For some reason, as we experienced the first real snow (and accumulation) of the season, I thought of the difficulty of communication with someone who does not want to hear you. Your thoughts and concerns arrive to ears that are deaf to you and your concerns. I thought of the horrible affairs in the world, from Ukraine to the Middle East and thought of those who want to torture and offend and then not ever listen, attempting to put guilt where it does not belong.

I thought of a college friend from long ago who one day decided that talking to me just was not happening. Despite pleas and cajoling of all sorts, I was raging at a silence that I could not conquer. It lasted weeks and although I do not any longer remember the particulars, I don’t remember how it ended. One thing I do know, I never understood the reason for the silence and thus it has remained to this day.

I thought of the audacity of those who think that they are so important that they need not hear the other side. They argue and rage but do not let us speak and if we do, it is a total waste of our time and voice.

I think of the shortness of life and how that affects this situation. How can we be so egotistical as to think that we can use others as emotional punching bags while accusing them of all sorts of things and then not hear them?

I also think of communicating with others and then receiving no response whatsoever. Yet, when they want something, we hear about it and a quick reaction is expected. What is up with that?

The world crisis is happening in every corner of our lives and people are seriously affected. Maybe that is the cause of all of this. Can we blame it on the Pandemic?

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Crystal Bridges Museum and Bentonville, Arkansas



Who would think that someone would go to Arkansas for the weekend? When we told people where we were going, we would get interesting looks and questions.

A few years back, when in Stratford, Ontario, we talked to our proprietors about a trip they took to one of the best museums ever. Guess what? It was in Bentonville, Arkansas. That piqued our interest.

Recently, as MK and I were in the car, I asked her to do some research on the museum we had learned about: Crystal Bridges, in northwestern Arkansas. It is the project of Alice Walton and a gem in every sense of the word. In spite of its short existence (it opened on November 11, 2011), it is clearly a world class museum and not to be missed. 

Often when projects are begun, things go awry and things that should be attended to are often not. That does not seem to be the case here. Even its beginnings have been well thought out. The architecture of Moshe Safdie, a world renowned, Israeli born architect, has the buildings set above water and involving much glass, hence the Crystal Bridges name. To get to the museum can be by car, but we chose the walkway (shared with bikes and runners) to get to the nearby museum via a nature and art walk. It is just a bit more than half a mile. 

The first day, we had tickets,  at a cost of 0$, for the Bachman-Wilson Frank Lloyd Wright house, taken from a flooding situation in New Jersey and brought to Arkansas piece by piece and reassembled. It was a delight. Today, we had tickets for the Annie Leibovitz exhibition (which will go into January) and then we went into the main museum collection. To get in, as stipulated by Alice Walton as something all people should have access to, we paid 0$. The exhibition, as an extra, did cost but it was free for us since we decided to become members and be more supportive. The Annie Leibovitz exhibit was absolutely spectacular and in and of itself would have qualified the museum as a top notch art venue, but then we saw the rest of the North American collection. We were absolutely gobsmacked by the impressive collection.

The museum has a restaurant (Eleven) and a coffee bar on one of the bridges over the pond. We visited the wonderful museum store and also experienced numerous pieces of art along the Art and Nature Trail to get there. The museum has over 120 acres of land and is immediately adjacent to the downtown Bentonville area. On our arrival day, we had a snack on the main square and realized very quickly that Bentonville is most clearly a wonderful place to find good food. The Waltons and WalMart have certainly not always been viewed favorably, but they have clearly established the area as an important locale that is not to be ignored.

This evening there will be Christmas tree lighting in the downtown area and beforehand, we shall go to another art moment in the North Forest called the Listening Forest which was created by Rafael Lozano-Hammer. It will be an interactive experience. Last night we ate at the hotel gourmet restaurant (we are staying at 21C), the Hive. We had breakfast there this morning. Tonight will be barbecue at Wright’s Barbecue a few short steps away. 

Everyone here has been delightful and the people are friendly and clearly from all over, creating a very cosmopolitan situation. We are very glad to have been able to make the trek from Chicago in a flight that was a little less than two hours. 

It has been a great weekend thus far.

Posted in Actual thoughts in my daily life, Arkansas, Crystal Bridges | Leave a comment

The Domino effect…world cycles

An almost 50 year old wedding ring…

Face it, I am up in years. Some days I feel it, some days I don’t.

I don’t know how much of that plays into my blogging of late. I used to blog on a daily basis. Of late, maybe once a week or so. Part of the reason for that is very simply my inability to be real and truthful. There is so much I would like to say and so much I cannot say. I hate to be vague and cryptic, but that is the case. Part of me wants to pay for a billboard and post on it my thoughts and feelings. The other part of me knows that rationally, it would be less than a good idea.

Nonetheless, here I am and what is on my mind is simple, that history has not warned us properly about the cyclical aspect of the world. We have periods of growth, progress, and apparent advancement and then we have another cycle where the world’s horrors show up with dictators, tyrants, and evil that spreads malignantly just like the falling dominoes from the beginning of the chain to the end.

The evil that we see, let’s say, in Russia, or China, or Iran, or North Korea, or even in the USA (let’s talk the previous ‘régime or even the Supreme Court), flutters down from the leaders right into our very own lives in people that we hear about or maybe even know. The leaders’ model seems to give birth to the thought that we can be evil and we can be abusive, uncaring, greedy, racist, hateful, etc.

