Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Year in Review - Arts Edition

Art opening, Maple Grove, Minnesota

These images are "leftovers" from prior posts, they didn't really fit at the time, but I felt them to be too good not to show.

   This year could be termed "The Year of Art" at FITK. It seemed to me that a larger portion of the posts this year were concerned with visual arts; be it openings I had attended, galleries crawls, as well as my own photo-illustrations for The Matriarchy serial novel. I've also been acquiring new art. Original works by Caitlin Karolczak and Shoshanah Lee Marohn, in addition to reproductions of Wanda Gág photos and illustrations, are now gracing the walls of Flippist World Headquarters.

Art opening,  Maple Grove, Minnesota

   I've managed to overcome my traditional avoidance of public photography, most people ignore me: its surprising how far gray hair and wrinkles can go in making one become invisible.

Art-a-Whirl, Minneapolis, Minnesota

   One of the original 'tenets' of Flippism is the Key was "Common things which are actually strange and strange things which are really common will be dealt with here." Tip for those thinking of starting a blog: leave your credos as open-ended as possible, you'll eventually need as much "wiggle room" as possible.

Experience Music Project, Frank Gehry architect, Seattle Washington

   I've been fortunate in avoiding disability or destitution, so travel is still enjoyable. I'm not a compulsive globe-trotter, but it is nice to broaden my horizons from time to time. No Iceland this year, but there will be a 'special' trip in February.

Pedestrian Tunnel, Anoka, Minnesota

   On the home front things are going well, my immediate neighborhood has been repopulated, with only one unoccupied house in the adjoining blocks versus the seven or eight only a few years ago. We're the 'old-timers' now, although we'll always be considered 'outsiders' (some of the houses here have third generation owners.)

Commercial Exterior, Minneapolis, Minnesota

   Minneapolis, a thirty minute drive away, has maintained its stature as the cultural mecca of the upper Midwest, although Saint Paul is right on its heels. Improvements in mass transit have started to erase the barrier between the twin cites, as well as continued growth in the increasingly more urban suburbs.

Commercial Interior, Minneapolis, Minnesota

   The new year finds Professor Batty and FITK looking ahead to more randomness as well as finishing "The Sequel." This site is starting to suffer the law of diminished returns but, barring further revisions in Google's search algorithms, it should remain viable for another year. If, however, the open internet should happen to be taken over by corporate interests you can kiss this blog goodbye.

Minnehaha Park, Minneapolis, Minnesota

By Professor Batty

Comments: 3 

Monday, December 29, 2014

Ethnic Food and the Meaning of Life

Christmas brings out the Scandinavian in me; I've gotta have my Lefse and pickled herring. The Lingonberries (insert The Big Lebowski reference here) are a staple year 'round but the other two are reserved for holiday occasions. I was unaware of Lefse until my late teen years when a friend had the bright idea of a lefse-making party as sort of a Norwegian mixer.  Do Young Adults today even cook at all anymore? Much more engaging than swiping right.

This year we hosted the family Christmas party for my relatives, I’m the paterfamilias, and with my older sister living in the Caribbean, I found myself in the position of the family elder present-hander-outer (no kids this year) and maker of the Sacred Christmas Sugar Cookies. Having no little kids in attendance meant that we could play Cards Against Humanity (link is NSFW). The true spirit of Christmas?

To celebrate Boxing Day the Weaver and I needed a respite from all those Christmas shenanigans so we watched a movie that would uplift our spirits and elevate our intellects:  Monty Python's Meaning of Life.  And is there a better person to spend a romantic evening with than Mr. Creosote?  To be fair, the film did end with a big musical production number of Christmas in Heaven.

I hope you had a Christmas as joyous as mine.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 4 

Friday, December 26, 2014

Take Me to the River

This is chapter 30 of The Matriarchy, a serial fiction novel on FITK

“The place where the bridge used to be is just ahead.”

Sean led Mary through the overgrown road, reaching the creek in a couple of minutes. The bridge deck had been completely removed but its pilings were still in place.

“Looks like we’ll have to get wet,” said Mary, as she looked at the pictures on her phone, “Emily’s drawing was marked right in the center of the old bridge support on the other side.”

They climbed down the bank and hitching up their pants, removed their shoes and socks. Mary, in her state of heightened awareness, gasped with delight when she stepped into the cold water.

“Not as spooky as the Ice Cave… ” she said, walking across the stream, “… but almost as cold. This should be the spot.”

