The Pastor's Kids

The Pastor's Kids

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

Photo Credit: OutpostUSA.org
As far back as 1902, efforts were made by Minnesota state officials to preserve the area along its northeast boundary from logging. The area was known for its beauty: the many lakes created by retreating glaciers, the exposed Pre-Cambrian rock and the thick forest which is habitat for many animals and birds. These officials also asked the Canadian province of Ontario just over the border to set aside its contiguous forests.

Throughout the 20th century, the struggle over the boundary waters continued. Though mining and logging operations in the area had already diminished, the new questions became what sort of recreational facilities should be provided. In the 1940s resorts were set up in the vast roadless areas to which people were flown in and provided with mechanized gear for sport fishing. In 1948, at least 25 private planes were based in Ely, Minnesota, traveling to the most popular lakes every day. Conservationists saw this as a serious threat to the wilderness character of the canoe country and began campaigns to limit this ease of entry.

Sigurd Olson wrote, directed and starred in a short film, narrated by Paul Harvey, called Wilderness Canoe Country showing himself and his son enjoying the canoe country until a small plane roars in, deafening the silence. This film was shown everywhere. By this time the government was buying up private homes and resorts in what was known as the Superior Roadless Primitive Area. President Truman signed an executive order against airplanes flying over the area below 4,000 ft. in 1949. But conservationist proposals met with bitter opposition as this part of the state was in need of income. Olson, who made his home in Ely, was vilified. A proposed documentary on his life is noted here.

In the late 1950s the battle for what became the Wilderness Act of 1964 began. It eventually included a simple definition of wilderness: “A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.” The Wilderness Act had a huge effect on what was now called the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, greatly restricting motor use, lumber activity, and eliminating lodges and private residences in the park.

Wilderness Outfitters, for instance, had to cease its operation of the historic Basswood Lake Lodge, known for its exceptional log craftsmanship. The main lodge was dismantled and hauled across the ice to Snowbank Lake. In 1978 when Snowbank Lake was declared part of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, the federal government bought the lodge again and it is now a visitor center in Wisconsin according to the Spring 2004 issue of Wilderness News from the Quetico Superior Foundation. All of this was painful, but Wilderness Outfitters successfully adapted to changes and is still one of the foremost providers of canoe and fishing trips out of Ely.

Including the million acres of the Boundary Waters, the two hundred thousand acres of Voyageurs National Park, the 1.2 million acres of the Quetico and La Verendrye Provincial Parks in Canada, I count two and a half million acres of contiguous area now preserved as non-mechanized wilderness through the efforts of 20th century conservationists, an incredible achievement.

But when you consider Edward O. Wilson’s current proposal that half of the earth be left to nature in order to stop species extinction, even our own, we have a long way to go. Half Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life, published in March of 2016, “is not a bitter jeremiad. It is a brave expression of hope, a visionary blueprint for saving the planet,” says Stephen Greenblatt. Wilson points out that as a species we are way behind in adapting to the current age, that working piecemeal we think we are making progress but in fact we are slipping. He presents his idea as a goal, calculating that if humans retreated from half of the earth, it would enter the “safe zone.”

The series So Are You To My Thoughts goes unashamedly back and forth between Minnesota and California, the two places I know best. Of my three main characters, Line and Marty live along the California coast, while Paul lives in Minnesota. The whole family has a cultural base in a cabin in north central Minnesota, Mother and Dad’s legacy. My earliest memories (perhaps enhanced by a film made of it) involve a summer spent at Lake of the Woods, which sprawls over the tiny bit of Minnesota which is above the 49th parallel and into Canada. Stories of the Lake of the Woods and fishing trips the men of my Dad's church took on the Rainy River run through my earliest years. As animals ourselves, habitat is incredibly important to us. Surely we can reduce our dependence on mechanized and comfortable pleasures for our own, and the sake of other animals.

Monday, April 4, 2016

HIV/AIDS in San Francisco

Early in the 1980’s San Francisco hospitals, such as Children’s where my sister Solveig worked in an oncology ward, began to see patients with a rare skin cancer, Karposi’s sarcoma, sometimes in conjunction with pneumocystis pneumonia. These diseases occur in people with severely compromised immune systems. At first there was no name for it, but it did seem to particularly affect gay men and needle users. As the cases increased and were studied, it became known as Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.

