Thursday, October 30, 2008
Back in the olden days, when I was in my 20s, I used to diet by having yogurt for lunch, something from the refrigerator section of the little lunch room downstairs at 550 California Street. And my favorite was prune yogurt, because it reminded me of the stewed prunes with heavy cream my grandmother served up when I stayed at her house. Gee, I hadn't thought about prunes for decades. Then I went on retreat to Maria del Mar convent this last winter, and the nuns put stewed prunes on the breakfast buffet. Of course, I thought. Nuns would eat prunes. It just seemed like a no-brainer. So, I decided to get some and stew them. You think I could find prunes anywhere? When's the last time you saw a container of prune yogurt? Or a prune Danish, remember them? Eventually, on a trip down an unfamiliar aisle at Costco, I found a bag of dried plums. Well, what are prunes but dried plums? I wasn't certain till I got them home, and whoopee, PRUNES! Now that I am on my eating plan again, to ward off incipient fluffiness, I appreciate stewed prunes and plain, non-fat yogurt snacks. Really yummy, and awfully good for this old gal. The best things are those that nourish both my body and my soul. Long live prunes, whatever they're called.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
My movie buddy and I went to see The Duchess this weekend. She liked it so much, it was her second viewing. And it was a sumptuous film, filled with stunning costumes, neo-classical architecture and loving close-ups of Keira Knightley's amazing face. Here was a film that proved that, despite youth, scintillating beauty and obscene wealth, one can still be abysmally unhappy. I thought a lot about that afterward. And I had one of my AHA moments. The lovely Georgiana lacked only one thing, a sense of being loved. I would say that she lacked value, too, but she did get that big check once she finally produced that male heir, which was her raison d'etre, after all. Women throughout the ages have been treated as property, and only as assets if they fulfill their destiny as the vehicle for heirs. Or, they were a source of (momentary) comfort, a receptacle for men to use to relieve their sexual pressures. And then, they were supposed to fade into the background until needed again, sort of like an appliance that sits on the shelf collecting dust, waiting for its next moment of usefulness. And that is what the Duchess did, after a short time indulging her needs with a much needed affair, because to do otherwise would have ruined, not herself, but her lover, and torn her forever from her children. Okay, she lived in the lap of luxury and outrageous fashion all her life. But that is, after all, just form. Of substance, she knew little. Even her children would, after all, grow up and leave her. It hasn't changed a whole lot in the intervening centuries. Women are still under men, considered to be less because we are smaller (not me, though) than most men, weaker in physical strength. But, remember this, we live longer. And we are left in charge of the new generations. We could be teaching those beloved sons something different, a new way of looking at the world. And if we aren't, shame on us.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Who remembers the story of the Boy Who Cried Wolf? Well,time to dredge it up and learn its lesson, all over again. Our presidential and vice-presidential candidates are human beings, and, as such, have some stuff in their previous lives that probably is not savory, but it seems that in this campaign, so many false rumors are flying around, one couldn't discern the truth even if one were up to sorting through all the crap, which, I can tell you, I am not. Most of this mud-slinging seems to be coming from our goody-two-shoes Republican candidate, you know, the one with the cute little arm-candy wife he cheated on his first wife with, the war hero guy who voted the Bush agenda for most of his tenure, the one who chose a totally unsuitable VP because she is a woman, and cute (and one of those who stand outside abortion clinics, screaming). The result is that, if some really enterprising investigative reporter came up with some REAL dirt about Obama, no one of consequence would believe it after all the fallacious stuff that has spewed out of the mouths of these people, who are so very anxious to be elected to the highest post of the entire world. Personally, this all is really frightening, not because of the behavior of these nutbags, but because a whole bunch of folks BELIEVE them. Fanatics of the world, unite! Walk west till your hat floats.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