Mary explored the limestone blocks with her fingertips.

“Do you feel anything?” said Sean.

“No, nothing special. Maybe the portal was disturbed when the bridge… Woo! That’s it. Right here,” Mary began to tremble, “I… ”

Mary had placed both of her hands on a stone about halfway up the wall and had closed her eyes. Sean, having seen similar behavior in the ice cave, watched Mary carefully but didn’t interfere. She began breathing deeply and rapidly with her head down, her body rocking back and forth. After a few minutes of this, she moaned softly and lowered her hands.

“Are you back?” asked Sean, “What happened?”

“It’s over,” she said, “Can’t talk. Water.”

The couple returned to the river bank, and Sean got some water from the picnic basket. Mary drank deeply then sat quietly for several minutes. Finally, she spoke:

“That was a deeper one. A lot of raw information,” Mary put the bottle of water back in the basket,  “Let me sit by myself for a while.”

“I’ll walk upstream,” said Sean, “I won’t go far.”

After he had walked a bit, Sean glanced back at Mary: she was still sitting, with her eyes closed, just as he had left her.  Sean enjoyed walking in the cold water of the creek. In the center of the stream was a long bar of silt. The mud, squishing between his toes, gave Sean a slight erogenous thrill.  He thought to himself “Hedonist.” The water roiled about the occasional boulders, creating small potholes around them. Sean watched with amusement as the baby bullheads frolicked in these shady pools. In the past, Sean had seen trout here, but today the only other fish he saw were a few black minnows nibbling at his toes.  He continued on up the stream for several hundred yards until his way was blocked by a fallen tree. By this time his feet were getting quite cold: it was still only early May, the full brunt of summer wouldn’t arrive for several weeks. He turned around and walked back to where he had left Mary.

As he rounded the bend Sean saw Mary in what appeared to be an intense conversation with two deer—a doe and her fawn. He stopped and stood still, not wanting to break whatever rapport Mary possessed with the creatures. Mary nodded at the doe. The doe nervously reciprocated, acting as if she was afraid of being seen. The fawn stood by her mother, shyly looking at Mary.  When Mary placed her palms together in front of her and clapped once, the deer took off down the stream bed. Sean then approached her.

“Dr. Doolittle, I presume?” said Sean.

“Hmpf.  I’ve figured out what this portal does,” said Mary, “Now I understand what those coyotes in Montana were trying to say. This is one ‘power’ that just might save our necks some day.”

“Anything translatable?” asked Sean.

“No, it’s all raw animal instinct,” Mary said, “The doe was anxious about the weather while the fawn was in a state of grace. Beautiful, simply beautiful. At any rate, we’d better get back to the house, there’s a storm brewing up over on the other side of the hollow.”

“Are you sure? It’s a beautiful day.”

“Trust me. Instinct trumps observation,” said Mary, “We can eat as we walk.”

Thunder rumbled over the hills and in a matter of minutes the northwestern sky started filling with clouds. By the time the couple had reached the house, it had begun to pour.

Back in Seattle, Sally O’Donnell shut down her computer. She closed her eyes and fought back the urge to vomit.  She had just realized just how much danger that Sean and Mary were in; she would have to make Sean aware of the contents of Roger Ramsen’s computer files. What she didn’t know was how to discreetly contact him. Then she remembered someone who might: Molly Berenson, Sean’s old lover.


By Professor Batty

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

'Tis the Season

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Summer in December

Minnehaha Falls Park, Minneapolis,  1995

No particular reason for posting this photo at this time. Perhaps it’s just to get a sense of summer in the winter: juxtaposition of the current Christmas celebrations with a summer birthday party nearly twenty years ago.

Time is only an illusion, right?

By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 

Friday, December 19, 2014


This is chapter 29 of The Matriarchy, a serial fiction novel on FITK

Just as Mary was putting the map and Emily’s drawings into her portfolio, Sean walked into the shop.

“You must be Marilyn’s boy. I knew you when you were little,” Edwin said, “I’ve been talking to Mary, she tells me you two are getting married tomorrow morning.”

“That’s right. I do remember you, vaguely. I think I was in this shop, with my mother, when I was young,” Sean said, looking around, “It was a toy store then.”

“So it was. It’s hardly a store at all anymore. Just a collection of things nobody needs; things nobody wants,” said Edwin, smiling, “Business is good.”

“I’ve been showing Emily’s drawings to Mr. Duddle. He knows where most of the places are located,” said Mary, “He gave me a map.”

