You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘California’ tag.

Paintings and drawings

Drawing of Afghan women by Latifa

 

piled up in a corner

Art reflecting life

In Berkeley

In Afghanistan

In San Francisco

Ink sketch of San Francisco by Pamela Collett

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a refugee camp

All originals

Drawing by Afghan girl, Nafisa, age 13, in a refugee camp

All true statements

in different styles

Different mediums

Different lives

By different artists

Will they survive

Will anyone remember them

And what they sacrificed?

 

I place my computer

in its purple jacket

Carefully on the floor beside the art

out of the way

I must have a clear path at night

Remember

the secret to a long life is

hold on to the handrail

Do not fall

on your way to the toilet

with the nightly insomnia of age

And you sometimes sleep walk

Keep the path clear

Always

Hold on to the hand rail

even when there is none

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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

Greetings!

Welcome to feedback on my book of poems and drawings, Silence Spoken.

 

I am enjoying reading your poems and I like your sketches very much. You have experienced so much in your life. Your words are an eloquent expression of your suffering, joy, awareness and appreciation of the natural world. The book is very attractively designed and printed. Congratulations on publishing it!

Anne, Kansas City, Missouri, USA

You can purchase Silence Spoken at http://www.lulu.com (discounted price) or on Barnes and Noble or Amazon.  Thanks!

Below are comments from people who have read my book of poems and drawings, Silence Spoken, available on http://www.lulu.com

Screen Shot 2016-01-03 at 11.44.14

The poems I liked best are those set in Venezuela, describing aspects of the environment and the sea and those set in Beijing capturing the impact of rapid change – for good and bad, especially “Observed:Beijing”.  It’s what I felt when in China, but succinctly and eloquently expressed.  I enjoyed the whole book, for what it expressed and also for what was left unsaid, or merely hinted at.

Mary, Canberra, Australia

Thank you very much for your awesome publication.  Sketches look lovely & will enjoy browsing too.

Khalida, Blue Mountains, Australia

There is another side of you, a contemplative one that I would not have guessed.  I am no poet and so can’t comment on the poetry but I like the sketches.

Anita, Canberra, Australia

2. Ink Tucacas Sea 3 web

I just browsed through it and your art work is powerful.  I especially like the brush painting from Pakistan. But then your “essentials only” style on Langata, Nairobi, Kenya is so spot on. I’ve read some poems too, but you know me, the art is so immediate.

Sheila, Berkeley, California, USA

Thanks so much for your book of poetry and illustrations!
It is really lovely.  Keep creativity alive!

Margot, Berkeley, California, USA

3. Pak Karkoram 772 webKarimabad, Pakistan

I have looked through it and read several random poems and David has spent much more time with it. We both are enjoying looking at these snapshots of your life.  Your drawings give life to your travels.

Linda, Baldwin, Kansas, USA

I am enjoying reading your poems and I like your sketches very much. You have experienced so much in your life. Your words are an eloquent expression of your suffering, joy, awareness and appreciation of the natural world. The book is very attractively designed and printed. Congratulations on publishing it!

Anne, Kansas City, Missouri, USA

7. Ink Nairobi Person webMan walking, Langata, Nairobi, Kenya

The poem Somewhere, snagged my eye. A knee jerk response to seeing my birthday near the bottom of the page. Reading it through I can only say, thanx for the birthday present.

The poem, Fishing at Sunset, I was timeported to Elk California doing that same such thing using carpenter’s line with old spark plugs on the end for weight. Holding the line for the twitch of the rockfish that might be dinner or dining on smaller fish if it slips the hook.

David, Baldwin, Kansas, USA

 

 

Cleaning house

expecting guests

Finding

drawings

under the bed

in the closets

Drawings from

Beijing China

bamboo

mountains

crabs

fish

Ink Drawing fish 228

Ink drawing bamboo practice 227

Ink Drawing Crabs 226

Oakland California

boats

buildings

Lake Merritt

Ink Drawing Oakland port 239

Lake Merritt Pen drawing 232

Mendocino California

sea

rocks

trees

Mendocino 243

Shidu China

cliffs

train tunnel

bridge

Shidu ink drawing

Drawings saved

yet lost

to memory

If no one sees them

do they exist?

 

How is it that

I have been drawing

and writing poems

most of my life

and yet

I don’t remember

I keep them

but don’t show them

to anyone

Did I draw that?

Did I write that?

Surprise

 

•   •   •   •   •   •   •   •  •

footnote:

Before finding more and more drawings and poems, under the bed, in closets, in cupboards, I recently published a selection of poems and drawings, entitled Silence Spoken. Available on www.lulu.com 

Screen Shot 2016-01-03 at 11.44.14

Could I live like this?

In a small world

G’Day, Mate

Caravan Park

Alice Springs

Australia

Tidy

Contained

Metallic

Squared off

Nothing out of place

No extra space

Sparse trees

asserting their identity

because they are

so few

Quiet

Safe

Ordered

Orderly

Beyond clean

Burly men with tattoos

No shoes

Shorts

In the laundromat

 

Years ago

in a red Honda Civic

our traveling memorial

to a relative

who died of cancer

flat tire

Highway 1

California Highway Patrol

Get off the road

Don’t care how

 

Working class trailer park

on an inlet beach

Blaring country music

Mock drag racing

Souped up motorcycles

Dragging into

the long

sullen

unfamiliar

beachfront

open fires

long stares

as we set up

our small tent

at sunset

 

 

Sunset 3 Kulgera web 50763

 

How do we keep family

with us

through geography

through belief systems

through property

through money

Or today

through

facebook

digital photos

emails

blogs?