In San Francisco, it became a plague. Everyone had friends who were HIV-positive, and thus likely to undergo the later stages of disease, AIDS, and die. There was no known cure, though it became clear that the disease was carried by certain bodily fluids and blood. Condoms were seen as the only way to prevent transmission from one person to another. Not until 1987 was the first drug, AZT, offered to combat HIV-related disease, and it was prohibitively expensive.

AIDS had, and still has, a huge impact on the culture. For the first time since the 1960’s, people became more wary about sex. People who were HIV-positive were stigmatized and politicians proposed proscriptions, such as quarantine, which compromised people’s human rights. The gay community in San Francisco responded with organizations and information, protests, care and dignity. But, every year, until the United States reached the highest number of deaths from AIDS in 1995 (48,371), mortality from AIDS increased. The hospice movement which was getting underway was pushed along by the need to care for so many people losing their lives to AIDS. A timeline of scientific, government and community response to AIDS can be seen here.

The stories of those who died from AIDS are kept alive by the Names Project Foundation and by an amazing quilt (Cleve Jones’ idea) which has grown to epic proportions and traveled all over the world. I worked in architectural firms and many of the architects and designers I knew in those years slipped quietly away. Larry Canega, who played the piano for the Pitschel Players and had been my sister’s great friend, died in the early 1990’s. One of my gay friends found that everywhere he looked, every place he went in San Francisco held memories of friends who were gone. “We are being compared to holocaust survivors,” he said to me in 1991. “It’s that bad.” I recall getting one of the “lavender letters” people sent out to friends when their gay partners died.

I remember doing tai chi push hands, in which two people work together, with a man who had very visible Karposi’s sarcoma on his arms and chest. One woman turned away in horror, but the rest of us worked with him. We knew we could not catch it from his skin. I also knew a woman who was married to a man who had been given an HIV-laced blood transfusion. When I again became single in 1989, I had several blood tests to make sure I wasn’t HIV-positive. This was still an emotion-soaked issue in 1995 when I worked on a documentary in which sexually-active students at a Danish film college took similar blood tests.

One of my tai chi teachers, Emilio Gonzalez, is a long-term survivor, doing daily tai chi and keeping close tabs on his health, including using some AIDS drugs. “When I first learned I was HIV-positive [more than 30 years ago], I wouldn’t even subscribe to a magazine!” he told me. He and George Wedemeyer developed Qigong classes which were particularly adapted for immune-compromised people. In 1996, I helped produce a video of these Qigong routines, and especially the Tiger Mountain Tai Chi Gong which Master Kai Ying Tung developed for our school. The best-selling video has been on television, sold as DVDs and is still available on youtube.com here.

The bitter story of AIDS is not mine to tell. But my fictional memoir of the late 1980’s, Nature's Stricter Lessons, would not be true to life without its presence.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Hot Springs Eternal

One of the glories of the winter months in California is the presence of natural hot springs. I don’t get to run off to the hot springs whenever I want to, but I have enjoyed significant times at four of them. Because the springs are located in isolated places, they are vulnerable, especially during our drought years. Two of them have had devastating fires in the last year.

Tassajara Hot Springs is the most beautiful. It has been an arm of the San Francisco Zen Center since 1966, and is a training center and monastery, but it opens its gates to visitors in the summer. It is located off Carmel Valley Road in the mountains at the edge of the Ventana Wilderness about four hours south of San Francisco. The gravel road in from Carmel Valley is so steep, that four-wheel drive should be used, but the first time I went, I drove a rental car, very slowly, taking an hour to drive the fourteen miles!

The monastery occupies a meadow beside Tassajara creek and the hot springs issue from different places along this creek. A Soto Zen temple for meditation and study is central to the complex. There are several kinds of accommodation for guests, including cabins and yurts. The oldest stone building is used as a dining room. Pools for men and women are separate for most of the day, except late at night. The woods around the area are typical of California, with manzanita, laurel and madrone, though gardens and non-native trees have been brought into the resort area. Kerosene lit the night when I was first there, but solar power is increasingly used. I volunteered for a Zen Center “work week,” working mostly on the lawns and in the garden, being rewarded with delicious vegetarian meals and baked goods. Don and I have been back, to find that a sojourn in this luscious place makes up for the difficulty in getting there.

