I’ve been doing a lot of research about the 1930s. I want to better understand the lives of my ancestors (and the world) during that turbulent time in history. Old movies, photographs, interviews, books, and music are allowing me to time travel in a way that’s marvelously connecting me to the past.
I ordered this vintage dress from eBay for twenty-five bucks. The way it moves far surpassed my expectations.
If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.
—Emma Goldman (1869-1940) women’s rights activist/anarchist
A big thank you to my daughter Willa for her photography of me goofing off in this magical swingin’ dress.
My great-great uncle, William Otis Lillibridge (1877-1909) was a dentist and an author in South Dakota. One of his books, Ben Blair was made into a movie in 1916. My grandfather recounted that his father used to say that Will was a much better writer than dentist.
After a recent trip to South Dakota I wondered if I had photos that reflected some of Will’s words. It seems that Uncle Will loved the wildness of the prairie as much as I do.
A BREATH OF PRAIRIE & OTHER STORIES by William Otis Lillibridge
“The reddish glow in the east had spread and lit up the earth…”
“The self-confidence of the splendid animal was his. He would work and advance himself.”
THE DOMINANT IMPULSE by William Otis Lillibridge
“I’m serious, Robert. Douglass is a cattle man west of the river.”
“The river!” apostrophized Bob. “The man juggles with mysteries. What river, pray?”
“The Missouri, of course. Didn’t you ever study geography?”
“…in a spirit of bravado, roped the “devil” and instituted a contest of wills. The pony was stubbornand a battle royal followed. As a buzzard scents carrion, other cowboys anticipated sport, and a group soon gathered.“
“No, but I know the country. It’s new and wild now, of course, and you’ll find neighbors a bit scarce; but it’s alright.”
The story of his life is characteristically told in this brief autobiographical sketch, written at the request of an interested magazine.
“I was born on a farm in Union County, Iowa, near the boundary of the then Dakota Territory. Like most boys bred and raised in an atmosphere of eighteen hours of work out of twenty-four, I matured early. At twelve I was a useful citizen, at fifteen I was to all practical purposes a man,––did a man’s work whatever the need. In this capacity I was alternately farmer, rancher, cattleman. Something prompted me to explore a university and I went to Iowa, where for six years I vibrated between the collegiate, dental, and medical departments. After graduating from the dental in 1898 I drifted to Sioux Falls and began to practise my profession. As the years passed the roots sank deeper and I am still here."
Trailing the last gleam after, In the valleys emptied of light, Ripples a whimsical laughter Under the wings of the night. Mocking the faded west airily, Meeting the little bats merrily, Over the mesas it shrills To the red moon on the hills.
Beginning about 540 million years ago, the first of many shallow inland seas ushered in the Paleozoic and later the Mesozoic eras.
Shallow ocean waters covered a significant part of the interior of North America, including the region we recognize as the Great Plains. —Encyclopedia of the Great Plains
I feel a certain soul-settling when experiencing the wonders of the PRAIRIE and the SEA. I’ve been exploring why I am so drawn to wide-open landscapes.
My ancestors left Europe, landed on the eastern shores of North America, and headed west, eventually settling on the plains of southern South Dakota. I moved in a reversed migratory pattern—leaving the plains and settling in New England after living and working in New Zealand, Australia, Tennessee, and Montana.
I think my inherent nature, choices, circumstances, travel, and understanding all have played roles in why certain landscapes speak to me so profoundly. My native Nebraska friend, artist Elizabeth Bunsen and I refer to this as our interior geography. LINK: elizabeth bunsen’s instagram
I will forever be gnawing on the bone of my genetic inheritance and wondering if my ancestors also needed a lot of space to feel settled within themselves.
Pick a theme and work it to exhaustion…the subject must be something you truly love or truly hate.
I don’t know if it’s being raised in a small South Dakota town, my Scandinavian roots, or that I have ancestors from the 1800s named Thankful and Plenty. I’ve actually seen their headstones in Richmond, Rhode Island. I worry about being too much, maybe that Puritan way of thinking is a factor.
