August 30, 2003

RainbowVisions is Gone, Two!

I want to move!
I want to leave this straight old folks home.
I want to be "out" (openly gay) all the time!

These straight old farts drive me crazy. All they talk about is sex! Sex is Okay, but it’s the wrong kind of sex - at least for me. Even my friends that I’m out to assume I’m interested in their straight (heterosexual) intrigues and assignations.

Everyone here is so religious. Not spiritual, religious. There’s a difference. One minute they're talking about Next Wednesday’s bible study group - we meet at 7:00 P.M., right after dinner - the next, about “James is humping Myrtle.”

Well, maybe they don’t say “humping,” but they might as well.

Anyway, back to square one. I’m going to do a search on line for “gay and lesbian retirement community,” and I’m going to e-mail the Advocate Magazine’s on line site. If I don’t get an e-mail back, I’ll make a telephone call. If I can’t find another gay and lesbian retirement community, I’ll scream!

No I won’t. I’ll start my own. In order to avoid all those federal, state, and local restrictions, I’ll say I am running a boarding house for “sophisticated” gay and lesbian seniors. Hopefully the designation “sophisticated” will attract some people who can discuss an array of subjects; The Arts, philosophy, Sexuality (Not Sex!), Women's Studies and Feminism, and more. I know that within the sub population, “gay and lesbian people” there are all types of people, just as in the larger population; conservative, liberal, kind, stupid, intelligent, average, jocks, jerks, intellectuals, and so on. Jocks would be Okay, but I don't want any jerks. I have to deal with them driving every day -people who don't use signals, go through stop signs, park in the middle of the road to let off passengers - and shopping - leave their shopping cart in the middle of the isle, stand in the middle of the isle talking, save places in line, and so on, ad infinitum, ad nausium.

Wish me luck, journal!

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August 28, 2003

RainbowVisions is Gone!

Yesterday afternoon I tried to go to the Gay and Lesbian Retirement home web site and could not. I just tried again this morning. It is not there. Vanished!

Was it some kind of "come-on?" I responded to their questionnaire. Am I on somebody's scam list now?

I guess I have to cancel my flight, hotel reservations, and car rental for Santa Fe, New Mexico. But, first I'll check with the long distance telephone operator and see if their telephone service is disconnected.

This is frustrating!

I was looking forward to this trip!

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August 27, 2003

I Plan a Trip

Yesterday at the Big Pine Needle was dull, so I went on line, bought airline tickets to Santa Fe, New Mexico. I'v got a hotel reservation, and I've made arrangements to rent a car. I'll stay a few days in October and go see that gay and lesbian retirement home. I'm going. Yes!

Ruth will be apoplectic!
I will be free.
Perhaps I should go as the Silver Man. I can see the New Mexico newspapers now.
"Silver Man Invades Old Folks Home"
Ummmmm - Ummmmmmm! Just doing some creative free thinking. It won't happen. I want to do this trip and check this place out.

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August 25, 2003

Ruth’s After Church Visit

Ruth came to visit me here at the Pine Needle (one of my many nick names for Pine Needle Retirement Home) after her church yesterday. She was full of evangelical zeal as she always is after these religious indoctrination sessions. Her mother and I did go to church after leaving the Amish Order. We became liberal presbyterians. Our God is a pleasant fellow who didn’t ask us to abstain from anything. He didn’t ask us to be zealots and gather recruits. I’m afraid that my daughter’s church has her convinced that I am living in sin, and that I’ll go to H -E -double hockey sticks.

So, how did I discover that I am homosexual?

