Tag Archives: places

Crying in Art Museums

I finally visited the Ponce Museum of Art yesterday! It is said to be one of the best in the Carribbean. It wasn’t as big as I was expecting and had more classic than modern art, but I still found a piece that moved me to tears. This is not a new thing for me. I usually get dew-eyed in art museums. Once, at SAM, I came around a corner and a huge landscape took me and my tear ducts by surprise and I sat in front of it for quite a while.

Yesterday the one that got me was a piece by Emilio Sanchez, whom, to my surprise, Wikipedia has very little to say about. (Maybe his sparse page will be what gets me to start contributing to Wikipedia like I’ve always wanted to…) I, sadly, can’t find an image of the painting that got me – Untitled (Windows) from 1980. The art museum here just received their collection of his work last year and it wasn’t supposed to go up until April but for whatever reason it was there when I went yesterday.

emilio sanchez - blue and yellow house

This is not the one that moved me so, but it is similar and I like it. “Casita Doble” by Emilio Sanchez, Lithograph 1983

I also saw my first Gilbert and George and my first Lucian Freud in person! And a Rodin, though I’ve seen his work in person before. The other piece that I couldn’t walk away from was this one:

“We Sail Today” by Matthew Ritchie, 2006, oil and marker on linen, around 8 feet by 12 feet

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Puerto Freakin’ Rico!

Less than a month ago, we didn’t know where we were headed next. We had our eye on Vera Cruz but Casper’s passport was not going to be ready in time.

Yesterday we bundled up in warm clothes at 3am and Jess drove us to the Minneapolis Airport. A six hour layover in Philadelphia (we planned to get out but ended up napping on the floor of the terminal instead) & then a five hour flight south. It was dark so we didn’t see any of the ocean.

The first thing I did when we got to the hostel is take off clothes – out of pants and a t-shirt and into shorts and a tank top. And then we slept.

Now I’m sitting on the back porch/balcony of the hostel listening to bird song & feeling the trade winds on my skin. Plans for today include me getting to the beach, Casper getting to the cathedral for Ash Wednesday, & finding transporting to Guanica for tomorrow. It’s dreamy.


Walla Walla: travels to and from

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Thanksgiving evening on the side of the freeway in Grants Pass.

We spent Thanksgiving hitch hiking through Northern California. The night before we got a hotel room in Eureka. We were trying to get to Eugene but called it a night in Canyonville, after a trucker dropped us off at a truck stop near the casino. We made it to Roseburg the next day via a local bus and took Greyhound from there – Casper to Eugene and me to Portland.

Foggy mountain morning

Foggy mountain morning

It has been 15 days since we left Humboldt County. In those two short weeks we have seen a lot of extended family – me in Olympia, Seattle and Walla Walla and Casper in Eugene – and we are exhausted from the combination of transition, travel and visiting.

My parents reside in Walla Walla and I came home with them the weekend after Thanksgiving. Casper joined us a week later via Amtrak from Eugene.

That was four days ago. Tonight we board an Amtrak train headed east. Saturday morning my sister will pick us up in Minneapolis and yet another life begins. We will descend into yet another world.

And that is what we do, you know: we place ourselves over and over in new worlds. We watch and listen a lot; don’t speak as much as you might think.

And right now we’re thinking that we want to do more of that.

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On top of a parking garage in Roseburg, Oregon.

My mom will join us out in Wisconsin for Christmas, and a good friend of Jess’ (who we met when we visited her in Texas last year) is coming right after Christmas. She is house-sitting a little house in the same valley where we grew up and our own self-built house still stands.

Sisters are magical; I expect great beauty and growth for all present in the next three weeks. Also there will be a lot of really good food and my sister’s beautiful laugh which is contagious, particularly for me.

After Wisconsin – January? February? – Casper and I are flying to Mexico City! “Another white dash,” I think when I contemplate our latest leap of faith into a new world – and “once more with feeling”. Pack the bags. Reconsider your few belongings: what is now superfluous that last week was essential? what new items have taken top priority? We leave behind the ripped sleeping bag that was our only blanket this summer and trade out Casper’s threadbare backpack for a big duffel bag. I get to pack dresses, my paints and brushes, more than one pair of shoes. Every item we use regularly is re-examined for its worth in our new situation. Every possession is chosen.