When I was young, they taught us that playing the stock market was like GAMBLING. You paid your money and you took your chances. What the hell is going on? The government is bailing out investors, bailing out banks that make bad investments. Someone was all het up today because the price of oil fell and now there is speculation that interest in alternative energy sources will wane. Well, if the price of gasoline fell to 95 cents a gallon, then I would worry about that. But $3.35 a gallon? I don't think so. Bring on the hydogen engine that works on air and expels water! Put solar cells on every rooftop! For that matter, paint all the rooftops white to give us extra albedo and reflect back a lot of the heat. Put big reflective patches of foil over our polar regions to save the ice caps. And kick out all those bozos in Washington DC who do little more than diddle their young pages and swill Jack Daniels before carooming around town in their big honking luxury cars, you know the ones who put us in this big pickle to begin with by suckling the corporations that fostered their campaigns in the first place. Really, I am not a political animal. But I am tired of our elected officials stomping all over our Constitution and ignoring the plight of ordinary folk, like me. The only carrot offered to us is aimed at another faction of the population that I avoid like the plague, the fundamental Christians, who wouldn't know morality if it bit them in the ass. Which it should. Okay, that's over for a while. Ready to fill out my absentee ballot and have my teensy weensy say in things.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
I went to a memorial service today for a woman I met at the very first AA meeting I went to, almost 19 years ago. We call those we get sober with "littermates". Seeing her there week after week gave me courage to believe that I could do this sobriety thing, too. Then, I gravitated to other meetings, and only saw her once in a while. She got drunk. That was a huge wakeup call for me. You mean some people don't stay sober? But she came back, and set her foot back on the path. And she did that over and over again. Recently, while drinking, she had an esophogial bleed, and survived it, to get sober again. She knew that to drink meant she might die. And she did it, anyway. This time, she didn't survive the bleeding. What I saw today was how very much she was loved. And I got that these people felt they had expressed that to her, too. For some reason, it was not enough. And, she, like me, lived alone. She had dogs. The music she listened to is the music I love. She was an artist, like me. And I don't know why she had to struggle, drunk, while I preferred to stuggle, sober. It is a mystery to me, for sure. We joke that drinking is "suicide on the installment plan", and that is exactly what it is, a living death, followed by a real one. I always feel the rip in the fabric of our connectedness whenever one of us leaves the planet. For Sylvia, the pain is ended. Mine goes on.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
One of my watercolor classmates told me about this hot deal on watercolor paper, which, by the way, is pretty expensive. Now, I love going to the art supply store. There are all these stringy, artsy, all-natural-fiber folk there, who are just who they are, greying hair and faces bare of makeup, in their sensible shoes and no-nonsense clothes. But, sometimes it gets a little pricey there. Gloria told me that every week, the big craft store puts a coupon in that sheaf of flyers that I always toss without a second look, 40 to 50% off the item of your choice, and they sell the very same paper as the art store. So I checked my mail when I got home, and there it was, 40% off! And off I went yesterday morning, to the craft store. Now, the clientele at Michael's is a little different. There are all these women, all ages, many of them fitness-challenged, dressed in polyester, elastic-wasted pants outfits every color of the rainbow and a few more that I didn't even recognize, frequently sequinned, as well. They were buying knitting yarn or scrapbooking supplies or artificial flowers. I stood in line with my two books of paper and a plastic pallette, feeling out of my element, though I was probably properly attired in my yoga pants and sweatshirt, somewhat subdued, however, in shades of gray. And you know, I don't fit into either of these worlds. I still like the artifice of hair coloring and makeup, but absolutely eschew polyester. I do knit, though. I guess I have to face the fact that I wasn't born to blend, anywhere. And I used to think this was a bad thing. Now I see it as a blessing. HP wants me to become just who I am, sans a category. If I could just figure out what that is, everything will be illuminated!
Friday, October 17, 2008
When I was a kid, TVs had cathode ray tubes, kind of like fancy, tube-shaped light bulbs. Every once in a while, one would blow out, and you called the TV repairman, who came, pulled out the chassis and replaced it. Even the big one, the PICTURE tube, could be replaced for less than the cost of a new TV. Not any more. Now, we just chuck the whole thing and buy a new one, at half the price of the one we are throwing away. Kind of sad, yes? Partly, this is because technology has been on a tear for the last few decades, and everything electric or electronic is doomed to be obsolete before you can get it out the door of Best Buy. Which brings me to my current denouement. I broke the lid of my mini-Cusinart. Well, you might think I could still cover the top with something, anyway, except the lever that works the whole thing is what broke off of the lid. And I had a moment of grief, imagining my dear little workhorse nestled among the coffee grounds and egg shells in the kitchen trash. Then I had one of those AHA moments, googled Cuisinart parts, and ordered a new lid, for $17. It comes with a new bowl, but what the heck, I like shiny newness. This is about half what a new machine would cost me, so it is a bargain. And I need that little sucker. It whips up my pancake batter for me every day, and it chops garlic, such a dear little friend who helps me stay infection-free. And nuts, oh, I love chopped nuts on, well, EVERYTHING. Maybe having two bowls is a really good idea?
