Saturday, May 17, 2008

Angels in Nebraska - Part 2.

I have noticed, in fact, it's become obvious over the years, that we live in a world of everyday miracles. In an earlier BLOG entry (March 2008) I was awed to find, right on the street near where I lived, an autographed copy of a book by Nobel Laureate Doris Lessing - perhaps one of the most magical entries in my "Book of Common Miracles". Where does magic really begin, and when and where are the "Mythic Times", if not here, and now? So as I prepare to toddle down the road again, I want to put this on my blog as well, something that happened in 2005 as well.

In May of 2005 I began the long trip from Arizona to Connecticut for a residency at IPark Artists Enclave; I have been privileged to participate in two residencies there, and I will always be grateful to Ralph, Joanne, and the staff of Ipark for their generosity, support of the environment, and the arts.

It takes me about 5 long days to cross this enormous country. After a pleasant night among the pines in Flagstaff, I stopped at a rest stop in New Mexico, squatting on the ground and enjoying the view. Dusting off my skirt, I noticed a pair of fancy pliers literally at my feet. They seemed a useful find, so I picked them up and put them in my car. By the time I reached Missouri, I decided to take a detour to Nebraska, to find the graves of my grandfather and grandmother in Dewitt, a small village in the prairie near Beatrice. When my beloved grandmother, Glen, died in 1966, my family lived overseas, and my father flew alone back to the U.S. to return her body to Nebraska.

No one had visited those graves in 40 years, my own father, Kent, having passed away in 1976. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to pay my respects at last, to see as an adult the country she filled my imagination with. All I had was a child's memory of driving across the midwest with my family in the '50's, and endless Black-eyed Susans dancing and hissing in the hot prairie winds.

Dewitt is a village of maybe 4,000 people. It is still prosperous, thanks to a tool and die factory that has been successful since the 1920's. Petersen Manufacturing is particularly known for its founder's invention, the Vise-Grip Wrench. Which is why it's called the Vise-Grip Corporaton. 
When I found the old graveyard, I planted some flowers, said what I had to say to my grandmother's spirit and drove on, feeling very glad I made the trip.

After arriving in Connecticut, I cleaned out my car, and there were the pliers I found at my feet in the red dirt of western New Mexico. Stamped on the side was the legend:

"Vise-Grip: The Original"

1 comment:

Greg Fletcher-Marzullo said...

Wow, what a great blog! I knew it was a good place to spend some time given the title - I work with Grandmother Spider all the time.

I really loved your entry on the mask-making goddess workshop. I've seen this class offered at Kripalu (is that where you took it?).

Anyhoo, feel free to check out my blog, and if you're game, I'd love to do a link swap.

Thanks for putting this information out there.