look among my wealth of nature’s bounty…
among feathers, acorns,
and a harvest of dried leaves…
among the marbles and arrowheads
that i plucked from the ground…
and the skeleton keys and old coins
that rose from there as well
look among my treasure chest
of cherished things…
the photos of loved ones
both living and gone…
the shelves of books
that house a hundred voices…
and walls of art
that feed my hungry soul
look among my memories of
loves and friendships
that know no end…
that echo a thousand footsteps…
and unknown journeys
whose steps are yet unknown
look among these things
and that’s where you’ll find me…
divided between the present
and the fragmented pieces of time…
between nature, relics, sentiments
and written words…
look among these things…
and find me
Today I met a woman who discussed art with me. She commented on the Hockney print in my office stating it reminded her of a Grandma Moses. I confessed I knew little of Moses’ style. I told her that I had bought the poster at the Metropolitan Museum of Art while attending a Hockney Exhibition, explaining that I had chosen it because I disliked it least of his available works.
She told me about an exhibit across the street at a bank building. I have forgotten the artist’s name. She spoke briefly about artists in our city not having much of a market. She remarked about the taste of our CEO who invests millions in various art forms displayed about our corporate headquarters. I thanked her for sharing her knowledge with me and she went on with her cleaning for you see she was the janitor.
As I watched her unassuming figure walk away pushing the trash cart I did not doubt that she knew art and appreciated it. I thought how much we assume about people based upon their jobs, clothes or other factors that tell us nothing about who or what they are.
Written January 8, 1990
“Everyone discusses my art and pretends to understand, as if it were necessary to understand, when it is simply necessary to love.” Claude Monet
If you live in this area (KY, IN, TN) you are probably familiar with Bernheim Forest. https://bernheim.org If not you should be. Bernheim is a wonderful place to be free in nature. There are areas cultivated and manicured but many acres of natural forest as well. It has been a favorite place for our family to explore for many years.
A few days ago we drove to Bernheim to view some new residents. A GIANT family has moved there. Mama, Loumari, and her two children Nis and Elina are truly bigger than life. Here are a few photos of the giants made from all natural materials.
Bernheim Forest is a place where art, nature and humans dovetail perfectly!
Beginning in May and lasting into July it never gets completely dark in St. Petersburg due to its geographical location as the Northern most city in the world. This period of time is referred to as “White Nights.” It was an eerie feeling and messed with my circadian rhythm. This was not the biggest deterrent to sleep, however. Never have I see such big and persistent mosquitos. They buzzed loudly and got in my face belligerently each evening in the hotel. They seemed partial to the face and hands for their nightly feast. I counted 20 bites on one hand and 10 on the other as well as enough on my face to look like I had chicken pox!
The Goodwill Games were started in Moscow in 1986 by Ted Turner as a response to political difficulties surrounding the Olympic Games at the time. While I was in St. Petersburg the country was hosting the games for the second time. It was exciting to see the enthusiasm the games inspired and I knew the city was presenting its best face for the onslaught of tourists.
The hotel I stayed in was the Rusky as I recall. It had a lot of marble, but not the beautiful expensive type that I was used to seeing working in the magnificent Humana headquarters in Louisville, KY. This marble was lifeless and the rooms were little more than one would expect in a hostel or at camp. Although clean the beds were cots, the bathroom’s plumbing was exposed and the mosquitos had free access to guests.
This view outside the back of the hotel is more representative of what the city was like in 1994.
Cemeteries are one of my favorite sites to visit. Those in Russia were certainly not a disappointment. By tradition, they are divided into three sections. There is a section reserved for Communists, usually signified by the hammer and sickle.
There is a section for those involved in the Arts and another for regular people.
Things We Take for Granted
This I saved for last. One thing that we take for granted here in the US and in much of the world, I suppose, is toilet paper. We load our grocery carts with no thought to what life would be without this commodity. In Russia in 1994 that was not the case. Many public restrooms had no T.P. at all. Others had attendants who presented you with a couple of squares as an allotment as you enter. Some places had a sheet torn from books (see the example from “church” below.) Here is the collection that I preserved:
Part 6 of 6
Note: Thank you to Lula Reynolds for giving us a break from St. Petersburg and sharing her visit to Moscow (2012) in the last post.