As a teenager, I had been infatuated with my neighbor, Peter Lapp. One Sunday, during worship at our neighbor’s house, I found myself standing directly behind Peter. The flare of his back created an inverted triangle that was emphasized by purposeful darts taken in the back of his shirt. Even as I wondered who would do such a thing to a man’s shirt, I found myself staring, eyes traveling up and down the tapered expanse of white fabric, until I felt my crotch ache. I became entranced. The sound of the singing congregation seemed to be locked in a padded can, far, far away at the end of a very long string. The people, and the brightly sunlit room seemed to fade until Peter’s back glowed at the center of my focused vision. I leaned forward so that my genitals pressed against the back of his chair, and gently, I moved my hips; to the left, and backward, then ever so slowly to the right, and finally forward once again. The motion was slow, like the movement of the earth’s crust beneath the continents and oceans, but, I felt as though the entire universe was being squeezed in the space between my genitals and Peter’s butt. It is amazing to me, as I think back, that nobody in that room was aware of my sexual arousal. My feelings were so intense that, if I close my eyes, I can remember the smell of Peter’s scrubbed hair and neck filling my nostrils. At the time I had no label to put on these feelings. I just knew that they were totally unacceptable.

One of the most important sexual relationships I describe in the Varnastrama Journals is with a man named Peter. Indeed, he is the same Peter Lapp, though in Varnastrama his last name is not Lapp but Severus. In our world, I have often written the name “Peter” over and over again on my journal papers, and I have even made huge, feathery impressionist-like drawings of it.

By the time I discovered Varnastrama I knew what a homosexual was and I knew I was one, though I was married with children.

Gay and Lesbian Retirement Home

Today, I got an e-mail from "RainbowVisions" a gay and lesbian retirement home. I sent for more information and answered their questionnaire.

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August 23, 2003

Thoughts about Anabaptists and glbt people

This past Tuesday, August 19th, I wrote about the Anabaptists being persecuted by the state. That started me to thinking about the current persecution of glbt people by the state. Just look at the way gay men had to fight to get the government to even look at HIV/AIDS as more than "a gay man's disease."

Sometimes it wonders me (to use a Dutch figure of speech that means “I am amazed”) that the greater culture is as parochial and just as closed (like a clam) as the Amish culture of my childhood. The Anabaptists were closed beccause of persecution by the state because they believed in the separation of church and state. As a result of the influx of Western European religious sects including the Mennonites and the Amish into the the thirteen original colonies the separation of church and state was written into the U.S.A. constitution. Freedom from persecution because of religious practice exists in the United States because of the wisdom of those men who wrote the constitution. Perhaps we should have the wisdom to put into the constitution an amendment that guarantees the separation of sexuality and state. Let each religion hash through its own position about glbt people, but this in no way should affect the way glbt people are treated by the state. Treatment of all persons no matter their sexual orientation must be the same.

Instead, we have GW asking for an amendment to the constitution that will codify prejudice against glbt people.

I see him as a frightening and frightened pompous little man. I’m amazed that I am so alone in this perception.

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August 22, 2003

Nothing Remarkable

"I'm bored." How often have I heard that statement? If I had a nickle for each time, I'd be, if not rich, at least comfortable. Usually it means the individual who utters "I'm bored," is being lazy. Well, I guess I'm being lazy. Can't find anything that interests me the last few days. I hope I'm not coming down with anything, though probably I just have a case of "the frustrations." Ruth and the professor are driving me mad. They took my volume I of "The Varnastrama Journals" Wednesday. I'd gone to Orchard Hill Farms and taken it for my own personal use a couple of weeks ago. After all, it is mine! They came in while I was at my music lesson - I'm learning to play piano - and took the darned thing.

If I weren't bored, I'd be angry!

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August 19, 2003

The Amish and Why I Left the Order

This morning, Peter, Jim, and I got into a ridiculous discussion about the Amish people. They both decided that Lancaster County would be a better place without the Amish for many reasons. First, the Amish buggies are constantly causing traffic congestion. Second the influx of tourists gaucking at the Amish every summer causes traffic congestion. Third, Amish children playing on country roads causes traffic congestion. I am perhaps misquoting them a bit, Their prejudice made me angry because I was part of an Amish family until the age of 19 and I still think of myself as Amish despite all that has happened since I left home. Granted I had to leave that family because they were on the verge of shunning me. I desired worldly things. And, they surely would have shunned me once they knew about my sexuality. Perhaps it becomes necessary to look more closely at the origins of the Amish in order in order to understand the direction my life has taken.