I went to Wilbur Hot Springs several times in the 1980’s, where healing waters spring up in Cache Creek, near Williams. It is also isolated, but easier to get to. When I was there, we stayed in the hundred-year-old lodge which had been restored by its owner, Dr. Richard Miller. He found the place derelict in 1972 and began to offer free Esalen workshops in exchange for work on cleaning up the place. The hot springs, which are 140-150 degrees F., have been channeled into pools which are increasingly hotter. Clothing optional, the resort has an etiquette of modesty and respect which benefits its reputation as a place of healing and rejuvenation. Tasteful wooden fences screen the pools and the area is now a nature preserve.

When I brought Don to Wilbur in 2001, to cheer him up the first Christmas we were without Jesse, we also stayed in the lodge. Guests bring their own food, which is stored in propane refrigerators, and cook it on the enormous gas ranges available in the kitchen. It did revive Don’s interest in cooking. In March 2014, the lodge at Wilbur burned and the top two floors were lost. But Wilbur has re-opened, the ground level of the lodge has been restored and new cabins brought to the site.

Harbin Hot Springs was burned to the ground, along with much of Middletown, by the Valley Fire of September 2015. All the structures were lost, but of course the springs and pools still exist. At this time the place is closed, but, like a phoenix, it is rising from its ashes. I made a meditation retreat at Harbin in 1998 at Thanksgiving using Sylvia Boorstein’s book: Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There. I was alone and not terribly comfortable, but it did work. I spent quite a bit of time in the warm heart pool, steam rising into the cold air, and practiced walking meditation along the paths.

In the 1980’s, when we were most mad for hot springs, we found several public pools in Calistoga, about an hour and a half north of San Francisco. Our favorite for day use was Dr. Wilkinson’s Hot Springs Resort which had a big, indoor pool. I’m not sure whether you can still go there just for the day, however. Calistoga has hot springs all around it, and it has become a spa town, just above of the wine country.

These hot springs are part of the colorful geography and history of California in which Line and Marty and their families reside. Marty has more chance to make use of them, and more need for them, as it turns out.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

With Some Grace

I chose the title for the next book in my series about the Mikkelsons, Nature’s Stricter Lessons, from something Gary Snyder wrote. This book chronicles the time in which I became aware of him and his earthy, human, ecological writing. In The Practice of the Wild, which he published in 1990, he writes about place, wilderness and people. “Recollecting that we once lived in places is part of our contemporary self-rediscovery. It grounds what it means to be ‘human.’” He writes that gravity and a livable temperature have given us our bodies. “The ‘place’ gave us far-seeing eyes, the streams and breezes gave us versatile tongues and whorly ears. The land gave us a stride, and the lake a dive. The amazement gave us our kind of mind. We should be thankful for that, and take nature’s stricter lessons with some grace.”

For the Mikkelson kids, in the decade roughly between 1979 and 1989, stricter lessons begin to make themselves evident. Line’s kids are growing up and her wildest one, Christopher, remains incorrigible to anyone but her. In her work in a community hospital, she finds death and dying as important as birth. Marty, though she enjoys being a young, upwardly mobile professional, must acknowledge that her marriage has not matured into a partnership, that perhaps it won’t. Paul feels he has finally found the place he should be, but is surprised when family events put more responsibility on him that he ever expected.

As I prepare to write, I am surprised to find that the incidence of both natural and manmade disasters during the decade of the 1980’s is staggering. All over the world! Our awareness of these disasters was intense, though it was well before the internet became available. Mostly it came through newspapers and the occasional television news broadcast. And from each other. It was impossible not to know what was happening if you were out in the world, living and working.

I was at two architectural firms during that time, for approximately five years each. I had a friend who dedicated himself to anti-nuclear activism after the meltdown of a nuclear reactor at Three Mile Island in 1979. Other friends talked about the ash that lay over northwestern cities as the Mt. St. Helen’s volcano erupted in 1980, and continued to be active, leaving a vast grey landscape. The homeless population was rising, as Reaganomics dictated that social services were too expensive for a wealthy country like ours. I remember walking to work along the Embarcadero every morning, seeing a small population of people who woke up in sleeping bags laid out at the edge of the Bay. I wondered whether living in the open was actually so bad!