Welcome Guest Writer: Lula Reynolds traveled to Russia 18 years after my trip to St. Petersburg. She has graciously shared the post below about the city of Moscow. Thank you Lula!
My one-day visit to Moscow in 2012 was interesting but left me with lots of questions. I had visited Communist China so knew a little about what to expect. However, Moscow was different from China and even from St. Petersburg. In St. Petersburg, the people and guides were open and friendly and were willing to answer our questions. The museums were beautiful and ornate.
For our trip to Moscow, we could go by plane or high-speed train. We chose the 4-hour train trip to see some of the countryside. As we rode farther away from St. Petersburg, there were fewer buildings and those that we saw were very small, almost like huts, and crowded together in villages. We were told that these were country homes. The landscape reminded me of the movie, Dr. Zhivago, without the snow.
When we arrived in Moscow, we were introduced to our guide, a lady probably in her 50’s, dressed much like what I thought of as a typical Russian. Our first experience was a ride through the city to a Metro train station where we rode the subway for a short distance. The station was spotlessly clean and was exquisitely decorated with sculptures, chandeliers, mosaics and marble walls and ceilings. It was a work of art, leaving us to wonder if all the stations were like this or if this was their showpiece.
Our tour for the day included a visit to the Kremlin and Red Square. Our guide kept a swift pace and throughout the day a couple of men would appear to walk beside her and check off her schedule. She kept us in tight control, asking us often not to wander from the group. At one point a couple wanted to stop at a restroom they spotted but she said no, that a restroom break was scheduled later. When we were allowed to ask questions, she would not answer political questions.
I had always thought of the Kremlin as government buildings. We were not able to tour the government portion of the Kremlin, which is an old fortress and the seat of the President. The part of the Kremlin we visited was the Armory Chamber which was a museum of Russian history. It was beautiful and very crowded and we were guided through to see the armor, coronation dresses, jewelry, golden carriages, and Faberge eggs. There was much use of jewels and gold in these items.
We had been told not to touch anything, lean against anything or take pictures. Near the wall in several places were older ladies (with their purses on their arms) seated in chairs. If someone accidentally touched or leaned against a wall, they would come over and remind us not to touch.
Our guide walked swiftly all day. She was off the bus and on her way before the last person exited the bus. At one point when we were going up some stairs to a restaurant for a Russian dinner (beef Stroganoff), one of the tourists remarked that she walked so fast that we couldn’t keep up. Her response was, “Russian women are tough.”
The Kremlin included Cathedral Square, surrounded by 3 cathedrals. Important Russian ceremonies take place in the beautiful gardens.
Red Square has been the place of numerous historical and political events in the life of Russia. As we walked in Red Square there were many people hustling about, young and old. We noticed that the police or military would not make eye contact.
Red Square is made up of the Kremlin, the Lenin Mausoleum, the Church of St. Basil the Blessed, the State History Museum and GUM, the largest department store in Russia.
We were given an opportunity to wander shortly in the department store which is like a mall. The shops looked very similar to US shops and were brightly decorated.
Our day in Moscow was packed with sights, but I came away feeling very confined and not really learning a lot of information about the people and its culture. I admired the exquisite and lavish beauty of the museums and churches but left wondering what daily life is like for the people in Moscow.
The Russian language is very difficult. I worked for months before the trip to learn as many words as possible. I listened to tapes (yes, cassettes) and gradually learned approximately 100 Russian words. Today after all those years, I remember about three or four: “No”, “Goodbye”, and “Thank You” for sure. Often when the people heard a visitor say a few words of Russian they then assumed that you spoke the language.That could create problems without enough words to explain.
The currency when I was in Russia was very weak. A ruble was worth less than 1/10 of a penny. Each day would begin by standing in line at a money exchange kiosk.
St. Petersburg (formerly Leningrad)
There were few private autos in Russia during the 1990’s, but there were trolleys, buses, subways and a few taxis. Public transportation was dependable, but very crowded, especially the buses which were cheapest. Commuters were jammed tightly together but never looked one another in the eye.