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“Please understand I have been waiting to leave ever since i figured out there were roads willing to take me anywhere i wanted to go.”

In Mexico, we plan to live in Xalapa. We know what we want to do with our time and just need the space to do it so cheap rent and foreign culture beckon us. We are excited, though this morning our minds and hearts are caught up in the present transitions of leaving Walla and arriving in Wisconsin and the dreamy travel-time of Amtrak in between.

Oh, and I’m making solstice cards and I want you to want one. Send me your address in the next week or so for best results. <3


San Francisco!

Man oh man. When did I last write? We are outside of San Fran…or, I suppose, San Jose to be more exact…a town (suburb?) called Gilroy. It was the farthest south the San Fran transit could take us. And we’re hoping we’ll have more luck hitching out of here than in the middle of a big city.

We were in Arcata for a week. We slept outside and it was cold and foggy. Then we hitched south – decided to spend a few days in Garberville, then Laytonville, and then I got freaked out by the heat so we headed back up to Arcata.

This time around we were planning on staying in Eureka since we had already “done” Arcata. But Eureka is called Eu-Tweak-a (hey, I don’t make up the nicknames) for a reason. So we went back over to Arcata (they’re like 15 miles apart). We found a fantastic couchsurf. The house we stayed in (or on their lawn, actually, is called the Campus Center for Appropriate Technology and it’s all about living simply/lightly/well with the earth. At least, that’s my take on it.

While there, many other couch surfers came through. That was really wonderful. We met, I think, five other people using the couch surfing website. One was a lovely girl named Anna, an Aquarius who I ended up having quite a bit in common with. When we arrived, two French guys were staying there and spending their days playing dijeradoo by the natural market. We never did determine whether they were hitching with that dij or if it belonged to the house. I have never heard of a travel dij…but I can believe it.

On the second to last night of our stay, two Canadian bicyclists arrived. They pitched their tents near ours and then departed the same morning as we did. In fact, they passed us later that day in Myer’s Flat and none of us would be surprised if we end up running into them again somewhere along the line! They are from Vancouver Island (and possibly Montreal, I think) and have been biking for several weeks from there all the way to Sonora, Mexico!

The housemates at CCAT were phenomonal, too. Three students live there each semester and every interested student is allowed to stay for two semesters. We arrived just as they were planning the upcoming semester together. It was awesome to see people working in meetings and checklists to get such a large program running. It is an organization (possibly a non-profit) and the residents of the house trade running the place for living there.

On Friday while we were there, we walked with Stephanie (Pisces housemate) and Anna the other couchsurfer to a nearby CSA garden. A handful of other people were there, too, and we all worked for four or five hours on harvesting. Then, since Stephanie had been cooking while we worked, we all sat down to a fresh, local meal. It was beautiful and nourishing and lovely. The Cancer who runs the place has great energy and a lovely laugh – compounded by a great willingness to laugh, from what I could see.

A roommate of ours from Vashon, Cosmo, happened to be headed down the coast with his parents on their way to his brother’s graduation in San Jose. Tuesday morning early we left CCAT, caught a bus to Eureka and met up with these folks. They had their pup, Creole, with them, too, so Cosmo and me and Casper and the pup all crowded into the back. The seats were down and we had pillows and there was much pup-petting and conversing and general loveliness.

We’d heard of the Lost Coast and Cosmo’s stepdad was headed just that way. Beautiful! Man, I love the ocean! This just furthered by desire to get the hell to San Luis Obispo so we can be on the beach and live like that for a while.

The ocean pulls me. Tugs me. Moves me in a way that I love to move. I’m not alone. Listen to Dar Williams’ “The Ocean” and Ani Difranco’s “Swim”. The great gravitational push and pull of the moon drags our bodies of water from side to side and I’ll be damned if I can’t *feel* it tugging me, too.


