Sunday, December 4, 2016

Gregory Was There

On my trip to visit Gregory's family in Battle Creek, Michigan;


I saw Gregory in the ruins of the old McDonalds we used to stop at before reaching the Skyway.

I saw him in the gently loved antiques filling aisle after aisle of the mall in Michigan City, Indiana.

I saw Gregory in the three rusty manufacturing storage towers we called "The 3 Sisters" along '94.

I saw him at "Chocolate Garden" some miles later where you could have a candy tasting for $2.95.

I saw Gregory in the open fields with bits and pieces of mowed corn stalks lying down in the mud.


I heard him on the car's radio as it played Christmas music, non stop since Thanksgiving Day.

I heard Gregory as the wheels of the car bumpily bumped over the uneven highway road.

I heard him in the hum of the heater, warming my arms and legs as the temperature outside dropped.

I heard Gregory in a warning to watch out for that driver ahead who was weaving from lane to lane.

I heard him in my memory as we pointed out this and that along the route we took so often.


I felt Gregory in the arrival as I pulled into the driveway of Mark and Colleen's home in Augusta.

I felt him in the welcoming hug which Colleen so freely gave as she helped with my suitcase.

I felt Gregory is the greeting of the cats, who came out of hiding to check me out, and then hid again.

I felt him on the pillow next to mine on the comfortable bed in the room called "Greg and Michael's."

I felt Gregory in my before sleep read, in my nighttime dreams, on each awakening and trip to pee.


I lived him in his niece Renee and her daughter Lily as they opened their early Christmas Gifts.

I lived Gregory as I helped his infirm brother Mark in from the car and up the stairs, Diane following.

I lived the embrace he and Mark had one last time ago, neither one having, nor needing any language.

I lived Gregory at the table filled the his family and filled with his absence.

I lived him and loved him and missed him and the many times we had made this trip together.



Death and Grief

I would have wanted to hold him forever.
I would have kissed his brow, his nose, his mouth always.
I would have done whatever I could to make him happy.
I would have given all that I had to keep him safe from fear.

But life doesn't run on wishes, hopes only help you hold on for the ride.
It comes and goes on its own schedule, sometimes getting derailed.
Always arriving, announced or unannounced, at the same station.
A station is called disappointment , sorrow, finally death and grief.

Yes some of the baggage is joy, and laughs, and dances in the dark.
At times, time does seem to stand still or hold on for a while longer.
The memories you hold can keep you on track with a smile and a tickle.
If you are lucky, you will not notice the stations passing so quickly.

In the end, you end up alone with sorrow,  joy, and some memories.
One of you had to go on ahead and often it is with pain and suffering.
Long goodbyes or short goodbyes can be just as painful as each other.
In your dance of loneliness, you take one last spin, and twirl, and dip.




Thursday, December 1, 2016

MTE EdFund Scholarship Cohort Annual Holiday Luncheon

There is no old tradition better than beginning new traditions!

Last May, 2016 saw the Inaugural MORE THAN EVER EDUCATION FUND Luncheon to benefit youth confronting homelessness by providing the opportunity for support in completing a college degree. The fund is administrated by the premier Chicago not-for-profit La Casa Norte. At the luncheon three scholarships were awarded.

To help build "cohort," to get to know their benefactor Michael and other staff of LCN, and to celebrate the season; a luncheon was held in the Community Room at one of La Casa Norte's facilities.

To begin the celebration, each person  held the "Magic Wishing Wand" and shared their academic hopes for the future (students wishes for themselves and staff wishes for the students,) shared a "life lesson" dealing with pursuing an education and offered a wish for where they (students and staff) would be ten years from now.

Listening to these young people, and the LCN staff who supports them, added even more admiration and respect for the job LCN is doing to support these youth. Each person has such great advice, insight, and positive wishes and I was impressed and amazed!

My educational wish for the students is they they follow their passion. My life lesson is that there is no such thing as a mistake (unless you make the same one too often and do not learn from it) because each step you have taken has brought you to this wonderful place you are today. My ten year wish (I noted that in ten years I will be 82 and you could hear a gasp from the room which I took as a compliment on how young I look and act :-) is that I am still kicking and that the MTE EdFund would continue to grow to create an endowed future, and that we would all be together celebrating ten years of the student's educational and life progress and accomplishments.