How many homes today

have printed photos

old family photos

family photo albums?

What will happen to family photos

in the future?

Will everything be online?

Will people look at their

family photos?

Every day I pass by

my family on shelves

next to my kitchen cupboard.

Old photos

When was the last one taken?

Over five years ago

The oldest one?

Not sure but

there is a photo of my

paternal grandfather

who was shot and killed

or so the family lore goes

by a jealous husband

somewhere in Oklahoma.

So that would have been

When?

Sometime in the 1920’s?

Then the photo of my father

With his sister Margery

and brother Jack

could be older.

My father born in 1907

He looks to be about 10 or 11

in the photo.

Family lore has it that he left

home at 13 and rode the rails

From Oklahoma

to San Francisco.

Photo of my brother Lon

with his wife Olivia and

our mother Bette Silver

in Mazatlan, Mexico.

Photo of Jim with his

older sister Erica

mother Hsiao Li

father Michael Lindsay

in Oxford England, 1947.

Photos of me as a baby, 1946

held by my mother

Bette Jo Hutchison

and my maternal grandmother

Irene Higginbotham.

Photo of my sons Nathan and

Gabriel with their cousin Lawrence

in Kansas City

Date? Maybe about 1989?

Can I name all the places

the photos were taken?

Kansas City, Joplin, Missouri

Tulsa, Oklahoma

Oxford, Lake District, England

San Francisco, Pajaro Dunes,

Yosemite, California

Beijing, China

Islamabad, Pakistan

Caracas, Venezuela.

Not all the family is present.

Not all the places are listed.

Family on the shelves in my kitchen, Canberra, Australia

Family on the shelves in my kitchen, Canberra, Australia

Losing someone from your life, be it parent, child, sibling, friend, colleague, or mentor affects each one of us.

When does a death become a tragedy?  Death is a normal event. When is it a tragedy?  What does it depend upon?  The relationship of the deceased person to you?  The age of the deceased?  What they achieved during their life time? The circumstances of their death?

Losing my mom two years ago was one of the greatest losses of my life.

The other deaths were  of close friends – Tausi in Kenya, Angel in California, Claudio in Venezuela –  and my mother-in-law Hsiao Li Lindsay in China.

Nasra (left) Tausi (right)

Nasra (left) Tausi (right)

Of the four, Tausi was the youngest.  She died of HIV/AIDs at a time when most people in Kenya were in denial.  As Mandela once said, people with AIDs often died of stigma, even when treatment was available.  When Tausi died, her own family was in denial and treatment was generally unavailable in Kenya.  Her death reverberates with me as a tragedy.  She was young , talented, a mother of two – a very special warm person. If she had been diagnosed and received treatment in time she could have lived. We miss you Tausi.

Claudio

Claudio

 

Then there was Claudio –  a very exceptional person – a musician in the Venezuelan National Orchestra in Caracas — a humanist and role model for everyone who knew him.  Claudio lived a wonderful full life, although it was cut somewhat short by cancer.  We miss you Claudio.

 

 

Pamela, Angel, Margaret (his wife) in their kitchen in the Mission District, San Francisco, California , probably sometime in 2000

Pamela, Angel, Margaret (his wife) in their kitchen in the Mission District, San Francisco, California , probably sometime in 2000

Angel was another exceptional person.  He was an activist for working people and human rights all his life.  Angel was a community organizer in the Mission District of San Francisco, a leader in early childhood education for all and an all round exceptional, warm human being.  Angel lived a very full life and left it peacefully.  We miss you Angel.

 

 

 

Hsiao Li Lindsay, my mother-in-law

Hsiao Li Lindsay, my mother-in-law

Hsiao Li Lindsay died four years ago at the age of 93.  She was a heroine in the modern history of China.  She and her husband Michael Lindsay were in the underground opposing the Japanese occupation of China, which began before World War II. She wrote a wonderful book about her life in those years Bold Plum.  She lived to see Bold Plum published 60 years after she first wrote it.  She died surrounded by her family in Beijing.  We miss you Hsiao Li.

 

Portrait of Bette Hutchison Silver 2010

Portrait of Bette Hutchison Silver 2010

 

My mom was within nine days of her 89th birthday when she died in March 2011.  Her death was a tragedy to me as her daughter.  Her childhood was a struggle in a family with challenges of alcoholism, poverty and divorce.  Her adult life was one of sharing and participating in activities such as building support for the Kansas City Art Institute.  She loved to travel – to Mexico, to Africa and to Europe.  Her front porch in the Brookside area of Kansas City was open to all – for talk, games, and pot luck dinners.  I miss you Mom.

Of the five deaths, the one that seems to me to be a tragedy was that of Tausi.  Her death was probably preventable.  She died very young.

More thoughts on Death as Tragedy in my next blog.

 

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