Rupert and Karina

 

Rupert Gettings the intrepid entrepreneur, mused momentarily. (Ah, Karina. Where are you now? Karina paused briefly and looked into the mirror Ah, Rupert. Where are you now?).

The momentary musement fading, Rupert the Fearless donned his chain-mail vest and climbed into the cab of the WORLD’S LARGEST PICKEMUPTRUCK. Karina thought of Elvis and left the building.

[More later.}

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Svetlana. REFLECTIONS FROM THE SHINING BROW. Kamal Amin

Yesterday, November 28, 2011 I posted a reminiscence of  Svetlana (Lana Peters) Alliluyeva Stalin.

I posted late and followed by emailing a copy to a mutual friend Kamal Amin. Kamal and I have been close friends for thirty-five years. Kamal devoted a chapter of his book Reflections From the Shining Brow, to our mutual friend, Svetlana. Following are the emails from me to Kamal and his reply. I will include passages from Reflections.

11/28/2011 

“Hi Kamal,

 This evening  I wrote of my memories of Svetlana from a three-week period in which we became friends. I never saw her after that. I wanted to consult with you but it was too late to be calling and I did want this post to bear today’s date. If you would like to post a comment I invite you to do so. If I may post a quote from Reflections, I could do that tomorrow. Please inform.

 I pray for peace in your homeland.  

 Lee.

11/29/2011

 

Hi Lee

I read your touching piece. She was one of a kind.

If you’d like to. you can post a quotation from my book.

Best

Kamal

 

Excerpts from:

REFLECTIONS FROM THE SHINING BROW  

MY YEARS WITH FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT AND  OLGIVANNA LAZOVICH

Chapter 21

SVETLANA STALIN

      He is gone, but his shadow still stands over all of us. It still dictates to us and we, very often, obey. – Svetlana Stalin, on her father.

…..My wife and I were expecting Olgivanna. She had called earlier announcing that she would arrive with a guest. She stepped out of her Cadillac with an attractive woman of about forty or forty-two years of age. The guest was rather square-faced, with blue eyes and a sweet smile. She looked down slightly, in a demure posture, communicating an apparent shyness. They reached the breeze-way and Olgivanna introduced her guest. She was Svetlana Alliluyeva, daughter of Stalin, the dead Russian dictator……

…..Some of Svetlana’s writing reveals the darkness that had engulfed her life and illustrates her hunger for a ray of light. In Only One Year she writes:

     In the family in which I was born and bred, nothing was normal. Everything was oppressive, and my mother’s suicide was a most eloquent testimony to the hopelessness of the situation —- Kremlin walls all around me, secret police in the house, in the kitchen, at school. And over it all a wasted, obdurate man, fenced in from his former colleagues, his old friends, from all those who had been close to him, in fact from the entire world, who, with his accomplices, had turned the country into a prison in which everyone with a breath of spirit and mind was being extinguished; a man who aroused fear and hatred in millions of men. This was my father.

 

This was the burden that dominated her life in her young years and continued to shadow her existence as she grew up. If anything, life became harder for her after her Father’s death in 1953. At least during his life she was protected by her blood relationship with him. Another aspect of her thinking is also expressed in Only One Year,

She writes:

     At the University, I went through a course in history and social science. We seriously studied Marxism, analyzed Marx, Engels, Lenin, and, of course, Stalin. The conclusion I carried away from those studies was that the theoretical Marxism and Communism that we studied had nothing whatever to do with actual conditions in the USSR. Economically, our socialism was more of a state capitalism. Its social aspect was some strange hybrid bureaucratic-like system in which the secret police resembled the German Gestapo and our backward rural economy made one think of a nineteenth-century village. Marx had never dreamed of anything of the sort….Soviet Russia broke with everything that had been revolutionary in her history and got on the well-trodden path of all-powerful imperialism, having replaced the liberal freedoms of the beginning of the twentieth century with the horrors of Ivan the Terrible.