The cohort is now up to nine students who have been awarded scholarships. By the next Luncheon Fund Raiser, we hope to be at 25 students! The "Education Students" are just  beginning." The "Education/Housing Students" have been at it for a while and pretty much proven themselves.

Six of the students are education and housing recipients (including the three students who received scholarships at the Inaugural Luncheon,) and three are education recipients working towards housing support.

The concept is that as you prove your commitment and continue to work hard at accomplishing your academic goals, you will "add zeros" to your scholarship at each celebration. Each student received a Target Gift Card from me and a large sized check with the amount of their scholarship. The Education/Houseing Students also received a new computer.

Applause and tears all around.

Following is the text of my comments to the students:


Hi. My name is Michael Horvich. At this time of the year, I often am told that I look a lot like Santa Claus. I reply, “Look like? How about I AM Santa Claus!” It is an honor for me to be identified with this role!
Gregory, my life partner for 41 years, who died last October 4, 2015, lived with Alzheimer’s Disease for 12 years. The diagnosis was not a death sentence and he had a good life even as his abilities diminished. When we received his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, knowing that the road ahead would be a difficult one, we recommitted our love to each other saying, “I love you NOW …  MORE THAN EVER.” 
Gregory was not a VICTIM of Alzheimer’s but rather a HERO.
He was A HERO, much like the nine of you, who are part of the MORE THAN EVER EDUCATION FUND Cohort are HEROS.
You have confronted homelessness and difficult conditions … but were able to rise above them working with La  Casa Norte and as you work towards completing an education … which will enable you to more successfully navigate your lives, armed to do great things for yourselves,  as well as help support the others in your life.  
Gregory and I have been involved with La Casa Norte almost since its inception. 
Much like people talk about what they would do if they won the lottery, MANY YEARS ago, when we were YOUNG, Gregory and I talked about wishing we could help others in a significant way. 
We talked about how this would look and decided that probably the BEST way to help was through supporting young people who were seeking to better themselves through getting an education … but who could not afford to do so.
Before his death, when Gregory and I re-visited our wills and re-evaluated our finances and investments, we realized that NOW THAT WE WERE OLD, we WERE in the position of doing good for others … to pay forward our own good fortune.
I called Sol Flores, Executive Director of La Casa Norte, and long time friend, and told her about our decision to make a sizable bequest in our will to La Casa Norte for the purpose of providing funds for educational support to the youth with whom they work. 
That call was the catalyst for the MORE THAN EVER EDUCATION FUND and with the help of a portion of Gregory’s life insurance, I am pleased that we have been able to begin providing scholarships and other forms of education assistance NOW and do not have to wait for the bequest to take effect upon MY death. 
I am SO grateful that La Casa Norte will be helping us fulfill this dream of ours. I am grateful that I am getting too know you students as well! WE LOVE …  EVERYTHING about La Casa Norte!
My final thoughts for you … are to always keep in mind how much you have accomplished. You have been through difficult times, you have leapt hurtles and if presented with new ones, will do so again. Life is never easy for those who work to get ahead. But it IS rewarding.
I trust that each one of you will take advantage of the new opportunities made available to you through La Casa Norte, will take advantage of your cohort as you build friendships and academic support, and benefit from  the MORE THAN EVER EDUCATION FUND.

I BELIEVE in you and am thrilled to be part of your experience, I look forward to watching you grow and learn, and to be by your side to support you.
On returning home, I received this e-mail from Emily, LCN Youth In College Program Coordinator It warmed my heart. 

Dear Michael-
On behalf of the Youth in College team and the youth Cohort, I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your words, commitment and generosity today.  I cannot tell you how many staff and youth came up to me, completely moved by your speech and love today. We are so proud to have you on our team as you radiate love, compassion and wisdom to our youth. Every one of our youth expressed a deep desire to get to know you more and have you as an integral part of their learning community.  Happiest of Holidays to you and we cannot wait to see you again,

Warmly,
 Emily

















Monday, November 28, 2016

Order, Design, Composition.