The Amish subculture was an outgrowth of a group of Swiss Protestants, the Anabaptists, who separated from the organized Protestant church early in the sixteenth century. The Anabaptists believed that the individual must be rebaptized as an adult in order to be aware of his or her commitment to the church. Corollary to that belief was the separation of church and state. As a result, the state placed a bounty on the lives of Anabaptists, and they were hunted and killed by the hundreds. Despite adversity, the Anabaptist movement spread throughout the Netherlands and Germany during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries though its adherents were often forced to meet secretly. A Dutch Catholic Priest, Menno Simons, renounced his Catholic faith (about 1536) and worked to organize the Anabaptists during the middle of the sixteenth century. His Anabaptist following became known as the Mennonites.

The Amish followed their leader, Jakob Ammann (1656- 1730?) and separated from their Mennonite brethren. The argument that led to the departure of Ammann’s followers was over “shunning.” The Amish believe in shunning (excommunicating from the group any individual who has intercourse with the broader culture) while Mennonites do not. The practice of shunning began as a response to the harsh realities of persecution. The broader culture put naysayers to death, but the Amish thought separation from family and church to be a fate worse than death.

As a result of continued persecution and the Thirty Years War many Amish and Mennonites fled Europe. They settled in Delaware, Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina, New York, and parts of Canada. To this day the Amish maintain a strict and closed society that allows little or no intercourse with the larger culture. They shun the use of any modern technologies. Because they are a closed society, all members of the limited Amish population have an obligation to the community to marry and procreate. A man or woman who desires persons of the same sex is seen as an abomination to God and the community. It was suggested to me, as a child and teenager, that my adult obligations to God and community must include procreation, support, religious instruction, and righteous direction of my future family. I was constantly reminded that God destroyed sexual deviants. Sodom and Gomorra was but one story in which Biblical text was used to support such a position. However, my Amish culture seemed to have no problem with the idea that the hero of the story, Lot, in order to protect God’s angels, offerd his daughters to the men of Sodom to be raped.

Thus, I experienced a core sexual identity so dissimilar to those prescribed by my culture that I left the Amish order. At the beginning of the third millennium, both Amish and Mennonite orders do not accept any human sexual behavior other than those best described as heterosexual.

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August 17, 2003

My New Homepage

I'm learning more every day. Today I learned how to create my own homepage. I know it's simple, but It's up there, photo and all. It's located at AOL Hometown. Eventually I will be able to include images here on my blog too.

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August 16, 2003

I Learn Some HTML and How to Make Links

I've taken a break from my usual diurnal rantings because I'm trying to learn more about blogging so that I can make my entries more interesting. It seems that any subject is appropriate for blogging; "My Camping Trip to the Sandia Mountains," or "My Friends Can Be Idiots," or "Conversations with Charlie." Still, most blogs are much more complex than these titles would indicate and are almost a stream of consciousness that includes all things to do with a person or persons life/lives. I'm going to try to use this entry to learn how to make links to other blogs and sites so that I can do so when these are appropriate to a particular topic about which I am writing. If it doesn't work, I shall remove it and you shall never know it existed. If it works, well...

This is one of the best blogs I've found that helps me to find other blogs by subject and/or key words. Its the Eatonweb Portal. I understand its been around since 1999. While searching the Eatonweb Portal I found "Live on Dollar Avenue" which is about two guys and their lives together. I know I will revisit "Dollar Avenue" again and again. Still another "Overemphasized" is by a young gay guy and has a timely entry covering the blackout in NYC from a personal viewpoint (He was trapped in the subway.).

Now that I've accomplished my practice work, I shall get back to the usual diatribes tomorrow or the next day.

August 15, 2003

My Twin on Varnastrama

I was interrupted Wednesday by Jim who stopped by my apartment because he needed a partner for Bridge. It Seems Peter his usual partner is sick, has a stomach virus, poor fellow.

As I was saying then, my twin Isaac doesn’t know what has transpired on Earth, just as I don’t know what has happened to him on Varnastrama while I’m here. Our two identities coexist in one body when I’m there. We’ve discussed what it feels like to have two people inside one body and we both agree that at times it feels as though we are one person talking to himself accept that while I’m with him I am aware of all his thoughts and I feel and see everything exactly as he does. He knows I’m there and has gotten used to my presence though I know I frightened him terribly on my first trip. I get the impression that he misses me when I’m on Earth.