“So, Edwin, I take it that you are aware of Mary’s powers?”

“Yes, I received some instruction from Emily before she left. I know that Mary is the chosen one,” said Edwin, “I have been waiting for her for a long time.”

“Sean, Edwin has agreed to be a witness tomorrow,” said Mary, “Edwin, we’ll be at the courthouse at 10 A.M. Shall we pick you up here at, say, nine-thirty?”

“Yes, that would be nice. I’ll be here. It would be my pleasure.”

Sean and Mary left the shop and returned to their car.

“Edwin studied art with Emily, and he was in Tina’s high school class as well,” said Mary, “He’s familiar with some of the paranormal things Emily knew about, although I don’t think he was ever into it as deep as Emily was, or I am, for that matter. He had a tiff with Tina, years ago, so there may be some tension between them. But Tina told me that it would be alright if he was there. I think Emily would have wanted it that way.”

“Speaking of Emily, has she ‘possessed’ you lately?”

“No, I think she only makes herself manifest at certain times. It isn’t as if she’s hovering over me. I’ve been thinking about the ‘powers’ that she and I share. It isn’t that Emily is here now, it’s as if she is stuck in the past, yet…  is somehow able to look forward to the future through a common plane-something which underlies space and time. When this happens she is able to make use of me.”

Sean looked perplexed.

“I’m starting to understand these strange things I’ve been going through,” Mary continued, “Some of those things were in the past—like you and Molly in the motel, or Ramsen stabbing you in the bathroom. They aren’t visions, they are more akin to looking at a video. I need some connection to the event, like your scars, for example, to make it work. Perhaps, when I’ve become more developed, I’ll be able to look into the future, in the way Emily has.”

“Speaking of the future,” said Sean, “I just made arrangements for our honeymoon.”

“I didn’t see that coming—I must not be as advanced as I thought I was,” said Mary, laughing, “Are you going to tell me where we’re going, or will it be a total surprise?”

“Whichever way you’d like it,” said Sean, “It isn’t far away, and it seems to be very nice.”

“Surprise me,” Mary said, “Let’s go back to Tina’s.  After lunch, we can check out that bridge, the one in Emily’s drawing. I’m ready for another lesson.”

“It’s about a mile to the bridge from Tina’s,” said Sean, “ Its a nice walk. We can turn it into a picnic.”

“You’re just full of romantic ideas today, aren’t you?”

Sean found an old wicker basket in Henry’s workshop. It had been covered with dust but it cleaned up nicely. Mary made sandwiches and packed them in the basket with a couple of apples and pretzel sticks, some water, and a Lindt chocolate bar. She used her phone to take several photos of Emily’s drawing of the bridge, including a close-up of that area which had been marked on the back of the paper.  Happy Hollow Road was quiet. The afternoon sun was warming the gravel but the the shadows along side it were cool—shaded by a canopy of trees. They walked until they reached the place where a roadblock had been erected.

“Tina said that the bridge had been taken out five years ago,” said Sean, “It was beyond repair and, with only a handful of farms on this road, wasn’t worth replacing.”

“What a glorious day. Any enhanced perception I might have is swamped by this,” Mary said, “Whispers from the wind, the quiet symphony of the insects at work, birds calling—I can see why you were sad to leave this place when you were little.”

“This is it, is it not? Why we have been put on earth. You and me, under the afternoon sun, walking the earth, surrounded by life,” said Sean, “At a time like this I begin to think that all the work I've done in my life has been meaningless.”

“And I’ve wondered about my work as well. ADR was just a way to cash in on the miseries that people had created in their own squalid version of reality,” she said, ”If it wasn’t so compelling, I’d be willing to describe this quest of mine, whatever it is, as merely another way to avoid living in the now.”

“It is compelling, isn’t it?  The urge to know the previously unknowable; it’s the curse of humanity—it’s what separates us from the other animals,” said Sean.

“Adam and Eve: Sin,” Mary continued, as she moved toward the roadblock, “Sin, in its original sense, is merely knowledge. What I’m looking for understanding. Where Adam accepted things on their face value, Eve was looking for deeper meaning.”

A garter snake, disturbed from its sunbath, slithered between Mary’s feet.

“Care for an apple?” said Mary.


