Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Fall 2017 Newsletter


Monet's Water Gardens at Giverny France
October 2, 2017

“All day I try to say nothing but thank you,
breathe the syllables in and out with every step I take” – Jeanne Lohmann, "To Say Nothing But Thank You,"  Shaking the Tree

Joy flooded me the first time I read these words. They resonated within my soul. I have tried to live them even when tragedy strikes and the future appears uncertain and even frightening.  “Thank you” for  the beauty that surrounds us, the wonders of the natural world, the good and compassionate people that surround us, life and death and everything in between. To say “thank you” is to pray. It is hope and belief, courage and healing.

Life picked up speed soon after I last wrote and the dust billowed  up clouding my sight. Serious health issues and the sale of both our homes--one in Florida and the other our dream home on Lake Superior-- exhausted us as we said goodbye to old friends and raced to sort, sell, or give away the too much stuff we’d accumulated throughout the years, especially the thousands of books we’d collected. The state of our nation and conditions throughout the world overwhelmed me I found it impossible to think creatively or communicate with others in a meaningful way. Hence my lengthy silence.

The surgeon told me it could take up to a year to recuperate from heart surgery and I found this true for me. Gradually, light returned to my spirit, and I finally feel myself again. Contrary to my expectations -- how does one leave paradise? -- I discovered I liked our new home. A well-run and lively apartment complex, a spacious  and bright apartment, a welcoming group of seniors, nearby parks, shops, and all the cultural and social amenities the Twin Cities offer, not least of which is easy access to nearby medical care. The latter is one of the primary reasons we moved. During the nineteen years we lived on Lake Superior’s north shore we aged without worry until the day we discovered we were old.

Lifting my spirits were three weeks in Provence and Paris. Sharing one week of that time with my writing group put wind into my sails and now we are settled in our new place I feel the urge to return to writing. The first attempt is this newsletter reconnecting with dear friends like you. I wonder how you are faring. I pray you are safe and in good health, that you find strength in  times of adversity and rejoice in times of abundance. Thank you for your support and belief in me.

“Dialogue with the invisible can go on every minute, and with surprising gaiety I am saying thank you as I remember who I am, a woman learning to praise something as small as dandelion petals floating on the steaming surface of this bowl of vegetable soup, my happy savoring tongue.” Thus ends Lohmann’s poem. I find it delightful. I hope you do, too.

Beryl is the author of  The Scent of God and A View of the Lake. Beryl's Website

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Thursday, September 1, 2016

Beryl's 2006 Summer Newsletter

August 31, 2016
Four Weeks after Surgery
While I was on a white water rafting trip with beloved Minnesota author Carol Bly, she happened to mention that she loathed cameras. Writers should be seeing, not taking photos, she reminded me. This comforts me because while I might have missed the opportunity to digitally record the glorious abundance of roadside wild flowers that graced northern Minnesota this year, I recorded them mentally. Golden birds-eye trefoil banked the roadsides. White daisies merged with thick swaths lupines in pink, purple and yellow. Black-eyed Susan, lacy cow parsnip, and bright orange and yellow hawk weed stippled the landscape turning every walk or journey into a fragrant, hopeful flowering of life. If you enjoy looking as well as recording perhaps you find yourself wondering, as do I, if our cement cities -- where so much suffering lurks behind walls of prejudice and fear -- could be transformed into places of compassion and empathy if more gardens and green spaces provided oasis of peace where we could listen to and share one another’s stories. 

In April, Bill and I decided to sell our Florida condo and stay year-round in our Lake Superior home. We’d just returned home when I had a bad fall and the resulting bruise transformed into a large hematoma on my right shin. Three months later, that wound almost healed, I failed a stress test and the following day underwent quadruple bypass surgery. Four weeks later, I’m back in my little writing shed, writing to you and reworking yet again the sequel to The Scent of God. Having recently been reminded of life’s fragility I greet each morning with joy. I am filled with gratitude for another day to celebrate living and the abundance of blessing found in every moment.

I am looking at Lake Superior right now from the window in my writing shed. It is grey and restless, perhaps contemplating a change in the weather. From here I send you my thoughts and hopes for a year of healing midst the turmoil of a nation at odds with the principles on which it was founded. May peace reign in our hearts and overflow into the lives of those around us.
Beryl 

© Beryl Singleton Bissell 2016
The Minneapolis Star Tribune named Beryl as a "Best of 2006 Minnesota Authors." Her book The Scent of God was a “Notable” Book Sense selection for April 2006. Her second book, A View of the Lake was released in 2011 and named “Best Regional Book 2011” by the Minneapolis Star Tribune. She is currently working on her third book, the sequel to The Scent of God.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Don't miss this book



Kristin Hannah has given us one of the most powerful stories of heroism and love that I have ever read. The Nightingale captures the often untold stories of the French Resistance movement. The ordinary people who moved beyond terror to protect and save from the Nazi's a nation's honor and the qualities that make humans capable of true greatness.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

The Artistry of the Japanese Tattoo in exhibition

In 1993, my sixteen-year-old daughter Francesca acquired a tattoo without telling me. I thought she was simply spending the weekend with a girlfriend when it was actually a mutiny of sorts.  

“Fran, what have you done?” I gasped. 
“I knew you’d never give me permission and Kelly was getting one. So . . .” her voice trailed off but she didn’t drop her eyes. 
“What is it anyway?” She told me it was a rose but it looked more like a dragon to me, smoking its way toward her knee.  
“You realize you’ve marked yourself for life?” Francesca nodded, a smile lurking at the edge of her mouth. 

Not long after, Francesca’s older brother Thomas had both his arms tattooed. At the time it scandalized my relatives, friends, and acquaintances. Twenty years later not a day passes without my noting young people and even elders flaunting tattoos that extended up arms and legs to the neck and ears.

On February 25, 2016 I gained a greater appreciation of tattoos when an exhibition at the Morikami Museum and Gardens in Delray Beach Florida featured a “sold out” Exhibition Preview. of Perseverance: Japanese Tattoo Tradition in a Modern World. Who would attend, I wondered? When a Sold Out sign appeared in the museum lobby I realized lots of people wanted to attend!  The night of the lecture/demonstration, the audience was filled to overflowing with people of all ages. Even a baby was there in attendance (an early introduction perhaps?)


On a blistering hot day a week later, Bill and I viewed the amazing artistry of traditional Japanese tattoos known as Irezumi on exhibit at the museum. Gorgeous life-sized photos of men and women adorned with full body tattoos – front, back, legs, arms – lined the walls. Having watched Horitomo (Kazuaki Kitamura) demonstrate the piercing technique on a slender young man at the exhibition preview, I knew the process was painful and appreciated the exhibition title – Perseverance! 

While there we encountered a beautifully tattooed couple. The woman, a nurse, told me she always wore long sleeves  out of respect for the sensibilities of her patients.This reminded me of the time my son, wearing short sleeves, volunteered to paint a church and was asked to leave. His tattoos were an affront to the other volunteers.

photos from Museum Website

Friday, February 26, 2016

Street Painting in Lake Worth Florida

This past Saturday, my husband and I attended the Street Painting Festival in Lake Worth Florida for the first time. It was crowded and noisy and brilliant. Though many of the artists were still in the process of finishing their works of art, it was fascinating to watch the process. They worked from detailed images, often checking the sidewalk art with the image they already developed. They sat, the  squatted, they lay on their stomachs, careful always to avoid the already finished portions of their work. There were too many to photo all of them but here are some of my favorites. By the way, this was not a competition but a celebration. No prizes just delight.