During the second half of the decade I worked with many talented architects who were rapidly dying from AIDS. My sister took care of these sufferers at Children’s Hospital, where at first people recognized only the Karposi’s sarcomas and related diseases they were seeing. The breakup of the Challenger Space Shuttle as it rose into orbit cast a pall over all of us, effectively shutting down the space program for several years. The Exxon Valdez spilled 260,000 barrels of oil into Prince William Sound affecting the habitats of fish, sea mammals and birds for many years to come. And I was at work in 1989 when the earth buckled all along the San Andreas fault during the Loma Prieta earthquake.

We were also aware of the many disasters which didn’t touch us quite so closely: the terrifying loss of life from famine in Ethiopia in which a million people died by the end of 1984; earthquakes in southern Italy, Chile, and Mexico City, which killed thousands and left millions homeless; two different cyclone seasons in the intensely populated Bangladesh in which over 10,000 were killed and more millions homeless; the toll of victims of a toxic gas leak in a chemical plant in Bhopal, India reached 23,000; and in Chernobyl, Russia, a nuclear plant meltdown killed 4,000, while 350,000 had to be resettled. The hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica was first discovered in 1985.

These many disasters, some triggered by men and some not, punctuated the 1980’s. But also, by the end of the decade, the iron curtain which chained in communist countries began to come down and Poland, Estonia, Romania and Czechoslovakia proclaimed their freedom; the Berlin wall came down in Germany; and apartheid, as a policy, failed in South Africa. Even in China, a failed attempt at democracy began with protests by Chinese students in Tiananmen Square in Beijing.

It was a tumultuous decade indeed, prompting many of us to think in terms of the “stricter lessons” caused by both men and nature, and reminding us to be grateful for the tenuous net of human life on earth. It is also worth noting that in 1989, a proposal for what was known as the World Wide Web, upon which I am now able to set down these thoughts, was made in Switzerland by Tim Berners-Lee.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Lightly Held Adventures

So. The top of the mountain is now in sight. I’ve just uploaded the text for Pulled Into Nazareth, with its fresh ISBN number, which completes the adventure I set for myself this year: to publish the four books I’ve written in the last few years. The books are a series about Line, Marty and Paul, who move from their Midwestern cultural roots toward the wider world. The expedition now looks to be successful and I am surprised and pleased to see it through! In a couple of weeks, all four will be available for purchase on the Amazon website.

Connie, by Don Starnes, 2011
When Don and I first got together in 1999, we promised to hold each other lightly, allowing each other to be who we actually are. Lightly Held Films became the name of the production company we put together and when I turned to books, for me they were Lightly Held Books. Readers of this blog know all about the “making of” the series, which has the overall title of So Are You To My Thoughts.

Of course I’m using a “disruptive technology,” self-publishing, so I get what I deserve! I.e., so far not much in the way of reviews or attention. But also, as Don says, I am working “against story.” It may seem that I am na├»ve, or misunderstand the business of writing. But that is not the case. These books are exactly what I intend. Unpretentious characters, an atmosphere informed by my own life and what I know to have happened, an organic unfolding unlike what anyone could have predicted. This results in a vivid liveliness which contrived plots cannot match. A few readers have grown to love the characters and cannot wait to hear more about them.

And there is more. The currently written books leave off in about 1979. Line has a house full of kids, but wants work of her own, Marty’s marriage appears precarious and Paul is about to begin a new life in a new place. Where will their fortunes take them? Next year I will be working on their further lives in Nature’s Stricter Lessons. If all goes well, there will be three more books.

There is one other area in which I may be “disruptive.” One of my friends worried that perhaps I ought to have the permission of the Lenny Bruce estate, since the poster of him we had on our wall in Ann Arbor, Michigan, appears in a cover photograph. In fact, throughout the books, I quote snippets of the songs which so affected everyone I knew. The book titles themselves come from well-known songs. I believe that I use this material in the context of “fair use” of copyrighted material. Where songs are not well-known, I note the songwriter’s names in the text.

