(Remnants of Isolation 2020-22)
As a young adult living in Vermont, USA, tuning into a regular radio broadcast on Sunday morning with a warm mug of dark roasted coffee was a soulful retreat from the busy hum drudgery of the week. Garrison Keillor’s radio broadcast, “Prairie Home Companion” was exactly that, a delightful guest in my kitchen, a welcomed visitor with a smooth and soothing voice. The program was broadcast live from Minnesota, far away from the familiarity of my view of Mount Mansfield, part of the Green Mountain chain, where tall dark pines grew as far as the eye could see and neatly stacked firewood lined my weathered fence, much in need of mending.
His famous quote, “Welcome to Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.” His smooth tone ensured my next hour was pleasant and the inner reflections silence brings would quell any worries.
I now live on Sweden’s west coast beside a lake named Lygnern. I am far from Vermont, even further from “Lake Wobegon” and soon for ten years this view from my bedroom window has given me insurmountable pleasure.
Although I have human companions, two furry Lepus who have leapt into my heart (domestic rabbits of the Teddy Bear and Lion haired-breeds) and spoiled Hedemora chickens, the comforting confinement I once chose has now become a quarantine for survival.
I have seen the lake shine like an ice-covered pond on sunny days, frothy waves rustling from gales off the North Sea, moon beams bouncing playfully and Lygnern completely hidden by heavy fog.
This body of water I have become enchanted with is my companion and I its guest. I have sat on the edge of my bed crying with only Lygnern as my witness and comfort. I have sat with my husband on warm summer evenings by the shore, hands embraced, our eyes indulging in its romantic hues. Our love deepens while the water ebbs and it has become the idealistic metaphor of daily life. I have watched children splash, laugh and wild water swimmers tackle this natural playground.
Now I look out and feel the anxiety of the pandemic, grateful for living away from the city yet Lygnern has not changed. It does not reflect fear, rather harbors the history of our region and continues to offer up beauty and solace. It survived the cholera epidemic and on ridges near are graveyards of our village victims who once fished and swam in this lake, too. It has had rowboats browse these shores for centuries, ferries of wedding parties and been the backdrop for celebrations and gaiety for those long gone.
Lygnern embodies in its wake the memories we both cherish and take for granted.
From my window Lygnern will continue to be my companion differently than any other. All who have a view develop their own relationship with it. My worries flow and my hope grows; each day or even hour this lake offers gracefully and precisely what I need.
For those alone during this history in the making, the 2020th year and onward shall forever induce memories of solitude; your view is up to you to create. If you look out and spy a streetlamp or a seagull, they are your personal mirror of Now.
In solitude may we all find a path to inner peace by opening the pages of a book that takes us far away from our physical quarantine, tune in and listen to others and imagine your own comforting scenery.
I never saw Lake Wobegon or met Garrison Keillor, yet they were as comforting every Sunday as an old friend who’d popped into town and surprised me.
From Lake Lygnern I send each one of you a picturesque view during difficult times, and with a warm heart, I wish your days to be a bit brighter than the day before.
I will continue to write from my perch above Lygnern in my cosiest sweater and I will commit to compliance not complacency while breathing in my view of this historically rich land and water. From outside the city, where the lake listens, the sun rises and sets and yes, we all `” think” we are good looking, Peace.
Double Rainbow Over Lygnern
(Remnants of Isolation 2020-22)
An angel from nature saw me sinking and swiftly pulled me through the fog. I had waited and waited for you to call. I heard sweet birds cooing and left my tears on the stone path to dry, for the beauty of my surroundings were stronger than my sigh. Rumbling in the trees a tiny deer appears nibbling on a plum tree bud with it’s tiny little ears. I do not frighten her for she knows we are one. I repeat “I am special”, “I am kind”, “I am full of love to give to all mankind”. LittleMe rises up from my deepest darkest space and ROCK quickly makes a move and puts her back in place. I will not let my love be taken by those who dare not see that I am grateful for myself, I at least still have me.