Somehow is the soup of all of that, I felt it would be showing off to post about last year’s Newport Folk Festival where Joni Mitchell and Paul Simon were the freakin’ surprise guests. One year later this now seems a little kooky. Jeff and I are heading to Rhode Island tomorrow for Newport Folk Festival 2023.
Last year on Saturday night Nathaniel Rateliff put together an American Tune Review and welcomed Paul Simon onto the stage. He closed out Saturday night singing “Sound of Silence” with just him and his guitar. The whole crowd was mostly silent except for the crying and occasional sniffles.
So, here’s my humblebrag of photographs…
On Sunday evening one of my heroes, Brandi Carlile put together a Joni Jam like they’ve been doing in Laurel Canyon, CA the last few years helping Joni recover from her 2015 brain aneurysm. After Brandi’s amazing set, nearly shaking she told us that they need about 20 minutes to set up so something so unbelievably special. In Brandi’s memoir, she wrote passionately about Joni Jams.
Sharing our unique experiences has a ripple effect of joy out in the world.
Managing three days of sun from 11am to 7pm requires some strategy.
I regret that I didn’t know the 2002Patti Griffin beautiful song,BE CAREFUL before I recently heard the cover with a new verse written by Joy Oladokun, Madi Diaz, and S.G. Goodman. I’ve played both versions over and over since last night. (New lyrics are highlighted below.)
BE CAREFUL is about women’s circumstances everywhere—in the beauty shops, catching raindrops, working overtime, standin’ all alone, in restaurants, on TV shows, with broken arms and deadly charms.
No one ever really knows what’s happening inside someone else’s personal, professional, or family life, nervous system, head, or heart. How can one answer possibly be the right solution for everyone in every single situation?
All the girls workin’ overtime Tellin’ you everything is fine
I painted this last week while thinking about the erosion of women’s rights, especially the Iowa law outlawing abortion after 6 only weeks. The issue of reproductive freedom is so raw, emotional, personal, tribal, and complex. Our DNA is 99.9% the same, only .01% is what makes us unique, yet America is the most divided I’ve witnessed in my lifetime. Is it even possible to have a rational debate and listen to each other in this political climate?
Sadly, FEAR is far more easily activated and exploited than EMPATHY or CURIOSITY.
All the girls standin’ on their heads All the girls with the broken arms
All the girls that you’ll never see Forever a mystery
BE CAREFUL by Patti Griffin
All the girls in the Paris night All the girls in the pale moonlight All the girls with a shoppin’ bags All the girls with the washin’ rags All the girls on the telephone All the girls standin’ all alone All the girls sittin’ on the wire Who one by one fly into the fire
Be careful how you bend me Be careful where you send me Careful how you end me Be careful with me
All the girls standin’ by your beds All the girls standin’ on their heads All the girls with the broken arms All the girls with the deadly charms All the girls in the restaurants Pretending to be nonchalant Funny girls on the T.V. shows Close your eyes and they’ve turned to snow
Be careful how you bend me Be careful where you send me Careful how you end me Be careful with me
All the girls workin’ overtime Tellin’ you everything is fine All the girls in the beauty shops Girls tongues catchin’ the raindrops All the girls that you’ll never see Forever a mystery All the girls with their secret ways All the girls who have gone astray
Be careful how you bend me Be careful where you send me Careful how you end me Be careful with me
For all the parents who are losing sleep For all the babies that’ll come to be For all the reasons that are ours to know It’s my choice and I’m not alone For every man who’s standing next to me For queer and trans and non-binary For everybody with their own body I will meet you all out in the street, so
The HIPAA Privacy Rule requires appropriate safeguards to protect the privacy of protected health information and sets limits and conditions on the uses and disclosures that may be made of such information without an individual's authorization.
Thank you Patty, S. G., Joy, and Madi for both versions of BE CAREFUL.