By Professor Batty

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Clambering in the Fog

Clamber: intransitive verb:  to climb awkwardly (as by scrambling) 
A weekend respite from frigid temperatures brought fog to my town, creeping in on its Sandburgian little cat feet. I grabbed a camera and went down to the Rum River—always picturesque—and found that it had become even more so in the mist:

To obtain an non-obscured view I had to climb down an icy, rocky riverbank—in the dark. I really should have been wearing a helmet; I could have fallen on my head and knocked myself out. I wouldn’t have been discovered until spring!

The Giddings Gazebo looked especially menacing in the mist:

And the view from the top of the bridge was eerily inspiring:

By Professor Batty

Comments: 4 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Abstract Expressions

Untitled, Caitlin Karolczak, 2008, Oil, encaustic on panel. Collection of the author.

Another visit to the artist’s studio, this time spurred by the memory of a series of encaustic and oil panels which have haunted me since I first viewed them last spring. There were only a few people in her studio when the Weaver and I were there last Friday. Caitlin was chatty, she seemed to be more at ease than when she is thronged by a mob in a crawl or opening. She told me that these small (about five inches square) panels were experimental; used as a “sketchbook” to explore visual effects when making larger works. Her work is usually in a more representational style: moody and evocative, to be sure, these small pieces spoke to me in a similar fashion.

Untitled, Caitlin Karolczak, 2008, Oil, encaustic on panel. Collection of the author.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 

Friday, December 12, 2014


This is chapter 28 of The Matriarchy, a serial fiction novel on FITK

That night, as she was in bed examining the book she had received from Edwin Duddle, Mary looked up and watched Sean undress. His body still held its youthful appearance.  Sean's ‘aura’ was diffuse—not just around his head, as if it was a halo. His skin was marred only by the large scar in his lower torso and a smaller one above his heart. Mary let her mind wander to the events which led up to his disfigurement. The small scar was a memento of the relationship he had with his previous girlfriend Molly while the larger one was caused by an unknown assailant at Senator Clarkson’s fundraiser in Virginia. Sean had undergone a stint in physical therapy after his stabbing and he still did exercises to strengthen his core.  Mary could ‘see’ what seemed to be ‘folds’ in Sean’s aura, centered above the scars. In her continued state of heightened awareness these aberrations held a special interest. When Sean was completely naked, Mary put the book down and got out of the bed.

“Come here. I want to touch you.”

“Anytime,” said Sean, smiling.

Mary placed her hand on his chest and touched the smaller scar. She immediately received a mental image of Molly’s face as her teeth sank into Sean’s flesh. As she continued, tracing her finger over the line in his skin, Mary was able to ‘scan’ the event—even to the point of being able to see Sean and Molly together in that squalid motel room. Mary began to recite the dialog between Molly and Sean:
“Oooh! You look delicious!”
“Ohmigod! I’m so sorry- I didn’t mean to hurt you.”
“It’s alright, it was just a reflex action.”
“That’s gonna leave a mark!”
Astonished, Sean looked at Mary and shrank back a step.

“How did you know that?” he asked, “Those are the exact words we said when Molly bit me.”

“I don’t really know how I know,” Mary said, “It seemed as if I was in that motel room. Let me touch you again.”

   As Sean stepped closer Mary's fingers reached down to his belly. As she explored the larger scar she began to describe the scene of his stabbing:
“I see a bathroom, and you are crouched over a toilet… you are vomiting… there is a another man, coming into the room… he’s behind you… he picks up your jacket… and throws it over you, he has a knife in his hand, he thrusts it into you… you collapse to the floor… the man says ‘Bastard’… he turns to leave. The man… his face is very clear…  the man is Roger Ramsen.”
Mary stepped away. They remained silent for several seconds. Finally, Sean spoke:

“Well, now we know who we’re up against. Too bad your vision would never stand up in court.”

“We’ll have to connect this all somehow. We’ll look at Billy’s files again, or maybe there was something in the hard drives from your Mother’s computer that would link him with Ramsen. We could run checks on his activities. That O’Donnell woman, she’s his mistress. Maybe we can get something on her. I’ll check into it tomorrow at the coffeehouse. While I’m doing that you can buy yourself some wedding clothes.”

“How about you? What are you going to wear?” said Sean.

“I've got Emily’s dress,” Mary said as she removed her nightgown.

“This new-found power of yours… ” Distracted by Mary’s nakedness, Sean hesitated for a moment, “ …it might make make foreplay a little tricky?”

“I’ll leave your scars alone,” Mary said.

“I wasn’t thinking about the scars,” Sean answered.

