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Tucacas Venezuela Sunset, Cayo Medio, with Oil tanker

Our House is On Fire

by Malena and Beata Ernman, Svante and Greta Thunbert

Have you read this book? Wait – that’s not a good way to start a blog, because then maybe you think you should have already read it. I don’t mean that. I merely want to encourage you TO read it.

Our House is on Fire is mainly written by and in the voice of Greta Thunberg’s mother, Malena Ernman. The courage and honesty of a family dealing with a child with serious disorders documented in this book is sometimes overwhelming. The response of this family gives the reader confidence that whatever they might face in their own family, if they face it with love, thoughtfulness, respect, and compassion, it can be worked out.

The amount of trust the parents put in Greta when she got the idea of the school strike for climate made her work possible. Can all parents have so much trust? Maybe not, but we can be inspired.

Read this book.

Thank you.

End of March 2020

How to think about it.
Death in the time of pandemic.
How to trace each life each death.
How to think about how we are connected or not.

What about the grandmother whose daughter and toddler son are living with her. The daughter moves out. Not wanting to infect her mother. She returns to an unloving relationship. Her chosen alternative to not infect her mother who has a heart condition making her more susceptible to the virus.

What about the 80 years old plus neighbor. She was recently in hospital for multiple problems following a botched colonoscopy. She doesn’t answer her phone. Her son lives nearby but he is a ranger coping with the horrific scale of the destruction of the recent bushfires. Trying to preserve some habitat for the remaining animals. At the same time trying to preserve the life of his fragile mother.

What about the mature age student just entering the school of art and design? A struggle after years of trying this, failing at that, to realize he has a talent for art. He is a creative human being. Finally he found a place, but the pandemic dissolved that place. Shredded.

What about the guy with a wife who has an immune deficiency disorder? He orders food online, delivered to his house. Then he waits two days before he brings it inside. Death by packaging. Can the virus live that long on packages?

What about the journalist whose children never thought much of his work until
they saw him parodied on TikTok? How can a social media video app developed in China bring the reality of his work to his home life in Australia?

What about it?
How do you think about it ?

Bette Hutchison Silver with her nephew Lawrence Andre

Across continents

Across time

Across consciousness

Across memory

 

Today

your birthday

in Australia

where I live

Tuesday 10 March

but not yet in

the USA

where you were born

10 March 1922

in Joplin Missouri

 

Connecting with you

Connecting with family

Opening up

Softening

Listening

Remembering

Missing you

 

Happy Birthday

Bette

Sorry friends. I have not posted anything on this blog for some time. We have been preoccupied here in Australia with bushfires and extreme climate events.  Global heating is real.  Climate emergency is here.

I wrote three short poems in the haze of bush fires.  You can read them on my other blog www.familyandfiction.com , which is about the novel I wrote (to be published soon), about my father W. Lon Hutchison, Tracking the Human: nobody’s a long time. 

Here’s a poem about family.

All Together

The sting of grief

rising up

through my body

burning my eyes

crying without tears

thinking of my mother

Did I betray her?

Was I there for her?

I am not grieving

I am connecting

Dead or alive

She is here

through my blog

through the wind sculpture

dedicated to her

through everyone

who remembers her

Her family she described

as dysfunctional

is a family

well documented

by me

A blog for my mum

A blog for a novel about my father

A book of poems and sketches

Keeping us all together

Myself, my mother, my brother Lon on the beach in Mazatlan, Mexico

 

27 May 2019

Reconciliation Day

Smith’s Alternative

Canberra, Australia

Artist Julie Nangala Robertson          Warlukurlangu Artists                               Yuendumu        Australia  http://www.warlu.com

 

That Poetry Thing: Us Mob Writing

It’s Our Mob, isn’t it?

We’re in this together

more than ever

We know

we depend

on our land

our love

our community

our country

This is Our Mob

Our belonging

We acknowledge it

embrace it

Yet our community

connection to country

denied

by the federal government

the Not Us Mob

 

Road in Central Australia

Never been here

yet a familiar landscape

Is this

…Kenya or

…Somalia?

Red soil

grey green

rounded shrubs

blackened silhouettes

survivors of bush fires

limitless sky

puddles of white clouds

flat land that

goes on and on

driving through

Central Australia

written at Life Before Death,  Poetry Workshop with Paul Collis, 17 April 2019

National Museum of Australia, Canberra

 

Dead possum

Dead thylacine

Dead people

How to be alive

even when dead

How to continue

with no story

no land

How should I bury

the dead possum

in my front garden

How to show respect

How is it that today

this very day

there is death at my door

and on the radio

a program on

environmentally appropriate burial

listening while on my way

to Life Before Death

a poetry workshop

 

We need to change everything

The way we live

The way we die

The thylacine

could not change

trapped by invasion

The koala

cannot change

trapped by deforestation

We are trapped

By coal

By corporate greed

By subservient politicians

We are trapped

But trying to break free

 

Young people on strike

Urging us to escape

To do so requires change

and the changelessness

of indigenous cultures

who lived

with the land

with the animals

with the plants

with the rivers

Too late for that

But we must break out

And go back down

Down down

into the deep past

Embrace the deep past

For a renewed future

 

I do not know how

to bury

the dead possum

in my front garden

Perhaps I will learn today

The thylacine will teach me

Thank you for the lesson

I hope I have learned

Dead possum found in my front garden

 

Musical instruments from Kenya

Post script:

I did bury the possum

I read this poem.