Folklife

We had such a good time at the Oregon Country Fair that we’ve been looking for other festivals and fests of all sizes. Being in northern California puts us in the hotbed for this sort of thing, too, it seems.

So Saturday we got up at sunrise, packed up our gear and headed to the highway. We caught a ride right away with a videographer also headed to the the free day of the local Folklife festival. It was only 8 miles a way and quaint and amazing. It was held in a historic building. Two stages, one in a natural grass amphitheater, and and vendors and free workshops.

We went to the Beatles Sing Along workshop and joined 40+ people of all ages singing along with a guitar, bass and sometimes piano. The room was so crowded I sat on the floor inside the circle. It made me think of my childhood and other similar gatherings – WWFOR at Seabeck, Not Back to School Camp, etc.

We saw Lyndsey Battle perform. She was absolutely adorable up there on the stage – a big grin throughout while gazing out on the audience sitting on hay bales.

Check it out:

We also heard was Good Company. They did traditional Celtic music – everything from instrumentals to ballads and drinking songs. They were super laidback on stage – made me think of the band at a contra dance.

The festival went on until 7:30, but we decided to leave around 5. I wrote ARCATA on the back of an envelope and we walked to the highway. A tiny gray Porsche picked us up, saying, “If you’ll fit…”. I climbed in the tiny backseat and the rear view window right by my head made me think of being in a space ship but I was seeing cows and green fields instead of stars.


Eugene Library Eavesdropping

Drinking tea and nibbling gluten free goodies at the Eugene library cafe. Casper is off somewhere doing what he does with a guy we met at a free meal. Working on three jobs today: my sister’s midwifery business, a friend’s health and wellness website, and ghostwriting articles.

A mother/caregiver of a four-or-so-year-old to my right is really calmly explaining that sometimes yelling is a bit loud even though enthusiasm is a really great thing. “I know it can be hard sometimes because you get really excited about things but sometimes we just need to be a little quieter.”

The six-or-so-year-old on my other side is asking her dad if his imaginary friend would like any of his bagel since her imaginary friend quite enjoyed part of her bagel. “Where is your imaginary friend, dad?” “He’s on the floor.” The one-or-so-year-old is babbling at and about the ceiling. A few minutes later: “Aren’t you going to bring your imaginary friend, dad? Or is he flying home?” She is grinning. “Yup, he’s flying home today,” the dad says.


Eugene: dumpster diving

Half-way through our stay at Shady Pines, Casper and I walked to the U of O campus and did some dumpster diving. College students are crazy when it comes to getting rid of stuff! And of course graduation week is the best time to hit the dumpsters.

We feasted on much of what we found but also brought a bunch of stuff back. Our loot, according to my journal, included a bag of bing cherries, about a dozen squished mini cupcakes (pictured in tinfoil), cookies, one pair of jeans, a take out container of curry, a roll of paper towels, an entire carton of imported Vietnamese noodles (pork and bamboo shoot flavor), several nice bath towels and bagels galore.

The great pile of dumpstered goods we scored at U of O, piled on the kitchen table at Shady Pines.


Eugene: Shady Pines

We spent about a week living in this house called Shady Pines. It was walking distance from downtown, beautiful and strange on the inside. A lack of rules somehow without total chaos.

The front window seen from inside our bedroom at Shady Pines.

Our first night back in Eugene (June 8th, I think), we went to the birthday party of an old friend of Casper’s and slept on their couch. The guy who invited us to that party then invited us to his house, Shady Pines. There was an empty room right near the front and we moved bike frames and whatnot and made room for our bed roll. One of the dirtier houses I’ve stayed in, but beautiful none the less.

One corner of our bedroom at Shady Pines.

