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Bedlam Farm Journal





Last Build Date: Mon, 11 Dec 2017 00:55:42 +0000

 



Violence Against Women Is A Men’s Problem

Mon, 11 Dec 2017 00:55:42 +0000

I've been thinking about why it is that so many men and boys feel so free to be violent to women or to assault women sexually. I think I have to go quite deep into my life to begin to see it. My mother was a very strong woman, creative and fiercely independent. She started a classy gift shop in Providence, she managed an art gallery, she help run a pioneer vegetarian restaurant, she had great ambitions for herself. Yet she permitted herself to be defeated or deterred in every single endeavor of her life by deferring to the wishes of a husband who cared absolutely nothing for her wishes or creativity. All of her life, she raged and railed […]

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Loving Gus

Sun, 10 Dec 2017 21:57:30 +0000

Dog love is a complex emotion for people, it is not the same thing as loving a human, at least for me. Dog love is complex, it is difficult for many people to manage and control, it is pure and even profound for many people. The connections we make with our dogs (and cats) can be the most powerful emotions in our lives, sometimes deeper, purer and more enduring than our human connections. They can also be unhealthy and disturbing to some people, it is easy to exploit a dog and use him or her to fill the holes in our disconnected lives.  Dog love can be healthy and uplifting, it can be the most painful kind of enmeshment. After […]

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Creativity: The Four Seasons Of Sara Davis

Sun, 10 Dec 2017 17:53:36 +0000

I first saw Sara Davis a week or so again, the scene was familiar to me. The creative, standing behind a table, tent, stand that he or she brought to a fair or a market. I recognize the tricks. Sara was making holiday ribbons, displaying her delicious maple syrup cream and exquisite pottery. She knows it is bad form to be reading a book or leafing through a magazine when the crowds are thin, it looks as if you have nothing to do. Looking bored is no way to sell pottery. This way, she is standing up, busy, able to make eye contact with the people passing by. Almost every artist or creative knows the particular experience of watching people […]

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Snow Dogs

Sun, 10 Dec 2017 17:05:53 +0000

We had our first real snow last night, about three inches, not a big deal up here. Red doesn't really care if it is snowing or not, he just works. Gus and Fate seem to love the snow, both of them were tearing around in it, chasing each other, having great fun. Gus shows no signs of wanting or needing a sweater, he shivers every now and then, but then runs around and gets warm. He might need one in the deep winter (he has a couple of good ones). November has been unusually warm for up here, we are in the dark days. Glad to have three dogs that love snow, they will probably see a lot of it.

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Review, “The Florida Project,” The Best Movie Of Many Years For Me

Sun, 10 Dec 2017 00:58:04 +0000

I was a media and cultural critic for some years, and I almost always have nits to pick with movies, there is no such thing as perfection in the creative world, and a critic's job is to prepare his or her readers for what they will see. But the movie I saw last  night, "The Florida Project," was different for me, it is the closest thing to the perfect movie that I can remember. It was  beautiful, heartrending, and pitch perfect movie/ the acting was extraordinary, the cinematography was amazing, and the narrative track was pure and gripping. There was a lot of truth and emotion. I couldn't find a single nit to pick with the plot or the writing. […]

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The Mansion Table: Christmas Breakfast

Sun, 10 Dec 2017 00:07:00 +0000

We had a sweet start to the weekend, we bought a table for the Mansion residents at the annual Christmas Breakfast sponsored by the Hubbard Hall Arts Center and hundreds of local people. This is a pure and remarkable grass roots event, begun 22 years ago as a way of giving the community a way to celebrate Christmas with local children. The Hubbard Hall volunteers prepare and serve the food, but almost everything else is done by people in the community and their families. It is always a sell out, and the children dance and sing and perform Christmas scenes and stories. We took six of the residents, including Art (who told me he wants to discuss the fact that […]

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Gus And Sweaters: Who Says Small Dogs Don’t Love Snow and Cold?