Order.
Design.
Composition.
Tone.
Form.
Symmetry.
Balance.


From: Sunday in the Park With George. Steven Sondheim.



The above quote from the musical seems to summarize a recent feeling I had about the direction my life has taken. Things seem to be even, no great highs and no great lows. Very few fears, doubts, concerns. Minimal shoulds and oughts. Always ambitions, projects, and hopes but tempered.

My home and life reflect the quote but not in a compulsive way.  I find that having my home in order is a way of having my mind and life in order. When things are out of order, periodically and for a brief time, no big deal. But I do find that when I am able to line them up again, I feel better.

Gregory helped me learn how to be organized and I perfected the skill when he needed help with organizing his  life during his 12 years with Alzheimer's. I miss Gregory and always will. After a year, my grief has calmed. I have changed the old physicality of our relationship into a new way of carrying him with me and I am doing well.

If I visit the mysteries of life and death, I can get freaked and overwhelmed. If I spend too much time re-visiting the "ordeal" we lived for 12 years I can make myself distraught. But for the most part those digressions are under control. When they need my attention, I can sit with them and grieve. Then they calm and I am able to look for new lessons and awarenesses they can bring me.

When I look closely I see that both Gregory and I were NOT victims of Alzheimer's but rather, we were both HEROS doing the best we could to live with the circumstances and at the same time take as good of care of each other as we could. And not only me taking care of him but him taking care of me throughout the entire time!

I wake each day looking forward to its events. I try not to over schedule the day and sometimes take an entire day off from accomplishing anything. I do feel a little lazy, a little guilty, a little "bad boy," but mostly I tell myself, "Good for you!"

A feeling of great joy comes over me when I know that my life is in order. Nothing major is waiting to be done: no major renovations to the condo, no big shopping needs, no friend or family phone calls or visits long overdue. The refrigerator and pantry larder amply filled, all doctor appointments have been executed or are on the calendar, bills paid, immediate projects completed, future projects allowing plenty of time to accomplish.

My collections of things are beautifully displayed and seeing them brings me joy. The many small "shrines" devoted to the beauty and magic of life fill the condo with a sense of love, place, peace and calm. The photographs of departed family and friends fill the alter in my bedroom closet and I commune with them every day reaffirming my gratefulness for the role they played in my life.

The condo is clean and every item in its place. A neatly made bed, clean kitchen sink, orderly bathroom, dusted living room tables, and somewhat organized desk area bolster my sense of order as well. 

My two cats, Emma and Gigi, cause me to laugh as well as wonder at animal intelligence and while I feign anger at their bad behavior, their determination  and the creativity they use to get into trouble amazes me. They play and romp, doze and sleep, seek attention and love, respond to the call for "treats," and then doze and sleep again.

The Christmas tree is up, a few decorations placed around, and a few holiday cookies about to be baked. All gifts have been purchased and await wrapping but there is plenty of time for that with shiny green paper and red raffia ribbon at hand.

Visits with several groups of friends took place over Thanksgiving, a few "coffee & cookie" parties will be organized before Christmas, Michigan Family visit scheduled for this coming weekend, Texas Family visit coming up after Christmas, and then three weeks in Mexico is on the books. 

There is nothing I have to do that I do not want to do or dread doing. I have few obligations and those which remain I have turned into gifts of compassion and/ or love.

My finances are in order, my bills paid, and I have made a number of contributions to good causes including La Casa Norte and following up on Gregory's wishes to donate to Wesleyan University and his fraternity Alpha Delta Phi in Middletown, Connecticut. 

Based on a tradition Gregory and I started a few years ago, I began this holiday season carrying $100.00 in singles in my pocket every time I go out and every time someone on the street asks for help I give them a dollar or two. 

I know that all of life is impermanent and subject to change. On a moments notice, possible loss follows. I know that I cannot always control or bring order to those things which await me in the future.