 

…..During her initial days at Taliesin, Svetlana and I spent some quality time together. We went walking or swimming in a pool I had built a few years earlier. She was soft-spoken, attractive and a pleasure to be with. But there was a peculiar vacant spot in her make-up. Occasionally she separated herself from her environment and disappeared into some inaccessible space, signaling an abrupt end to the encounter. Over the years this became a defining feature,  which probably originated in her conflicted childhood and youth. Eventually, it was hard to have a meaningful communication with her, as there was this built-in dead-end every time a contact started…..

…..She lived through the shattering experience of her mother’s suicide. She coexisted with pervasive uncertainty, inconsistency, and insecurity about what her future held.

Svetlana

Lana Peters died today of colon cancer.  I knew her as Svetlana, occasionally calling her Mrs. Peters. She and her husband Wes Peters frequented my shop in North Scottsdale in the seventies, though never together.

 I managed two businesses during these years; one was a frame shop, the other was Valley Staging Company, Inc. As president and founder of VSC, I was seeking business relationships with Museums in Eastern Countries, most of which at that time were Iron Curtain Countries. This would become the thread of communication which bound my new friend and me to each other. Until meeting Svetlana, my knowledge of Eastern Europe was limited to having been stationed there in the military for the minimal 140 days, during which time I spent as much time as possible visiting the art museums and private , well established art galleries, building a network of friends and acquaintances, promising myself that when I returned to the States I would reestablish communications with some of these people, the curators , the art directors and consultants, the people who really understood the world of art and who were instrumental in educating the world to its history.

When Svetlana introduced herself to me she was alone, though a chauffeured automobile waited at the curb. She was wearing a diamond studded tiara and a fluffy, white chiffon dress. I did not know who she was though I figured it out after she left. I was absolutely certain that I was in the presence of royalty, though from what country I did not know. She spoke very few words, was highly composed and bore a presence I had seen only in news clips of British royalty.

She and her husband spent most of the year in Taliesin in Wisconsin but wintered in Arizona at Taliesin West. Since The Framery created most of the custom picture framing for the residents and architects there it was natural that we should meet. When we eventually realized that we had mutual acquaintances in Yugoslavia a strained relationship emerged.  It was uncomfortable for me because Svetlana rarely smiled. She asked me once why I was staring at her. I replied that since it was normal to smile, I assumed that she would eventually do so and that when that moment came, I did not want to miss it. Immediately, an almost imperceptible trace of hidden mirth lifted the corner of one side of her lips and then just as quickly left. I did the laughing for both of us. There were perhaps a dozen visits as I recall, in three short weeks.  And then she was gone.

And now she is gone forever.

Goodbye Svetlana (Lana Peters) Alliluyeva, Stalin.

The Importance of Frank and Nako

At the peak of my ten-K days I had two jogging buddies who accompanied me on evening runs. In earlier days I ran alone at dawn, usually five to ten miles, depending on my schedule. I lightened the load when I acquired these small companions.

These pals of mine were Frank and Nako.

Frank, a black toy poodle who never had to worry about getting a sissy-cut, was named after St Francis of Assisi. He was stoically silent when I rescued him from the pound and completely unaware of my presence. This curly-headed little critter seemed to be much more interested in the huge, dark, big-dog stool near the back of his cell. It had apparently been contributed by a previous tenant. I was informed by the doggie warden that when this little guy was first discovered running the streets of Phoenix, he was wearing a mute collar. He was arrested and interred and sentenced to death in a gas chamber unless someone adopted him before his ninety day appointment with the county canine killer arrived.  

“If you don’t mind” I implored, “would you bring him around and introduce us, please?”

Instant friends, I took Frank home to present as a birthday present to Terri. But Frank eventually became my jog dog as Terri’s enthusiasm for the evening ritual began to wane. I kept my pal on a leash at first, until he knew the way. As his behavior became more predictable I released the tether allowing him to run leashless, gradually increasing his free time.