“Don't think,” Mary said. She noticed that his ‘body aura’ had brightened considerably. Taking his hand, she led him into the bed.

After Sally O’Donnell returned to her town home in Seattle, she spent some time getting situated. As she ate, Sally sat down with a glass of wine and opened her laptop. She wanted to take a deeper look at the files that she had copied from Roger Ramsen’s computer. Her first stop was his email.  Some of the senders’ names were familiar to Sally but others remained cryptic. Those emails repeatedly referenced something referred to as ‘The Plan.’ Sally began to take notes.

Sean drove Mary into town the next morning, dropping her off at The Magpie while he went to Amundson’s clothing store.  Mary sipped her latte as she checked in with her lawyers. They had no new developments to report. She instructed them to work up a file on both Roger Ramsen and Sally O’Donnell.  Just as she was finishing, Sean walked in with two large shopping bags, filled with clothes.

“I’m afraid these duds will be no match for Emily’s dress, but then I'm no peacock," said Sean as he began to show Mary the clothes, “What do you think?”

“Don’t sell yourself short,” Mary said, looking through his purchases, “They’re fine. I’m done here, do you need the laptop? I’m going to go across the street, to talk to Edwin—the man I told you about yesterday—the one who gave me Emily’s book? I want him to look at Emily’s drawings.”

“I would like to use the laptop. Let me get some coffee first. I’ve got some things I need to check on.”

After Sean returned, Mary went across the street to Edwin’s shop.

“Mr. Duddle?” Mary said loudly as she entered, “It’s Mary, Sean’s fiance.”

“Just a minute,” he said, his disembodied voice coming from his office in the rear of the store, “I’ll be there in a minute.”

Mary looked around the shop. Nearly everything in it seemed to possess some special quality. She didn’t know if that was due to her heightened awareness or was simply a result of Edwin’s peculiar taste. After a short wait, Edwin emerged from the rear of the store, smoothing his thin, white hair with his hands. His halo was very pale, a silvery-gray.

“You’ve come back,” he said as he smiled and offered Mary his hand. When she grasped it he cradled hers as if it was a bird, “Now, how can I help you today?”

“Mr. Duddle, I’ve brought some of Emily’s drawings I’d like you to take a look at,” Mary said as she set the portfolio on the only uncluttered spot in the shop, “They seem to indicate what I’ll call, for lack of better words, ‘power centers.’  I’ve found some of them already. I thought that you might be able to help me find the others.”

Edwin looked at the drawings, silently examining each one in turn.

“Yes, I do know most of these places,” he said, “You’re right about them. The places they depict are portals, but can only be recognized by only those who have the ‘gift.’ They are openings to a world which exists beneath the world of our everyday existence. You have experienced some of this already, is that not so?”

“Yes. I am learning with each encounter,” Mary said, “These four drawings, the ones on top, I know about them already. Do you know where the others are?”

“Just a minute, let me get something,” Edwin went back to the office and returned with a well-used county map, “This is a little old, but things haven’t changed too much around here in the last thirty years. I’ll number the drawings of the places I know, and put those numbers on locations on the map. It should place you close enough to them so that you can find them on your own.”

“That is much appreciated,’ Mary said, “Have you been to them?”

“Some, like the Porter House here, are right down the street. Others are hidden away, in the country. There are a couple I don’t know.”

The old man went through the drawings again, carefully numbering each drawing and putting its corresponding number on the map. When he had finished, he put his pencil down and spoke: “These drawings are an atlas, an atlas of portals, no, not portals, ‘doors’ might be the better term, they are normally locked, you need a key.” He paused, then looked Mary directly in the eye, “If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is: infinite. That’s William Blake.”

Mary let this sink in for a few seconds. Then she spoke: “I talked to Tina yesterday. She told me about what had happened between you and her and Emily, about why Emily left and why Tina doesn’t talk to you. I don’t think she bears you any ill-will. It’s just something that happened a long time ago. She said that it would be alright with her if you witnessed our wedding tomorrow. I would like you to be there.”

“I’d be glad to be your witness,” Edwin said, “But about that business with Tina, I can’t undo what’s been done. Emily taught me many things, things which you’re learning now, as well as other things which you will soon discover. What happened between Emily and me, well… I was young and she offered me a glimpse of heaven. How could I refuse?"


