An historic day!

Obama’s powerful and compassionate response to the Supreme Court decision today legalizing gay marriage.

And the final poetic and heartfelt paragraph of Justice Kennedy’s Opinion for the majority:

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.

The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed.

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Clamorous chorus of adolescent pandemonium

IMG_1172Today I drove the school mini bus to help a friend out who had recently had some surgery on her foot. She is teaching a summer school class on Chicago and today was a field trip to the Chicago History Museum. I love driving this bus. Every part of it is overblown and super-sized. It’s clunky and noisy and many parts of it rattle, shake, and bounce whenever it goes over any bump in the road (and in Chicago there are plenty of those). On the drive, the students sang, chatted, joked, laughed — all very loudly. They had to be loud because everything on the bus made so much noise. I tried to have a conversation with my friend but found my voice getting hoarse. Somehow this racket and chaos were all very comforting.

Today I had to park the bus in a normal car lot after I dropped the kids and my friend off at the museum and I have to admit, with the super big mirrors (there are six of them in total) I gained a new level of confidence delicately moving that big machine to fit between the yellow demarcated lines in the parking lot, even including the huge mirrors which thrust beyond the left and right of the bus. A real sense of accomplishment.

The students played a silly and repetitive counting game, like a zen mantra, which orchestrated the ride back to school (No, it wasn’t “99 bottles of beer on the wall”).  Maybe like the kids, I gained a sense of freedom too driving that bus. It’s all pretty liberating galumphing down Lake Shore Drive in a jalopy of a bus, on a breezy summer day, accompanied by a clamorous chorus of adolescent pandemonium, proving the cliched (but true!) adage that it’s all about the journey, not the destination.

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Urging the outside in

IMG_1085_2On our back porch, which is enclosed, one of the windows has cracked. We haven’t paid too much attention to it because the crack is behind some cloth we have hanging over the windows. Today I noticed that the ivy that grows all over the back of the house and the garage and any spare spaces in between has clearly grown through the crack in the glass and into our back porch.

I marvel at the persistence and doggedness of nature and its urging of the outside in.

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Nidaa Badwan

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Nidaa Badwan is a Palestinian artist from Gaza. In November 2013, she was harassed by some Hamas officers when she was working with some youth in an arts program and was questioned about why she was hanging out with males and why she was in jean overalls. She was forced to sign a paper saying she would not come out of her house unless she was traditionally dressed and behaved herself “properly.” She was physically hit by them for her “impertinence.”

The next day she refused to leave her room, where she has been for over a year where she has been creating photographs. “The moment I started to feel that my simplest rights were snatched away from me in Gaza, the besieged city I live in, I decided to abandon the world to create my own.” She takes photographs of herself in naturally lit compositions filled with her personal items and has been posting these images through social media. These crisp, jewel-like self-portraits— like crying while cutting onions, pouring a red liquid (blood?) over her in response to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, working in her studio, buttoning a man’s shirt surrounded by her rolled clothing— are painterly, vibrantly colorful, and classically arranged. She claims that in isolation in her secluded room, she has been able to attain greater freedom than what she had in the streets of Gaza. “Isolation gave me the ability to create a new language, every item in my room could tell a different story; the ladder, the clothes, and even the bed! I could change their colors, omit or add new items. I waited relentlessly every single day to catch the perfect moment so that I could depict new photos using the sunlight, photos that can be felt rather than seen.” This series of photographs she has named “100 Days of Solitude,” after Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude.

Understanding this context of her work— the rich tapestry of her room and belongings contrasted with the chaos, violence, and repression outside her windows— makes her photographs incredibly powerful and poignant. She recently had a show of her photographs in Jerusalem, but of course, would not attend the opening.

Badwan’s website is www.nidaabadwan.com and she is presently trying to raise money for a larger studio on a crowd-funding source.

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Badwan’s response to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.28GAZA2-1425077795465-articleLarge28GAZA2-articleLargeart5nidaa630x350(Thanks to my sister-in-law SM for sharing this discovery with me.)

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Father’s Day and Solstice Dinner

11205616_10105180491440440_3840275019095842512_nFather’s Day and Summer Solstice dinner prepared by me and my son for JB: Grilled Rainbow Trout, grilled mushrooms and asparagus, Japanese cole slaw, rice. Not pictured: grilled onions and Japanese sweet potatoes; Negronis, Sake, Aberlour; turtle torte, mango custard, fruit tart. Lots of food for the longest day of the year! A savory celebration followed by a late night wood fire. All is good.

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(top photo by IB)

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…nothing to do with miles

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Very early this morning JB and I went to the Botanical Gardens. It was a cool, crisp, sunny day, 58 degrees, an unusual June morning. As we walked through the Japanese Gardens, I couldn’t help but think of my son’s imminent journey back to Japan (he will be leaving a week from this Saturday). This trip may last longer than his originally planned three month sojourn, in fact, may last two years— maybe more.

I am very supportive of his decision to go, supportive of adventure and risk-taking, but I am also feeling very melancholy at the physical distance he will be from us. I will work hard to convince myself that closeness, intimacy, and deep connection have nothing to do with miles.

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Sunset— Bloomington to Chicago

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