Two Odd Americans

Dr. Gatewood of Chicago, and Mr. William Perry of Audubon, both died in June 1938. Dr. Gatewood was 51, Mr. Perry was 86; they had nothing to do with one another, but there was something odd about each of them.

Dr. Gatewood never had a Christian name. His parents were unable to agree on one they liked, and decided to wait and let him choose his own. And he never did.

William Perry said nothing for fifty years. He wasn’t dumb. But on his wedding-day, when his bride jilted him, he vowed at the altar not to speak a word till she came back; which she never did. And kept his word.

“The New Book of Days” June 6 by Eleanor Farjeon

This is part of the work…

We are designed to encounter this life with amazement and wonder, not resignation and endurance. This is at the very heart of our grief and sorrow. The dream of full-throated living, woven into our very being, has often been forgotten and neglected, replaced by a societal fiction of productivity and material gain. This is part of the work of honoring our grief …When we fully honor our many losses, our lives become more fully able to embody the wild joy that aches to leap from our hearts into the world. – Francis Weller

Friday, Feb. 11, 2022

In February, Spring was in the air.

Roaring water in the brook cascaded down around the rocks forming small waterfalls.

The reassuring sound of splashing and gurgling put my mind at ease.

I felt grateful for the trails with the beautiful surrounding nature.

Happy Birthday, Mom!

My mom, Mary Geraldyne Severance Rivard, was born April 7th, 1925, in Casper, Wyoming. She died July 13th, 2015, and today would be ninety-seven years old. Her Memorial Service took place August 15, 2015 in Glenwood City, Wisconsin and was attended by many friends and relatives, whom I hadn’t seen for years.

My mom was smart, very smart. Valedictorian of her high school class from Turtle Lake, Wisconsin, she got a music scholarship to Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, but didn’t complete her degree because she fell in love with my dad, married and moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he finished his law degree. They soon settled in the town where they raised seven children, and where my father practiced law.

When my mom was unable to have anymore children she decided to return to college at the University of Wisconsin River Falls UWRF. She pursued a degree in Art Making and Education and eventually got a teaching position at New Richmond, Wisconsin. She was an accomplished artist in all mediums, and a highly admired teacher. Her students loved her so much they called her Ma Art which was shortened to Mart. Only in first grade when she returned to school, having a working mom meant I had to make my own lunch, which didn’t always happen, but mostly I was proud of her effort to pick up the pieces and go back to school and to work. She got up every morning and drove one half hour in the ice and snow to school. An accomplished teacher, she set up a student teacher program through UWRF and mentored many young artists and budding teachers. Not only that, the variety and creativity that flowed from her own students was astounding.

Mary continued to love music. My cousin John heard her sing Silent Night at St. Anne’s in Turtle Lake, and said she sounded like an angel. As a member of the community she served as choir master of the St. John’s congregation in Glenwood, as well as artist of the church creating banners to be hung on the main altar for the liturgical seasons. A multitalented person, we have in our possession today, many paintings and objects of art she made.

As a person Mary advocated for people who suffered due to a lack of opportunities. She abhorred racism and any forms of injustice committed against people who weren’t part of the in-crowd, so to speak. A free spirit, one of her favorite poems was the following by Robert Frost.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in the wood, and I,

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

My mom will be remembered for her loving and generous spirit, for her gifted hands and clarity of mind, and above all for her undying patience in the midst of the storm. And though she isn’t physically on this earth, her presence is felt in every footstep I take, for she is the one who taught me to walk.

St. Petersburg, in the Rain

I’m grateful for the travels I made before the arrival of Covid and the invasion of Ukraine by the Vladimir Putin Government. St. Petersburg is a case in point. These pictures were made in 2015. We took a ferry from Helsinki to St. Petersburg, and back again. I admit I was nervous about getting inside a ferry, to be swallowed up not only by a huge vessel but one that was staffed entirely by Russian patriots. Old stereotypes learned as I grew up, surfaced in my memory, for sure. Very happy when the doors of the ferry let us out at the port of St. Petersburg, we were greeted by a young tour guide named Maria, who accompanied us to the hotel. Accommodations and service were excellent.

In general I will avoid commenting about characteristics of persons and places. I can only recount the feelings I had in my interactions with individuals during our stay. On the ferry I made friends with a female Russian server, with whom I kept in contact through facebook, but she mysteriously disappeared from my social media radar after a time. My irrational imagination wanders to the idea that, maybe she was a spy, a feeling that is totally unfounded.

During one of our days in St. Petersburg, seated at an outdoor café, I took these pictures of people as they scurried down the street in the rain. Each had their own reaction to the weather, and various ways to keep themselves dry, or not. It’s not to be assumed that these people were Russian, but they were wet.

Second woman with an ordinary umbrella rounded, and in seemingly good shape.
Young man without an umbrella getting very wet.
This man doesn’t appear to be bothered by the rain. Just making his way one step at a time.
Young woman with a tent-like umbrella and a green bag.
This young person peaking out of the opening in her jacket, was probably wishing she had an umbrella.
No umbrella, and happy as a lark. By this time the rain had subsided.

Cemetery at the Alexander Nevsky Monastery

The Alexander Nevsky Monastery is located in St. Petersburg, Russia. The surrounding grounds contain four sections of cemeteries and is an extensive compound of open spaces with broken crosses, areas with impressive funerary sculptures, a section for academics, writers and intellectuals, and a section for Communists. The monastery is named for the Medieval prince, Alexander Nevsky a Russian hero who lived from 1221 to 1263. Nevsky was canonized a Saint in the Russian Orthodox Church.

Please click on the image to view the gallery.