Sat, 09 Dec 2017 23:50:05 +0000

The Gus-Sweater issue has confounded me from the first. Dog lovers – especially dog lovers on social media – tend to be very certain in their opinions about what small dogs need in the winter, I was bombarded with e-mails telling me Gus must have a sweater in the cold, because he is a Boston Terrier. I was huffing and puffing about my feeling that no dog of mine, big or small, would ever wear a sweater, let alone booties. I had to stand down on that pledge. Even my vet said that Gus would need a sweater, so I readily agreed, bowed to superior wisdom, and bought two sweaters. Seems I was not all that  correct this time around […]

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India Meets New Mexico In An 1803 Farmhouse

Sat, 09 Dec 2017 13:11:56 +0000

Maria keeps working on the colors in the farm house, and in the New Mexico kitchen. She found a fabric from India and brought it into the newly painted kitchen. She loves it so much she sometimes just stands and stared at it. For me, the fabric really blends well with the colors (and my carousel carving). It just works. She has transformed one of the drab rooms of an old farmhouse into something bright and cheerful. In the dark days of winter – the sun goes down around 4:30 now, these colors matter. For color and light people like us, this lifts us up. Off to the Christmas Breakfast at the Hubbard Hall Arts Center, we are bringing a […]

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Where Jeans Go To Live Again. “Do You Need Those Jeans You Are Wearing?..”

Fri, 08 Dec 2017 23:40:38 +0000

One of the recurring mysteries in my life with a fiber artist is that, from time to time, my jeans vanish. It is true that I sometimes throw them out when they get worn – you will undoubtedly hear that this is where they go –  but it is also true that the question "do you need those jeans you are wearing now?" while I am still wearing them suggests something now raises alarms. "Of course," I huff, "I"m wearing them?" Oh, she says, eyeing them hungrily, the way she looks at an ice cream cone in the summer. I know they are doomed. I have a stack of jeans in my dresser and it will be no surprise to […]

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Great Refugee News – Clothes, Uniforms, Visit’s ,Girl’s BB Team

Fri, 08 Dec 2017 23:18:35 +0000

The refugees have had a tough year in so many ways, it is a pleasure to pass along a chunk of good news. First, Cheryl Lasser, the RISSE Development Director, told me today that the Army Of Good's Winter Clothing drive for the refugees and immigrants in and around Albany has been a big success. She said they have received many shipments of clothing from all over the country  in great quantity, excellent condition and lots of variety. And the clothes are still coming. They are, she says, of the highest quality. She wanted me to thank those of  you donating both used and new winter clothes. She asked me to remind people that in addition to clothes, people can […]

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Friday, The Weekend

Fri, 08 Dec 2017 16:52:45 +0000

Friday morning, I'm glad to see it. I've had a particularly intense week and a good one. Everywhere I went, I saw and felt the good deeds of the Army Of Good. Clothes arriving at RISSE, boxes of Christmas Joy arriving at the Mansion along with a horse carriage next week, letters heading for Kelly Nolan, winter boots heading for the soccer team and the RISSE children. It felt good to be alive. It felt meaningful to be alive, I am happily wallowing in my own kind of Christmas. This weekend, quiet..we hope to see a movie, The Florida Project, I will review. My writing class is cancelled, as I am taking some Mansion residents to the Hubbard Hall Arts […]

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Portrait Love: Kelly And The Birth Of An Army

Fri, 08 Dec 2017 16:26:49 +0000

I'm not ashamed to admit it, I have come to love Kelly as I've gotten to know her. In a sense, it's what I call Portrait Love, there is an intimacy to photographing someone for a long period of time, especially when it comes to portraits. You get to know a person in a particularly way. Kelly turned out to be an influential figure in my life, she is the Godmother of the Army Of Good. A little more than a year ago we were having dinner at the Bog (Foggy Notions) bar and restaurant, and I got to know Kelly a little bit. Her very radiant smile caught my eye, and when I asked her if could do a […]

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Darning Socks. Celebrating Differences

Fri, 08 Dec 2017 15:53:59 +0000

Maria and I have been together for a decade now, and it is always a fascinating thing for me to reflect on the ways we are so much alike and the ways in which we are so different. Somehow, it fits. In all of my life, I have never darned a sock, asked to have a sock darned, or thought of darning a sock with a hole in it. I'm a big man with flat feet and my socks often sprout holes. For all of my life, I have taken those socks and thrown them away and bought new socks. I would no sooner darn a sock that fly over the moon. Maria, on the other hand, is quite often […]