One evening as Frank and Terri and I started across a busy intersection we heard a strange cat sound from about a hundred feet to our rear.  Meow ow ow ow, Meow ow ow ow. It was Nako (Japanese for cat). Nako was Terri’s pet. Offensively independent, this strange animal and I were becoming very attached to each other.  The three of us turned to investigate. Each long meow which sounded more like a howl was interrupted every time one of Nako’s paws hit the pavement. Meow ow ow ow.

She was apparently stating her refusal to be left behind and demanding to be part of the team. Very assertive, this kitty; she never experienced the tethered restraint but she would soon demonstrate that she knew exactly what to do.  We waited for her to join us.

A year or so later we sold our Phoenix home and moved to Scottsdale. On our first evening in our new environment, Terri and I left Frank and Nako locked in the back yard after having jogged next to us daily for more than two years. This was our first evening in our new home and Terry had resumed our evening habit. Being in a strange neighborhood and respectful of the new pet control rules contained in the CC & R’s we decided to go it alone this first evening. Five minutes from home we heard this heart-rending doggie howl that just had to be Frank. We ran back home and opened the gate and in one and three-quarter seconds I had a wiggly armful of doggie as Frank leaped through the air like a refugee from an acrobatic dog act with a weekend Gypsy Circus. Nako greeted Terri by rubbing against her legs, purring like a buzz saw and we all enjoyed a brief reunion. Frank was no longer mute. His voiced approval and disapproval of every family event took some getting used to.

A year later Nako and Frank and I were jogging on the Scottsdale Country Club golf course, late at night; Terri who was no longer part of the team and homesick for a previous way of life had returned to familiar climes.

As we ran geysers suddenly erupted and Nako was blasted by the full force of a stream of water meant to arc over a twenty-foot span. Nako was only a foot from the sprinkler head when it struck and was knocked five feet through the air. She hit the ground running and disappeared, never to return. Or so I thought.

Some months later I was entertaining former  team-member Terri, who was asking me about our Big City Kitty. As I was telling her the story we heard a familiar sound.

Meow ow ow ow, Meow ow ow ow.

I miss them. I really do. I jog on a treadmill. I live in a condo. Maybe an iguana.

You were a part of everything…..

Remember those times in your life when you knew there was more. You were a part of everything, with no beginning and no end. Maybe you were in the park one lazy afternoon. And, as you lay there stretched out on the grass a butterfly came along and landed on a wrinkle in your jeans and at that precise moment you realized that butterfly had a secret you knew once, long, long ago. La, la, la, la , la, la, la, la, la, la.

I Had A Dream. The song.  From Living Love and Loving Life. The play. Lee Broom. 1981.

When Love is Conditional it isn’t Love.

Do you say Attaboy or Wow?

Do you say “good job” of “Thank you”?

Do you give a pat on the shoulder when someone gives you a hug?

Do you say “Not a problem” or “Thank you “, as a way of accepting a compliment?

Do you fold your arms when people talk about feelings?

There is always an answer to why we say that, do that, think that. Those answers are conditions. When Love is conditional it is not Love. So what is it?

Think about this. How do you feel when you are helping someone?

What do you call that feeling you get when you calm a child in emotional pain?

Where did that feeling come from? If everything we do is conditional and the feeling that we have at certain times appears to be Love, then where do we get it?

When I get a stream of consciousness that results in a poem, a painting or an orgasm I am certain that these are gifts. Where did they come from?

What do you think? What do you believe?

Murmuration

mur·mur·a·tion/ˌmɜr məˈreɪ ʃən/ Show Spelled[mur-muhrey-shuh n]Show IPAnoun 1.an act or instance of murmuring.

During the days of Middle English, this word had only one meaning, the hushed tones when speaking to another in a pass-it-manner;  speaking softly and somewhat covertly. Contextually however, it came to include a concept describing the method by which news traveled in those days, one person murmuring to another. From this it is said that certain phrases evolved; “News travels fast” and then “bad news travels faster”.  (if they had only known what the future held.)

