Art and the philosophy of life

Archive for January, 2020


I never thought about my family’s genealogy.  Until Wednesday at lunch…with the high school people.  I didn’t think much of it, when my friend said she would look a couple of things up.  I said, “Sure,” and then… Until that moment I was Italian and Swedish.

She called me yesterday, when I was out with my cousin, and said, “Someone else is researching your mother’s entire family and there’s already a family tree.  I asked how that was possible and she said, she didn’t know, but there were pictures, so it had to be a relative.

My daughter set up the site and there it was (I have the picture the little pictures were taken from).  I wasn’t on the tree, nor were my children, or my father’s family.  Just my mom and her parents and on and on and on.  It’s a one way tree…going to the right. Mostly about my mother’s father.

Now, here’s the thing.  All my life I have been buying my mother Swedish gifts.  She was Swedish, a little Norwegian and something else.  She explained, :the something else, to me at one point in my life, but I didn’t understand what she was saying and didn’t know that I didn’t understand what she was saying, so I couldn’t ask any questions because I thought I DID know what she was saying.  Anyway…I still put a Swedish tree up, in her honor, every Christmas, have all her Swedish horses, coffee pots, etc.

Well, it turns out that we are way more Norwegian that anyone thought.  My mom’s grandmother (her father’s mother) and all of her relatives are from Norway.  All of them.  Every single one.  Norway.

It does not say where my grandmother is from, my mother’s mother, but probably Sweden.  I have a blue Swedish horse in my kitchen.  I don’t know where the red one is, but SOMEBODY needs to be Swedish, that’s for sure.  Hopefully, we can find out where that line is from because it just says Chicago.  My horse needs to know.

I immediately looked up Norwegian artists and there were many.  I was thrilled.  The Scream comes to mind.  I have to find out what Norway is all about, not that I have a clue what Sweden is all about, but I thought everyone else in the family knew, so I didn’t have to bother.  I wonder what my unknown Norwegian relatives would think, if they saw my house with all the Swedish stuff?  Supposedly, they they don’t like each other.  I don’t actually have that much stuff, but my mom cooked and baked….Swedish food.  It looked delicate and dainty next to the huge bowls of pasta and fat loaves of crusty bread my Italian grandmother made.

We found the names of the two people doing all the research on MY mom and her family, well, MY family too, I guess, but we can’t contact them.  I’d like to know who they are.  I was not on the tree, but Debbie added me and plans to add the rest of us.

I am so stunned, I can hardly figure out where to buy a Norwegian flag.  LOLOLOL  The next part is also weird.  My mother’s father’s, father’s family (her grandfather) is from…Bohemia.  My mother told me we were a little Bohemian when I was a child, but I thought she meant that we were hippies and that was very believable, so I assumed I’d grow up to wear a beret, drink absinth and smoke thin dark brown cigarettes while writing poetry, wearing a striped turtleneck, sitting at a cafe.  Not so…I’m mean sure, I do that sometimes, but not on the border of Austria?  What?  Seriously?  How is it possible that I never knew who I was?  My first question was, “Does ANYONE know what Bohemia IS?”  No one did, so I looked it up, that’s how I know it’s by Austria and…mmmm…other stuff.  It looks pretty. So my mother’s father is half Norwegian and half Bohemian (I still can’t believe that’s a place and not a lifestyle).  Hey, a lot of American’s are not good at geography.

I’ve always wanted to look Italian, but but even though that’s half of what I am, I was always too blond and blue-eyed for that; in spite of the fact that my last name was as Italian as an Italian name could possibly get, AND I felt as if I was visiting my grandmother, when I watched THE GODFATHER movies.  I grew up with Italians.  I imprinted on Italians.

I mostly ignored what I thought was my Swedish side and always just said that I was Italian.  No one believed me, and said, “You don’t look Italian,”  but they knew my name, so how could they argue?  I didn’t realize that I had a real Norwegian side, as well as a Swedish side, at all.