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August 14, 2003

Various Musings and a New Acronym, SGLBT

Perhaps I will detail the actual events of my trips to Varnastrama in a new journal, one in which I will endeavor to include much of the material from my past visits. These exist in the my written Varnastrama Journals, I, II, and III in the attic at Orchard Hill Farm. I wrote the originals on school composition notebooks after returning from my visits. If I do this, I will be killing two birds with one stone. First, by using them personally, I will be able to get the journals out of the professor’s hands. Second, I will be able to make a companion journal to this that elaborates on it and completes it.

It is important to me at my advanced age, to leave this record behind. Though quite healthy and robust to date, I am, nonetheless, an octogenarian, and a heart attack, stroke, or other physical calamity might possibly fell this knurled old carcass of mine before the sun rises tomorrow. I feel that these blogs add to the possibility that the record of my life both here in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and on Varnastrama will be read by others. I want young glbt (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered) people to be able to read the record of my life, to know the struggles and triumphs I’ve had as a gay man. I want the heterosexual world to know and understand the many ways it constrains and limits both glbt people and heterosexual people because of this prejudice.

Just yesterday, at lunch, Jim said to me during a heated argument over the Supreme Court’s decision in the Lawrence v. Texas case, “I don’t care what you guys do in the privacy of your bedrooms, but I don’t want you to be able to be married. A man and a woman are married because of thousands of years of human history. The church and God have sanctified it.” It amazes me that Jim, or any heterosexual doesn’t see how that perverse belief prevents an entire segment of the population from forming families that can be recognized by society, having children, visiting one another at hospital death beds, inheriting the fruit of one another’s labor upon death, and much more. And, no, there is no evidence that glbt families make their children glbt. If that were the case, there would be no glbt people in the first place, since it would be impossible for a heterosexual family to create glbt children. Glbt people are the brothers and sisters, sons, and daughters, of heterosexual people. Heterosexuals did not create us. God did. He did not create glbt people to be ridiculed, separated, and persecuted by heterosexist people. He did make us in his own image, just as he made heterosexuals in his own image. It would seem that the face of God is many faceted, that it includes all things, and all possibilities. “Smile you’re on God’s many faceted camera.”

Ah, well - I’ve gone off on soapbox diatribe # 101. I’m just an old fart venting his spleen. By-the-way, it’s Okay for me to call myself an “old fart,” but young sglbt (straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered) persons better not. That’s another prejudice that gets me going. I can do an entire extended entry on Ageism, and at the appropriate opportunity, I will!

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August 13, 2003

The Trip to Varnastrama

My trip to Varnastrama yesterday was one of the most relaxing I’ve ever made. The Loar have been beaten back into the mountains of Northern Pennsylvania (On Varnastrama its known as Penn's Woods.). My family is well. Orchard Hill Villa is prosperous. Peaches are coming in full and juicy just as they are here, and the sweet corn is wonderful because of all the rain this summer.

As always, it was good to be in my prime once again - on Varnastrama I’m only 39 - and able to chop wood, run, and work in our orchards. I have none of the age related aches and pains I deal with here.

I enjoy catching up with my twin Isaac on Varnastrama - but more of that later. Someone’s ringing my doorbel. I must close down because I’m keeping this journal a secret from everyone at Pine Needle Retirement Home.

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August 11, 2003

How to Go to Varnastrama

I’ve decided to make a trip to Varnastrama. Recent events here, in Lancaster, PA have left me totally exhausted, and I haven’t been to visit my different but wonderful family in that world in many months. However, I must take several precautions before I leave. Even though the currents of time seem to flow much more rapidly on Varnastrama than on this world, I will have to make sure that I can be alone in my apartment for several hours. If, for example, Ruth should enter, she would find my unconscious body and have me carted to Lancaster General Hospital by ambulance. Both Abe and Joe, my sons who live in New Jersey, would be notified along with half of Lancaster County. I’d lose at least one week to tests and other unnecessary medical “B.S.” that my HMO would fight and generate an avalanche of paper work and hassles too innumerable to think about. Additionally, while I’m in Varnastrama, I must make sure, if at all possible, that I do not see or hear anything in this world that might distract me from my journey. My last trip was ended abruptly when Tillie Herr, my next door neighbor, fell out of bed and broke her hip (She's Okay now.).

