Sunday, January 30, 2022

Only One Semester To Go!

There was a summer residency, my third semester, and a winter residency. Now I have one semester to go and a final residency in June/July when I will graduate! Where did the time go???

Grad school books. I've read about 90% of them. Guest artist works,
faculty works, anthologies, fiction, lyrical nonfiction, poetry, and critical studies.

Residency memories:

Winter 2022 those of us who were in person at the school 
were able to participate in art workshops!

Where it all happens in Portland - Pacific Northwest College of Art (@ Willamette University)

Winter 2021 on Zoom

2021 Graduate, my friend Janna                                My buddy Russell

2021 Summer post-graduation karaoke


One of many dinners at cool Portland restaurants

Molly, bonafide best roomie ever

My thesis, "Blankets"


B L A N K E T : noun : a large piece of woolen or similar material used as a bed covering or other covering for warmth. Etymology : Middle English (denoting undyed woolen cloth): via Old Northern French from Old French blanc ‘white’, ultimately of Germanic origin. A blanket can be made of woven acrylic, knitted polyester, mink, cotton, fleece, silk, and wool. Synonyms : cloak, cover, cover-up, covering, curtain, hood, mantle, mask, pall, penumbra, robe, shroud, veil, wrap.

White covering 

for warmth.



The earliest memory I have of death isn’t a memory. It’s a fluid thought-image of white walls and curtains, a sterile hospital bed with white blankets, my Grandma Ethel, my mother’s mother, and a specific moment that I was given to say goodbye. Is it real? I’ve shaded it out and erased it so many times. I wish I had a better sense of it because I was almost ten years old. I know for sure that when I saw her body later in a casket, despite her familiar white wig and silky turquoise blouse,  I couldn’t understand why her lips were formed into such a thick, tight pucker. 

I also think I have an older thought of her husband, Homer, lying in a bed of pale, thin white sheets in his home. I felt special because I was tall enough as a toddler to help him move his limbs to keep his muscles from atrophy. Easily the bones moved, the muscles hung heavy.


When I fell in love with my husband, Dan, I visited him in Chicago and stayed at his apartment, in his room with a small window next to the bed where he hung blue Christmas lights and ran a fan. I loved lying in his bed of soft, worn-in blue sheets. Later, I confused my memories and began to believe that my grandfather actually had been cocooned by blue sheets.

In college, I created a sculpture to represent these confused memories; a shelf covered in those blue sheets and white polymer clay bones. The fabric hung from the shelf, even, with some of the bones cradled in the draped folds.


Mary Martha (Hendricks) Hodel || Circa 1965, 1980



As a child in church one evening, the pastor dropped the lights and showed a film on a projector screen. There was a cemetery and a person raised from a grave; shot up quickly to the sky, bound for heaven. It was sending a soul to heaven to await the resurrection. That body speeding, upward hurtling through the air terrified me.



After her death but before the doctor placed a sheet over my mother’s body, I held her hand–the hand I had known all my life; admiring how it felt and how it had held my hand, the nesting and the pressing of the soft pads together. I tried to comfort my mother, kissing her cheek and caressing her forehead. I was 36 and she was 69 but I had become her mother by helping my sister with caregiving. I touched her body, a body no longer having warm blood or breath. Her skin was cold and purple but I kept telling her in my mind that she was beautiful. If I thought/said it to her enough times, didn’t it make me a better daughter than I felt I had been? The truth was her eyes were paused in a yellow pale gloss, her scalp exposed without her wig-only partially covered with feathery patches of short, white hair, and her mouth slacked, revealing an absence of teeth, only gray gums.


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