In the front of each book we state: "The author believes that all quotations in this book have been used under the 'commentary and criticism' fair use of copyrighted materials." The “fair use” doctrines, as they continue to be litigated, are based on the purpose of one’s use, the amount used and the effect of use on the value of the copyrighted work. As Ed Black, president of Computer and Communications Industry Association, says, “Fair use is the foundation of the digital age and a cornerstone of our economy.” Don too says, "If we want to have a culture, we must be able to quote from each other freely." In general, I believe that my quotes will enhance the use of copyrighted material, reminding people of its existence!

Books exist somewhere in the space between the reader and the writer. A book must leave space for the reader to become involved. The writer cannot, and should not, do all the work. If you read reviews, which are everywhere now, you will note that each tells quite a bit about the reviewer. Even professional reviewers, if not telling much about themselves, often reveal where their bread is buttered! The conversation is endless. It is what makes up a culture. What writers want is to be part of the conversation. It is certainly why we write.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Mentored by Writers

Not uncommonly, I think, for a young person who moved around a lot, I chose books and their writers as my chief window on the outside world. Narrative writers to begin with, though these writers were profoundly involved with reality. Later they were poets, essayists, those who told their own story. Using strict criteria, including having read most of their books, being involved with each over a long period of time and continuing interest in their work, I’ve come up with a very odd list of six writers. It surprises even me! Each of them commands my continuing attention, though there is little about their lives I do not already know.

From the time I was seven and Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little House” books were coming out with the Garth Williams illustrations, her prose has sounded in my head. The family she described closely mirrored my own, with a father and mother and four girls (soon to be more), as did their life on the plains, though Wilder described a pioneer girlhood 80 years previous to mine. Pa’s quest for a life lived in nature and Ma’s desire for education and civilization have been the twin sides of my own family’s values. The Ingalls family, even now, is as real to me as any I knew.

When I became aware of Ernest Hemingway’s direct, sensuous prose, I read as much of it as I could get my hands on. Even during the long period after his death when he was denigrated and I understood some of the damage he had caused, I never wholly let go of my fascination with Hemingway’s writing, his desire to be great. Lately this has been somewhat vindicated by reading the comic True At First Light, the book his son Patrick was able to carve from the “Africa book” Hemingway was working on. And, in the wonderful Hemingway’s Boat, Paul Henrickson quotes Archibald MacLeish as saying Hemingway was “the most profoundly human and spiritually powerful creature I have ever known.”

I read Boris Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago in the summer of 1966 in the very first room I ever had of my own. I was struggling to get past Christianity, and this story of a poet at odds with Russia’s Bolshevik revolution helped. He wrote to his cousin in 1946, “The atmosphere of the work is my Christianity, slightly different in its breadth from Quaker or Tolstoyan belief, deriving from other aspects of the Gospel in addition to the moral.” I spent years reading everything Pasternak had ever written, as well as many biographies. As John Bayley writes, “Pasternak shares with Tolstoy the power of transforming and humanizing the actual and the terrible, not by shutting himself away from it but by remaining unexcited by it.” I have still not penetrated all that Pasternak was able to say about 20th century life.

Woolf by Gisele Freund, 1939
In the 1970’s, biographies, diaries and letters began to come out by and about Virginia Woolf. I have not read all of them, but I read a great deal, and was especially moved by her great novels To the Lighthouse and The Years. I loved learning how The Pargiters, an attempt to set social history essays against a narrative, became, finally, The Years. Her life, the gritty details of it, is no less interesting than the novels. Records of Woolf’s unusual family, her partnership with her husband Leonard, the creation of the Hogarth Press and the lively life she lived among her Bloomsbury contemporaries are all chronicled and published by this time. In March 1941, having retreated to the house she shared with Leonard in East Sussex as their London house had been bombed, she wrote: “And now with some pleasure I find that it’s seven; and must cook dinner. Haddock and sausage meat. I think it is true that one gains a certain hold on sausage and haddock by writing them down.” Of course I agree with her.

James Salter by Joe Tabacca, 1997
I must have picked James Salter’s A Sport and a Pastime off a bookstore’s shelves some time in the early 1980’s. Quickly reading the other novels I could find, especially Light Years, he is a mentor for me in insisting on the beauty in real life. In 1990 he said, “My ideal is a book that is perfect on every page, that gives you tremendous aesthetic joy.” Somewhat hampered by his class (in my eyes), I don’t find his work consistently wonderful but I understand him and re-read him often. When I saw him speak (at least twice), I was impressed by his reserve and his dignity, though I believe, to a California audience, it looked like pretension. He died in June this year. I look forward to the biographies that will follow.

