I was in Columbus this weekend. While I was driving around and checking out the city, the GPS popped up with something I couldn't believe never appeared during my Google planning for the trip. But if you search for it directly, you'll see lots of hits for it, and photographs pretty much like the ones I took to share here. It's the State of Ohio Asylum for the Insane Cemetery.
Apparently, there are three such cemeteries, and when I looked into this, it seemed clear people aren't all talking about the same one. However, here's an interesting short blog post with photos of the Ohio Lunatic Asylum, where "crazy" people were experimented on...and now I have a new subject to obsess over for a few days.
To get to this one, you park at the bottom of a road with locked bars, then walk up that gravel road about 1/4 mile past what looks like an old small quarry, but could have just been excavation of some kind, until you're suddenly in a peaceful grassy tucked away lot, and this gate appears almost as if it wouldn't always be there, or would go away if you blinked a couple times.
Obviously there's no real apology that can be made for what we all know went on at those places up until way too recently. I mean, other than, "Our ancestors were terrible, terrible people. We'll try to do better."
The graves are in a neat and interesting order, in what seems to be three groups. There are two under a big tree, with others partially circling them, and then there are two large sections where they're laid out in rows.
Apparently, there are also leftover prisoners buried here; the ones unclaimed by family.
The rest of the graves have no birthdates. And some of them have no name at all, or just a name and no death date.
I believe that some of the "unknown" ones are newer and replaced old markers labeled "specimen." But they all date from roughly 1857-1957, and are laid out chronologically, though the later unknowns have no years on them.
At the back of the lot, part of a tree had fallen and was just lying there, one more ghost added to the gruesomely peaceful scene. But I can't say it had been there for more than a month, judging by the grass growing underneath it.
And I can't quite say that finding this spot was the highlight of my weekend, but it had an effect on me that is cause for reflection. This is my serious time of year, when I do contemplate life, the universe, and a few bits of everything, and start wanting to get it all down in words again. As the angle of the sun sharpens and the daytime light wanes, I feel a need to...to bring it all together and make some sense out of it.
Two weeks ago I went to the symphony to hear a somewhat unusual concert. Unusual for me, at least. The one playing this weekend featuring Sarah Chang is more my speed. But I wanted something different.
Watts Plays Beethoven's Emperor with Mei-Ann Chen, conductor, and André Watts, piano was the title of the program, but it also featured two contemporary pieces of music; "Poem," by Zhou Tian, and Jennifer Higdon's Concerto for Orchestra, which is just a real big experience to watch and hear live. Stunning, actually. If you can listen to the fourth movement, I recommend you do so but it's actually a satisfying piece of music altogether, though possibly a bit outlandish for anyone whose enjoyment of orchestral music is firmly pre-20th century. It's also not all that complex or intellectual, etc., if for some reason that's your thing.
Here's a review of the whole concert. Afterwards, I went to Coffee Emporium for a late lunch before driving home.
Here's a little phone photo-log of my afternoon. It was very yucky out, and began snowing just as I got back home.
Today should be outing #6, but it is not to be, that is, it will be delayed a couple weeks, but hopefully not more. A sudden change in plans occurred, which I will talk about in the next post.
I hope you enjoyed my little audio post. I'm going to do a better one, hopefully this evening, but for now, here is a long "dates with myself" entry, with a few links and photos for you to enjoy. There would be more photos, but my internet connection seems to feel about as well as I do just now.
Two weeks ago I spent my afternoon at the Cincinnati Art Museum. I'd been there once or twice before, but not in nearly a year.
I have visited major art museums in Kansas City, Chicago, Detroit, New York, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia. They each have something special about them. In New York, in that massive old building, you see art you've heard about all your life. In Philadelphia you see what seems like a true richness of creativity. Lots of good examples of 20th century style; Post-Impressionism, Cubism, Abstract Expressionism, Color Field, etc. Detroit has some great sculpture . I remember least about Chicago but what I do remember is being completely immersed in culture. Pittsburgh is a city that is practically made of art and beauty amidst a certain amount of decay. I'd want to talk more about the contemporary art there and could write pages.
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City is one of my favorite places to be out of everywhere I've been. It's beautiful, inside and out. There is a wealth of treasure there, literally, particularly the Imperial Chinese collection. And it's free, so you can wander in and out as you please, as you enjoy the complete outdoor setting, most especially in late Spring and early Autumn.
