Tag archives for family

Victor Densmore’s latest poetry reviewed in Hardwick Gazette

My father’s poetry was reviewed this week in The Hardwick Gazette. Ms. Cook does a great job of capturing what he’s about.

His current book is still available on Amazon (http://amzn.com/1257919350), and we’re working on finding a publisher for his latest group of poems.

dads_review

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Autistics in the mist, part one

Today I was awoken from a deep slumber by the older female. She had spent the night working on getting the perfect album ready for a series of photos of her children and husband. She hadn’t slept at all, and as of this writing is still awake. Her work on selecting, cropping, editing, and captioning the 14 photos had taken her most of four hours.

The last photo of a crow purchased from the local pharmacy apparently gave her a hard time, because she wanted me to help her with a caption. After loudly debating the subject for a few minutes, she finally typed in a phrase that she came up with on her own, pressed enter and slumped forward on her desk.

My time with these autistics in the mist may need to be much longer than my university’s initial understanding, but I will not leave while I can still try and understand their ways and my ever-evolving involvement with them. I find myself irrevocably drawn to them, and I fear that my closeness may endanger my ability to remain objective in my studies.

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Spring is breaking through

Here at Achenmead West, spring is starting to finally show itself in recognizable ways: the grass is showing brown and damp from beneath the heavy snow, small birds are flitting about and ravens are hovering above, the driveway is a nearly impassable run of foot-deep mud. Early spring in Vermont: two parts delight, one part slimy brown mud.

Before I get into that, though, I feel I should explain “Achenmead West”. It’s my dad’s name for the 10 acres we live on here in Mackville — an old village within the town of Hardwick. He takes the name from the mythical location of the Densmore family back in Scotland circa 1630 or so. The story goes that a Laird Dinsmoor lived in Achenmead and had two sons. The younger ran off to Northern Ireland and eventually had children who made it to New England. While the hunt for the factual Achenmead — Auchenmade is perhaps a candidate — continues, my dad felt that the legend was enough to lend name to the land here.

While I think that the naming of the land was partially a joke or at least tongue-in-cheek on my dad’s part, it still gives a great deal of credence to this house and the land around it. Here is where my dad grew up with his mother and father and grandfather; here is where I grew up with my mother and father; here is where my son and daughter are growing up with their mother, father, and grandfather. There’s a cycle of history within the last few generations around this place and to give it a name that hearkens back to pre-family times that cycle is strengthened and made clearer. This is my father’s land as it was his father’s land. I continue the cycle as its current steward — I’m in no hurry to own it, just in case any wights are reading this — and the name gives all of that a reason to tell the story.

A farm of your own is better, even if small,
everyone’s someone at home;
though he has two goats and a coarsely roofed house,
that is better than begging.

Cattle die, kinsmen die,
the self must also die;
I know one thing which never dies:
the reputation of each dead man.

The power of the place and of having a place of our own. Stories of family, of names of land, of histories of homes all lend to building the reputation of all of us. Here in Mackville in Hardwick is Achenmead West staking a humble claim to these 10 acres. What stories might be told about it and its residents in the future? What stories do we want told about it? Those future stories are our current lives. We make them as we live.

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Back in VT

We’ve been back for about three weeks now, and the list of stuff to do just keeps getting longer. Here’s a sample in no particular order:

  1. Help Gabe organize his new bedroom
  2. Finalize the layout of the office
  3. Unpack all of our stuff
  4. Get in wood for the winter
  5. Finalize the process of revisiting old haunts
  6. Get a bigger propane tank
  7. Build the bee hive
  8. Finish the pasture road/path
  9. Build the sugar shack
  10. Finish the trail up to the sugar bush
  11. Layout the woods road

Of course, each task above involves minute sub-tasks which also could involve additional, laterally-related tasks. I figure I’d better get organized, though, because each thing I try to do seems to take longer. For example, it took me a week just to get downtown to pick up the boards for the hive.

In addition to the above, there is the constant challenge of maintaining a remote presence in Boston. I’m being given a phenomenal chance, and every day I work hard to make sure it’s worth it for everyone involved.

I wouldn’t trade this for anything, though. We’re all living together in good humor and I think it’s working out well. I like it here and sincerely hope this is the last time we move, because I’ve got plans to be settled for a long, long time.

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My new Tattoo

Skuldalið. Old Norse for "family" or "household" written in runes for talismanic properties.

Skuldalið. Old Norse for "family" or "household" written in runes for talismanic properties.

I got my first professional tattoo this weekend. I’ve been thinking about a tattoo since high school, but there was never anything that struck me as a permanent idea. Something that I wouldn’t mind embedded in my skin for the decades of my life I’ve yet to live. As I’ve grown older, though, some very relevant concepts have remained constants in my life. It is one of these constants that I chose to get imprinted on the inside of my left arm: family.

My concept of family, though, is nothing like the sociological sense of “nuclear” or “broken” or “alternative” that we hold on to today. Family to me is the idea that there are inherent obligations towards a certain set of people — obligations which go above and beyond the needs of other people.

Also, my perception of family is as one of the rings on the hierarchy of human experience. Being human requires participation in this hierarchy — at least it does in an existential mode of living — and it’s how I choose to live. The rings go from inner to outer in the following order: self, family, clan, neighborhood, village, town. Anything beyond “town” is a purely socio-political idea that doesn’t really affect humanity other than mashing us all together in one place. The six I’ve listed, though, coincide to our spheres of influence, from most influence to least influence. Each sphere, however, has more influence over the next one than the previous sphere does. For example, I have more control over myself than my family. However, a neighborhood has more control over a village than a family does.

This idea of a kind of concentric living is, as I said above, part of the existential experience. More importantly, though, it is also part of the human tribal experience and has been for centuries. At any point in human history, at any given gathering of humans, this kind of structure could be observed. It is in that spirit that I chose the concept of “family” for my tattoo.

The end result is nine runes (Sowilo, Kenaz, Uruz, Laguz, Dagaz, Ansuz, Laguz, Isa, Dagaz) that create a ritualistic presentation of the Old Norse word “Skuldalið”. Approximately translated it means “family” or “household”. I chose runes because of a closeness to my own sense of being, as well as a deep sense of connection to that aspect of my personal history. Runes are also used to elevate a word to a more potent talismanic idea.  A word written in runes is not just the word, but the idea of that word and the impact that it has on those who read the runes.

Family is everything to me. From that, I gain my own sense of well-being and foundation. I also define my family through my own actions. Ultimately, the world’s perceptions of me and of my family are one and the same. If I want my family to continue to thrive, then I must temper my actions against not only what is good for me, but also for my family. From there, the clan on out are also affected.

Skuldalið. Family. Household. My life.

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