Gary Snyder is the most important living writer I know. I read all of his early collections of essays, took a workshop with him and enjoyed his attempts in poetry to put down “the flat, concrete surface of things, without bringing anything of imagination or intellect to bear on it.” Like Salter, he has never been at the center of the American stage, perhaps because he has never seen people as the epitome of creation. But wherever his words or his presence appear, the authority of his life and work is in no doubt. Peter Coyote quotes Snyder in The Rainman’s Third Cure: “Today the bourgeoisie is sociopathic, overindulged, distracted, spoiled beyond measure, and unable to restrain its gluttony, even in the face of pending planetary destruction. In the face of such a threat, it has, by necessity, become the responsibility of the artist to model health and sanity.”

I have had many other mentors along the way. It is hard to know where to draw the lines, but the influence of these writers continues.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Life Writing

At least one friend has wondered how I could write a book in a year, as I have been doing the past four years. And have it be any good, as I’m sure she wondered silently. I might wonder this myself if I hadn’t essentially been writing these books my entire life.

A writer writes. As a reader and a writer, words sieved through my consciousness. As a little girl I could not walk three blocks to the grocery store without making up a story which my poor mother had to listen to when I got home.

When I arrived in Ann Arbor, Michigan, for graduate school in 1967, a stipend of perhaps $250 per month seemed to me untold riches. Almost immediately I went out and bought an Olympia typewriter which I enshrined on a tiny desk. I knew that I wanted to write, but I was not yet 22 and I said firmly to myself, “You are not going to write anything until you are 40. Right now you need to live.” Which is pretty much what I proceeded to do.

At 21 I had no idea what I thought or felt. I had begun to realize that I was a craven little person who had mostly done what others suggested. I embarked on a program of doing only what appealed to me, in order to find out who I might be. With my material needs met, at least for the coming year, I was free to do that. It didn’t stop me from typing, of course, letters, journals and the papers and bibliography which resulted in a degree in Library Science.

Years of work in administration followed. Administrative work was perfect, mostly form, a tea ceremony which I enjoyed. It was a time of increased automation in offices, another aspect of form. I helped, moving from the use of one digital media to another, learning to do “word processing,” develop databases and spreadsheets. I filled in the form, did what was needed, saving my free time to sort out content for myself. I remember a database programmer telling us once that language was a linear string. “Oh, no,” I said to myself. “Language is a deep well, each word an action and able to trigger unknown depths.”

Cultural change was all around us. I was part of it, but also removed. I let it flow through me. I refused to get jobs in which I would have to write for money, except for some minor policy or technical writing. I was afraid such writing would take over. I saved my words so they could finally, in the end, be used only for my own thoughts and feelings.

In this quest of authenticity and integrity, I wanted to say only what I meant. But I did have to learn that things change. Words and selves are not eternal, but rather fluid, dynamic. They are bound to a time period. We make them up as we go along. At the same time, some core of ourselves and our words stands firm, is related to the ground of our being. The actions and words we utter become the selves that others see.

I probably was around 40 when I began to write my first novel, An Implicate Order. It is complete but kind of thin, has never been published. I wrote two more novels as well. Using iUniverse, years after they were written, I published these two novels which are theoretically available. (iUniverse has the content but I’ve been told that when people order a copy, it can’t be had.) Publishing them did help me see what could be done and, at least initially, people read them.

Which brings me to now and CreateSpace, a division of Amazon, which happily makes available anything a writer puts together and publishes. I even get to order an ISBN number under my own imprint, Lightly Held Books. The books can’t be sold in bookstores or put into libraries. But someday, if they get enough attention, they may be picked up by a more established publisher.

For now, it is enough that the work I am doing is available, that it sees the light of day. It comes from all those years of sitting with myself, as I think of the process now. It isn’t expression or writing in the sense of polishing sentences. It is bringing up to the light all the things I have thought over my life.

This morning I read a chapter from Fit Company for Oneself to my sister in England (on Skype). We’ve been reading this book together, though half a world away. In the chapter, we see Line at Wittenberg College, making of her education what she would. “Oh yes,” said Solveig. “You’ve gotten it down.” It is fiction to be sure, but it has in it what we experienced.