Eventually, the definition became even broader and came to include a description of the almost instant communication of one creature to another when referring for example to the avian behavior of migrating starlings or swallows and even more-so in reference to the swarming behavior of bees. When watching the lead bird change direction and noticing that the rest of the community follows in a fraction of a second the effect is astonishingly beautiful. When applying the same principles to the daily stream of human behavior the beauty is still there but it requires a bit of concentration and focus and a willingness that is free of judgment in oder to fully appreciate it.

If one ignores for a moment the issue of the human need for socialization and focuses in the interim on the advancement of human kind and then notices that virtually every major contribution to society was completed by a number of free thinkers so small that by comparison to the total of society would number in millionths of a percent of that whole, then mightn’t one ask the question “what if all of society or even just half of society were to demonstrate a similar level of creativity? Wouldn’t we have evolved into a much more sophisticated society, to say the least?

The answer to that question must certainly be “No”.

Of course we don’t know what life would be like under similar circumstances. But, if truth be known I think the sudden burst in technical knowledge in the last century or so is not the result of an increasing number of contributors but in the nature of learning. The acquisition of knowledge increases exponentially. The next twenty years may produce greater changes than in the last century. And this suggests that there is a practical side to the herd behavior so prevalent in nature. The need for stability and adaptation to change can only be guaranteed by large, cooperative numbers of similarly minded people.

Have a nice day.

Miss Kitty finds a lover and fails to dodge the bullet.

I received an email recently with beautiful photographs of flowers perched on stems chest-high to a giraffe. This was the explanation of their presence:

 “Not bad for not doing any work to it this year… Imagine what it could look like with a little fertilizer and TLC!  ;-)” Sandy.

 And really, when I think about it, what else is there to add? (My aren’t they beautiful, I could say? Yes she might reply. I grew them from a dozen packets of Ferry-Morse garden seeds that have been hidden in the back of a kitchen drawer for thirty years. I ripped the tops off the envelopes, threw them into a bowl and mixed them and pitched them into a freshly spaded piece of ground next to the porch you see…….)

 Well, yes they were an attractive sight and they brought back some memories: Here is my response to Sandy’s email.

 I had a friend in Norman, Oklahoma many years ago Sandy, an architect At OU (now U of O) who landscaped his five acre lot with carefully selected weeds. For nine months every year his yard was beautiful. It changed in appearance from Spring until Autumn. He never had to fertilize or water or even edge the yard. He was very pleased with himself for what he had done to his property and frequently spoke of it when lecturing at the University. What he did not realize was that as the lush vegetation increased their lushness and the floral display grew as high as the eaves on the roof of his house, life in this new mini-jungle was thriving.

 This growing addition to his landscape became the home of quite a variety of creeping, crawly critters, among them a new breed of feline who till now had been feeding on the moles and boles and rabbits and such. But the kitty was morphing into an evolutionary nightmare. In fact she appeared almost human. Her forepaws developed a thumb and the facility of its more and more monkey-like tail gave the carnivore the means for seeking larger prey. She fed on coyotes for example and though she made this lovely beflowered acreage her home, she’d occasionally wander into the nearby wooded area and feast on the locals. Where the deer and the antelope played, the kitty monster preyed.

 One day my friend’s sister came to visit. When she failed to get an answer at the front door she returned to the weedy path and plodded toward the back of the house. As she walked past the dining room she looked into the window and screamed. She was heard throughout the surrounding countryside.  Soon after her noisy outburst, she was found collapsed on the path. The neighbors speculated on whether she screamed at what she saw though the window or what she saw on the path or both. But we do know that to those who turned to look, there could be seen the clean and shiny skeleton of a 6 ft male human on the dining room floor and there on the path another such set of remains of a female, the only clue to how either of them died being the shreds of torn clothing that littered the death scenes. The end 

PS: Ms. kitty was caught and sheltered in the Lincoln Park Zoo in Oklahoma City. A month after internment, there were found the scattered remnants of four human skeletons and that of an adult Labrador. Later in the day Ms. kitty was found in the throes of romance with an escaped male tiger. They were both shot and killed during the peak of raw animalistic ecstasy. That’s all I remember.