All aboard! It’s the Pain Train. My seat is permanent, my choices are few and I can’t go to the bar car, the toilet or be around others without making a huge fuss, therefore I choose to stay in my assigned seat. No one can help me; I own this pain. Looking out the window the world flies past and life is taking off at a speed I can’t cope with. The conductor is my nervous system colliding with my brain’s reactions to every tiny bit of stimulus. I see you and I care but I am off track and my brain signals are traveling at such a rate that I do not understand the smallest of conversations or even my own thoughts. This is not the train anyone with any healthy lifestyle wants to board; but it is packed. People are laying in the aisles and hoping for assistance, recognition and acceptance. Chronic Pain Syndrome or CPS is an official diagnosis now by WHO, (no not the band) , rather the World Health Organization. I was recently diagnosed with a severe form that has caused me to lose my vocabulary, shortened my fuses so to speak causing me to be easily startled, reacting with a scream or even sobbing as if the whole world is ending. In some ways, on some days, it actually does feel like a hopeless battle to live this life and ride this train. I have a collision of diagnosis. Degenerative Disc Disease, an inherited condition that I’ve known of since I was in my twenties turned from a back ache after gardening into the most severe form fast in my late forties. At that time I was given 20mg patches of morphine that I changed every few days. I believed this was as bad as it could get then. Yet, I was swimming, walking and riding my bicycle still. I also was cooking which I love to do. From there I slowly began to develop boney growths jutting inward toward my throat and spinal cord and I was told I had unfortunatly signs of early onset osteoporosis. I was put on a bone mineral supplement and more vitamin D and calcium was prescribed. Can’t get worse than this I thought, until it did. A spinal specialist said there was nothing that could be done. I not only have scoliosis, but also severe arthritis and various deformations head to toe. Earlier I had been sent to a university hospital rheumatologist who diagnosed me with fibromyagia, something I would not accept or grasp until I had the most severe flare I have ever had recenty. ( I am recooping now yet have a lot of work to be steadily on my feet again). The Dr.’s who upped the morphine years ago are unable to treat me now. I will say it barely takes the edge off on 30mgs daily slow release which includes fast acting oxynorm up to three times a day, muscle relaxants, anti-depressants, blah blah blah. The more boney growths, the worse my spine becomes. Earlier I was walking with a rolater and or crutches or a cane. Sitting was and remains one of my worst enemies but as I said, my seat is assigned for life. I then contracted covid in March of this year after three vaccinations; the very first time I went out into the city I caught it. I have not regained my strength, have developed chronic asthma and sleep as if in a coma or swing to the other extreme, experiencing severe insomnia and nothing will knock me out. My head hurts daily, I now have tinnitus and vision issues. The train chugs along and now I am in cue for a pain specialist rehabilitation hospital north of Stockholm. I never write about physical pain because I don’t know how to project the feeling with words so that others understand. I know that a really nice man, the husband of an American friend said the right thing one time years ago and it stuck with me. “Hello, it’s nice to see you are having what looks like a relatively good day”. It meant the world that someone knew my good days were fewer than my bad and that he also understood people like me don’t get better, we are chronically living in a state of pain that can ease up a bit but never leaves us completely blissful. For all the readers and writers out there who are living with CPS, I understand you now. I am sorry that I did not understand what my fellow passengers were experiencing until now. Mental health is important to address for everyone and somehow I let mine fall apart. Hopefully after my stay in the Pain Rehabilitation hospital (Uppsala University Hospital) I will be able to read with focus, write with more clarity, listen to others and converse, start walking for my overall health and socializing a bit more with those who have hung in there with me. I will still ride the train with you and I will try to reach out to all of you much more. Remember, you are not alone. We are on board together.
She would love the old farmhouse and joke about marijuana not being legal in Sweden. She would look at all of my art and feel something. I would have a hard time keeping up the conversation because of my fibromyalgia flare, non stop headaches and chronic pain syndrome. My spine wouldn’t let me cook her one of my famous soups so I would put out a nice bottle of red wine, lay fresh wild flowers by her glass and talk about how fucked up the world is and how we can’t do enough in our short lives to save it. I think I could manage to make a Västerbotten pie which is a Swedish favorite and saute kale, shredded cauliflower and sesame seeds with chili flakes and grill corn. I wonder if she likes caviar. My pain would overwhelm me and I would need extra morphine. I’d tell her how her Easter album changed me, made me feel less guilt and oppression internally from my Bible belt upbringing. I think she’d like me. Maybe I would touch her wild gray hair and talk to her about Bob Dylan and how he can’t be repeated, reincarnated and how many people idolize his ability to hit his listeners over the head with an iron skillet, while repeatedly trying to wake society up. I would serve sweet strawberries and cream and she wouldn’t care that I was in my pajamas because I hurt so much. She would probably not stay over and have ” a guy” that drives her around smoking camels in my driveway. She would hug me and I’d ask if we could take a selfie. She’d oblige and get into a black SUV with dark windows and slowly the driver would make it around the barn, past the silos and I would feel satisfied how well it all went and write a long journal entry. I would call my friends and they’d doubt me. I would have met a rockin’ icon and remember how she empowered all women to continue to stand up and raise our community UP to higher ground.
