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A Little of This, A Little of That

It takes little more than a few sentences before you are completely pulled into the fictional world created by Elizabeth Strout. She does for Maine what Anne Tyler does for Baltimore, bring it to life through her complex characters with their site specific quirks. I can't remember how long ago it was, but the first novel of hers I read was Amy and Isabelle. Rarely do I remember lines from novels, however, there was one from this novel that has stuck with me for many, many years. Amy, the 16 year old daughter of Isabelle, is in her high school Math teacher's car, perhaps in a park or something. He has been paying a lot of attention to Amy, something she doesn't get much of at home. While they are sitting there he turns to her and says, "Would you mind doing certain things?" She agrees, setting in motion the rest of the plot.

Well, while reading The Burgess Boys, her first novel since winning the Pulitzer Prize for the novel Olive Kittredge, I think a line in this one will stay with me too. Bob, one of the brothers who make up the Burgess boys, looks into the empty apartment below his, vacated by a couple who were always having loud arguments. He thinks to himself, as he looks at the space, "and you thought this was a home, when all along it was just this." Think about that for a minute or two. All this to say that ES has written another fine novel, albeit sad in more ways than one.

Just as I was coming to the conclusion yesterday afternoon, I got a text message from Will, our director at FAVO, saying that Berto, the artist adjacent to my space had driven to Wyoming and killed himself. Not only did I know Berto from FAVO, but I knew him from the Polasek museum when he worked there as a gardener to support himself. He was a little younger than me, always cheerful and happy, or so it seemed. His artistic talents were immense. Oddly enough, earlier in the day I went to the Polasek to drop off some notecards and take a few photos, particularly of this sculpture which had only recently been repaired and bronzed.
This is most definitely one of Mr. Polasek's finest sculptures. Although this is a close up, it looked like this before the renovations.
Currently the museum has been selling my notecards, with the above being one of them. They both have their appeal, don't you think?

Berto painted realistic scenes with a light hand. One day, back in the middle of February, I went into his studio, so loving the colors on his palette that I photographed it.
Forgive me if I shared it back then, but it helps me to see it once again.

It seems as if one never knows how others really feel inside. I can hardly imagine what it must have been like, getting out of his car in the Grand Teton National Park, amongst all the beauty to be found there, and putting a gun to his head. Then too, according to the park ranger's report, people found him on the ground like that. My heart aches for everyone involved.

Life is pretty much a balancing act isn't it?
For reasons I've already forgotten, I didn't get my ride in at the start of the day, so I went in the early evening. Feeling so sad, after learning the news, I didn't feel like exploring, instead just rode into Southern Oaks, when I thought to go tell Pam the news. She, too, knew Berto from the Polasek. Naturally she was shocked, and we spent quite a bit of time talking it all over. Wine came into the picture. Husband Glen got home, and still we talked. Eventually, as it was nearly 7, I took my leave, riding home for dinner. As I rode down Appleton towards the house, I saw the sunset down the street and decided to take it in. The day was mostly cloud free so I was surprised to see how lovely the sky looked.
I always love it when you can see the sun rays, and as I have been typing this, it occurred to me that it was no coincidence. Using that as a metaphor for Berto, his influence in the Orlando art community spread out like those rays. May he rest in peace.
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