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Robin’s Radiant Smile

Fri, 08 Dec 2017 15:37:07 +0000

My granddaughter Robin seems to be turning into a charismatic and very special human being, full of good will and a radiant smile. I hope she keeps it, and I trust she will. My daughter Emma and her husband Jay are wonderful parents, and this is reflected in every smile of Robin's. The fact that Emma is so empathetic and loving a mother makes me feel good about my first marriage, Paula and I did something quite wonderful with Emma, I think, and that perhaps is one small part of the reason Emma is such a great parents. Divorces are sad and painful, but much good came from our marriage. People ask me all the time if I am sorry […]

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Gus’s First Ride On Lulu

Fri, 08 Dec 2017 15:08:10 +0000

Video by Maria Wulf Gus took his first real ride on a donkey today, he often sits up on them and takes in the farm, but today, Lulu decided to take a walk and Gus decided to go along.  The donkeys have moved around with Gus, but never carried him this far. Might be time for a saddle. Maria was ready with her first video camera. Come and see. Gus is either a farm dog or a circus dog, or both. (Warning: This dog is entertaining thousands of people, some find this an offensive use of animals, a form of abuse. We are odd, we believe in laughter and joy and love making people smile.) Lulu and Gus seem to […]

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What I’ve Learned in 2017. There Is No Other Land Than This….

Thu, 07 Dec 2017 23:54:58 +0000

There is no other land, no other life than this.."  – Thoreau I always frown a bit when I see one of those gaseous pundits on the news say that it is ridiculous to think that Donald Trump could ever change. "After all," said one recently, "he's 71, he is not capable of ever-changing." In another other context, this cold be  seen as insensitive, or racist or bigoted comment. I think the elderly are the last social sub-set in America that people feel free to diminish and slur so thoughtlessly. Why couldn't Donald Trump change if he wanted to? He isn't dead or paralyzed, he hasn't had a stroke or been injured. I change almost every day of my life. […]

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The Jesus Bench. The Winter Clothes Campaign At RISSE

Thu, 07 Dec 2017 23:26:18 +0000

  “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor..”  – Jesus, The New Testament. For me, Christ has always been an inspirational, not necessarily a religious figure. He is invoked so often and in so many exploitive ways it is simple enough to forget what he was truly about. It seems everyone uses Christ for their own purposes. More than anything, he was about giving comfort to the poor and the vulnerable. I feel close to him at this bench. In my head, I refer to the clothing bench at RISSE, the refugee and immigrant center in Albany as a Jesus Bench, in that it is where RISSE places your daily donations of […]

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Approved, The Mansion Geranium Garden

Thu, 07 Dec 2017 21:31:27 +0000

I met with the new Mansion Director Morgan Jones (she is quite wonderful, smart, competent, available and especially loving) and gave her my idea for a permanent Mansion Community Geranium Garden, to be located in the Great Room of the Mansion building. She loved the idea, after grilling me a bit about how it would work. It's a simple plan (thanks to Supreme Town Gardener Bliss McIntosh for her advice), we'll start with Geranium cuttings, put them in seedling box – in the Great Room. Plant lights may not be necessary all the time, and the residents and the staff will water the Geraniums until the grow up and can be kept in their boxes or transplanted to the residents […]

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For Red, A Balanced Preventive Treatment

Thu, 07 Dec 2017 20:30:14 +0000

I took Red to see Dr. Suzanne Fariello at the Cambridge Valley Vet this afternoon, she wanted to administer some acupuncture treatment for mobility and immune system support and she wanted to talk to me about looking ahead and agreeing on what kind of preventative treatment might benefit Red and keep him healthy. Red has had two severe bouts of tick-borne infections, he recorded four separate tick-borne infections, the highest Dr. Fariello has ever seen. They are, we both know, very likely to recur. Each time they do recur, Red suffers another blow to his immune system, eventually one of those attacks could kill him. Dr. Fariello concedes that there is a lot vets don't know about the tick-borne diseases, […]