Trips to Varnastrama can be arduous and painful. In fact, it took two years of practice in Sanctuary to learn how to accomplish my first crossing. At the time I thought I was learning to travel through time. I would lay on the old day bed in the Northeast corner of the studio at Orchard Hill Farm, close my eyes, and try to visualize myself in the streets of ancient Rome. In order to accomplish this visualization I had spent many hours at Shadek- Fakenthal library at Franklin and Marshall College studying the history of Ancient Rome. I became a supporter of the college, got a library membership, and signed out many books on the subject. And, one of the first things I learned is that the city plan for Lancaster, Pennsylvania was based on the ancient Roman city model. I also learned that our Lancaster is placed on seven hills just like the ancient Imperial capital. Both at the library and in Sanctuary I poured over maps of ancient Rome, and stared at photographs of the Capitaline Hill, Hadrians Tomb, and reconstructed images of the Circus Maximus. I made drawings of a restored Roman Forum and visualized myself walking through it. I consciously developed a mental imaging capacity that allows me to place myself into imagined three dimensional spaces and view them from different angles, a virtual reality of the mind, long before the term was coined to describe software capable of creating that kind of an experience for a passive viewer. I say passive because the viewer of such software may be interacting with the software, but he, or she does not create or visualize the environment with which he or she is interacting.

One summer - 1952, I think - I took Rebecca and the children on a trip to Italy so I could visit Rome. I spent hours in the Pantheon following the movement of the occulus focused ellipse of sunlight upon the huge circular floor, columns, and walls of that classical prototype of all modern domed cathedrals, and capitol buildings. I roamed through the ruined colosseum. I watched from above as Rebecca and the children walked through the labyrinth of tunnels and chambers that had once been located beneath the massive floor of the stadium and I tried to imagine the throngs of Roman citizens standing and shouting around me. They would have been seated in the stadium according to rank, plebeians at the top, Senators and other persons of high rank at the balustrade barely 20 feet above the massive ground floor. I pictured myyself located somewhere between the two extremes watching gladiators fighting to the death, Christians being martyred, and the floor filled with water and ships floating upon it, engaged in battle.

However, all this background material and the months of concentrated visualization did not help me go to ancient Rome, but to the parallel world of Varnastrama.

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August 07, 2003

The Professor Starts His Dig

Ruth and the professor came to visit last evening. The professor has already begun reading my Varnastrama Journals and sorting through the drawings stacked on tables, drawing board, day bed, the floor, and in the closet of Sanctuary. My lawyer tells me that a restraining order is inappropriate as the professor will not be damaging my things. Rather, he will be restoring order, and saving my drawings, photographs, sculptures, journals and Varnastrama from certain ruin in an attic that is no longer heated in the winter, nor air conditioned in the summer. While I see his point, it feels as though I’m being torn apart, and in a manner much more mentally excruciating than the repeated physical destruction and recreation of my body by the invading Loar on Varnastrama.

The professor informed me that he plans to take Sanctuary apart piece by piece and store it in another location, hopefully in the climate controlled basement at his University’s art museum. If not there, he says he will be able to convince the curator of a museum of Outsider Art in a nearby city to store the crated remains of my studio. I have trouble with this vision of my work as Outsider Art, because I am a trained artist. I spent 4 years in art school and I have exhibited my work both here in Lancaster County, and in other cities. However, the professor says that my drawings and photographs of Lancaster County and Cape Henlopen are not important unless they are considered in relation to the “major work and performance” (his words) about the silver man and Varnastrama. “Your artistic vision marks you as an outsider,” he said,as he and Ruth were leaving my apartment.

So, perhaps Ruth will stop thinking of me as her crazy old father.

I doubt it. More than likely she thinks that the professor is crazier than I.

