day of despair
Last night I received this email from a dear friend and fellow American artist:
“we’re all in deep mourning, horror, dismay, over the election results.
It feels like we’re about to return to the Dark Ages,
and I should start making ceramic tablets,
imprinted with whatever knowledge we have,
and burying them for future generations.
didn’t realize the apocalypse was scheduled so soon…..
how are you doing with this?”
I thought I’d share excerpts from my reply,
because I suppose these things must be said,
and I’ve included so much of our eventful week:
Do not despair.
Because you have a lovely grandchild on the way!
Luckily they are tucked away in a liberal haven in the Pacific Northwest.
Have you finished the new quilt?
But, I really do like the ceramic tablet idea.
Put your frustration into your work.
Your work is very powerful.
History not learned repeats itself.
And here we are.
(You didn’t know me back then,
but when we invaded Iraq, in 2004,
I looked for residencies in the Mid-East,
settling on the Townhouse Gallery, in Cairo, Egypt,
because I admired the artists there,
and really liked the work they were creating.
I had to get away from the hate,
and at that time, I was in Boston,
and Boston was full of hate. Proud of their hate.
I spent that 9/11 in Nuweiba, on the Red Sea,
on the beach with Egyptians and Israelis.
That was our protest of the ongoing wars.
And the ongoing hate.)
You asked how we are coping…
We are just fine.
Grateful to be here,
tucked away in a bamboo valley,
in the middle of nowhere, really,
across the sea from all the commotion.
We started our day by singing the Abc song,
over and over again, while still laying in bed,
using your quilt to point out the letters to Marm.
(It’s really funny how she sings along,
confusing H for 8, & I for 9,
so it becomes A, B, C, D, E, F, G, 8, 9, J, K, LmnoP…
Marmalade made a friend yesterday,
Actually we all made friends yesterday.
During the day of despair,
we went to a nearby seaside town to buy a used car,
that just happened to be owned by
the only Moroccans in this part of Portugal.
They are really nice, really friendly people,
who even had us over for lunch.
And they have a son, Said,
who is only 4 months older than Marmalade,
and attends the local kindergarten,
which Marmalade will attend someday.
Marmalade and Said get along really well.
We all get along really well.
Malika works for the local Driscoll’s berry farm,
as a Portuguese-English translator for the Nepalese laborers.
Her husband Ali is a fisherman, and works at the fishmarket.
Malika gave me a bunch of persimmons and boxes of frozen berries.
So I made a small batch of jam today, jarred up half,
and saved the rest for a cheesecake topping.
Because I’ve been craving cheesecake for awhile now,
and the berries have me feeling inspired.
So this weekend when Malika, Ali & Said come over
to see our new house, we will share cheesecake.
Because love trumps hate.
Otherwise, we’ve been homebodies when we can,
fixing up our fixer-upper. It needs a lot of work!
Mohamed has been trying to streamline the water system.
I’ve been putting up the tiles on the wall behind our wood stove.
And hanging up some paintings, so it feels more like home.
And gardening. And foraging!
Tonight I made pasta with a pesto sauce,
using arugula picked today from our garden
and a parasol mushroom plucked from near the stream.
Honestly, I sorta saw this coming…
I was ready for a Bernie revolution,
but I knew the country was more willing for the Dark Ages.
I always had friends of every shape and color,
and saw that they were treated like they lived in a different world.
I didn’t want Mohamed to experience any of that while he was there,
so I was very protective of him, sheltering even.
I didn’t want Marmalade to grow up in that kind of environment, either.
Sure, she can pass as a “real American”
but we were trying to find a more welcoming, accepting world to call home.
The Portuguese are lovely, laid-back, down to Earth people.
We are happy to have them as neighbors.
We hope to have more as friends.
If the feces hits the fan and there’s too much splatter,
you can always come here to avoid the debris.
Our goal is to renovate our ruin to be a guesthouse,
for family, friends, and as an artist’s retreat,
so please feel very welcome to come as all three!
We choose this place for its potential as a refuge,
from whatever political, environmental, or natural disaster the world suffers.
Originally, I though Mohamed’s family might need the retreat,
from their small, entirely sea level island in the Persian Gulf,
that always seems on the brink of getting swallowed up by Saudi agression.
My father mentioned, back in May, that if Trump got elected,
he’d be joining us in Portugal, as the laws for retiring here are quite welcoming.
I thought, great, Marmalade would love having the company.
But he was making a joke, I think.
I don’t think my parents thought this could happen.
I guess there is a lot of shock going around.
Mohamed just told me that there were protests!
and keep your head above whatever is getting thrown around.
We shall overcome.
We love you.