Museum Musings: can we blame the crazy day on the wind? And a chance meeting…

a street of Jacarandas in Beverly Hills

According to Harold Camping’s doomsday prediction the world was going to end with earthquakes, but tornadoes seem to be raining down on the midsection of the United States.

Starting last month in Tuscaloosa Alabama, where a tornado with wind speeds up to 200 miles per hour flattened the town,  last Sunday a six mile swath of Joplin, Missouri was shredded by winds up to 300 miles per hour, on Tuesday deadly twisters fell in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Kansas, on Wednesday a rare tornado in N. California, and on Thursday there were more than 600 reports of severe weather across the country, including five tornadoes that stretched from the Gulf to Canada and as far east as Vermont.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration this has become the deadliest year for tornadoes since 1953, with over 500 deaths from 1,000 tornadoes so far.

I cannot imagine the  power of a wind that can “flatten everything as far as the eye can see”.

Hundreds of people are dead and missing and thousands are homeless, their possessions scattered by the wind. Their stories are heartbreaking.  I weep with them, and I salute people like Betty Londergan, who earlier this week drove three hours with a group of volunteers from Atlanta to help sort food at a Food Bank in Alabama…

Over in my part of the country people were doing crazy things today. Was it ripple effects from the wind?

grass along the verge of the exit ramp

On our commute this morning, while carpool Eric and I were stopped at a red light at the exit ramp with the tall grass, we watched a man in a white BMW park his car on a narrow strip at the side, get out the car, and pee standing there, his back to the busy road.


this photo of silver ghost leaves for Priya


Standing in front of me she sneezed, spraying me with spit.

Turning to her friend she said, “This isn’t the desert. Why are there so many things to be allergic to?”  but forgot to say ‘excuse me’ to the cashier in front of her.

I should’ve taken a photo of the cashier.


About half a dozen people opened the exit door opposite my Satellite store clearly marked:

Emergency Exit. Alarm will Sound.

When they realized they’d set off the emergency alarm some tried to run away, some blushed and apologized to anyone in sight, while a few didn’t even realize what they’d done, and had to be called back inside.


A man in the one of the galleries snapped the pendulum off one of the four hundred year old French clocks on display.

“I wanted to see how the clock worked,” he said to the security guard.

Lynne, one of the readers of this blog who lives in Israel, sent me this photo of Jacaranda trees near her home.


As you know I meet interesting people at my cash register every day, but as I don’t tell you about them every day, I’ve got a backlog of stories still waiting to be shared, for instance this one from last summer:

From the conversation of the two women standing in front of my register I assumed it was a family reunion, and they were catching up on news.  While I rang up the older woman’s purchase: Leonard Freed’s photography bookBlack in White America“, and took her cash, she asked her companion about her studies. The young woman explained – very earnestly – that she was about to graduate from community college, and that photography was her favorite subject.

"Black in White in America" - photographs by Leonard Freed

When the book was presented to the young woman, she hugged it to her chest with many grateful thanks and promises to work hard, the two women shook hands – which I thought odd and formal – and then the young woman went outside, but her older companion joined a man looking at the books.

Do you know that young woman?” I asked the older woman.

“No,” she said, “I’ve never met her before.”

Photography books aren’t cheap. “You just bought that book for a total stranger?”

“Yes,” she said. “I could see she appreciated Leonard’s pictures in the exhibition. I hope the book will help her in her studies.”

“To whom do I have the pleasure of speaking?” I asked

“Brigitte Freed,” she said.  Leonard Freed’s widow. If she’d introduced herself she could’ve received a special author’s discount on the book, but she’d paid the full price, and for someone she didn’t know.

“I am honored to meet you,” I said,  “and delighted to tell you we’re most probably cousins, as I have the same surname as you.”

Unfortunately I didn’t have my camera with me that day.

I’m proud to say that Brigitte Freed has included me as one of her family.  I got a Christmas card from her last December.

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16 Responses to Museum Musings: can we blame the crazy day on the wind? And a chance meeting…

  1. Mahalia says:

    what a lovely story! i can’t believe you saved that one all this time! also, i think you can blame the crazy wind and the crazy weather on something else. it is a crazy intense time according to astrologers, for instance.

    • dearrosie says:

      It is a remarkable story which unfortunately got buried in my pile of stories. I tried to write it several times, but then something like the tornadoes came along and took over the post, which is what happened today. But I had decided “come what may” I was going to share Brigitte Freed’s story today…

    • dearrosie says:

      Further to Mahalia’s comment that this is an intense time according to astrologers, do you know that there are going to be three Eclipses in June? I’d like to share what D.K. Brainard wrote on his blog about the first one: a Gemini New Moon solar eclipse on June 1st:

      “…. I’ve been so aware of the aggression and fear coursing like tainted blood through the collective mindspace these last few weeks. You can feel the extent to which some people are ready to explode and lash out at anyone they can force to feel their pain. And you can feel how many others are ready to pack it in, give up, do whatever it takes to numb the confusion and terror that victimizes them.
      I realize that in my 2011 forecasting, back at the start of the year, I failed to take into account just how powerful the momentum of this Great Transition is, as we rocket through the hard aspects of Pluto, Saturn, and Uranus on the grid of the world horoscope and into the final days of the Mayan Calendar.
      We have, those of us connecting in this little slice of cyberspace, come so far, so relatively fast. We’ve gained so much freedom. Look back at the life you were living, the thoughts you were having (Gemini is the sign of the thinking mind) ten or fifteen years ago. Amazing, right? And yet, the ghosts of the past are everywhere we look. We know that the survival of our race – at least in any kind of form you and I would care to be a part of – depends on our disconnecting from the pollution-spewing, soul-killing nightmare of the Dark Matrix of the collective egoic mind. We know that we must stop mindlessly consuming in an effort to mask our very real pain and start creating – for creating beauty and goodness are the only way out of this mental cul-de-sac we’ve been backed into.
      And yet, it can be hard to stay focused on that task when we feel so much craziness around us and within us…”

  2. souldipper says:

    A perfect story of the wonderful side of humanity that is too often buried. Glad your pile didn’t let this one slip away, Rosie.

    I wonder if the young student will ever know…

    • dearrosie says:

      I thought no one would read to the end of the post so Brigitte’s story would be lost. I’m glad to see that at least two of you managed to read it.

      The student left before I had a chance to ask her so I don’t know whether Brigitte actually introduced herself.

  3. Priya says:

    Thank you, for the picture of the ‘ghost leaves’ and for this post. I could thank you every time you publish your museum musings, they remind so very gently, that even though things may not be alright, all is still well.

    Stories like Brigitte Freed’s story are something we need to hear from time to time to realise how things could be done, choices made.

    200/300 miles an hour! Sometimes I hate what nature does to us.

    • dearrosie says:

      Do you know what tree the ghost leaves are from Priya?

      You know I only saw Brigitte Freed buy the book for one stranger, but I have a feeling that she buys books for people wherever she goes.

      If you’ve ever driven in a sports car with the roof down, you know what the wind feels like as it whips past you when you’re speeding along at 100 mp.h. I CANNOT imagine winds of 200-300 mph.

      Never remain in a car if a tornado approaches. It flips over easily, and even if you’re strapped into your seat belt the force of the wind can suck you out the window. Oh dear …

      • Priya says:

        The leaves at from the peepal tree, Rosie! I wonder if they’ve begun to grow them in the US or whether they are imported. I love the intricate veins they have.
        Tornadoes and Brigitte Freed — Wow. Only, of very different kinds.

      • dearrosie says:

        That’s right – peepul tree. Am I correct that it’s one of the trees you photographed on the walk around your neighborhood?

        I don’t know if you can click on the picture to make an enlargement because there’s a sticker on the front of the leaf package that says “Made in India”.

      • Priya says:

        Ah yes! Of course. Thank you, I can see the Made in India now!

        I did take a picture of a peepal tree and post it there. You remember well. 🙂

  4. magsx2 says:

    I have read about the terrible tornadoes in the paper, what a terrible tragedy for all involved, it must of been terrifying.
    I loved your story about the book, how nice it was of her to buy that book for a complete stranger, and it seems the young girl did appreciate it as well, it is a pity the young girl didn’t know who it was that gave the book.

    • dearrosie says:

      I feel for those poor people in the mid-west and I hope this year’s tornado season is finished. Over here on the west coast we’ve had cool weather with gusty winds which are also unusual. What about your part of the world?

      Even if she doesn’t know who gave her the book, to see how she hugged it to her chest I could see that it was going to be one of the young woman’s treasured possessions.

      • magsx2 says:

        Hi dearrosie,
        Here in OZ we are in Autumn going into Winter, I must say the summer that just passed was nowhere near as hot as it usually is, and this Autumn seems a bit cooler than norm. But as per normal, we also had some bad storms, and the cyclone season was true to form and done a lot of damage. I was lucky we got through the summer with no damage, just some scary moments.

      • dearrosie says:

        Hi magsx2,
        I wonder why a cooler summer is usually followed by a cooler autumn?
        I think a tornado is a wind that blows inland, but I’m not sure what the difference between a cyclone, and a hurricane is? Is it just that we use a different word?

  5. dearrosie says:

    If you’re interested to know more about the eclipses Donna B emailed me the link to NASA’s 2011 eclipse article

    which starts:
    Four partial solar and two total lunar eclipses take place in 2011. This 4:2 combination of solar and lunar eclipses in a single year is rather rare with only six cases during the 21st Century (2011, 2029, 2047, 2065, 2076 and 2094). The first and last eclipses always occur in January and December.

    2011 Jan 04: Partial Solar Eclipse
    2011 Jun 01: Partial Solar Eclipse
    2011 Jun 15: Total Lunar Eclipse
    2011 Jul 01: Partial Solar Eclipse
    2011 Nov 25: Partial Solar Eclipse
    2011 Dec 10: Total Lunar Eclipse

  6. magsx2 says:

    Hi dearrosie,
    In answer to your question. Cyclones and Hurricanes are the same thing. The difference in names depends on where they develope. In the Pacific Ocean, North Atlantic Ocean they are called a cyclone, or a tropical cyclone. I have no idea why. 🙂

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