By Professor Batty

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Ode to a Ring

Ho! Brown and queer One,
Your silver band is broken —
When will Arabian sand, wind-driven,
Sift over all the Pyramids?
Old, erudite, Egyptian thing
Your silver band is broken.

Ho! Foolish One,
You fell on an old carpet in two halves
Forgetting all the heavy dignity
Of untold centuries.
Are you as dead as the dust-driven fingers of
Egyptian kings you held encircled?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Come, I will have you mended
And place you carefully on my finger
Where the sun
Will pour swift, living color over every part
Whenever I desire.

                 ~Edgar T. Herrmann, c.1916

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Monday, December 08, 2014

Old Friends

Art Sale, Golden Valley, Minnesota

“We've been friends for over 50 years! Can you imagine it?”

In the way your faces light up, in the way the conversation resumes, as if you had just stepped out of the room for only a second, rather than the months which had transpired. For this moment at least, the years mean nothing. The Now. Unstated, but appreciated.

Last week I received a comment from a director of an Adult community center in Wisconsin, who wrote in looking for information on Frances Bruno, the subject of a series of posts I did last year. I called the woman who wrote and she told me the story. Sybil, one of the seniors who was in attendance that day, was wearing a distinctive ring. When asked about it she said that she had bought it in Rio when she was a skater in The Holidays on Ice revue in the early 50s. She also said that her roommate on that tour, Frances Bruno, had also bought a ring at the same time. Whenever the woman wore it it reminded her of Frances and of how much she missed her still, after 60 years. I gave the director Frances' grand-daughter's email address.

Frances is gone now. But her memory is not. The two old friends pictured above can still see each other and share some time together. But the important thing is not that they can still see each other, or that Sybil and Frances cannot; it is that they had once been friends–a bond neither time nor death can destroy for it only passes out of our view.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Friday, December 05, 2014

Tina’s Story

This is chapter 27 of The Matriarchy, a serial fiction novel on FITK

A little while after Mary and Sean returned to Tina’s house, Mary took Tina aside:

“Tina, do you have time to talk about something?”

“At my age, all I have is time. It’s my only possession of value,” said Tina. “We can go in the parlor. Can I get you anything? I’m having tea. What’s Sean up to?”

“Tea would be fine. Sean is looking through his college things.”

When Tina returned with the tea Mary was reclining on the sofa, one hand covering her eyes. The intensity of her perceptions had not abated, even with her eyes closed; she was still in a state of hyper-awareness. The aroma of the tea was almost overwhelming.

“Your tea,” said Tina, “What did you want to talk about?”

“I met Edwin Duddle today,” said Mary.

“Oh dear,” Tina said as she stared into her tea, “What did he tell you?”

“He knows, doesn’t he? About Emily, about what I’m going through?”

“He… um… he knows some… things… ” Tina’s gaze remained fixed upon her teacup.

“Emily spoke to him, through me,” Mary said, “Then he gave me one of Emily’s books.”

“I see,” said Tina.

Mary looked at Tina. She became aware of a halo that had engulfed Tina’s head in a faint blue aura and cascaded down over the old woman’s shoulders. After a short pause, Mary spoke: “I asked him to be a witness to our marriage. He said that I should talk to you. What is it that I should know about Edwin? About Edwin and Emily?”

“Edwin and Emily, and me,” Tina said, looking up, “Edwin and I were in the same grade in school.  When he was only 12 or 13 he started to come over here from time to time. At first, it was just to help Henry—he was good with his hands—and he always enjoyed learning new things.  But by the time we were in high school, well, you know how it is, when the hormones kick in. I liked being around Edwin, although at the time I probably couldn’t have articulated why. He was fair and tall. Sexy, you could even say, in his rough, unpolished way. A young woman didn’t talk about those things at that time. Then, when Emily came back to give birth to Sean’s mother, Marylin, she took an interest in him. He could draw fairly well, even before Emily began to ‘teach him.’ After Marilyn was born, Edwin would come over for ‘art lessons.’ I was more than a little miffed at the attention he gave to her—I thought he should be paying attention to me!”

“How long did this go on?” asked Mary.

“Oh, a little over half a year. Marilyn was born in August. The lessons started in late October, I think. Yes, it was October; the leaves had turned. After school he’d ride the bus home with me and then he and Emily would go up to her attic studio for an hour or so. I’d watch the baby. Then he’d walk home—his parents lived over the hill—he had a short-cut out back, through the pasture, at least until the snow got too deep.”

“There was more to it than that, I take it?” Mary said, “Something happened?”