Casper and I are pretty good at making any place feel like home. The house was cold and vast, but not necessarily in a bad or unwelcoming way. Here’s a journal excerpt from June 12:

There’s no light bulb in our bedroom here. We have just enough space to lay out our bed roll among the random large stuff scattered about. A huge pile of clothes. A futon couch frame. A sinking couch. Empty whiskey bottles and cigarette butts. At least two bike frames. But there’s no light so when we first got here we used the cell phone to guide us as we unrolled our bed, fluffed our pillows, curled in for sleep. 

Our set up at Shady Pines. Note Casper’s crossed feet to the left, Seinfeld on the laptop in the middle, and my art/cardboard/drawing to the right. I later got rid of the art pictured here by leaving it downtown with a free sign.

Though we rarely saw anyone at the house, apparently eight people, four dogs, two cats and five chickens all share the space. The front porch had a fallen apart couch where people gathered most often for smoking and beer drinking.

One of the ways Casper makes anywhere feel like home for us is by cooking. We bought dish soap and cleaned up the Shady Pines kitchen as well as we could. There was a notable decrease in flies and an increase in dishes at the end of this endeavor. And Casper was able to make us things like this:

Casper’s delicious golden rice with frozen veggies and a curry sauce we found in a dumpster. The second plate has pita bread (also dumpstered), potatoes and goat cheese.


We Love Libraries!

The Winona public library.

We do, we do! Unfortunately, we have spent so much time in so many as of late that I am having a hell of a time remembering each individual one. And I want to! So, hopefully, it’ll become a common subject of my photographs.

In Cincinnati, we mostly went to the Corryville library but would occasionally branch out (no pun intended!) to the Clifton and Main libraries. On our way to Chicago, we spent several hours at the Michigan City library. In Chicago, we somehow never made it to the main library, but visited at least two other locations. In Milwaukee, there were two we visited, depending on what neighborhood we were in, and in Madison just one – but we loved it dearly.

In the area I grew up in, we went to the Glenwood City library and the Boyceville library. I know the librarians at both branches and surprised them when I showed up out of the blue!

It’s not just wifi that attracts us, though that offering is essential to our travels. We have two laptops, but only one connects to the internet. While Casper is online, I have done everything from making stencils, sewing, reading, and painting in the car to reading magazines, books (sewing, palmistry, astrology, short stories, poetry, picture books, psychology/mental health, the DSM, travel guides to the Midwest) and newspapers. I’ve also worked on my journal quite a bit in libraries: gluing, taping, writing, sketching, etc.

Casper tends to find a comfy spot with a newspaper or the Atlantic and read, though he’s started also dozing off in these spots. (The similarities between him and my father continue to grow…) When I’m online, he also works on his tarot project, watches shows/videos on the other laptop, and finds books on symbols, esotericism, Golden Dawn tarot, etc.

We can be weird in libraries; they can’t kick us out and the employees don’t stare much even if we’re looking particularly disheveled. They usually have maps for the local area and event flyers. Plus, they have bathrooms. And we both have a long history of adoring, appreciating and attending libraries. As Thomas Jefferson said, we “cannot live without books.”


St. Paul/Minneapolis: Ian

Casper and Salem enjoying a morning at Andy's.

The second day at Andy’s, we did a lot more lazing about. I feel kind of self conscious about how much time Casper and I spend sleeping/lazing/cuddling. I don’t think of us lazy or unmotivated. We just enjoy a hell of a lot of downtime. Mostly, I’m nervous about what our hosts – couch surfing and otherwise – will think of us. Anyway. That’s a mind-thing that I’m still working on.

We slept a lot, played chess on the deck, read to each other from The Intellectual Devotional (which I first saw at Andy’s and, by the time we left, had ordered my own copy online), spent time online, etc. The house was empty most of the day and we had a key. It was a really wonderful set up and we’re very grateful to Andy’s whole family.

That evening, we were hoping to meet up with Casper’s friend Ian, who just happened to be in town for the Netroots Nation conference. Ian is the pissed off gay blogger over at OneAngryQueer! We went into Minneapolis – about 20 minutes from Golden Valley – and then to St. Paul to visit the Mississippi Market, a natural food co-op that I had heard much about but had never been to. Growing up, our neighbors ran a CSA and their drop off spot was at Mississippi Market. It and the Hard Times Café was pretty much all I knew about the Twin Cities before this trip.