I dug a hole in my front garden.

I used music makers from Africa

to send the possum on its way.

 

Your comments are always most welcome.

Please check out my other blog about the

novel I’m writing.  https://familyandfiction.com/

Thank you!

 

 

 

 

San Francisco Sunset, from Oakland Shoreline Park

 

What have you

noticed

observed

learned

after three weeks

in Oakland California?

 

Can you live in two places at once?

Can you accept a divided life,

bringing together past and present?

You thought you had to place your allegiance

with only one

with Australia

after struggling to accept and be accepted

You evaded and avoided

the other country because of your politics

and the comfort level you had achieved

living in Australia

 

Returning to the USA

motivated

by your mother

to distribute her ashes

on the beach at Pt. Reyes

according to her last wishes

And to help your friend Martha

in the momentous change

from an academic life

to so-called retirement

Where should she live?

Where would she accept

and be accepted?

 

You returned to Oakland, California

for three short weeks

Getting a snapshot of the lives

of past friends

and current family

After initial culture shock

living in a smaller space

with less autonomy

more people

more stress

more cars

more people

you settled in

Found a pace

and a space that suited the current you

You can be both

Just like you have two passports

You can incorporate both

the past and the present

 

Returning to Australia

on the bus ride

from the Sydney airport

back to Canberra

looking at

clouds upon clouds

that I lack words to describe

rolling hills

gum trees with grey-green leaves

I am calm and comfortable

I embrace my life here

without turning my back

on previous lives in the USA

 

Brindabellas, near Canberra, Australia

Celebrating! My mother is floating somewhere in the Pacific Ocean where she wanted to be. She wrote her wishes down and we followed them.

My mother Bette Jo Hutchison Silver died 1 March 2011 in her bed, in her home at 623 Greenway Terrace, Brookside, Kansas City, Missouri. I was there. She had asked me the day before if she were dying. I said yes, and reassured her that all was well.

            Bette Jo Hutchison Silver (date 1996?)

Just before she died she opened her eyes, looked at me. I smiled and told her I loved her, gave her a kiss and she was gone. My son, Nathan Collett, was with us. Her grandson, Lawrence Andre, and his son Henry had said good-bye earlier that day.

My mom left written instructions that she was to be cremated and her ashes spread at Pt. Reyes National Seashore, north of San Francisco, California.   When I lived in the San Francisco Bay area, my mom and I frequently visited Pt. Reyes. One time, we backpacked up a steep hillside to Sky Camp and camped out together in a small tent.

When my nephew Lawrence found out about her wishes, he asked me to wait to distribute her ashes until he could come to California. So I brought her ashes to Oakland, California and set up a small altar to her.

 

Me in Oakland California with altar to Bette Hutchison Silver

Lawrence lives in Mission, Kansas, just outside Kansas City, Missouri. When my mother died, I was living in Nairobi, Kenya. I moved to Canberra, Australia in 2014. My mother’s ashes waited patiently for us in Oakland, California.

Finally, eight years after her death, we did it. In March 2019, I came from Canberra, Australia. Lawrence with his son Henry came from Kansas City. We met in Oakland, California. On Saturday 13 March 2019, we drove to Pt. Reyes National Seashore.

 

Bette Hutchison Silver altar at Limantur Beach Pt. Reyes National Seashore

 

Lawrence Andre and me at Limantur Beach with Bette’s ashes

A blue sky day, warm and windy at Limantur Beach. I read poems and tributes to my mom from family and friends. Then we opened up the box, took out the bag with her ashes and waded into the sea. We took turns throwing handfuls of her ashes into the Pacific Ocean. I threw one handful for my friend Martha. The wind carried the ashes up in an arc, then they dropped down into the ocean.

Opening the box with Bette’s ashes, me, Henry and Lawrence Andre

 

Me, Henry, and Lawrence wading into the ocean at Limantur Beach

Lawrence suggested that we fill the box that had held her ashes with sand and objects on the beach, including a sand dollar, part of a crab shell, and some small rocks. Now the altar honoring Bette Jo Hutchison Silver is back on the shelf in Oakland, California. Inside the box are memories from our day at Limantur Beach.

 

We remember you Bette.

We miss you!

 

 

Seeing the mug

Bette’s Ocean View Diner

I think of

my mother

Bette Hutchison Silver

 

I am the connection

of every member

of our family

to my mother

Bette Hutchison Silver (date 1996?)

I am becoming

the connection

to my father

 

Constructing that connection

began seven years ago

after my mother’s death

 

Discovering documents

hidden in her attic

 

Researching online

to write

a book

that is and is not

the story of my father

 

So remember

through me

you are connected

and ever shall be

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