Anyway, at one time the Romans invaded Austria and Bohemia, so I hope my relatives weren’t involved…you know…the ones from Italy…the Romans.  Those guys…you know how they can be.  No, I don’t talk with my hands…not anymore.  Well, only sometimes, when it’s absolutely necessary.  I can hold a grudge, however.

I don’t know what kind of personalities Norwegians have. No stereotypes come to mind.   I expect that they’re very nice and peaceful, but that’s just a guess. I never heard of Norwegians starting a war.  There are no Norwegian restaurants, as far as I know.

I can’t pronounce any of the names on the tree, especially the ones with the O with the line through it. Some of the names are very long.  I tried to say them, but failed miserably.  I have a fairy tale book, written in Swedish, and I can’t read it or pronounce any of those words either.  I am not LINGUAL, LOLOL  in any language but the one I speak and that’s iffy enough.  The artwork, in the fairy tale book is beautiful.  Delicate, as always, with lots of red  creatures like the little red wooden dolls I put out Christmas.  I just got a new one this year.  Maybe they have Norwegian wooden toys.  I know where the Swedish store is but I’ve never seen a Norwegian store.  Do they have any around here?

I think I’ll put a Norwegian hat on my Swedish horse.  I think the horse would like that.  Maybe the two countries will become better friends because of the horse, who knows.  I mean I’m obviously part of both of them.  With Italy thrown in as a bonus.

I still can’t believe what I found out.  I can only guess what my mother would say.  My grandmother must have known that her husband’s mother was from Norway.  I wish I could talk to my grandmother, but then I wish I could talk to her all the time.  I didn’t think I knew any Norwegians.  I thought I knew a lot of Swedes. Turns out the people who were from my grandfather’s side were Norwegians and Bohemians and not the Swedish people I thought they were.  Amazing.  Shows how silly the things we believe really are.

Now I know names of people I’m related to that I never heard of and who may never have left Norway, or Bohemia.  Old dates, from the early 1800’s.  Actual names, dates, and COUNTRIES.  At least on one side.

I’m hoping we can find my grandmother’s Swedish side, so the horse feels better about things.  I went to IKEA yesterday, to eat chocolate cake.  What if IKEA found out that a wee part of me is from Norway?  I used to feel at home in IKEA…my Swedish family, now, I’m not so sure.  Do people from Norway shop at IKEA, even if it’s just because they have the best chocolate cake in the world?  They’d be crazy not to get the cake.  I mean it’s amazing.  So maybe the cake, the horse, and the little dolls could bring the two countries together, and they could all dance in the streets.  Maybe not.  Maybe my horse doesn’t really care, one way or the other.  We should all be like that.

I really just want to be French.  Paris French. That’s the truth.  If I am ever stupid enough to come back here AGAIN, I’m coming back in Paris and I’m going to live in a fabulous apartment with a courtyard and a view of the Eiffel Tower.  If I can’t have that, I’m not coming back.

So, I’m waiting to see what we can find out about my grandmother.  I KNOW the Swedes are there SOMEWHERE.  It has to be her side, since there is no one else.  I HAVE the horse, remember.  I’m sure it’s here.  But that part of the family must have been here for many generations because everything just says Chicago.  We are Chicago people, that’s for sure.  Both sides of the family, CHICAGO.

Life’s all about what you believe, whether it’s true or not, one just never knows.  It will be interesting to find out about the supposedly 100% Sicilian Italian part of my family.  I’m hoping a French person was on vacation and a little of her/his DNA got passed along to me. Then the beret and cafe sitting would fit in perfectly,  a French gun moll.  Works for me.  I still think Bohemia is a lifestyle…one that I embrace with open arms, beaded curtains and all,  just for the fun of it.