So I live for today (with an eye towards tomorrow to help keep perspective,) am grateful for the good life which I am able to live, for Gregory's love which continues to fill me each day and night, for the love I am able to share with others, and for the wonderful people in my life. 

I am content. Since this ended up sounding like a "Christmas Letter," let me wish you and your family the best of the season and the best of life. I appreciate you being part of my life and value our relationship!

Michael




Sunday, November 27, 2016

Wild Geese

I woke up this morning. And it was good. Click here to hear Mary Oliver read one of her poems.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Three More Film Festivals!!!

Just notified that Big As Texas Short Film Festival, Ukraine Equality International Film Festival, and the Green Bay Film Festival have invited ALZHEIMER'S: A Love Story to be part of their events!




Sunday, November 20, 2016

Another Look at Post Election Life

This well written look at post-election emotions is from my neighborhood Yoga Center where I have attended several classes. Click here to see Greatful Yoga's website in a new window.

Hello Michael,

It's been almost two weeks since the election, and my mind continues to search for stories that help me understand what is happening.  My yogic inclination is to look beyond surface appearances to the deeper dynamics at play, both in the world and in myself. 
I am reminded of the Buddhist concept of bardo, which originally referred to the "intermediate" state between death and rebirth.  The concept was extended to describe other transitional states, such as being born, living, dreaming, meditating, and dying.  In fact, everymoment can be seen as a bardo between past and future.  We are always on our way from one state to another.
Tibetan Buddhism developed a set of practices designed to prepare us for the bardo after death.  Unbound from our physical body, we have the potential to see the nature of reality and choose a favorable rebirth.  Metaphorically, we now have the same opportunity as a country and individuals.  Assumptions, expert opinions and behavioral norms are thrown into question.  The next formations have yet to arise.  We are floating in the space between incarnations.  
Francesca Fremantle elaborates (subscription required for the full text):
This gap is brought about by the intensity of emotional experience, which is always accompanied by an equal and opposite reaction, so that we are thrown into a situation of conflict and uncertainty. Two contrasting extremes are present simultaneously. Trungpa Rinpoche described it as being drenched with boiling hot and freezing cold water at the same time. At that very moment there is nothing to do but let go: give up trying to hold on to one extreme or the other, abandon the battle between life and death, good and bad, hope and fear. Then, in that instant of relaxation, there comes a sudden flash of realization. There is always the possibility that, in the midst of an everyday situation or at the height of some emotion, we may suddenly catch a glimpse of its essential emptiness and luminosity: a moment of sacred vision.
In order to take advantage of a bardo, we need to stay steady and clear. As Einstein observed, "We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them."  Our current bardo has been fed by a potent brew of alienation, misunderstanding and anger.  We will not navigate well if we stay intoxicated by these forces.

Our individual and collective actions have a bigger effect in the bardo.  Therefore, yoga and self-care are more vital than ever.  Not because they allow us to escape reality, but rather to develop the capacity to respond skillfully to what comes and make new choices.

At Grateful Yoga, we are renewing our commitment to offering practices that support a positive "rebirth".  Particularly, we want to strengthen and celebrate the remarkable community that we are.  So many of you are doing amazing, generous things with your time. If you'd like to share the nonprofit or world-changing work that you do, please drop us a line - we'll feature it in an upcoming newsletter.

As ever, and especially during this week of gratitude: THANK YOU for your continuing support and inspiration.

Namaste,

Thursday, November 17, 2016

A Performance Performance

Another amazing dream last night. This time it lasted for three hours and I know because I kept waking up and noticed the passage of time. It ran from approximately 3:00 to 6:00am. Each time I fell asleep, the dream picked up where it had left off.

The dream took place in a night club of sorts, a bar, or perhaps a large open space party room. Most of the guests were sitting around on high stools at high tables, sitting around sofa settees, or standing about.

The lead performer was a Lady Gaga type chanteuse and her back up chorus of men and women. The lighting was magnificent, the music loud and engaging.  If I could remember the music and the lyrics, I could produce an award winning Broadway musical! I do not recall if there was a story line and if there was, what it might have been.

