Bathroom spider

Bathroom spider

Not sure how well you can see it, but this little gal (I’ve decided) is a spider who seems to be spending the winter between the screen and glass of my bathroom window. Old house, little critters slip through sometimes. What is absolutely astonishing, though, is that she is alive. The temperature right now is MINUS 8 DEGREES, with a windchill of MINUS 35. Why is she alive? What is she eating? How can this be? I’ve watched her slowly stretch her legs, and I do believe she is spinning and weaving icy strands of spider thread.

As some of you know, I have mixed feelings about social media and all this InterWeb stuff.  But I’ve had quite a week and made some rather astonishing connections through Facebook, Twitter, and one through an old-fashioned email.  Listen:

I attended my friend Nancy McCabe’s book launch at U-Pitt-Bradford a few weeks ago.  I snapped a couple of pictures of her signing books, and they turned out great!  Posted one on Facebook and got to watch all of Nancy’s friends comment.  I was fascinated with a comment by a woman named Karen Shoemaker — not the comment so much, but Karen’s profile picture includes the cover of her book, The Meaning of Names, published by Red Hen Press.  The cover is a dark and foreboding photograph of a storm coming up over the plains of Nebraska.  After a bit more research, I learned the book was selected as this year’s “Omaha Reads” selection.  The other connection is that my friend Celeste Gainey, aka The Gaffer, just had a wonderful book of poetry, The Gaffer(!), published by the same press.   I bought the book (reviewed on Goodreads and Amazon), but the neat thing is I’ve connected with Karen a bit.  She writes about German immigrants in Nebraska during World War I.  They were drafted into the war in disproportionate numbers, experienced prejudices in their communities even if they were second or third generation, and experienced the awful influenza outbreak that brought the military to its knees.  Hmmmm.  My people were German immigrants in Nebraska, and I have a picture of my grandmother from around the same time period: a little girl sitting in an old-fashioned car.  I remembered my grandfather (probably German, but claimed to be Pennsylvania Dutch) calling my sister “Krauthead,” and the rest of us “Hunyocks.”  I later learned that “Hunyock” is a derogatory term for German sheep farmers.   Anyway, the idea of the book stirred up some old stuff in me, and the book itself did not disappoint.  The other really cool thing about the author is that in addition to teaching writing, she and her husband run a truck stop.  Today, she’s giving a talk in Columbus, Nebraska, and my cousins in Columbus are going, and it turns out they know Karen from childhood.  They’re hunyocks, too.

I also developed a strange (for me) connection with a woman named Karen Glosser. We found each other on Twitter, which I use very tentatively.  Karen is an artist, a photographer, and had a gallery opening yesterday.   Jeff and I braved the weather (snow!) and went, and got to meet Karen and her husband.  And we bought a fabulous print.  The series in the show is called “Ice,” and the photographs are simply marvelous.  Some of the pictures are of ice, others taken through ice, and what they evoke is astonishing.  Reminiscent of deserts, mountains, seascapes, and animals, she finds the world with a macro-lens, in a frozen drop of water.  Check out her work on her website, or at the Portage Hill Gallery.   As a neat aside, we were introduced to a fellow artist who is also in the process of establishing a creamery and making artisan cheese in an old building that formerly housed a bookstore.  Watch for Reverie Creamery to open in June.

And I’ve made a fast friend, through email, with one of my SUNY Sistahs,  Laura Gray-Rosendale, who wrote a terrific book called College Girl.  It’s a deeply personal and wonderfully wrought story of a violent rape on a college campus.  I was so smitten with the story, and with the writerly things (the book has won several literary prizes), that I contacted Laura to congratulate her.  Since then, we’ve been in cahoots trying to get the book in front of policymakers who are working on legislative changes around the issue (the great Teresa has helped).  Now we’re each others fans, and friends.

Fun for me to think about these connections.  Thanks for reading, and I’ll keep you posted on the spider.







2 thoughts on “Webs

  1. Karen Glosser

    Thank you so much, Beth, for the very kind words about my work! It was such a pleasure to meet you and Jeff yesterday at the gallery. I truly appreciate your support. (Especially on such a wintry day!) Looking forward to reading more of your posts, and can’t wait for your next book!!

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