Today I read the New York Times obituary of Paul Ickovic, an eccentric photographer. “Grace Glueck, writing in The New York Times, called him “a wonderfully old-style photographer.”
I wanted to understand my photographic eye a little better after reading about his life. I only looked at June’s photographs through the years. This was not an easy editing process, I could’ve posted 100s of images that mark the start of summer.
“When all is said and done, we are here to ask questions, not to find answers.” —Paul Ickovic
That summer heat has got me feeling lazy The air is warm and the sky is hazy People getting down, getting crazy People getting down, getting stupid, betting crazy
I’ve never played a song on repeat as much as Mandolin Orange’s Wildfire—lyrics by Andrew Marlin. This haunting piece weaves in and out of history through our nation’s fight for independence, the civil war, and the lyricist’s own present-day sorrows.
From the ashes grew sweet liberty Like the seeds of the pines when the forest burns They open up to grow and burn again
The harmonies of Andrew Martin and his wife Emily Frantz are truly head & heart-rattling.
This song and these lyrics need to be absorbed…the word my big sister used when she wanted me to lie in the dark and listen to a newly discovered song with her.
Brave men fought with the battle cry Tears filled the eyes of their loved ones and their brothers in arms And so it went, for Joseph Warren It should have been different It could have been easy His rank could have saved him But a country unborn needs bravery And it spread like wildfire
Wildfire starts with the story of Boston physician and Revolutionary War patriot Joseph Warren, who was killed at Bunker Hill after insisting on fighting as a private, rather than serving as Major General, his recently commissioned rank. —Jody Mace, Glide Magazine (interview link below)
From the ashes grew sweet liberty Like the seeds of the pines when the forest burns They open up to grow and burn again It should have been different It could have been easy But too much money rolled in to ever end slavery The cry for war spread like wildfire
Civil War came, Civil War went Brother fought the brother, the South was spent But its true demise was hatred passed down through the years It should have been different It could have been easy But pride has a way of holding too firm to history And it burns like wildfire
I was a born a southern son In a small southern town where the rebels run wild They beat their chests and they swear we’re going to rise again It should have been different It could have been easy The day that old Warren died hate should have gone with him But here we are caught in the wildfire
Andrew Marlin was born in the small southern town of Warrenton, NC (pop. 862) it was named after Joseph Warren.
Wildfire Wildfire Wildfire Wildfire
It should have been different It could have been easy But too much money rolled in to ever end slavery The cry for war spread like wildfire
Social scientists have long understood race to be a social category invented to justify slavery and evolutionary biologists know the socially constructed racial categories do not align with our biological understanding of genetic variation. The completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003 confirmed humans are 99.9% identical at the DNA level and there is no genetic basis for race.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8604262/
NOTE: I created images to represent the way our nation was (or is) stitched together out of vastly different geographies, ideologies, philosophies, and experiences.
—Rick Rubin (music producer/author) The Creative Act: A Way of Being
ZOOMING IN: Things seem to be falling apart in so many destructive and senseless ways now. When I zoom in on that world-weariness it zaps my energy and I scan for validation about why I feel this way. This makes me respond with judgment, criticism, anxiety, and fear.
ZOOMING OUT: The world is filled with people who are empathetic, compassionate, innovative, generous, and kind. Those stories do not make BREAKING NEWS.
Just imagine all day long learning about heroic acts of GENEROSITY, SELF-SACRIFICE, CREATIVITY, & LOVE.
ZOOMING IN: Focusing, ruminating, and commenting on other people’s words, behaviors, and choices
ZOOMING OUT: I’m only in charge of my thoughts, words, choices, and actions. I cannot force others to think, speak, choose, or act as I do. When I catch myself thinking about what others should be doing—I need to ZOOM OUT and gain more perspective.
Special Thanks: To my husband, Jeff for finding and downloading Rick Rubin’s book. Rick Rubin, listening to The Creative Act has been quite an education. Thank you.