“It really doesn’t matter anymore. I just want you to understand why Edwin and I aren’t close. Don’t tell Sean about what I’m going to tell you, it would only make him unhappy. There isn’t anything he can do about it now.”

As Tina sipped her tea Mary could sense that whatever the incident was it had affected Tina deeply.

“Tina, if you don’t want to talk about it, I’ll understand,” said Mary, “It’s quite alright if you don’t.”

“No, it’s not alright. I’ve got to tell you the whole story, now that you’re aware that something happened between Edwin and me… and Emily. You’re in too deep already,” Tina took a sip of tea. “In the spring of ’47, it was early May, in our senior year of high school, and Edwin was taking his lesson in Emily’s attic studio. Henry and Alice had gone into town, so I was alone with Marilyn, the baby. She was sleeping, and I was bored—and more than a little jealous of the amount of time that Edwin spent with Emily. I… I crept up the stairs to the attic, to see what Edwin and Emily were up to,” Tina paused again. “When I got to the landing, I could hear moaning and a muffled thumping. I wasn’t naive, I grew up on a farm, I knew what sex was. But it hadn’t dawned on me that Edwin and Emily would… ”

“You don’t have to continue,” said Mary.

“No, let me finish what I’ve started,” said Tina, “I looked through the keyhole, I saw them together, naked, in the throes of passion. I fled, I think they heard me go down the stairs. Later, after Edwin had left, I confronted Emily.”

“What did she say?” said Mary. She noticed that Tina’s aura was changing, morphing from pale blue into a deep violet.

“She said: ‘Don't judge me.’ And that was the end of it. She returned to New York a few days later. I had to go to school, to finish my year, and Edwin was always there. I couldn’t even look at him anymore. He knew that I was aware of what he had done with my mother. We’ve hardly spoken since.” Tina put down her cup and saucer and then said, in a voice barely above a whisper:  “My own mother.”

“But you reconciled with Emily? You can ‘see’ her, and ‘feel’ her presence?” said Mary.

“She is still my mother. Now that I’m older, and I realize what kind of woman Emily was, I can understand, sort of understand that is, about what she did. But since then I’ve never wanted to risk loving a man and then losing him to another woman. It would always be in the back of my mind whenever a man would try to become ‘friendly’ with me. It isn’t realistic, I know, but I just can’t help it. I feel the way I feel. Now, don’t let me be a damper on your life, Mary. Why don’t you talk to Edwin. Let him tell you his side of the story. He isn’t a bad man, and he did know Emily, it might help you to understand her. As far as your feelings about Emily are concerned, well, that’s between you and her.”

Mary sat quietly, thinking about what Tina had said. The room seemed to be quivering; everything in it seemed to possess an ineffable meaning.

Tina’s aura had faded. Mary’s tea was cold. Sean came into the parlor.

“What’s new?” he said.


By Professor Batty

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Advent Calendar

A confession.

Until I was in my late 20’s I had no idea of what an Advent Calendar was. We just didn’t do that in my home when I was young, or at least I was aware of their existence. When I grew up and got married we usually had one for our kids (when they were little), it held a definite charm for them until they got older.

Which brings me to the true subject of this post: Auður of I Heart Reykjavík is doing a 'virtual' Advent Calendar throughout the month on her site. If these daily posts are anything like some of her holiday writings I've read in the past they should be amusing and insightful—reflecting Icelandic culture through her own slightly skewed perspective. Worthy of a bookmark.

UPDATE: My favorite Icelandic Women's instrumental group amiina has posted their own Advent calendar.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Monday, December 01, 2014

Dave Ray Avenue

 The city of Saint Paul recently designated a three block section of Franklin Avenue as "Dave Ray Avenue". Dave was a musician from Saint Paul, featured here previously. With cohorts John Koerner and Tony Glover, Dave was a pioneer of the new generation of folk-blues musicians in the early 1960s, influencing numerous artists. I thought this would be a good excuse to revisit his fiftieth birthday party—a gathering of friends and family. All images taken in Minneapolis at the Cabooze night club in August of 1993, Dave is wearing a cap.

Setting up with Rochelle Becker (center):

Dave the raconteur:

Dave and Tony Glover:

Raymond Muxter (left) celebrates with fellow well wisher:

John Koerner and Tony Glover:

West Bank regulars:

Dave enjoys the scene:

Stylin’ among the fans:

Mary Grace and Sam Scher:

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

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