“Waterfall” by Mary Casanova, University of Minnesota Press, 2021

Reviewed by Gail Nord

A waterfall is a relationship based on topography. The erosional energy of water creates a channel through which water moves by gravitational necessity. A sudden decline in topography results in a waterfall. Falling water produces energy. In addition to sightseers, a waterfall may draw entrepreneurs who understand that this power can be harnessed to propel industrial production. 

Judged by the standards of her wealthy parents, Trinity Baird is a too spirited for her own good. An artist, she’s talented enough for the Sorbonne. A young woman with sexual desires, she has a long-term attraction to proto-environmentalist Victor Guttenberg. After making an overt play for him, and being roundly rejected, her emotional reaction causes her parents to commit her to the St. Peter Asylum. Set in 1922, the book examines conditions at the asylum, especially as pertaining to female inmates.

As the novel Waterfall opens, Trinity has been released from St. Peter, and will be spending the summer on a family-owned island on the northern border of Minnesota. She is, in a real sense, on probation. If she behaves herself, she returns to Paris and continued study at the Sorbonne. If she shows signs of instability, her parents have the power to have her recommitted.

Covering the span of a summer, we see a parallel between a dammed waterfall and Trinity’s present-moment life. She sees herself as trapped, being financially at the mercy of her parents (studying at the Sorbonne is not cheap). The central question of the book explores the power dynamic between Trinity and her mother, as well as Trinity’s growing sense of herself as an independent woman capable of self-determination.

Trinity’s strength is tested as she faces a fire, a storm, a boat crash, her sister’s alcoholism, her mother’s laudanum addiction, her parents’ anti-Semitism, her father’s cruelty to impoverished Natives, her attraction to a young architect, and her ongoing longing for Victor. In the process she meets author Sinclair Lewis who promises to buy a painting from her, which would finance her studies.

Mary Casanova, with 39 published books to her credit, is familiar with the landscape she evocatively portrays in Waterfall, her first adult novel. This is the third of a series of interconnected books, each of which focuses on a different main character. Trinity Baird is loosely based on Virginia Roberts, the historical figure who graces the book jacket.. I would suggest that readers begin by turning to the last few pages of the book where fictional versus historical aspects are spelled out.

If you enjoy an exquisitely drawn natural setting, have an interest in the social mores of the 1920s and the issues of women then and now, pick up a copy of Waterfall. It is a compelling read and will provide an excellent springboard for book group discussion.

Worm Moon

The time has come, I decided, for me to pay closer attention the cycles of nature–the monthly waxing and waning of the moon, the equinoxes and solstices, the apparent movement of planets and stars, daily sunrises and sunsets, leaf unfurlings, floral bloomings, bird migrations, meteor showers, and so much more.

Since the beginning of humanoid existence, we lived in intimate relationship to our natural surroundings. Now that most of us dwell in homes with roofs, move from place to place in enclosed conveyances, and do our work indoors, that connection has loosened. And with that, we have lost a sense of true kinship with other living creatures of the myriad plant and animal varieties.

The March full moon is commonly known as the Worm Moon, presumably based on the emergence of earthworms. It is also referred the Sugar Moon, pertaining to the flow of maple sap. Coming up April 26 the Pink Moon will grace our skies as one of two 2021 Super Moons,, referring to an appearance of somewhat larger than normal sized disk. The designation of the April full moon as pink is said to relate to the blooming time of pink moss phlox.

Renewing a connection with the natural world reminds us that we are nothing more and nothing less than creatures among creatures, dependent on the earth for nutrition, water, and air. We humans have taken an extraordinary toll on the well-being of our planet and its denizens. Only we, person by person, can turn this dire situation around. We all know the steps–buy less, drive less, eat less (or no) meat, plant trees, lobby for the preservation and restoration of wild areas, buy organic and local, to name a few possible steps.

As you gaze at a sun-glinted lake, or see a tiny wild flower in bloom, give thanks for the beauty of the earth and for the opportunity we each have to effect healing of the environment we share with all other living beings..

NMB/NMP

Homemade “tat” or ballpoint? Hmmm…

If I had any inclination toward body art, two initialisms* would be permanently inked on my arm. One day on my morning walk, I mentally spun on something someone said which was not my problem nor any of my business.

“WHY IS THIS TAKING UP SPACE IN MY BRAIN?!” 

NMP/NMB was born on lovely trail along Minnehaha Creek.

Let’s say we have 16 waking hours per day, 112 hours per week. Unless we are meditation masters, our mysterious, creative, beautiful, cruel minds are buzzing every second. We need filters, we need awareness, we need tools to use when the noise overwhelms.