I’ve been a stitcher since I was a child. I made clothes and housewares for Barbie. I stitched on my clothes as a young girl and I still do now almost daily.
My work is best described as intuitive or slow stitching…now a huge movement of people wanting to slow down all around the world.
I’ve recently started to weave in various forms.
I’ve been thinking about what the practice of stitching and now weaving means to me now. I looked through my photographs. I didn’t pay much attention to the work, I just noted how I felt.
I’ve never cared much about precision and those who know me would call this an understatement. I find irregularity far more interesting, more of a story there I guess. As I thought about why I’m so drawn to these processes…
something became very clear to me…
Stitching and weaving are meditation to me. Ancient arts that slow my monkey mind down and require presence. Thank you Little Lisa for starting to stitch long ago and continuing this process through all stages of life.
A very special thanks to a few influential stitchers in my life: Aunt Dorothy, Elizabeth Bunsen, and Maggie Pace.
The spark for this serieswas the moment I noticed that a photo of the stairwell in my home fit with an image from an abandoned farmhouse I shot in South Dakota a few years ago. Seeing the old and new images just hit me about the sense of time and place we all possess. One day perhaps our stairwell will be photographed as ruins.
The stories that ruins of all types whisper to me about history, humanity, grit, and heartache have sparked my interest and been a muse to me since I was a child.
I love the way you can feel the soul of old houses and the area surrounding the properties. I just had to put myself in these places again—PHOTOSHOP allowed me to make this happen.
My daughter, Willa’s photographic eye provided the theatrical images of me taken on Halloween in 2021. My costume goal was: the ghost of a silent film star. I’m not often wearing a gown, or pearls, and sipping champagne. Well, not nearly often enough actually.
Whoever she is, she’s got a story to tell, I just don’t know quite what it is yet.
ruins: the remains of something destroyed
Thank you, photographers, Willa, Mana, and the people who once inhabited this beautiful South Dakota farmhouse. If only the walls could truly talk.
Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art. —Andy Warhol
In 2013 I titled this blog Spark & Muse. Today I looked back at 2022 to see what provided my spark and muse.
Creatively I’m all over the place right now. I tend to create, photograph, and forget. I really want to land on a project and see it through in 2023. I think I need a deadline. That always helps me. #stickwithanyprojectin2023lisa
A few things are clearer to me now after researching me.
I like to shoot flowers as they fade, they are far more compelling to me than perfection.
I see that I shoot images of things that are somehow out of place.
I collect and catalog my beach finds.
I prefer images with negative space.
Our cat Karen gets photographed a lot.
I like taking photographs of fog and rainy windows.
I shoot a lot of pictures when I’m eating raw oysters.
I like to photograph men I meet on the beach.
Color and motion are a spark to me.
Art is never finished, only abandoned. —Leonardo Da Vinci.
In May we gathered to celebrate with lots of treats the life of Renay Mandel Corren—RIP Renay. We listened to the live-streamed memorial service from a bowling alley in Fayetteville, NC. None of us knew her, but her obituary was one of my true delights of 2022. Reading it will make your day. https://www.fayobserver.com/obituaries/m0028451
Everyone has a creative impulse, and has the right to create, and should. —Patti Smith
I barely have words for what Jeff and I witnessed at the Newport Folk Festival in July. Surprise guests, Paul Simon and Joni Mitchell—one of the absolute privileges of my lifetime. Crying with 10,000 music lovers still gives me goosebumps.
Cheers to whatever provides spark and muse to you!
PS I mean it, read Renay’s obituary, here’s the link again.
Because she was my mother, the death of zaftig good-time gal Renay Corren at the impossible old age of 84 is newsworthy to me, and I treat it with the same respect and reverence she had for, well, nothing. A more disrespectful, trash-reading, talking and watching woman in NC, FL or TX was not to be found.
and post some of what I’ve created and done in the last 12 months. However, when I woke up on this last day of 2022 and read Heather Cox Richardson’s Letters from an American daily email, I shifted gears.