The Metro (subway) was one-third mile underground. The escalators were efficient in transporting passengers to and from the trains. The trains ran at 100 MPH and were clean and safe. The interpreter I was with said that pick-pocket thieves were on the lookout for tourists, but I experienced no problems nor suspicions.
The Hermitage is one of the world’s most premier museums. It is filled with priceless art and at the time I visited it had no temperature or humidity control for protection of these precious pieces.
Patrons were asked to remove our shoes and use soft slippers provided to reduce noise. We were allowed to walk around with few to no guards or docents to prevent damage to the irreplaceable works of art.
Music and dance are adored in Russia and I was fortunate to be able to enjoy both while in St. Petersburg.
The ballet Swan Lake was performed in a historic theater by a newly formed dance company which now performs all over the world. The theater was grand, but showed signs of age and lack of maintenance as evidenced by the restroom picture below.
I also had an opportunity to attend a folk music show with traditional dance, costumes, and instruments. It was the first time I had seen or heard the three-stringed instrument called a balalaika.
I believe my Mother’s essence is in many objects that I have in my home. Not so much in the antique dishes or her personal jewelry, but in the things she infused with her love. I believe that her soul speaks to me through the stitches she loving put into place over the years of her life. I feel her love in the baby quilt she embroidered for her children, the ring pillow she made for my wedding, in the yarn she transformed into beautiful pieces of art and the scraps of material from the clothes she made for her granddaughters and their dolls, later quilted together.
I believe that my Aunt Thelma’s essence is strong in items she left behind and that she must be happy we find both uses and joy in them today. They are things that were dear to her and I have the privilege now of calling them mine. I love them not for themselves but because I loved her so much and I feel her presence when I see them.
She was taught by her church that it was a duty to bear children and it was probably her greatest disappointment in life that she did not conceive. She loved me and other nieces and nephews, she loved my daughters, too. How sweet her smile must be as she watches my granddaughter, who Aunt Thelma never met, sew pieces of lace from her 91 year old wedding dress into the wedding dress that Kate will wear next month. I know her soul is happy today.
I believe my husband’s essence is the flowers that grow in our courtyard where he planted them. In caring for them, I continue to learn from him about the effort it takes to give beauty its fullest potential. His soul lives on nourishing the plants, keeping me company and giving me purpose.
I believe that my maternal Grandparents’ essences are present when I pick up one of their Bibles. I know how important these books were to them and not just as a place to record family records of births, marriages, and deaths. They also recorded other important information such as their Social Security Numbers and the date of their last tetanus shots!
Seriously, the Bible was holy to them. They each read from it daily and they carried it with them to their little country church, Mt. Vernon Baptist, twice each Sunday and usually at least once in the middle of the week. Their souls are close by those worn and precious books.
Nature is not only all that is visible to the eye… it also includes the inner pictures of the soul.” Evard Munch
Those referenced in Soul 2 who were interviewed by Oprah https://crookedcreek.live/2018/04/07/soul-2/ are often called upon for their opinions in spiritual matters. Her guests include many who are well prepared via their education and experience and perhaps some who are self-proclaimed experts on the topic of the soul. Let’s look at some of the characteristics they used to describe the human soul to see how they agree or differ.
The one distinction the following group has in common is that they are all published.
SOME WORDS USED
birthless, deathless, changeless
Spiritual Success Coach
where the Holy Spirit resides, connection with God
Founder of The Temple of the Universe
indwelling consciousness, center of being
Spiritual Life Coach
fingerprint of God that becomes the body
our divine nature, belongs to God
truth of who we are
These interviewees have been grouped together because they each indicate that the soul has no beginning nor end. It surprises me that of the thirteen interviewed only three indicated that the soul is eternal and two of them did not use that word but did indicate that was their belief.
WORK / BACKGROUND
Medical Professor, New Age Movement, Alternative Medicine
Eternal, core, internal reference point
Self Help Coach
Core, never dies, contains all lessons learned
Seat of the Soul Institute
Present before and after birth
This last group is made up of those who used the word I repeatedly come back to when trying to describe the soul. That word is “essence” and in our next post of this series, I will try to explain why.