The most significant part of the dream was its YING/YANG approach to performance. One could not tell who was in the audience and who was a performer. You could not tell when the show was over or if it would begin again. At the same time, I was not able to tell if the performance was in full swing or if it was intermission.

Some of the performers performed inside the room and others performed outside but were broadcast on huge TV screens. They walked in, marched in, came singly and in groups, came out of side wall doors, arrived on moving platforms,  were lowered from the ceiling, and were raised from the basement below.

Putting it mildly it was a spectacular spectacle!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Florence Queer Film Festival Winner

Dear Gabe,

We are proud to announce you that your short film "Alzheimer's: A Love Story" is the winner of  VideoQueer 2016 - Florence Queer Festival. (prize 1000 Euros).

It would be awesome if you could send is a short clip (max 1 minute) to show today at the Closing Cerimony of the Festival.

Thanks and Best Regards
Susan

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Every Now and Then I Laugh a Little Every Now and Then I Cry a Little




Hallelujah

Hillary Clinton (Kate McKinnon) performs Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah." 

Hillary lost the election on 11/8 and Leonard passed on 11/7.

Nicely sums up the election week we have all been through with various degrees of sorrow, disappointment, disbelieve, fear, and hope.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Poetry

I just reread my two books of self published poetry. 
REVIEW: Michael's collection of poetry shares every day life experiences, as well as a catastrophic experience; namely loving and living with someone who has been diagnosed with Young Onset Alzheimer's Disease. His poetry is easy to read, understand, and feel. His style is prose-like and rarely uses formal types of poetry or rhyme. Reading his poetry is like sharing a conversation and a cup of coffee with a good friend!



Friday, November 11, 2016

Taking a Stand

Dear Readers and Followers,

After all we have been through with the presidential elections, I am feeling a bit raw and uncertain in my security as a citizen of the United States of America. With Trump being elected, I am not all that sure how UNITED these STATES are.

I write about what I think and about what I believe to be true. It is my way of processing the world I live in and often they are a word in progress. I am NOT trying to convince you what to think! Please DO NOT try to convince me that I am wrong.

I hate to even say this, but if you have anything NEGATIVE to say about my posts, please think twice. If you disagree, I would prefer you say nothing.

I believe in myself as much as you believe in yourself. Sometimes I may react without all the information available. Sometimes I may react based on my limited experiences. I am always able to easily back off and/or apologize. But react I will, so if you disagree ... start your own BLOG and I will follow you there!

THANKS. I LOVE YOU ANYWAY!


• • • • •

On Facebook L.S. wrote: 

Some of the many articles I've read talk about the concept of the "echo chamber" where one only reads and listens to their friends and the media that agree with them.

In the final days of the election, I read and heard many on the Hillary side railing against the concept that Trump and his supporters might not accept the results of the election. Are those the same indignant people rioting in the streets now and posting feverishly on Facebook?

Here's a couple of articles that may give perspective to that concept of "giving in". 

http://www.glennbeck.com/.../what-a-gay-muslim.../...

https://regiehammblog.wordpress.com/.../09/president-trump/


Previously I have posted on Facebook:

"While I have been trying to "live my life" optimistically and with positive energy since November 8th, I continue to feel a heaviness, a pall over my days. I continue to try to remain mindful in my thinking, processing, coping.

I have decided to take the stance that I will not participate in knee jerk reactions or in trying to analyze publicly my emotions or academically discuss my perceptions of the "history" what I think is taking place here. 

But I also will not resort to feeling "Everything will be OK" in fear of not being as vigilant as I should. "


My response to L.S. by private message:

I am aware of the "echo chamber" effect especially on Facebook where for the most part, most of my "friends" agree with me. But I believe my observations are greater than just being an echo.

I am Jewish, and Gay, and part of the intelligentsia not to mention a white man who is somewhat financially well off. This causes me to feel more frightened.  

I have thought the same as you mention about people taking to the streets. I have realized painfully that I am now on the side of those protesting on the streets, much like we were afraid of what would happen when Hillary was elected. 

With Trumps being elected, I am frightened at how many fellow citizens support the things he has said and what that says about how they feel about me!

