new surface. The final step was the installation of a bench on the far end, a place to sit over the water and enjoy the moon rise. They screwed the bench in place and loaded up their tools. We praised their good work. It was solid. Trevor said he’d be back in a week or so to check on things.

Within a week, the dock became a metaphor.

The storms that rolled through a few days after Trevor screwed the bench into place were intense. The lake looked and acted like the Atlantic Ocean when it is angry. The waves smashed the shoreline and ate great chunks of the yard. The bench that Trevor secured to the dock broke off within the first hour. The waves smashed it to bits.

All of Trevor’s hard work leveling the dock and stabilizing the structure was for naught. After the bench was swallowed, the legs buckled and twisted. The dock surrendered and knelt but the opposing team seemed not to care. The surrender did not stop the pounding. Another storm came. And then another. And then another. The dock is now face down, belly to the sand.

Trevor hasn’t been back yet to check on things. I suspect he already knows that his good work was no match for Mother Nature. The best laid plans…and all of that. He’ll shrug and pull the pieces from the water. He’ll even rebuild it if Deb wants him to give it another try. Trevor is a practical guy.

Gang aft agley!

 

read Kerri’s blog post about THE DOCK

 

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Pollinate [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

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“The Bee and Thistle sounds like a bar!” I quipped as Kerri knelt to take the shot. And, as we later discovered, it is! It is many bars! Pollination meets inebriation. Poetry or symbol or both. I can’t help but imagining little bees flitting from tap to tap, bees with beer bellies. Belching bees.

The US Department of Agriculture reports that pollinators are responsible for one in every three bites of food we take. Flowering crops need those pollen-drunk bees flitting about to fertilize the plants. Without them, the whole system breaks down. Such a little thing. Such a necessary thing. Bees are in decline.

It seems the theme emerging from this week’s studio melange is the power of the small thing, the small gesture, the small act of kindness, the small bee. The little things taken for granted that go largely unnoticed until they are gone. And then the loss is titanic.

Austin wants to keep bees. Well, truth be told, he already has a small number of hives. A few days ago he received some queen bees in the mail. He ordered them on Amazon [if you doubt that we live in a remarkably strange time, reread that last sentence]. One of his queens escaped from her little matchbox mailer and when Austin opened the package the queen flew away. She apparently had other plans.

He told me the story of the queen’s escape and I knew exactly where he could find his fleeing bee. “She’s in a bar,” I suggested. “The Bee & Thistle.”

Austin wrinkled his nose and then laughed, “I guess I’ll have to order another queen and request one without a drinking problem.”

 

read Kerri’s blog post on BEES AND THISTLES

 

 

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Go To The Grocery Store [on Merely A Thought Monday]

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Last week we went to the grocery store and had a conversation in every aisle. Such is the virtue of a small community.

Gossip: unconstrained conversation about other people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as true.

This week went to the grocery store to buy bananas and no one would talk to us, including the cash register clerk. It was our first hint that something was up!

Rumor: a currently circulating story or report of uncertain or doubtful truth.

Before an hour had passed, we heard rumor of our offense. It was egregious and downright offensive! It was an affront to the old school islanders. It was, above all, simply not true. Such is the vice of a small community.

Inflate: to fill with air.

As we stood in the middle of the swift moving undercurrent, players jockeying to be the most offended, we watched and listened as our abuse swelled. It took on epic proportions. Such is the nature of hearsay, regardless of the size of community.

We, of course, realized that our little island is a microcosm of an ailing nation. People believing what they want to believe. People eating gossip like sugar and growing fat on a diet with no substance. Gossip is toxic. It is, as an acquaintance used to say, like eating poison and expecting the other person to die.

We collected the names topping the list of the recently-rumored-offended and called them. Nothing interrupts gossip like facing it directly. We made some new friends.

