Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Making Friends with Death

(title of a Judith Lief book on death - which is very good - and also on my mind lately)

Today I went on a trek with carrielovespuppies from Flickr (who also works with my babe), to Columbus, WI. As soon as I said I wanted to go out of town with her to hang out, she picked a visit to a fiber store out there, and I was elated, figuring we could go check out the odd and slightly scary but still significant Christopher Columbus Museum (the day AFTER Columbus day, nonetheless - which is inside of WI's biggest antique mall) and poke around antique shops and take pix (ok, I would anyway) of ironic small town stuff.

A few days ago I also remembered that I had promised myself last fall I could take pictures of Halloween, since I suddenly just sort of NOTICED (see this and this) it last year for the first time in a long time. It was Minneapolis - a trip doing a dharma arts program, and I was wide awake to the world in all its splendor and irony. And boy did I ever notice how the decorations - though these two examples are mild - seemed incongruous. They clearly begin to point at death. Empty pumpkin heads. Gravestones on public yards, ghosts made of tin cans and sheets. But like Valentine's day, the death is sort of not the point anymore, like the love left behind in Hallmark commercialism. So when we did Level 3/Absolute Eye (see Manic Nirvana entry and special set on Flickr entitled "chicago with John McQuade" I realized it was all coming together. The way we skirt and play with death without talking about it, just like we deal with all cravings and fear, attraction, hatred and ignorance - through commercials, consumption and jokes.

Especially after watching a good friend's dog die in my care (see last entry) and burying her today, I knew I needed to "do" something about this - art therapy. So when we headed out to Columbus, I made a deal with Carrie: stop for me if we aren't on a highway so I can capture some of this on film, ok? Or on disc, anyway.

And boy. There weren't a lot of houses, not as many as we thought we'd see, but when we found them boy did they stand out. One house was unbelievable - a real-looking mummy, much more real-ish than anything else on their yard. That threw me for a major loop. Here I was, about to go bury a beloved dog (who, it turns out, was 17, by the way, not 15!) and there's a totally fake but real looking mummy on the yard.

And so on. Photos will be up soon. But it became clear - as we got lost on the way and had to be back so I could go to Milwaukee for the funeral - that I will be going back out again. And ever.

The fiber shop, Susan's Fiber Shop, was also great in a very life-affirming way. But I recommend calling for directions - the googlemap ones got us lost.

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