But you know what, I really cannot look at even ONE piece of what might be good about Trump and say, "Oh lets give him a chance." He is a dangerous person and has proven this so many times that as far as I am concerned, there is NO trusting him in any way or even backing off and giving him a chance. We seem to have no choice except to make our voices heard.

There is NOTHING good about the man considering ALL of his faults that blind me to any possible good points that might exist. And my negative impressions are not based on "echo chamber," "rumor mills" or "spin;" because I have read too much and seen too many side by side videos of him saying one thing and then saying the opposite.

I have heard directly from his mouth about his attitudes towards women, blacks, Gays, immigrants, Jews. I have heard him talk about: 1) using nuclear power frivolously, 2) denying global warming, 3) building walls and expelling millions of illegal immigrants and breaking up families, without regard for their contributions to our economy and society and without any plan for helping with their reaching for citizenship, 4) making decisions about women's health issues without their input and punishing women who need abortions, 5) talking about law and order without any compassion for working on the causes of the disorder or helping to create a legal system that is fair, 6) saying he is the only one who can solve our countries problems, 7) "grabbing pussy," and 8) how many others. 

He majorly bad mouths Hillary and Obama and then with the next breath, when it serves him, extolls their virtues. Well which is it? I believe he has proven who he is and who he will be as POTUS!

I am frightened for myself and my country, and usually I am an optimistic positive person, as I watch TRUMP gaining support from Republicans trying to rebuild their party, with a Republican Congress, and the inevitability of TRUMP appointing Supreme Court Justices! The "checks and balances" of our government continue erode and to move in the direction of Hitler's Germany. 

I will post my rants here, since it is only followed by a few, and I consider it my space. How can one stop processing, wondering, and coping during times like this. Everyone needs to rant and rave, especially when they feel frightened and powerless to make change. This is where I do mine! There was a sound bite not that long ago regarding the AIDS epidemic: SILENCE = DEATH. I feel like the sound bite is back.

A Tiny Bit of Hope

    What might American foreign policy look like under a Donald Trump presidency? Based on his rhetoric during the campaign, the scale of the departure from the status quo will be profound. He provides to upend long-standing relationships with both America's traditional allies and its foes; he says Europe and Asia should pay more for their own security; and his plans to defeat so-called Islamic State are bellicose but unfocussed. On this week's Newshour Extra, Owen Bennett Jones and his guests take Trump's campaign promises and hold them up to scrutiny. How much of what he's said does he really intend to implement - and will he be able to put policy into practice? There is a link at the bottom of this post so you can listen to the report yourself.

    The good news is that there might be many forces at work in our government, in our county, and in the world to keep Trump in check. They were discussed in this BBC report and I have paraphrased them below. Again, this does not mean "everything will be OK" and we must continue to be vigilant!
    1) Public protests will continue to let "the people's" views be heard.
    2) Congress, although Republican, will not necessarily support Trump in his agenda since there are many issues with which they are not in agreement.
    3) Our government is a bureaucracy, "a body of non-elective government officials" and/or "an administrative policy-making group" which does much of the governing of the government.

    4) There is lack of preparation on Trump's part to make the choices that will be demanded of him, therefore he will have to rely on others.

    5) The Military is not under control of the Administration and therefore Trump will not be able to make unilateral decisions in this area.

    6) The Constitution will insure certain limitations to Trump's aggressiveness.

    7) Hopefully the checks and balances of the administrative, legislative, and judicial branches will work to level the playing field.

    7) Many of our nation's agreements are bonded with other countries and Trump will not be able to make unilateral decisions here either.

    8) Finally the slow pace of government is lethargic, and sluggish when compared to how business decisions are made. This should throw Trump into a more realistic approach. 

    To Be or Not To Be

    While I have been trying to "live my life" optimistically and with positive energy since November 8th, I continue to feel a heaviness, a pall over my days. I continue to try to remain mindful in my thinking, processing, coping. I have decided to take the stance that I will not participate in knee jerk reactions or in trying to analyze publicly my emotions or academically discuss my perceptions of the "history" in what I think is taking place here. But I also will not resort to "Everything will be OK" in fear of not being as vigilant as I should.