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Curating The Christmas Breakfast At Hubbard Hall

Thu, 07 Dec 2017 19:49:11 +0000

Every year, the Hubbard Hall Arts Center in our town holds a very popular Christmas Breakfast – 9 a.m. this Saturday – where the old hall is jammed with people seeing students perform different elements of the Christmas Story. Volunteers prepare the food and high school students serve it. The breakfast is hugely popular and always sold out. This year, we bought tickets for 8 people from the Mansion to come and attend the breakfast. Some Mansion aides are coming, and Maria and I are also coming to help out. This morning, Maria and Bliss McIntosh, a community organizer in Cambridge and a well -known gardener and environmentalist, met at Hubbard Hall to hang the art for the breakfast, it […]

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Watching Too Much News? Do Some Good..

Thu, 07 Dec 2017 14:31:09 +0000

I wanted to share a photo of the Mansion's overflowing Xmas cart, a rolling collection of just some of the Christmas gifts and favors and ideas coming in from the Army of Good. There are wreaths, hand-crafted mittens, personalized by name Christmas gifts, some cookies and flowers and candy canes, filled stockings, pins, ribbons, hats and boxes of stocking suffers – so many some are being saved for other holidays and events. Everybody has something for them under the tree, the decals and decorations are amazing and beautiful. The Army of Good formed about a year ago now, it began with the new refugees arriving in the Northeast and spread quickly to the Mansion. The Army of Good has been […]

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Brighter Days: Mawulidi Diodone Majaliwa And The Black Past

Thu, 07 Dec 2017 01:35:24 +0000

I was a reporter a good while and heard many amazing stories, but few of them like Mawulidi Diodone Majaliwa's. It is an epic tale of survival, determination and courage. Congo, often called the "rape capitol of the world," has been torn by vicious conflicts and civil war for decades, they call it the Black Past. Mawulidi made it out of the Congo, his family perished except for him and his brother. His brother died in the refugee camp where Mawulidi and his wife were to spend the next 20 years of his life. A carver by trade, Mawulidi lost all of his  carving tools on the way to America. He now has the tools he need, and has begun […]

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Mawulidi Diodone Majaliwa, With Family And Mask

Thu, 07 Dec 2017 01:24:33 +0000

It was important to see Mawulidi at his home, a small apartment walk-up near downtown Albany. Mawulidi's wife was camera shy, she retreated into the kitchen. He has two older children, and two young ones, Makato and Movita, above, holding his new African Protection Mask, soon to be finished, painted and sold here on the blog. It is a great pleasure to know this gifted artist, who has endured so much, but never lost his dignity, or the Creative Spark. Mawulidi believes his own Protection Mask, left behind in the refugee camp, helped save him.

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Mawulidi’s Next Carving: An African Protection Mask

Thu, 07 Dec 2017 01:12:16 +0000

I visited Mawulidi Diodone Majaliwa in his walk-up apartment in downtown Albany. He told me he is working on 10 carving projects now, including five birds and an astonishing African Protection Mask – this one is nearly finished, he has some more carving to do, and then some vivid painting. I didn't know about these masks, Mawuldi said they are used for protection in Africa, they are everywhere in Southern Africa, especially in countries ravaged by war, genocide or disease.  He says he can vouch for their power, he survived a civil war and 20 years in a U.N. refugee camp. The masks are believed to protect whoever has them in the homes, or up  in nearby trees. They  ward off […]

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Stuffed Animals And The Elderly: A Loneliness Balm

Thu, 07 Dec 2017 00:39:29 +0000

Ruth and Ken have been at the Mansion for about a month, they are the only couple living there at the moment. They are quite devoted to one another, they are inseparable. I brought a stuffed animal to Ruth today, and asked if she wanted it. Yes, she practically shouted and held it close and gave him a name. She said she would sleep with him at night, he is a stuffed lamb. At first, I was very reluctant to give the residents stuffed animals, I was concerned it might be infanticizing, even inappropriate to give adults toys for children. I always try to treat the residents with respect. But I have learned that stuffed animals are a wonderful gift […]

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