We did some shopping, played cards in the car, and then drove to Ian’s hotel. He was out and about so we waited in the lobby until he came back. We were all pretty sleepy, but he and Casper shared a (large) bottle of wine and stayed up past midnight. We texted Andy to let him know we would be staying with Ian that night – he was supposed to have a roommate in the hotel room (sponsored by the conference) but didn’t so there was a free bed.

And oh dear gawd it was comfortable.


St. Paul/Minneapolis: Andy’s

Walking to the Hard Times Cafe on a beautiful day.

After we drove Mar to Duluth and left our couch host’s house, we spent a lot of time at the Hard Times Café and slept in our car near a park about a mile away. We slept incredibly well – much better than we expected and much better than we had during previous car-sleeping attempts.

One morning, Casper and I spread out our blanket in the park on the top of a rise so we could look down on the lake. We did yoga and I said hi to all the dogs that passed by. Casper always does more yoga than me and I waited for him to finish by lying face down on the blanket for quite a while; that kind of stillness, peace, un-anxiousness is new to me.

Right across the river from the Café was an amazing head shop called the Hideaway. It’s in a funky little neighborhood, kitty corner to a laid back library and next door to an occult bookstore. Inside, there were more glass pieces than I have ever seen. Lighters, too, and cigars, incense, hookahs, jewelry, hippie clothes, and all the related paraphernalia. They had a good selection of herbal incense, too, at prices lower than anything we have seen in Cincinnati, Chicago, Madison, or Menomonie. We have become fans of the King Cobra brand.

The occult bookstore grabbed Casper’s attention and we visited twice. The first time, I wandered around with him and had us leave well before he was truly satisfied. The second time we went, I sat outside and worked on my journal while he spent a good half hour in there with books on esoterica that even he had never seen before.

After a few days living in the car, we drove to Golden Valley and stayed Andy, with a friend of mine from Camp. He lives with his family – a mom, a dad, two sisters, and an incredibly adorable pup named Brownie – in a cozy house that his parents have been in for over 25 years. I knew his sisters from Camp, too, and we warmed to his parents immediately.

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St. Paul/Minneapolis: The Hard Times Cafe

Casper at Hard Times.

I have long heard of the Hard Times Café in Minneapolis. One night, when I was ready to go to sleep in the car and Casper was feeling alert, he asked a gas station attendant about chill places open 24 hours in the area that we had parked. Someone recommended Hard Times, which I hadn’t realized was in our neighborhood, and we have since begun frequenting it daily. This morning, Casper walked in and the lady behind the counter knew his order.

Here’s the thing about this place: there is not one ounce of pretentiousness. I’m used to hip/cool/popular cafés being stuffy with expectation. Not here. It is never empty, but ranges from a couple of patrons in the mornings to chock full at midnight. It used to be open 24/7, but these days they’re closed between 4am and 6am. Casper, who read some stuff online about it, says the switch occurred after the café was the subject of a drug sting. The city wanted the hours reduced so they compromised by closing for two hours each day.

The art on the walls varies in style and the patrons do as well. I’ve seen houseless folks, straight up hipsters, granola crunchers, your average college student, straight-laced-looking men in their 50s and 60s, and traveling kids just in the few days I’ve been coming here. They have a free box with clothes and shelves for games and books. The board games actually get played, too. Chess in particular seems to be popular, but I saw a couple set up a game of Life today and two girls playing checkers.

The food is wholesome and reasonably priced. “Wholesome” feels like a corny word (no pun intended); what I mean is that the food hear makes me feel like my mom’s cooking does. Ok, that’s corny, too, but she doesn’t make, like, fried chicken or apple pie. She makes incredible vegetable soups, delicious stir fries, perfect biscuits. And she grows lots of the ingredients herself and doesn’t use too much sugar and always uses real butter. Etc. It doesn’t hit your stomach like a rock. It makes your veins feel more alive. It’s good fucking food.

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