    Wednesday, November 9, 2016

    Trump Wins Presidential Election

    I won't go on about this too much. Just watched Trump's acceptance speech and he almost seemed normal. His makeup was not quite as orange. 
    My hope is that he is "actor" enough to be able get his public appearance act together. I cannot imagine how anyone, let alone Hillary, can concede to his bigotry, crassness, rudeness, prejudices, insensitivity, anti-Semitism, homophobia, and I could go on.
    My hope is that he will not be able to keep his "campaign promises" , of which historically most of are not, even with the Republican majorities in the House and Senate. Hopefully the "checks and balances" system will work.
    I will not be waving the American Flag for a while considering the Trump administration has brought the United States to a new low regarding women, minorities, LGBTQ, immigrants, Jews, the poor, and who else did I leave out. Right now I am NOT proud of us.
    I have hope ... but also fear that this is the end (as we know it) of our Democracy, of rational thinking by those who we allow to govern, of respect for intelligence, persuit of diversity, "One nation with liberty and justice for all," and Lady Liberty keeping her arms open to those in need of new life in a new country as ALL of our ancestors experienced in the past as they arrived in the U.S.A. from all over the world. I only hope the "Hitler" references do not come true. As a Gay man and a Jew, I have a lot to loose!
    Sometimes the bottom must be reached before reclamation, before a cure, before recovery. I believe we are experiencing a backlash to President Obama, to better health care for all, to Same Sex Marriage, among other what I consider growth.
    This has been going on for a long time and Trump is the embodiment and culmination of this trend. The time of White supremacy is over, I believe this is what Trump is all about, I do not believe he is really the spokes person for the "common man," and the U.S.A. needs to work on a new identity and a rebirth in coming together.
    Good luck to us all. And God Bless the United States of America (Lord knows she needs it!)

    Sunday, November 6, 2016

    My Bucket List?

    In thinking about it, not necessarily in this order: 

    Haven’t done much “book binding” for quite a while. This includes the craft of making books, the art of creating unique books, the ability to restore important family books and heirlooms. I have all the supplies but the interest is dormant. 

    Like so many parts of my life. 

    I have all the supplies for my jewlery making but they lie dormant. 

    I have all the makings for a Flea Circus, but they lie dormant. 

    Miniature Card Making Station to set up at Isaac’s Coffee Shop to make money to add to MTE EdFund. 

    Abilities to “Read the Tarot Cards."

    Miniature Pipe Cleaner Teddy Bear making materials. 

    Enough new collections to make a “Michael’s Museum II” which is a traveling art instllation called “The Small Museum.”

    Enough new collections to add several new cases to the existing MM@CCM.

    Sumi Art Drawing Inks, brushes, and papers.

    Putting together a photographic look at Gregory’s architecture career.

    Getting approximately one dozen children’s picture books published with the stories already written and waiting.

    Finishing a creative non-fiction work, called: “The Museum of Michael’s Mind,” writing began many years ago and organized and resurrected during my 2010 Ragdale residency.

    Notes and thoughts written about a new project: “Alzheimer’s: The Musical.” Actually working on this one with a director friend from the Lyric.

    Putting together a book called: “The Making of Michael’s Museum.” I have all the backup verbiage and photographs.

    Enough text material to create “ALZHEIMER’S: A Memoir.” This one I am working on.

    Expanding "ALZHEIMER'S: A Love Story" documentary with existing footage taken last March 2015.

    Not to mention wanting to travel the world!

    Is there a pattern here that I have not previously noticed? Or am I am man of many ideas and too little time? Or is life too short? Or do I live my life in a random pattern, circling around and around and never accomplishing anything? Or did Gregory’s Alzheimer’s not only give me many gifts but also sap much energy and time? Or do I have to many projects in my bucket to think about dying yet? Or now that I have time on my hands am I revisiting them all?