So for me, the Cincinnati Art Museum has a lot to measure up to. It does, you know, in one particular area of focus I'd never seen at another museum. That is local art, and in particular, the local art movement here in the 19th century. There was a thriving art culture here, you see, and the museum has great examples of it, but especially very good education on it. You really *learn* when you are at this museum, if you wish to.
Two weeks ago I went to Clifton to see what that's all about, and to see Amour. I'm really looking forward to going back there. The movie theater is pretty cool, there are many interesting restaurants around, and little shops to poke through.
I'd been looking forward to seeing Amour for months, but then I kept putting it off because it looked so sad. But I decided I wanted to see it before the Academy Awards, so I went ahead, and I'm so glad I did. It's the best movie I've seen in quite a long time.
Before the movie, it was hard to decide what to eat, but I ended up going pretty ordinary, to a place called Olives for their breakfast buffet. I had a Bloody Mary, and was entertained by people behind me having a very joyous birthday party. These were real friends enjoying each others' company. It was nice. And the food wasn't bad. I'll go back and try something from the bar, something from the regular menu.
There's a nice park overlooking it all, and I drove up to it for a couple minutes. It will be very pretty in a few weeks. I'm going to add some links later, for now, a few pictures. And I'll probably share about today's art museum outing tonight or tomorrow, instead of waiting two weeks.
Yes well, don't make fun of me. You out there in the ether. I felt internal and protective today and when I feel like that and I can't plant stuff or pull weeds, I absorb myself in some other detailed but mindless task. It's a sort of comfort. So here are way too many pictures of that, and I didn't even get to this adjoining room yet.
Also, no, as it turns out, they aren't much better. I wasn't thinking creatively or technically. I should do that next time. But posting them here, that's part of the process, somehow.
I think the fierce wind here is a good sign. Is it blowing something away, or ushering something in? Both, perhaps. As it does.
I didn't like last year. I doubt if I like this one so far, after all, they're really exactly the same thing, aren't they? But dividing points, Mr. Last Night Pedant, are good for us because we can stop and say, from time to time, "Let's have no more of that." And, of course, being able to hug some things to ourselves in order to seal them in.
So, I figure I can name 7 good things about 2011. Here are 6 of them.
1. my swimming pool
2. Jungle Jim's
3. working on poetry again
4. my new camera
5. two fun book series discoveries:
Aimée Leduc Investigations by Cara Black
Gaslight Mysteries by Victoria Thompson
6. bowling regularly again
7? Well, it's fun to have just a bit of mystery in life, isn't it?
A peek into my brain...
There are always rhythms running through my head. Not like drum beats, more like musical notes without the notes. Except most of the time there are notes, too, and when there aren't notes there are words.
I think one of my sons inherited something of this. When he was a baby, we called him mantra boy because he'd just seize on a sound and chant it for what seemed like hours. I used to very lightly rock back and forth, which the family thought was odd, and maybe it was, and people still catch me doing it, but it's because it's always going. Most of the time, instead of obviously rocking back and forth, I'm pulsing out a rhythm with the muscle at the base of my thumb, but someone will catch me at that, as well. And if I'm occasionally mouthing lyrics my head is singing, then that gets questioned, and I think, "What the heck? Other people don't just subvocalize stuff?" Well, of course they do. I'm a little weird but not that weird. They're just more self-conscious than I am, and their lips never move, I guess.
The boy, now 17, is also like me in that he can find music on the keyboard after hearing it once. But he, unlike me, composes music now, and it's all layered and full of rhythm. He took the thing and is making something with it.
My thing is words. I listen to music all the time and my perceptions are shaped by it, but my poetry isn't often lyrical. Sometimes my essays have that sense to them. I like to repeat phrases and patterns in my writing. And, I mean, I love NaNo. It teaches me something every year. But I'm no novelist. I had come to think of my stories and poems as word paintings, but as they're more about essence than about the visual spectrum, they're kind of more akin to music. It's all math, anyway. The universe, conservation of mass, Picasso, Mahler, and your words. All math. But that's for another set of ramblings.
Anyway, here's what I was going to share. This morning, I was calling my coffee maker Mr. Sizzlepants. One of those unconscious rhythms running through my head, I found myself saying, "Hey, Sizzlepants. Leave those kids alone."
So now I have that song plaguing me this morning. It never ceases.
In a couple days I'll get back to my tiny story exercises. Maybe I'm about to figure out what to make of it all, at long last. Time may not be a rigid construct, but other people's perceptions of it are always pressing down heavily.