Wanna see a comet? From: Astronomy Picture of the Day

Comet CG Evaporates



Brush, Color, Paint, Play, Watercolor

I’m a nice dog…

Dog, Pitbull, Terrier

I don’t know why some people
are afraid of me
I’m a nice dog
I like to play
I like to snuggle
I like to go for walks
I’m a nice dog
I have a good heart
give me a chance


Toi et Moi … Berlin Street Art — notes from camelid country

When the sun hits it, the colours of Layer by Layer, an immense six-story high piece of art adorning the entire side of a building close to the Tagesspiegel newspaper building, glow amongst grey Berlin offices. The penetrating gaze of the child who’s about to launch a seagull from their arm is what really catches […]

via Toi et Moi … Berlin Street Art — notes from camelid country

High School…

School, Lockers, Hallway, High School

Yesterday, I had lunch with some women from high school.  And yes, they DID have high schools when dinosaurs roamed the earth.  High Schools have ALWAYS been here. When we crawled out of the sea, high schools were waiting for us.

Apparently, a lot of my classmates keep in touch, or are dead or just missing.  Missing, meaning that the woman who finds all of us and keeps track of where we are, where we’ve been and maybe even where we’re going, can’t find them.  If she can’t find them, we need to call Mulder and Skully, Miss Marple, and Doctor Who and ask them to search.

The same woman, has organized every class reunion we’ve ever had and she’s tired of doing all the work.  Other people help her, but the last reunion (last summer), supposedly was her last, at least that’s what she told us when it was over.  She stood up and said something like, “I’m sick and tired of doing this, so if you every want to see each other again tell me you’ll do it.”  Everyone looked away.  No one came forward.  She must have known that would happen.

She set up yesterday’s lunch.  Without her skills, we will never again get together as a group, so no more reunions.

At lunch, we did a lot of, “Hey, have you heard from___________?”  And, “Does anyone know if____________ is even alive?”

I would not have been part of this group of women, since I hung around with different people, but since I turned up at the last reunion, I’m on the list.  It is my opinion, that this hard core, dedicated,  group of four or five women, feel a strong tie to our high school class and think we should keep tabs on each other until we’re all gone.  It’s important to them.  They were the “nice” kids.

None of the women who were at lunch, sat at my high school lunch table.  They were quiet and polite.  The people I sat with, were not.

A lot of people seem to have hated the years they spent in high school. I read things like that, now and then.  But I had a blast.  It was FUN everyday.  All those adults to mess with.  Harmonizing in the halls at lunch, singing at the top of our lungs.  Forming a gang, with jackets and everything.  I didn’t care much for classes and usually walked out of them, or was asked to leave, but I had a great time.  Still, I was happy to get out of there.  Didn’t care about leaving, just walked away and started having fun someplace else.

I don’t think the women at yesterday’s lunch ever cut classes, annoyed or pissed off their teachers, faked notes, skipped school, or spend all day in the gym.  They were the good kids.  They are still the good kids, just much older and grown up.  None of them were chased through the school by the vice principal (always run into the girls bathroom, just know you’ll be in there for awhile), and none of them kissed their speech teacher for a dynamic opening to a speech (I got an A+).

So the women sitting across from me yesterday were still the way they were all those years ago and I’m still the way I was.  We don’t really change.  These women have never lost touch with each other.  I have never been in touch with anyone, except my best friend who died from smoking, just like her father.

Anyway, the woman who organizes things is “obsessed” (her word) with genealogy.   She offered to look up things for anyone who wanted things looked up.  So, I went home found a paper with names and dates and called her.  Maybe I’ll find out something about my family because I don’t know anything about them at all.  It never occurred to me that I should know anything about them.

There will be another lunch.  The organizer will organize, it’s what she does and believe me, she does it well.  There needs to be an Organizer in every group, or there is no group.  The woman who organized my sorority sisters died a few months ago.  We won’t all get together again, not without her making it happen.  She lived in California and came back to Chicago every other summer.  Each year, before she got here, she had all of us set up for a party.  She knew where everyone was, all the time.  She sent us birthday cards and cards for everything.  Organizers are important.  They can’t help themselves, they’re like those lovely dogs who herd sheep, they just keep gathering their herd, making sure no on gets lost.  Without them we’re all just strays.