    Memories

    The further away from the celebration of Gregory's death (1 year - 1 month) and the availability of extended time with no need for me to support him in his Dementia, the more these memories, which automatically pop up on Facebook, are able to bring joy from the past rather than sorrow at their no longer being part of my day to day love for him. 

    New ways of physically relating to him suffice. For example yesterday I purchased a miniature orchid in a terra-cotta pot from Trader Joe's to keep in his Offerenda (Altar.) Memories can still have a sad touch to them but for the most part I am OK, he is OK, and life's impermanence continues to amaze.


    Tuesday, November 1, 2016

    Día de los Muertos - Day of the Dead: In three parts.

      PART ONE  
    Photographs of an Offerenda (altar) I created when Michael's Museum was still in our home. Most of these artifacts are now part of Michael's Museum: A Curious Collection of Tiny Treasures, a permanent exhibit at Chicago Children's Museum on Navy Pier since May 2011.




      PART TWO  
    The following is a description of Day of the Dead and what it symbolizes. 

    DAY OF THE DEAD / DÍA DE LOS MUERTOS
    By Michael Horvich

    Day of the Dead in Mexico represents a mixture of Christian devotion and Pre-Hispanic traditions and beliefs. During the pre-Hispanic era, death did not exist. Death was seen, instead, as simply a transition, a voyage through time and space towards true life.

    The celebrations take place on two days. The souls of the dead children arrive on October 31st. As they depart on November 1st, their place is taken by the souls of the adults.

    On these days, the deceased are believed to receive divine permission to visit friends and relatives on earth and to share the pleasure of living once again.

    While the deceased are represented in skeletal form, the celebrations are not macabre, but rather portrayed with love, humor, and affections by both artists and participants.

    On both days, the living and the dead are reunited at grave sites and home alters that are adorned with flowers, candles, sugar skulls (Calaveras,) skeleton figures, and the favorite food and drink of the departed.

    The altar includes four main elements of nature. 

    1) Earth is represented by food and it is believed that the souls are fed by the aroma of food. 

    2) Wind is represented by a moving object, usually tissue paper flags (Papel Picado.) 

    3) Water is represented by a glass of water for the souls to quench their thirst after the long journey to the alter. 

    4) Finally, fire is represented by wax candles, one for each soul remembered and an extra one for the forgotten soul.

    The dead are never forgotten because once a year they take their places beside the living to enjoy their love and the fruits and flowers of the earth.

    Edited from:
    -Mary J. Andrade, http://www.dayofthedead.com
    -Jeffry Weiss, Arte Popular Miniaturas, Puerto  
     Villarta, Mexico

      PART THREE  

    As I post this and revisit my long time affection for Día de los Muertos, I became aware of not having included Gregory in this years celebrations. Curious? So I thought about it for a while and this is what I came up with.

    Gregory is still so alive to me in everything I do and in my conversations with him, that the idea of his returning to visit doesn't make sense. In many ways he hasn't left.

    I celebrate Gregory in many ways and often. On Saturday last I bought him a handful of TubeRose flowers at the farmer's market. They were (are) his favorite and we would always buy them.

    Besides his favorite dark chocolates, I added a few Trick or Treat items to his alter, offerenda, shelf, shrine ... on the bookcase in the bedroom where his remains live.

    Perhaps as time passes and he is less available to my memory and thoughts, as I am able to grieve less; Día de los Muertos will signal a "return" to mind of Gregory and my Day of the Dead celebrations will allow for more of a "return" than the current "continuation."

    Finally, since today is November 1, and the day on which the souls of the adults arrive as those of the children leave,  maybe my wanting to post this blog entry is Gregory's way of poking me and saying, 

    "Hey what about me! Celebrate, grieve less, live even more than you already do! With vigor, joy, and big ideas. With love, friends, family, and pets! With fond memories and less sorrow. Live live live!"

    And so be it!










    PLEASE leave a comment or some acknowledgment that you have been here. It can be totally anonymous. You do not have to leave your name. You could use your first name only, your initials, or nothing.

    Under each new post you will find the word COMMENT. Click on it and a window will open where you can leave your comments.

    It asks you to SIGN IN, but you can also click on ANONYMOUS.