I’m posting live from Massachusetts having arrived only yesterday, while starting this post on September 3rd in between packing and taking care of last-minute details. I chose the annual Hookversary, the anniversary of Hook’s passing, his leaving, as the launch to this month’s trek along the United States’ northeastern seaboard: Connecticut to Rhode Island to Massachusetts to New Hampshire to Vermont to Maine.
A week before leaving, I watched part of a Bob Ross documentary that said Ross only ever painted landscapes, rarely people, maybe never people. Ross painted with oil, alla prima, wet on wet. I’ve no idea what that is except it sounds complicated. Bob said it wasn’t. I’m not an artist, but I did pack my watercolor kit and brushes and paper. Painting was how Bob relaxed during timeouts in the U.S. Air Force, while I use painting to pamper myself in between writing blocks. The brushes, the canvas, the paint are all tangibles like words from my head to the screen or a notecard. There is never an end to the connection.
September 3rd 2021 marked eight years, eight whole years that Hook’s been gone. It was yesterday; it is today; it is forever. There is never an end to the connection. That time melds into the present so that I no longer know if I’ve written about him too much or not enough, which is why I’m glad I waited until today to share what I’m doing and where I am: neither sad to the occasion but also not indifferent.
This year’s Hookversary closed with memories of ornery Hook, witty Hook, sweet Hook; Hook as he used to be, as we all are: flawed humans. Each year there is less the romanticized dying and tragic death, and more wistful wondering of what my husband would have thought of today’s world. In his absence, I get to choose which scenes our marriage to relive, memories I’ve tucked away to play as I wish. They leave me feeling something good and right and special, like the laughter of zooming with your favorite people over a cocktail hour or the joy of sitting in your neighborhood TexMex that never serves accidental cilantro, or the heartache when hearing the melodic singing of Alejandro Escovedo’s Sister Lost Soul.
~ BEGIN: Shameless Plug ~
Pepsis thisbe is one of three wasp levels for the Hook Wild Basin Endowment. She is fierce; she is bold; she is my spirit wasp.
In the second quarter of 2021, St. Edward’s University launched a Hook Wild Basin Campaign which netted almost $30,000 and which brought our Hook Fellow awardees to almost 63 recipients since 2014. I mentioned to a London friend that a blog titled, “Pepsis thisbe for the Win,” would be written and dedicated to them as a Thank You for their $5,000 donation to this campaign. But then I had writer’s block, and now all I’m left with is this shameless plug.
Pepsis thisbe is a tarantula hawk wasp found at the Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve in Austin, Texas. According to the Schmidt Pain Index, she is said to have one of the most powerful stings in the world. Yes, Pepsis thisbe will make you cry out for your mama if you disturb her. Except, you’d have to be hopping around on the trails to get under her wings, and that would annoy anyone. If she stings you, you probably had it coming.
Pepsis thisbe is also the highest donor level available under the Hook Endowment, and she’s a wasp that Hook described as “spectacular and fearless,” probably because he loved her more than me.
It seems when I’ve traveled this year, I am in the middle of a project or finishing a project or trying to start a project so that invariably, I must pack the project and bring it with me if I’m ever to finish. Many of these projects have to do with mailing stuff or writing letters to later become more mailing stuff. It was special Thank You cards for the 2021 Hook Wild Basin campaign that I packed this time, the complication of which is too far-fetched to explain or track down the why behind; better for me to simply write these Thank You notes again – all 78 of them.
And because that campaign was such a success, another private donor in Austin has suggested they would make an additional one-time donation of $25,000 if someone (you?) would consider a match amount. So, if you need a $25,000 tax deductible donation in 2021, please call me!
~ END: Shameless Plug ~
All of this is why I am sitting in Danvers, the true origins of the Salem, Massachusetts witchery. My planning for this trip began exactly one week ago, where my only thought was to fly to a colder state. Cooler weather anywhere is better than the normal 110 degrees in an Austin September. That’s when I remembered how I was chased away from this northeastern trek during the 2015 sabbatical, when Hurricane Joaquin swept by me and Gatita in Kitty Hawk on the Outer Banks, stalling my plans to drive these New England states.
There’s no Gatita this time, no Hook, no Hook Jeep, and I hope, no Hurricane Ida or Larry or any other big storms. Just me in a rented SUV with complete fluidity in my road trip. And like my travels, this is some rough blogging. I’ve been away too long, but never from Hook.
In dedication to Allan William Hook, September 3rd 2013
Votary of nature even from a child,
he sought her presence in the trackless wild
To him the shell, the insect, and the flower,
were bright and cherished emblems
of her power
In her he saw a spirit all divine,
and worshipped like a pilgrim
at her shrine