This morning we went to the grocery store and had some nice conversations. Such is the fickle affection of a small community. Grace is good and the sands are ever-shifting.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about SNEEZING

 

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Feed The Fable [on Merely A Thought Monday]

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DogDog is a furry beast. He sheds like a champion. I vacuum every other day to stay ahead of the fur onslaught. In my defense I can only say that it is not my vacuum. We are guests in our little house. I realized too late that the vacuum cleaner bag was full. I realized too late that the replacement bag in the cupboard was the wrong size. I learned too late that, here on island, the mercantile doesn’t carry vacuum bags. I now know that Amazon will have new vacuum bags delivered to us by Tuesday, a full five days after my first vacuum revelation.

While we await the arrival of the bags, Kerri has placed a strict moratorium on visitors entering our little house. No one is permitted to see the mess. When someone walks up our driveway, we meet them in the yard. We steer them around the little house to the lake side chairs. We chirp with anxiety if they make a step toward the house.

I suspect we are not the only people who chirp, who sweep things under the rug, turn the lights low when guests are on the way, clean the house before the cleaners come. Once, on my honey-do list, was this: clean house before the electrician arrives. I did. The electrician, a nice young man, worked in a spotless environment. He inhabited and fully participated in our illusion of clean.

You know who your friends are when you allow them beyond the curtain of clean, when you permit them to see what’s behind THAT door in the basement. You really know who your friends are when they return from the clutter zone and say things like, “It wasn’t that bad,” or “I didn’t even see any piles of stuff.” Your real friends, the people that really love you, support you in your illusions. Or, is that delusions? Either way, thanks Dan. We’re glad you returned from the basement to tell the fable.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about THE BASEMENT

 

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“The whole island is a welcome sign,” he said. “People here take the time to stop and talk.”

It’s true. This little island is the inverse of life on the mainland. Over there, going slow is an anomaly. Here, rushing to get anywhere is the anomaly. Over there, people get agitated if they are made to wait. Here, people get agitated if they are made to move. Here, people routinely wave as you pass. They acknowledge your presence. Over there, people routinely pretend they don’t see you. Or, they simply don’t see you, their sight so focused on getting to the next thing on the list.

Our neighbors left a note on our door. Came by to meet you. Sorry we missed you. Come over and say hello. So, we did. Two hours and a large glass of mead later, we semi-staggered home feeling as if we’d known our new neighbors forever.

I confess to the disorientation that comes when first entering another culture. This culture, oddly, is not in another country, it is not halfway around the globe. It is a ferry ride just off the tip of Door County. It amused me no end upon first arriving that slowing down, saying hello, stopping to chat, seemed so unusual. So out of the norm.

I like it. It is infectious, this slowing-down-and-stopping-to-talk-to-everyone-thing. It is human scale or, perhaps, it is simply human. Things get done. People get where they need to go and no one gets run over in the process.

Now, in my new culture, stopping to say hello is, somehow, more important than anything I think I need to do; that is to say, self-importance takes a back seat to other-importance. That’s the secret ingredient, I think, the magic sauce to taking time to stop and stand beneath the welcome sign. Plus, sometimes there’s mead! Ahhhh (a coda).

 

read Kerri’s blog post about WELCOME

 

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Blink Carefully [on Two Artists Tuesday]

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When I first saw them I thought they were leaves growing like ivy on the post office wall. And then, one of the leaves fluttered its wings and took flight. It took a moment for my mind and eyes to adjust. Not ivy. Thousands and thousands of…dragonflies?

We stood for a few moments marveling at the sheer number of them. An older woman, an islander, pulled up and caught us gaping. “Bayflies,” she said in passing. “In all my years I’ve never seen so many.”

Later, in the theatre, we stared out of the window at another mass of…bayflies or dragonflies, clinging to the warm wall just outside the lobby. Pete came up behind us. “Mayflies,” he said. “There are a ton of them.” Pete is given to understatement. What he called a ‘ton’ I’d call a ‘plague.’ Alfred Hitchcock would have had a heyday with this story.

And the next day they were gone. Just like that. Had you told me about the bayfly-mayfly-dragonfly invasion, I might have wrinkled my brow and smiled at your exaggeration. A fishing story; a massive bug infestation? No one really knows what they are? Yeah, right! Here and gone. Uh-huh.

But it happened. Blink and you would have missed it. Just like life.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about THE INVASION

 

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