In this crazy age of near-infinite interconnectedness, personal intrusion takes on new significance. The curated minutiae of individual lives crowds social media–vacations, vaccinations, personal milestones, random thoughts, selfies taken here, there, and everywhere. Pop-up ads, celebrity scandals, political machinations, twenty-four news stations intended to suck us in. To the degree we allow it, a non-stop bombardment of sound and images enters our consciousness.

NMP=Not My Problem and NMB=Not My Business. 

I find these little reminders very useful. I may be stewing over something that another person did or said. Maybe a friend or family member tried to drag me into a situation for which I have no time, or in which I have no interest. Definitely NMP! Or I be thinking about choices made by a friend or relative, or a political situation over which I have no influence. Or I find myself judging the lifestyle or political opinions of another. NMB! 

Do you resonate?

We need protection from chaos, cynicism, hatred, dishonesty, judgment, endless problems which can overwhelm us to the degree that we either shut down, find refuge in less-than-healthy coping mechanisms, or fall into the trap of negativity. By setting filters we can tone down the interference, find peace of mind, and become more effective where things are our business or our problem. 

Peace be with you. Please stay in touch.

gail@eye2.com

  • I first typed “acronym” as in NASA, then realized that being unpronounceable, these are initializations. Yep.

Regret

Did not do. Did do. Should not have done. Should have done. Could have done. No going back.

Regrets live in our mind as burdensome reminders of perceived failure, manifesting as self-judgement, which may result in ill-health and troubled relationships.

Memory, a mysterious aspect of our being, allows us to savor positive past experiences. The vacation, a delicious meal, the first kiss with a beloved. Memory also serves to torment us with the discomfort of other choices. An impulse purchase, a lie, an episode of unfaithfulness, misplaced anger, violent action. On and on and on.

Those who have experience with 12-Step Programs are familiar with examining regrets and making reparations. In a similar vein, Jewish tradition teaches that when you have knowingly done a wrong to another person, healing comes by directly (if possible) spelling out the wrong you have done, asking for pardon and offering appropriate reparations. If the other refuses to accept your apology, try another time. If refused again, make one more attempt. If refused again, it is considered that you have done your best, and your conscience (karma, to mix religious metaphors) is cleared. If the individual harmed is no longer living or available, find a way to make an appropriate reparation by helping someone else.

In addition to regrets over actions done, we regret that which was undone, such as missed opportunities. My clients have expressed regret over not being more adventurous, not taking more chances, dithering over a decision until it was too late, staying in a life-sapping situation rather than summoning the courage to leave, not taking better care of their health, or not finding ways to deal with problems and stress.

Healing regrets over that which was left undone may take the form of asking for pardon, if the past choice had a harmful impact on another. “Undone” regrets may be healed by simply doing what needs to be done, such as tending to one’s health, or by doing what might be regretted if an opportunity slips by.

In same way that other forms of negative energy are addressed, become aware of your regrets through examination of thoughts, dreams, and reactions. What a burden regrets are! Journal the regrets, examine their origin, and contemplate their healing, whether they center on things done or left undone..

And, as always, ask for help if needed.

gail@eye2eye.us

“(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding”

As to the question implied in the title, the obvious answer is “nothing.” What could be strange, odd, or amusing about these virtues?

This is the name of a marvelous song, written by Nick Lowe in 1974, and memorably recorded by Elvis Costello in 1979.The lyrics include these lines: As I walk through this wicked world, searching for light in the darkness of insanity, I ask myself, Is all hope lost? Is there only pain and hatred and misery?'”

These lyrics could meaningfully have been penned today. Or yesterday. Or January 6th, 2021.

In our deeply divided country, we are each faced with options of how we react to troubling events, and the people who perpetrate them, as well as those who tacitly or openly condone violence and hatred.

I deeply believe in the power of peace, and the power of love. And most days, even with those of a radically different perspective, I can stay in a good place. But understanding? That’s not happening. How can we understand that which is irrational?

Theologian Ted Peters wrote a book entitled, “Sin: Radical Evil in Soul and Society.” In it he makes the case that evil is inherently irrational. No amount of rational argument, no evidence, or statistics will touch the actions and arguments of those bent on destruction.

The best we can do is remember this important teaching and not waste our time in disputation. Focusing on peace and love in our own souls will spill out, and slowly but surely move people and events in a more positive direction.

Please find a video of “What’s so Funny “bout Peace. Love, and Understanding” on YouTube. It’s best played LOUD, and I promise it will make your day.

(NOTE: Apologies. I valiantly tried, and failed to include an actual link to the song.)