Thursday, October 16, 2008
I saw this program about South Korea the other night, about how 1/3 of the country now considers the United States the greatest threat to their national security. Gee, 30,000 Americans died on their soil so they could express that opinion. But that generation, the one that remembers the Korean War, is dying off. The young ones only see what Geo. W. has done. That bozo, and all the others who voted for him, TWICE, should be twisting in the wind. Our international reputation has always been problematical, what with the astonishing prosperity and power we possess, and now, it is in shreds. Even our allies are looking at us askance. Shoot, I remember putting together little care packages for our soldiers over there: needles and thread, bandaids, things like that, in school. Of course, I also remember air raid drills, when we all dived under our desks and covered our head, hid our eyes so they wouldn't be toasted by the atomic blast. Now that threat is behind us, and we have a gigantic internal implosion going on. One of the things I saw when I was in Italy is how young our country really is in the grand scheme of things. Perhaps we needed to be taught a lesson or two, lessons that much more seasoned countries have already learned. I was listening to Hooked on Classics last night, sort of slumming for intellectuals, and remembered the thrill of a Souza march on the 4th of July, a great sense of pride that I am an American, and America stands for freedom. Apparently, that doesn't extend outside our borders, not any more.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Here she is, all immortalized in art. I did this from a photo of her lying beside me on the red couch, which is now blue, courtesy of futon covers. This was a while ago, before her bottom teeth started showing all the time, and before her ears fluffed up alarmingly. I love my Pickle. And I can barely wait for her to be all grown up and, hopefully, settled down. My Boo is sweet, but not the sharpest knife in the drawer. Pickle is a pistol, smart as they come, full of herself and an amazing amount of energy. She just keeps going, and going, and going. Now, I don't know if this is art, but, to me, it is precious. I hope not too precious, though. I want to avoid coyness in my art, always. My dear friend who was my first teacher once did an enormous painting of a buffalo, very carefully rendered, but, for some reason, something around the eyes, I think, it looked like it was shy and about to blush. I take that lesson seriously. Animals are not toys, you know. This little one has a fierce spirit, for sure.
Friday, October 10, 2008
Here is a little watercolor I did at my class yesterday. Remember when I was the oldest person in every room at school? Well, now I am the youngest senior in the room. All the others are these sweet little ladies who name their pets Mandy and Skipper, and paint careful little scenes with picket fences. Me, I just start slopping paint all over the place and call it "painterly". Bill, one of two token guys in the class, noticed that. It is also evident that I am an oil painter by nature, as I like lots and lots of color. Actually, watercolors do some rather neat things all by themselves. I have come to depend on that happening in my work. I don't have a clue what I am doing, but it sure is fun. I stayed for almost the whole session working away at this oeuvre, and that's a first for me. Usually, I get done and head out after about 1 1/2 hours. Oh, and I didn't get my picture in to the teacher in time to be hung in this fall's show, sort of flaked out. Whatever. Next time.
Monday, October 06, 2008
Both my computers got new mice today, wireless ones, that are sooooo slick. And they were both on sale, and one had a rebate on it, and I am sooooo stoked. See, I told you I am a cheap date. Doesn't take me much to be all gooey with joy. When my computer is working, like it is at this moment, it just doesn't get any better than that. Of course, I forgot to install the software first before hooking up the mouse for my Big Bad Mama. Can barely wait to see what that does, like things I probably didn't even know I wanted it to do? Now, that's sprinkles for the frosting on my cake of life.