As mentioned, I am now an elder in this society. It hurts me to think that when I was young that I viewed the possibilities for progress and change and at times even experienced it. To go backwards, to wipe out and attempt to erase the good that was done is abhorrent to me. I know deep down that it will change and that the good cycle will reappear, but it saddens me that it will most probably not be within my lifetime. It also saddens me that my progeny will have to experience the negativity of the day and the we are leaving the world this way.

And yet, I am hopeful…

For those who are evil, I just wonder how you can sleep at night…

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Blasts from the past!

Today as I was messing around with a bit of organizational work in my office, I went downstairs to put away an album that was out and came across an album with these photos. The quality of the photos is lessened by the years and despite being in an album that pledged to guard their color correctly, they still bring back strong memories.

Wirod Memonsoom is a wonderful friend that Mary Kay and I met in 1973 or so at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. Wirod was an international student from Thailand, there at the behest of the military, for which he was serving at the time. We took him and his soon to arrive wife Wilai under our wing. We had a wonderful time and were treated to so much wonderful Thai food, most of which we are unable to reproduce despite having the recipes and having watched them cook. We lost touch with Wirod over the years but some researching on Facebook allowed us to reconnect. There is nothing like a good friend.

The black and white photos from a photo booth are probably the last photos of me and my dad alone as he passed away on June 11, 1959 after a long illness. I have precious few memories in my head of him and about the only thing I can recall is the sound of his voice. I think this was a boys day trip into Cleveland proper, the downtown area, and a boat ride on the Cuyahoga River (before it went up in flame).

The black and white photo of a young man is a cherished teacher mentor for me when I did my student teaching in French at Parma High School in Parma, Ohio in 1973. Robert Dzama is remembered (he is apparently deceased) as a professional and a warm and nurturing teacher for students and also for his teacher intern. He allowed me to be quite independent in my situation and in the photo is seen with students in the background as he was also the Yearbook sponsor.

The Bories (my uncle/godfather, Aunt Hilda Swoboda Borie, and Barbara Ann Borie Kerro) represent an interesting part of my family. Uncle Joe pretty much put his Hungarian  origins aside by never speaking in Hungarian to my knowledge, changed his name from Bori to Borie (finding it more American perhaps?), and was not impressed by my going into teaching. They lived in Chardon, Ohio in a very beautiful ranch that we were invited to once a year for Borie Burgers. Aunt Hilda was a reacquaintance of mine a few years after my uncle passed and I happened to be in Florida. Babs (Barbara Ann) supposedly lives in Cleveland, Ohio but seemingly does not want to reconnect with any of us. She had, according to my info, two daughters who are also in the Cleveland area, and her ex is in another state.

Young Soon Lee was a musician we had met at Ohio University, another international student coming from South Korea. She fell in love with a fellow musician who happened to be from Japan. Their parents were less than happy about their wedding so they got married without a parental blessing (from either side) in the Galbreath Chapel at Ohio University.  There is history between Korea and Japan that at the time was more than the parents could deal with.  The photos I have are the few left from quite a few that I took as they didn’t have anyone else to take pictures. We have since lost touch with her.

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A fine state of affairs

It is tough getting through a day and even tougher if one watches the news. Evil and sadness are everywhere. Wars and chaos and political insanity seems to be the rule of the day. It is such that I have difficulty mustering up the energy to write, these day. I have spent much time on genealogy and actually have managed, I think, to find my great great grandparents’ names. It is in doing this genealogy that I have thought of two wonderful personalities in my youth.

I like using this vehicle to communicate about lost relatives. In this blogpost, I am centering on two of the nicest people I came across in my life and one of them is the woman to whom I owe my life and I am not talking about my mom. My mom always told me, « Rick, you are living on borrowed time. » What she meant was that when I was an infant, she had found me blue in the face from a cold or virus,  screamed, and my aunt who either lived in the same house or next door came immediately and provided me with artificial respiration as they took me to the hospital. I am forever indebted to her.

Above, she is with my Uncle Steve and my oldest maternal-side cousin, Jack. They were all wonderful people and all alcoholics. I remember learning in a high school seminar for teachers that if one parent is an alcoholic, you have a 50 % chance of being one; two means. 75%. Jack didn’t have a chance. He had more luck, however, in keeping the beast at bay. He lived to 70 and his parents only 60.

Alcoholism strikes and its malignancy affects everyone. Throughout the ages, it has been at issue and we still have great difficulty with it. The person affected is only cured by wanting to do so, extraneous influences are helpful but no guarantee of cure. There really is no cure, in the end. It can be kept at bay, though.

Those affected are often in the maelstrom and chaos of those who walk a slippery tightrope that can easily fall into enabling. I realize now that those who judge the enabling of others should cease to do so as there is no way to judge that unless one is wearing the shoes of someone in the experience.

I lost my aunt and uncle when they were about sixty, as mentioned, but they were truly not their complete selves during most of my lifetime. Each was a wonderful, generous personality, warm and caring. Together they created a strange toxicity together that I remember to this day. It was a sadness within our family that I have never forgotten.

Luckily, they never got to the point of creating chaos within our family but the wound that their collective illness caused was omnipresent and rarely spoken of…

I miss Aunt Helen, Uncle Steve, and Jack, and wonder so much how different all of our lives might have been had they not been affected by that strange disease.

Posted in Addiction, Alcoholism, Family | Leave a comment