“In their fight for their right to self-determination, the Ukrainians and their defenders reminded the United States what cherishing democracy actually looks like.”
—Letters from an American/Heather Cox Richardson
—Ukrainian President Zelensky when the U.S. offered to evacuate him.
“The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride.”
What this quote meant to me: I will grow in maturity and understanding when I stay close to conflict(s), even when confusing, painful, and messy. Fleeing is easier...and lacking courage.
“The only thing I do know is that we have to be kind. Please. Be kind, especially when we don’t know what’s going on.”
—Waymond Wang from the film, Everything Everywhere All At Once
It's far too easy for me to get defensive and act unkind when I am uncertain or pushed. This quote is a good reminder to lead with kindness...the universe clearly needs this from all of us now.
Evelyn Wang, the heroine in my favorite movie of the year is a badass middle-aged female superhero. She gets to see and experience her many lives out in the multi-verse. The film is all about hanging in there with people we love even when the relationship is messy, painful, and complicated. I guess I gleaned almost the same message as the quote from President Zelensky.
There are so many versions of me that have already existed and will exist in the future. I believe I can summon the creativity, wisdom, skills, or total dumbassery of all of them when needed.
Evelyn Wang : There is no way I am the Evelyn you are looking for.
Waymond Wang: [as Alpha Waymond] Every rejection, every disappointment has led you to this moment. Don’t let anything distract you from it.
When a version of me is doing something not particularly interesting, I sometimes wonder what the other Lisas are doing. In 2023 I plan to explore my desire for more theatrics out in the multiverse. I’m not quite sure what that will look like yet, but if I lead with kindness to myself during this time of uncertainty I think I’ll be in good shape.
Thank you, Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert for creating Evelyn Wang and this story.
Heather Cox Richardson is an American historian and professor of history at Boston College, where she teaches courses on the American Civil War, the Reconstruction Era, the American West, and the Plains Indians.
“Nature is so powerful, so strong. Capturing its essence is not easy…your work becomes a dance with light and the weather. It takes you to a place within yourself.” —Annie Leibovitz
These images were all shot where I grew up in and aroundBURKE, South Dakota. When I edited some without color I noticed how they made me feel. The moody, timeless nature of Black & White photography I find highly swoon-worthy. Perhaps this year, however, traveling during daylight savings time, the colors inspired me. I hope you enjoy the images and share them with others.
PS The horse’s name is Lil’ Bit. Thank you, Brenda.
October makes me really miss my Dad. He loved this time of year, hunting season, college football (Go Huskers), cooler weather, and the birthdays of his daughters and his granddaughter, Kelsea. I adore this photo of three of my favorite Burke, South Dakota fellows, sadly no longer with us.
Left to right: Louie Tolstedt, John Lillibridge, and Jack Broome.
Today, my Libra Horoscope was about energetic signatures…this term was previously unfamiliar to me. The concept is rather obvious. However, this quote gave me pause to seek more understanding.
“…we put our thought waves and intentions out into the universe, which alters the ways in which we interact with others and the world as a whole.” —Daily OM, October 18th
Einstein said, “Everything in Life is Vibration”. How we treat people, what we share (both verbally and digitally), and our thoughts, words, and deeds all affect our energetic signature and the way the world responds to us.
Our energetic signature is literally how we vibrate, our own personal vibe.
I just spent a delightful and hilarious weekend in Chicago with friends. I’ve been thinking about how these remarkable women make me feel (like a ROCKSTAR). I was literally responding to the hum of their vibrations. We were vibing.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Years ago I was checking out at the grocery store, moving too quickly, not making eye contact, and acting jittery. The young clerk stopped scanning my items and asked me, “are you OK?”.
My vibration was way off and I made her feel uneasy.
I looked her in the eye, apologized, and slowed down. I hadn’t thought about that incident for a long time. This was a wake-up call to me. We’re all connected to each other and our vibe really matters.