Sunday, October 05, 2008
Although Pickle had surgery on Friday morning, she was back to the old Pickle by that evening. I have a page of instructions on dealing with the damage, only to find there isn't any, according to the Pickle. She happily jumps on and off the couch. She plays ball. She goes outside and lays in the dirt. We had a serious talk last night, and I told her if I find any Pickle guts on the floor, her ass is grass. Didn't slow her down a bit. The incision looks just fine. And pain pills? We don't need no stinkin' pain pills. Of course, I gave her one, anyway, hoping it would slow her down a little. No luck there. I don't know whether to be happy or not. Certainly, health and vitality are no problem when you are only 6 months old. Poor Boo whined and moaned for days after getting his ears cleaned out. We went through many pain pills and lots of hand-wringing. What a difference 10 years makes. Meanwhile, it is full fall here, as evidenced by the plethora of leaves on the front psuedo-lawn. After the meeting, I think I will bundle up in my sweats and rake, thereby setting the good example for the rest of my leaf-blower crazy neighborhood, though raking makes no noise, so no one will notice anyway.
Friday, October 03, 2008
Little Pickle got her operation today. Everyone goes, oh, no! What's wrong? Nothing, and nothing will be, now. She is altered, figuratively as well as literally. Dogs do not do sick well. She is looking at me like I should know what to do, and I don't have a clue. There are pain pills, for tomorrow. And I am supposed to keep her from jumping up or down onto furniture. Yeah, that'll happen. The first thing she did was lay down out of my line of sight, and when I checked on her, she was outside laying in the dirt. Oh, no! Not good! I think she has settled for a while. Tonight, she will sleep by the side of the bed, to prevent any accidental jumping in the night. Gee, I remember when having a dog meant that you fed it table scraps, brushed off as many fleas as you could, had a litter of accidental puppies or two, and only took it to the vet when it got hit by a car. It has gotten a lot more conprehensive than that these days.
Thursday, October 02, 2008
Well, not exactly. But I'm working on it. Here are my little fur people. Hard to get them both to stay still for the time it takes to depress the shutter, that's for sure. This was one of a whole series of photos of Boo with this fuzzy golden blur next to him. They are at my feet now, and we are about to hit the sack, watch Grey's Anatomy, ignore the debate. I hate those things. Like anyone ever tells the truth. Just took down the market umbrella and folded up the patio chairs for storage. Rain is coming. This is all very welcome and okay by me. My pedicure is worn pretty thin, as is my bank account, after spending megabucks getting this system all cleaned up and adding beaucoup RAM, so that it is now lightening fast and such a delight to work with after months of waiting, and waiting, and rebooting, and waiting, again. Full of crap from those pesky adware folks, and too weinie for the programs I loaded to try to block the flow. Now have state of the art anti-spam, anti-virus, anti-adware programs, and a regime to follow, and a tech-support guy to call when it gets gooey again, as it always does. At least I didn't have to buy a new computer. This always looks attractive, but it means finding all my software to load onto it, and hours of waiting for this poor limping system to download all my data files to disk. Going to do that soon, just in case. In fact, thinking of an exterior drive to keep all that stuff on, for the next big crash. Okay, all over the place here today. Must be the change of season.
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
I am writing, again. Which may surprise you as it appears to be what I do here. But this is different, it is fiction, it is from my imagination rather than my observation, and it is hard to do, most of the time. Except it isn't, this time. Strange, I admit. My Low Fat Fiction course has taken off and taken effect. How gratifying. My first three terribly short (300 words or less) stories got turned in last night, and I chose one to read aloud in class workshop, an autobiographical, sentimental piece (although they don't know that, and I will never tell) from my childhood. Now, my childhood was spent with people who had hair-trigger tempers and definite ideas about who I should be every moment of every day, so there was bound to be undercurrents of that angst, though I wrote the piece from the totally objective viewpoint, though in first person. Some of what I did was deliberate. Most just kind of flowed out. All but one sentence of the piece survived to the final draft, an expositional, and unnecessary sentence about childhood dreams unrealized and outgrown, a sentence that dragged the whole piece down with it. And they all got it! In fact, they got even more than I wrote, like the narrator would not do the same thing to her daughter as her mother had done to her, a totally true statement. And my teacher said "Wow"! How sweet is that! If you are wondering about the title of this entry, well, that's a thought for my next piece I am currently mulling in my seemingly fertile cerebral cortex. I actually got to that place I needed to visit to write, that "no mind" mind, where memories and observations live but do not reign. I can get there when I paint, for sure, and my work is best when I am not thinking about it. My writing is, too.