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August 05, 2003

Zac 1 & 2 and The Creation of Sanctuary

It was cloudy this morning with a few sprinkles - still is - and a bit depressing. However, it's good weather for daydreaming and reminiscing. I was sitting once again on the old couch in my apartment at Pine Needle Retirement Home. I looked around the living room, and I thought out loud. “Wouldn’t it be nice if this were a gay retirement home." I’ve received e-mail from two companies selling gay retirement community apartments and I’d like to go see them. One is in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and the other is in Taos, New Mexico. “Perhaps you should go on line, Zak; book flights, rent cars, and go visit them. There would be no heterosexists, and NO Millie Denkle.” I went on silently to myself, thinking that I would have friends in such a home with whom I could vent against this president who wants to legalize prejudice toward an entire class of people through creation of a constitutional amendment. And, I thought out loud once again, “Wouldn’t it surprise Ruth and the boys if you suddenly moved to the desert or the subtropics!”

I talk out loud to myself. In fact, as I grow older I know that I do this more and more often. I carry out complete conversations with myself, as though I were two persons. I’m Zac # 1, and he’s Zac # 2. Zac # 2 can be my best friend, but he can also be my harshest critic. He constantly tells me that I am totally out of my mind. The trick is to keep him from saying that, or anything out loud in public.

But enough of my mundane diurnal existence at PNRH. The other day I began writing about the creation of Sanctuary in 1952. Let me continue.

I attacked the attic floor boards several days after daydreaming about the future existence of Sanctuary. It was an arctic like day in January, with howling wind and sheeted veils of drifting snow. I wore a scarf, ear muffs, coat, and gloves, but my fingers were numb with the cold and my nose dripped clear liquid that froze immediately on contact with the algid floor boards. I worked for several hours every day for three weeks to complete the insulated floor. Shifts about an hour long were my limit, and between these I returned to the lower floors of the house to warm my semi frozen carcass. On at least one occasion, I remember that Rebecca was so pleased she was practically dancing around the house. “This will make the upstairs so much more comfortable,” and ever practical, she continued, “it will reduce our heating bills, you’ll see, Isaac.”

After completing the insulated floor, I spent another three weeks tacking insulation to the underbelly of the attic roof. I framed out the space for my studio, tacked up sheet rock, taped, plastered, and sanded in March. I vented and installed an old kerosene stove against the North wall of the large room. On the day my new space was finally completed, floors varnished, and walls painted, I remember looking out one of the attic dormers at the yellow-green April grass. Beyond the apple and peach orchards that surrounded our old stone and stucco farm house the contoured fresh plowed fields of our neighbor’s farm wrapped themselves around the gently rolling Lancaster hillsides. Farther away lay more farms, barns and silos barely visible in the hoary moisture laden air. Heavy rain clouds scudded against the flat tops of the distant low Appalachian mountains that defined the East boarder of Lancaster County. I was overwhelmed with a sense of accomplishment, and I realized that I needed the space desperately. I pictured myself working there. I knew that I would draw, make pastels and process photographs of my favorite places in Cape Henlopen, Delaware, as well as the beautiful hills and farms of Lancaster County. However, I would not create my silver man performances for several years, nor would I voyage to Varnastrama from Sanctuary until 1954.

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August 03, 2003

Just a brief entry because Ruth and her husband are taking me out to dinner. I promised that I would begin a history about the creation and uses of my studio at Orchard Hill Farm.

It was 1952, a cold winter day, and I was sitting on the same couch I sit on today - reupholstered of course. A fire crackled in the old stone fireplace at Orchard Hill Farm, and the grandfather clock on the stair landing rang in the hour, 11:00 A.M. Rebecca had been after me to do something about the cold second floor of our colonial farm house. I thought that I needed inspiration to goad me into insulating the attic floor because I would have to rip up the old floor boards laid by an nineteenth century ancestor, put the insulating bats between the joists, and reinstall the boards. My future studio was a natural outgrowth of my contemplation, and like a snow drop opening as the last snows of winter melt, the partitioned room at the top of the attic stairs grew and matured naturally in my mind. I even pictured the sign on the future door.

“ Sanctuary.”

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