In this show, on this stage, a giant yet fragile marionette is lowered slowly; as the black velvet curtains part one can see what appears to be an angel flying, sustaining herself with her own elegant wings; no one would surmise that she was not magical at all, nor that she was so delicate that any moment she could break into bits destroying the opening act. She was held together like all puppets with strings attached to, well every part of her. Above her was a monster both good and bad, one who could help her move and also yank her off stage without notice, ending her performance so swiftly that she lost her breath. The monster was made of a slew of chemicals, medicinal ones that gave her just enough energy to be amongst others and move. Some days the monster although well meaning didn’t move her at all. The monster called in her true protector, her friend since childhood with hopes he could guide her with the grief she swam in. Rock said, “other’s are also struggling to perform, to get out and do their best, to live with no strings attached. Some strings are superficial and some are real. You must learn to accept the monster made from the God’s as your friend to live a better life; Morpheus is the monster’s name.” Although Morpheus was powerful, some days even he was not enough. Some days Morpheus lifted her with ease and she glided across the stage, in flight with next to no pain and yet other times she lay in a wooden, splintered heap in her lonely marionette box. Her wings were her freedom. When she was flying she smiled and saw the world as a beautiful place despite it’s absurdities, when her wings ached and she couldn’t even flutter she sank deeper into her box and Morpheus would close her eyes awhile and there she would stay, dreaming of the old days when she flew and saw green tree tops with baby bird’s nests, lover’s hand in hand sitting on picnic blankets and all the colours on the spectrum called Life.
As I write about broken heart’s being mended with Al Green singing in the background I am ushered into my most vulnerable piece of self. Love is renewable and must be revisited day after day, year after year. Rock was and is still very protective of my shattered and deepest self yet LOVE is a journey I once ran through, jumped over waves for and got lost in so deeply that I could not find my way back to who I am. I still inhale the smell of you even when you aren’t near and I still get jealous after nearly two decades of “us”. Remember our passionate first meeting? An autumn blend of whimsical laughter, intellectual virility, a chemistry so robust with first love sensations and our everlasting amusements, surely you recall? What about the sunsets in Amalfi, sunrises by the sea and how I looked across the table over coffee in to your eyes on the veranda and felt like I could fall out of my chair? Now in the mirror a version of me I am still trying to get to know. I hold on to our kisses in the lush Swedish forests, our dancing in the living room at midnight on New Year’s eve and the smile in your eyes when I once did something so simple as to make a hearty, warm soup from my heart to feed us. I can feel as if I am losing this battle with my body; I am not afraid of my pain, but of yours. Must you keep picking me up off the floor or guiding me when my balance is askew? Will I hold you back from finding out more about yourself? I want to walk through our life of mirrors and see everyday we had together; the tipsy Bloody Mary Sunday brunch in Andersonville, the heartache when we could not be together, you holding me in your arms and saying, “you’re the girl I always wanted”. I say “Bravo” for the way we have blended our differences into a special cocktail that tastes a tad like southern moonshine with a bit of je ne sais quoi. You know most all of me, my fears of losing those I love, my need to hold on and never let go of anyone and how I wish my childhood could be redone. You know how much I adored my big family, my mother and my insistance that we are not at all alike (but we are). You know how I hate feeling left behind, the story of not getting matching pajamas like my sisters, my pathetic need to repeat stories of my emotional scars, my greatest mentors and my need to have a best friend always and how afraid I am to be alone. You know I love pigs and bunnies and how I want to save the world around me, and how easily I cry when I realise I can’t even save myself. You know how to fix my drugs, treat my physical pain, how to handle my anger at myself for ruining plans, burning food, forgetting I am running a bath, forgetting one language and speaking another and you are still here, loving me despite my body’s falter, my mind forgetting my intentions. I lose my self into old songs, red wine and wish I coud promise to be here a long, long time. You are the boy of my dreams, too. I love you. I love you. I love you. You know I am repetitive.