WORK / BACKGROUND
Breathnach, Sarah Ban
Human Potential Movement
Essence, innermost being, beyond form or consciousness
Wrote “A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose”
Essence, transcends our leaving this mortal coil
How do these all of these professional descriptions agree with what you have always thought or now think about the soul?
“You use a glass mirror to see your face; you use works of art to see your soul.” George Bernard Shaw
Some reader comments indicate you may be expecting an actual book, but I am sorry it does not exist. I’ve only gotten to the title because I know that actually writing the book would be an enormous waste of time. No publisher would be interested in a book with my title.
Handsome guy, right? My book would have him falling in love with an ugly hag. Can you picture him dancing with or kissing such an old woman? Of course, you can’t because it has never happened and it never will. There’s no money in that story! There is no reality in that story.
For centuries, however, the opposite plot has been accepted and even expected. The book Beauty and the Beast has been read to children for generations. The three movies by the same name have been attended by families since the first one was released in the 1940s. I would love to know how many children may have asked their parents why the beautiful girl was in the arms of the big hairy monster. I wonder how many parents were uncomfortable with the storyline.
“Handsome and the Hag”
Some food for thought:
“A beautiful woman with a brain is like a beautiful woman with a club foot.” Bernard Cornfeld
“The highest prize in the world of men is the most beautiful woman available on your arm and living there in her heart loyal to you.” Norman Mailer
“There is no spectacle on earth more appealing than that of a beautiful woman in the act of cooking dinner for someone she loves.” Tom Wolfe
“It’s the combination of marrying a beautiful woman three decades younger and my iPad that keeps me young.” Bruce Forsyth
“Surrounding myself with beautiful women keeps me young.” Hugh Hefner
“My addiction has always been to beautiful women, being surrounded by them.” Corey Feldman
Bookshelves barely exist today. Those that remain often contain old books left over from a former era or perhaps ones with some sentimental memory attached. I must admit that I still like the feel of a real book and I like to highlight and make notes in margins. I can do that with my Kindle but it just does not feel the same. I will admit though that clicking on an unfamiliar word and having the definition pop up on the screen is a valuable feature of electronic readers.
This framed print from my office is a drawing by Robert Conley. Conley’s art was in tribute to nurses who cared for his terminally ill wife in the 1970s. I love it for many personal reasons, but I’m sharing it today to point out two essential medical books of that era. The Physicians’ Desk Reference(PDR) and The Merck Manual seen here were essentials in any clinical area. The PDR was published each year and contained page after page of details about each prescription drug available. It was heavily used by doctors and nurses alike. The Merck Manual explained diagnoses and treatments. I am willing to bet that you do not recall seeing either of these in the past thirty years and younger readers will not likely remember ever seeing a doctor referencing a book of any kind.
The reason, of course, is that now all this information and so much more is available and up to date electronically. This easily accessible data saves time and, no doubt lives. One only needs a handheld device to answer any inquiry.
Recently I ran across a few pages I had photocopied from an old book at some point long ago. I have no recollection why I had them or had kept them, but I’m glad that I did. Especially since that out of all “Twenty Books” in the “One Volume” I had chosen to copy Book VIII entitled “Sexology.”
Library of Health – Complete Guide to Prevention and Cure of Disease
Edited by B. Frank School, Ph.G, M.D.
Graduate of Jefferson Medical College and Philadephia College of Pharmacy
Table of Contents:
Anatomy, Physiology and Preventive Medicine, Curative Medicine, First Aid Measures, Diagnosis, Nursing, Sexology, Simple Home Remedies, Care of the Teeth, Occupational Diseases, Garden Plant Remedies, Alcohol and Narcotics, Treatment by Fifteen Schools of Medicine, Beauty Culture, Physical Culture, the Science of Breathing and the Dictionary of Drugs.
Historical Publishing Co. Philadelphia, PA
In the next few posts, I will summarize some of the wisdom contained in this 108-year-old manuscript. So if you have questions about courtship, matrimony, procreation and more HANG ON! The answers are on the way.