Today is: National Croissant Day

Bread, Croissant, Morning, Puff Paste


Books, Pages, Story, Stories, Notes

Here’s what I think…you know that old saying, “No two people ever read the same book?”  Well, that’s true.  The thing is, a lot of people interrupt what they read, then write a paper on it, or teach a class on, and they forget to tell everyone that what they are saying, is simply their personal opinion.  Because no two people ever reads the same book.

Unless an author specifically states what s/he meant by a poem, a certain passage, or by an entire book, the reader can only GUESS at the meaning.  The same goes for songs.  Writers tell the audience they didn’t mean what’s being said about their lyrics, but no one listens.

We make up what we get out of a book, because we read it through out own lives and experiences.  It can’t possibly be any other way, unless the author has explained it in no uncertain terms.

When we read a classic, or an older book, we can’t possibly take into account what was happening in any culture, during that age.  The meanings written at that time, may be lost to us. Still, people continue to say they know what the author meant when s/he wrote it. I don’t believe that’s possible.

I think it’s okay to believe anything we want about what we read, as long as we realize it’s just our own personal opinion.  Time and place play an important part of anything that has been written.  World view plays a part, personal experience plays a part, EVERYTHING plays a part.  The author WROTE it through her/his own wold view and experience, which we know little, to nothing, about.

We guess at meanings and pretend that our guess are facts, or something meaningful, when it’s simply our own point of view.   I think “experts” believe what they say.  I just don’t believe what they say, because people are misunderstood constantly and there’s no reason to believe that what has been written isn’t misunderstood as well.  In spite of a group consensus as to the meaning.

The only truth is personal.  It’s okay that things are like that.  We just pretend to know things.  No two people read the same book.  I believe that, because each of us is so different from everyone else and that includes the author.  If someone teaches that, without a doubt, something MEANS something, they can actually destroy the reading experience for the reader and stop the reader from seeing what the poem or book could mean to her/him personally.  Discussions should allow all opinions, none of them right or wrong.

People can study an author/book for their entire lives but they can’t be sure of anything. What they are reading, when they go through the literature, has been written by others who had their own opinions of the book in question, so they are simply reading the personal opinions of more people and what they have to say about the author being studied.  The author is the only one who knows what was going in in her/his mind when s/he wrote the poem or book.  We can only understand what was written through our own point of view or the point of view of others.  We don’t even understand each other and misunderstandings are everyday occurrences.  It’s egotistical to think we can understand what someone else meant when they wrote something.

Look, if you’ve never lived through a war, you don’t know what living through a war is like, no matter how many books you read, or how many photographs you turn away from.  Men can never understand what it’s like to have a baby, no matter how many children they end up having, no matter how many books they read on childbirth.    Each war is different from every other war and each person involved in the war experiences it differently than every other person involved in the war.  Each birth is different from every other birth and each woman experiences childbirth differently.   How can anyone possibly hope to understand, with any certainly, what someone meant when they wrote something?  Each author is different, going through a one of a kind life.  We communicate, but we each get a different message.

That’s why one person can hate a book and not finish it, while another person carries the book with them forever.  We see what we see, from our own point of view because everything is a personal point of view.  The views of the so called experts are based on their own personal views and the personal views of others.  It’s not possible for it to be any other way.

The true meaning comes from the author and even then, some readers will find their own personal meaning in the words that were written to mean something else.  And one more thing, pretending to know what something means can cause inquisitions and witch burnings, war, crusades, hatred, misery, suffering and mass murder.  I think we should realize that we pretend to know what something means to suit our own needs and ends.

That’s the way it seems to me.

There are different color blues…and then there’s this…


Never go into the park at night…

Park, Evening, Nature, Park In The City

never go into
the park at night
the second you step in
will wrap around you
your senses
will become hyper aware
you will hear
every sound
your entire body
will be on high alert
and for good reason
live in the park
and when
they come out to play
under the cover of
they will be
the last thing
you ever

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