And Daddy was drunk, I was sunburned and whatever…
“Baby, don’t listen to the people who come to you and say, ” What you wanna be when you grow up?” ’cause they don’t know nothin’ ’bout our world”. That’s what Grandma said. Our country is a damned place, she says, it’s stolen. When people go and take other’s land, kidnap children from their soil and beat ’em, hang ’em, drag ’em behind they ole trucks laughin’ whiles we momma’s weepin’ they don’t get to ask you nothin’. Tall in they suits with those big white teeth smilin’ like they give a damn ’bout you. Naw. Naw. Keepin’ guns so they can be freer? That’s nonsense. See all that blood running ‘cross the front page? That’s our blood, too. They kids don’t get shot in the face. They rich and in charge. That’s the truth child, you try to stay alive and out of the way an they still come for ya. Makes me think why’s we born if we just all gonna get shot in the head, by police, gangs and the people say we got freedom, we are the best land, pledging allegiance to some heathens overcooked philosophy. Hell, Ben Franklin was right when he said the National bird should be a turkey. Can’t kill the vultures but we can slaughter indigenous people and eat from food lines. Giant cans of peanut butter, damn government cheese and those crackers get off ’cause they be mental, sick. Jesus Christ didn’t hang up on that cross for these nasty men. Granma’s in heaven and she knows what she’s talking about. She saw it all comin’. I wish I heard her when she said in my dreams “keep the babies home today”. Dear God, don’t bless America, bless those babies that went to school today. And now, Now what I really think is why, be true to the red, white and blue. Think Russian’s all evil when you’re serving the people this nauseating morning news same time Johnny Depp laughin’ ’bout Alpaca’s in a courtroom. America, you ain’t beautiful, you lost your damn minds.
It’s key is hidden, I misplaced it among my own feelings again. I am alone inside a body that lets me down, hurts me and I can’t get out. I see me walking like Jesus across the sea and then sink without a fight, drowning in my mysterious mind. I am so grateful yet undeserving of salvation. Sanctuaries for Love should be everywhere, not just for those seeking redemption from our earthly delights that were indulgent or a sinful play that some grand Creator would frown upon. The gates are always open to love more, release ourselves from our own arrogant beliefs. I am burdened by carrying me through life; how then can I carry some one else? I see a white wooden columned southern USA colonial home with a long drive and weeping willows, a big porch and spinning ceiling fans. I am the youngest broken one there and I try to cheer my southern company with kind regards and smiles. I am in a sanctuary where I no longer feel like a worthless woman. I make a difference because I am not in the agony that I rise and face each morning. I can quit because I will no longer ruin other’s good times or my own. I can be quiet. I can be kept and have tea and maybe sometimes I will wonder about Jesus and God and bad and good but I will be my own judge as my heart is pure.
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Loah – If I Ever Needed Someone (Van Morrison Cover) #RaveOnVanMorrison
6,446 views•Premiered Aug 25, 2020 1487ShareSavehotpressmagazine Loah performs ‘If I Ever Needed Someone’ by Van Morrison during lockdown, as part of Rave On, Van Morrison – the celebration of the work of the legendary Irish songwriter, curated by Hot Press magazine, to mark Van’s 75th birthday, on August 31, 2020. Rave On, Van Morrison includes over 75 videos by artists from the island of Ireland, home of creativity – and of truly extraordinary music… http://www.hotpress.com/van-morrison/ To commemorate the 75th birthday of one of Ireland’s greatest ever songwriters and performers, the August issue of Hot Press is a Van Morrison Special, which tracks his amazing career all the way back to the 1960s. https://shop.hotpress.com/collections… Support Hot Press by subscribing here: https://shop.hotpress.com/collections… Subscribe to the Hot Press Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXgw… Where to buy the finest Hot Press merch: https://shop.hotpress.com/ Follow Hot…
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