She had a wry sense of humor that she was not afraid to turn on herself, which she frequently did. Talented in her own right - she had studied the violin and was, I think, not an indifferent instrumentalist until she simply stopped playing - she was a photographer, as well; she put her simple box camera to use constantly with remarkable adeptness. Her triumph over the Gestetner machine on which she managed to reproduce the pages and pages of Paolo writings that she'd carefully hand-typed on her Selectric was nothing short of phenomenal.
Colly's love of music is manifest at Arcosanti. The amphitheater of the Colly Soleri Music Center is a fine performance space: I only wish she had lived to enjoy the sublime music it affords its audiences.
I saw her last in 1981, when we stopped - briefly - at Arcosanti and Cosanti on the way to New Mexico where I had left our belongings when I came off my teaching job on the Navajo rez. I remember all too clearly standing with her in the kitchen of their house on Doubletree Road, somehow parsing her face, her expression, her stance. What came emphatically out of my mouth, like a medically intuitive no-nonsense savant (which I am not) was, "Boss Lady, you have to go see a doctor."
I remember how she moved her hand vaguely in the air, waving me, waving my words, off. Oh Clara, she said, and I knew from the way she said it, the way she stood, that she was not going to do what I was asking her to do.
I had no choice but to put the encounter 'on hold,' as it were. Went on to New Mexico, gathered up our things, went back to BC, settled into life on Slocan Lake. Later that year, after younger son Jacob was born, I had a truly awful dream, unforgettably and vividly prescient in quality. It was so unsettling, I phoned Mark Neptune in New Mexico to ask him was all well with our friends Ike and Jean in Tucson since the dream's landscape somehow resembled the Southwest.
Mark assured me Ike and Jean were fine. Uneasily, as best I could, I put the ominous dream out of my mind. Until Ivan Pintar phoned, told me Colly was gone. Told me she had gone to a doctor, but in August - too late to slow down the painful end. Told me the family had gathered in around her, kept her close until she breathed no more.
Told me, too, that she had been buried. On the hill above the river that runs through Arcosanti's garden camp, I learned later, when I returned to Arcosanti thinking to see what I might be able to do to help cauterize that awful, gaping wound. Paolo filled big jugs with water which we carried, scarcely speaking, for the rosemary - "for remembrance" - that had been planted where she was buried, over her grave.
There are people who are indelible. Colly, our boss lady, was one whose mark will never vanish, must never be erased.
Click on the link below for a Youtube of a performance by classical pianist Sonya Kumiko Lee at the Colly Soleri Music Center at Arcosanti.